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Strumming


Thawk Dean

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I need some advice. I've been trying to get a decent strum with my thumb (nice rhyme, eh). I've used a pick (softest) and can get a good strum with it. However, I like the mellow sound I get without the pick. My coach made me a pick out of a plastic coffee can lid that is MUCH softer than the purchased one. This helps, but I think it is the "slap" of the pick on the strings that I don't care for. Also, with a pick, the sound just JUMPS out of my guitar. It makes it hard to practice and stay subtle about it. What's the "secret" to strumming with your thumb????

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It depends on the style. Jeff Beck only uses his thumb (no pick ever) and a few fingers and gets incredible subtlety and dynamics out of his strat. But he's really using his thumbnail as much as the fleshy part of his thumb.

 

Wes Montgomery also used his thumb and got a beautifully smooth and unique sound out of his Gibson Super 400 and other big body acoustic jazz guitars.

 

My suggestion is to grow your thumbnail and 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingernails out a little.

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Thanks, BrianH........I don't have a problem in my "down" strum. Where I have trouble is that the bottom E-string will hang up on the fleshy part of my thumb at the edge of the side of my thumb nail which PLUNKS that string and ruins the subtlety of the souund on the "up" strum. I tried keeping my thumb nail shorter to keep my nail from contacting the string. I guess I just need to keep trying different things and practice until I "get" it. ALSO, do you "anchor" the other 4 fingers on the body to maintain a constant position?

 

Have a good day.

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ALSO' date=' do you "anchor" the other 4 fingers on the body to maintain a constant position?[/quote']

That's kind of personal preference I think. If I'm doing finger picking or alternating plectrum style, I usually anchor my pinky somewhere on the pick guard below the sound hole (if it has either) depending on the guitar. When strumming, I don't usually anchor anywhere except if intentionally muting the strings with the palm at the bridge.

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With being the novice I am ( 3 months ) I'm just looking to develope good habits and techniques to get good quality sound OUT of my guitar. Someday I'll look in to muting. Right now I get enough mutiing by accident with my fretting fingers :).

 

Thanks!

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A sharp pick point will produce a sharper sound. A rounded point will produce a softer, some would say, rounder sound.

 

You can purchase picks with a rounded tip... or use a pick in your current inventory.

 

You can either take a fingernail trimmer, file to the tip, then burnish on your pants leg... or simply rotate the pick 120° and use one of the rounder 'corners of the pick.

 

Someone is marketing circular pick that looks like a poker chip, but isn't.

 

One last thing I've done to practice more quietly is to use a ukulele pick. They are made of compressed felt. They are quite spendy for what they are, but I suppose, because they don't sell many is why they were about $2.00 each. I have two. They have lasted surprisingly long.

 

Take your pick.. (pun intended)

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TommyK..........Thanks for the tip on the Uke pick. Next time I get to a "candy store" I'll see if I can "pick" up a couple. Making a pick from a soft plastic coffee can lid does help some, but I still would like to be a bit more quiet and subdued for practicing.

 

I'm out in Denver right now and didn't have room in the car for my "toy". So, I'm on about a week layoff. I'll try to find some out here but won't be abel to try it 'til I get home.

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