Playing Electrics Finger-Style?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Gurn, Dec 9, 2017.


  1. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    It is geared towards classical players, but “Pumping Nylon” has some exercises that will target consistent attack between the fingers.

    I’d avoid any gear crutches to make things work. Learn to do this with your hands. Whether you’re playing an electric with .008s, an electric with .013a, a steel-string acoustic, or a classical this is something you want your hands to be able to do.
     
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  2. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    I mess around with it on my .009 electric once in a while. Strings tend to catch on the skin of my fingers, and thus snap back, adding a bright "snap" to the tone. I guess it's because of the bit of callous built up from hybrid picking without relying on fingernails, as I tend to keep the fingernails short.
     
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  3. clayt0n

    clayt0n Member

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    Mike Seal from The Jerry Douglas Band / Jeff Sipe Trio plays 100% fingers (he uses an unorthodox technique though) and swears by a Boss CS-3 set at 12 o'clock straight across and a rotating cast of FET boosts

    sounds fantastic


     
  4. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    Since I had my stroke, I am much happier with my tone fingerstyle on the electrics. I worked on those chops a lot more than I did, when I played in the bars before I got sick. Now and then, I still like the pick for getting certain sounds/tones. But I am much more thoughtful playing the fingerstyle.
     
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  5. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    I cut my nails really short for finger styling electric, preferring the pads of my fingers, with just a touch of nail.
    I do believe that MK used pretty heavy compression on Sultans, for example, so for live performance, I think compression is your fried.
    TO get better, practice a lot.
    John Mayer rarely uses a pick, I've noticed. (Dead & CO excepted)
     
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  6. Gurn

    Gurn Silver Supporting Member

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    Yeah he does. I'll listen to more of his stuff. That's what I want to do. Seems a lot easier with fingers than with a pick. It's easier and faster to navigate the strings than with a pick. Less wrist-work.

    Thanks.

    That's how I play. I have no problems with string-gauge and finger-picking. I just have trouble getting
    consistent volume and tone from the guitar.

    I fooled around with my Yamaha mixer's compression today while playing my Jazzmaster finger-style.
    For some reason, the tone got brighter - the more compression I added.. Odd. But maybe that's something I should work with.

    I have a JoeMeek MC2 I may try with my guitars.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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  7. AlamoJoe

    AlamoJoe Silver Supporting Member

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    Too bad Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler aren't here to chime in. Two masters of finger picked electric guitar....Lindsey Buckingham as well.
     
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  8. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    Orange Squeeze compressor.
     
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  9. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Member

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    Inner corner? Damn, sounds painful for me, cause I never used nails for playing! But I guess it`s natural for you :) How do you think a bass player achieves it with a finger? I once saw Billy Sheehan do it.
     
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  10. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    This a good tutorial on finger-style on electric. He goofs around a bit at the beginning, but gets a bit more serious as he digs into how he kills it. He is just so effortless.



    I have spent a bit of time working on the technique he talks about here and benefit from it. I like the rhythmic thumb/forefinger combination. It's given me success with a few different songs that I was not nailing.
    I spent a lot of time playing acoustic with my fingers in my callow yoof, and love the different tonalities that you can extract, Turning your fingers over and flicking with the back of the nails, flamenco style is another approach, yielding a strong bright attack.
    I used to let the tip of my nail touch the string to yield a harmonic when picking on an upstroke too, which may be similar to what Jim is describing.
    As a few people have said, there is no substitute for time and practice for developing a strong consistent style.
    I find with my short nails, I can either just use my fingertip pads for a really clean tone, or let my nails dig in for some added grit. Nails alone do not produce tones that please me on electric. My fingernails are like dragon claws, I might note, so YMMV.
     
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  11. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Just tried fingerpicking some bebop lines I'd been practicing w/ a pick on the electric with .010. I didn't get as much of a "snap". It could be the slightly heavier gauge strings are just a bit less slinky than the .009s and thus less susceptible to catching on calluses. In turn, it's easier to have consistent control over tone - can still get a snap when I want it. This guitar has humbuckers while the other has single coils - might have something to do with it too.

    Consistent volume control not an issue on either guitar. Turning up the amp a bit louder than you normally would and relying more on the amp, instead of hand/finger force, for volume should do the trick. I don't have a compressor pedal btw.
     
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  12. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    One of the techniques I use fairly often is to hold my thumb and index finger like I would if i was holding a pick but use my index nail itself as the pick. That allows me to do almost anything I might do with a flat pick. When I say the "inner edge" I'm talking about the right corner of the top of the nail using that technique. I don't know much about Billy Sheehan's playing but it ought to work the same on a bass.
     
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  13. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for Silver Supporting Member

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    I've been listening to a ton of Tuareg music for the past few years, and it really has me thoughtful about the potential for fingerpicked electric guitar. Something that seems to be remarkably consistent across geographically diverse African styles is using the thumb and a single finger. I can't quite do it... I picked up thumb and two finger early on, and that's just what I do. But over the years, I've adapted the Richard Thompson pick-and-fingers technique, mostly with just the middle finger (I find it hard to get good balance with the reduced leverage of the ring finger).

    Still, I have never gotten comfortable with fingerpicked electric guitar the way I am with fingerpicked acoustic. Notes jump out too much. Maybe I should try a compressor?
     
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  14. clayt0n

    clayt0n Member

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    Wow, awesome observation! I never noticed how specific the 2 fingers were. I went and looked deeper into Bachata, an Afro-Dominican guitar based music I'm a fan of, and sure enough they're all primarily using thumb and index finger. Mostly amplified acoustic guitars, though.
     
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  15. Gurn

    Gurn Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't do the thumb and forefinger method much. But I can. Mainly I use the claw technique.
    It's a lot less wear & tear on the wrist.

    I use my thumb, middle finger & ring finger a lot. I don't rely on my index finger any
    more than I do my middle or ring fingers. Now I just need to practice it on an electric.
    The attack with a pick is so much more consistent than with the pads of my fingers.

    The John Mayer video was really good too.
     
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  16. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    Entirely up to you. My feeling is that practicing with compression might create technical complacency.
    Messing with the guitar you use, and maybe string gauge might be more satisfying.
    Turning up the volume and forcing yourself to control dynamics will yield better long-term results. It really depends on what your motivations are.
     
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  17. sahhas

    sahhas Member

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    here is some fingerstyle playing on electrics, John Fahey in the 90s:




    and then Jim O'Rourke:


    these were 2 names of folks I thought of who played fingerstyle on an electric....ohhh, I forgot Adrian Legg:
     
  18. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    Plus David Grissom and Robben Ford. Honestly, I find it very uncomfortable and hard on my fingers. Those guys seem to great tones by doing it, but I think it takes a lot of practice.
     
  19. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    If you like the sound of a pick for certain things, but you have trouble holding onto it and want the flexibility of fingers, you might consider wearing a thumb pick. A lot of famous players throughout history have gotten a lot of mileage out of the thumb-pick + fingers combo.

    Worth consideration, IMO.
     
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  20. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    Just when I start to forget how much I secretly enjoy and admire John Mayer's playing, someone has to post something like this.
     
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