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fingers instead of picks
I have a bit of a dilemma, I have always been good with my fingers and so it has always been really really hard for me to get myself to learn to play with a pick. But I must admit that certains things just sound better with a pick and certain things are almost impossible without one. So my question is.....is it possible to play most things with only fingers. My other problem is that Mark Knopfler is my favourite guitar player and he plays only with fingers. This is a happy/unhappy coincidence. He's kind of a good/bad influence on me. It's so much easier to do things like muting when your using fingers because you have more direct contact with your strings and also string skipping is not a problem at all. Timing though is harder....
What to do?? I just can't get the muting the same with a pick and I feel a bit of a klutz.
well, I guess it's not impossible to play most licks with just your fingers, but it would be impractical in alot of cases..
my advice and a few points..
check out Eric Vs picking articles, try them super slow..
try to make up for the lack of finger muting with left hand muting and applying the palm or loose right hand fingers against the strings you don't want to sound..
and best of all, find a really good plectrum style teacher who can sit down and point out all the different movement of both hands and help develope your technique..
think back to when you first started playing finger style.. you probably didn't just sit down at the guitar and have great finger picking technique instantly.. you had to develope it over time.. same goes for the pick, might feel really weird for a while, but hard workand patience can really pay off..
and always be proud of your good finger style technique and continue to develope it further, it's a very cool technique and MK is a great guitar hero to have..
Thanks. Did I also mention that I'm a left hander playing a right handed guitar? I know for most people staring blindly at your left hand is already a problem because in the beginning it seems that the left hand has the hardest job. Well this is extra bad for left handed people because we are very left oriented anyway! I will keep plugging away with that pick though, it has gotten really a lot better since I stopped goofing around and started spending more time just running scales and doing alt. picking. Some people may even consider it fast but not compared to my fingers....
Some people like to use a thumbpick. This means you can switch between fingerstyle and picking. Players that have used this, off the top of my head, include:
You might like to investigate some of them before making a decision.
I play most of my stuff fingerstyle too, simply because I like the the sound I get better. To me it sounds warmer, and I love to feel the strings.
Like you said, there are things that are almost impossible to play without a pick, but there are also things that are almost impossible to play with a pick. Therefore, it is a give and take situation.
I still do some things with a pick (when there is no alternative), and I believe a player should not restrict himself to just one style, or way of playing.
Anyway, some of the things I do that help me, are:
Try to adapt whatever I want to play, to fingerstyle playing. Some things will be hard at first, because I have to work out the best right hand fingerings slowly, but once you get going, you just fly.
I don't play much alternate picking, since I prefer the more legato type sound, and that is very easy to do fingerstyle since you mostly only pick the first note of a new string.
Sweeping is impossible without a pick, but you can play amazing arpeggio lines fingerstyle. One of my favourites is the two-note per string type, using a lot of hammer on/pull off stuff. You can also play one note per string arpeggios very fast, but you have to be realy precise with your right and left hand co-ordination, and your muting.
Whenever I sit down to practice, scales, arpeggios, exercises, licks, songs, I ALWAYS DO THIS:
I practice everything for that practice session with a pick first, then I repeat everything fingerstyle, and last, I repeat everything playing it with a slide.
Obviously, I have to make minor adjustments to the material because of the three diferent techniques I use to play it, but there are so many different places (on the guitar neck) to play the same note, that you end up with a "solution".
Did you ever try using a combination of pick and fingers (hybrid)?
If not, try it because it will give you the best of both Worlds.
That finger pick..... I might have to give that a try. Do you really run scales with fingers?? I never do that. Do you also move your fingers around the strings i.e. not stay on the same strings with the same fingers??? See I have a really hard time doing that. My fingers seem to think that they should take care of their string and the rest is none of their business. That means the thumb has 3 strings to take care of. It's really really hard to convince them otherwise!!
Yeah, when playing scales, I use mostly my thumb and middle finger (I prefer it to my index finger).
Example: Playing a 3 note per string ascending scaler run from low E to high E.
Thumb would pick first note on low E, and I would hammer the next two notes (legato style).
