A Troubling Experiment with a Thumb Pick

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Altophile
Posts: 492
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:36 pm
Location: Ohio, USA

A Troubling Experiment with a Thumb Pick

Post by Altophile » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:53 pm

Hi all,

Tonight I tried a little experiment, born primarily from the fact the last knuckle on my right thumb is bent in the wrong direction due to an industrial accident I had as a teenager (18). I tried thumb picking patterns without a pick (as normal) and then tried them with a thumb pick, and the difference in tone is remarkable! I mean, the quality in tone isn't even close. With the thumb pick the tone is rich, deep, pronounced, simply excellent. With my thumb nail it's wooden, almost muted by comparison, no matter how I pluck, what angle, how hard, etc., etc., etc.

Has anyone else encountered this phenomenon, and, if so, how did you deal with it? I'm too old to transition to a thumb pick now, yet I'm irritated by the fact that the tone I get with the thumb pick is so dramatically superior.

~Sean

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sxedio
Posts: 1130
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 10:18 pm
Location: UK / Cyprus

Re: A Troubling Experiment with a Thumb Pick

Post by sxedio » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:09 am

Altophile wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:53 pm
I'm too old to transition to a thumb pick now, yet I'm irritated by the fact that the tone I get with the thumb pick is so dramatically superior.
Why say that? If you like your sound, you play better, by all means go for it unless there are other reasons (e.g. does it hurt, do you get tired more easily with the thumb pick?). You are never too old to learn anything.
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

simonm
Amateur luthier
Posts: 6295
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Germany, Würzburg.

Re: A Troubling Experiment with a Thumb Pick

Post by simonm » Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:34 am

I met a guy some years ago who as a weird side effect of a very serious car accident ended up with finger nails that were almost as soft as a sheet of paper. He changed his playing to using picks on each finger and sounded pretty good to me although he said it was not as good as his previous tone. He made his own picks for all fingers including thumb using one of the typical white plastic cable ducts.

He said it took him 6 weeks of practice before he began to get results that he was happy with. So it is certainly worth persevering with the thumb pick. Someone will surely pop in and mention a famous south American composer player who also used a thumb pick. The name escapes me.

a human
Posts: 467
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 1:37 am
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Re: A Troubling Experiment with a Thumb Pick

Post by a human » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:13 pm

I have a bumblebee pick I use with the acoustics for playing with the choir. It is harder to loose than a conventional pick. I don't think there is any right or wrong any more. Art is art.
1965 Krempel Classical (660ish mm)
Martin Sigma DM-1 Dreadnaught (std)
2011 Cordoba Cadete Classical (615 mm)
2014 Martin DX1AE (std)

edwardsguitar
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:58 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: A Troubling Experiment with a Thumb Pick

Post by edwardsguitar » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:15 pm

Luigi Mozzani http://www.lutherie.net/mozzani.html used a thumbpick, and one of his students Mario Maccaferri did also. I often use a clear plastic thumbpick made by the Fred Kelley co. that works well for me. I have no technical problems with it and have used it to good effect in concerts. Like the thumbnail, you can file and sand the pick into the length, thickness, and shape you like if necessary. The only downside for me is the tonal palette is limited because the thumbpad sound is not available. Of course you can easily remove it for any piece where you want a softer bass, and I've done that in concert also. However, tonally it competes quite well with the thumbnail sound, and is often better. The other advantages are no more worries about breaking a nail, and when you're done playing or practicing you simply take it off. Much cheaper and less bother than some of the artificial nail alternatives also. I have used one off and on (so to speak) since the 70's so it is very comfortable, but I know it is too strange a feel for many players.

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