Helpful ReplyOvercoming addiction

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JohnKenn
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2018/06/02 01:39:47 (permalink)

Overcoming addiction

Coming out of the closet with this one, and requesting support and prayers to get through my dark night. In the throws of turmoil right now and don't know where else to turn.
 
Been slamming down a six pack or less of beer daily, fully addicted alcoholic, but this is not the problem.
 
This plea for help will fall on deaf ears among keyboard players, so you piano dudes as a group cannot help, because there is no empathy about what I am going through.
 
As a guitar banger, I am trying to get beyond my addiction to using a pick, 50 years of habit is hard to break.
 
The possibilities of pickless playing are only as limited as the guitar is limited. Still the crutch of a piece of plastic that I can't abandon.
 
Have opened Reaper and set some brainless mp3 on a track and forcing myself to loop the song. Me on track 1, liberal vst effects. Let it go round and round until a weird glimmer of hope is there that I don't need the plastic plectrum. Was a quote by some obscure guitar teacher that told his student that if he wants to learn to play a guitar, the first thing he has to do is throw the pick away.
 
Serious struggle even if pickless opens a higher road ahead.
 
Thank you for your prayers and advice from anyone guitar player who has been able to get free of the pick.
 
John
#1
Leadfoot
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/02 02:37:32 (permalink)
I'd recommend taking lessons from a classical guitar teacher. Either that, or lookup some basic finger picking exercises on YouTube. I'm sure there are books available as well (Mel Bay, etc.).
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ØSkald
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/02 09:51:45 (permalink)
or even Tosin Abasi. Most of the 8 strings players play without plectrum because they say the 8 strings force them to play different. plectrum can only hit one string at the time, but the 8 string force them to play different.
 
Tosin Abasi on Playing with All Fingers and Double Thumb Picking | Reverb Interview


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#3
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/02 15:04:18 (permalink)
Thanks guys for the feedback. The video is as amazing as it is depressing (like how far I got to go).
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Positively Charged
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/03 16:05:34 (permalink)
So let me get this right...when you put down a pick, you suddenly lose your base of skills in your fingering hand?  And your ability to count and hear pitches?  And your guitar turns into a mop?  Is this like Samson getting a haircut? 
 
Golly, that would be like starting all over!
 
/sarc 
:P :)
#5
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/03 22:08:43 (permalink)
A better guitar player than me might not have to start over. Several aspects of my "style" draw on things that require the plastic with or without other finger involvement. So far I can't replicate the effects without a pick. Nothing is lost and the experience is somewhat liberating forcing me down different avenues.
 
John
#6
MandolinPicker
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/03 23:40:31 (permalink)
OK, I do like like to finger pick my guitar. Nothing fancy, but nice little rolls. However, as you know it can be very soft as your fingertips are considerably softer than a plectrum. So I tried putting on finger and thumb picks - much like a banjo player. And as crazy as this sounds - I couldn't do it. Couldn't play like I did when the picks weren't on. Sounded worse than someone picking up the guitar for the very first time. Took the picks off and everything was fine. It was like I had to "feel" the strings. So in some ways, I can empathize with the OP.

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#7
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/04 02:57:57 (permalink)
Mandolin,
 
Think you understand the torture. Did every combination and permutation of the metal and plastic finger coverings trying to get the exquisite plastic resonance of an isolated pick. Nothing worked for me, fingers metal or plastic plated trying to feel the instrument. Nothing but the bare fingers if the pick was not there.. Everything else like in your experience made it worse.
 
Based my mediocre limitations as a guitar player on insane speed at the expense of meaningful content. Needed a hypersonic trill with a light gage pick to hit every note. Had mastered a funk technique of fingernail followed by a couple millisec delay before the pick hit for slower note definition (always got me the girls). Maybe best brain dead thing I got together connecting with the instrument is ringing the notes in a Byrds sorta way. Mini orchestra on a six string. Needs heavy compression for sustain, rewired circuit on a single coil design, and a pick.
 
