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  1. #1

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    I don't know any other "jazz" players who use Alaska Piks. Other than "me". I have talked them up to some players, but no one wants to go there. I started using these maybe 10 + years ago, tried them in any way that seemed useful.

    Maybe some "big name cats" use these for jazz, IDK. Not that I know of.

    Currently, I have this setup, gigworthy: Thumbnail cut short & smoothed down. Index finger, older Alaska Pik that is broken in. It handles the task of a flatpick if needed, up & down strokes work great, easy to play fast. Pretty loud sound. Middle finger, nail cut almost off, & smoothed down, similar to thumb. Those two, thumb & middle, together give you a mellow sound. Middle finger with basically no nail produces a soft sound, you have to use a rest stroke to get a louder sound with it. Ring finger, a newer Alaska Pik, mainly plucks notes on the higher strings, can be used for strumming. Loud sound. Can be used on the wound strings. Pinky has a brass Alaska Pik, REAL fat & loud sound on the unwound strings, scratchy on wound strings. Hit the wound strings with that one, only for a special effect.

    For chord/rhythm playing, you can flail away at the strings with various combinations. Giving you, the player, a huge range of tones & dynamics.

    Even with all this, you can still hold & use a flatpick. Question is, what to do with it when you want to stash it? Probably will be using it only once in a while. Sticking in mouth, I did as a teen. No. I recently tried one of those Ernie Ball pick holders; stays on the guitar maybe 5 minutes before falling off onto the ground. To me now, flatpick seems more trouble than it's worth.
    Attached Images Attached Images Alaska Piks, pretty handy, I like 'em-finger-piks-jpg 
    Last edited by Donelson; 05-05-2019 at 01:06 AM.

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  3. #2

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    How long do they last for you and any blood circulation problems or looseness?

    I use nail coatings for mine like a poor version of what a nail salon would do. I like them but I don't like redoing them every week and a half so I'm looking for something easier and less toxic.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by P4guitar View Post
    How long do they last for you and any blood circulation problems or looseness?
    I started out like you, maybe 10 years ago, trying to use the nail products to toughen those nails & get a pleasing sound. Quite a bit of hassle & work. That is how I came across these "piks", looking at forums etc.

    I would recommend the large size, they are not too tight. Fit on all fingers except pinky. They stay put,
    *IF* you let the nail underneath grow out. If you cut that nail too short the piks will want to pop off. [If you let that nail grow out too much, you will get a weird crappy double attack on notes. Got to check that every so often.]

    The plastic ones are made of nylon or some similar thing. You can shape & polish them like you would a fingernail. They will get divots after a lot of use, same as a fingernail. That being said, they last quite a while. Not an expensive product; you can get a bunch of them & not feel much $$ pain. They WILL crack if you try to squeeze or stretch them out. Once one is cracked, toss it. I have not had to toss one in a long time though.

    The brass ones can be bent/shaped to fit the finger. Once you get those polished up they are like maintenance-free. Drag is, they have a scratchy sound on the wound strings. Flatwounds, maybe OK; roundwounds, too harsh & scratchy for me. The plastic ones aren't all that scratchy, especially once they are polished & broken in. Pretty smooth sound.

    P.S. you might wonder, "Why doesn't he use a "pik" on the middle finger too?" What I found after trying these for years, is that having the plastic/nylon ones on 2 contiguous fingers, creates a weird feeling, like they crash into each other & thereby mess up your playing feel. Probably less of an issue on a wide spaced classical guitar. The brass one I use on the pinky, does not have that issue. Maybe because the pinky is so much shorter than the other fingers. Also the materials are so different.

  5. #4

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    Thanks for your response. Based on your experience, I think I'll pass on these picks for the time being and resign myself to acetone baths and plastic nail coatings, they look awful after a week but play great.

  6. #5
    I was an early adopter of Alaska Piks back in the waning years of the 20th century. Somewhere I have a small box of protypes from the inventor Ken Purcell.

    My classical guitar and I left the conservatory in 1980 and once outside those walls, I discovered the guitarists who were fingerpicking intricate arrangements of ragtime and the like on steel string guitars. My nails were no match, and the experiment with caustic materials nearly cost me my nails entirely!

    Enter the godsend of Alaska Piks. All the fingertip awareness of the Segovia technique wrapped in a nearly indestructible package. One on each of i, m and a. All whittled down and polished like glass. On my thumb a Kelly Slick Pick, similarly filed and polished. All extend beyond the flesh by only a few millimeters.

    Eric Skye uses Alaska Piks, by the way.

    My classical right hand on a guitar my neighbor built playing a Jerry Reed tune:



  7. #6

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    Michael - VERY nicely done!

    A question. How do you go about shaping/polishing your Alaska Piks? To me it seems like I am trying to sand/file semi-fresh chewing gum.

    Thanks.

    dave
    Gibson ES-175D
    Eastman AR905CD-BD
    Jesus Marzal Classical (Cedar)
    Ashley Sanders Classical (Spruce)
    Garcia Classical (mostly used as wall art)
    Yamaha SLG200NW Nylon-Electric

  8. #7
    Out of the box, the picks are too long so while the picks are on my fingers most of the material is removed with nail clippers. Then I shape the contour with an emory board and round the edges with a nail file. Remove the picks from your fingertips and smooth everything out with fine steel wool, finish and polish with a finishing block from a nail salon supply shop.

  9. #8

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    Michael - thanks.

    dave
    Gibson ES-175D
    Eastman AR905CD-BD
    Jesus Marzal Classical (Cedar)
    Ashley Sanders Classical (Spruce)
    Garcia Classical (mostly used as wall art)
    Yamaha SLG200NW Nylon-Electric

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky View Post
    Out of the box, the picks are too long so while the picks are on my fingers most of the material is removed with nail clippers. Then I shape the contour with an emory board and round the edges with a nail file. Remove the picks from your fingertips and smooth everything out with fine steel wool, finish and polish with a finishing block from a nail salon supply shop.
    OP here, Michael, I do a similar thing with the nylons "Piks". I don't cut them as short as a real fingernail though, leave them fairly long. Reason, the soft material wears away before too long. I mainly use a diamond nail file for shaping & then those 4-sided nail buffing things to smooth them out. Stuff you can get at Kroger's etc. A must for me, is to clip off parts of the sides with large nail clippers. Also, years ago I tried all the different sizes, S, M, L. For my fingers, L is the only usable one. The others are too tight.

    I suppose the reason I made this thread is, fairly recently I discovered that I could successfully put one of these on my index finger & do fast & accurate alternate picking, like with a normal guitar pick, with a fat & loud sound. Supporting that with the thumb makes it easier to get used to, but you can do it "free" also. Doesn't fall off ever, at least not yet for me. I have tried this in public a handful of times, with a big band, and a fusion group. Gigworthy IMO.

    I am not an expert fingerpicker, more of a single note/strum guy who also plucks.

    I contacted the company that makes these several years ago, to see if they had ever thought of using Delrin/Acetal for a material; much sturdier. I got a reply; basically, "if we used that, we would sell fewer, because they would last too long". Lol! I like honesty. The brass ones last maybe forever, but to me they only sound good on plain strings; too raspy on wounds. I use one of those on my pinky.