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2015: The Year Everyone Learns to Fingerpick...


Smurfbird

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OK, after using my lack of coordination as an excuse for never learning how to fingerpick, a friend of mine tired of my whining sent me this link with the simple question: Will you at least try to fingerpick using one finger and a thumb?

 

I didn't realize it was a trick question. It is a trick question, isn't it?

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Technically, the thumb isn't a 'finger'.

Seriously, learning how to finger pick is some of the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I would consider not using finger picks at first, they could be a definite distraction. I use to practice tapping on my desk in high school. Two or three different, simple patterns just so my fingers could learn to think for themselves. Like anything else - don't start out watching Montoya play Malaguena and get discouraged. Or Elizabeth Cotton playing Freight Train upside down ! G'Luck.

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I would actually kind of like to learn to hybrid pick.

That's exactly how I do it, and it works for me.

 

It's a hybrid of good and bad picking.

 

For picks, I use a hybrid of fingernails and fingers, depending on which are broken..

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Travis only used thumb and one finger.

 

If one can grasp with the hand, one can fingerpick.

 

I've used the term "clamp" in teaching it.

 

Key of C "Freight Train." middle finger on melody string, thumb on bass string or strings and don't worry which at first. Index finger hits any string between.

 

Clamp, thumb, index, clamp, thumb, index, etc., covers most of it.

 

Walk first, dance and run when you have your balance.

 

m

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Just one other point when it comes to guitar technique: It's very much like learning any other skill, and I use a martial arts analogy that any technique works sometimes and no technique works all the time.

 

To say practice makes perfect is like saying that one who plays the slot machine will find reward from his technique. Not true, he simply learns habit and frustration; he puts in far more than what he takes out. The one who plays guitar as a musician begins simply, then modifies what he plays to fit the music. In that way, one gets more music than effort put into it.

 

m

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I would actually kind of like to learn to hybrid pick.

 

 

 

 

These hybrid 'plectrum thumb picks' are fun!

 

 

http://www.zzounds.com/item--DNPHEP?siid=136838

 

 

I used similar ones, named 'pop' as I was just learning fingerpicking back in the, well, dawn of time somewhere, but they are long gone.

 

 

Tip: Don't do the gig until you got a callous on the ring finger! Screaming pain and agony! :mellow:

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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McGuinn used fingerpicks as I recall in his flatpick-finger picking.

 

So did a lotta others.

 

A friend used that sort of technique on a Fender Jazzmaster electric with his pinkie on the volume dial on the guitar. He could make the thing sound more like a pedal steel than a pedal steel.

 

m

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McGuinn used fingerpicks as I recall in his flatpick-finger picking.

 

So did a lotta others.

 

A friend used that sort of technique on a Fender Jazzmaster electric with his pinkie on the volume dial on the guitar. He could make the thing sound more like a pedal steel than a pedal steel.

 

m

 

McGuinn once posted photos of his picks on his website.

 

Working the volume knob is an art unto itself. Walter Trout is a killer with the technique. Check out his solo here at about 4 minutes into the tune. Sounds like a pedal steel one second and then like a violin the next.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6Novkrgwmo

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Pretty much ditto on the Tele with Roy Buchanan, depending on the piece.

 

It's a valid technique IMHO if it's "you."

 

Some of McGuinn's material on Youtube also shows the way he handled the technique.

 

m

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I use a jazz style of finger picking (also used in classical). It's mostly way different than the traditional "Travis" style, but can include that. Many so called jazz chords go beyond the 1st position open type chords associated with country, bluegrass, and folk. They are also different than the bar chords so often used by blues players and rockers. An example would be, 5x665x for an A maj 7. (these are fret numbers from the bass string, x's are muted) The main difference is that you can't use these chords and just strum across all six strings. There are literally thousands of these chords. The player learns to not play certain strings. One way to do this is to use adjacent fingers to muffle a string while strumming, or to just play those individual notes of the chord with the fingers. This can be done with a flat pick held thumb and 1st finger, plus three fingers left to pick with, or all five digits, with nails or finger picks. This yields 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 note "chords", although 2 notes are technically not a chord but just an interval. 6 notes can be played by brushing across 2 at a time with one finger. Many interesting effects can be had including traditional finger-picking. I think of it more like playing notes on a keyboard to create a chord. So yea... I like to pick and am striving constantly to improve my technique to become more than I am. Try it, you'll like it. B)

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Never really though of that kind of chord voicing as jazz mainly because I tend to play my 7th, 7th(#9) and whatever chords like that and have never thought of myself as anywhere near a jazz player. Came to it from listening to how guys like Lightnin' Hopkins and how he would play an open D7th chord up the neck. Got the 7th(#9) from Hendrix. I just kind of expanded on them as I worked out melody lines and variations around the chord adding and removing whatever other fingers. But I have ever really used barre chords other than to maybe barre the top three strings at the fifth fret and add and remove the little finger from the high E at the eighth fret.

 

The only place jazz has snuck into my playing is some Freddy Greene-style comping - which I tend to use in descending/ascending chord lines on the low strings. Works great for coming up with some fun turn arounds.

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I use a jazz style of finger picking (also used in classical). It's mostly way different than the traditional "Travis" style, but can include that. Many so called jazz chords go beyond the 1st position open type chords associated with country, bluegrass, and folk. They are also different than the bar chords so often used by blues players and rockers. An example would be, 5x665x for an A maj 7. (these are fret numbers from the bass string, x's are muted) The main difference is that you can't use these chords and just strum across all six strings. There are literally thousands of these chords. The player learns to not play certain strings. One way to do this is to use adjacent fingers to muffle a string while strumming, or to just play those individual notes of the chord with the fingers. This can be done with a flat pick held thumb and 1st finger, plus three fingers left to pick with, or all five digits, with nails or finger picks. This yields 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 note "chords", although 2 notes are technically not a chord but just an interval. 6 notes can be played by brushing across 2 at a time with one finger. Many interesting effects can be had including traditional finger-picking. I think of it more like playing notes on a keyboard to create a chord. So yea... I like to pick and am striving constantly to improve my technique to become more than I am. Try it, you'll like it. B)

Interesting you bring this up.

 

I find, that when playing with keybaord players, it's a good idea to change the ORDER of the notes in order to not have everything sound like mush. For instance, a keyboard player who is playing chords and playing a good portion of the "sound" in a tune will have a tendancy to play the notes more in order, as in 1-3-5-7, etc. A typical guitarist chord of 1-5-3 or such puts too many of the same notes too close together for a good harmony, if'n you are wanting to play the same chord together.

 

So, basically, either stay out of his way in a different octave/register, or be with him using similar or the same chrd patterns, and thus...

 

Sure, it's harder to finger, harder to pick, BUT, you don't HAVE to play every string, every note, and you don't need to be all expert and fast and such. Which gets back to technique. Or lack of...

 

...so, perhaps, not so much how hard it is or how comfortable, or how "slow" you feel doing it, but rather, that it is in time (timing), and deliberate in what notes you hit and what you DON'T. Which, you might choose according to how it SOUNDS.

 

Funny thing I find, when concentrating on the result, somehow, the technique or the fingering or the picking just naturally falls in place.

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McGuinn used fingerpicks as I recall in his flatpick-finger picking.

 

 

 

I suspect McGuinn's picking style and equipment were the direct result of his start as a banjo player. Certainly his 12-string style is based on banjo picking.

 

As a bit of trivia, both he and Gene Clark (Byrds) were members of the New Christy Minstrels at one time, along with a huge number of people in the 60's folk and folk/rock movements.

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