Finger Picking Troubles

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guitartangoguitartango Frets: 1037
I have a Taylor guitar strung with 12 Elixir 16052 Strings, I am finding hard to finger pick. On my Strat I have no problems. 
What would you suggest  (my nails break)?

Been looking at finger picks (that rabbit hole) , what would you recommend ?

Are the "Butterfli" finger picks any good or should I go with the standard plastic thumb and fingers picks

Thanks
“Ken sent me.”
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  • Jimbro66Jimbro66 Frets: 2438
    I've not used the Butterfli picks but they look OK. The Alaska Piks seem to be very well liked so why not buy some of each to see what you prefer?

    An alternative is to drop your Taylor's string gauge to 11s, which might be a little kinder on your nails.
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  • guitartangoguitartango Frets: 1037
    Jimbro66 said:
    I've not used the Butterfli picks but they look OK. The Alaska Piks seem to be very well liked so why not buy some of each to see what you prefer?

    An alternative is to drop your Taylor's string gauge to 11s, which might be a little kinder on your nails.
    Cheers I did think of dropping to 11's , my nails seem to break within minutes (and I don't like long fingernails)
    “Ken sent me.”
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 5734
    * (a) Elixirs are HARD. They last a long time but the main reason for that isn't the coating, it is simply that they are very high tension strings. Having said that, it shouldn't make much difference to your right hand, it's the fretting hand that usually feels the difference. 

    * (b) Use your fingertips instead of your nails. Many very, very good guitarists (both acoustic and electric) use their fingertips and no nail, and they get a great sound.

    * (c) Treat your nails with some magic cream to strengthen them. There is a thread running in the acoustic section about it  - https://thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/264385/barielle-alternatives

    * (d) Go down to your local nail salon and spend maybe £10 on having the nails on your right hand done. Takes 15 minutes and it gives you brilliant nails for fingerpicking. (This is what I do. I heartily recommend it.) Plus, you meet the nicest people. (I'm married so its wasted on me but by golly gosh gumdrops if I was single it would be a godsend!)

    * (e) Fingerpicks are hard to get the hang of. Good luck!
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  • guitartangoguitartango Frets: 1037
    Tannin said:
    * (a) Elixirs are HARD. They last a long time but the main reason for that isn't the coating, it is simply that they are very high tension strings. Having said that, it shouldn't make much difference to your right hand, it's the fretting hand that usually feels the difference. 

    * (b) Use your fingertips instead of your nails. Many very, very good guitarists (both acoustic and electric) use their fingertips and no nail, and they get a great sound.

    * (c) Treat your nails with some magic cream to strengthen them. There is a thread running in the acoustic section about it  - https://thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/264385/barielle-alternatives

    * (d) Go down to your local nail salon and spend maybe £10 on having the nails on your right hand done. Takes 15 minutes and it gives you brilliant nails for fingerpicking. (This is what I do. I heartily recommend it.) Plus, you meet the nicest people. (I'm married so its wasted on me but by golly gosh gumdrops if I was single it would be a godsend!)

    * (e) Fingerpicks are hard to get the hang of. Good luck!
    To be fair I don't really like long nails (they annoy me!) maybe its the action on the Taylor ?  I might buy some Alaska piks, file them down and see how I go. I have always been a strummer and finger picked on a Nylon guitar, now I want to do more picking on the Taylor. 

    “Ken sent me.”
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  • LewyLewy Frets: 4427
    edited May 21
    Alaska picks require a fair bit of nail to hook under to stay in position so keep that in mind.

    Normal thumb and fingerpicks only take a few weeks of practice to get used to. I like plastic thumb pick with metal fingerpicks personally. 
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  • Jimbro66Jimbro66 Frets: 2438
    edited May 21
    @Lewy makes a good point about the Alaskas. If you think you'd be OK with the sound of metal finger picks @guitartango you might consider the ProPik Fingertones. They put some of your fingertip flesh in contact with the strings for improved feel and they work better if the nails on your picking fingers are fairly short. I found they work just fine but personally don't like the sound of metal picks on standard acoustic guitars, although they work very well on resophonics to my ear.

