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Thread: About finger picking...

  1. #1
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    Default About finger picking...

    I have just gone thru over 300 posts on the forum and a few select mandolin websites and have come to the conclusion that noone finger picks a mandolin. How 'bout a mandola, octave mandolin or a mandocello (octave mandola) ? Skip the bass mando, I couldn't afford same in an eon.

    Viewing many Utube videos I have come to the conclusion (perhaps wrongly) that only tenor guitars, tenor banjos and almost all electrics-any-of-the-above can be finger picked. Is this true or can any lower-pitched accoustic mando+ be finger picked?

    Back when I was ten or so, my father tried to teach me the violin. We got as far as the lesson where it offered a 'song on the e-string'. That was the end of the lessons for me since I much prefered playing touch footall with the guys; I would leave the dog whistle calling to someone else. Since the mandolin is essentially a plucked violin, I am looking to 'finger pluck' a deeper sounding instrument.

    Aside: I do have a basic mandolin, play it somewhat, with plectrum, but can't appreciate the tonal range. Perhaps being a much older man, my ears can't really hear the overtones to appreciate the sound.

    'Asking all of you knowledgeable people, what other alto thru bass plucked instruments can be sucessfully played with finger picking? No plectrum (plectra) of any sort. Any referrals to a Utube example would be appreciated.

    If I can't get any impassioned answers or referrals, I'll probably end up with a vintage tenor guitar. I have my eye on several. Also being the typical Geminii duplicious fool, I have my eye on several octave mandos, octave mandolas and a few bowl-backed mandolas. Help me !!!

    Thanks in advance for any info or suggestions.

    germano
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    There are pickers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&h...&v=DBaYgzFBRVo

    But I am not sure if it is a good idea. For me there is not enough 'twang'.

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    There is really no reason not to do it, even on a mandolin. I would think that you would need sound system for performance but that is true of almost any plucked instrument.
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    Registered User otterly2k's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    I play Octave Mando and sometimes finger pick. Like Jim said, no reason not to-- but few people do, so you won't find much in the way of instructional resources. Make up your own way and technique based on what feels/sounds good to you. In general, I would think that longer scale instruments (like OM and zouk) would be better suited than mando and possibly mandola just because shorter strings at higher tension will be harder to move with fingers than with a plectrum...
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  5. #5
    Registered User Galileo's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Here is another nice example of fingerpicking on a member of the mandolin family.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFqThPZejTA

    Robert

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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Quote Originally Posted by germano View Post
    I have just gone thru over 300 posts on the forum and a few select mandolin websites and have come to the conclusion that noone finger picks a mandolin. How 'bout a mandola, octave mandolin or a mandocello (octave mandola) ? Skip the bass mando, I couldn't afford same in an eon.

    Viewing many Utube videos I have come to the conclusion (perhaps wrongly) that only tenor guitars, tenor banjos and almost all electrics-any-of-the-above can be finger picked. Is this true or can any lower-pitched accoustic mando+ be finger picked?

    Back when I was ten or so, my father tried to teach me the violin. We got as far as the lesson where it offered a 'song on the e-string'. That was the end of the lessons for me since I much prefered playing touch footall with the guys; I would leave the dog whistle calling to someone else. Since the mandolin is essentially a plucked violin, I am looking to 'finger pluck' a deeper sounding instrument.

    Aside: I do have a basic mandolin, play it somewhat, with plectrum, but can't appreciate the tonal range. Perhaps being a much older man, my ears can't really hear the overtones to appreciate the sound.

    'Asking all of you knowledgeable people, what other alto thru bass plucked instruments can be sucessfully played with finger picking? No plectrum (plectra) of any sort. Any referrals to a Utube example would be appreciated.

    If I can't get any impassioned answers or referrals, I'll probably end up with a vintage tenor guitar. I have my eye on several. Also being the typical Geminii duplicious fool, I have my eye on several octave mandos, octave mandolas and a few bowl-backed mandolas. Help me !!!

    Thanks in advance for any info or suggestions.

    germano
    _____
    Hi Germano,

    Now that you got me thinking about it, I have come to the realization that I finger pick my Octave Mandolins, Bouzouki, and even my Mandola more than I actually strum them. Especially when playing with songwriter friends (modern folk style), or solo.

    The only time I strum, or cross pick the majority of the time is when I am jamming with other instruments in an Old Time jam, or Irish Folk Seisiun.

