The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary

View Poll Results: What is your primary picking style?

217. You may not vote on this poll
  • Fingerpicking good!

    58 26.73%
  • Plectrum/pick

    116 53.46%
  • Hybrid country style

    33 15.21%
  • My thumb

    10 4.61%
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  1. #1

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    So, I'm at a point where I kind of need to pick a primary picking style.

    I started playing rock/pop and of course a pick is great for most of that. Then, when I started playing jazz, it was a combo of pick and hybrid.

    As I started to appreciate piano playing and chord melody more, I switched to strict fingerstyle.

    Of course, there's advantages to each. I prefer fingerstyle, because most of my influences are pianistic, but I cannot get any fluidity with lines.

    It's hard to cleanly arpeggiate chords with a pick and you cannot get them at the same time.

    Hybrid, you can only use three fingers, fingerpicking, you got 4. That makes a big difference.

    So, I thought it'd be fun to start a thread. What's YOUR primary picking style and why? Apologies if this has already been done before here. I'm not that prolific here.


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  3. #2

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    I'm a hybrid picker, been so since my teen days, trying to fill out lead lines more in the "jam band" style group I was in. It's just what feels natural to me.

    I will also play completely "fingers-only" from time to time, particularly when playing nylon string.

  4. #3

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    Hi, I mostly play lines with a modified flamenco rest stroke technique. It gets me closer to the kind of attack that I enjoy from Gypsy Jazz rest stroke picking.

    im alternation, various ima alternations, and also some reverse raking. I incorporated the raking because strict flamenco technique is not much use for improvising and it is especially bad for wide intervals.

    These days I'll practice things with several contradictory RH fingerings and that way I am less likely to stumble if I fall on the wrong finger at the start of a line or if I felt like adding some LH legato that suggested itself.

    For more sonorous/tectural playing pretty much what Hertz said.


  5. #4

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    I've always done both fingerstyle and hybrid.

    Most recently I've moved from mostly hybrid to maybe 90% fingerstyle. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, and as I've said several times before, forum member Tim Lerch is responsible for this change. I love the tone he gets with a tele fingerpicked without nails, that is using the flesh of his right hand fingers. I tried it and I like it.

  6. #5

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    I use classical rest stroke I-M mostly alternating for lines/scales. Only time I wouldn't alternate is when I play an adjacent or non-adjacent string below, in which case I would always use my Index Finger.

    I know this is a major sin in classical/flamenco circles but it feels way more natural to me as oppose to strictly alternating. To this day nobody has given me an adequate reason/explanation why this is such a horrible sin. I can play very very fast scales or lines anyways lol. I've seen Kazuhito play like this (though it may have been for effect), and I heard that Pepe Romero advocates this way of playing.

    So yeah sorry for the mini rant lol

  7. #6

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    I have pretty much eschewed picks all my playing life. That's like almost 40 years now. Never liked pinching a piece of plastic and have always liked feeling the strings with the fingers on both of my hands. I do appreciate players that use picks, however. Just not for me.

  8. #7

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    I've always used a pick, but I just bought a crossover thumbpick and plan on trying to learn to use it and my fingers. So far it's very difficult. I need lots more practice. On the upside, it's completely usable as a flatpick while on my thumb, so I can slide into it slowly. It works well for strumming chords.

  9. #8

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    For quite a few years I was just using fingers, and for more acoustic music, with a thumbpick as well. For solo, chord melody playing, it's just the ticket. But in the last year I started taking lessons again, and also went to some jam sessions where I needed a pick to "cut through". The lessons thing is relevant not because picking is something we're covering- it's because the players I like stylistically used a pick.
    I still use fingers sometimes for comping or other kinds of music.

  10. #9

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    I play a bunch of different ways depending on the music and the surroundings. here is a vid I made a while ago showing my approach

    all the best

  11. #10

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    Thumb for single note , thumb and index combo if I want down/up or up/down on the same string, thumb for down index for up . Thumb, index , middle , ring for chord work. I don't like the sound of plastic on metal when I try to do it. Love hearing it when others do it .. go figure

    Last edited by WillMbCdn5; 02-01-2018 at 10:43 PM.

