#1
Hey guys, I've been playing for about a year and a half, and I've had this picking problem. I recently performed at one of my friends' birthday parties. It was me and 4 other friends together (5 boys singing, hmmmm... sound familiar?). At the end of the party, a few other friends came up to me, asking where my guitar pick was. I wasn't all that surprised that they asked because my calluses were kinda red afterwards. I told them, "Even in a million years, you'll NEVER see me with a pick!" My 4 buddies were all using picks.

Now that I've given you some background...

I just can't get my chords to sound awesome when using a pick. I've tried different picks, and held them correctly, but they ALWAYS seem to "snag" on the strings and make my chords sound like a mess. Even with a brand new pick, straight out of the box, it kills my chords! What's going wrong?! (I have been strumming with my fingers, ever since I realized that I couldn't get anything but disappointment when using a pick!)
#2
Quote by maulin0820
Hey guys, I've been playing for about a year and a half, and I've had this picking problem. I recently performed at one of my friends' birthday parties. It was me and 4 other friends together (5 boys singing, hmmmm... sound familiar?). At the end of the party, a few other friends came up to me, asking where my guitar pick was. I wasn't all that surprised that they asked because my calluses were kinda red afterwards. I told them, "Even in a million years, you'll NEVER see me with a pick!" My 4 buddies were all using picks.

Now that I've given you some background...

I just can't get my chords to sound awesome when using a pick. I've tried different picks, and held them correctly, but they ALWAYS seem to "snag" on the strings and make my chords sound like a mess. Even with a brand new pick, straight out of the box, it kills my chords! What's going wrong?! (I have been strumming with my fingers, ever since I realized that I couldn't get anything but disappointment when using a pick!)


I was, and kind of still in the same boat really mate, I've used the side of my nail for ages and going to a pick was horrible, my chords sounded gross especially the high strings and then a tried a nylon .38 for strumming and that sounded nice but they are not great for picking though I've experimented with .38s and .46s ... .46s are better for picking imo as with the .38 I can not feel the strings well when picking! I think it can also depend on how relaxed your strumming hand is, if its tense you're going to hit the strings in a tense way, all I can say is try and relax the strumming hand! also I play acoustic guitar so if you're an electric player maybe try a range of picks and feel what's comfortable? I often go back to playing with side of my nail because my playing sounds loads better :S but then i try and practice with a pick as much as possible as well, i think its one of those things the more you do it the more if feels comfortable
#4
i play with my fingers on acoustic, but on electric i have to use a pick.
i suggest you to switch to playing with a pick , just practice for a week and youll get used to it.
#5
In general, it's worth having both textures available imo, just keep practicing both
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Oct 1, 2015,
#7
As long as you're not limiting yourself with no pick then I see no reason at all to start using one. If you do at any point, however, become restricted in your abilities because of not using a pick then it'll be a good idea to learn, but for now there's no reason to make the change.
#8
I use both at a fairly advanced level.. But then I've been playing for 40 years....

I started out doing folkie-style "Travis picking" using metal fingerpicks. That was in the mid-70s. However, since I didn't want to be like everybody else, I started fooling with bluegrass-style flatpicking as well.

I can play flatpicking "boom-chicka-boom" (bass note, chord downstroke, chord upstroke) at any tempo you'd like and can play fast single-note lines (like fiddle tunes or breaks) as well.

Fingerstyle, I have begun playing fingerstyle jazz using what amounts to classical guitar technique.

Both have their place. I find that I personally cannot play fast, single-note lines as rapidly fingerstyle as I can with a flatpick. However, artists who specialize in this can... As witness Paco De Lucia... Who could keep up with speed demons like Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin.
#9
I choke way up on my pick and angle it so it slices. No hang ups on either way though.
#10
It´s just pratice. It takes time to make a foreign object in your hand feel natural. I play Hybrid Picking (using the pick and the remaining three fingers) and that´s really the best of both worlds for me, because I never liked the way the fingers sounded for strumming (too muddy) if you don´t have/use nails.
#11
As everyone said, just practice.

I had guitar lessons for 2-3 years. I started on an acoustic guitar, and for the first 3-4 months, my teacher wanted me to use my fingers only. After those months passed, he introduced me to the pick, and damn, I felt like I didn't knew how to play guitar at all when using the pick.

It was difficult at first, but my teacher set me on the right path. He obviously taught me how to properly hold it, proper hand motion, etc.

After a couple of weeks, I started feeling really comfortable with the pick and today I use it with no problems at all. I even use it more often than my fingers, since now I play electric guitar (and I play rock and heavy metal) most of the time, but when I'm in the mood to play some clean acoustic stuff, I go back to my acoustic guitar and use my fingers.

If you don't have a teacher, you always have the internet. Check some videos on youtube and practice! You'll get used to it
Last edited by DanyFS at Oct 8, 2015,
#12
Quote by maulin0820
Hey guys, I've been playing for about a year and a half, and I've had this picking problem. I recently performed at one of my friends' birthday parties. It was me and 4 other friends together (5 boys singing, hmmmm... sound familiar?). At the end of the party, a few other friends came up to me, asking where my guitar pick was. I wasn't all that surprised that they asked because my calluses were kinda red afterwards. I told them, "Even in a million years, you'll NEVER see me with a pick!" My 4 buddies were all using picks.

Now that I've given you some background...

I just can't get my chords to sound awesome when using a pick. I've tried different picks, and held them correctly, but they ALWAYS seem to "snag" on the strings and make my chords sound like a mess. Even with a brand new pick, straight out of the box, it kills my chords! What's going wrong?! (I have been strumming with my fingers, ever since I realized that I couldn't get anything but disappointment when using a pick!)

