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Using a finger as a pick

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mr. Metal Smith, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. Im experimenting with using my index finger as you would a pick, using down and up strokes.

    Up untill now I have been using the single finger flicking motion where your thumb rests on the pickup or a string and one finger plucks the string normally and then just flicks back out hitting the string with the nail. I do this for playing fast metal stuff.
    This seems to be a very easy way to play those 16th notes in fast songs.

    However, having not used this technique for that long, I see (hear) 2 problems using it:
    1. Fatigue. I get tired from doing this flicking motion pretty fast.
    2. Attack. The notes can seem like a blur because of lack of a distinct attack of each note.

    I realize that those problems could be reduced by practicing and developing more enduring muscles and hard skin.

    I would think that using a finger as a pick instead, would be less tiresome and easier to get better attack, but maybe a bit harder to play fast and remain control and to revert to the standard fingering position.

    So I was hoping ppl would discuss/compare these 2 techniques: using a finger as a pick and the flicking technique. I tried using search, but couldnt find a thread about ONLY this :)

    Thoughts, comments?
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've been working more on the flick method. I think it could be a valuable technique, especially for faster, tighter shuffle-style parts. I like to play a sort-of 'shuffle-y' version of Bootsy's Hollywood Square with this method, and I don't think that I could do it any other way. The thing is though - the main advantage is that it allows me to use precise thumb-trailing-style muting; I'd think the technique would really sound sloppy if I anchored my thumb anywhere (certainly this Bootsy part would sound terrible).

    For the main part in Dred Zeppelin's version of Sunshine of Your Love (psudo-semi-parody-reggae) - Which I believe we play a little faster than the original yet - I have to 'flick'. I simply gave-up on full-time alternation; I just can't hack it - my fingers just tie in a knot or something. Now that I mention it, I suppose I should get back to trying alternation with it in my personal practice - it is a great excercise drill anyway!

    As for 'pinched index as a pick' - I do that sometimes, but really only when I'm playing live and screwing a part up (or of course if I drop my pick during a picked song). For instance - when we do Sweet Emotion, I try to use 'Wooten triplets (thumb-down, thumb-up, index pluck on the same string) for that repeating bridge-part between verses (da-di-da duh-da di-dah-da di dah-dah!"), but often when we're playing-out my fingers get all flustered with it, and I go to the pinch-pick 'plan-B' (sigh).

  3. Alowishus


    Feb 28, 2005
    Im pretty sure geddy lee does something like this. You might want to check out a video of him playing.