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Thread: Finger Picking Nails or Picks

  1. #1
    Senior Member Rich Cohen's Avatar
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    Finger Picking Nails or Picks

    Well, there must be an existing thread for this question. What do you prefer? I can't make up my mind whether I should just go with my bare fingers, with nails slightly grown over the fingertip, or use ProPik Fingertone picks. I'm comfortable with either, but each has its pluses and minuses.
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    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Cohen View Post
    Well, there must be an existing thread for this question. What do you prefer? I can't make up my mind whether I should just go with my bare fingers, with nails slightly grown over the fingertip, or use ProPik Fingertone picks. I'm comfortable with either, but each has its pluses and minuses.
    I prefer "bareback" for 2 reasons.
    Most important I'm a big believer in relying on extra tools as little as possible, and when it's only you and your fingers the tools're always right there.
    But before I even developed that philosophy I noticed that fingerpicks just didn't seem to work for me, barely staying on and moving around a lot. Maybe I just wasn't properly educated about their use or proper selection
    Also I started on a classical where proper finger technique ruled out use of fingerpicks but relied on exactly what you describe, proper nail characteristics..
    And as I moved on their use seemed less and less relevant to what I was trying to accomplish and a standard old single pick was good enough.
    Counterpoint, 40 years down the road, though:
    As I play my F65ce without a pick more and more often, I find that the extra light strings really take a toll on my relatively soft fingernails.
    Al
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  3. #3
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    I have gone to bare-finger picking (not nails.) I used to used Pro-Piks but since carpal tunnel surgery my middle finger doesn't have the range or the speed to manipulate a Pro-Pik. However, without a Pro-Pik that finger works just fine. Plus, without picks I can do the "backhand downstroke strum," can't do that with Pro-Piks, they'll get hung up on the strings.

    So, I'm continuing to build up the calluses on my picking thumb and first two fingers.
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  4. #4
    I use both my Nails and my Bare fingers. I have noticed as I am getting older my nails aren't as durable as they used to be. Something I have begun using to keep from chipping my picking nails is a clear Nail polish called "Hard as Nails". It really helps keep my thumb, index, and middle finger nails on my picking hand from chipping out or getting worn and weak. If I were to be back to performing 4-5 shows a week I would almost certainly refer to a ritual I used to do when playing steel guitar. I have never gotten comfortable with metal or plastic thumb picks so I used to go have acrylic nails done on my picking hand only. Some of my Steel Guitar playing friends turned me on to it playing on the road and it really worked great. This allowed me to keep them the length I wanted and actually use my fingers without picks for an extended period. I like the feel of my fingers instead of picks as I have more touch control over my picking styles. If I am strumming and flatpicking I always use regular picks but if I am playing fingerstyle it is nails and bare skin. Hope that helps.

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  5. #5
    Hybrid, flat pick plus second and third fingers with slightly longer nails.








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  6. #6
    Senior Member Rich Cohen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by griehund View Post
    Hybrid, flat pick plus second and third fingers with slightly longer nails.
    I've never tried hybrid picking. It's difficult. How to? Just keep trying until it works?
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  7. #7
    Senior Member walrus's Avatar
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    If I use my fingers at all, it's hybrid picking. And it's not often, I'm definitely a flatpicker.

    Rich, I would ask the opposite question- using only my fingers seems impossible! No fingernails, either! Hybrid picking just came naturally since I apparently can't let go of the pick - I just "do it", never even knew what I was doing years ago when I first tried it.

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  8. #8
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    Fingers with some nail...and I own a wolfram glass nail file which really works well. Ring finger was sounding awful the other day, and a little attention with the file created a much more pleasing, full sound. My preference is the less between me and the guitar the better it is.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Cohen View Post
    I'm comfortable with either....
    I could never get comfortable with picks stuck on my fingers....
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  10. #10
    Senior Member killdeer43's Avatar
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    Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I tried all sorts of slip-on thumb/finger picks and NOTHING I tried ever felt comfortable. So, for over 40 years I've kept the nails on my index and middle fingers perfectly long enough for what I need. Those two fingers and my bare thumb are satisfyingly sufficient for me.

    That's my bare-fingers story,
    Joe

    *I also use a pick when appropriate so I'm covered.
    Last edited by killdeer43; 11-24-2017 at 12:52 PM.
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