Playing with my thumb...

Discussion in 'SWS Questions' started by bluesman60, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. bluesman60

    bluesman60 Guest

    I just recently started learning blues earnestly by getting the beginners course. I find that I seem to prefer the sound/feel of using my bare thumb vs a pick. Is this slowing down my progress? I know some great players use their thumb but is it the most efficient way to learn?
    Thanks!
     
  2. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    I've been playing with my thumb ever since I picked up the guitar 3 years ago.
    I see nothing wrong with it at all..especially playing the blues.
    After awhile you can start practicing with a pick if you want or (if you haven't already done so) start to incorporate a finger or two in the mix.
    Some of the benefits of playing with the thumb are unlike picks a thumb is always there ready to play..also it's easy to find and pretty hard to lose.
    After awhile I did learn that for me heavy repetitive strumming is best done with a pick.
     
  3. Cyberthrasher_706

    Cyberthrasher_706 Blues Newbie

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    Though not impossible ;D

    I started learning with my thumb when I was a kid (no comments Strat) but decided that I personally liked the sound of a pick better. I try some thumb work every now and then, but picks are my preference. If that's what you like, go for it. The only thing that will hinder you is a closed mind and not practicing.  ;)
     
  4. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    ::) ;D
     
  5. kgarkie

    kgarkie Been living the blues.

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    If you're going to play triplets, you may have to incorporate some fingers along with your thumb.  Robert Johnson, Lindsey Buckingham and Mark Knopfler come to mind. 
     
  6. wgabree

    wgabree Blues Newbie

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    not to mention Albert King, Freddy King (with aid of thumbpick) and Albert Collins.  Jimi Hendrix & Buddy Guy switched between pick and fingers fluidly.  Oh yeah, that Jeff Beck guy I blew off seeing in concert to play a round of King of the Blues! :p

    I have mostly been a hybrid picker (pick held with thumb and index finger while also picking with middle, ring   & sometimes pinky) for most of the time I've played.

    Since I've taken up bass, I've taken up finger picking as much as I can stand (it take a bit to build up those calluses!).  Starting to really like it!  :cool:

    Double oh yeah - Hubert Sumlin!!!

    And oh yeah - I don't think it will hold you back a bit if you are comfortable with it, but agree you may need assist from fingers for the triplets!
     
  7. wildwood

    wildwood Playin' Blues

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    I asked that same question about a year ago. I have been playing again for 5 or so years after a 30 year layoff. I always played with my thumb. Just liked the sound and tone better.

    It wasn't until I started Soloing Without Scales that I started using a pick. And now it feels awkward NOT using one. I have become very comfortable and fluid with the pick. Alternate picking has improved my speed and it seems that palm muting is easier when using a pick. Go figure...

    But it really comes down to what you are comfortable with. I tried several different thicknesses before I settled on a Fender Extra Heavy... :cool:
     
  8. Lame_Pinkey

    Lame_Pinkey Guest

    Johnny Winter used a thumb pick.

    LP
     
  9. bluesman60

    bluesman60 Guest

    Thanks guys. I tried a thumb pick but it felt awkward. I like the tone that playing with my thumb produces. I'll never be a speed demon anyways so I guess I'll just thumb my way through the blues...
     
  10. Griff

    Griff Chief Cook And Bottle Washer
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    Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed come to mind as guys that had a really cool technique of using their thumb, index, and middle fingers to get the speed up when they needed it.

    As an exercise, try playing a simple exercise where you play the 5th, 7th, and 8th frets on every string starting with the 6th string and going to the 1st.

    Use your thumb for 5th, middle for the 7th, and index for the 8th fret notes. You might find a different pattern works better for you, but that's the one I learned and I've used it.

    Something to play with over the weekend anyway!
     
  11. Lame_Pinkey

    Lame_Pinkey Guest

    I have just been playing with the Shark ( Jackson JS32 ) & whilst doing so remembered this post so I tried the start of SWS solo # 1 funky/groovy/boogie thingie in G with index & thumb.Whilst the sound was very good & a bluesy/jazz type sound it was very confusing & had me reaching for Mr. Pick very quickly.I also found i was getting too many pinch harmonics from it, they are great when you want them but not when you don't.
    I have all but given up ever being a finger picker as it just does not seem to work & more importantly feels very uncomfortable & unnatural to me.

    Viva le Pick !

    LP
     
  12. Rue

    Rue Blues Newbie

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    It's a thumb pick for me...just seems to work the best