THUMB PICKS

Discussion in 'Acoustic BGU Questions and Comments' started by Big Ed, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. Big Ed

    Big Ed Blues Newbie

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    I posted this earlier on another thread and thought it might deserve it's own thread. As I've stated before, I haven't used flat picks much at all for most of 40 years, but I have used thumb picks off and on extensively. Especially in my banjo experience. I have found several thumbpicks that work great for different styles and tones.
    BUT, I have never yet found one that works right out of the box. They all need to be shaped to your likings. I use Dunlops, Nationals, and Fred Kellys. I distinctly like the Fred Kelly speed pick for Acoustic guitar picking, but not strumming.
    The first thing you need is to adjust the shape of the pick. Cut easily with a pair of nail clippers, file with a fingernail file and smooth with 1200 grit paper. Buy a dozen and reshape until you find what works for you. Then resize to fit snuggly on your thumb, most can be shaped by soaking in hot water then bending. The last thing I do is rough sand the inside so it doesn't slip around my thumb. Seems like a lot of work, but they last for years.
    HAVE FUN!!!
     
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  2. Eblues

    Eblues Blues Newbie

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    Having a long standing issue with pick control while strumming full chords (I have a whole box full of failed pick styles), I tried a thumb pick just once.... hated it for both soloing and strumming. My goal is one pick that works for everything, and I probably just need to work on improving my technique, but always willing to research an effective crutch, if it worked out to be the perfect solution. I can comfortably suck equally well while soloing with just about any flat pick, my issue is strumming.

    I never thought about reshaping a thumb pick with hot water, or giving them a custom manicure. That does sound like a lot of work, and the likelihood of getting duplicate results with each customization also seems like that would be sketchy. So, it doesn't seem to be very likely a thumb pick would be the perfect solution for my issue... but I still gotta ask.

    Have you found a particular thumb pick that's particularly well suited to tailoring for double duty... both picking and strumming?
     
  3. Big Ed

    Big Ed Blues Newbie

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    Unfortunately, I don't believe one exists. The problem with most thumbpicks is that they are Mono directional by nature. Strums downstrokes easily, but awkward upstrokes. I have tried the flatpick style but it didn't suit me. I carry a small bag of picks for different styles, but mostly use a naked thumb and fingers. Then you don't usually have to mute, but it takes some practice to get the thumb to hit just the correct strings.
     
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  4. PapaBear

    PapaBear Guit Fiddlier

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    I'm not a fan of thumb picks either! Guess I flat picked too long before trying them
     
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  5. snarf

    snarf audiences like their blues singers to be miserable

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    Flat picks or finger nails for me. Even back in the day I played banjo for a bit and I used finger nails on it too. I did my best to try to learn to use finger picks and never could get used to them. I couldn't feel the strings, and nails were just as efficient as the the picks. Back then, if I'd had enough sense to do what OP suggested and shaped the thumb pick, I might think differently about them today.
     
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  6. luckylarry

    luckylarry Student Of The Blues

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    I use fingers only with my acoustic guitar. Pick and/or fingers for my electrics. Why? Answer: because that is what I want to do!
     
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  7. Big Ed

    Big Ed Blues Newbie

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    Great posts by everyone. The important thing, I Believe, is to find what suits you and the sound you want.
    I think Griff stole my saying, THAT'S WHY WE CALL IT PLAYING. It's supposed to be fun.
     
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  8. Eblues

    Eblues Blues Newbie

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    Thanks for the info, Ed. I'll just have to keep working on my technique!

    When I sit on the sofa watching TV and need to keep the volume at a minium, I've gotten into the habit of foregoing the pick. At first, I'd stick to finger picked songs like Dust in the Wind, Is Anybody Out There, etc. But eventually I started coming up with finger-picked arrangements for a few other songs.

    Over time, I've become fairly comfortable with just using fingers. Now I've gotten lazy, and almost always choose to noodle using fingers when I grab the "sofa guitar". Not a very constructive approach in regards to curing my pick issues, I know.

    I can even strum and pick out simple leads by holding my fingers as though I was holding a pick, but without said pick. Thumb and Index work together for strurmming, while for single notes the index fingernail hits the strings on down strokes, pad of index plays notes on upstroke.

    I've been surprised at how successful I can be playing single notes with this approach, but it does required a high degree of precision and it's hard to articulate. Not going to pull off anything super clean, complex or fast. I could totally get into pick-less playing full time if not for that.

    Herman
     
    #8 Eblues, Jan 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
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