Don't let them make you feel bad. They seem like they just want to appear smart and "in the know".

"Hey, that small equipment that all guitarists used? Yeah I'll bring it up. He must be doing something wrong."

About the picks giving you problems, try experimenting with different thickness picks. If you have no experience with picks, you're going to run into a lot of trouble strumming with a stiff pick (more than 0.8mm or so). Other than that it's all about practice.
#13
I've tried all sorts of thicknesses (even resorting to using a quarter or a Canadian $2 coin). AOS!
#14
Quote by triface
"Hey, that small equipment that all guitarists used? Yeah I'll bring it up. He must be doing something wrong."


I'm no mind reader - but I think that's what everyone was probably thinking,
#15
I greatly prefer fingerstyle, but on the rare occasion I use a pick I'll only use a thick one.
#16
Quote by TobusRex
I greatly prefer fingerstyle, but on the rare occasion I use a pick I'll only use a thick one.


Well, since I tend to be desperate, I gave up on using a pick. No offense meant, but to me a pick is just a stupid little piece of plastic.
#17
Quote by maulin0820
Well, since I tend to be desperate, I gave up on using a pick. No offense meant, but to me a pick is just a stupid little piece of plastic.


No offense taken! I only use a pick if my fingertips are sore, or if I feel like doing some strumming (very rare).
#18
Saw the Winery Dogs live the other day, all 3 are absolutely amazing guys but the one thing that surprised me most (besides the fact that the bass and guitar were doing dual sweeping and tapping solos) was that Ritchie Kotzen was going crazy without any pick. Everything from sweeping to tremolo to palm muting, he was just using his fingers. You couldn't even tell unless you see him doing it. That dude is crazy. So in all, yes, you can pretty much do everything without a pick if you work hard enough and know how to go about it correctly. Also string skipping is no problem because you can just use your thumb and another finger.
#19
Quote by Knight Elijah
Saw the Winery Dogs live the other day, all 3 are absolutely amazing guys but the one thing that surprised me most (besides the fact that the bass and guitar were doing dual sweeping and tapping solos) was that Ritchie Kotzen was going crazy without any pick. Everything from sweeping to tremolo to palm muting, he was just using his fingers. You couldn't even tell unless you see him doing it. That dude is crazy. So in all, yes, you can pretty much do everything without a pick if you work hard enough and know how to go about it correctly. Also string skipping is no problem because you can just use your thumb and another finger.


This. You can do everything with fingers, a pick is not required if you don't feel comfortable with it.

Another example, this guy, Chris Zoupa. Plays all kinds of crazy solos without a pick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMrGne4cPA4
Last edited by DanyFS at Oct 8, 2015,
#20
I'm a fingerstyle player and I have no trouble stating that you can't do everything that a pick can. A pick will provide more speed for staccato playing and will allow faster palm muted notes on electric with distortion - it also provides a more percussive tone. Using your nail as a pick doesn't work on electric unless you have some sort of artificial nail that won't break - they shred easily on electric. For some styles, staccato funk playing or surf for example, a pick is preferable.

On a classical guitar there are really no limitations when playing fingerstyle - Paco de Lucia could fingerpick as fast as John McLaughlin or Al Dimeola for example, but on electric - the classical fingerpicking technique sounds terrible and doesn't allow for palm muting. To get speed fingerpicking on electric you either need to primarily play legato, which is what I do, or use your nail as a pick to play staccato - but that has its limits from a speed standpoint.
#21
I also used to have problems with picks initially, but later on I got onto it perfectly. I have this pick of 1.0 mm size, It's cool for strumming. I also feel strings with it.
#22
My problem is when I use the pick, the pick seems to snag itself on one of the strings (normally the D or G, but it's "snagged" on the B string at times).
#23
As I said earlier, I've been flatpicking for a long time and I never had any problem with this "snagging" thing, but then I was mostly playing on big dreadnaught guitars with medium-gauge strings.

However.... When I was subscribing to Guitar Player magazine in the 80s, I read two different articles on plectrum technique that I found very helpful.
In an Al DiMeola interview, he mentioned how he "articulates" the pick by exposing more or less pick between thumb and finger... By sort of "rolling" the contact surfaces.
He used this for his "mutola" technique where he actually used the fingertips to mute strings rather than palm or the left hand. This results in a distinctive "pop" that you can hear on many of his recordings.

The idea of moving the pick in or out depending on what effect you wanted was very helpful.

Also, Robert Fripp ran a couple of articles on his "Guitar Craft" ideas. Fripp thought that the technique of playing should be studied and systemitized, much the way the technique is systemetized for classical guitar playing.

He said some of the same things that DiMeola was talking about, that the player should learn to manipulate the pick for the effect desired, rather than just picking up any old plectrum and flailing away as so many do.
#25
Pick choice is mostly a matter of preference ( it does affect sound) even if that means no pick. Don't feel you need to learn to use it just because others do.

However try getting a "heavy" (meaning thick" pick so it doesn't bend much. Don't grip it so tight either relax (probably why you snag) glide along the strings not into the guitar. Angle the pick towards the floor slightly not up and down and take your time with it. I had to relearn to use a pick since I held it wrong and it took me months to get back up to speed (and now far beyond my previous limit) so its going to take time.
#26
Quote by maulin0820
I told them, "Even in a million years, you'll NEVER see me with a pick!"


That was a quick million years!
#27
I usually use a pick for most things but I will also palm my pick at points during a song so I can use my fingers to do parts with a different dynamic (less initial string attack). Both are viable and useful in different situations. Learn to do both. Robbie Krieger of the Doors never plays with a pick and he gets some unique tones because of it.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.