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  #1  
Old 08-24-2005, 03:00 PM
jkillips jkillips is offline
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Default Finger Picks

I play more and more fingerstyle, both on my steel-string and my classical, but I've always just plucked with my fingers. I chew my nails, which is a terrible habit, but while I continue my years-long struggle against that, I need to find another way to play. Can anyone recommend some finger picks that would give me a sound similar to plucking the strings with my nails? Something for the thumb would be good, too.

Thanks,
Jason
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Old 08-24-2005, 07:20 PM
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You could go several different directions trying different things. Here are are my favorites:

The best fingerpicks I've seen to sound like nails - Alaska Pics for the fingers. I wear one if I break a nail. They sound and play MUCH more like nails than metal fingerpicks.

A Fred Kelly Slick Pick Medium for the thumb is my favorite. There are many brands of thumbpicks and they all work. But many players like the thumbpicks to be a little thinner than they typically come, so they sand them down. The Slick Pick comes fairly thin out of the package.

Gook luck.
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Old 08-25-2005, 02:57 PM
FlamencoStrums FlamencoStrums is offline
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I haven't tried them but they are advertised in Acoustic Guitar player magazine. They are called "FINGER-TONE" by ProPik. They look pretty funky in the advertisement. Something Hannibal Lecter would wear if he played guitar.
www.guptillmusic.com
Looks like their web site is new or under contruction or something. They also give email address: info@guptillmusic.com
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Old 08-26-2005, 08:14 AM
tomhyzy tomhyzy is offline
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I play a lot of fingerstyle on my 714CES. I had some classical training in college, but due to my very weak right-hand nails, I kept breaking nails on the steel strings. Broken nails makes it very hard to get consistency in attack, which for me is one of the keys to right-hand technique.

I used ProPik Fingertones for a few years, and I liked the attack I got from them, but there was this annoying "ping" from the steel fingerpick on the steel string. About six months ago, I switched to Alaska Piks, and I love 'em. You get a nice fat, fleshy sound from the pad of your finger on the initial attack, but you also get a nice clear bite from the plastic pseudo-nail part of the Alaska Pik.

Some very important things to note about the Alaska Piks - it's VITAL that you (a) get the correct size for your fingers and (b) file them down to the correct length. If you try to use them right "out of the box", you'll probably wonder why people like them so much, they'll be way too long. Follow the instructions that come with them for cutting them down to size. You'll probably want to get a few extra ones, too, I know I've screwed a few of them up by cutting them down too far.

Good luck with the search - it's taken me years to get to this point, but it's great when something works for you, you'll know pretty quick.

Tom Hyzy
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Old 10-06-2005, 02:51 PM
jkillips jkillips is offline
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I take it, then, that I should also get the Slick Pick described above for my thumb, and not try to wear an Alaska Pik on my thumb, correct?
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Washburn D10 ("Jessica")
Fender Standard Stratocaster ("Belle")
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ("Smokey")
Taylor 414-CE ("Nicole")
Essex STL-50 Telecaster Copy ("Dijon")
1969 Gibson C-1 Classical ("Daisy")
2007 Walden G570 ("Colleen")
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Old 10-07-2005, 07:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkillips
I take it, then, that I should also get the Slick Pick described above for my thumb, and not try to wear an Alaska Pik on my thumb, correct?
There is no one answer that is correct for everyone. If you play with a classical hand position with your hand well out away from the strings, then will will likely need an Alaska Pic for your thumb too due to the great angle your thumb will make with the strings. If you play with your hand close to the strings (like palm or wrist touching strings or bridge pins) then you will need a thumb pick due to very little angle (could be almost no angle) of your thumb to the strings.

After years, I changed my hand position from classical to a lower one where I could easily palm mute the strings. So I started using a thump pick. This helped my personal playing a lot because my picking hand became much more relaxed and my accuracy with my thumb increased dramatically. Also my dynamics increased significantly as I could easily play very softly or very loudly with the thumb pick. Now this is all personal to me and I tell you this just to give you one more reference point. You must analyze your own playing habits, style and goals and decide logically what is best for you to do. (I know a player that can play well both ways.)

Make sure that "tension" is a major consideration in your decisions. Anything that reduces tension in your playing parts (fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, back, etc.) is a very good thing. But the trial of the new approach should be longer than a couple of minutes. The trial needs to be long enough to get over the initial discomfort of something new. Anything that is new is not "normal". And anything that is not "normal" is usually initially uncomfortable. Most teachers do not seem to tell students this.

I hope I've helped you. Good luck.
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Old 10-07-2005, 07:50 AM
Arm&Hammer Arm&Hammer is offline
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Hi jkillips-

I use a Fred Kelly speed pick on my thumb. I like the ones that Doyle Dykes sells at his workshops because they have a slightly longer tang, but I wish that they came in a medium gauge (his are hard/thick). I am going to try to sand a few down.

