Guitar Talk #02: My Picking Style

There was a time fingerpicking was as alien to me as driving still is. That’s right, sadly I’m not even kidding. I used a pick to play the lead and strum the chords. This lasted about 20 years. Then came a point where I wanted to hear certain harmonies. Playing rhythm with a pick is great for percussive comping and all that but I had a sound in mind which was more piano like. Actually, that’s the reason why I bought a classical guitar although I’ve never been a classical music player, if one doesn’t count a few pieces that I had learned and played around to impressed people; shame on me.

For some reason it never occurred to me then to hold on to my pick and add remaining left-hand fingers to the porridge. What I did was bite the pick while I lead the bass with my thumb and used my index, middle and ring fingers for the treble parts. “But what about your pinky?” you might ask, rightfully. Well… I ignored it… for years. I’ve only used 4 note voicings forever and now I think it’s a bit too late and too much of a hustle to go back and re-wire my left hand. It’s not impossible but personally, after reaching a certain point, and not very easily, mind you, I find it a bit uninspiring to go back and start from the beginning. However, if I was a beginner I would keep the pick between my thumb and index finger while I used the rest for the harmonizing. That would bring a very smooth transition between soloing and comping.

What I do however is use my left-hand index finger as a pick by supporting it with my thumb which allows me to simulate a pick picking motion. Down side of that is that upstrokes have yet to keep up with the downstrokes in velocity department because of the natural curve of a fingernail. I’m coping well though because there are times I watch an old video of mine and I can’t quite tell whether I’m holding a pick or not. So, I must be doing something right.

Lesson # 01 “Tea Leaf”, Sweep Picking

If done incorrectly, practicing guitar may cause injuries. It is one’s own responsibility to: See a physician, first and make sure that he/she is fit to play guitar. Always warm up and stretch before playing. Quit playing when he/she feels any muscular discomfort or pain.