#1
Hi all,

I just cannot play guitar with a pick. I've been playing for years with my fingers and a pick and I've reached the point of admitting I cannot use one. Playing fingerstyle is better for me because I feel more connected and close with the instrument. Playing with a pick I feel like I'm trying to paint a wall 15ft away with a bendy paintbrush. I would like to play with a pick for heavier styles of music but I just can't get the hang of it.

Is this normal for other people too?

Thanks a lot!
#2
I can't use a pick either, and I sometimes wish I had learned when I was younger, but wisdom by hindsight does no good and there are great players, like Ry Cooder, who get by nicely without one on guitar. What I have done recently is try to develop fingerpicking styles that can emulate flatpicking, at least to some extent.
#3
For me, it was the opposite. I felt way more confident with a pick than my fingers in the early years of my playing career. This past year, after playing for almost 9 years, I picked up "fingerstyle" a lot better than I ever did in the past, and now I gained competency in it.

However you feel most confident playing the instrument is the best way to go about it! There definitely is a reason and vision as to why you started playing in the first place. Re-image that and you'll be set to go from there!
Skip the username, call me Billy
#4
a pick has its purpose and some play with fingers and a pick-this is my style..larry carlton does a lot of work this way also-then there are some guitar gods that just use fingers and to hear them you might think they are using a pick.."that cant be just finger style-can it?"

jeff beck comes to mind
play well

wolf
#5
I am also mostly a fingerstyle player, but I do throw in a solo where I use a pick every now and then. And I can play solo's using a pick, no problems there.
What I notices I suck at is playing with a pick, when I have to jump over a few strings. for example, form E (the thickest string) to G or B....

I guess the only reason for it is lack of practice so.... if you want to learn to use the pick just practice it.
#6
Quote by wolflen
a pick has its purpose and some play with fingers and a pick-this is my style..larry carlton does a lot of work this way also-then there are some guitar gods that just use fingers and to hear them you might think they are using a pick.."that cant be just finger style-can it?"  

jeff beck comes to mind

and Wes Montgomery... playing only with his thumb.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#7
I started off strictly fingerstyle for years. Now I'm almost an exclusive flat picker. You can use a pick, it's just something you have to actively practice every single day through a lot of frustration. Run scales with just down strokes, then just up strokes, then finally work up to alternate picking. The key is to start at a very low bpm and play everything perfect. Then work your way up in speed. Fast and sloppy will get you nowhere. I'd be as bold to say you can start feeling confident with a pick in about a month of practice if you do it right, then it's just a matter of how fast you want to get. 
#8
JSChamberlain94 First Rome wasn’t built in a day and i think on this we all agree, whit this said i’d like to make a constructive provocation.. If you need a doctor you go to a doctor, need an architect you go to an architect and so on. Most of guitarist would need a serious teacher but they watch videos or ask friends or buy books but last they do is searching a good teacher. Of course I am not referring to you as i said i’d like to make a constructive reflection hopefully i will not receive bad comments because i am not pointing the finger to anybody i am just saying what i think.

Any instruments have his difficulties and guitar is one of the most difficult to play. I’ve been lucky that i started to study very young and with good professional teacher, then conservatory and few master classes. it takes time to build a solid technique and it’s easy to get lost or discouraged but in the end hard work following a good instructor pay back.  

What i want to say is that most of guitarist struggle with technique, buy lots of stuff and do not take in consideration to invest some money in serious lessons, by your self you can learn many things when you already have all the foundation bases otherwise it’s very easy to get lost and take bad habits, technique is like a puzzle you have to put pieces in order and understand what is the next piece. 

In another post i’ve read about a guy that after practicing a lot economy picking have a big worsening with alternate picking and economy picking is something that can improve your playing as teach you bad habits with accents.

About your specific problem there is no reason to not be able to play with a pick, maybe you will not become super fast but for sure you can achieve a good level and it’s not an age problem (at least you are not 80 or have physical problem) it’s about to find YOUR position, understand how YOUR tendons work and what is the best way for YOUR hand to attack the strings, there are so many good guitarist with different right hand technique, examples? Govan, Malmsteen, Gilbert, Bettencourt, Rappoport, Timmons, Di Meola, Batio, Morse, Moore, Petrucci, Metheny, Benson, Vai and bla bla bla because the list could be very long, take a look at their right hand and you will see how different they pick.    
We are not all the same.

In a very minor way is the same thing even for left hand, with left rules are more or less the same for everybody but with some exceptions for example the pinky finger… 

i’ve read a post about a guy that was struggling because his pinky stay a little bit in the air, who said that the pinky finger have to stay always close to the fretboard? Who said is a must to improve that? What is important is that pinky stay aligned and follow other fingers moving without any tension, what about Paul Gilbert? his pinky stay always on the air, same thing with Vicente Amigo (one of the faster flamenco player) his pinky is always on the air.

As i said is like a puzzle and if you stay focus on something wrong well there is a good possibility that it will bring consequences at other techniques and do not think that it could be only a right problem many times is just that right is not in sync with left.

My advice is first find a good teacher, if you don’t want or can’t just spend some time on your position, there are many variables, thumb up, thumb down, wrist up, wrist down, wrist turned and variations of those with wrist picking, sarod, scalpel and circular picking, to end there are great guitarist that use their arm to pick, i can’t do that but go check Vinnie Moore when he play slow he just use his hand when he speed up he block his hand and he use his arm. How he can do that i don’t know but that work very good for him and few others.
#9
Just do it all, you're a guitar player after all. Continue your finger picking style full time while you work on your flat picking(alternate and economy picking) and hybrid picking part time. I had the same dilemma years ago and now I can do it all.
Last edited by dirtfoot at Aug 26, 2017,
#10
Quote by Donaldosguitar
I am also mostly a fingerstyle player, but I do throw in a solo where I use a pick every now and then. And I can play solo's using a pick, no problems there.
What I notices I suck at is playing with a pick, when I have to jump over a few strings. for example, form E (the thickest string) to G or B....

I guess the only reason for it is lack of practice so.... if you want to learn to use the pick just practice it.

3-4 string skipping licks are pretty hard... I would say stuff like that requires more than a year of continuous practice to start playing properly.
#11
Playing with your fingers rather than using a pick isn't bad at all, it doesn't have to be strictly one way or another regardless the style you play - take Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac for example.

BTW, answer me a little question: is your picking hand your dominant hand as well?
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#12
Hi guys. Just joined this forum to discuss this very issue. I am also struggling to use a pick. I use one to do solo's but when playing intro's were there is a picking pattern, I find that if I use a pick, too often I either miss the strings or pick the wrong ones. An example is the intro to street spirit by Radio head. I can play it flawlessly using only my fingers but if I try it using a pick, it's a train wreck! I feel that my fingers seem to be better able to locate the right strings than the pick. I would prefer it if I could do it with the pick as it makes a better sound. There is also another problem I find with picks when it comes to strumming. Even when using a thin pick to strum, I find that it makes a really heavy, clunky sound. It sounds better just strumming lightly across the strings with my fingers but this doesn't seem to be how most people play/strum.
#13
Is it possible to play trills without a pick (or very long fingernails)? Seems to be
#14
andre.fontes.es Mark Knopfler has crafted quite a nice hybrid finger-picking style as well (though he includes his pick a little more than Buckingham). If you've never seen footage of him playing it is certainly worth viewing.