For my fingernails (middle, index, ring), I kept telling myself that I was going to get acrylics once they broke. Then I read a good tip here on the forum about never cutting your nails, which can cause stress fractures which will lead to them breaking/splitting. Just file them down when they get long. This has been a great tip. I never need more than 1/8" of the "white" portion of my nail showing, and I haven't had one break since I started filing them (about 6 months ago).

Good luck!
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Old 10-07-2005, 10:35 AM
jkillips jkillips is offline
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Thanks, all, for the good advice. Alaska Piks and a thumbpick, it will probably be!

My biggest problem with using my own nails is my horrible habit of biting them - not the best habit for a lawyer!
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Washburn D10 ("Jessica")
Fender Standard Stratocaster ("Belle")
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ("Smokey")
Taylor 414-CE ("Nicole")
Essex STL-50 Telecaster Copy ("Dijon")
1969 Gibson C-1 Classical ("Daisy")
2007 Walden G570 ("Colleen")
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Old 10-07-2005, 01:47 PM
poorbs poorbs is offline
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If I may chime in at this late date, allow me to suggest that you might try getting acrylic caps for your picking fingers only (and tips for initial length) and use a thumb pick or cap on the thumbnail, depending on how you hold your thumb. It's unlikely that you'll be biting the nails that have the caps unless you have case hardened teeth.

It's been my experience that those with a softer touch tend to prefer nail caps over fingerpicks, due to the more "intimate" contact with the strings, and they can take some heavy use with steel strings. Another benefit of the caps is that you can use downstrokes with your fingers - frailing, thwacking, or brushing - and they can take it very well. I've not seen many people do this with fingerpicks.

I've never met anyone who went back to fingerpicks after trying the acrylic caps.

FYI
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Old 10-07-2005, 03:20 PM
Freeman Freeman is offline
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Jason, I try to maintain nails on three fingers, but one of my other "hobbies" is rock climbing, and its almost impossible. I use metal fingerpicks on my resonators but I really dislike them on the acoustics. The other night I was in a seminar with Buster B Jones (Winfield fingerstyle winner who plays both nylon and steel string) and I asked what he did for nail care. His one word "acrylics"
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Old 10-07-2005, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poorbs
If I may chime in at this late date, allow me to suggest that you might try getting acrylic caps for your picking fingers only (and tips for initial length) and use a thumb pick or cap on the thumbnail, depending on how you hold your thumb. It's unlikely that you'll be biting the nails that have the caps unless you have case hardened teeth.

It's been my experience that those with a softer touch tend to prefer nail caps over fingerpicks, due to the more "intimate" contact with the strings, and they can take some heavy use with steel strings. Another benefit of the caps is that you can use downstrokes with your fingers - frailing, thwacking, or brushing - and they can take it very well. I've not seen many people do this with fingerpicks.

I've never met anyone who went back to fingerpicks after trying the acrylic caps.

FYI
Alaska Pics work fine for bursh downstrokes because they do not fly off like metal pics (Dunlap & National come to mind). Your statement that "I've not seen many people do this with fingerpicks" lead me to believe that you are talking about metal fingerpicks. Alaska Pics are a new world for fingerpicks with MANY advantages over the old metal picks.

- Alaska Picks do not fly off
- They sound like nails and can be mixed with nails (plastic Alaskas)
- They are easily adjustable and you can have multiple sets at different lengths for different sounds and feels if you you want.
- You can brush down with them like nails
- They allow your fingertip to FEEL the string
- They come in metal for a metal sound if wanted (takes more skill to file and bend to adjust)
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Old 10-08-2005, 06:25 PM
peteekstam peteekstam is offline
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I second the acrylics. I had them put on about 6 months ago and I am ABSOLUTELY in love with them. Best thing I've ever done. Completely changed my approach to the instrument.

But I have also heard wonderful things about these Alaska pics... give them a a try. If they don't do it for you, give the acrylics a try.

Cheers..
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  #13  
Old 10-10-2005, 04:54 PM
musicman musicman is offline
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I just go a set of alaska picks. How do you trim them?
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Old 10-10-2005, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman
I just go a set of alaska picks. How do you trim them?
Go to their web site and you can print out an instruction sheet which has pictures. Basically, use fingernail clippers to snip off small pieces at a time until you get them near the length you want. Then use a fingernail file to smooth the edges as you would real fingernails. You can also use fine emery paper (400 to 600 grit emery sandpaper) to finish the surface.

Alaska does not mention this, but also use the nail clipper, file and sandpaper to round off any sharp edges that come into contact with your skin. This makes a big difference in wearing comfort so that the sharp edges will not cut into your finger. This includes the edge going under your fingernail (you wear the leading edge under you natural nail) AND the edges going around your finger. Also snip and file the sharp points so that they are rounded.

On average, players tend to leave the picks (or nails) too long. Shorter is usually better because it brings more of your flesh on your finger tip into the stroke. This improves feeling sensations and improves tone.
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  #15  
Old 10-10-2005, 06:43 PM
musicman musicman is offline
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thanks for the help. I just cliped and filed them and they play great now!
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