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Opinions of finger picking, with or without Flatpick


(@peterpan)
Active Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

I generally play with a pick, though I have ventured into fingerpicking some, and at least have some of the basic styles like cotton-picking and some various rolls and arpeggio patterns working fairly well. But I always did better with finger picking by just putting the pick down, so that I was primarily working with Thumb, 1,2, and sometimes 3rd finger if required. Over the years I've slowly been routing out bad habits and improving, and still have a ways to go. But then I started tackling some of Steve Howe's stuff, in particular "The Clap". Now Steve uses a regular flat pick held with the Thumb and first finger, plus fingers 2 and 3, and does a pretty amazing job (I think so anyway). So I've started working that way too. Certainly when there is a run of notes in the middle of song that is easier to just pick, it has some advantages. But I've been trying to practice this way for a year now, and somehow it seems that I will never attain the dexterity and speed I was getting with T-1 2 combinations. I always thought that there was just something weird about finger 3, and that it just didn't seem to want to cooperate... like it just was wired differently. So now I'm experimenting with those thumb picks by Hercules, that basically look like a standard pick, but with a wrap around part so you don't always have to occupy the first finger holding it. But the fact is, Steve Howe doesn't need to do this!

So my question is to experienced finger pickers who may have worked with all these variations. What I mainly want to know is, do you think if I continue to practice with a regular Flat pick, along with fingers 2 and 3, that eventually I'll become as proficient as I was with T, 1, and 2, or am I right in suspecting that finger 3 (the ring finger) is generally not wired as well for picking as 1 and 2 are. In other words, am I just frustrated because I've only been doing that for about a year, or am I fighting nature here.


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

Hybrid picking (pick plus middle and ring fingers) needs some work; always go back to basics and work those early exercises. If you can't play the early exercises fluently, you'll never be able to master the hard stuff.

Your ring finger is fine for fingerstyle - we use it all the time in classical guitar - it just needs developing. Giuliani's 120 Exercises For The Right Hand uses every combination of index, middle and ring fingers you can think of and should be on every fingerpicker's music stand just as it is for the classical guitarists; I don't know if there's a version with Tab though for people who don't read music.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@peterpan)
Active Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Hybrid picking (pick plus middle and ring fingers) needs some work; always go back to basics and work those early exercises. If you can't play the early exercises fluently, you'll never be able to master the hard stuff.

Your ring finger is fine for fingerstyle - we use it all the time in classical guitar - it just needs developing. Giuliani's 120 Exercises For The Right Hand uses every combination of index, middle and ring fingers you can think of and should be on every fingerpicker's music stand just as it is for the classical guitarists; I don't know if there's a version with Tab though for people who don't read music.

Thanks! Its encouraging to know I'm not fighting some unseen disadvantage that is just built into the hand. The problem then must be just that I'm comparing something I've only been working on a short time (thanks for clearing up that its called hybrid picking), when compared to the muscle memory I already have. Muscle memory comes slow to me, so I get frustrated. I'll practice some pattern slowly and methodically for months, as part of everything else I practice. Then usually just when I'm about to give up, that's when i suddenly realize my fingers have finally begun to learn and do it automatically. Its "kind of" happened some with the hybrid picking, but its always the same... I put down the flat pick and substitute a thumb pick, and instantly I can do the same exercise or tune at a higher tempo with better accuracy. If not for the fact that certain fast runs (and definitely strums) sound better with the regular flat pick, I wouldn't bother with it.

By the way, here is the Steve Howe song I've been working on for a year now that got me off on this hybrid picking thing. There are so many common patterns in use here, that the one song is like a whole exercise book in itself. I've got it pretty much (90%), but no way can I play it this fluidly at his tempo (which seems to be around 108), at least not with the hybrid style. I also strongly suspect I'd have a way easier time with the fast hammer ons and pull offs if I had a much better acoustic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KN2qvtosmM


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(@s1120)
Prominent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 849
 

Great... Now you have me hooked on all his lessons. :) :)

Im of no real help, but it is a different skill that as you said, takes time to build up the muscle memory. Remember Steve Howe has been, IMHO one of the best, most versatile guitar players for over 40 years now. He is going to make it look easy. Keep plugging at it and you will get it.

Paul B


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