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fingerpicks or bare fingers???? Studio Headphones
Old 29th March 2010
  #1
Gear Addict
fingerpicks or bare fingers????

I want to learn how to fingerpick 6 string (steel string folk) acoustic guitar.
I am looking for any experiences by anybody out there as to whether I should try to learn to use fingerpicks (thumbpick and 3 fingerpicks).
I am checking out a website where the guy insists that fingerpicks is by far the best way to do it.
my gut tells me that it will never work for me. I'm too uncoordinated.
I've been playing for over 30 years (off and on). I play with my bare hands. I trim my nails because they're so soft they just break if I try to grow them out.
any and all thoughts greatly appreciated. style of music is james taylor and really any ballady kind of stuff from the 20's up to the present.
thanks,
Charlie
Old 29th March 2010
  #2
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

I've played for 25 years and I don't think I've ever met anyone who used three finger picks instead of traditional fingerstyle. I've seen lots of guys who use a thumb pick but no one who used three finger picks. I'm from Mississippi and Texas - two places where fingerstyle guitar are quite prevalent - and I think I would've met someone in all my years playing.

Hell, maybe he's right - I don't know. Or maybe he thinks that fingernails are for sissies.
Old 29th March 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 
octatonic's Avatar
I use fingers.

For soft nails use a nail strengthener or clear (matte not gloss unless you swing that way) nail polish.
Old 29th March 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
JT used to use super glue.

"JT: "No, what I do now is I take crazy glue (L) No I do, crazy glue. I put a little ... watch out for that stuff! Whew! I take a little crazy glue and I put a little bead right on the edge of the fingernail like that (blows like he's drying it) and I (blows and whistles) and I sit there and wait and hope that it doesn't freeze up inside the little neck of the little spout there so that ... I have to force a pin down there and do the second nail like that too. You can repair splits with that stuff too but I wouldn't put it all over your nails because it's got to be able to get into your system. If you have any respect for your liver at all. (L) Actually, its my brother Alexander who says ... you see he like ... he has this automobile and he looks at his body the same way. He would hate to have the clutch give out and the car be useless because of the clutch and have a perfectly good engine. So, he thinks the same way of his body ... you know. If his heart's going to give out at 70, he wants his liver to give out at 70, too. He wants the whole thing just to ... (unintelligible). So, I'll probably die of eating Big Macs before the crazy glue gets my liver."

But I think he has porcelain tips fitted these days.

“My style of playing is evolved around hymns … mostly I think hymns and Woody Guthrie. A few Christmas carols. But it’s the thumb. I use the thumb (emphasizes the word ‘thumb’) (L) and the hands that are attached to my arms … the thumb and these three fingers. For a while there I was breaking fingernails regularly and I had these artificial nails put on. But some of you may do that I don’t know. Do any of you use those nails? Well, they’re interesting. It’s hard to get them to believe you. You say what you want just play the guitar (L). But there’s something inherently evil about them. It is epoxying something to your fingertips. You have power.” James Taylor

Best bet is to try out some fingerpicks and see how you get on with them. There's those Alaska ones that go under the finger tip. I've had acrylics fitted on all my four fingers but have recently reverted to my natural nails and apply a very small amount of a kevlar based nail strengthener to about half a centimetre of just the nail tip. I can't get any decent attack with my bare fingers for acoustic picking. Never have, never will. My songwriting partner gets on fine with bare fingers though he's more of an electro fiend. Another great player I knew way back when used a massive bunch of fingerpicks. Reason he started using them was his natural nails wore out real quick, also if he broke one he was knackered. He played a lot, 3 hours a night for months on end.

It's all a tradeoff between durability, maintenance and playability depending on what you want to do. Bare fingers, zero maintenance. Natural nails, high maintenance.

ns
Old 29th March 2010
  #5
Deleted User
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Caroline on MySpace Music - Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Videos

Caroline uses thumb and 3 finger picks .. I accompanied her for a couple years... the sound she can get is unbelievable....and she uses same on very soft stuff..the vid's on her page don't do her justice.. ..Steve Stills was another finger pick guy ..neither for me
Old 29th March 2010
  #6
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Unclenny's Avatar
I've been fingerpicking for.......a long time.

For a number of my younger years I used a metal thumb pick and one plastic finger pick. I felt a need to project a bit more when in live venues.

I realized after a while that I had lost touch with the finer percussive aspects of picking with bare fingers......in the process I wore out a lot of strings.

