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Guitar question for the guitarists...
13 March 2013
12.55am
LongHairedLady
coming in through the bathroom window
Apple rooftop
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17 January 2013
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I have been learning a bit of acoustic guitar, mostly strumming.  I have tried using a pick (or a plectrum) but I just hate it.  I've tried and tried and it just feels so disconnected from the guitar.  Is this possibly because of my inexperience, or could it just be personal preference?  When I was a kid I played the ukulele fairly well, and I hated using a pick to strum then, too.

 

I like to use my thumb.  I started this way because I would practice late at night, and it was quieter so I would not wake anyone up (basement suite-thin walls).  Now I can't get used to any other way.  On that note, I have considered putting a short acrylic nail just on my right thumb.  Has anyone else tried this?  I know Paul gets one on his index finger when he tours for playing songs like "Blackbird".  

 

Thanks!  a-hard-days-night-john-1

"Please don't bring your banjo back, I know where it's been..  I wasn't hardly gone a day, when it became the scene..  Banjos!  Banjos!  All the time, I can't forget that tune..  and if I ever see another banjo, I'm going out and buy a big balloon!"

 

13 March 2013
1.59am
DBTC
In the Middle of a Roundabout
Casbah Coffee Club
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29 December 2012
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There are quite a few guitarists who play a lot with their thumbs. Jeff Beck, for instance. 

Although, I do hear quite a few really new guitarists say they prefer using their fingers or thumb because of inexperience with a pick. Personally I enjoy using a pick a lot more than my fingers, but I've also used a pick since day one. 

That being said, it really doesn't matter. How long have you tried a pick? I would try it for a couple days before I decide I dislike it, but that's just me. But if you really don't like a pick, it's not going to handicap you at all. In fact, I have a lot of respect for guitarists who use their thumb for picking… I can't do it for crap! 

13 March 2013
2.06am
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
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1 November 2012
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It's quite possible to strum without using a pick.  The most common way I think is to hold your fingers together open hand slightly cupped and just brush your four fingernails back and forth across the strings -- or brush them all in one direction (not back and forth, just "forth").

I haven't used a pick in years.  I like to fingerpick anyway, using my thumb, index finger, middle finger, and rarely also my ring finger (I grow out my nails on my right hand a little for this, but I keep my nails super short on my left hand, so they don't get in the way when I press down on the strings).   Some people just use thumb and index finger to pluck and to occasionally strum.  I knew a local folk musician (Francois Arambel) who only used those two because he had lost his other three fingers! -- and he could do complex stuff many people can't do with all their fingers intact.

I once thought of gluing false nails on my fingers, because my natural nails kept breaking, but I never got around to trying that.

Another tip:  buy a "zither pick" -- a pick especially for zithers, they are wafer-thin, flexible, and don't feel so thick and cumbersome.

Mundo paparazzi mi amore cicce verdi parasol.
13 March 2013
2.40am
derek_ec
A Beginning
Forum Posts: 1
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13 March 2013
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One thing I've always hated in myself, is becoming so obsessive compulsive about every aspect of my playing. I'd recommend you do what makes you feel comfortable, happy and then….natural. it's your best shot at developing your own style and tone that maybe someday others will want to emulate instead of being just another good guitar player.

But regarding the pick, for acoustic strumming especially, you might want to be sure you are using a light to medium gauge pick. It adds a clickety rhythmic tone and less resistance to your feeling of connection. Electric….I go heavy picks even experimenting with metal, but acoustic I find is warmer and smoother to play with a more flexible pick.

13 March 2013
2.53am
LongHairedLady
coming in through the bathroom window
Apple rooftop
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17 January 2013
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Thanks for the help everyone!  I have tried quite a few kinds, from very thin to very thick and lots in between.  I could probably try for longer.  Each time I try to play with a pick I get frustrated after a few minutes and I'm back to the thumb.  

I had acrylic nails for a few months last year.  It sucks getting the strength back after taking them off, but having only one would be fine with me.  They totally feel like your own nails, so it would probably work well.  

 

PS:  Welcome to the forum! a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

"Please don't bring your banjo back, I know where it's been..  I wasn't hardly gone a day, when it became the scene..  Banjos!  Banjos!  All the time, I can't forget that tune..  and if I ever see another banjo, I'm going out and buy a big balloon!"

 

13 March 2013
7.37pm
vonbontee
Inside a Letterbox
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1775
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1 December 2009
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I started out using a very thin pick, and eventually developed the lazy habit of picking with my index fingernail. Actually, the pick feels better for strumming those big six-strinig chords, whereas if I'm picking out single notes or chords involving just a few strings, it's much easier to use the nail. Really, though, I'm a terrible guitarist and have only ever mastered really rudimentary things. (BTW congratulations on passing the 500 post mark! :) )

I like black music, disco music. I like the disco music that's out now - John Lennon, 1975
13 March 2013
9.29pm
Joe
Pepperland
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31 March 2008
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I never, ever use a plectrum. I've never got on with them. I strum the strings with the nail of my index finger, or (more often) fingerpick arpeggios from chords.