Mush of the flesh simply does not deliver the glory.
Getting blisters on my thumb but this too shall pass. Trying to learn.
 
John
 
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KenB123
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/04 12:27:37 (permalink)
John,
 
I just want to make sure I understand. Are you trying to play with finger picks (e.g., thumbpick, index, middle, ring), or just plain ol' finger flesh? And having this ability as an alternate to the single-pick plectrum method most common in electric guitar playing? 
 
Are you seeking to play more like James Taylor, Segovia, or Mark Knopfler (for examples)?
 
 

Broken pencils are pointless.

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#9
Mesh
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/04 12:38:52 (permalink)
Just try playing the guitar while watching TV or just sitting in the kitchen, noodle around with the finger picking (not really trying to do something technically specific, but something comfortable). You'd be surprised at how you can accidentally run into a picking pattern without knowing it and it's not a "forced" lesson. Once you get comfortable with that, you can always take it a bit further in fine tuning the technique.
 
I did this so much in the kitchen while the Mrs. was cooking/the little ones hanging around singing, I got very comfortable using the thumb and first 3 fingers......of course, playing children's songs (....and the wheels on the bus go round and round).  

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#10
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/04 15:10:30 (permalink)
John,
 
Just using plain fingers and wanting to get a Marc Knopfler type control while dragging over my Hendrix/Trower fixation, very difficult. Also rapid banjo and country twangs that are easier for me now practicing without a pick.
Thumb is taking a beating.
 
Mesh, was finding this approach helpful with music videos on YouTube. Playing along with something but almost forgetting you are playing. Seems sometimes you do get there faster when the effort is not so serious.
 
John
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/05 05:12:01 (permalink)
The key to success, even partial success, is to "just do it".  Start with fingerpicking the fundamentals, no matter what the sound that comes out.
 
There's an exercise I was doing with my bass and guitar.  Dead simple, pick up the first 4 frets on the lowest string, then up the first 4 on the next string and so on. Then move up one fret and pick your way down 4321 on the highest string, then down 4321 on the next, and so on.  Then move up a fret and go up 1234 and repeat the same damned thing again and again until you get to the farthest playable fret.
 
Then, work your way down the fretboard.
 
With my bass, I'd do it one time through with a pick.  Then going down, with thumb slaps.  Then going up with right hand picking 121212, then 123 123 123...or 123 321 123 321.
 
Mind you, I'm not "playing" anything.  A bastardized chromatic exercise doesn't even qualify as an arpeggio.  I'm just going up and down all frets with all fingers and with various left hand fingerings and various right-hand picking/fingerpicking sequences, and doing it to a click.
 
It's kind of like playing all the stick techniques for drummers.  On a practice pad, with a click. LRLRLRLR, then RLRLRLRL, then LRLLRLRR, then RLRRLRLL, and so on.
 
I'm not an expert, of course.  I'll be posting here one day because I can't make simple chords without having my fat fingers accidentally muting strings and making dead sounds. 
 
God, I hate the emoticons on this forum.  They're so LAME and most are not even understandable.  I'd buy a coffee cup and t-shirt if we could just adopt STANDARD forum emoticons.  Please?
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KenB123
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/05 11:58:50 (permalink)
Mesh
Just try playing the guitar while watching TV or just sitting in the kitchen, noodle around with the finger picking (not really trying to do something technically specific, but something comfortable). You'd be surprised at how you can accidentally run into a picking pattern without knowing it and it's not a "forced" lesson. Once you get comfortable with that, you can always take it a bit further in fine tuning the technique.

 
Its been years since I learned finger-picking but this is how I remember it starting also. Just start 'knoodling'. Eventually your fingers will start to recognize the muscle-pattern. When comfortable maybe get tablature for "Dust In The Wind" (Kansas). Word is Kerry Livgren came on this picking/chord sequence doing the same thing... learning to finger pick. It has a nice finger picking pattern which feels nice to play once learned.
 
