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How many players: always use a flatpick; sometimes use a flatpick, or never? How many play with a thumbpick and/or finger picks? For what type of music?

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No.  I use bare thumb and two fingers (mainly) - very occasional use of third finger. Flesh and a bit of nail (approx 1/16 to 1/8 inch) protruding.


The day I put the flat pick down, I discovered the dexterity of thumb and opposing finger... I gained an extra digit and never looked back. A little volume and speed was no sacrifice considering the agility acquired. And ... no more, "where is my pick?"

No picks whatsoever.  Started out using a pick and was able to cross pick pretty well.  When I started playing fingerstyle I used a thumb pick, but ended up hurting my thumb presumably because of the slight twisting of the thumb that occurs when I was using the thumb pick.

Every once in a while when I'm playing electric guitar I use a pick and it feels funny.


I play with a pick for blurgrass type stuff, with a thumpick and fingers for country blues, and also with fingers and thumb and no pick when I play Celtic and softer folk stuff like Stephen Foster tunes. But then again, I've been playing since 1966.

Glenn Weiser

If I play alone, I like to use my fingers, but for solo much better to use pick.... It's hard question...
Here is an example

To strum, I use a flat pick about 95% of the time.  I've tried using a thumb pick to do fingerstyle, but find it clumsy and hard to get used to.  When I Travis pick, I use my bare fingers.  The metal finger picks are almost impossible for me to get comfortable with.

More and more I've stopped using a pick.  The sound of the strings is so much sweeter to my ear when strummed by hand.  And of course, your options are so much greater when you play with your hand.  You can grab a couple notes, make chords of 2,3,4,5 notes.  It's a good exercise to put down the pick and start using your hand more.  I've found it very expanding.

Sometimes, but I usually use the tips of my fingers. I used to flatpick but I've been using

this technique for 20 some years now.

I always used to use a flat pick or do hybrid picking. But then I taught myself the solo to Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower" by ear and came across a part that was much too fast to play with a pick, or even by hybrid picking. Ever since then I've been using only fingers. I find that it sounds better and I can do a lot more. If I play something really fast I use my thumb, too. I sometimes even forget that other guitarists use picks haha

You know how much volume and finesse Neil Young has when playing acoustic, if you have any DVDs of his, watch

his technique. He doesn't use a pic either. He uses his fingers in the shape like he's holding a pic, but there's none between his fingers. He's a gorilla on the fretboard. That's where I leaned to play with only my fingers.

Yeah that's what I do sometimes; I use my fingers like I'm holding a pick. And I'll definitely check out those Neil Young videos. Jeff Beck doesn't use a pick either, and although some of his recordings can be kinda boring (some are wicked awesome though!), he is amazing to see live. I saw him in Boston once, and his drummer is amazing. Bassist Rhonda Smith has really funky solos.

I'm using a pick 99% of the time these days. I did study classical guitar at a program run by Parkening back in the 80s and was very serious about fingerstyle then. But I've been playing electric guitar with rock and country bands for so long that the pick is by FAR more comfortable for me, so with my current "flamenco-jazz" project I just decided to give-up the nails and use my pick. Can't do proper rasgueado and some other things with a pick, but the trade-offs in my abilities with a pick for fast scales and what-not are worth it. I use Dunlop Jazz IIIs and Jazz III XLs for flat-picking on my nylon and steel string acoustics.


-J. Walker


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