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Thumbpickers club: post your own experience

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by emicad, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. emicad

    emicad Synchromatic

    Age:
    39
    662
    Jul 14, 2015
    Rome, Italy
    I always used flatpicks, mostly Jazz III/JD JazzTones size. I started using a thumbpick a couple of years ago after watching a Thom Bresh DVD about Travis picking. If you play Chet stuff, Travis picking or fingerpicking in general you can't at least try a thumbpick. The advantages are pretty obvious, you just need to find the right thumbpick for your needs and practice.
    My first thumbpick was a Dunlop 9022R (plastic tortoise) I bought in a local shop. After a couple of weeks I was able to use it comfortably for Chet stuff and fingerpicking so I used it for a while. I tried other thumbpicks during the time (Herco, Ernie Ball etc.) but I eventually came back to that heavy thick Dunlop.
    My musical journey lead me towards country chicken picking/hybrid picking so my right hand got into a transition phase. I realized pretty soon that chicken picking was definitely doable with a thumbpick, but some of those fast alternate picking lines were hard to play so I found myself going back and forth from a thumbpick to a flatpick depending on the music I wanted to play. It worked of course, but I HATED it.
    After reading great things about Fred Kelly's Slick Picks I tried one of them and everyhting changed. After a couple of months of practice I was able to use it for everything, from Chet stuff to chicken picking, alternate picking, even strumming.
    I didn't look for something else until I accidentally found a Fred Kelly standard pick at home. I tried it and, in my opinion, it's even better. I'm sure there are other good thumbpicks around but I found the one that works for me.
    Recently I started to play some Brent Mason songs and I've seen how he replaces every upstroke with the use of one of his fingers (mostly middle finger) during single lines. I'm mastering this technique and basically it makes you able to play with any thumbpick you want.

    This is just my experience, I hope it will be useful for you.
     
    Dave-B, Ricochet and jagROAR_63 like this.
  2. Dave-B

    Dave-B Gretschie

    494
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

    I've been playing since my teens, but fell into a creative rut many years ago. I couldn't progress beyond blues & rock covers, had no inclination to learn how to solo 'properly', and was completely disillusioned by the politics of playing in bands.

    Then a couple of years ago I happened upon this brilliant video:



    Here in the UK, this style of picking wasn't terribly well known, so this was a revelation to me. I bought some thumbpicks, grabbed my dusty guitar off the wall and haven't stopped picking since. It's like starting out all over again - the excitement of learning a totally new skill set, one that builds on my existing (albeit modest) musical knowledge. And it's a solo style, no bandmates required :p

    On the thumbpicks themselves, I really like Fred Kelly Speed Picks, as used by Doyle Dykes. They produce a brighter sound than say a standard Dunlop. But I try to switch back & forth between various picks & guitars when practicing.

    My days of playing in bands are gone, but hopefully one of these days I'll be confident enough to post up some thumbpicking videos.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  3. emicad

    emicad Synchromatic

    Age:
    39
    662
    Jul 14, 2015
    Rome, Italy
    Great video, thanks.
    I consider myself lucky because it took just a couple of weeks for me to develop some thumb independence and learn the basics of that style. Maybe I took the right path choosing the right books and practicing a lot or maybe I'm just gifted, I don't know... but that wasn't very hard for me.
    My classical guitar experience did its part of course, but this kind of boom-chick stuff requires a completely different right hand technique I didn't even know at the time.
    Simple songs like Freight Train were relatively easy to master, the first "serious" song I learned was Cannonball Rag, than I moved to Guitar Rag, I'll see you in my dreams, Avalon and other simple songs in the same style. I moved to Chet advanced stuff during the summer and I learned Mr. Sandman and other songs. That wasn't easy at all, to be honest. If you want to sound clean and accurate, you need to practice a lot and re-learn chord shapes using your left hand's thumb plus a complete new set of chords to manage voicings.
    I also forced myself to play all these fingerpicking songs I learned using a flatpick instead of a thumbpick, just for practice. I found myself adding my right hand's pinky to the mix to compensate for the lack of one finger and it worked just right. It doesn't sound the same, though: having a completely free thumb gives a specific "snap" to the bass tone that is not replaceable in my opinion. At least for THAT specific kind of boom-chick stuff.
    I always look for new inspirations and found great things in old school Delta Blues players. You never stop learning if you look around, that's the beauty of playing an instrument you love. :)

    I have a Speed Pick by Fred Kelly, I should try it! Can you do alternate picking with it?
     
    jagROAR_63 and BorderRadio like this.
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  5. Dave-B

    Dave-B Gretschie

    494
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    Yes :). But still not as efficiently as with a regular pick.
     
