Fingerpicks - recommendations

Hi dear guitar friends, I’m currently thinking about my way to go while fingerpicking. I’m not blessed with strong finger nails and everytime I have my nails at a lenghth that would be useful for fingerpicking one or more break. I usually prefer keeping my nails quite short anyway and I’m no friend of fake nails as well due to all that chemical stuff. So I decided to pick with my fingerpads. That worked in the beginning, more or less satisfying, but the more I get into it, the more unsatisfied I am. The conditions of my fingertips change from day to day and so does the feeling I have while picking. Picking individual strings isn’t that much of a problem, but picking chords is rather difficult, as I get an inconsistant tone, too soft or too loud and often dull.
I already have two sets of D’Addario and Dunlop metal fingerpicks (0,18’') (metal for better adjustment) but I’m not happy with them, as I feel like Edward Scissorhands…
It’s a bit like a cling/scratch experience. I know, that there are picks from different materials, maybe with a warmer tone, but I don’t know if plastic ones really fit.
What are your experiences? I would prefer to play without any, but don’t have an idea how to deal with only fingerpads. Or is it only to get used to finger picks? Are there any you can recommend? Anyone who tried Alaska fingerpicks?

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Hoi Andrea,
I myself am a proponent of just using your fingertips without nails…that is the most consistent and you always have it with you…but it takes some perseverance because (I) find it more difficult than with longer nails, which I tried in the beginning … it’s easier to pick wrong with just your fingertips



i just use fingertips. nails always chip and catch if i try it that way. and i tried finger picks and that was just too awkward

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@roger_holland Rogier, I’m also much more for fingertips/pads. Plucking/picking with fingerpads works for me better on electric, but I’m not happy with it on acoustic. Might be caused by the string tension on acoustic with 12 gauge. I do a lot outdoors, including water sports or winter sports, so my fingertips are not always in the same condition. Sometimes they are too soft, then they get rougher, it changes. OK, perseverance, as always… :wink:.


Same for me, I just don’t feel comfortable. Seems as it was a thing of practice, practice, practice…

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Hi @Helen0609, I was in the same situation a few months ago. I was playing more and more fingerstyle and I wanted more volume. However, I had tried fingerpicks in the past and, yeah, they are pretty awkward. I learned to play with them pretty well at one point, but I got out of the habit and decided that I was too lazy to try to relearn them.

So, I decided to grow my nails on my picking hand. You don’t need much of a nail to really increase the volume, so I’ve only grown them a little. They do require maintenance: I file them a couple of times a week to keep them the right shape. If they get broken or nicked, I file them smooth, but since they are not very long at all, they haven’t given me much trouble.

I really like playing with nails now. Recently, in a moment of distraction, I filed them too short and could not really play fingerstyle for 4 or 5 days. Not sure I could ever go back to the finger pads. :slight_smile:

Good luck with whatever choice you make.

  • Fingertip
  • Nails
  • (metal ) fingerpicks

0 voters

my imagination went wild making this and it probably won’t help you, but I had my fun here at home…Greetings


Roger’s found a new toy ! :rofl:

I have tried Thumb picks for acoustic blues but still not bonded with them, so sticking to fingers. I’ve gone down the nail tip cul de sac a few times but seem to have a nail length that is working consistently. But filing the “right” shape seems to help, well my current shape does.

I can sympathise with Andrea on the tip issue living a semi aquatic life style (not me). Going through the old Beginners course I used to do the dishes one handed for over a year to keep my fretting hand dry !!



You must have had very clean dishes :rofl: the easier option would have been to buy a dishwasher and celebrate the purchase with a NGD topic :wink:


What !!! Not this luddite ! The stable was already growing back then :rofl:

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:joy: :rofl:
I just nearly choked on my drink…still
cough and chuckle


@jjw1 Hey John!

Volume isn’t that much of a problem for me, it’s more the imbalance in tone due to the different conditions of my fingerpads.

