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Watch the The Thumbpick online guitar lesson by TrueFire from Play Acoustic Guitar 5: Fingerstyle Principles

The Thumbpick - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Tommy Emmanuel and is sourced from Fingerstyle Milestones.


I'd like to talk about thumbpicks and how to use them and the different kinds. The thumbpicks that I like are the Jim Dunlop thumbpicks. I also have other thumbpicks that are made by Jim Dunlop that have my signature on them. I like this plastic, strong, thick thumbpick. There are a lot of different kinds of thumbpicks and you have to find what works for you. Make sure that it's not too loose, that it sits nice and tight, yet doesn't give you the blue finger. If a thumbpick is too tight, it will cut off the circulation and the end of your thumb will go cold and sometimes they go blue. I think that's why Jerry Reed wrote the song Blue Finger because he was wearing a thumbpick that was too tight. You've got the Fred Kelly picks, which are softer. They don't suit me, but a lot of people use them. The Jim Dunlop are the ones that I like the most. These work for me. They shouldn't be too long and they should just sit nicely. There's also a lot to be said for playing without a thumbpick. Quite a lot of the songs that I play, I take the thumbpick off and just use the flesh of my thumb. The reason I do that is because it gives it a softer, gentler sound. In the Robert Johnson blues style or Eric Clapton - you can see that he doesn't use a thumbpick. What he does is gets his thumb under the string and pops it out and give it that funky kind of edge. So that's another way of using your thumb. That's what I wanted to tell you about thumbpicks, experiment, go to music shops and try twenty different thumbpicks until you feel it is sitting good. Sit and play some songs and get it to where you feel where you can rely on that thumbpick to be sounding good and sitting in the right spot. So it's up to you. Some people have small hands. My wife has very small hands. She wants to play fingerstyle the same as I do. In order to find her a thumbpick that's small enough - she just found this thumbpick in a store and then put a little electrcal tape on it to make it tighter. So if you find most thumbpicks are too big for you, find one that is close and then put a little bit of tape on it and make it tight on your finger. It's a way of being clever and inventive to help you play better and play your music better, so that's a good idea.