Ari Eisinger's Acoustic Blues Message Board
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Re: Learning to play with thumbpicks (long post)
Posted by waxwing on April 16, 2002, 9:58 pm
I'm a big fan of Alaskapics. Long story but I'll be brief. Played lots of folk, some blues(DVR inspired mostly) back in my HS and BA days. 1967 Martin D-18S for HS grad in 69(still my baby). Learned to fingerpick early on using young healthy long fingernails. Also held my wrist way out to get a more straight on attack with my thumb nail(also ala DVR). Went into theatre in college and the D-18S spent most of its time in the case until about a year and a half ago when I realized I hadn't done theatre in years and I really had some things to say. Thats right, if you did the math, I also turned 50. Well, after a neck reset, new bridge, bone nut and a little TLC by Gary Brawer at Real Guitars here in San Francisco, she was playing like a dream. A D-18S is a 12 fret dred with deep and loud across the range. Really great balance. I was ready to play some blues. But, I'm a carpenter now. Try maintaining those long fingernails on the job. Found the Guitar Workshop and worked through a few of Stefan's lessons. Decided I had to learn to use fingerpicks. And, a thumb pick because by now I had brought my wrist around so I could palm damp that bass(and that wasn't easy either). Well, I decided, these things are relatively cheap, why not try them all. So, after an online trip to Elderly, I did. I've got Dunlops and Propiks in various sizes and weights, single and split bands, skewed tips for reso, steel, brass, and I picked up some Alaskapics, both plastic and brass. Well, I never really could get used to any of the "spoons". I couldn't feel connected to the tip of the pick which felt like it was attached to the lower pad of my fingerprint. The Alaskapics took a little getting used to. I tried the plastic ones first. I cut and filed them as per the enclosed info. You do need some nail to support the thin front blade of the pick. Imagine a small thin piece of tube the diameter of your finger, sliced on a diagonal and slit like a toy ring. The pick sits on the top of your finger, and you slip your fingernail( all you really need are the corners. a common occurrance for a carp) through a slot that runs parallel to the diagonal point, which is a thin blade that acts as a projection of your fingernail. I really like the brass ones. You can bend the blade around so they feel relatively comfortable under your nail. I studied how my nails angle to the strings and filed the points appropriately. My fingers can tell them apart even when my eyes can't. In fact at first I was snapping the strings too much, and had to flare the tips away a little to slip the string just right. Lots of fun experimentation. When I really tear a nail I resort to the Propik Fingertones. They come up from the bottom like the spoons but are just a thin blade like the Alaskapic, so your finger tip bulges through and you can feel the string well. Still not as much like playing with your fingernails as the Alaskapics are. There are probably some things you can do with spoons that you can't do with these, but also vice versa. Hope there was some useful info in all that. Sorry for the life story but I thought maybe by way of introduction, this being my first post on this forum. All for now.
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