Thumb Pick: time to relearn how to play

calebaaron666

Friend of Fred
Aug 15, 2018
6,648
Auburn, Maine
For a long time now I’ve used a guitar pick. I often do sloppy hybrid picking.

Because I have bad wrists, and it’s cold here in Maine, I cannot hold a pick! Last gig my thumb and index finger both went numb and I kept losing the pick. It was terrifying! Luckily it was only during the last two songs and no one was the wiser cuz I played it cool, but inside I was panicking!

I realized that until I see a doctor to address the issue, I have to figure out how to use a thumb pick.
I tried a bunch of them at my local guitar shop and found these Bumblebee thumb picks.

DFCB4602-A307-4D7C-A3C7-CFA2B6D417A1.jpeg
15F1EEC2-0E8D-418A-9B4D-E23AB3D3FCC5.jpeg

The pick can be rotated, and it fits tight enough that it’s secure. I’ve used it at three band practices, and haven’t had a sore hand or wrist yet!
It also makes my sloppy “hybrid picking” much easier. Almost sounds like I know what I’m doing!
 

stiv

Country Gent
Sep 12, 2014
2,236
Firenze, Italy
I switched about 10 years ago, after I decided to dig deep into learning delta blues style (and also because windmills were killing my index finger and nail..:D ) and never looked back. I didn't touch a pick for years (eventually switching to all fingerpicking for a while), only recently I had to use a light pick for jingle jangle purpose on acoustic guitar.
On the more rocking things, at first I relied a lot on "hybrid regular" picking, sometimes holding the thumbick as a regular pick with the index as well, other times only using it downstroke (it gaves you a nice, old style dylanesque touch ;) ) but then I improved my fingerstyle so now I could really play everything with just the thumbpick and the index, punk rock included.
Even solos became more natural after a while, although a certain grade of bluesy touch was always there (I almost play them all with my index ) even in the rocking things.
I always used white Ernie Ball (L size) thumpicks because they were short enough (to me, shorter = easier) but at the moment I could use any thumbick I want (long or short) without changing too much my picking.
 

calebaaron666

Friend of Fred
Aug 15, 2018
6,648
Auburn, Maine
I switched about 10 years ago, after I decided to dig deep into learning delta blues style (and also because windmills were killing my index finger and nail..:D ) and never looked back. I didn't touch a pick for years (eventually switching to all fingerpicking for a while), only recently I had to use a light pick for jingle jangle purpose on acoustic guitar.
On the more rocking things, at first I relied a lot on "hybrid regular" picking, sometimes holding the thumbick as a regular pick with the index as well, other times only using it downstroke (it gaves you a nice, old style dylanesque touch ;) ) but then I improved my fingerstyle so now I could really play everything with just the thumbpick and the index, punk rock included.
Even solos became more natural after a while, although a certain grade of bluesy touch was always there (I almost play them all with my index ) even in the rocking things.
I always used white Ernie Ball (L size) thumpicks because they were short enough (to me, shorter = easier) but at the moment I could use any thumbick I want (long or short) without changing too much my picking.
Yes, I’ve been practicing all the same techniques!
Down strokes with my thumb, bracing it with my index for surfy stuff. I really need to work on my solos with it though. It works, but I need to tighten up when to use my thumb and when to use my finger. The Chuck Berry stuff I normally do needs to be picked much different with a thumb pick. I’m just gonna keep going!
 

Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
1,844
Portland, OR
Bumblebees are OK in my book. I've been looking far and wide for the perfect thumbpick (for me) and they're the closest I've come to finding one I like.

Still, I struggle with them, I really do. You gotta just keep pluggin' away at it - practice, practice and more practice.

Good luck with it!
 

HypotenusLuvTriangle

Country Gent
Oct 27, 2010
3,762
Whittier, Ca

Trash Kidd

Country Gent
Dec 14, 2015
4,763
London U.K.
This is something I should look into..
I’ve never mastered the art of finger/thumb picking etc..
I tried a couple of years ago but got lazy…. and put off as I found it difficult!
I’ve become too set in my ways lead guitar wise & have always stuck to my Chuck Berry, Johnny Thunders, Link Wray etc type lead work.
I need to suss this picking out a bit!
 

GlenP

Country Gent
Jul 23, 2019
2,192
WA
I recently got a few of the metal finger tip picks and have been trying to get the hang of them on my m, a fingers while hybrid picking with p, i holding the standard flat pick. Trying to learn the McGuinn style on my 12 string, the metal finger picks are quite a bit more chimey than finger nails alone.

I can do finger style folk guitar p i m a or flat pick, but have not quite got the hang of the hybrid picking yet.
 

Duo Slinger

Country Gent
Sep 11, 2020
1,095
California, USA
Well, I saw a lotta of the Rev and Chet online, so I started my hybrid picking and fingerstyle stuff early. I started off hybrid picking, and I still do that very often, because it's so versatile. But, I also eventually got me a pack of those plastic Dunlop thumbpicks after I saw a video of Mother Maybelle and I spent a ridiculous amount of time learning "Wildwood Flower". But more recently, I've been working on my Travis picking, which is coming along decently. I've made it a point to practice Travis picking with the thumbpick and hybrid picking. I like it with the thumbpick more. My fingerstyle has noticeably improved (surprise surprise) since I've picked up the banjo, and I've also tried playing with fingerpicks on the guitar, but to be totally honest I like the Chet way of thumbpick and bare fingers. My one big problem is like KuKuKu, in that I can downstroke, but not upstroke. I've changed to one of those metal Dunlop thumbpicks with the upturned edges, and maybe that's a problem? I don't know. I very rarely play with it like a conventional pick either, it doesn't feel quite right. I'll do it in a pinch, but I try to avoid it.
 

