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Author Topic:  Have you experimented with different finger picks?
Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 7:47 am    
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I've been playing lap steel for quite a while but I have never ventured past using the standard national/Dunlop, metal finger/plastic thumb pick combo that I've used since I first started. I've always been curious about other picks but never enough to take the time to find, buy and test. I have no issue with using my current set but one thing that I never liked is the difference in tone and attack between the thumb pick and metal finger pick. I think I actually like the plastic tone better because it seems to sit somewhere between metallic and flesh. So have you had luck with plastic finger picks or any other?
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G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 12:49 pm    
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I never got along with the "standard style" finger picks. Tried about everything that I could find that would give me a combo of the metal / flesh sound. Finally settled on these. Butterfly picks

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Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 1:54 pm    
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G, thanks for replying about the butterfly picks because I've seen them for sale but never heard of anyone using them and I see that you use them on 3 fingers. Thumb too? Any thing tricky to get them to fit?
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 2:11 pm    
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I would just stick with the ones you are using.
I have tried many different kinds and after umpteen years playing steel guitar I am still using the Dunlop/National combination. Very Happy
Erv
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 3:24 pm    
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I've experimented with a few (metal thumbpick, various plastic thumbpicks, the butterfly picks which were a total flop possibly due to user error) but keep coming back to Dunlop 0.018 finger picks and plastic thumb picks (either the dunlop, or the planet waves one...much the same but I preferred the fit of the latter). I'd say feel free to experiment but don't be surprised if you wind your way back to what you've been using. I do know some people use plastic finger picks. I don't have too much a difference in sound (the design of a fingerpick is so different, and the way your finger plays the string, vs thumbpick, that the material is likely not the biggest factor in a difference in sound, possibly).
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G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 4:09 pm    
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Mark,
On the thumb I use a Zookies L30. It took awhile to get accustomed to the butterfly picks. You have to get them shaped to what works for you. No trick to it. Just get them shaped to something you are comfortable with.Once you have them set to your style, I find them extremely comfortable and easy on the fingers.
I will say that when taking them off go slowly as they are a bit on the malleable side when removed from the fingers. In fact I keep them in a hard vial (Rx bottle) when not in use. Originally kept them in a leather bag with other picks and bars but they would get knocked around a bit and need adjustment.
Gary
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Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 5:13 pm    
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Thanks for the great responses so far. I think I'll order a few different types of picks to try out. I really wanted to get your input because 15 or so years ago I went on a hunt for different picks and ended up back with the national/Dunlop combo. I don't even see the picks I experimented with for sale any more but I see a bunch of others. The picks I bought before were horrible so I hope to have better luck this time around, if not I'll stick with what I have.
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Peter Jacobs


From:
Northern Virginia
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 6:34 pm    
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Mark, have you tried Dunlop finger picks? I find they’re more comfortable for me, and I like the curve of them. Since I also play banjo, I use the same picks all the time - .020 brass finger picks with a plastic thumb pick, usually a Dunlop or National. I’ve tried a lot of thumbpicks - the slight tone differences don’t come across on stage, so for me it’s more about fit and how they feel coming off the strings.
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Bob Russell


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 7:00 pm    
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I liked the Butterfly picks a lot but found that it was really hard to keep them from moving around on my fingers unless I used some tape to keep them stable. That was a pain in the derriere. I ended up using light-gauge Dunlop picks, which seem to be easier to keep in place, especially if I stick eyeglass pads inside the bands. Comfortable and secure.
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George Rout


From:
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 7:17 pm    
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Being from the dark ages (1948), I still use the Dunlop/National combo. If you are comfortable with your current picks, it's not really prudent to change. A different size, curveature, and length can make you trip on the strings. I would play with what is comfortable for you. You can use a knife handle for a bar too!!!!!!!
Geo
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Daniel McKee

 

