Any blues/rock folks here play without a pick?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by NoahL, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. NoahL

    NoahL Member

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    I've never felt completely comfortable with a pick and always feel more dextrous without. I like the agility it gives me with double-stops and other things. But there's a constant problem: my tone is inferior when I use my fingers. It's thinner and shriller/pitchier and more twangy. When I use a pick (usually a thick jazz-sized pick), the tone is fuller and sweeter (and louder) -- but I lose the dexterity. Basically it feels like I need to "yank" the strings less -- find a way to have my fingers go more quickly and lightly over the strings and not snap them so much. But this is hard, when I'm standing and playing and maybe a little nervous. Do you fingerstyle blues/rock guys notice that your tone is different when you play fingerstyle? Have you made adjustments in technique (or in guitar/amp settings) to compensate?
     
  2. crzyfngers

    crzyfngers Member

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    playing with fingers allows me to turn the amp up, more control over dynamics. i've always used a flatpick so i lose dexterity playing with my fingers. there are tones i can get with my fingers that are impossible with a pick and vice-versa.so i learned to do both. you can try different angles of attack with your fingers to beef things up. albert collins didn't seem to have a problem.
     
  3. NoahL

    NoahL Member

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    i'll try the different angles. basically i think i need to find a way to get my fingers to spend less time on the strings. turning the amp up might help, as it would encourage me to play lighter with my fingers. you're right, albert collins, albert king, jeff beck, ry cooder, luther dickinson, etc., etc., -- these fingerstyle guys don't have tone problems!
     
  4. JamminJeff

    JamminJeff Member

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    Derek Trucks has mastered playing without a pick and yes it changes the tone, apparently in a great way.

    For some of us, we do both (one more or less than the other) and it poses some tone setting challenges with the amp and to a lesser degree, the guitar.

    Keep at it because it a very cool approach to electric guitar and will open up some new dimensions in your playing.
     
  5. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    For me it developed out of dropping the pick constantly now I have my own bastardised style of fingers, thumb and nails.

    Unfortunatly its second nature and I don't even think about it.
     
  6. mike80

    mike80 Member

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    The other guitarist in my band doesn't use a pick. He's been playing for 15 years and says he could never play with a pick because he kept dropping it. Sometimes his tone sounds good, sometimes it's too twangy IMO, but he's a great player either way.
     
  7. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    started finger picking, played with a thumb pick for a long time, started using a pick mostly for picking techniques and false harmonics, figured out to do all that and more finger picking so I am rid of the damn thing.

    Part of it might be that I am left handed and play right handed guitars, the pick never felts right, I play air guitar left guitar and I think that is what is natural for me, I notice a lot of the finger pickers are left handed as well,
     
  8. bleomonkey

    bleomonkey Member

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    I always use to play with my fingers, and hated a pick because it felt unnatural. What really helps is to hold the pick however feels natural to you and feels like part of your hand, not some plastic extension. I play with the round end, so it feels more natural. I personally think that using my fingers sound better than a pick because I can really dig into the notes and get feeling into them. John Mayer uses his fingers on the intro to Gravity and Mark Knopfler always plays with his fingers
     
  9. johnwtuggle

    johnwtuggle Member

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    I use my fingers all the time, and you can get some killer riffs and tones happening that way. There's just a different attack going on that's way warmer sounding to me.

    I use both and find it is necessary for me to have both options. You'll find things you like with and without a pick.

    It's really cool because you'll play differently because of how you're fingers react to the strings.

    Here's a video of me playing fingerstyle lead.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAMdbGuEKJc
     
  10. NoahL

    NoahL Member

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    great stuff. i see some of you agree it sounds twangier, some argue it's warmer. i think i need to modify my attack so that the fingers don't hook the strings so much, don't make it twangy and harsh.
     
  11. Swain

    Swain Member

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    I use my fingers. And I also use my Index Fingernail (Fingertip, when the nail is chipped off!), as a "Flatpick". I find that everyone comments on my having a "dark" tone.

    I can get those thin, snappy tones too.

