Pick or no pick (question of the day)....

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Butch Ammon, Jun 19, 2021.

  1. Butch Ammon

    Butch Ammon Gretschie

    Jan 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    I hope nobody minds that I posted this in the biggest sub-forum on Gretsch-Talk...

    For 50 years, I have always played with a pick, only randomly putting it down for a quiet fingerpicking pattern. Lately, I have been watching Doc Watson videos, Chet Atkins videos, Tommy Emmanuel videos, all on YouTube, and my mind has been officially blown...

    I have been playing my Gretsch 5122 with no pick, or maybe just a cheap Dunlop thumbpick, and use my index, middle, and ring, fingers. The things you can do by fingerpicking versus a pick. Granted, yeah, okay... I know... You can't scream out "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden without a pick... But it's just that there is a whole new "zone" a guitarist can get into by playing with just fingers (and/or thumbpick).

    What do you think? Who here plays a Gretsch with only their fingers?
    Lockupyourfatdog and blueruins like this.
  2. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    I do. Started it a little over a year ago.

    I'm not a finger picker, but use mostly my thumb for picking and thumb/fingers for strumming.

    Getting good calouses built up, and this has been game changer for me.

    Loving it.
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  3. OzzPocket

    OzzPocket Synchromatic

    Aug 11, 2020
    For whatever reason (maybe I didn't have one in my pocket) I stopped using a pick years ago.....I play mostly with my fingers.....Recently, I've actually started trying to use one again....and it's like being a beginner all over again......I find it awkward and clumsy....and in reality, even for rock you don't really NEED one (ok....maybe for some super articulate shredding)

    If you've never seen Andy (can't think of his last name)....on youtube...doing demos for Reverb.com.....he doesn't use a pick, and that guy can play darn near everything.
  4. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Used to play pick-less exclusively as I came from classical guitar. But I found that a lot of stuff that is recorded with a pick only sounds right with the pick. So I play both.
  5. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    I play hybrid with a pick and the 3 free fingers. Hate thumbpicks, and like @stevo said, the pick sound is unique. I also bite my nails although I get by fine.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2021
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  6. Butch Ammon

    Butch Ammon Gretschie

    Jan 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    All of my guitars watched this YouTube video of Doc Watson playing "Deep River Blues"....

    They aren't speaking to me anymore! :D:p

  7. Waxhead

    Waxhead Friend of Fred

    Aug 30, 2014
    Isn't the best option to be able to use both pick and fingers individually, and also pick and fingers together?
    That makes you x3 more versatile than just a pick player, or just a finger picker :)
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  8. capnhiho

    capnhiho Country Gent

    Feb 16, 2013
    I had the honor of seeing Doc (and his son Merle) live a couple of times. Almost made me want to cut off my fingers and give up…

    I’ve barely conquered my thumb and index finger gripping a pick. Finger style? Fuggadaboutit!
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  9. L Robbins

    L Robbins Gretschie

    May 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2021
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  10. BrianW

    BrianW Country Gent

    Oct 21, 2014
    Vancouver Island
    I use mostly a thumb pick and fingers (I won't say well). My first mentor was a huge Chet fan so was "shown how". Also just bare thumb for some stuff. I have been forcing myself to use a flat pick for the last few years, found it helps learning something previously unknown when trying to get used to a new style of playing. Perhaps old bad habits don't migrate??

    I see the advantage to versatility, I only wish I was more proficient with any style!o_O
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  11. wabash slim

    wabash slim I Bleed Orange

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    I play both ways (with a pick and without) badly.
    One advantage to playing without a pick is that you usually don't lose fingers in the sound hole.
    SAguitar, Wavey, Jeff67 and 8 others like this.
  12. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    By the title I was worried this was a thread about noses!

    Seriously though I tend to play acoustic finger style more than electric but I do use my other three available finger even when I use a pick.
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  13. Viking Power

    Viking Power Synchromatic

    Jun 11, 2018
    Mountlake Terrace, WA
    Nice timing on this thread for me.

    Having played fingerstyle bass in the past, I have always felt like it was a good way to connect with the instrument. With guitar it has always seemed very daunting.

    Tonight I spent a little bit of time with a David Hamburger fingerstyle blues course. I’m intrigued.

    Is the difference between blues fingerstyle and Travis picking big enough that it would be hard to switch to one if you learn the other first?
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  14. new6659

    new6659 Country Gent

    Pick on electrics, picks or fingers on an acoustic. I like the tones a pick creates on electrics.
    Mark 6120 and Butch Ammon like this.
  15. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    I use a thumb pick much or the time, and flat picks on material that I don’t intend to play fingerstyle. On rare occasions, such as when I play my classical, I go with a bare thumb and fingers. I have a degree of classical training, which definitely helps.

    Ive found that Fred Kelley Slick Picks work well for me and I can grip these like a thumb pick when the occasion call for it, but I have to admit that a flat pick brings its own set of virtues to the table.
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  16. bhatta

    bhatta Gretschie

    Jun 29, 2020
    Gave up on picks some years back. Still use it, on some chordal work. Rarely ( keep some Jazz III" s tucked away ;))
    Cannot hybrid pick, nor am I comfortable with thumbpick. Some how cannot judge the distance and strike too hard.

    All fingerpicking for me... Acoustic, electric or bass.
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  17. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
    Well, It would seem that I am a bit of an oddity here. I use thumb and finger picks when I am finger picking and happy with a flat pick on many styles where FP is not really
    where it happens.
    I am comfortable with fingers and thumb when finger picking but have never been happy with the soft attack.
    I'm fairly certain Mark Knopfler has developed his tone with finger and thumb by developing heavy callouses and hitting the pre-amp section of his amp hard.
    Like finger picking in general it is really a lifetime skill and doesn't come easily IMO.
    wabash slim, G5422T and Butch Ammon like this.
  18. dlew919

    dlew919 Country Gent

    Jul 18, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    Haven’t used a pick regularly since about 12 months after I started playing. Used to get a lot of stick for it from so called ‘sound experts’ but apart from the afore mentioned Chet and Tommy, Ritchie Blackmore, mark knopfler, Jeff beck and occasionally Brian may use their fingers.

    when I picked up mandolin I learned how to use a pick and properly. Still prefer fingers on guitar. But when I have to I can.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  19. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Oct 18, 2015
    I would love to play without a pick. It feels totally natural to me. But I ruins my right-hand index fingernail.
    Butch Ammon likes this.
  20. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    The funny thing about thumb picks to me is I think they hold me back. When I first tried to play guitar I had a teacher who would just chat most of the class. I couldn't hold a pick but they were not very good picks now that I look back on it. My folks thought anything with a point would work fine so I got chunks of the cheapest plastic picks they could get from the dime store. Slippery things. I got a thumb pick but looking back I really think it held me back. It's a tool but with instruments, I think we should work with all the styles flat pick, thumb pick, fingerstyle even if it isn't the way you normally play. IMHO using other styles of picking helps me think about the music in a different way which I think is a positive to creativity. Now having said that and having used a thumb pick I have no desire to use one again. But I still like fingerstyle and flat picks. I would love a few fingers picks if I could find some I like that aren't all twangy but no big rush. So whatever style you think you want to try go for it!
    Duo Slinger and Butch Ammon like this.
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