Styles of picking

September 4, 2008 by  
Filed under basics

There are two schools of acoustic guitar picking that have developed over time: the flatpickers, who use the small plastic picks; and the fingerpickers, who just use their fingers without a pick. I fall into the latter category, because I find fingerpicking to be much more liberating than using a pick, it feels better and its much easier to get the hang of.

You may also hear of a technique called “fingerstyle,” which is very similar to fingerpicking. Basically, fingerpicking is defined as playing only one string at a time, while fingerstyle players sometimes play two- or three-note chords using their fingers. However, the distinction between these two styles is rather worthless because most guitarists, including Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, John Denver, Jim Croce play both styles at different times or even during the same song.

Most players use both styles, flatpicking and fingerpicking, at different times. Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on what sound you want to get, so it is all up to you. Even if you don’t fingerpick much, it is very helpful to know how to do it in case the need ever arises.