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On another Group forum, I posted a question about fretted versus un-fretted and got dozens of responses in just two days.

Then I posted the questions below and have gotten COMPLETE silence.  I wonder if I pissed off the group with my mundane basic newbie questions.  Oh well....

Anyway, here is my questions:

When my fretted 3-string guitar gets here, I plan on playing mostly slide.

1. Should I plan on using thumb and finger picks?  (What are the pros and cons?)

2. If I do end up using Finger picks....metal or plastic?  (What are the pros and cons?)

This should be an interesting journey....I have never held a guitar of any sorts and do not read music.  And yes, I have just received Keni's CD and was up until 2 a.m. watching them.


Stay tuned....


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Replies to This Discussion

Just got through posting on the other site and found your post here too.

As I put on the other site..."I'm just learning to play my builds...(never played any stringed instruments before I built my first one in March of this year) and would say that it depends on how loud you want it to sound and what kind of sound you are looking for. When I use a pick it's just a conventional flat pick, but sometimes prefer the mellower sound of finger tip picking. Try it both ways, and any other ways you think of and find what works best for you."

My feelings are that there are no set ways to do anything. Different people will do the same things different ways and still have good results.

Well I just use a flat pick when playing slide. I just find it easier. Try both its your choice. I'm no expert only been playing my three string a few months.

If you're playing slide, I don't think it matters at all what type of pick you're using, thumb, finger, flat, expired credit card, no pick at all....  Certainly the string needs to be plucked, and desired volume may be a consideration.  Beyond that, I don't think there's anything to keep you awake at night.  Your sound, your tone is coming from your adept use of the slide - which may be glass, brass, steel, ceramic, Kryptonite, etc.  Hope to hear and/or see some of your efforts after you've been at it awhile.


Kieta, I have the same problem as you (and also started with Kenni Lee CD's). I wish I could us finger picks but I just haven't found any that are either too cumbersome or make unintentional noises, etc. I've tried them all and I think I'm giving up! I just use a flat pick (like I do when I play a six string) or just use my finger tips and accept the fact that its not going to be very loud. If you find a type that you like to use let me know!

I just got some dunlop metal ones today!  I was just reading in a banjo forum about changing angles of picks on fingers and bending the thumb pick so it contacts straight on when in normal playing position.  Someone also suggested using plastic on thumb and metal fingers.

Hi everybody..

For me it is a matter of taste, I tried with the picks but I felt I was losing "feeling" and touch.
It is true that with the picks you have more volume, but with a lot of practice I could compensate this volume difference.

Try and have fun, music and the looking for your sound are an endless adventure. 

Good luck and sound..


Sonny Landreth is a phenomenal finger picker/slide guitarist.


Jeff Beck talks about many things and at 4:15 talks on using a pick (plectrum), but stay for the song too.


And some people just got it. Derek Trucks at age 13 plays awesome with the Allman Brothers Band. He is better now at mid 30s.

I have to say I love these 3 musicians and their approach to playing guitar. I love others but I want to learn the finger picking they do. Floats my, boat it does.

I have been playing strings for along time, and have messed with finger picks on and off over the years, and until about a year or less ago, I am feeling more comfortable using them. One thing i can say is , keep trying to get used to them. I think my finger picking has improved even without using them now. Not a bad trick in the bag....

I should note that getting the right fit makes a BIG difference.

I know this is a "long after" reply, but just got started here.

If you have thick, tough fingernails they work fine.  But if they're like mine they crack and chip and splinter regularly.  A fingernail file is my constant companion.  So I had two choices:  artificial nails or finger picks.

Artificial nails work great, but they're not good for your fingernails.  I know women wear them all the time, but you don't have to search far on the net to find the horror stories.  So if you want to be completely safe, that leaves fingerpicks.

But what kind?  I've tried a whole bunch of them, ranging from standard plastic to metal to "mizrab" picks (which I couldn't get to work well at all). 

The picks I finally settled on-- both plastic and brass-- are "Alaska Piks".   They fit well, are easy to learn to use and feel more like actual fingernails than any other pick I've used.  For the thumb I use a standard thumb pick but I cut it off short and sand the edge, so that it's as close to my thumbnail location and shape as possible. 

Plastic or metal?  Depends on the sound you're looking for.  If you're playing steel guitar, metal.   If you're playing blues and jazz, plastic.  That is unless you want the other kind... so it's always a personal choice.  But I've found the Alaka Piks to work consistently well, wear well, and adapting to them is fast compared to standard finger picks.

Try both bare fingertips and 2 metal fingerpicks and a plastic thumb pick. See which you like better! Fingerpicks take some getting used to but once you are used to them, watch out! You will have a much wider range of volume and tone control at your fingertips! Don't bother with the plastic fingerpicks...


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