Does anyone use a thumb pick?

Mark PMark P Posts: 2,301Member
edited August 2016 in Technical or Theoretical Advice
Does anyone here use a thumb pick? I'd be grateful for any hints / tips and things that are a must do or a big no-no. As a result of my awakening interest in playing acoustic I'm looking at giving a thumb pick a go - but not finger picks. Ideally I'd like to use thumb plus fingers but an issue with skin condition on the end of the thumb prevents this. 

OK - I could do flat pick and fingers, but it reduces the available fingers for playing by 25%, and the act of gripping the pick also causes a degree of muscle tension which does not help already slow playing.

I saw it said how a lot of commonly sold thumb picks in guitar stores are not the best bet. Often thick and large and have a plastic finish that also weakens too much over time at the spine resulting in a rotating pick!

I've opted for a few Fred Kelly slick picks to start with and am waiting for them to arrive. Mostly Delrin material which is apparently strong with a soft and natural sound. It looks to have the advantage that a snug fit is quite achievable and when gripped with the index finger too it can be used like a flat pick for up and down picking. Quite a round shape to the "paddle" rather than sharp / pointed. The paddle is not as thick as the rest of the pick that wraps round the thumb, so the pick is flexible where it needs to be and strong where it needs to be. Sort of makes sense to me - maybe. 

I've taken on board a hint of playing with the thumb parallel to the strings. Also noted that it's possible to file down the paddle if I find it too long.

As to position of the band of the pick around the thumb it appears to be a case of try and see - I've seen strong recommendations for on the nail and also above the nail below the knuckle from people that know what they're doing so I'm guessing, as usual with so many things guitar, there's no right and wrong and it's a personal taste thing.

Comments

  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,663Member

    I'm a thumb-picker (also a flat-picker - but most of what I play and aspire to play is with the thumb-pick). Not sure what advice to offer, though. I started with just thumb and fingers but wanted to use a thumb-pick to get more drive. It took about 18 months but now I'm as comfortable with a thumb-pick as without. I use Herco's and cut them down so there's not so much pick protruding. If I have a single note line within a thumb-picked song I grip the thumb-pick with the index finger and hold it like a flat-pick. I thoroughly enjoy thumb-picking :-)

  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,042Member

    I use a thumb pick on occasion too.

     

    Mine are blue. Thinner than the black or tortoise shell ones and the tone is better (less thick.)

     

    I use them when playing Ed Gerhardt stuff.

  • geoguitargeoguitar Posts: 252Member

    hi Mark, I use Dunlop Zokkies Med 20 -

    http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/...ookies-thumbpick.htm

     

    for me it gives a good snug fit on the thumb and the twist in the pick face strikes the string square on giving a nice full round tone, it depends on your thumb movement / sweep - straight ones hit the string on the front edge and ware in a serrated fashion eventually sounding like a file rasping on the string.

     

    I'd like to try some others from Eagle Musics stock (prob the best in the UK)

    http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/...ks&Search=Search

     

    heres a wee tune of what you can do with a Zookie -

    https://app.box.com/s/4lxl7ypy2jgc4pacjtuh

     

     

     

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,952Member, Moderator

    I bought some thumb picks to give a go. I cut one to a size that suited me. Never got round to trying it out and now they have disappeared!  They are in the house somewhere but it will probably be better to start again.  Like the look of those Zookies.

  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,301Member
    Originally Posted by Derek_R:

    I'm a thumb-picker (also a flat-picker - but most of what I play and aspire to play is with the thumb-pick). Not sure what advice to offer, though. I started with just thumb and fingers but wanted to use a thumb-pick to get more drive. It took about 18 months but now I'm as comfortable with a thumb-pick as without. I use Herco's and cut them down so there's not so much pick protruding. If I have a single note line within a thumb-picked song I grip the thumb-pick with the index finger and hold it like a flat-pick. I thoroughly enjoy thumb-picking :-)

    I had wondered about Hercos - used and recommended by Hawkeye Herman who is one of my favourite acoustic blues teachers. I ended up opting for the Fred Kelly Delrin Slick Picks because they seemed a bit more rounded at the tip - they were recommended by another teacher who was happy with the way they did that flat pick sim thing. May well end up trying some Hercos too if I get along OK.

     

    I've seen the idea of filing mentioned elsewhere - good point to make - I only have a small amount of a flat pick protruding from 'twixt finger and thumb on the few occasions when I use one so that might well suit me.

     

    Originally Posted by Kevin Peat:

    I use a thumb pick on occasion too.

     

    Mine are blue. Thinner than the black or tortoise shell ones and the tone is better (less thick.)

     

    I use them when playing Ed Gerhardt stuff.

    I love the sound of your acoustic playing! I suspect more down to the player than just the gear though. Great tones from the lower notes too so the thumb pick's working well for you. I'll need to go back on to Soundcloud and listen to some more of your recordings ... if I can find enough hours in the day to fit all my playing, learning, practising, recording and listening into. And if the "cloud" stops acting up when I try to use it.

     

    I'm glad to see you have the opinion of getting some good tone with a thinner pick - I went for mostly light gauge in the 4 thumb-picks I've just got for that reason.

     

    Originally Posted by geoguitar:

    hi Mark, I use Dunlop Zokkies Med 20 -

    http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/...ookies-thumbpick.htm

     

    for me it gives a good snug fit on the thumb and the twist in the pick face strikes the string square on giving a nice full round tone, it depends on your thumb movement / sweep - straight ones hit the string on the front edge and ware in a serrated fashion eventually sounding like a file rasping on the string.

     

    I'd like to try some others from Eagle Musics stock (prob the best in the UK)

    http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/...ks&Search=Search

     

    heres a wee tune of what you can do with a Zookie -

    https://app.box.com/s/4lxl7ypy2jgc4pacjtuh

     

     

     

    Interesting idea about the twist - though I do seem to be hitting the strings fairly square on in my first attempts tonight. But the Zookie seems like another possible to try! I do like the sounds you're getting on that link.

     

    I went to the Eagle Music site for the Fred Kelly picks. They do have a good wide choice of picks there and a lot seem to be the quality type rather than the basic big chunky plastic ones that the shops have.

     

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    The Fred Kelly picks arrived today so I've had a first go with them. I've been surprised at how natural they feel. I'm not used to playing fingerstyle (even with my thumb and fingers) and I don't think I was making any more mistakes hitting the right notes with my thumbpick as I was with my fingers. Playing pretty slowly though, and just very basic stuff - start off at the bottom.

     

    I got two light delrin slick picks (light seemed the best bet), one medium delrin slick pick and one medium poly slick pick. The delrin certainly feels batter than the poly and the light feels better than the medium.

     

    They're a nice snug fit already - the paddle does seem quite long so I'll probably try a filing down experiment fairly soon. I've got two of the type that feels best which is useful for doing that test.

     

    Know what you mean Jocko about that disappearance trick - I've got so much assorted odds and ends in my guitar parts drawers that it's a wonder I can find anything.

     

    I hope at some point I can get some music together while using a thumbpick that's 10% as good as those linked sounds you've given me.

     

    Thank you everyone for your help and comments,

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