Please don't spoil my day; I'm miles away

Can buy me love! Please consider using these links to support the Beatles Bible: Amazon | iTunes

14 March 2013
1.25am
LongHairedLady
coming in through the bathroom window
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1891
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17 January 2013
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vonbontee said
(BTW congratulations on passing the 500 post mark! :) )

Thanks!  a-hard-days-night-john-1

"Please don't bring your banjo back, I know where it's been..  I wasn't hardly gone a day, when it became the scene..  Banjos!  Banjos!  All the time, I can't forget that tune..  and if I ever see another banjo, I'm going out and buy a big balloon!"

 

14 March 2013
3.07pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
New York
Apple rooftop
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10 August 2011
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Depends completely on what you're playing.

I hardly ever use a pick unless fooling around with solos. I like being able to pluck multiple strings simultaneously (Blackbird being indeed a great example).

 

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
14 March 2013
3.44pm
fabfouremily
Sitting in an English garden
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3 May 2012
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I too wondered if the reason I can't get on with it was because of my newness to playing guitar. Thought maybe it was just me but clearly not…

Fellow guitar-newbe here! :)

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

14 March 2013
3.49pm
parlance
Slaggers
Apple rooftop
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8 November 2012
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I won an acoustic guitar at a local store and I started out this semester taking a beginning guitar class. I wasn't sure if I wanted to play left or right handed so I started out trying both. But because I have an internship where I have to carry heavy equipment, I ended up torquing my wrists and had to go to the hospital to make sure I didn't break them (luckily it was just a strain and they're much better).

I'm sure I was doing something wrong to cause that much strain on my wrists. Unfortunately a class at school wasn't the place to get the kind of personal attention I needed to make sure I was playing correctly. So for now the guitar is sitting in the corner, unplayed. :-( Hoping I can pick it up again.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 March 2013
6.42pm
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
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1 November 2012
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Some beginners may mistakenly think that finger-picking with multiple fingers (thumb, index and middle finger) demands great talent. 

When I began to do it, I just picked patterns at random, trying to keep a basic tempo consistent, but otherwise not worrying about how orderly my arpeggios were.  Slowly over time I got better and better.

"Travis" style is fun if you can try to learn it:  Strike a bass note with your thumbnail, then strum (or pluck) any combination of strings with your other fingers, alternating with your thumb, and keep doing this while changing chords.

Another big help to me in my early guitar years was to play along with songs on records.  My first record I bought the songbook for and began to try to accompany with my budding knowledge of chords was Red Rose Speedway.  It was so fun the first time I was able to match the chords to the song "Little Lamb Dragonfly", for example.

Mundo paparazzi mi amore cicce verdi parasol.
16 March 2013
7.45pm
LongHairedLady
coming in through the bathroom window
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1891
Member Since:
17 January 2013
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13

I should buy more songbooks.  I have a Paul McCartney and Beatles one, but especially with the Beatles one, most of them are pretty hard.  I looked up "Two Of Us" which I can kinda play now…  which I love because it's one of my favourite tunes!  heart

"Please don't bring your banjo back, I know where it's been..  I wasn't hardly gone a day, when it became the scene..  Banjos!  Banjos!  All the time, I can't forget that tune..  and if I ever see another banjo, I'm going out and buy a big balloon!"

 

16 March 2013
11.07pm
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1687
Member Since:
1 November 2012
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14

LongHairedLady said
I should buy more songbooks.  I have a Paul McCartney and Beatles one, but especially with the Beatles one, most of them are pretty hard.  I looked up "Two Of Us" which I can kinda play now…  which I love because it's one of my favourite tunes!  heart

Yes, it's a great song.  If you notice in the film Let It Be, Paul is strumming by brushing his fingertips across the strings (no pick involved).  I was always impressed by how evenly his strumming sounds on that song, which is hard to do, because the backhanded motion coming up on each alternate strum can have a slightly different pressure -- but every stroke of his strumming sounds even and the same as every other stroke.

Mundo paparazzi mi amore cicce verdi parasol.
17 March 2013
5.35am
LongHairedLady
coming in through the bathroom window
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1891
Member Since:
17 January 2013
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15

Cool, I'll have to watch that again soon.

"Please don't bring your banjo back, I know where it's been..  I wasn't hardly gone a day, when it became the scene..  Banjos!  Banjos!  All the time, I can't forget that tune..  and if I ever see another banjo, I'm going out and buy a big balloon!"

 

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