  12. #11

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    Everything but thumb. Love Wes though !

  13. #12

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    Sloppy and inefficient.

  14. #13

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    For me it really depends on whether I'm playing a steel string or a nylon string guitar.

    If it's a steel string guitar I will use a pick because I don't want to wear down my nails which steel strings will do.

    If it's a nylon string guitar I will use classical guitar technique where my nails have a lot to do with the sound coming out of the guitar - and I know they aren't going to be worn down.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    I've always used a pick, but I just bought a crossover thumbpick and plan on trying to learn to use it and my fingers. So far it's very difficult. I need lots more practice. On the upside, it's completely usable as a flatpick while on my thumb, so I can slide into it slowly. It works well for strumming chords.
    I'm using a Crossover pick now too. For a week or so now. Like it a lot. Amazed by it, really. Will make a video in another week or so. It solves my greatest problem with playing guitar: keeping the pick in place! (Picks always seem to "turn around" while I'm playing. Never drop them, but they move around and it causes an inconsistency that frustrates me.)

    Here's a live video of Ron Eschete playing with one. A blues in Db. Not an attempt to show all the pick can do but the film angle does show a lot of his right hand using the pick. Ron's not what one normally thinks of as a thumb picker...(I don't know why he started using a Crossover pick, frankly.)

  16. #15

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    He's using it for hybrid picking. That's pretty much what I want to learn to do. It's ideal for hybrid picking, using the pick a lot but adding in the fingers now and then, or even often.

  17. #16

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    My experience that I've seen with a few friends and definitely see with my own playing: The older you get and the longer you play jazz guitar, the closer you get to going all thumb.

    I used to comp with pick and fingers, but almost exclusively come with either pick or thumb now. For single note lines, I either use my kinda hacky benson-esque approach, or thumb.

    Here's a video of my picking style

  18. #17

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    Very interesting Tim

    what's the guitar in that video Tim ?

    I like it

  19. #18

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    I use a mix of pick and fingers, sometimes together, sometimes just pick, sometimes just fingers, and sometimes thumb. I don't know which to call my "primary" style. It never occurred to me to, uh, pick just one.


  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    Very interesting Tim

    what's the guitar in that video Tim ?

    I like it
    Its a Grez, Grez Guitars | Custom Guitars | Petaluma, CA

  21. #20

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    Nylonstring guitar- no picks
    jazz guitar/hollow body/- no picks...but I started to use pick 4 weeks ago...

  22. #21
    Thank you for the responses!

    Unexpected results. I would have thought hybrid was more popular as it gives you both fingerpicking and the pick. But I find my 'claw' doesn't feel as natural and fluid as fingerpicking.

    Overwhelmed by the amount of people who use pure fingerstyle. Very unexpected.

  23. #22

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    I use a 1.0 Wegen; down stroke works for me because I like to limit how I play against the other instruments. I used to play mostly Western Swing or Cowboy Jazz, and I noticed most of the guitarist did this "hit the root bass note, then down stroke on the next beat, never up down, up down," kind of thing. One of my Western Swing Mentors, fiddler Cotton Roberts, told me once "Boy, you're a good picker, just remember your right hand is a good dog, it'll follow what you do with your left hand." Lead breaks depends on the tempo; slower tempo I like down stoking the notes, adding a bit of syncopation when it fits, for faster- "quick steps" I use a type of Bluegrass Flat Picking technique.
    Last edited by Donnie; 02-08-2018 at 06:01 PM.

  24. #23

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    Hybrid. Hybrid and stylistically anarchic

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLerch
    Thanks its very nice

  26. #25

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    Pick for soloing and (usually) fingers for comping. A lot of times for comping, I'll hold the pick in my teeth, so I can use all the fingers on my right hand. I like being able to hit all the notes of the chord together, instead of a strum. But I'll switch to strumming if things get loud or especially energetic.