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Thumb pick vs. flesh


kebob

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Just seeking some insight on using a thumb pick vs. flesh when fingerpicking. I've always just used my bare flesh when finger picking. I've tried thumb picks before, but never stuck with it long enough to get over the hump. I like the sound of a thumb pick (more pronounced rhythmic "thump") but like the versatility of just being able to grab a guitar and go to town with skin to string.

 

What's been your experience -- anyone ever switch to one, then switch back again?

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The in between : The nail.

Not too long/short cut then sanded in the right curve (nothing scientific) and sometimes stabilized with a transparent lacquer.

Gives a good sound much clearer than the flesh and keeps the close contact with the instrument.

 

 

Agree on that one, in my limited experience. In the deep dark past, I used both a thumb pick and metal finger picks. Not exactly sure what sound I was after back then, but those puppies are still lurking in my parts boxes, like the fingers of some Harry Potter villain. Lord Voldemort nail extensions. Of course, McGuinn has been known to use them playing 12-string electric, but he was really a banjo player who saw the light and repented of his evil ways.

 

Haven't gotten to the nail lacquer stage yet. The super-macho guys I work with already look at me strangely, and I do break a lot of nails at work. Left hand with no nails and these weird creases in the ends of my fingers, claws on my right hand. Clearly some kind of pervert, into god knows what. Maybe I should just go with four bright red nails on my right hand, and let it all hang out......

 

James Taylor is to blame for this whole problem......

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The in between : The nail.

Not too long/short cut then sanded in the right curve (nothing scientific) and sometimes stabilized with a transparent lacquer.

Gives a good sound much clearer than the flesh and keeps the close contact with the instrument.

 

Do you use a thumb pick? I assume you don't use your thumb nail, right?

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Im not the best person to answer as Im just a relative fingerpicking beginner (but with established instinct) and for me flesh and nail feels right. Im still learning to pick with strength and authority but having the thumb next to the string, and literally touching feels natural to me.

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Agree on that one, in my limited experience. In the deep dark past, I used both a thumb pick and metal finger picks. Not exactly sure what sound I was after back then, but those puppies are still lurking in my parts boxes, like the fingers of some Harry Potter villain. Lord Voldemort nail extensions. Of course, McGuinn has been known to use them playing 12-string electric, but he was really a banjo player who saw the light and repented of his evil ways.

My original steel claws from the late 70's very soon got out of shape, some even totally flat. Impressed you still got yours.

 

Haven't gotten to the nail lacquer stage yet. The super-macho guys I work with already look at me strangely, and I do break a lot of nails at work. Left hand with no nails and these weird creases in the ends of my fingers, claws on my right hand. Clearly some kind of pervert, into god knows what. Maybe I should just go with four bright red nails on my right hand, and let it all hang out......

 

James Taylor is to blame for this whole problem......

Hehe he, yeah, it takes some kind of man-material to wear his nails long. Admit I'm not that macho, , , but never gave a sh.. Take it or leave it girls, , , I play the guitar.

Almost - for countless are the times when I found myself lifting cups and glasses in the most peculiar finger-positions while dating as a youngster. I even cut them to half size before certain highly important meetings. The important thing is to keep them clean. My good friend Ed was a car-mechanic. Those black traces of oil on his young ambitious hands created huge probs. He later became a sound engineer.

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I use my bare thumb most of the time. I've tried thumb picks many times, and the only way I was ever able to make it work was to sand the edge down almost level with flesh(basically making the pick useless). I do use regular thumb picks with lap steel though.

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Flesh, but not because I think it sounds better -- rather, I just never could get comfortable contorting my hand in a way that I could hit the right string with the thumb while keeping my fingers in position as well.

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I've been playing with plastic thumb pick and metal finger picks for 50 years. I started using them because I saw a picture of Big Bill Broonzy wearing them. Seemed like a reason at the time.

 

It's all personal preference, of course, but the picks do provide consistency of volume, tone, attack. I have pretty strong nails, but I'm glad I started out with picks and I don't remember being bothered by them. Maybe that's because I started using them when my fretting fingers hurt so bad I just didn't notice much else.

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When playing electric guitar I use a plectrum, but when I started playing finger style acoustic it seemed natural for me to use my bare thumb. I played like this for a number of years. I decided to try thumbpicks. At first, they really felt odd and I didn't like them. I continued to experiment using them and now use them 99% of the time.

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I have no choice as I have never been able to get the hang of a thumbpick. But one of the great advantages of not using one is the freedom to use different parts of your thumb to attack the low end. I love, as example, slapping the low E with the side of my slightly bent thumb by the nuckle joint. A very different kind of sound than say using the tip or outside corner or edge of the nail. Just a great thump. Also it is alot easier for me to pinch strings between my thumb and first finger.

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But one of the great advantages of not using one is the freedom to use different parts of your thumb to attack the low end. I love, as example, slapping the low E with the side of my slightly bent thumb by the nuckle joint. A very different kind of sound than say using the tip or outside corner or edge of the nail. Just a great thump. Also it is alot easier for me to pinch strings between my thumb and first finger.

 

 

ZW, are you talkin' playin' the guitar here, or foreplay?

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