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Am I wearing my finger picks correctly?

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Nov 15, 2019 - 9:16:34 AM
12 posts since 11/2/2019

Novice player here. I just started playing with fingerpicks a few weeks ago with a pair of National NP2s. Are these positioned on my fingers correctly? Are they sticking out too far beyond my fingertips?   Should I curl them more to follow the contour of my fingertip? Is the thumbpick ok? Thanks for any feedback.




 

Edited by - Dave_11 on 11/15/2019 09:17:56

Nov 15, 2019 - 9:32:31 AM
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Mooooo

USA

7199 posts since 8/20/2016

Looks good. I predict that national is going to break within 2 weeks, so I hope you have a backup, and I predict your fingers are going to be sensitive for a while until you get used to the fingerpicks. But keep them on and get used to the pain for now. Some people keep the fingerpicks straight (Alan Munde) and others bend them a bit (Earl), since you are just starting I don't think it won't matter much because it's going to be awkward either way. If I could do it over again, I would keep them straight and focus on picking with only the tip of the pick. If you curve them, it's too easy to sweep the pick along the string instead of striking it and quickly moving on...but that is just an opinion. Have fun.

Nov 15, 2019 - 9:34:42 AM
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kjcole

USA

1194 posts since 4/21/2003

You are 'within normal limits' to borrow from clinical terms. But you should feel free to experiment. Many (me included) like to bend the blades to follow the contour of the finger tip. Poke around on YouTube and you'll see a lot of pros (including the 'first generation') bend their picks in this way (but not all). Personally I think that bending the blades in this way improves speed and also allows the blade to push the string down before the up pluck (which I think yields a fuller sound). I'm sure you'll get many responses here, but do allow yourself the chance to experiment until you find what works best for you.

Edited by - kjcole on 11/15/2019 09:35:13

Nov 15, 2019 - 9:52:04 AM

5502 posts since 3/6/2006

Comfort is also a consideration - I find the bands on dunlops to be more comfortable than NP but to each his own. I think you are in a good place for just starting out. You can dial in the fine adjustments later.

Nov 15, 2019 - 10:26:21 AM

adl1132

USA

134 posts since 12/18/2012

After you experience 10-12 hours of wearing the National fingerpicks, I would encourage you to try some Dunlops. You can get used to almost anything, but I used the nationals for 15 years, and when Dunlops came out, I couldn't believe how comfortable they were by comparison.

Nov 15, 2019 - 10:26:21 AM
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52859 posts since 12/14/2005

 

Just remember  what Death said to Max Von Sydow, in "The Seventh Seal"

Nov 15, 2019 - 10:58:47 AM

12 posts since 11/2/2019

Thanks for all of the feedback guys. Thankfully pain/discomfort haven't been an issue, but I'm not picking for hours on end. I may try curling them just a bit to see what happens. Thanks for the Dunlop suggestions -- I'll definitely try a set. I was thinking of buying one or two more brands of fingerpicks to try. And don't worry, I have 4 more National thumbpicks if this one goes!

I'm a long time guitar player, and while I'm not a fingerstyle player by any stretch, I am very comfortable picking a guitar (and uke) with my bare fingers. It's been really difficult trying to adapt to these picks though. I feel like I have no tactile feedback from the strings. I can practice with the picks for half an hour, then take them off and play with twice the confidence and twice the speed/accuracy using my bare fingers. Someone here said it took them 2 months to get used to the picks, so I guess I'm nearly half way there.

Nov 15, 2019 - 11:16:42 AM
Players Union Member

KCJones

USA

556 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Mooooo

Looks good. I predict that national is going to break within 2 weeks, so I hope you have a backup, and I predict your fingers are going to be sensitive for a while until you get used to the fingerpicks. But keep them on and get used to the pain for now. Some people keep the fingerpicks straight (Alan Munde) and others bend them a bit (Earl), since you are just starting I don't think it won't matter much because it's going to be awkward either way. If I could do it over again, I would keep them straight and focus on picking with only the tip of the pick. If you curve them, it's too easy to sweep the pick along the string instead of striking it and quickly moving on...but that is just an opinion. Have fun.


Say what now? 