  6. Dead Roman

    Dead Roman Country Gent

    Dec 22, 2015
    Texas
    I chop up a Fred Kelly slick pick and rivet a .50mm Dunlop Tortex to it. Best of both worlds imho
     
    emicad likes this.
  7. Uniblob

    Uniblob Gretschie

    194
    Jun 21, 2015
    Baltimore
    Roman, I'd be interested to see a pic (no pun intended) of that if it's not too much trouble.
     
  8. Dave-B

    Dave-B Gretschie

    494
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    Thumb independence came quite quickly for me too. I found Tommy Emmanuel's Fingerstyle Milestones course to be very helpful. I play drums as well, and I think this helps with the mental challenge of separating thumb from fingers.

    What I'm having to work hard at is clean fretting, to allow the melody to sing out. Especially with barre shapes further up the neck. Years of battering out sloppy rock tunes left me with a lazy left hand technique, with lots of notes randomly muting and buzzing out. I imagine with a classical background, you didn't have this problem :)
     
    emicad likes this.
  9. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have to find these. I ran through everything I could get my hands on at the local music store, even did the full set of banjo picks because I snap finger nails.

    My biggest problem is comfort vs fit. A majority of thumbpicks are killing my thumb. I have circulation 'issues' as it is, so I notice after a few minutes. Make it too loose, and my timing is slightly off or I'm losing the pick with any kind of aggression. Right now the only balance of comfort and fit comes from a Herco Light.
     
  10. HypotenusLuvTriangle

    HypotenusLuvTriangle Country Gent

    Oct 27, 2010
    Whittier, Ca
    Best thumb pick I've ever used. I have been using it for the past 3 years. Attaches a regular pick to your thumb so you can go from finger picking to regular picking to tapping without fumbling around with the pick. http://chrisbroderick.com/blog/store/pick-clip001/

    [​IMG]
     
  11. giffenf

    giffenf Gretschie

    378
    Oct 26, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Ooh, HypotenusLuvTriangle, I've never seen that one before (or else I did and forgot about it). That could be just what I need. Though while we're on the subject, I'm a big fan of Fred Kelly picks, the Speed Pick, the Slick Pick, and the Bumblebee. And also my thumbnail when it grows out long enough to be useful and before I break it again.
     
  12. emicad

    emicad Synchromatic

    Age:
    39
    662
    Jul 14, 2015
    Rome, Italy
    Don't cut your nails if they're not strong enough. Use a nail file instead, they'll grow stronger.
     
  13. emitex

    emitex Gretschie

    418
    Aug 21, 2014
    NYC
    Never saw this before. Great idea. Just looked into getting one. Way overpriced for my wallet.
     
  14. emicad

    emicad Synchromatic

    Age:
    39
    662
    Jul 14, 2015
    Rome, Italy
    It's similar to the Bumblebee or Herco concept, interesting pick but definitely not for me.
     
  15. Dead Roman

    Dead Roman Country Gent

    Dec 22, 2015
    Texas
    I'll post one when I get home
     
  16. Random1643

    Random1643 Synchromatic

    854
    May 10, 2015
    Upper Midwest, USA
    When I taught myself to play circa age 12 I just used my bare thumb & fingers. Didn't know any different. Over the years, I used flatpicks, thumb picks, finger picks, etc and related techniques. But when I started playing guitar again in the late-1990s - after 20 years off - I settled back into that familiar bare thumb & fingers approach and that's what works best for me. Feels like home. I've played with/heard many fine players over the years who use the thumb pick method tho. So here's a Thumb Pic, but No Pick:

    upload_2016-12-27_14-36-20.jpeg
     
    Sonny Strimple likes this.
  17. Sonny Strimple

    Sonny Strimple Synchromatic

    Age:
    72
    716
    May 8, 2011
    Westernport, Maryland
    I get my picks from the same place as Random1643.
     
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  18. JC higgy

    JC higgy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    46
    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    I've never found one that is comfy ,they're always so tight they turn my thumb blue or so loose they keep moving .

    I've kinda give up on them,i'll never play that style well enough anyway,i'll stick with the hybrid style like Albert Lee and James Burton,i only wish i could play as well as them!
     
  19. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Age:
    35
    Aug 15, 2008
    england
    Hybrid is the same style just not using a thumb pick
     
  20. blc45

    blc45 Country Gent

    Age:
    65
    Aug 23, 2011
    nc
    Being an x-banjo player I just buy the heavy Dunlop's. I heat them up with a heat blower and re-shape them to fit my thumb better and file the edges into the shape I like. They last forever until you lose them!