    Maybe try setting your Amp's EQ and especially it's Volume/Master Volume settings differently. I find that the Amp's Volume Levels relative to it's Power Output is a very crucial aspect of "Tone".

    One idea: Set your Amp's Treble all the way up. WFO. Then, turn the Tone Knob on your Guitar all the way to 0. Now, slowly bring the Guitar's Tone Knob up. Keep checking it. As you reach about 3 or 4 on the Guitar's Tone Knob, you may find some really great, thick and meaty Tones.

    Happy Hunting!
     
  12. TommyMambo

    TommyMambo Member

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    I'm at the point where I play only 1/2 the time with a pick.

    Not using one gives way better tone, imo.
     
  13. Hepcat

    Hepcat Member

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    I usually go back and forth between using one and not using one

    I feel like I can play certain rythms better without

    just do whats most comfortable at the time

    I keep a pick tucked in between the pickguard and body of my guitar(strat) when I feel like I need a pick there it is.
     
  14. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Gold Supporting Member

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    I play without a pick probably 30% of the time. No reason really other than I learned to do it a long time ago demoing guitars every day for people in a music store and didn't always have a pick. It kind of stuck and has evolved into my playing over the years. I mostly use it for snappy, bluesy solo sounds but I also do a thing my brother Victor calls "the crab" that is a kind of finger picking thing with just two or three fingers that I use for rhythms. And of course, I sometimes use it to strum chords on quiet subtle parts.
     
  15. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    I'd kill to be able to play like jeff beck.
     
  16. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    Jeff Beck wrote a lesson in Guitar Player around 78 or so, it was before I saw him with Jann Hammer in 79, cause I was watching to see what he was doing, the thing about Jeff Beck is that it is so natural the way he plays, he was having a lot of fun that night, I remember he was playing around with the volume swells on cause we ended as lovers, really amazing how he could change those up and get totally different sounds.

    Jeff says he went to fingerpicking because he was always dropping the pick, the totex solve that problem, however the pick has limitations that always frustrate me, and having to hold a pick while I am playing is distrtacting.

    the lesson covers his fingerpicking, and really influenced me in my playing, I was using a pick for false harmonics and pick dynamics, but now I figured out how to get the false harmonics without a pick, just hit the string with the nail dummy, its hard not to get them.
     
  17. jimfog

    jimfog Senior Member

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    You're right about the info....wrong about the time. It was a big GP story, with a tutorial on his fingerstyle, w/ pictures...........came out after FLASH was released. I have it in front of me now.

    Jeff switched to fingers after "There and Back" came out.........

    I play SOOO many solo acoustic/vocals gigs. That's the only thing holding me back from going all fingers (or maybe thumbpick).........I just can't get the drive and solid strum that a pick provides.
     
  18. cram

    cram Member

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    I've gone through -
    playing mostly electric and relying heavily on picks.
    playing years with acoustic and no pick.
    back to playing mostly electric and I go back and forth with pick/fingers along with some nice hybrid stuff I've been working through.

    For picking on electric with the digits... I've found that a light touch when moving to the center or away from the bridge is necessary. You can't hook the strings so they pop back down against the frets for the sound. I have to hold back so much because I can drift back into this easily.

    When playing with more of an agressive fingerstyle I drift toward the bridge because the string is near it's standard/resting point so it's more rigid.
     
  19. armando

    armando Member

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    Hi guys, here is a url to a friend of mine who strictly uses fingers with no nails http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqB42o5iAvc and I must say that this clip doesn't really do him justice......he is able to play any style with just fingers, bluegrass, shred, etc.
     
  20. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Fingerpicking always came easy to me, and I felt like I was cheating if I did it. Whether it's like Knopfler or classical tremelo, it didn't seem difficult, even quick rest strokes on the electric came pretty easy. I wanted to pick like Dimeola or Yngwie. Flatpicking is what was hard for me and that's what I worked the hardest at, cuz that's what I wanted, it took a lot of work. But it's worth getting whatever you're after.
     

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