I've been playing guitar for 10 ten years and this is my honest opinion. If you disagree thats fine with me. What works for one person doesn't always work for someone else.

Sometimes when I play with a pick I can get into a good rhythm and really enjoy it other times its frustrating and makes everything sound real tinny and choppy. I hate that.

When I play with my fingers I feel much more relaxed and in control. I also play simpler stuff and I enjoy it better. The tone sounds way better. This is for acoustic stuff.

So if your struggling with tone and control and your playing with a pick throw that mother fudger out the window and play with your thumb and fingers. There will be some things you wont be able to play but man maybe you dont need them.

And dont worry about your dexterity or speed youve got to crawl before you walk. I've found that I've been slowly becoming more and more comfortable with fingers each and every day. I also explore the guitar in a different way.

Just my two cents. Thought Id help somebody out cause I sure as heck need some help myself.

Love be the but it wont get me
Yeah i just dont use a pick in general. But it is necesary to play van halen imo but ive found that u can play most music without one. A good example of a song u can learn easily without a pick is either scar tissue by rhcp or try lou bergs/penatrate time from frusciantes solo career
I totally agree that sometimes you just go through a phase where you suck with a pick. Also there are some tones I can only get with my hands and not a pick. My personal favorite is a really bassy/ballsey kind of popping sound out of the strings when I hit em hard with my index fingernail.

It's always good to switch things up once in a while.
Yea Van Halen is good. I don't know about those other guys. I just like rock n roll and I listen to blues but I dont play blues. I just play rock n roll. Its fun to just sit on the couch drink a beer and play some acoustic. More fun if you play with your fingers. I play for myself and noone else. I used to care about playing shows and stuff but noone gave a crap about my guitar playing. I've had so many friends who play pop garbage who've played shows, recorded, done a bunch of crap because that crap is in demand. While I play Jimmy Reed, Stones rock n roll stuff and everybody just says that stuff is dead.
The hardest callous to build up, to me, is the one on your picking thumb. But once it's there, there's a new world of fingerpicking guitar styles available. From jazz to country to rock, being able to play without a pick can be magical.
Then there's the pickfinger style, where you use a pick but add in two picking fingers.
Put the pick down.
Haha thats right man put the pick down. Sir put the pick down and step away from the guitar. Yea I tend to play riffs with my thumbs and power chords on acoustic with my thumb but regular chords I pick at with all my fingers. Yea man its the way to go.
Loubergs/penetrate time is a song from John frusciantes solo career. Check it out and learn it without a pick you wont regret it to the best of my knowledge.
Well guys I'm a hypocrite. I picked up the pick and strummed the guitar today and I was enjoyed it. I guess sometimes I just need a break. But anyway keep on rockin.
I'm mainly a bassist so I had calluses the size of Tokio before I even bought an acoustic, but I also played electric guitar before so I was used to playing with picks and fingers.
But on my acoustic playing with my fingers just felt weird.
What helped me to play fingerstyle was playing the ukulele.
Since day one, back in the seventies, I've done both. Started out with the sort of standard "Travis picking" that was what you did if you were a folk musician, and almost at the same time started working with the "boom-chicka-boom" bluegrass/country flatpicking.

Now, 40 years down the pike, I can go back and forth seamlessly and don't prefer one over the other. The flatpick is the tool to use for bluegrass-derived playing. For blues, slide, and numbers of "folk" tunes I play, I prefer fingerstyle.
It's conditioned by the song, not the technique.
Ive only been playing about 2 years. The first year was all just learning open chords, some simple riffs, etc... all on acoustic. All with no pick. I just liked the idea of just the guitar and my hands.

However once I got into electric (I like it more) my hand dexterity was really retarded because of this. Im a lefty playing righty, so that only hurt even more as my right hand is dopey enough. I had to force myself to get the picking down (its still a weak point) because you cant play electric w/o it and I got tired of growing my nails to silly lengths.

Now that all my skills have improved I LOVE chilling with my acoustic and playing pickless. Its so relaxing. The other night I played for probably 90 minutes straight while sitting on front of my son's fish tank (he's 8). He was on the floor playing legos and star wars etc while I chilled and played. Mostly I was just messing around with open stringed chord voicings up and down the fret. I finally stopped for a break and he looks up and says "that was good... why did you stop?"
It was great because he was so in his own world I think he forgot I was there at all.

What I really need to do is focus on a simple finger picking pattern. My chords are good and my fret hand is still ahead of my right. Its in the queue of 10,000 things to learn and practice
he of tranquil mind
There is some merit to what you're saying. If you struggle to use the pick, you can certainly go to your fingers and be okay.

BUT... struggling is what makes you improve. If you don't struggle with something, you don't learn to be better.

I also found using the pick difficult at first. You really need to develop an understanding of balance between gripping too hard or too soft. Switching over to a harder pick without much flex made it even more difficult. But now that I've mastered it, I get really sweet tone.
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For me, if a tune/genre/style requires a change from fingerstyle to a pick or vice versa, I have to play it enough (ie.: three or four days straight for an hour or two each) just to start to get a confidence in finger placement, tone, etc.. Its real nice either way, especially if I haven't played in "the other" for a while. On my ol' Gibson, the feel of a flatpicked tune, after having played mostly classical or fingerstyle, creates a mood, uhhhhhhhhh, can't explain that one in words.

I guess that's music for ya.
Last edited by sjwguitarr at Sep 15, 2011,