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What do you use to pick acoustic guitar?

MechaKrauser

Joined: Sep 04 2014

Just wondering how everyone else prefers to pick acoustic. Fingertips, fingernails, pick+fingers?

For me it's fingernails. I love the sound of the strings ringing out from a nailstroke or pluck. I decided to grow my nails out when I was picking up fingerstyle and was having trouble with the notes not ringing out loudly enough and accidentally touching and ringing out unintended strings.

Nail maintenance is a bit of a hassle. When my nails get too long and start to catch and rake on the strings it gives me chills the same as nails on a chalkboard. It took a lot of trial and error to find the exact shape and length I like my nails at.

Also I have to handle anything with a touchscreen with my non-dominant left hand, else risk scratching the screen and such. It's also slightly embarrassing to turn down on playing anything sports-related out of fear of breaking a nail lol.

So yeah it has drawbacks but I can put up with that so long as my guitar picking sounds good as I like. And for me, my fingernails are essential :)

Any fellow fingernail enthusiasts out there?

I tried growing out my nails

a.christie.w

eren

Location: United Kingdom

Joined: May 17 2014

I tried growing out my nails a few years back to play fingerstyle, I just couldn't help but pick at the nails whenever they got to a certain length :( Now I just use my fingertips, but I'll use a thumbpick if the song compliments them.

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what

Well I'm a leftie

johnbie

John Lee

Location: Vancouver, BC

Joined: Sep 17 2015

I use the standard guitar and grow my right hand fingernails. Luckily most task I do can be done with long fingernails or with my left hand. I keep both fingernails maintained.

Alaska picks all the way.

Ennea

humhum..

Location: Germany

Joined: Apr 09 2010

Alaska picks all the way. Takes forever to trim them into proper shape when they're new but as soon as the sound is satisfactory they last for a pretty long time. Growing and trimming nail was too much maintenance for me and since they seem to be rather brittle the sound was changing more often than I would've liked so I made the switch at some point.

Trimmed also also looks better, not a fan of overly long nails except maybe the thumb.

Downside is that I can't play proper fingerstyle at any time when you don't your picks ready which was a bit of a bummer last BBQ but oh well xD

I use my fingernails mostly,

thedstring

Nate Brooks

Location: Utah

Joined: Jan 05 2011

I use my fingernails mostly, for every style, (even soloing on my electric), but I've been known to use a pick from time to time. Both just by itself and in conjunction with some other fingers sometimes. If you're going to be alternate picking back and forth between to strings, rather than jumping back and forth, a pick and middle finger can do the alternating easily and cleanly, but it does give a slightly different sound.

I would recommend getting good at all the ways, options are never a bad thing =)

Just fingertips

Dao Jarlen

Joined: Mar 10 2015

I went through a year long period or so where I was determined to keep my nails perfect for playing. Back then, I was a really big fan of certain percussive fingerstyle players(candyrat records anyone?) that kept theirs the same way.

After some time though, I realized that I hated trying to keep them pristine. It always seemed to take way more effort than I was willing to give. It bugged me that some days when my nails were good, my sound would be great and other days, not so much. It also bugged me that my technique was being affected trying to adapt one way or another, on an almost daily basis.

Then I started actually liking a muddier, mid-low range smooth sound like jazz guitarists and bassists. I started to hate the harsh sound of the nail and then the twang of steel strings altogether.

So for me, it kind of made sense to switch to just fingertips. After all, I had abandoned the pick because I hated that I couldn't just pick up and play well without a tool and I knew that high speed could be achieved through practice. I felt like the pick was a sort of crutch and fingernails became the same.

All that said, I'm glad people like to use picks and fingernails and fingerpicks! I think they sound awesome if not better for certain sounds and if that's what you're in to, more power to you! It takes all the colors to make the rainbow if you know what I mean and I hope this post didn't come off as pretentious.

I started learning guitar

scarecrowlol

Scarecrowlol

Location: New Zealand

Joined: Jul 06 2012

I started learning guitar with a pick first playing electric guitar, jamming out to lamb of god and slipknot and all that metal riffage. Then went to fingernails when i took an interest in fingerstyle. Now i really only play using fingernails, can still use a pick but its a bit sloppy, cant get those sweeps like i used to. Fingernail maintenance is a bit of a pain, and i try to keep them a a certain length, but i often snap them in my line of work and then my playing is ruined till it grows out again, (fake nails anyone?). However having longer nails on my right hand kinda makes it a bit harder to do things, like i find them annoying when i'm playing the piano, or even typing on a keyboard, and i cannot do any tapping on my electric 8 string properly with them which is frustrating cause i don't want to cut them off either. Woe is me

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Hey B0ss ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Hand Aquariums

MechaKrauser

Joined: Sep 04 2014

Wow look at all the replies XD

Sometimes I feel like I'm wearing one of these: Skwisgaar's Hand Aquariums lol

Here's what I do to shape my nails: I find it easiest to hold my hand palm-towards-face so I can see the flesh of my finger in full view and trim around it leaving just a small even-width of nail edged past it. I like just enough nail to "catch and release" the string. I don't like it to grab. I started out trimming them nail-side-up, which seemed common sense, but that often left uneven and imperfect results.

It's funny you mention brittleness, Ennea because I have a funny story about that. One year during winter I was outside in below freezing temperatures and snapped my thumbnail opening a car door handle that was frozen shut. It was quite shocking for me lol. It shattered like a dropped teacup and left a huge jagged edge on one side. I was pretty bummed for a while as I had to switch back to electric and wait for it to grow back out.

But also I've had my thumbnail bent backwards by 90 degrees (twice) without it snapping. Just popped it back down into place, haha. It really freaked me out the first time and hurt a good bit.