It's been bare fingers for me for a long time now. I like to use the flesh of my fingers to get some grab and pop and the backs of my nails for some occasional strumming.
Old 30th March 2010
  #7
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
On flattop, thumbpick and fingers. On electric, small pointy flatpick and fingers. It took me a while to get used to using the thumbpick after decades without it, but I just couldn't get used to the fingerpicks. Maybe someday, but I'm not feeling the need right now.
Old 30th March 2010
  #8
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
On electric, small pointy flatpick and fingers.
Just bare fingers for me on electric.
Old 30th March 2010
  #9
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doorknocker's Avatar
Do yourself a favor and check out the ProPik FingerTone fingerpicks. They've been a godsend for me. I took up dobro a few years ago but being used to a hybrid pick and fingers apporach on electric guitar, I really didn't want to use straight finegrpicks because you can't damp the strings with them and generally I don't like the sound of them.

ProPik® | Finger-Tone®

The FingerTones are the best of both world. You can do everything you can do with bare fingers (artifical harmonics, damping,etc) but you also get all the advantages of straight fingerpicks (speed,volume,etc). Naturally it takes some getting used-to, especially having them not slipping off and the first audience row was a dangerous place to be when I used them on dobro 'combat' with a blues harmonica player. But you never have the feeling that your fingers just grew an inch like you do with regular fingerpicks.

The real issue is the sound though, as the FingerTones still involve the flesh of your fingers.

I use three Fingertone picks along with a Herco Flat/Thumpick, it works great on dobro and finegrpicked acoustic guitar. I still prefer the Herco + bare fingers on electric guitar and a soft plectrum for strummed acoustic.

It's great to have options I think.
Old 30th March 2010
  #10
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Unclenny's Avatar
Good link....I'm in.
Old 30th March 2010
  #11
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Good link....I'm in.
Cool!

As I use three of these, I have large ones on my index and middle fingers and a medium one on my ring finger.

I opted for the single-wrap version as the split-wrap was getting tangled up in the strings but you may want to try both.

Old 30th March 2010
  #12
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

Check out George Pittaway's EZrollguitar.com

Old 30th March 2010
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Unclenny's Avatar
There's another great link.

EDIT:
Just tried some of that stuff out and sliced my pinky on Stella's 'B' string.

Thanks, man.
Old 30th March 2010
  #14
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

No guts no glory :-)

Last I talked to him, George was down in Nashville getting some well
deserved attention.

He has patented a new device that helps prevent the player from
digging in too deep with their fingers, making finger style even more effortless.
Old 30th March 2010
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chasman View Post
I want to learn how to fingerpick 6 string (steel string folk) acoustic guitar.
I am looking for any experiences by anybody out there as to whether I should try to learn to use fingerpicks (thumbpick and 3 fingerpicks).
I am checking out a website where the guy insists that fingerpicks is by far the best way to do it.
my gut tells me that it will never work for me. I'm too uncoordinated.
I've been playing for over 30 years (off and on). I play with my bare hands. I trim my nails because they're so soft they just break if I try to grow them out.
any and all thoughts greatly appreciated. style of music is james taylor and really any ballady kind of stuff from the 20's up to the present.
thanks,
Charlie
Lots of good advice already given. I would add - Be wary of anyone who tells you it has to be this way or that way. Thumbpick or not, fingerpicks or not, nails, flesh, etc. all come with certain advantages and disadvantages. If you are just starting out then I would not worry about it. As you get into it you can experiment with different styles and the one that fits you best will become apparent. Also why limit yourself to just one way of playing? While everyone here argues over the minute difference of this pre or that pre, you will have options that really make a difference.
Old 30th March 2010
  #16
Lives for gear
 

I used to use fingerpicks all the time, just for the volume. Now that I have acoustics with pups, I just use fingers--sometimes I have more nails than others.

Fingerpicks are still cheap enough that it won't hurt anything to give them a try.
Old 30th March 2010
  #17
Lives for gear
 
ElMosca's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chasman View Post
I want to learn how to fingerpick 6 string (steel string folk) acoustic guitar.
I am looking for any experiences by anybody out there as to whether I should try to learn to use fingerpicks (thumbpick and 3 fingerpicks).
I am checking out a website where the guy insists that fingerpicks is by far the best way to do it.
my gut tells me that it will never work for me. I'm too uncoordinated.
I've been playing for over 30 years (off and on). I play with my bare hands. I trim my nails because they're so soft they just break if I try to grow them out.
any and all thoughts greatly appreciated. style of music is james taylor and really any ballady kind of stuff from the 20's up to the present.
thanks,
Charlie
My advice is to learn bare handed, and incorporate fingerpicks (to get different, louder tones) only when you're comfortable with your bare technique.

You can grow stronger nails, but it takes time, dedication and a bit of grooming. For starters, you may have to adjust your diet a little bit. Foods like gelatin (in meat broths, or jello-type desserts) help with nail growth.

Also, learn how to work your cuticles, because a clean base assures correct, even, thick growth. It may take a couple of weeks, even months, for your cuticle work to make it all the way to your leading edge, but it's worth it. Nail strengtheners like Onymyrrh can help. Also learn to shape your leading edge. I favor the Scott Tennant ramp (you should google it, I'm sure the info is out there) instead of grooming the playing edge in a symmetrical shape. That will enable you to have good playing nails that are not overly long (so they won't trip and catch on everything), nor Dracula-like in appearance.

