If you don't use a pick, how did that come about?

HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 4044
Fine time I  picked up a guitar was an old Spanish guitar that my Dad had bought on a whim. Didn't even know that picks even existed, but managed to pick out a few Shadows numbers. Once I realised that most players used picks, I started using one and got on fine with single notes. However I could never get the same finesse with strumming that I could with my fingers. For ages I used a pick for licks etc, but palmed it for strumming. In the end I ditched the pick altogether and really, I should have got rid of it much earlier than I actually did.
It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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Comments

  • StrangefanStrangefan Frets: 2837
    I'm with you I have never used one.
    I tried but it doesn't feel natural, I can play any style including metal  and people always give me a puzzled look when  using my fingers.

    Initially I started out using picks but used to lose them, however the main reason was when I started my first electric was an encore strat, as a rank amature I only ever used the bridge pickup and didn't even consider tone controls or other pickups  and it sounded so shrill, I found using my fingers make it sound abetter, I started to learn properly but stuck with fingers, plus I saw them as a ball ache, as most people struggle to play without one and Im to forgetful to always have a pick on me. 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2067
    To my ears guitar sounded better when played with fingers, so that’s how I learned. It was about eight years ago, when I joined a rock covers band, that I found I needed a pick to play a lot of the songs. Downstrokes can wear your nails quite quickly.
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  • slackerslacker Frets: 950
    My ahem electric guitar  technique is a blend of playing bass, classical guitar and losing plectrums.
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  • bbill335bbill335 Frets: 649

    If you don't use a pick, how did that come about?

    coz I dropped my plectrum. Or I'm playing slide.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 352
    I took up folk guitar and learned to use a thumbpick instead, now I just do the same on electric.
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  • ColsCols Frets: 306
    Jeff Beck ditched the plectrum in the 70s when he was frequently drunk on stage and kept dropping it.
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  • tralfamadantralfamadan Frets: 14
    edited April 19
    After 6 years of playing with picks I learnt the lead parts to Brown Eyed Girl using my fingers and then steadily switched to exclusively fingerstyle. 

    Fast forward 10 years, now i'm trying to play bluegrass and finger-style has gone straight out the window!
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  • Ive always used a pick but a lot of guitarists I've met who don't use one. Usaslly its because it feels easier when starting out. Obviously it takes a bit of time to get used to holding a pick. I personally though believe every guitarist should give playing with a pick 1-2 months before making a decision :)
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  • BahHumbugBahHumbug Frets: 125
    When I discovered that Knopfler plays fingerstyle (mostly), I immediately started developing my fingerstyle technique.  When I discovered Jerry Donahue and found out about his hybrid technique, I immediately started trying the same.  I was a teenager then, so now I can play with a pick, without a pick, hybrid, or fingerstyle with a thumbpick.  All have their uses and I'm very grateful for them all.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 9548
    I think I first went pick-less when I had to play a part needing me to simultaneously hit 2 non-adjacent strings together, cleanly and perfectly. It was much easier to do that with finger & thumb than with a pick & muting the string in the middle

    These days it's probably mostly because I play a lot on the sofa...

    I'm equally happy with pick or fingers these days - if I'm gigging then I'll use a pick where it suits the material, and fingers where that's more appropriate. I've never got my head around hybrid picking tho.
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2700
    Andy from YouTube ProGuitarShop does thing where it looks like he's holding a pick but he's not.
    I'm not quite sure which bit of his thumb is striking the strings and, a puzzle:
    how does he do the upstrokes?
    And same question for non-pick players here:  how do you do the upstroke?  It's probably obvious but I've never worked it out.

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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 4044
    Grunfeld said:
    Andy from YouTube ProGuitarShop does thing where it looks like he's holding a pick but he's not.
    I'm not quite sure which bit of his thumb is striking the strings and, a puzzle:
    how does he do the upstrokes?
    And same question for non-pick players here:  how do you do the upstroke?  It's probably obvious but I've never worked it out.
    When strumming upstrokes I hit the strings with the back of my thumbnail. Analysing it, I realise I slightly extend my fingers on the downstroke and curl them in slightly on the upstroke so that the backs of my fingernails hit the strings on the way down but aren't in the way coming back up. (Further analysis shows a slight Spanish roll happening on the downstrokes.)
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9134
    My fingernails aren't strong enough to withstand the kind of playing I'd do with a pick. I reserve them for when I need to do things I can't do with a pick (eg playing 2 non-adjacent strings simultaneously or eg a quaver melody run with crotchet bass notes), and what I can do with a pick, I do it with a pick to preserve my fingernails. I think rakes and pinch harmonics come out better with a pick.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 11065
    I didn't get on with picks from day one. I found that alt picking was natural to me, and picks were fine for that, but any kind of strumming and it was flying away every third chord. I just couldn’t keep hold of the bugger! By comparison, strumming was easy and natural with just fingers. I kept going with the alt picking, but without the pick, doing what bass players refer to as ‘chucking’ - basically playing using your fingernail as if it was the plectrum, supporting your index finger with your thumb.

    There was a problem with this - my fingernail kept breaking and then it was hard to play until it grew! This meant back to the dreaded pick for a lot of the time. A great many years later I started sticking a nail on (one from the beauty dept of stores) then sanding it to shape. Looked a bit weird but it worked OK when I could be bothered.

    The big revelation came for me about 5 years ago when I discovered acrylic powder. I now fix my nail up with that and it’s usually good for 2-3 weeks at a time. 

    Playing without a pick feels so much more natural to me, it has some kind on ‘one-ness’ that you can’t capture with a bit of plastic. I do find that I can play a bit faster and more accurately with a pick, but I rarely feel inclined to do so, and chords - forget it!
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 102
    I can play with fingers, either sort of jazzy style (although I'm by no means a good jazz player), or formal classical style (I've done grade exams, etc.).

    And I can play with pick, which is probably how I play maybe 60-70% of the time. And I'm decent enough, although though there's still work to do, with a pick.

    But thing I can't do, and really wish I could, is hybrid. There's lots of music I like that would benefit from it. But, the angle my fingers pluck at when playing fingers only, and the angle that works with a pick, is different enough that I can't really do it. At some point, I really need to learn.
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9134
    btw I'm not much of a strummer
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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