  7. #7
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    I fingerpick my mandocello, OM and 10 string mandolin/mandola. These all have pretty wide fingerboards (1-3/4", 1-1/2" and 1-7/8" respectively). The 10-stringer has a 16" scale; just a little longer than a mandolin, but due to the larger body and oval hole there is enough volume and sustain to get a good sound fingerpicking. On my mandolins, the combination of the thinner fingerboard and less sustain make fingerpicking impractical for me.

    Here's Tom Jessen, the builder, demonstrating fingerpicking on the 10-stringer:


  8. #8
    ...but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Quote Originally Posted by scifi View Post
    But I am not sure if it is a good idea. For me there is not enough 'twang'.
    The right sound comes with the right fingerpicks:



    Fingerpicking mandolin family instruments has the invaluable advantage that you have enough fingers to do it, while guitar players need genetically questionable ancestry for that
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Thank you all for the expert opinions, references and utube clips. And to think, I've been holding on to this question for weeks because I thought it was to dumb a question to ask. Thank you very much again.

    germano
    _____

  10. #10
    Marbhna Luimni Eddie Sheehy's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    L.C. tunes sound nice fingerpicked on a Foley zouk...


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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Joseph Sobol is another who uses a finger style on the cittern. In this clip, he demonstrates and explains his approach.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gV7zLiII6E

  12. #12
    Master of mediocrity Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    I like to finger pick the OM. I finger pick acoustic guitar more than I use a pick (I actually like to do percussive playing like Andy McKee or Don Ross). My family wanted me to take up banjo instead of mandolin but I can't for the life of me play with those finger picks, just feels way too foreign

  13. #13
    ...but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pipeous View Post
    I can't for the life of me play with those finger picks, just feels way too foreign
    I know what you mean. I use the ProPik Fingertones which let you still feel the strings on your fingers but give you those "nails" (NFI).

    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  14. #14
    Master of mediocrity Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Thanks Bertram, I might have to go hit some music stores now. those just might work. do they hold tight to the finger as well?

  15. #15
    Registered User otterly2k's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    I have never liked the way finger picks click between my fingers. I just grow my own nails out a little bit on the right hand. Not a lot, mind you. Just enough to extend past the pad of my finger.
    Karen Escovitz
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  16. #16
    ...but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pipeous View Post
    Thanks Bertram, I might have to go hit some music stores now. those just might work. do they hold tight to the finger as well?
    Yes, the clamps are just like on other fingerpicks. Never lost one.

    Quote Originally Posted by otterly2k View Post
    I have never liked the way finger picks click between my fingers. I just grow my own nails out a little bit on the right hand. Not a lot, mind you. Just enough to extend past the pad of my finger.
    I used to use my fingernails in the past, until they started to break (and always just when I needed them most)...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  17. #17
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    I don't fingerpick a whole lot, but I do use it now and then as a variation, an effect, a different color in the sonic palette. It makes a fair approximation of the Robert Johnson-style simultaneous walkdown and static note motif, for example. I would never use fingerpicks - much too clumsy and clunky for my tastes - and use my fingernails, which I keep long on my right hand just for this purpose and others, among them brush strokes, flamenco-style flourishes, and continuing through a song if I drop my pick.

    But I do play one tune exclusively with fingerpicking, which I have posted before elsewhere but will do so again here. I regret that the video function on this still camera is substandard and doesn't provide a good view of the activity. Key elements include playing a bass figure with my thumb on the lower two strings (especially in the A part) while keeping the top two strings in play with my index and middle fingers. Nothing too terribly fancy, and the intent was to simulate a banjo roll, though it ends up sounding pretty tinkly, more like a music box. It's a fun piece though no great shakes, and more an illustration of the technique's possibility than an exemplar. Still, it has its charms.

    Enjoy!


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  18. #18
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    I read somewhere that David Grisman recommends giving finger picking a try just to see how it sounds. I agree with others that, for me, the finger picking does not give me the sound I want.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    My primary instrument was/is the bass, and early on I adapted Abe Laboriel's four-finger method for the right hand... one result of that was pretty heavy duty callouses. Although not as hard as a pick I am still able to get pretty good snap (or whatever ya' wanna call it) on the strings without having to use picks.

  20. #20
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: About finger picking...

    I personally never warmed to finger picks. I also do too much with my hands (wrenching on cars, boats, bikes, carpentry, etc.) to keep long nails. I read a Mark Knopfler interview once where he said he also uses the finger pad, not the nail or picks. It is definitely less volume, but I like the sound.

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