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RE: Attn: Guitarists

Dear Michael,

Your message is so humble.
You are probably a master musician on your
first instrument. (Bass ?)

Many guitarists wish that they can use their
fingers to pick the strings, like that guy....
what's his name... from Dire Straits...Mark...
Anyways, think of it this way.
Guitarists stuck with only knowing how to use
the pick versus 5 different fingers to pick
the strings.  Just ask the great John Williams,
There is a world of difference.
Even John Mclaughlin and Al Dimeola look up to the great
Paco DeLucia, the Flamenco guitar master, who picks
(oops, excuse me, plucks) every blistering 64th note triplets
with a smile on his humble face.

There's no comparison.  Of course you'll want
to have good strong, well kept, smooth finger nails
to produce the nice tone but even one of the greatest
composer named Fernando Sor, a very close friend
of Dionisio Aguado, the master classical guitar performer,
played with the skin of his fingers and produced
nice enough tone to perform throughout Europe during
the late 1800's.

Since you will be using your new Raptor Electric Guitar,
producing a nice tone should be easy with proper
EQ-ing, if you are using the skin of your fingers to produce
the contact on the strings, which usually is a duller sounding
result and sloppy string vibration.

Producing the sharp, crisp attack on the string is important
even though you are playing an electric guitar.

Cultivating and Maintaining the quality of your finger
nails will be the key to good tone and precise attack
on the strings.  The speed will come later as you adjust
to the spaces between the strings and the position of your
hand (placing and angle of your attack).

I recommend a slight tilt of the hand position to the strings
(about 50 degree) with your fingers towards the fretboard.
This will allow your finger nails to slide off the strings
without catching.
Attacking the strings at a 90 degree, at perpendicular,
should be avoided.  This will only cause tension on your wrist
and good tone and contact/release will be difficult.
It is also important that the headstock of the guitar should be
at the level of your ear so that your left hand (if you are
right handed) is free to maneuver around the fretboard without
having to support the guitar neck while grasping for strings.

Any one line runs or scales should be struck with rotating
fingers, using i (indice, point finger) & m (medio, middle),
i & a (anular, 3rd finger) or any combination there of, using
rest strokes at first, anchoring the p (pulgar, thumb) and
letting the finger rest on the adjacent string after contact, then
free strokes, to recycle the finger after hitting without resting
on the adjacent string, as you become confident with the space
between your fingers and the strings, freeing the pulgar to add
to your picking.

Avoid repeating same finger in consecutive succession.
This will lead you to an abyss of bad habits and your best
result will be your friends calling you Mr. Twitch. (j/k)

Before you get the habit of just using the pick, let
your instinct guide you and explore the unlimited possibility
of using your fingers to pluck.
I recommend taking a classical guitar class.  It will provide
you with the basic technics which will mold your playing
style.  If not, use the above few examples and you'll get
a firm start.

Just remember, since you have given yourself 4 more picking
apparatus, think about harmonies, 2 - 3 voice composition,
and different texture you can create, whether plucking or
Try using thicker gage strings which will feel more sturdy
to your fingers, such as .10 or above (I'm referring to high E).

FYI, these are technics I've learned from my 8 years of
Classical Guitar study and I feel confident about the a/m
technics and tips but seek advise from others who may offer
you even a clearer and better approach.

Have fun with your new guitar and drop me a line if
you have a question.

Steve (Curbie)

-----Original Message-----
From:   Michael S. Yoder [SMTP:myoder@tamiu.edu]
Sent:   Friday, April 16, 1999 10:53 AM
To:     Loopers-Delight@annihilist.com
Subject:        Attn: Guitarists

I apologize if this is not appropriate for the list, but. . . . .

After the series last week on different instruments for looping, I decided
to expand beyond bass, and so I bought an electric guitar!!!  I'm now
teaching myself to play it (it's a Peavey "Raptor" which is basically a
Stratocaster copy.)

The question I have:  how many guitarists play solid body guitars of the
strat type with their fingers?  I find that a pick is awkward, and my
instinct is to  pluck, etc. with my fingers.  Am I making a mistake by
foregoing the pick?  Should I spend the time getting used to the pick?  It
sounds like Leni Stern plays (I think a strat) with her fingers, but I
can't recall hearing anyone else that sounds like that.

To those kind guitarists who wish to respond, please feel free to answer me
privately.  Thanks!!!

Dr. Michael S. Yoder
Assistant Professor of Geography,
Coordinator of Urban Studies
Texas A&M International University
5201 University Blvd.
Laredo, TX  78041
Tel. (956) 326-2634; FAX (956) 326-2464