From:
Corinth Mississippi
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 7:52 pm    
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I like a metal thumb pick on occasion and sometimes find that a plastic one is uncomfortable (main reason I tried metal in the first place)
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Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2020 6:32 am    
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I did not know a metal thumb pick existed. I'm not surprised but I have wondered why the typical set of picks is a mix of plastic and metal. For playing live I'm sure no one would hear a difference but for recording I'm more picky. When I'm playing electric lap I hear what sounds like a click when the metal picks contact the strings, especially with headphones. With acoustic I don't hear it and I really like the metal picks with acoustic. It's probably not realistic but I could see myself using all plastic for electric and all metal with acoustic for recording. I will try it.
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George Rout


From:
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2020 7:48 am    
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Hello Mike: This discussion is all about sound. How do you like your sound, sharper or mellow. It's your personal touch. Obviously, metal picks on metal strings, particularly the heavier strings is going to create sounds that may be considered too raw by some.

What do you use for a bar? Metal or some composition material? It's all a personal choice.

I have never in my sixty years of playing found a plastic thumb pick to be uncomfortable. They come in S, M and L. And if it's not the correct tightness, take a hairdryer carefully to it!!!!

Enjoy your playing.
Geo
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2020 11:57 am    
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The main reason I like Dunlop finger picks is because of the various gauges they're available in.
I like a thinner gauge pick and most of the other finger picks are too thick for me. Very Happy
Erv
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George Rout


From:
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2020 1:08 pm    
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Thanks Erv,I forgot about that because that's what I use. Forgot there are thick and thins. Thanks for reminding me. I always have a number of sets around so I don't have to go chasing in guitar cases.

I have finally got rid of a lot of items in my music room. My playing is mostly an open Mic dance on Thursday evening, a fun jam here in downtown St. Catharines on Saturday mornings, and with two other chaps at senior's homes a couple of times a month. I don't carry any big stuff with me any more, I have a 20 watt amp here at home, and a nifty Roland Mobile 10 watt I take with me on Saturday. On Thursdays, I use the house system, and the bass player brings along a small PA to the homes.

D Boxes, music stands and all those accessories are things of a the past for me. I've been selling off locally all the books I've collected over the years. The other day, I sold 550 lp's for $40. They were not steel guitar ones, well, they were, but true Hawaiian music. I still have a ton of steel guitar Lp's by every Tom, Dick and Harry!!!! And a ton of A Major/A7th TAB. I sold all my C6 and a lot of other tunings books.

Sold my excellent JB frypan, but have kept my Panda, 7 string 1939 EGE-5784 Gibson, 1946 Ultratone, my 194X J6 I think it's called, my OMI 6 string Dobro and a couple of six string Stella acoustics like I learned on in 1948/49.
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"I play in the A Major tuning. It's fun to learn and so easy to play. It's as old as the hills....like me"
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Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2020 5:56 pm    
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Hey George, I like the sound of the metal finger picks and the sound of the plastic but I have the following two issues:

1. If I adjust the tone on guitar and amp to sound good for metal picks the plastic sounds dull and vice versa.

2. I don't like the click or pop sound I hear when the metal pick contacts the plain strings when recording.
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George Rout


From:
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2020 6:15 pm    
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Hi Mark and thanks for the note. I understand your problem. Of course, home by your self in the quiet of the house, it will be more noticeable either way. Playing with accompaniment (even with a backing track) makes a big difference. I play with a lot of tracks when I'm home alone.
Geo
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"I play in the A Major tuning. It's fun to learn and so easy to play. It's as old as the hills....like me"
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Erik Alderink


From:
Ann Arbor Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 6 Feb 2020 3:58 am    
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I’m a huge proponent of changing picks for different tones, on both steel and other instruments I like both metal and plastic for exactly the reasons mentioned above. My bright and cutting tones come from metal, slightly mellower from plastic, and mellowest from bare fingers. The instruments react slightly differently to each and my amp settings rarely need to change as a result.

