It is true that there are things that can be done with a flat pick that finger picks seem to hinder. Strumming the guitar for example. It is generally much smoother to strum using a flat pick than it is with finger picks but again, strumming can be done very effectively with finger picks too. The experience mentioned above about the man at the coffee house who was finger picking and strumming the Martin D35, 12 string, is a good example of this. REMEMBER that variation is good! So learn to strum with finger picks as well as with a flat pick. Again you should learn to do both. But learn to use a flat pick for other guitar work too.
For example, in addition to scales and other lead guitar work, you can also do “Travis picking” using a flat pick. This will also help add variation to your flat pick guitar work. Basically this is done this way. When you’re hitting the bass notes, you’re using a downward motion of the pick, and when hitting the treble notes you’re coming up on the strings. You alternate back and forth between the bass and treble notes, with the up and down motion – going back and forth, up and down. Your effort here is to do the same “Travis” picking patterns found on this site.
For example when playing “Now is Now“, the last track on my Goose Lake CD, you will hear the 12 string guitar being played like this in the background in the chorus section. This style comes easily to those who already know how to finger pick using finger picks, because it’s an easy transfer to the flat pick from finger picks. However, it is very difficult to learn this if you haven’t any finger picking skills at all. The problem with this method, even for a skilled player is accuracy in pick placement, especially in faster tempos. With this method you have no “picking anchor,” because you need to be moving your hand back and forth. With all the picking hand movement, even the best guitarists tend to be sloppy as speed increases. Using a 12 string and playing open chords, it can sound fairly good as a back up. In slow tempo songs this can be done very effectively on a six string too, but this style simply has it’s natural limits.
Ask yourself – how much talent does it really take to strum the guitar with a flat pick anyway? It seems like everyone can do that! Of course some artists are outstanding at strumming and that is great! However, it’s sad to say, but too many people simply strum the guitar using a flat pick and that‘s ALL THEY DO! To me that is BORING! One song begins to sound like all the rest. I believe they do this because that’s all they know how to do. That doesn’t have to be true of you. Not with this web site available to help you learn! Remember, what I said earlier; “Variety is the spice of life and it also adds life to music.” Please remember that! Please learn how to finger pick! And learn to finger pick well! But at the same time remember to use a flat pick too. Learn to strum smoothly. Also learn to do “travis picking” while using a flat pick. And learn to strum effectively both with a flat pick and with finger picks. This variety in your styles of playing guitar will add LIFE to your music. Those who listen to you will love you for it!