My problem is, that my fingertips are quite long, to get my nails just as long as my fingertips are, they must have much more than 5mm and if I have them as long, they break or split. And then you have 2 nails long, 2 nails shorter…
@TheMadman_tobyjenner Thanks Toby! My thumb so far works well :slightly_smiling_face:, can get nice basses. But my hands and fingers often are stressed due to what you call a “semi aquatic life”. Cool expression, have to memorize this one… I also should stop doing all that domestic chores, cost a lot of time that could be better used for guitar related things :joy:.

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@roger_holland My dear Rogier! Thanks for adding my request a higher, more scientifical aspect :joy: :clap:!

Is it ever different? Keep that child in you! :hibiscus:


Hello Andrea, what an interesting question. I’m playing fingerstyle nearly all the time, as I love being in direct contact with the strings. To be honest, I’ve never given much thought to the fact that there is kind of an inconsistant string sound. As I’m blessed with quite strong fingernails, I just have to keep an eye on their lenght and a bit on their shape. If a nail breaks (yes, that’s happening with strong nails, too :grin:), I cut the other ones as well and play with my fingerpads for some days. That’s okay for me, too :innocent:.
I realized, that I’m more concerned by the difference in string sound when they (the strings) get a bit older. Some still sound nice, others (particularly the G string) already a bit dull :face_with_diagonal_mouth:.

I’ve never tried fingerpicks. So, cannot give any feedback on them.
Maybe @tony and @think2100 can share their experience :slightly_smiling_face:.

I just started again with some fingerstyle to learn Justin’s “Silent Night” Fingerstyle version and I also love the direct connection of my fingers with the strings. My main problem is, that when I pluck/pick several strings at a time, I often don’t get those strings ringing out properly together. Plucking individual strings is not so much of a problem. It feels as if the “grip” of every finger varies, that makes it hard to pluck the strings evenly. Currently I see no way of playing with picks, they are really awkward.
I recently bought a second acoustic with a wider nut width (very nice, I know I have to create a NGD post :see_no_evil: :wink:) but it currently has gauge 12 strings, which don’t make it easier, at least for me. I feel picking for me is easier with a lighter gauge. I hope being able to sort this out.

There are also plastic / nylon fingerpicks instead of the metal ones.

I have always been first and foremost a fingerstyle player. I keep both my fretting and picking hand nails really short and on my picking hand play with my flesh pads / finger tips, and definitely not nails.

Personally I like the sound much better. I cringe when I play with some friends who play with a plectrum and strum particularly hard.

For about 4 years I used a thumb pick with all but one of my 30 or so fingerstyle songs, but with my newest guitar being a jumbo size and giving more bass, I’ve gone back to just using my plain thumb without picks except for one song that just needs a thumb pick. (Guy Clarke’s The Cape).

My choices in guitar is shaped a lot because of the quieter playing that fingerstyle without picks results in. I need a guitar with good projection (volume). A relative bought a new guitar recently and while it suits their playing with a plectrum, it was really ghastly for my fingerstyle as volume goes, there was very little.

Mark Knopfler has commented that the best guitar amplifier is a pick. He’s certainly nailed it with that comment.

I personally really like the sound of my fingerstyle with the pads of my fingers. My wife, who accompanies me on her ukulele at times appreciates it as it doesn’t overpower her uke like other guitars (esp with plectrums) do.

As far as difference in string sound, I use elixir coated strings and notice little difference over time. When I do change the strings (every 3 or so months) I usually notice it’s a bit brighter and kick myself for being lazy and not changing them sooner. Although recently with one of my guitars I hardly noticed any difference. By the time I change the strings the coating gets quite fuzzy where I pick.

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Check out a brand of fingerpicks called aLaska

Some love em some hate them. They are better than the metal or plastic ones that wrap up your finger tip

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Thanks, Jonathan!

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Certainly! I hope they work out for ya.

I had already seen those Alaska Picks, see original post, they come in different sizes, don’t know how they fit or how to get the right size…
I think, I’ll try to improve my technique first… so many people play with finger pads… practice, practice, practice…

Yeah it’s hard to find a local place that sells them. I ended up buying all the sizes off Amazon and then returned what didn’t fit right.

At this point I just grew my nails out. It’s ridiculously better than any finger pick I have ever used. Sounds better too.

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