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majorrich's avatar

I'm going to start over from the beginning guitar. Pick or No Pick?

Asked by majorrich (14741points) December 9th, 2014
10 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

I’ve hit a wall in my trying to teach myself guitar. I believe it stems from playing piano from a very young age and having no music theory training so I can’t play by ear. I intend to start all over from page one and try to forget everything and re-learn. The method I have selected is pretty wishy-washy about using a pick or just fingers. What says the great fluther wisdom bank? Should I even do a reboot? I am stuck in too deep to quit altogether.

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stanleybmanly's avatar

Why not both?

Buttonstc's avatar

I can only tell you what helped me to play by ear (primarily hearing where chord changes are needed as well as what key to play in).

I Initially started by using an Autoharp. The school at which I taught had one just sitting around unused so I figured I’d give it a try.

About a year or so later I began learning guitar. But I was ALWAYS better able to recognize chord patterns when playing the Autoharp as opposed to the guitar. But even with the Autoharp, it took almost all of that first year for me to even begin to hear when chord changes should be occuring.

My personal theory was that it was due to not being distracted by the fingering necessary to form chords on the guitar. That kind of distracted from actively listening for the chord changes and patterns.

So, for your situation, I would assume that whichever method requires the least mental distraction would probably make it easier to focus upon listening for patterns and chord changes.

Like you, I also played an instrument (trumpet) in my childhood but never learned music theory etc.

But can you clarify something in your Q, please.
When you refer to choosing a pick vs. fingers do you mean just strumming with the pick vs. finger picking technique or what? That’s basically what I used the pick for. But I’ve seen some players doing some intricate picking (more commonly on Banjo) with a pick so I’m not clear on what exactly you’re referencing.

Anyhow, I would say to choose whichever method is the bare bones simplest; kind of like it’s easier to initially learn to drive a car with automatic transmission because you’re free to concentrate on driving skills without being distracted by when to shift. Less multitasking.

I hope what I’m trying to say makes sense.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Both fingers and picks have their place, you must use both. For folk chords and lead like bluegrass you need to use a pick. For fingerstyle and classical…. you need to use your fingers. I have played since I was a preteen and there are still things that I am learning and relearning. Playing guitar is a lifelong endeavor.

majorrich's avatar

I was using the horny corner of my thumb to strum and do what a pick would do. I bought some picks and tried to use them, but inevitably kept going back to using my thumb. Then I started trying to use the other fingers, mostly the nails on the down strokes and the thumbnail on the upstrokes. There were no instructions on that in the Jam-o-Matic method I first bought. Im hoping the online lessons I enrolled in are a little better. I hit being able to be smooth transitioning chords in the first position, but then I had a hard time figuring out which chord to play next etc. The lack of theory and being stuck to reading music was a wall I couldn’t bust through.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You can do that at first, left-hand technique is more important as a beginner but you will ultimately use a pick for this and the sooner you get used to it the better.

majorrich's avatar

I enrolled in ‘Guitar Tricks’ online lessons after being severely underwhelmed by private lessons where the instructor just used my time to show how good he was and not showing me step by step what to do. That and I don’t drive much anymore, and rely on a shuttle service to get me to my lessons.

majorrich's avatar

i ran into the same quandary a couple years ago where I got too many books in front of me and got confused with theory and other stuff I thought would be important. Then tried private lessons. I want desperately to make music, but as a pianist and drummer am having trouble making it a three instrument house.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, you’re a lot more dedicated than I. I never paid for lessons from anyone :)

The only help I had was from one of the other teachers in the school who had perfect pitch (some people are just blessed with that from birth). She could tune all the strings on the Autoharp while standing on a playground of screaming kids. I had to use a pitchpipe and be surrounded by total silence :)

But due to the simplicity of the Autoharp, along with a chord book, I was able to make music pretty much from day one…or at least enough music to satisfy the tastes of a bunch of third graders to sing along with :)

I admire your dedication.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If you are going to play music like Wes Montgomery no pick.

Or if you are going to play Eric Clapton use a pick.

majorrich's avatar

I think I may go just to strumming along to camp songs and stuff. I have no desire to play lead guitar or anything like that. I have an old Ovation guitar that I’m told is pretty good and one that I won in a raffle that is kinda junky to practice on and abuse. I have images of myself out on the porch fiddling around like Andy Griffith.

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