I started playing Pedal Steel Guitar a year or two ago. Now I have added the plastic/metal picks to my fingers. I initially thought that would be relatively easy but it was like starting anew (almost). One nice thing about picking 6-string guitar is you can plant your picking hand on the guitar. When you now have 10-strings (some pedal steels have 12-strings), you have to move your picking hand vertically across the strings to get to them all, so you lose that plant spot. Just adds to the frustration, but practice improves.

Broken pencils are pointless.

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#13
eph221
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/05 19:28:18 (permalink)
My psychiatrist (when I was young that is) took lessons from my classical guitar teacher during the same period as I.  I wonder how good he got?  Take classical guitar lessons.  It's a very rich repertoire; a new vein of gold to mine.

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jude77
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/05 20:37:56 (permalink)
John, I worked with addicts for 30 years.  Statistics show only 50% will actually kick the pick habit.  Of the ones who succeed, there are multiple relapses along the way.  I've heard the following conversation dozens of time:
 
"I can stop the pick whenever I want.  I just don't want to."
"No you can't.  You don't stop, because you can't stop."
"Sure I can.  I can stop any time.  I just don't want to."
"Then prove it.  Stop right."
"I don't want to."
"You don't because you can't!!!"
"Sure I can . . . . "
 
That piece of plastic is tough to toss.  I kicked it, but I think about it everyday.

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#15
Beepster
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/05 22:21:38 (permalink)
Hi, John.
 
I am a picker (lol) but it's really only because most of the material I play requires it (hi gain thrashy stuff to rhythm acoustic that needs to keep a "brush" beat). However I learned "hybrid" picking (pick between forefinger and thumb + using the middle and ring finger to pluck higher notes) early on and when I need the extra versatility that's generally what I fall back on (I actually used that for the intro of that last BBZ song we did). As cheesy and cliched as it is to say this I picked (nopunlol) up that style from learning Stairway to Heaven about  six months into the only official lessons I ever took (I only got one year before dear ole dad cheaped out on the lessons). I actually wanted to go full on with classical training but it was not in the cards.
 
THAT said there are a LOT of different approaches to fingerpicking but to start with here are some fundamentals of "proper" that are tried and true and should get anyone where they need to go if they practice enough...
 
Learn the PIMA system and seek out materials that utilize it to teach proper form...
 
https://www.guitarlessonworld.com/lessons/fingerpicking-technique/
 
hrrm... a brief skim of that and it looks like it covers some other useful stuff too but whatever...
 
The other thing is learning "Apoyando" vs. "Tirando". Here's a weird descriptive article about it...
 
https://onlineguitaracademy.net/articles/flamenco-guitar-technique/apoyando-and-tirando-two-main-strokes.html
 
BUT my general understanding of it it all is (since I studied this yeeears ago so I may be wrong/oversimplifying)
 
Apoyando = Your fingers pointing straight down toward the face of the instrument (like a tradition bass player would) so you can do scale runs and little "flourishes". Usually it's a back/forth (index and middle finger or I and P in the PIMA system) which is tricky but you can replace "plastic" picked parts by flicking your middle finger (or index) back and forth on a single string as you fret the notes/run (which requires some careful left hand string muting and precision attack on the string being fretted to play cleanly). That latter style/variant is the type of thing you see/hear Flamenco guys/gals doing whereas in classical guit it's more of that "walking" I + M bass style attack for runs.
 
That Flamenco style flickering of the M and/or I is also great for hammering down on chords. In that case you want to slam the top of the figernail down to focus on the note most important to the chord you are playing or what will best represent the chor. For example you may want to strike the bass note first then let the nail chomp down into one or more strings underneath it or you may want the whole chord to sound evenly so you'd focus on the "middle" string(s) of the chord whilst still raking across the strings above or below the "middle" (so if it's a simple three string triad would focus your attack on the middle string or for a six string chord you would focus your attack on the middle two strings and so on... lots of judgement calls that need to be made on the fly in all this).
 