Last recommendation, but not least, is to try Bondini to mend nicks. You may find it in beauty supply shops, (along with the cuticle liquid, various nail files, a cuticle knife and cuticle pushers which you should also invest in and learn to use properly). It's cyanoacrylate (sp?), like Krazy Glue, but "thinner." I find that Krazy Glue gets gummed up in the bottle fast, and it becomes a block of plastic inside the bottle after a couple of uses. Bondini stays fluid longer, and flows out of the tip even months after purchase.

Cheers,
++aldo
Old 31st March 2010
  #18
Lives for gear
Bare fingers for me if I can keep my nails intact.

Tried those "under the nail" picks and they just didn't work for me...
Old 2nd April 2010
  #19
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

a finger man myself.
Old 8th April 2010
  #20
Gear Head
 

Interesting thread.

Even though I've been playing guitar for over 15 years, it's only been recently that I have started finger picking. The nail on my index finger in particular keeps on getting ruined. I hate keeping my finger nails long as well, so I might try out some thumb and finger picks.

Does anyone have a particular brand to recommend? Are plastic better than steel? Am I right to think that steel ones will eat through strings very quickly?
Old 8th April 2010
  #21
Having studied classical for a few years, I'm an au naturale kind of guy. Though with classical it's nails on nylon, but now it's just bare fingers. Once you get the callouses nice and hard, the problem isn't that they aren't solid enough but that they are too solid sometimes I think, which can make it harder to get a soft tone. Made worse by the fact that I'm also playing bass as well. Those round wounds will eat the fingertips pretty heavily, which can make for pretty hard sounding fingertips for acoustic guitar. And ouf course playing bass finger style would pretty much make it a joke to try to maintain any well maintain nails. It would rip them up quickly.

And the other thing is the endless crap and sly looks you get when you have long nails. I was watching the Classic Albums DVD for Graceland a bit back, and noticed that Paul Simon looks like freaking Wolverine almost. Huge, thick, long nails. I don't know what they say about guys with really big nails, but it's probably not good.
Old 9th April 2010
  #22
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Unclenny's Avatar
All this talk about nails........

I need to pluck those strings with my big ol' fleshy fingers to get my sound.
Old 9th April 2010
  #23
nails for me.

tried finger picks after a bad break but nothing feels and sounds better for me then nails.

chics totally dig a guy with three long nails on his right hand too! heh
Old 9th April 2010
  #24
KAB
Gear Addict
 

Bare thumb and fingers for me. Also, the flat surfaces of my nails for strums or strum accents. No real logic to it, but I'd say try out any/all techniques and then use what feels most natural to you and gets the desired sound(s).
Old 9th April 2010
  #25
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

I experiment with hard picks, flexible picks, thumb and fingertips and the
flats of my nails.

I'm too much of a ring finger spazz to effictively fingerpick the way I'd like to.
Old 9th April 2010
  #26
That's one good thing about classical guitar training is that you learn to use three fingers, and you learn your free strokes and rest strokes well, though I'm nowhere need as good on the finger picking front as I was back in those days when I was doing it 5 or 6 hours a day every day.
Old 9th April 2010
  #27
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Does anyone use fingernail polish on their picking fingers to strengthen their nails? I tend to chip my index fingernail pretty often. I have decently thick nails, but lately they're softer and more flexible than they used to be. I eat plenty of Jello. Does anyone know of a good non-glossy clear polish that helps to strengthen nails? I went to CVS, and all they had was glossy finish.
Old 9th April 2010
  #28
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

Let your freak flag fly heh

Just use some fine sandpaper or emery cloth to de-buff the gloss.
Old 12th April 2010
  #29
Lives for gear
 
ElMosca's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
Does anyone use fingernail polish on their picking fingers to strengthen their nails? I tend to chip my index fingernail pretty often. I have decently thick nails, but lately they're softer and more flexible than they used to be. I eat plenty of Jello. Does anyone know of a good non-glossy clear polish that helps to strengthen nails? I went to CVS, and all they had was glossy finish.
I don't do polish, but I do get a nail strengthener and use it from time to time. It is called Onymyrrhe, which makes it hard to find, because it's hard to spell (google search helps with the spelling)...

Cheers,
++aldo
Old 13th April 2010
  #30
Gear Addict
thanks very much to all who replied. its been fascinating to read about your thoughts and experiences.
I think I'm gonna stick with bare fingers. I'm too much of a klutz to use fingerpicks. I'll try fingerpicks some time. but I really don't have my hopes up much that I'll be able to get them to fit and stay on and not hurt and make them work right and blah blah blah.

really what would be cool would be to get some porcelain nails epoxied on like JT. yeah maybe thats what I'll do. one of these days........
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