Topic: strumming without a pick

I am not very happy with the sound I get strumming without a pick. I like the mellowness of strumming without a pick but find I keep hitting the odd string too hard. How does everyone else strum without a pick??

Re: strumming without a pick

Poorly.

I'm working on doing a pluck with my thumb and a strum with my finger.  On an upstrum, I'm using my thumb again.  I have no idea whether this is right or not, but it sounds brighter than using my thumb all the time.  It hits the strings with the nails rather than the flesh better. 

Something to try, but I can't guarantee it's the "right" way to do it or that there isn't a better way. 

Because this finger/thumb strum method doesn't sound very melodious (though I think it can in time), I mostly strum with a pick.  What I don't do with a pick, is pick.  I pick with fingers.  Go figure.

- Zurf

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3 (edited by Guitarpix 2007-10-08 22:19:41)

Re: strumming without a pick

Well it depends on the sound I'm going for. Sometimes I'll use the back of my nails on my first 3 fingers (or 2 or 1) Most of the time though I just use my thumb. I had the same problem as you at first but it improves with practice. Also over time your thumb will build up a callouse just like your finger tips and it won't have that tendency to catch the strings as much. Peace!

[b][color=#FF0000]If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something.
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Re: strumming without a pick

yep, totally agree,
i had problems with this too, but practice really does work. I dont think I intentionally practiced this, it just comes thru time.
I have jsut really started using my thumb for a gentle sound strumming sound in the passed year.
If you want that sound but dont think it is loud enough then it needs amplified. Do not play it harder to get a louder sound, it ruins the sound.
I would never play using my thumb to strum when i play in the pub, I have not got my guitar amplified and would just make me strum harder and get the bum notes

Ken

ye get some that are cut out for the job and others just get by from pretending

Re: strumming without a pick

Guitarpix and Ken are absolutely correct.

I rarely use a pick with an acoustic guitar as you can get so many different sounds by varying the use of your thumb, fingers, nails and flesh. It is also very easy to change from strumming to fingerpicking without having a pick to worry about.

However like anything to do with playing a musical instrument it does take a lot of practice and perseverance, but bear with it as it is worth the effort.

Roger

Re: strumming without a pick

I strum a little with my thumb, seems there are some rythyms you just cant pick up using a plectrum. I do a lot of pick AND finger stuff too and Yes I have experienced this problem too. I think this happens when we try to get volume out of the strings, probly the greatest disadvantage to playing without a pick. I know a guy who never uses a pick, and he's an really good player. His thumb is really calloused (did i spell that right?), and he keeps right up on strumming and everything.

All You Need is Love smile

Re: strumming without a pick

I never used a pick, but of course i'm a fingerpicker, I use my index and middle nails along with a thumbpick, no i'm not Chet Atkins haha.  But yea anytime I strum, it's without a pick.  Who needs em'.  Just form a ridgid claw shape, such as the one you'd use for clawhammer banjo and go to it.

DJ Cormier
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Re: strumming without a pick

yes - I use the rigid claw shape too- but if I play daily it wears my index nail away so it becomes sore and useless for picking. I started using picks recently because of that, but i find they produce a harsher sound - so I'll post a new thread on that topic and see if I can get some tips. Using the thumb alone has never really appealed.

I am playing all the right notes - but not necessarily in the right order! [Eric Morecombe]

Re: strumming without a pick

I usually strum (acoustically) without a pick as well and I find that, if you practice it a little bit, you can get much more of a percussive sound without a pick.  Oh and I truly suck with a pick too (:rolleyes:),  but that aside...it depends on what sound you're going for - either way it's going to take some practice to get there.

Re: strumming without a pick

sumelton1 wrote:

yes - I use the rigid claw shape too- but if I play daily it wears my index nail away so it becomes sore and useless for picking. I started using picks recently because of that, but i find they produce a harsher sound - so I'll post a new thread on that topic and see if I can get some tips. Using the thumb alone has never really appealed.

Using the thumb alone doesn't produce a loud enough sound, especially if you're playing with other people, they'll just drown you out.

DJ Cormier
[url=http://www.bigdjindustriez.tk]www.bigdjindustriez.tk[/url]
myspace.com/bigdjindustriez

Re: strumming without a pick

i play wuith pick and thumb (not both at the same tinme obviously)

the thumb is quieter but if you need the volume mic up and if you don't need the volume then bring your audience closer

I do have problems (like everyone here) with the attack. sometimes its muffled and sometimes its really sharp

start by playing the piece slowly until you get a constant sound. the attack needs to be firm (don't be too gentle)

i have even bigger problems with arppegios which I suppose demonstrates that practice helps (wags fingers accusingly).

Re: strumming without a pick

I have a 12-string so have become somewhat "lazy" - always use a pick to bring out the fullest sound. When strumming without a pick, though, I've had the best results incorporating my middle and index fingers along with my thumb. It does provide a pretty good sound.  Good luck - don't give up.