Tirando = What I refer to as "Crab Hand". The picking hand is flat against the instrument and the fingers are bent (and ready too pluck). You only pluck one string at a time generally using your thumb to hit "bass" notes and adding melody/ornamentation/chord qualities with your I M A fingers. This is of course the style that takes supreme advantage of the tonal versatility of the guitar but also lacks the attack of other styles. It's the style that makes translating classical compositions to a single guitar possible (the 6 string guit isn't nearly as old as a lot of the classical music played on it). This style (versus Apoyando) also allows for quick right hand palm muting (please note if you are a lefty just reverse my right hand/left hand silliness).
 
Learning these two styles to a minimal degree of efficiency/accuracy by practicing scales, arpeggios and I to the V (or III) bass note progressions with upper register chord notes played over top said progression will get you a general idea of what can and needs to be done to master those styles.
 
At the end of the day though, just like all musical theories and methods, it is up to the musician to "lock" into what is actually going on and why it sounds good (and why sometimes it doesn't sound good). This crap can be WAAAAAY overthought.
 
Personally lately I've pulled out my acoustic again (after ensuring my neighbors are cool with it) and have been experimenting quite a bit... as I always did. However I recently did a massive stint boning up on my bass skills sans a pick (even the what I'm working on is using a pick it was still extremely useful to figure out how I wanted the bass to pop with the drums). Anyway one of the bassists I was trying to wrap my head around was John Entwhistle. I know a crapton of Who stuff as it is and had the privilege to play extensively with a master of his style... plus Entwhistle kicked arse. My point is, and YMMV, my time mucking about with some of those old Entwhistle finger picking tricks has seemed to have translated VERY nicely to my acoustic mayhem. Look up some old vids and watch his picking hand. He does crazy runs and WAILS on chords just twiddling his middle finger. Doing that on bass for a while and just goofing around with other stuff really strengthened my right hand so when I started riffing on a guit with those techniques in mind it just seemed natural.
 
THAT THAT THAT said... again I will remind anyone and everyone that you need to do what works for you and your musical ambitions. I reject the notion that pick style is inferior or superior to fingerpicking. I also reject that one needs to become an automaton in specific theories or techniques to be a valid player. Quite the opposite actually especially when it comes to guitar. The guitar is one of the most tonally versatile and personal instruments ever invented. Learing technique and theory is great and can open a lot of doors creatively but I personally would never limit myself to any one style or technique.
 
Then again I also consider a lot of what I do "stunt" guitar playing. There is sooooooo much more that can be squeezed out of our axe boxes than has already been done. I know mine ain't done giving up secrets and I've been playing for almost 30 years.
 
Cheers and happy riffin'.
#16
Beepster
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/05 22:25:04 (permalink)
Please ignore typos or ask questions...
 
I ain't editing all dat...
 
lulz
 
PS: Guiz... I saw my old band members and played what I've done on the album so far. They lurved it. I am ever so chuffed and want to thank everyone again. Never could ahave got this far without ya'll.
 
ULTRACHEERS!!!
 
#17
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/06 02:10:58 (permalink)
Guys,
 
Advice is spot on. Still going thru Beep's post and links.
Playing without any hard core focus and expectation has to be at the core of it. Can't get a good sound, judging quality in the infancy attempts is enough to turn anyone off. Give it up and revert to the pick again.
 
Making a lot of low quality noise. The wife is wondering what happened to my playing. Should not be going downhill this fast. Told her it is a transition that might sound better sometime.
 
