RE: Finger who?

A discussion of techniques, and equipment for guitar. Fretted, bottleneck or slide, acoustic or electric, this is the place.

RE: Finger who?

Postby guitarslim101 » Tue May 02, 2006 8:15 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-02-06 AT 04:35 PM (EST)]I never use fingerpicks or my nails. I find fingerpicks too cumbersome and steel strings have a tendency to shred nails. You can get a good sound using bare fingers, but it takes a while and a bit of pain to build up calluses. If they get hard enough, it can be hard to tell the difference between them and fingerpicks/nails.
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RE: Finger who?

Postby badfinger » Tue May 02, 2006 8:41 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-02-06 AT 04:46 PM (EST)]"I have no fingernails! I just can not stop myself from biting them."

In which case I gurantee that you won't be able to resist the calloused ends of bare fingers!


So, do as I do: on two of my fingers where the nails are weak, and tend to split, have acrylic tips fitted: maximum strength and toughness, and you won't bite them!

So you kill two birds with one stone - get built-in picks and lose a habit!

They last about 3 weeks to a month before they grow out, but then you get the chance to have your hand held again by a nail lady as she replaces them.

In time you could discard them (as you lose the biting habit), but that can be a bit tricky because freshly exposed nails are soft and weak when the tips are first removed, so you have to nurse them for a few days and go gently with them for a while.

I've even stopped going to the salon, now, and do my own, mainly out of convenience, cos they only cost about £4 per nail.

An alternative to acrylic is UV Gel - quicker and easier, but I find that though the resulting coating is harder, it tends to be not as tough as acrylic - a tad more brittle.
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RE: Finger who?

Postby blindstanley1 » Wed May 03, 2006 1:10 am

my .02. i initially struggled trying to grow nails. i felt it was essential to get a "picked sound" ( i really can't adjust to having finger picks on. i have relatively fat fingers and they are really uncomfortable.). but, ultimately they always broke or chipped and i ended up playing with finger tips anyway. i got so i not only can bang out a pretty decent tune, but i actually like the sound as well. i also like the fact that it is easier to lay off a little and be subtle or really lay into it and make some noise.
however, i have found that it is a great conversation starter with a pretty lady. it starts with a comment about how lovely her nails look and then a discussion on the pros and cons of artificial nails and why you are inquiring ("oh, you're a guitar player") etc.
regards
bs
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RE: Finger who?

Postby 1four5 » Wed May 03, 2006 1:26 am

I'm a mechanic and break nails faster than I can grow them. I tried for a year and a half to make fingernails grow/use fingertips/etc. It just didn't work for me, and I was tired of getting smoked at acoustic jams. I gave up and went with finger picks. man...ureeka, with all the volume I need, and never again worrying about my nails. The best part is that the way I did it took about a minute to get used to them. I use Dunlop .025 metal picks, and bend them up until they TOUCH my fingernail, and then bend just the tip out at a 45 degree angle. This puts the tip exactly were a long healthy nail would be. It's all I've used for the last half year or so.
http://www.notworthy.org/fingerpicks.jpg
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RE: Finger who?

Postby ricochet » Wed May 03, 2006 1:26 am

It's a great way to have recurring nosebleeds, though.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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RE: Finger who?

Postby 1four5 » Wed May 03, 2006 9:21 am

Or have the wife continually ask for back scratches...
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RE: Finger who?

Postby bignick » Wed May 03, 2006 11:16 am

There is too much friction when picking with bare fingers IMO. You can get going a lot faster with finger picks, and achieve greater dynamics.

I love the sound of bare fingers on a flattop with bronze strings though. I have been playing squareneck a lot more lately and find that it is nearly impossible for me to achieve the speed I need with bare fingers. However, you get a better plucked percussive sound ala John Lee Hooker with bare fingers when playing bottleneck but you lose on the volume.

I guess it is a toss up. You can play a lot longer with no pain with finger picks. Sardinas sounds pretty raw, he uses fingerpicks.

Your call. I have the same problem as you, I bite my fingernails down to nothing under stress but I get lost in the mix without my picks.
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RE: Finger who?

Postby zhyla » Wed May 03, 2006 1:29 pm

I grow my nails out. Have never actually tried bare fingers before but when I clip them too short it gets awkward. Can't imagine doing it any other way.