stiv

Country Gent
Sep 12, 2014
2,236
Firenze, Italy
I learned to upstroke with my index finger (or, better, with the nail, that has more attack) from John Lee Hooker style.
He usually hit downstroke with the thumb and upstroke with the index. There must be a video somewhere on the Tube demoing it (that’s where I picked it). Once you get accustomed to it, it’s pretty effective.
I’m not sure you could use it for all guitar styles, but it works for me. It’s not as effective as a real up/down stoke with a regular pick, but it gets the job done :)
 

calebaaron666

Friend of Fred
Aug 15, 2018
6,648
Auburn, Maine
This is something I should look into..
I’ve never mastered the art of finger/thumb picking etc..
I tried a couple of years ago but got lazy…. and put off as I found it difficult!
I’ve become too set in my ways lead guitar wise & have always stuck to my Chuck Berry, Johnny Thunders, Link Wray etc type lead work.
I need to suss this picking out a bit!
Same here! you and I have a similar style with the Thunders, Ray, Berry, Ivy influence, and the thumb pick makes those solos work VERY differently. The upstrokes are harder to do.
I would rather keep doing what I’ve been doing, but right now I have no choice. I either gotta adapt, or die!
 

calebaaron666

Friend of Fred
Aug 15, 2018
6,648
Auburn, Maine
I learned to upstroke with my index finger (or, better, with the nail, that has more attack) from John Lee Hooker style.
He usually hit downstroke with the thumb and upstroke with the index. There must be a video somewhere on the Tube demoing it (that’s where I picked it). Once you get accustomed to it, it’s pretty effective.
I’m not sure you could use it for all guitar styles, but it works for me. It’s not as effective as a real up/down stoke with a regular pick, but it gets the job done :)
That’s what I’ve been doing so far, down stroke withe the thumb pick, up stroke with the index. Still a bit sloppy, but it gets the job done.
 

HypotenusLuvTriangle

Country Gent
Oct 27, 2010
3,762
Whittier, Ca
That's kinda interesting. Any idea if there's a minimum thickness pick you have to use with it?

- thanks

No. there's no requirement. Though, the thicker you go, the more pressure you're gonna have on your thumb if keeping all other things equal. You can bend the metal to the pressure of your liking. A very THICK pick won't fit in that little space in the top though.
I use hard picks but nothing super thick.

Benefits of this over the Black Mountain and Bumblebee: once the pick wears down, you don't need to replace it with a specialized pick, just a normal pick will do. It will give you the most benefit of the feel playing with a normal pick but with the added support of a thumbpick.
 

Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
1,844
Portland, OR
No. there's no requirement.

Thanks. One of my problems with thumbpicks is that I usually use a thin flat pick and most I try are too thick. After 40+ years of playing, it's not something I really feel like changing! This would seem to eliminate that issue, because you're using whatever you want.

Think I'll give them a shot, see how they work out. Much appreciate the heads up!
 

Andrew Griffin

Synchromatic
Oct 22, 2015
801
For a long time now I’ve used a guitar pick. I often do sloppy hybrid picking.

Because I have bad wrists, and it’s cold here in Maine, I cannot hold a pick! Last gig my thumb and index finger both went numb and I kept losing the pick. It was terrifying! Luckily it was only during the last two songs and no one was the wiser cuz I played it cool, but inside I was panicking!

I realized that until I see a doctor to address the issue, I have to figure out how to use a thumb pick.
I tried a bunch of them at my local guitar shop and found these Bumblebee thumb picks.

View attachment 171850
View attachment 171849

The pick can be rotated, and it fits tight enough that it’s secure. I’ve used it at three band practices, and haven’t had a sore hand or wrist yet!
It also makes my sloppy “hybrid picking” much easier. Almost sounds like I know what I’m doing!
Very interesting thread; you all are inspiring me to give the thumb pick another go. I've just been finger picking with my fingers, and I do like the clarity that a hard pick gives you, but I can't keep a hold of them, whereas I've never lost a whole finger yet, lol. I did lose the tip of my right hand index finger in a farming accident but I've adjusted to only using my middle finger. Using the thumb in a more intelligent way would open up a lot of new sounds for me.
 

tmcq65

Gretschie
Nov 10, 2021
112
Pennsylvania
This IS an interesting thread. I am fairly early in my guitar journey, and want to explore fingerstyle, but I have (initially at least) decided that I am more likely to favor a flat-pick dominant style overall, so I have started working on a technique that uses a typical flat pick. I do have some thumb picks on order, though, to keep my options open.
 
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Mr Twangy

Gretschie
Dec 27, 2020
130
Canada
I've been on and on about Chris Broderick's pick clip for years. Best solution in my opinion.
Store | Chris Broderick Official Blog
View attachment 171857 View attachment 171858 View attachment 171859

Another option I've played with is Black Mountain's pick... Only issue I have is that pick sticks out too far. I've had to trim the tip down a bit.
Amazon.com: Right Handed: Heavy Gauge, Black Mountain Thumb Picks : Musical Instruments
View attachment 171860
I've been trying those two. The nice thing about them is you can have your forefinger ride in the same position as with a flat pick. I have the same problem as the OP and sometimes drop a flat pick.
 


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