Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Flatpicking With Fingers

I was here for a few short free lessons but moved back to working on jazz standards and chord melody for a while longer. I’m back now working on flatpicking/melody playing on guitar and mandolin.

I’m 68 and have been playing guitar constantly since I was ten. All the years I played electric I mostly always played with my fingers but would also hold a pick on the occasions I needed to use one. I’ve had my acoustic about 8 months now and it’s still a struggle to use a pick doing flatpicking, strumming etc with pick is no problem.

Hammer on’s/pulloffs/series of single notes work fine and with fingers and speed is pretty close to what I need. I do have a problem playing fast single notes with fingers and especially with bluegrass I don’t have time to put the pick in place that I also hold in my hand while playing. It wasn’t a problem with blues/country to alternate between fingers/pick. Now I know I’m losing volume using fingers vs pick on acoustic. Are there any flatpicker’s that use fingers alot or do I need to just manup and keep practicing on using the pick more?

Oh and I spent most all afternoon and last night between guitar/mando lessons here and man there’s a mountain of great tunes and technique’s for me to work on…tks

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I’d keep trying the flat pick, but have you ever tried using finger picks? It would be a little unorthodox, but it would allow you to keep your volume, and you’d probably glide across the strings faster.

If you try it out, I’d love to see a video of your results.

Hey Charlie,

Take a look at Wayne Henderson… even study him. He has an unusual finger picking style that sounds exactly like flatpicking. You literally would never know he’s finger picking! He’s a great guy too… and builds some incredible instruments (if anyone could afford them). You would have to find a used instrument because his waiting list is like 10 years to have one built.

Anyway, check him out. He’s very popular… Google, Youtube, etc.

Good Luck,


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tks folks and Wayne’s a mighty fine player but eek I just can’t use finger picks, probably why I was less than a mediocre player on resonator. I can’t even use a thumbpick by itself. I guess I’ll just keep practicing using a pick and keep playing fingerstyle on the tunes that warrant that style of playing…now the use of a pick with my mandolin fits like a glove and not a huge problem with guitar, just can be bothersome at times. I can’t stand to hit an unclean note.

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Love the Wayne suggestion. Short of playing like Wayne, a pick is the tool for the job. Keep at it, and it will keep getting better!

Yeah I’ll just keep practicing on using that pick. Changing the subject, looking through the guitar lessons and came upon Link Wray at the bottom. I liked the use of the Em9 in place of the Em. I know that to keep some things in a traditional sound you’d need to use lets say a straight C chord and just one example I use is to end certain songs in the key of C is to use a C6/9 chord. It really gives the tune a nice flavor for the ending. It’s moveable so works for most any key.

Image result for C 6/9 guitar chord

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