Nov 15, 2019 - 11:19:47 AM

1 posts since 12/6/2018

Dave, I'm with you. Long time guitar player here as well. Not being able to actually feel the strings has been a stumbling block for me. I can make do alright with the finger picks (albeit I play banjo much better without them) but then there's the issue with the length of the picking part (blade?) of the thumb pick. When holding a normal flat guitar pick, the picking point is almost all the way back to the first thumb joint and barely pokes out between my fingers. I've tried grinding, shaping and generally mangling several thumb picks to get a position and length that'll work for me with no good results yet. I haven't given up though....

Nov 15, 2019 - 11:41:32 AM

113 posts since 8/25/2009

I looked up the Dunlop fingerpicks online, and i see there are plastic ones. Which are more comfortable? And, what are other differences?

Thanks,

Bill

Nov 15, 2019 - 11:51:13 AM
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RB3

USA

555 posts since 4/12/2004

In my opinion, you're on the right track. I would suggest that you add more curvature to the blades of your finger picks, so that they are more congruent with the curvature of your finger tips.

There are good videos on YouTube that show close-ups of Earl Scruggs and how he used his right hand and his finger picks. The blades of his finger picks had more curvature than yours. No one played the banjo better or got better tone out of a banjo than Scruggs. As a famous Yogi philosopher once said, "you can observe a lot just by watching".

Nov 15, 2019 - 12:02:35 PM

52859 posts since 12/14/2005

All jokes and Swedish films notwithstanding- - - -
Welcome to the HangOut.

And if you're ever near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, let me know.
I'm just a half hour north, where 43 crosses 60.

And when banjo learning FRUSTRATES you, just tip your head back, and shout
"Son-OV-a BEACH!!"

Nov 15, 2019 - 12:56:08 PM
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12 posts since 11/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by cvaughn927

Dave, I'm with you. Long time guitar player here as well. Not being able to actually feel the strings has been a stumbling block for me. I can make do alright with the finger picks (albeit I play banjo much better without them) but then there's the issue with the length of the picking part (blade?) of the thumb pick. When holding a normal flat guitar pick, the picking point is almost all the way back to the first thumb joint and barely pokes out between my fingers. I've tried grinding, shaping and generally mangling several thumb picks to get a position and length that'll work for me with no good results yet. I haven't given up though....


I've had that cream colored National thumb pick in my pick collection for several years, but never could get used to it on guitar.  I'll pull it out every couple of years, spend about a week with it, and then back it goes.  I'm sure I just need more time though.  I've thought about sanding the tip down a bit to get a better feel, but haven't got around to it yet.  Whenever I order some more picks, I also plan to try a few different thumb picks to see what works best for me.

Another thing I have trouble with, which I think is related to years of guitar playing, is that I can't look at fingerboard down by the nut end without having it mess up my thumb picking.  If I'm looking at the strings there and want to make my thumb pick the low D (4th) string, it tends to hit the 5th string in stead.  My guitar-mode mind thinks that the 4th string is the bottom string and confuses it with the 5th string.  I'm getting a little better in that regard, but when playing I mainly look at my picking hand, or I don't look at anything at all.

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:08:45 PM

Jbo1

USA

852 posts since 5/19/2007

Realizing you are not a novice player, but its funny how many newbies put the picks on backwards, over the fingernails instead of the "meat" of the fingers.

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:39:54 PM
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Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5005 posts since 10/12/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by Half Barbaric Twanger

I looked up the Dunlop fingerpicks online, and i see there are plastic ones. Which are more comfortable? And, what are other differences?

Thanks,

Bill


If you're playing Bluegrass banjo, plastic fingerpicks just won't cut it, IMHO.

Muted sound and I believe they "move around" on, and work their way off of, your fingers worse than metal picks

Nov 15, 2019 - 6:44:10 PM
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gtani7

USA

952 posts since 3/22/2017

There's lots of old threads about bending the bands into more of a expanding cone shape than a cylinder shape, bending the blades, expanding thumbpick bands with hot water, and reshaping (filing and buffing) plastic thumbpick blades. Also rotate the fingerpicks a little toward thumb, which requires reshaping their bands.

I suggest starting with thinner Dunlops (.020, easier to bend, ) and see what blade shape and band shape you like

banjohangout.org/archive/214728

banjohangout.org/archive/164870

banjohangout.org/archive/336873

banjohangout.org/archive/325001

Nov 15, 2019 - 7:31:20 PM

230 posts since 10/23/2010

I'm personally in the more curvature to the blade camp, so that the blade of the pick kinda follows the contour of the end of my fingers.

