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Finger Picks

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Years ago many “folk singing” artists used plastic finger picks like we just saw Don Mclean using on the last sections video.  So in those days you could go in almost any music store an by plastic finger picks.  Not so anymore! There is no problem finding plastic thumb picks but it’s hard to find plastic finger picks.  Of course in the days it was because many big name artists used finger picks that they were more in demand!  Now that isn’t so! Hence, today plastic finger picks are harder to find in stores.  John Denver for example used plastic finger picks and you can see he puts them on in this next video of him singing “Follow Me” on the Tonight Show.  In this video clip there is some talking with Johnny Carson but at about 2 minutes and 30 seconds into this video you’ll see John Denver put on his plastic picks before he begins to play.  (You can click play on the player, then turn the volume down.  While it’s loading tp that time spot you can read on. Once it’s loaded, come back and click on about 2 1/2 min. and you’ll be where he starts the song)


A few words about types of plastic finger picks.  Not only are there different brands of plastic finger picks, there are different designs of picks as well.  If you would like you can experiment around like I have to find the kind of picks that work best for you.  I’ve used a number of the picks out there but I keep coming back to the Dunlop finger picks…. but that’s just me. You may like some other kind of pick. That’s up to you!

For example I tried the “Alaska” picks.  Personally I think Alaska finger picks are ugly to look at … but hay… I’m the kind of guy who likes clear plastic so the picks don’t “show up” as much.  However, I was willing to by pass the appearance of them and give them a try hoping to discover something “new” for myself.  So I bought some.  It may be a matter of what a person gets accustom too but I paid $10 for one set of the Alaska picks hoping to find a great new pick and I was totally disappointed with them.  On the up side they did produce a nice bright sound like you would expect from a plastic pick.  But besides that I have little else that is good to say about them.  Not only did they feel uncomfortable on my fingers but the actual picking of the strings was more difficult to do.  I didn’t like the way the pick tended to “bite” the strings. Also while playing the pick felt like it wanted to pull off my finger.  And I wasn’t even playing hard of aggessively either. Although the quality of the sound was good it was not very loud.  Try as I did I just couldn’t get the volume with the Alaska picks the way that I can with Dunlop picks.  When I tried to increase volume with more pressure on the strings the picks DID coming off my fingers.  NOT good!  However, to be fair I know there are those who love them.   As for me though … I like the Dunlop finger picks better! That’s my choice!

The problem has been that anymore it has become difficult to find plastic finger picks in music stores.  Certainly, that alone is an indication of the trend away from using finger picks that I’ve been talking about!  Wouldn’t you say?  Some stores do carry them but not many because so few people use them anymore.  You can find them for sure on the internet, but once you pay the shipping costs some may feel it becomes too pricy.

For this reason people have requested that I sell finger picks.  So after several of these requests I have started to offer “sets” of the Dunlop picks on my web site.  The brand you use doesn’t really matter though.  I prefer the clear type plastic finger picks only because of appearance.  That doesn’t really matter either.  I use a turtle shell thumb pick but that too, makes no real difference.  Those things are just personal taste.  In my opinion the important thing, no matter which brand you settle on, is that they be PLASTIC finger picks and not metal.  Metal picks are suited better for banjo, and steal guitar. They are not good for acoustic guitars with wound strings. 

If you do decide to buy picks from me, please keep in mind that I actually make very little money selling picks because I’m not in the retail business.  I DO NOT HAVE A LICENSE for that!  I’m a musician not a Retailer. I buy finger picks from my local music store just like you would do. (If you could)  As I said at the very begining of these pages, what I really want is for people to BUY, hear and like my music.  I suppose that’s true of every musician.  Isn’t it?.  That is my real motive for this web site in the first place.  So I will simply ask that you please purchase the picks along with one of my CD and finger picks combo offers.

This is a way that you can SHOW your appreciation to me!  At the same time you will have gotten the picks you’ll need.  If you do buy picks from me you’ll also get instructions on how to fit and wear the new picks properly.  Plus you’ll get some finger picking music to listen to on my CD’s that use the very patterns you will be learning on this web site.  At the same time, I’ll make a little money and you’ll know that you have encouraged me by purchasing my CD.  The satisfaction that comes from knowing that someone out there is listening to my music is something that helps to keep me going.  That will make it all worth will for me.

I want to THANK YOU for
doing that for me!

You see…I need encouragement too!

As I said above, I recommend that you; 

DO NOT use metal finger picks on acoustical guitar strings!

 I teach this because the metal pick against the metal wound strings makes for a bad mix.  (Download free audio clip  to hear the problem).  Ask yourself…. how many people do  you know that use metal flat picks? …. So why use metal finger picks? There are reasons why people use metal instead of plastic finger picks and I discuss that in another section. None of the reasons are good! As I said earlier, I know that some people do use metal picks on acoustical guitars.  Jim Croce for example!  He used two metal finger picks, one on his 1st and one on his 2nd fingers and a plastic thumb pick.  He was absolutly one of my favorite artists too.  He certainly had that distinctive sound that comes from metal picks. Still there is no question about it, when he used an Ovation guitar and metal picks the result was a sound that was almost “tinny” to me!  I didn’t like that! Like other artist that have used metal picks, in my opinion, it lowers the quality of the  sound.  In Jim Croce’s case though, I “put up with that irritating sound” because of the quality of the music. I love his arrangments. Also using metal picks tends to limit you because you’ll want to use them only on the B and E strings. (they’re not wound like the E, A, D, and G strings)  Personally, I use metal picks only for banjo.  They can also be used on Steel Guitar (Which I don’t play).  They have there place but as far as I’m concerned they’re just not for the acoustic guitars.  Please!

The reason I use three plastic finger picks is because that way you are using all your fingers.  Your thumb has a thumb pick, finger 1, 2, and 3, have finger picks and your little finger is used as and anchor.  This will make for the full potential of your playing because you’re using everything on that finger picking hand.  It can and will be more versatile for you too.  You you choose to you can move your “hand position” up or down on the strings as you play and still have your individual fingers “assigned” to just one string.  (This is discussed on the RIGHT HAND POSITION page) With the plastic picks, the problem of the wound strings is greatly reduced.  Also with plastic picks you still get a crisp clean sound with plenty of good volume and clarity.  Personally I feel that plastic picks produce a more even, warmer, naturally mellower and more pleasing sound then you could ever get with metal picks.  So it makes for a more relaxing appealing combination. That’s why I stay with the plastic and teach others to do the same.


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