I personally prefer the feel of thicker picks, but I will use thinner for more attack as needed. Picks are a very affordable way to experiment with sounds on your instruments, and often times the impact is much greater than more expensive changes like strings or pickups. It can also affect your technique and approach, sometimes leading to interesting new avenues.
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Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 6 Feb 2020 6:27 am    
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George, you make a good point and maybe I'm being picky but I think I'll at least try to find something better... Plus it'll keep me busy Smile

Erik, glad to hear from someone that changes up picks for different circumstances and yeah, buying picks is a lot cheaper than buying pedals and amps. That said a buddy of mine spent 75 dollars trying out different flat picks. Yikes.
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Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 8:40 am    
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I have been looking at picks online and now I have a few questions:

1. what gauge Dunlop finger pick do you use? The ones I currently use are .0225. Online I also see .018 and .025. Which do you prefer and why?

2. I use the white Dunlop large thumb pick but I also see tortoise and ultex. What's the difference?

3. I am now aware of the butterfly picks but I saw these hybrid looking picks which to me look like a cross between a standard fingerpick and a butterfly. Have you ever used these? If so what did you think?

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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 9:33 am    
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I prefer the .015 and the .018 Dunlop picks.
Erv
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George Rout


From:
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 3:53 pm    
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Sorry for the delay, I was out all day.

Mark, I've glanced at odd looking picks over the years, but nothing seemed to be of interest to me. Like Erv, I use the plastic "Large" Dunlop or National thumb pic, both are equal in my opinion. I use National metal finger pics .0215, that's heavier thickness that Erv states. Maybe I'm a heaver picker, but the .015 thickness make their way off my fingers frequently. It's all a matter of personal taste as so much of this business is, guitars, strings, amplifiers, reverb, et al.

Use items which best suit what you're trying to accomplish. There are a lot of gimmicks out there probably to support new ways of picking. I've been using the same type of picks since I took lessons in 1948 and playing the same style of music. If there are folks who want to try picks upside down for example, whatever they get their jollies is great. Enjoy playing.

Geo
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"I play in the A Major tuning. It's fun to learn and so easy to play. It's as old as the hills....like me"
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Mark Mansueto


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 5:12 pm    
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Thanks, Erv. Good to know that you like the thinner variety.

George, I may very well stick with what I've been using but every once in a great while something of actual value emerges on the market. The gimmicks are what I want to avoid Winking
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Lloyd Graves

 

From:
New York, USA
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 5:28 pm    
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Mark Mansueto wrote:
3. I am now aware of the butterfly picks but I saw these hybrid looking picks which to me look like a cross between a standard fingerpick and a butterfly. Have you ever used these? If so what did you think?


I just bought a set of those a couple of weeks ago and sort of fell in love. They felt great to play with and the tone was wonderful. And then I sat down to play with other folks and the flew off my fingertips. Probably user error since I don't really know how to shape a pick correctly. I have been using a brass set of the finger picks with two sets of smaller bands for a long time, and they are really great at hanging onto my fingers. I'll be giving the other set another go, but I'll likely stick with the 2-band, brass set.


As for thumb picks, I am in love with BlueChip picks. I like the JD models (I have a Large but think a medium would have suited me better). It's a stainless steel band with a great sounding plastic pick. A friend had one. I tried it. A day later I was ordering a $40 pick on line. I've run into a few folks who have Blue Chip thumb picks and each has been embarrassed at spending so much on a pick, and each has said it is totally worth the investment.
[img]https://cdn2.bigcommerce.com/server300/553e4/products/32/images/728/thumbjdl__57172.1303345274.1280.1280.jpg?c=2[/img]
https://shop.bluechippick.net/categories/Thumb-Pick/


The closest, cheaper alternative I found was this:
https://gregboyd.com/product/acri-brass-thumbpick/. But the brass curls up on the pick side too, which can catch on the strings, so it needs to be snipped off. But the brass band can be molded to your thumb really easily and it has not "rotation" issues. Well worth the $10 investment. And if you like it, you'll want to get a Blue Chip.




Thanks for starting this thread, by the way. I've wondered about other finger picks. How do you all shape the bands and blades?
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George Rout


From:
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 7:26 pm    
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Hello Lloyd, sounds like you are breaking new borders!!!! Very interesting.
Geo
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"I play in the A Major tuning. It's fun to learn and so easy to play. It's as old as the hills....like me"
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