Finger Picks - 7 Popular Finger Picks to Clarify Your Fingerpicking

7 Popular Finger Picks to Clarify Your Fingerpicking

Finger picks brighten and clarify your fingerpicking. Using the flesh of your fingers to individually pick the strings usually creates a muted and muddy sound. But by attaching a plectrum to the end of each picking finger, each note is picked with added power and brightness – cutting through more clearly.

In classical guitar, guitarists often grow out their natural nails to achieve this type of power and clarity in their fingerstrokes. Or some use acrylic nails to extend and strengthen their nails.

For many players, though, long fingernails and acrylics are not a good day-to-day option. And, if you’re playing bluegrass, in particular, fingernails are not the traditional way to play guitar, banjo, or dobro.

For these players, finger picks are the best option.

There are a few types of fingerpicks – metal and nylon, traditional shape and some innovative designs. So here is a quick look at 7 popular finger picks that will clarify and brighten your fingerpicking.

(Thumb picks are usually used with finger picks, but have a different design. See this post for recommendations on thumb picks.)


Dunlop 33P.018 Nickel Silver

1. Dunlop 33P.018 Nickel Silver Finger & Thumbpicks.018″

The Dunlop Nickel is the classic finger pick. If you’ve run into finger picks before, this probably what you picture.

These picks are metal, have a very bright sound, and can be molded easily to fit your finger size.

Note: At first glance, these picks look like you attach them as “claws” but they actually go the other way around. The curved metal pick should come up from the pad of your finger toward your nail, mirroring the curve of the flesh of your finger.

>> Buy from Amazon


Dunlop 9020TP Shell Plastic Finger & Thumbpicks

2. Dunlop 9020TP Shell Plastic Finger & Thumbpicks

The Dunlop plastic finger picks have the traditional shape, but are made of plastic. This gives a warmer sound and some flexibility. The flexibility in the plastic (relative to the Dunlop Nickels) means that these feel a bit more “organic” and “natural”.

>> Buy from Amazon


National NP1-8B Finger Pick

3. National NP1-8B Thumb & Finger Pick Pack

The National finger picks are similar to the Dunlop Nickel in shape, and are made of stainless steel for that bright, crisp attack. It’s interesting to note, though, that National packages these with thumb picks made from ABS thermoplastic, which has a little warmer feel and sound. So you get brightness and punch from your fingers, and some softer warmth from you thumb (which is naturally stronger and louder).

>> Buy from Amazon

4. Fred Kelly Picks D7FF-L-3 Delrin Freedom Finger Pick

Right away, you can see this pick looks different. It goes over the whole finger like a sheath, a more comfortable fit. The Fred Kelly pick is made from Delrin, a strong material with still a softer tone.

>> Buy from Amazon


aLaska Pik Finger Picks

5. aLaska Pik Finger Picks

And these picks look even more different! The innovative design is aimed at classical guitarists. The pick comes over the top of the fingernail and the picking edge ends up sitting right below the fingernail. The picking attack can feel more natural with these, because the pick is oriented the way a normal finger nail is.

>> Buy from Amazon


6. Open Design, Metal Finger Picks

With a minimalist approach, these finger picks allow the flesh of your finger tips to work with a thin, metal picking edge. The stainless steel metal can be shaped a bit to fit your finger size and desired position.

>> Buy from Amazon


Ernie Ball Pickey Pickeys Finger Picks

7. Ernie Ball Pickey Pickeys

The Ernie Ball model is similar to our first Dunlop Nickel – but it has a narrower plectrum. These are designed to be light, and yet still give that bright, clear attack. The narrower plectrum tip should also be tested by the player to see how attack and finger position are effected.

>> Buy from Amazon


A Note About Size & Fit

Some finger picks (like the Dunlop Nickels) are adjustable. Others come in sizes, typically Small, Medium, and Large. Read the Q&A sections in the Amazon listing. There’s helpful comments there from folks who have tried different sizes.

Also, a commonly recommended trick for plastic thumb and finger picks is to heat them in hot water and then put them on your thumb/finger to shape them. The hot water softens the material and makes it pliable.


Next Up:

Beginner’s Kit for Dobro Guitar

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Have some more recommendations? Let us know in the comments below!