Skip to content

Forum

Notifications
Clear all

Alternative to a Plectrum

Page 2 / 3

(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

Serious question for the metal guys here - I'm not really into metal as such, but surely you can play metal without a plectrum? I play a lot of hard rock, and as I'm mainly a rhythm guitarist, a lot of what I play is hard downstrums - I put my finger and thumb together as if I'm holding a pick. Seems to work OK for me.

My main problem with using a plec, as I said before, is switching from strumming to picking - when I'm picking, my index finger plucks the G string, my middle finger the B string, and my ring finger the top E string. My thumb covers the bass strings - E, A and D. It's bloody hard to go from one string to another to pick the bass note THEN pick the top three strings - and what do you do when you have to pluck, say, the open A string, play a run on the top three strings, then the open E string (or maybe a G note on same) or even a walking bassline? I just can't do it with a plec - I just haven't got the mentality to sit down with a guitar in hand and play the same few notes over and over and over again till I get 'em right. Especially when I'm all over the fretboard...

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


ReplyQuote
 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

Vic I can see how it might be difficult to do with the music/songs you play but metal is totally different. I don't play tons of metal but the wife used to when she was playing in her Hardcore band so I was around it alot, but like Ande said your not going to get the sound without a pick. And forget about speed metal I don't think there is anyway to do that without a pick.

It's just so much more subdued and softer without a pick exactly the opposite of the sound you are going for in metal.

Of course there will probably someone that will come up with so metal guy that plays without a pick but I have yet to ever see one.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


ReplyQuote
(@dogsbody)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 726
 

I've always had a love/hate relationship wth pics and must confess to prefering not using one as I don't like the sound of plastic on the strings when strumming. This is probably because I tend to use soft pics 0.38 or 0.45 thick. Can't get along with harder pics at all. I also find I can get interesting sounds from using thumb and fingers during strumming.

Interestingly Rodders kindly gave me a felt pic to try last night at the open mic, gave a lovely soft sound but being quite thick(about 2mm I'd guess) and unusually long I was struggling to keep hold of it while playing. I'll persevere though and see how it develops my sound. Thanks again Rodders, you never know I may become a convert to pics yet.

Chris

The guitar is all right John but you'll never make a living out of it! (John Lennon's Aunt Mimi)


ReplyQuote
(@wattsiepoops)
Reputable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 271
 

I just play with a pic unless i'm playing fingerstyle. I tried strumming with index and thumb but always seemed to catch the strings. I say if your comfortable with a plectrum then stick with a plec, try different thicknesses. My two favourite are .45 and .72 thicknesses.

Also, slight plug for my other post, go check out my guitar shopping thread in opinions and polls and check my new guitar!

David Watts
Takamine G-Series - £229
Fender STD American Telecaster (Cola Red) - £849
Vox 15watt AMP (Valve pre amp) - £129
Acoustic/Electric Rhythm and Lead (Occasionally) Southport Elim Youth Band
Former Aftershock 24/7 Rhythm Guitarist (Band split)


ReplyQuote
(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497
 

(...) And forget about speed metal I don't think there is anyway to do that without a pick.(...)

I'm not a metal player so forgive me if there is something I am missing here.

Classical guitarists play some extremely speedy runs with their fingers. I saw Los Romeros in concert, and along with the slow and moderate stuff, there were some incredible bursts of speed. It seems to me that 3 fingers should be able to play faster than one.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


ReplyQuote
 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

Notes, I'm by no means an expert on the subject even though I have stayed at a Holiday Inn recently but one thing that you can't match using the fingers is the attack you get with a pick I just don't see how you'd get the same dynamics.

I'm saying most of this through observation so as I mentioned in my earlier post someone will probably come up with the name of some speed metal guy that doesn't use a pick.

But there are other techniques you can't do without a pick that are common in metal such as doing a pick rake up and down the stings or pinch harmonics.

Alot of the metal techniques invlove super fast picking of a muted note/chord so there is no string skipping but I don't know how you'd be able to move your fingers that fast to do it.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


ReplyQuote
(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497
 

(...) but one thing that you can't match using the fingers is the attack you get with a pick I just don't see how you'd get the same dynamics.(...)there are other techniques you can't do without a pick that are common in metal such as doing a pick rake up and down the stings or pinch harmonics.(...)but I don't know how you'd be able to move your fingers that fast to do it.

I don't listen to much Metal because for me it is like BeBop jazz. Most players simply play a blur of notes with no phrasing or lyrical melodic lines. Of course there are exceptions. And there is nothing wrong with that, it just isn't my cup of tea.

I'm more familiar with sax players because I've been playing sax almost all my life, and I'm still discovering guitar players and guitar technique so here goes my example. John Coltrane is a genius tenor sax player and he expanded the art form, most sax players would consider this heresy; but I don't like to listen to most of his stuff even though I can analyze it and see his greatness. On the other hand, Charlie Parker and Richie Cole can play fast flurries of notes and have enough melodic content that pleases my ears to delight me. It's not the number of notes or the speed, it's the melodic content and phrasing that appeals to me. But that's personal taste.

Raking up and down is probably not possible with your fingers, but I don't know about pinch harmonics.

I find I can play more dynamically with my fingers, from soft using the pad of my finger to loud using the fingernail. There is also more tonal coloration using the fingers. But I admit, I can play as hard of a tone with my fingernail as I can with my pick, and that might be a deciding factor. A friend sent me his invention, a Wirepick, it's a plastic pick with a bent wire for the working end. It gives an entirely different and very hard tone. I wonder if any metal guitarists use anything like that.

