Finger Picking Troubles

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  • DavidRDavidR Frets: 812
    edited May 22
    I have used Dunlop nickel .018 fingerpicks and some sort of plastic thumb pick for 52 years. I always use them. I taught myself to play and wanted to sound like the 1930’s Piedmont Blues street players like Blind Boy Fuller. In the 1930’s people used fingerpicks to get volume. No one would have heard them otherwise and they would have got no money. Big bodied acoustics and resonators ditto. Fingerpicks are arguably a bit niche when you can amplify electronically. They are maybe a bit last century now.  If you really want to use them you just have to persist but here are some tips. 

    * Try many picks to establish what suits. No two people are the same. There’s no such thing as the ‘best’ fingerpick. 

    * Make sure you put them on the right way round! You still occasionally see pictures of the fingerpicks being worn like claws. The flat surface of the pick should be in contact with the finger pulp. 

    * Keep metal finger picks highly polished. Use clothing or an upholstered chair!

    • Make sure the angle of attack of finger picks is correct and that the string is not running up the edges of the pick by twisting them on your finger. (Usually a little to the thumb side of the finger). 

    * Trim and smooth plastic thumb picks and use heat to mould them to your thumb. They are made from thermoplastics. 

    * Plastic thumb picks are hard or soft. Try a lot and choose on this basis. The tone and loudness of the base strings alter accordingly. 

    * You can fiddle around with plastic finger picks. Or brass or gold plated. Usually you’ll revert back to nickle. 

    • Metal thumb picks are used by banjo players but sound harsh or overly bright or too loud on acoustics. 

    • Opinion this but players using metal finger picks tend towards all mahogany instruments +/- Monel strings. Both things balance the brightness of metal picks. Maybe. 

    It will take several weeks or a month or two to master fingerpicks. Especially if other techniques are hard wired into your hands and little grey cells. :-)
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 3156
    Of course, don't underestimate the impact of.....posture! Esecially with big body acoustics, reaching over the top, slumped in a chair, whatever. Try placing the body on your left knee and bringing the neck up high for a change. That can give your right hand a different perspective.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • LittlejonnyLittlejonny Frets: 167
    Sounds like you need to build some calluses. I e been playing with nails for 30 years so I don’t have calluses on my right hand (I wish I did). I suffer with poor nails and am currently using polygel with a UV lamp to extend them. It’s a bit of a learning curve But when you get it right it’s like having good nails. 

    But it sounds like you need to stick with flesh anyway. 
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