Middle finger would then pick the first note on the A string, and I would hammer the next two notes.
Thumb would then pick the first note on the D string, and I would hammer next two notes.
Middle finger would then pick first note of G string, and I would hammer the next two notes.
You can reverse the pattern for descending runs. You can use the pattern for two note per string patterns, and once you get confortable with this technique, you can use it in almost any possible combination. This is not the only way to do it, but it works well for me.
The whole approach of thumb playing the bass, and three fingers playing melody/lead, works for many things, but why restrict yourself to it.
When trying to figure out how to adapt things to fingerstyle, I just go for the most comfortable and easiest ways I can find for me. I don't pay attention to the "right way" to do things. The important thing is the sound, not how the sound was produced.
Well ok I guess I will have to learn to break some rules. I thought I was doing pretty well with the pick there and then today I threw it aside and tried one of the typical solo's that I play with a pick, but then without it.........and man it was still sooo much faster and better with my fingers....
Well too bad your so far away and can't show me your super finger technique, at least I'm not the only one, not counting Mark Knopfler and Jeff Beck of course, but they aren't your average mortal guitar player.
I used to play with a pick for many years, but then I just started liking the way it felt to play fingerstyle, and I also prefer the tone I get. To me, it sounds warmer and fatter.
It's just a personal thing. Also, Jeff Beck being one of my favourite players kid of did it.
Check out Adrian Legg's playing, he plays a lot of stuff that can be applied to electric. To me, he is like the link between acoustic and electric fingerstyle guitar.
My advice to you, is to just try and play anything you want, and adapt it to your fingerstyle technique.
For example, I play a lot Joe Satriani stuff all fingerstyle. Not everything will sound exactly like him, but I wouldn't want it to either.
Right now I am working on a fingerstyle arrangement of the infamous Crossroads. I came across the tab from some guy, and it sounds good with a mild distortion tone. It also looks way cooler to play these things with your fingers, than with a pick, because not many players do it.
Looking cool...that's always good. I will try to check out this guy you mentioned. Thanks.
get "Guitar for mortals"
This is in my opinion, his best album.
It's so good, that it is hard to describe. The only thing better is watching him live, and make sure he doesn't have 10 fingers on each hand.
Guitar for mortals, is one of my favourite guitar albums of all time, and was the main reason why I started playing fingerstyle guitar.
Hedoesn't sound like most accoustic players, that sound too folky, he uses effects, and his sound is something between an accoustic, and an electric. Fingerstyle at his best.
When he opened up the G3 show (Satriani, Vai,Eric Johnson), many people though he blew away the other players, with just his guitar (no back up band). I think it was more a case of him being so different from the other three players, that he stood out more.
After starting as a plektrum player, I now play almost exclusivley fingerstyle. I can't think of much that can't be played with the fingers, but you do have to work on your technique, and look after your nails to get the best out of them. A couple of years working with some classical guitarists to sort out my technique and get my fingers more organised was well worth it. Try some 'non classical' variations too - like picking both up and down strokes, which works well for plektrum oriented stuff, and lets you do things like fast double stop runs which can sound pretty cool and mostly impossible with plektrum alone. If you like the sounds of Mark Knopfler and Tommy Emmanual etc, it's worth the effort to get your fingers organised so they work both as a team and individuals.
Picking with fingers up and down.......oooh that sounds hard. I did once try something like that but it seemed really clumsy.
Do you think that taking some classical lessons would be worth while??? I wonder what classical players practice that other people don't??? I've never had a real lesson before in my life so I really wouldn't know what's best. But most of what one reads about online seems to be geared toward electrics. I admit that most of the time I also play electrics but once in a while I'll get into a mood and play only classical for a week or two.
lessons won't hurt
I took classical lessons for a couple of years, and it was beneficial. The main thing I got out of it, was to play fingerstyle guitar "clean".
I don't use standard classical technique in my playing, but learning a little of it, didn't hurt me at all.
The thing is about most people that give classical lessons, they are often quite rigid in their way of thinking and I can just see the look on their face when I walk in with my semi-classical / semi-not classical / semi-electric guitar!!! I think they might throw me out the window!!!