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How do you use a plec?

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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
Topic starter  

I'm just curious as to how many of us don't use a plectrum - or very rarely use one. A while back, I got a couple of Starpics from a new member here to try - yes, I liked them, but I just cannot get out of the habit of NOT using a plectrum. It doesn't matter what style of music I'm playing, from hard rock riffs to acoustic strumming to fingerpicking, I just feel far more comfortable using my fingers - or for strumming, my index fingernail for downstrokes and my thumbnail for upstrokes.

Virtually the only time I'll use a plec is if I'm playing jangly chords very close to the bridge - think Byrds or Pretenders or The Jam. OR when the index fingernail breaks - if it breaks off really short, I'll have to use a plec for a few days or so until the soft skin underneath has toughened up a little.

And one thing I've never been able to do is use a plec for strumming, then use it - in the same song - for picking. That just uses too many brain cells up at once!

So - how do you use a plec? Or should I say, when do you use a plec and when don't you use a plec?

: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.)


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(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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You need one or two (or three) more options:

a) I use both plec and fingers at the same time (hybrid picking)

b) I use either plec and fingers, depending on what the song calls for

c) I use both plec and fingers in the same song (palming the plec when using fingers), depending on what the song calls for

Given these choices, I'd go with the (b) choice I just listed as well as your "different plecs for different songs" choice. The (c) choice I just suggested would be a close third.

So much depends on the circumstances. A song that I would normally finger pick, I will switch to "finger-style plec picking" (single notes and broken chords) if I'm in a big jam group and need a little volume. Usually I use 1mm plecs, but on songs where I'm strumming very quick chords and not worried about single notes, I'll usually use a thinner plec, maybe .88 or so. On songs where I want a chunky jazz sound, I'll go with the "big stubby" dunlop plecs and I can't even tell you how thick those are.

Plecs and fingers offer such a wide array of sounds - and sometimes just choosing to use something different than I'd normally play with can help to inspire a new arrangement.

Nice question.

Peace


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

I use whatever I've got -- plec or not, and make it work. I will play hybrid, straight pick and fingerstyle all in the same song. Don't think that was covered in the choices.

I also advocate learning to play as well as possible with and without a pick, as well as hybrid. No reason for not (or to stop) playing a tune 'cause you lost, shattered or cannot find a pick.

-=tension & release=-


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(@rahul)
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I used fingernails.


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(@blueline)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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I'm a DH - b/c) choice.
Although I'm not very good at fingerpicking. Just thinking about it, I always use a plec with my electric. Its the acoustic where I switch up.

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Yeah, I'm like David. I primarily use a pick, but I also hybrid pick, and I used to be a very good fingerpicker, but I haven't practiced it in many years and am not quite as good anymore. I usually use fingerpicking for acoustic guitar, but I will sometimes play electric without a pick. I will also use my index finger to strum, and can even pick like a plectrum with my index finger. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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It depends on the song or part of the song. For leading, I use a pick. Sometimes I use hybrid picking, usually for double stops on non adjacent strings or songs with a jazzy feeling. Currently I use the small Dunlop Jazz III. I like the sound. When I am playing an acoustic I like to play fingerpicking when I'm leading, I have more control of the sound (I guess) although I like the sound of the pick, too.

For strumming, I "never" use a pick, mainly because I use all my fingers and my thumb when strum: usually the thumb's nail for upstrokes (or also the finger tips for a smooth sound) and the index and middle fingers' nails for downstrokes. Sometimes I also use techniques like the rasgueo so I think I need my fingers free. I guess the tradition also has a big influence. Really I could not describe the way I strum a guitar.

On bass. Currently I'm learning, practicing and playing fingerpicking with the index and middle fingers but I'll learn to use a pick as well. I think a part of the learning process involves to check out and practice several possibilities.


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(@chris-c)
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Hi,

I almost always use my fingers. I don't have very good nails, so it's mostly the pads on my fingers rather than the nails. I just prefer the feel of it that way. I have used plecs occasionally, and doubtless will again, but for me it's nearly always plain old fingers.


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(@alangreen)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

And I've just distorted the results cos I play classical and we don't use plecs.

A :-)

"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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(@dogbite)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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always a pick AND bare fingers, except when I play my uke (bare finger).

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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Hi,

I almost always use my fingers. I don't have very good nails, so it's mostly the pads on my fingers rather than the nails. I just prefer the feel of it that way. I have used plecs occasionally, and doubtless will again, but for me it's nearly always plain old fingers.

Chris-

Okay, this sounds like a stupid, late night TV testimonial advert for some annoying product, but: After all these years of trying to "get off pads" and play fingerstyle with nails, only to be foiled by constant cracking and breakage, I finally just tried nail hardner or polish or lacquer or whatever it's called. It works amazingly well - even on my perpetually cracking index finger. Unfortunately, it's shiny. Am still without luck in finding clear-matte hardener. Until I find it, gotta sand off that shine.... If you are still interested in trying nails, give it a shot.

-=Greg

-=tension & release=-


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(@elecktrablue)
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I primarily fingerpick, but, on certain songs, I find that a pick gives me that extra "pop" that the song requires. I don't have to think much when fingerpicking, but find that I have to concentrate more when using a pick.

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"


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(@chris-c)
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Chris-

Okay, this sounds like a stupid, late night TV testimonial advert for some annoying product, but: After all these years of trying to "get off pads" and play fingerstyle with nails, only to be foiled by constant cracking and breakage, I finally just tried nail hardner or polish or lacquer or whatever it's called. It works amazingly well - even on my perpetually cracking index finger. Unfortunately, it's shiny. Am still without luck in finding clear-matte hardener. Until I find it, gotta sand off that shine.... If you are still interested in trying nails, give it a shot.

-=Greg

Thanks for the suggestion Greg, :)

When I started out - on a nylon string classic style guitar - I looked into that kind of solution a bit. I even considered using those false stick-on nails on a more or less permanent basis on the most important fingers. (I think I may have a read comment somewhere from a classical style player who had broken a nail and had to resort to something similar for a gig??). Anyway, along the way I found that I actually liked using the pads. I most play 'thumb-strumming' rhythm, with a bit of my version of fingerstyle thrown in, so the side of my thumb is used a lot.

I now keep the nails short on both hands and find that I can add the effect of a bit of nail, or not, without too much trouble. The most used nail section is the left hand part of my right thumb nail - say from about 9 o'clock to 10 o'clock - which is fortunately not prone to breakage. If it gets too long there it can catch, so I sometimes trim it back a bit. Similarly, I keep the nails on my index and middle finger short and, because of the angle they approach the strings at, it's only a tiny adjustment to strike the string with the pads or the nail as required. If I was going to play mostly lead I'd probably do it differently, but I've grown used to the way I do it, and to seems to fit with the style that I like to play (OK - my playing probably shouldn't ever be in the same sentence as the word style, but I like it anyway... )

Chris


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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That's pretty much what I've done for many years, Chris. Mainly pads, but it has always been nice to catch a little nail for added zing from the steels. Unfortunately, my "unadorned" index nail cracks right at 10 o'clock no matter how short; lacquer stops that. And with it I feel so ... so ... metro on the right side!

-=tension & release=-


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(@chris-c)
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And with it I feel so ... so ... metro on the right side!

Ok, maybe it's time I tried a bit of a walk on the slightly wild side too then. I think Ignar's got first call on the black nails, and I'm not really big on pink. You've gone for the clear look, and red's been done to death, so maybe I'll check out something in green or burnt orange.... 8)


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