John
#18
BassDaddy
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/06 02:29:00 (permalink)
I did not play electric for about 27 years. I played acoustic with fingers but not much. The first time I heard Sultans of Swing it blew me away. It wasn't the finger picking but the plucking of 3 or 4 strings at once. Instead of strumming plucking 3 or 4 with the thumb countering on the bass strings. For single note runs I use thumb for picking up and second finger for up. Put your thumb and first finger touch and you see they are not straight across from each other but thumb and second are pretty good. Later the first finger will come in when it wants to so don't worry about it. It was a few months for me. Grow your fingernails and shape them to get a bit on the string. Just enough to put some treble attack on them. Now find an anchor. Get a fast passage that's not easy with a pick. Play it until you know it not just theory but that you can actually do this. Play it until you can do it right. If my playing gets off I play mine for 3 o r 4 minutes and I'm recalibrated. Mine is A Duane Allman lead in You Don't Love Me on the Fillmore album. It's played over a swinging A6 chord. Did I mention the reason I dropped the pick is because when I started playing again my hands where dry and joy moist like when I was younger. I couldn't play for 30 seconds without shooting the pick across the room. Final verdict? I'm a way better player than I ever was with a pick. And faster too. And I have my own sound. Keep your fingers on the string when not playing makes easy to keep unwanted notes away.

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#19
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/06 02:59:46 (permalink)
Thanks Bass. Under my radar presently, but see the need to sculpt the fingernails to get a treble attack. Ability to grab several notes at once a big benefit you can't do with a pick. Also fully empathize with the problem of flying picks either on stage or in the studio. We all been there. The vid Jarsve posted had a comment about the fingernail versus the skin strike spoken from a genius who been there, done that.
 
John
#20
Starise
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/06 13:54:37 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby Mesh 2018/06/06 14:35:16
Geesh. Getting kinda picky here aren't we?
 
I don't overthink it much. The pick makes a nice thing to bite on while I play. Sometimes it comes out and I use it. Then I remember how I don't like using it. If I get tired of biting it I put it on the table and make a guitar face. Guitar faces can be cool. Some people can't tell the difference. Do what you like to do. Enjoy it. Life is short.

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#21
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/06 23:28:10 (permalink)
Damn, think I'm starting to get the hang of this...
#22
Voda La Void
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/07 12:47:03 (permalink)
The information you're getting in here is like drinking water out of a fire hose. 
 
Lots of great technique and advice in this thread.  2 things though...do *not* ignore your pinky and ring finger.  Those are the two fingers hardest to control, and it takes a bit to gain control of them.  A simple stair step finger picking pattern is perfect - assign high E to your pinky, B to your ring finger...etc, and, starting real slow, work through it.  It's a little tedious, uncomfortable, at first.  
 
Use a metronome, at least for serious practice.  I didn't realize how bad my pinky and ring finger were mangling the tempo until I started practicing to a metronome.  My thumb and first two fingers feel naturally right and play smoothly to the tempo, then my last two fingers would get out of sync, just enough to notice it's not fluid.  
 
Tosin Abasi, from the video above, recommends it too.  

Voda La Void...experiments in disturbing frequencies...
#23
Starise
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/07 14:48:42 (permalink)
It helps me to think of it as a pluck. They don't pick harps. 
Pickin' Pluckin" I guess it don't matter unless it matter to you.

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#24
Beepster
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/07 22:12:41 (permalink)
Voda is absolutely correct in that you REALLY need to ensure all fingers are up to the task.
 
I will point out though that the "pinky/little" finger is rarely used or even really recognized in more traditional techniques. That's not to say it is a useless appendage BUT simply because it is so much shorter and unweildly I would not focus as much on your pinky (it doesn't even merit a letter name in the PIMA system).
 
That said I, again, am a firm believer in rule breaking and there are obviously lots of players who will incorporate it (I mostly just use it as a light lead in to a "flamenco" style flourish and it's a good string muter when needed). Just saying that most players don't really use it... at least not as definitive plucking finger.
 
Developing it is laudible but unlike the fretting pinky is not nearly as critical and may even hinder progress.
 
Just my thoughts on the matter. YMMV.
 
Cheers and keep at 'er.
 
 
#25
Beepster
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/07 22:18:06 (permalink)
Starise
It helps me to think of it as a pluck. They don't pick harps. 
Pickin' Pluckin" I guess it don't matter unless it matter to you.




