Guitarists who don’t use a pick

Most guitar players use a pick – or plectrum – but some find it more comfortable to simply strum with their fingers. Using just your fingers is known as “fingerstyle”  or “fingerpicking”, and is used in classical guitar, as well as folk, country, blues, and rock music. 

Here are some guitarists who said “no pick, no problem”. 

 

“Albert King” by mtphrames is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

 

Albert King

 

 

One of the three “Kings of the Blues” (alongside B.B. and Freddie King), Albert King is revered as one of the most influential blues guitarists ever. As a self-taught, left-handed guitar player, King flipped right-handed guitars upside down and used open drop tunings in his playing. He also played without a pick, because he couldn’t hold onto one, King told Guitar Player magazine.” “I started out playing with one, but I’d be really gettin’ into it, and after a while the pick would sail across the house, King said. “I said to hell with this. So I just play with the meat of the thumb.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Beck

Starting his career as one of the members of The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck stopped using a pick in the 1980s. Instead, he used innovative fingerstyle methods, using his thumb to pluck the guitar strings and his ring finger on the volume knob, while his pinky finger worked the vibrato bar. By adjusting the volume while playing the string, he was able to replicate a human voice. 


Lindsay Buckingham

“Lindsay Buckingham, Stevie Nicks” by dhaun is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham shuns using a pick, outside of occasional use in the studio.”I started playing very young and from early on, the people I was listening to had some element of finger style,” Buckingham told Guitar World in 2012. “It’s just the way I came up. I wasn’t taught. I just sort of figured things out on my own terms. I guess that was one of the ways that I became comfortable and it just kind of set in.”


Derek Trucks

“Derek Trucks” by CLender is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Former Allman Brothers guitarist and current Tedeshi Trucks Band guitarist Derek Trucks plays fingerstyle, like a lot of slide blues guitar players. Using your fingers while playing slide allows you to mute the strings that you aren’t playing to avoid buzzing.


Mark Knopfler

“Mark Knopfler en Bilbao” by aherrero is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Guitarist and singer/songwriter Mark Knopfler, who played in British rock band Dire Straits, started developing his signature fingerpicking style while playing in a band called Brewers Droop. He was hanging out with friends and picked up the only available guitar, an acoustic with a badly warped neck. He found the guitar impossible to play unless he used his fingers. “I was doing things with my fingers that I couldn’t do with a pick – really fast things and what have you,” Knopfler told Guitar Player.

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