I haven't tried fingerpicks on guitar before. I do have some experience from learning some banjo. I never could get used to the feel of the banjo picks though. They always felt strange on my fingers and when striking the strings, particularly the thumbpick. That's probably the main reason I didn't stick with it.

Yeah, Dao, I know the hassle of nail maintenance well and I get irritated with it myself sometimes. But it's still what sounds best to me so I'll be sticking with it :) I can tell from your recordings though that it can sound good even without nails.

Can't say I've tried soloing on my electric with my nails like you, Nate, but that does sound pretty cool. I'll have to give it a try sometime.

I hear ya scarecrow. I also started out playing a lot of metal (Metallica, Lamb of God, Trivium). I neglected my electric guitar for a long time when I took up fingerstyle and grew my nails. And whenever I decided to play electric again I had to change how I held my pick. Before, I kept a delicate and flexible grip on my pick with my index and thumb, both pointed inward towards the pickups. But now, since my nails are grown out, I have to switch to a tight, compact grip, index finger on bottom pointed toward the bridge, thumb on top pointed towards the neck. It was really awkward at first and took ages to get used to. You could still use the pick for tapping though, couldn't you?

I used to do a bunch of

thedstring

Nate Brooks

Location: Utah

Joined: Jan 05 2011

I used to do a bunch of tapping before I decided to grow my nails out, like, really complicated tapping that used all 4 fingers on both hands.

Here's my old guitar teacher doing it:
https://vimeo.com/30519548

The video makes his guitar sound like it's quite, but in person it's really clear and has some really pretty and deep tones.

But I eventually had to decide between the cleaner sound of finger nails when finger picking and tapping. I miss it, but it's been about 10 years since I seriously tapped.

Fingertips. I wish I could do

Basisti94

Location: Turku, Finland

Joined: Aug 18 2012

Fingertips. I wish I could do fingernails with guitar but long nails are absolute pain when playing bass.

Re: I used to do a bunch of

Ennea

humhum..

Location: Germany

Joined: Apr 09 2010

thedstring said

I used to do a bunch of tapping before I decided to grow my nails out, like, really complicated tapping that used all 4 fingers on both hands.

Here's my old guitar teacher doing it:
https://vimeo.com/30519548

That.... looks pretty cool actually. Never tried that much of different techniques but tapping is one of the things that are pretty problematic with my picks anyway since the plastic keeps getting in the way. Been also trying to get into hybrid picking but the benefit of clearer bass sound or better strumming didn't really make up for the lack of precision due to not using my thumb. Maybe I'll try to get back to it for something like Kabukis File Select or Bhaels GoT theme but getting to the strumming section in the first place is a pain xD. Having too many tools on my hands makes me feel like this guy
Edward-Scissorhands-1.jpg

It's been a very long road.

surreal

Eric: tank,godlike

Location: Arizona

Joined: Jan 04 2009

It's been a very long road. I had nails too, and was meticulous about filing them to the perfect slope. Steel strings though, always frayed them sooner or later and I would be subjected to the vicious cycle of resetting the slope and adjusting to a slightly shorter nail. Eventually after high school I cut my nails for good and began a long search for picks I wasn't sure existed. I experimented with a lot of different fingerpicks. Alaska piks I could never get perfect, I found that over time I disliked the material and found it too flexible. Like a plectrum that's too thin, I felt like I couldn't get that oomph for an acceptable right hand force ratio. Metal picks were much louder for sure, but the attack was very twangy and bright. I eventually found my compromise in these:

http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/prod/guitar-finger-picks/Finger-tone-finge...

Unlike a traditional metal fingerpick, there's a space cut out for your finger to still make initial contact with the string. I can't recommend enough, the trade offs are minimal compared to the projection and accuracy (once practiced!)

I could never even get the hang of a basic flat pick when I started playing, always opting for the side of my thumb instead. It took some determination, but I'm much better at alternate picking and all that now. Most thumb picks were hard to train, as many are too long and most guitarists modify the angle with a file.

I'm too lazy to deal with that so eventually I came upon these and have never used anything else again. Not that I don't experiment, but none have been better for me.

https://www.google.com/search?q=fred+kelly+bumblebee&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q...

Feels identical to a regular pick while maintaining the grip of a thumbpick.

When people comment to me about using so many picks they're a little intimidated by the seemingly big learning curve, but it really isn't so bad. You've made it this far, no point in not pushing a little further. It's worth it either way.

Oh since you were talking

surreal

Eric: tank,godlike

Location: Arizona

Joined: Jan 04 2009

Oh since you were talking about tapping too. I love to do it, It's even possible while wearing picks, albeit your range of attack is limited and you have to be particular about contact with the finger and not the pick.

I've learned the ol' andy mckee drifting song back in the day. Part of Hunters Moon too, I should finish that someday.

I'm not a big Eric Roche fan but the Perc U Later is one of my favorite songs.

https://youtu.be/Ctc2X0Dg6nU

lol @ the Edward Scissorhands

MechaKrauser

Joined: Sep 04 2014

lol @ the Edward Scissorhands reference :D

You're lucky to have an awesome guitar teacher, Nate. I only ever had my tab books and Guitar World columns lol.
When you mentioned the 8-finger tapping I was sure you were linking to this guy. I've got the GW issue with that. Couldn't play it then; still can't play it now. (especially not now lol).

I hear a lot of love for fingerpicks :) Not in the market for them myself right now, though. I really enjoy the concept of "pick up and just play" lol. I have guitars strategically placed throughout my room so I can just grab one at any time to play and it's pretty convenient. I think if I ever had to cut my nails for work or such that fingerpicks would be my next choice before training my bare fingertips, though. Seems like it would take a long time for the callus to build up to get the same bright ringing like from nails and picks.