If I keep them the right length and shape I never have any trouble with them. The only one that needs to be long is the thumb. If it's too short then bass picking gets sketchy - loud when it catches, soft when it doesn't.

I ordered a thumbpick, it looks like being able to strum with the thumb is a popular technique.
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RE: Finger who?

Postby ricochet » Wed May 03, 2006 3:50 pm

Fingerpicks are well worth climbing the steep learning curve to use them.

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RE: Finger who?

Postby 1four5 » Wed May 03, 2006 6:25 pm

Ric, when I bent them silly bluegrass picks up to put the point right where a nail would be, the learning curve went from several weeks of frustration, to about 30 seconds and total success. It's one of the few time I actually feel like I cheated the guitar (and banjo) gods.
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RE: Finger who?

Postby guitarslim101 » Wed May 03, 2006 7:27 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-03-06 AT 05:38 PM (EST)]I've tried 1four5's technique, but even that didn't feel right to me...but I'd suggest try different things until you find what works.
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RE: Finger who?

Postby bluzeluvr » Wed May 03, 2006 8:18 pm

I don't see what the big deal is about playing without fingerpicks. Why is that such noble goal? How is that cheating or less skillful? I started bare, and went to picks and found them to be a great aid. They certainly eliminate a lot of the issues around nail maintenance. But I do and still can use bare fingers for certain things.

My philosophy is to take advantage of any tool that makes playing easier or can enhance or add to technique. Fingerpicks do provide advantages. There are some things that cannot be done as well without them. Try doing the "compression stroke" ala Brozman and others without fingerpicks.

Is a flat pick "cheating" when playing an electric or strumming an acoustic? Many of the best players use finger and thumbpicks. Does that make their playing less authentic somehow? When you buy a guitar, don't you ensure that it plays well or just feels right? Choosing tools to help you play better is part of that same end. Take advantage of those things that can provide an advantage. That should be the goal, not how well we can overcome the limitations presented by our bare fingertips.

OK. End of sermon. I just had to get that out. :)
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RE: Finger who?

Postby cheyenne » Wed May 03, 2006 10:05 pm

For fast stuff like banjo i've been using alaska picks...they're odd, and FEEL odd, but they're so much better than regular fingerpicks, for me anyhow. They are also plastic, and don't 'slide' over a string so much as just pluck them like a fingernail does, so even on an electric guitar you can get a good sound.

A lot of guys played with bare fingers, I wouldn't worry about it, if you like the tone. Only reason I put fingerpicks on on acoustic guitars for example, is if busking and volume is a priority.
But usually for guitars, a thumpick and nothing else is fine for me.

I'd suggest trying those alaska picks if nothing else works for you.
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RE: Finger who?

Postby 1four5 » Wed May 03, 2006 10:38 pm

Yikes bluzeluvr! Hope it wasn't my "cheating the guitar gods" comment that gotchya going. If it was, man, I didn't mean it like that at all! I'm the one who feels like I'm cheating. When I figured out how to bend them picks up to work for me, it was like instant holy grail, man, I was picking louder, faster and more accurate than I ever had, in a matter of a couple minutes. Up until then I had been using fingernails, and trying to be so carefull at work not to bust them up. We had a small show coming up in a few days, and I busted one half off. I was in a panic, and rescued the failed and forgotten banjo picks. I also have alaska picks, but you still need nails to use them and they are very painfull for me, after a few hours it's like my nails are pulling out of my fingers (they do work good though). The alska picks are what gave me the idea to bend up the banjo picks like I did. It's what works for me, and I've been using them ever since. They make my National scream, and smoke on my banjo...and when I play with my friends (two guitars and a bass) I no longer have to compete for sound waves :D
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RE: Finger who?

Postby bluzeluvr » Thu May 04, 2006 10:32 am

>Yikes bluzeluvr! Hope it wasn't my "cheating the guitar
>gods" comment that gotchya going. If it was, man, I didn't
>mean it like that at all! I'm the one who feels like I'm
>cheating.

Not you 1four, I was responding to the sentiment expressed by swampact, who started this thread. He said ... "Now i do realize I can purchase some fingerpicks, but it just feels like cheating to me." There's a certain almost "real players don't use fingerpicks" type of mentality that I've seen expressed here and elsewhere, and I think swampact was succumbing to that. That's just always irked me. So I felt I needed to address that.
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