Howdy folks,

On my last question about fretted versus non-fretted....the response actually overwhelmed me.  (Must have been an interesting topic that folks have serious opinions about.)

So now I ask:

When my fretted 3-string guitar gets here, I plan on playing mostly slide.

1. Should I plan on using thumb and finger picks?  (What are the pros and cons?)

2. If I do end up using Finger picks....metal or plastic?  (What are the pros and cons?)

This should be an interesting journey....I have never held a guitar of any sorts and do not read music.  And yes, I have just received Keni's CD and was up until 2 a.m. last night watching them.

Stay tuned....


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  • I use propik nickels and have done for many years, they are far and away the best. These ones:

  • Keith,

    We-elll...I've spent the last 35 years playing 6-bangers with flat picks of different weights, thicknesses and materials, and the last 6 months playing CBGs with mostly fingers. I just last week started trying to use both metal and plastic fingerpicks. Pros: you can get a louder, more percussive attack with metal fingerpicks, but they can sound too tinny or banjoey to some ears, and require a certain amount of dexterity ( or sinistry, if you're left-handed;-) ). Plastic is a little more forgiving, but still has a pretty sharp attack with volume. Fingers alone, however, in my opinion, allow you to really feel the music, and control your attack and dynamics. Cons: I find fingerpicks especially cumbersome after only using finger flesh. They take some getting used to, and can make you sound banjoey, which maybe you want, and maybe you don't, given that CBGs are generally twangy to begin with.

    I would recommend spending your initial practice time with just fingers first, followed maybe for awhile by a plastic thumb pick. Then add plastic finger picks over your first and second (or possibly third, if you're feeling brave, syncopated, and sufficiently dexterous) fingers, and give that a whirl. Then, maybe move up to metal fingerpicks. Or try 'em all, see how they feel, and notice the differences in attack and volume. Then getcherself a flat pick (plectrum), and try that for a bit.

    Style of music you wanna play can also have a role to play in how you play. Many Delta bluesmen used finger flesh, or at most, a thumb pick. It's kinda up to what you feel comfortable with, in the end. Can't hurt to give all methods a try, as plastic fingerpicks and flat picks are relatively cheap.
  • I'm just learning to play my builds...(never played any stringed instruments before I built my first one in March of this year) and would say that it depends on how loud you want it to sound and what kind of sound you are looking for. When I use a pick it's just a conventional flat pick, but sometimes prefer the mellower sound of finger tip picking. Try it both ways, and any other ways you think of and find what works best for you.

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