But as far as speed and dexterity is concerned, listen to some flamenco guitarists (Montoya comes to mind) and I think what they are doing it every bit as fast and difficult as the metal I've heard - but then I don't listen to that much metal so I could be sadly mistaken.

So I guess it doesn't come down to which is better, but which is better for each individual player and the type of music he/she is playing.

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


ReplyQuote
 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

yes it does come down to which is better for the type of music you are playing. I have heard flamenco guitarists that play fast but again I think there's flamenco fast and then there is metal fast. I know that's kind of a lame answer but I'm not sure how to describe it.

I guess it's time to do some reseach.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


ReplyQuote
(@scrybe)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

Raking up and down the strings should be doable with e.g. the back of a fingernail (for raking downwards), and I'm pretty sure Jeff Beck manages to play pinch harmonics with no pick having stood in front of him doing precisely that on more than one occasion. I reckon it's possible to play speed metal pickless if you really wished to do so, but like cnev said, it would have an effect on your tone (tho again JB manages to get some very nasty tones out his strat with no pick, but they're not the stereotypical "metal tones" so YMMV there). I'm also inclined to agree with cnev that it's better to use a pick in that genre simply because it's massively less hassle playing the same string fast while also muting that string if you use a pick than if you use fingers.

Classical guitarists often do very fast trills on one string, but in my listening that tends to be on the higher strings and doesn't involve muting the string being plucked. Muting the string involves changing the whole hand position in relation to the strings and would make that kind of trill work a lot more difficult to achieve. Maybe I just haven't listened to enough classical guitar music though.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


ReplyQuote
(@scrybe)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

Not sure how you'd do a pick scrape without a pick though!

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


ReplyQuote
 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 659
 

(A lot of this is in agreement with Scrybe, who was writing while I was)
Classical guitarists play some extremely speedy runs with their fingers. I saw Los Romeros in concert, and along with the slow and moderate stuff, there were some incredible bursts of speed. It seems to me that 3 fingers should be able to play faster than one.

100% agree that classical guitar can be fast as anything. Leastwise, a lot of good classical guitarists are a heck of a lot faster than I am at metal.

A characteristic of a lot of heavy metal is fast repetitions, though, and I'm not sure how I might finger pick them. An example that occurs to me is the intro (lead guitar) to the Scorpions "Rock you like a hurricane." I play it by moving the pick back and forth, with minimum movement really, across a single string, fretted at the 12th fret. Don't know how I'd finger pick it- I guess that instead of the back and forth, it could be plucked 1st finger second finger 1st finger, etc. I won't say it's impossible, but the pick seems a more efficient way to go about it, to me.

Alternatively, classical guitar seems to do some incredibly fast runs, but usually running across the strings, not stying on one.

Another metal thing is the "gallop." (I don't know if you say that in English, but it's what we call it in Spanish.) Always makes me think of Iron Maiden, but a lot of bands do something similar. This is essentially fast fifth chords, usually of only two notes. I do is by moving the pick back and forth across the two strings, just barely touching- rhythms vary, but combinations of 8th and 16th notes, at around 200bpm seems to be common.

Lots of classical guitarists can play 8ths and 16ths at that speed, but I can't see how the techniques they use would work for this kind of galloping.

Pinch harmonics with just the fingers? Anyone? I can't quite picture how this would work, but I'm gonna head home tonite and see how much metal I can do without the pick.

Best,
Ande

PS- Most metal guys I know aren't just pick addicted. To them (us) it matters a lot WHICH pick. Though I almost never pick up a pick except for rock and metal...I go to great lengths to get my Big Stubbies brought to Ecuador for that.


ReplyQuote
 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

Yes Ande I forgot the gallop but you are correct. I still wonder how he might do pinch harmonics without a pick but Beck's tone is noting like metal either

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


ReplyQuote
 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 659
 

I still wonder how he might do pinch harmonics without a pick but Beck's tone is noting like metal either

His tone is something like incredible, though!

This is a little like a lot of discussions we have here, though.

Jeff Beck very well might be able to play metal without a pick. He can do so much stuff that's beyond me...

I CAN'T, though.

Best,
Ande


ReplyQuote
(@wattsiepoops)
Reputable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 271
 

Everyone is talking up this Jeff Beck like he has 7 arms or something.

I think i might have to check him out!

David Watts
Takamine G-Series - £229
Fender STD American Telecaster (Cola Red) - £849
Vox 15watt AMP (Valve pre amp) - £129
Acoustic/Electric Rhythm and Lead (Occasionally) Southport Elim Youth Band
Former Aftershock 24/7 Rhythm Guitarist (Band split)


ReplyQuote
(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

I find I can play more dynamically with my fingers, from soft using the pad of my finger to loud using the fingernail. There is also more tonal coloration using the fingers. But I admit, I can play as hard of a tone with my fingernail as I can with my pick, and that might be a deciding factor.

Amen to that! You ever heard the phrase, "the tone's in your plec?" Nope - the tone's in your fingers. It's all about dynamics and phrasing. There's nothing your index finger nail can't do that you can do with a plec, IMO - but then again, I can see the other side of this argument too. "You need a REALLY heavy plec for this one...." - maybe, maybe not. My middle finger nail's a lot thicker and stronger, and less prone to break, than my index finger nail.

Again, my main argument is, it's a lot easier to fingerpick with your fingers if you've got your thumb free for the bass notes - skipping strings is a lot harder than dedicating a finger to each of the top three strings, and your thumb for the bass notes on the bottom three strings.

As always, just my opinion - feel free to agree or disagree.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


ReplyQuote
Page 2 / 3