You just have to experiment a little to see what you feel the most comfortable with.

If you do decide to try a little more bending, go slow and gradual so you don't kink the blade.

I use NP2 Nationals and find using small needle nosed pliers makes it easier to shape the picks to my liking. However most pliers jaws are knurled and can scratch or nick the pick if you squeeze too hard.
To alleviate that issue I bought a small cheapo pair of needle nose pliers and filed all the knurling off the jaws so the clamping surface is totally smooth. Works great for shaping picks and no worry of scratching them.

Nov 16, 2019 - 5:12:54 AM

gtani7

USA

952 posts since 3/22/2017

To shape picks i'll either put short piece of 1/4" vinyl tubing over the jaws of the needlenoses, or work a small socket wrench into the back of the blade and push it into a carpet or other soft surface. (Course I learned both tricks on the hangout).

There's also jeweler's pliers which you migth get at a hobby or art supply store firemountaingems.com/shop/pliers.

Edited by - gtani7 on 11/16/2019 05:13:46

Nov 16, 2019 - 6:43:40 AM

1359 posts since 2/10/2013

You might check Youtube. Tony Trishka discusses and demonstrates how to use your fingerpicks.

Nov 16, 2019 - 6:52:17 AM

SBPARK

USA

330 posts since 2/25/2011

Aside from having them oriented correctly (which you do), the amount of pick sticking out and the amount they curve and the angle they're curved/bent is purely subjective. But with that said you should experiment. I used to wear them the way you did but have changed over time and I now wear my finger picks closer to the end of my fingers which allows me to angle the blades more and have more of my finger tips covered by the blade. As my hand position changed and I had the picks the way your picture shows, I was missing the picks and hitting flesh, getting stuck on the string between the flesh of my fingertip and the pick, etc. I also have the blades twisted just a bit to allow the blades to hit the strings square on and not at an angle. Hitting the strings at an angle kills the tone, but if I adjusted my hand to allow that without twisting the blades a little, my right hand would look like JD Crowe's right hand, and that's rpetty uncomfortable for me.

It's an evolution, and as you modify, evolve and experiment with different hand positions, the way you wear your picks will change as well. I just keep a set of needle nose pliers and a piece of an old cotton t-shirt (to protect the picks from the knurling on the fliers) handy to tweak as needed. Finger picks are also pretty cheap for the most part (I used the new Nationals (NP-2) and always have a few spare or new sets around if I get the urge to start bending and tweaking them, but don't want to necessarily mess with a set I currently like so I can easily go back to them later if I prefer.

Edited by - SBPARK on 11/16/2019 06:56:28

Nov 16, 2019 - 9:17:41 PM

12 posts since 11/2/2019

Thanks again to all who responded. There is a lot of really great information here to get me started personalizing my picks.

Nov 19, 2019 - 7:12:09 PM

369 posts since 5/29/2006

I find Acri picks (this kind) far more comfortable than the ones shown in the first post:

elderly.com/collections/catego...icks-pair

Edited by - howbah on 11/19/2019 19:12:34

Nov 20, 2019 - 8:09:32 AM

1359 posts since 2/10/2013

Get some "simichrome" and keep your fingerpicks clean. You will be surprised by how much tarnish comes off your fingerpicks.

My banjo playing neighbor always prefers playing without fingerpicks. That is fine if you only play by yourself. But if you plan on playing with others, you have to get used to using your fingerpicks. Fingerpicks are cheap. Try different types and give each type enough time to be properly evaluated.

Nov 23, 2019 - 11:23:06 AM
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Alex Z

USA

3672 posts since 12/7/2006

Are these positioned on my fingers correctly?

Are they sticking out too far beyond my fingertips?  

Should I curl them more to follow the contour of my fingertip?

Is the thumbpick ok? 

Yes.  No.  Maybe later, maybe.  Yes.

As others have said, the pick positions look very good.  Classic positions.  Classic picks.  If these pictures were of a professional player, no one would even think of suggesting changes in positions or picks.  smiley

No changes needed now.  Before thinking of any changes, get used to the picks for a few months until they feel perfectly natural.  It is only then that you'll be able to judge if something else is going to work or feel better.

Welcome to the BHO!

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