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 Post subject: fingerpicking
PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:50 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:55 pm
Posts: 61
i'm not very good at picking (tend to use a plectrum) how can i improve my skills?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:37 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:55 pm
Posts: 61
somebody, anybody?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:39 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 2:23 pm
Posts: 752
Location: United Kingdom
This forum doesn't move as quickly as some so have patience, the replies will come :D

How I learned to fingerpick was essentially by not singing - I'd try and work out how to play the tune of a simple song on the top strings whilst picking out the bass notes with my thumb. Gradually I moved on to more complex stuff and Travis (alternating bass) picking. It's really not that hard when your fingers get used to it - that said some of Nick's stuff is incredibly complex even if you're a good fingerpicker.

Start simple and (if whoever you live with can stand it) practice while you're watching TV etc - just keeping the movements going, even if you're not really practicing, helps your finger muscles get stronger and learn the movements.

Try this exercise:

Fret a G chord and with your thumb at a slow tempo pick the low E string (the note will be G) on beats 1&3 of the bar and the open D string on beats 2 & 4.

You get this:
1 2 3 4 etc
---------------------
---------------------
---------------------
----0-------0-------
---------------------
3-------3-----------

Once you feel comfortable with that add your middle finger on the open B and your index finger on the open G on the off-beats:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
-----------------
--0--------0------
-------0-------0-
----0-------0---
-----------------
3-------3-------

Keep it slow & concentrate on keeping the thumb steady on the 1,2,3,4 - the fingers on the off-beats (the '&s' as you count it - 1 & 2 & etc) will find their place if you do it regularly.

Once you're happy with this change the chord to C and move your thumb up from the bottom E to the C note on the A string.

Hope this makes sense!

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:42 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:55 pm
Posts: 61
thanks for the advice matt. im sure my wife wont be best pleased at me playing over the soaps!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:07 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:54 pm
Posts: 42
Location: Glasgow
Some good suggestions from Matt there. For me it's It's just practice, practice practice with songs that you like or simple chord progressions. It won't happen overnight, but be patient, it's worth it.

I'm not great at fingerpicking and I'm certainly no Leo Kottke but I get by. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:21 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:55 pm
Posts: 61
does it matter if you have long nails? ive tried thumb picks etc and found them really annoying

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:27 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 2:23 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
It's down to personal preference really. I don't use my nails to fingerpick - I use the fleshy bit on the inside of my thumb (it'll take a while for the skin to harden & get used to it so you'll have blisters for a while!). I find that thumb picks over-emphasize the bass notes

I know an avid fingerpicker who grows his nails specifically for that purpose though (and glues on bits of table tennis balls if he snaps a nail!)

Start just with your fingers & see how you get on


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:10 pm
Posts: 211
Location: Enschede, Netherlands
I prefer fingernails, about 3 mm long. It may be a matter of personal preference, but this gives me much better "feeling" and "feedback" of the strings than using finger/thumb picks and sounds a lot better than picking with the flesh.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:28 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 4:41 am
Posts: 645
Location: Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, China
I also much prefer using nails. Using the flesh of ones fingers seems to leave one with a muddy fat tone ( to my hearing).

Sometimes you may want a more muted fat sound, and if you have long fingernails all you have to do is not use them , i.e. if you got finger nails you can use either the nail or the flesh depending on sound you want (for a specific passage or even an individual note) but if you aint got fingernails you can only use the flesh, which gives you less options with respects dynamic tone.

And I also do like Matt mentioned above and use bits of ping pong balls to fashion fake fingernails when one of mine is bust. Cheap, easy and works... has same feel as a real fingernail, unlike thumb/fingerpicks, which i hate... too heavy and no `feel' for the strings.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:42 am 
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Location: Wirksworth
I know its not the same style of playing, but I'm a classical guitarist (grade 8) and was taught various exercises to improve right hand finger independence - some you don't even need a guitar! For example, place your finger tips on, say, a table. now repeat patterns (either arpeggio type movements or patterns with two fingers at a time). Start slowly and concentrate on getting it right rather than fast (as my teacher used to say, if you can't play it slow you can't play it fast). With a guitar do the same thing, but with open strings or a chord. Again, start slowly. I preferred longer nails, but you don't need them. As with all things, its all about patience and repetition, repetition, repetition. Some people find it easier than others (I suspect Nick had a lot of natural ability, but he also clearly practiced a great deal), but good luck!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:47 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:55 pm
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thanks for the advice all. just to let you know im improving

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:34 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:39 am
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Location: Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
as a once classically trained guitarist, also familiar with standard folk and Blues right hand approaches, I find Nick Drake completely original with his fingerpicking approach on many of his compositions. For example, "Cello Song", though seemingly harder to play than "Harvest Breed" , is far less exasperating. The vocals are in different time than the guitar. One doesn't see how masterful it is until one tries to do it.
It is the right hand of Nick Drake that makes his guitar playing brilliant. I suppose we are all on our own in our attempts to be mentored by it. I don't hear any predeliction to the plectrum in anything he did.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:39 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:51 am
Posts: 26
gus wrote:
as a once classically trained guitarist, also familiar with standard folk and Blues right hand approaches, I find Nick Drake completely original with his fingerpicking approach on many of his compositions. For example, "Cello Song", though seemingly harder to play than "Harvest Breed" , is far less exasperating. The vocals are in different time than the guitar. One doesn't see how masterful it is until one tries to do it.
It is the right hand of Nick Drake that makes his guitar playing brilliant. I suppose we are all on our own in our attempts to be mentored by it. I don't hear any predeliction to the plectrum in anything he did.


Plectrum enthusiasts might try 'hybrid picking', which involves holding the pick between thumb and index finger whilst using the middle, ring and little finger (if required) for 'finger picking' ;)

Nick's picking technique is quite terrifyingly accurate, brilliant, and to me at any rate a complete mystery.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:06 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 2:23 pm
Posts: 752
Location: United Kingdom
kr236rk wrote:
Plectrum enthusiasts might try 'hybrid picking', which involves holding the pick between thumb and index finger whilst using the middle, ring and little finger (if required) for 'finger picking'


I believe this is something Richard Thompson does - at least on electric, not sure about acoustic


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:04 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:51 am
Posts: 26
Matt (admin) wrote:
kr236rk wrote:
Plectrum enthusiasts might try 'hybrid picking', which involves holding the pick between thumb and index finger whilst using the middle, ring and little finger (if required) for 'finger picking'


I believe this is something Richard Thompson does - at least on electric, not sure about acoustic


Have never heard of anyone using this technique for acoustic but 'strokes for folks'; it is very useful for 'double stopping' on electric. Otherwise the plectrum sort of stands in for a thumb pick.


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