Hi Starise. Tirando is absolutely very similar to harp playing. You just gotta a be a little more careful so as not to snap the strings against the fretboard (unless that is your goal).
#26
JohnKenn
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/08 03:16:54 (permalink)
Guys,
As always, blessed by the advice and the wisdom. Goal for me at this point is being able to pick up a guitar and not feel like I have to have a pick to play. Getting there. Then can go back and forth to get the best of either world without being stuck in either space.
John
#27
Beepster
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/08 06:02:11 (permalink)
Ya, man. You've gotten lots of great advice here and there is just reams of tuts on the internet/in print about this type of thing but it is an extremely broad and subjective/style specific topic.
 
This is where you need to sort through it all and figure out what works for you and your goals.
 
I've always taken you as folksy campfire plucking building up to maybe Knopfler and/or heaby bluegrass type stuff.
 
That crazy "Djent" aand hyper technical finger stuff is impressive but just like 8 finger tapping was back in the day for me... is it really worth it for what I am trying to acheive?
 
For me the answer was... nope.
 
Again, explore and develop any technique that facilitates your style. You will never run out of exercises/styles to goof around with so it is good too focus on the ones that work for you... now (especially if you are older). You can add in other things later on top of the fundamentals if you so desire which are generally based on those fundamentals anyway (they are fundamentals for a reason).
 
Cheers.
#28
Voda La Void
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/08 13:30:22 (permalink)
Beepster
 
I will point out though that the "pinky/little" finger is rarely used or even really recognized in more traditional techniques. That's not to say it is a useless appendage BUT simply because it is so much shorter and unweildly I would not focus as much on your pinky (it doesn't even merit a letter name in the PIMA system).
 
Developing it is laudible but unlike the fretting pinky is not nearly as critical and may even hinder progress.
 
Just my thoughts on the matter. YMMV.
 
Cheers and keep at 'er.

 
Full disclosure, I've only been finger picking for a couple years now.  It was a technique I ignored for 30 years. 
 
I would say it depends on what you're trying to achieve and what you're trying to play or create.  If you're goal is to learn traditional techniques, learn your favorite radio songs and such, it's probably not an important appendage.  
 
But if you're trying to maximize your options, which for me was important reason to learn finger picking in the first place, then it needs to be developed with the rest of your fingers.  Also, personal experience only here, it minimizes hand movement and cleans up sloppy playing.  
 
For instance, I've got a song I'm working on in 130 BPM, with three beats per beat...err, per thingy...something like that.  Basically a triplet pattern per beat, and that's a pretty fast pattern for me and has taken months to get up to speed, staying in tempo and playing clean.  It is a 12 note pattern that is kind of Travis picking in the first half dancing between the low E and the A, D, G then finishing off with a B-E-B-G on the bottom strings - and that requires good pinky and ring finger management there, otherwise you're dropping your hand down to get to the B-E-B-G pattern and then lifting back up to do the Travis E-A, E-D, E-G pattern, over and over again.  
 
For me, that will create a sloppy result.  So, I think it just depends on what you want to do with this technique.  I find that hand movement creates slop, and that keeping it in place while the fingers work makes it tighter and cleaner.  That requires strong pinky control to do interesting patterns that involve the high E string, as far as I can tell.  
 
 
  
 

Voda La Void...experiments in disturbing frequencies...
#29
Voda La Void
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Re: Overcoming addiction 2018/06/08 15:06:36 (permalink)
Beepster
 
That crazy "Djent" aand hyper technical finger stuff is impressive but just like 8 finger tapping was back in the day for me... is it really worth it for what I am trying to acheive?
 
For me the answer was... nope.

 
I identify with this sentiment so much.  I absolutely love the djent style, although there's some irritating baggage that comes with it, and it's so impressive visually and audibly.  The level these players are at, and the discipline it takes to get there is admirable.  
 
But I'm 47 and I'm not throwing away 30 years of my style to start all over again...I'm officially old and boring now.  
 
It's not worth what I'm trying to achieve to learn all of that stuff, but it is interesting to mess with, and like all musical styles I'm just going to rob the parts of the genre I like - that I can actually DO - and fold it into what I do and move forward...

Voda La Void...experiments in disturbing frequencies...
#30
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