    Alternatively build some calluses on your picking fingers and keep your nails short -  like Tommy Emmanuel.
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  • McSwaggertyMcSwaggerty Frets: 665
    I've tried every fingerpick under the sun....now its just all fingertips with a wee bit of nail for me. 
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    Yeah, I feel that fingerpicks are not the way to go...unless you're a fkn banjo player ;)

    But srsly, make sure you're:
    • keeping your nails well groomed (see https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/266508/just-a-quicky-nano-glass-files ) and not too long (if I look at my right-hand palm, i can see 1mm of nail at most)
    • moisturise them...Barielle got a mention above...I've always just used Vaseline 'hand & nail' (yep, it's a pink bottle)
    • maybe look into a supplement if you've got a brittle nail problem (do Jelly Babies count?)

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  • victorludorumvictorludorum Frets: 1099
    Martin Simpson used to have synthetics put on top of his nails. I don't know if he still does though.
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 328
    Classical guitarists sometimes use silk nail wraps which work quite well.

    When I used to do a couple of hours of classical a day, I didn't need wraps, but I did find that using some kind of nail cream/nourishing stuff and then painting on some clear nail hardener helped. It wasn't obvious and didn't look like I was wearing nail varnish, if that's something of concern.

    Personally I need a little bit of nail to fingerpick to just get the right feeling when I touch the strings, but as others have said above, plenty of guitarists don't use nails.
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  • BillDLBillDL Frets: 8071
    Some guitarists used to go to extremes and even stick pieces of table tennis balls onto their nails and shape them.  When I was playing a lot of acoustic guitar and my nails ket wearing down and breaking I even superglued and varnished single ply tissue paper onto the tops of my nails to strengthen them.  The problem with this is when you catch your nail forcibly on something on a downward motion of your hand and it rips the nail right up off the bed / quick because the nail won't bend and / or break.  I stopped doing this after such a painful injury and if I really need to I use Alaska Piks and a standard thumbpick.  The Alaska Piks have to be quite tight to stay on and having one on my thumb constricts the blood flow.
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 3156
    Lower tension strings.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • guitartangoguitartango Frets: 1037
    blobb said:
    Lower tension strings.
    Any brands you recommend ?
    “Ken sent me.”
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 3156
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 3156
    Here's the tension chart(s) for Elixir strings for comparison.


    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 5734
    edited May 22
    blobb said:
    Lower tension strings.
    Will make no difference worth mentioning. The issue here is the RIGHT hand. Lower tension strings are easier to fret, but there is bugger all difference so far as the picking hand is concerned. 
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 5734

    To be fair I don't really like long nails (they annoy me!) maybe its the action on the Taylor ?  I might buy some Alaska piks, file them down and see how I go. I have always been a strummer and finger picked on a Nylon guitar, now I want to do more picking on the Taylor. 

    Action makes a huge difference to the LEFT hand. It makes very, very little difference to the right hand.

    (Taylors generally have very nice action, BTW, and thanks to their sensible modern neck design, they are very easy to get adjusted if you do happen to have one that is a bit high.)

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  • guitartangoguitartango Frets: 1037
    Tannin said:

    To be fair I don't really like long nails (they annoy me!) maybe its the action on the Taylor ?  I might buy some Alaska piks, file them down and see how I go. I have always been a strummer and finger picked on a Nylon guitar, now I want to do more picking on the Taylor. 

    Action makes a huge difference to the LEFT hand. It makes very, very little difference to the right hand.

    (Taylors generally have very nice action, BTW, and thanks to their sensible modern neck design, they are very easy to get adjusted if you do happen to have one that is a bit high.)

    You may be spot on here, maybe its the action on my Talyor, still look at the strings as well @blobb ;

    Thanks

    “Ken sent me.”
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 3156
    Every little helps. Those elixirs are, as you mentioned above, HARD. I found the combination of high tension on the left hand and the amount of effort on the right hand to actually move the buggers was very draining. Moving to low tension Newtone freed up my right hand a lot more than I expected them to. The advantage of the high tension is that when you put the 'work' in the tone is great. But they were hard work and I couldn't sustain the effort on both hands for very long. I don't use picks or nails, just fingers and pulling on the high tension strings took it's toll.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • guitartangoguitartango Frets: 1037
    blobb said:
    Every little helps. Those elixirs are, as you mentioned above, HARD. I found the combination of high tension on the left hand and the amount of effort on the right hand to actually move the buggers was very draining. Moving to low tension Newtone freed up my right hand a lot more than I expected them to. The advantage of the high tension is that when you put the 'work' in the tone is great. But they were hard work and I couldn't sustain the effort on both hands for very long. I don't use picks or nails, just fingers and pulling on the high tension strings took it's toll.
    At £10 its worth a punt, also Aliexpress do some cheap finger picks, so worth trying. 
    “Ken sent me.”
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