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Thread: Thumb Pick - up-strumming question

  1. #1

    Default Thumb Pick - up-strumming question

    I'm experimenting with Thumb Picks this week. I can't seem to get very loud notes when I'm fingerpicking a song - especially with my thumb.

    I'm currently trying out Fred Kelly's Speed & Slick picks. Both are excellent for me in bringing out a MUCH louder sound. They've even made it clear to me that I need to improve my bar chords to make them cleaner.

    I can pick single notes fine, and I'm getting better with a smoother down-strum by working on my angles of holding the pick - but for the life of me I can't get anything that isn't choppy for an up-strum.

    Not having any luck on YT or google. Anyone have any advice or pointers or anything? Do I just use my index (possibly with a finger pick) for up strums?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Honoka'a, HI
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    1,745

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    I don't play with picks, but I've spent lots of time with great players who do. If they're any indication, thumbpicks are for going down. That's it.

    If you're attempting regular strumming, you probably want to just use your index finger for down and up.

    The main attraction of a thumbpick, as far as I can tell, is that it allows your hand to rest in a more natural position and give you more volume when you pick downwards. Trying to use it for anything else seems like a lost cause. (I've tried it too.)

    You could get a Herco pick that's more like a flexible guitar pick with a thumb strap. Not very good for picking tone, but you could strum with it.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bordessa View Post
    I don't play with picks, but I've spent lots of time with great players who do. If they're any indication, thumbpicks are for going down. That's it.

    You could get a Herco pick that's more like a flexible guitar pick with a thumb strap. Not very good for picking tone, but you could strum with it.
    Thanks. Is nothing else confirms it isn't me on this. Many sheets I'm using are pick & down, but some are fingerpicking with a little up-strum. I'm going to have to work out something different for those, and keep working on my thumb technique so maybe I won't need one at all.

    Little unrelated, I found one called the Saddle pick, which doesn't seem to exist anymore. The part I liked was that the pick part was close to your nail, instead of where a pick would be. Know if anything like that exists anymore?
    Last edited by polstein; 01-10-2021 at 10:36 AM.

  4. #4

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    OH - I just realized who replied to me! I follow your YT channel. I was just reading your story on how you got your Moore Bettah last week

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    North Central Illinois
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    103

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    Is an Alaska Pik what you are looking for?

    -Wiggy

  6. #6

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    Alaska pick is for non-thumb fingers. The Saddle was an alternative thumb-pick design.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Corvallis, Oregon
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    957

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    Quote Originally Posted by polstein View Post
    Little unrelated, I found one called the Saddle pick, which doesn't seem to exist anymore. The part I liked was that the pick part was close to your nail, instead of where a pick would be. Know if anything like that exists anymore?
    You might want to check out Fred Kelly’s Bumble Bee picks. They are a combination of a flat pick and a thumb pick. I like them because the flat pick part can be pivoted, allowing you to position the tip of the pick close to where your nail is. Here’s a link with more info and photos.

    https://fredkellypicks.com/product-category/bumble-bee/
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern California
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    307

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    Taimane uses a thumbpick selectively for playing tremolo, which is very fast down and up strumming. I think she uses it more like a thumbpick with a strap. When not in use, she clips it up on the headstock.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    2,892

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    Be careful with thumbpicks. (And picks in general.) They can gouge and tear up the wood. Especially a soft spruce, cedar or redwood top. Consider getting a pick guard installed, or using a cellphone screen guard to protect the wood.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Prague, Czech Republic
    Posts
    22

    Default TRIM fingerpicks for strumming

    Quote Originally Posted by polstein View Post
    Do I just use my index (possibly with a finger pick) for up strums?
    Yes, it is proven way with many fingerpick users - namely 5-string banjo players. I came also from banjo world so I retained the standard banjo fingerpicks on my thumb, index, and middle fingers. To increase my strumming options I have added the reversed fingerpick to my ring fingernail. So I have now two fingers for downpicking/downstrumming (thumb and ring finger) and two fingers for uppicking/upstrumming (index and middle finger).

    This settings allows me much more than standard down-up strumming with my thumb and index fingerpicks. The examples can be seen here:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...AktC7cZc5ilnLB

    Mirek

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