In an effort to be more precise in my picking, I started using jazz picks, the little ones with sharp point. I was getting good results, in that my picking got more accuracy, less fluffs and mis-hits. Got a bit faster too, which is a good thing. But the downside for me is that the tip of my index finger on the picking hand (right), is constantly making contact with the strings. This has caused my fingernail to be shaved down to the quick and now the skin on the very tip is shredding off. It calluses up but after a couple hours playing, the top layers are peeling off in sections. Another layer, it would be bleeding.
As much as I like the jazz pick, I'm going to have to go back to larger, more standard sizes. Anybody else have this issue?
I've been using Jazz III picks since about '94/'95. I've never had your problem but inadvertently, over the years, I've learnt how to get the most out of the closeness of the fingers to the strings. They are great for pinch harmonics and after years I've learnt how to control it. When I started I kept on randomly doing it which I hated but now I love it.
You are correct, control of picking dynamics does improve, at least from my experience once I adjusted to them (compared to regular size picks that aren't as thick).
Lefty Rev provides good advice with larger Jazz picks but I recommend you should stick with the smaller ones becasue eventually your problem wont be a problem.
I got an assortment of Ernie Ball Prodigy picks, which are 2mm thick with beveled edges. A couple of them are possibilities, and there is a larger jazz type in the mix. What I don't understand is what changed in my picking style. Up till a year ago, I never had this problem. It may simply be that I'm playing more now than I used to.
One thing you can try is to change to way you position your hand, because you may be leading with the fingernail and it strikes the strings before the pick does. Try this:
Hold the pick as you normally do with your fingers curled into the palm in the playing position. Rotate your forearm counter-clockwise (like an axle) about five or eight degrees. You can see how this subtly changes your hand position over the strings, and you can feel it in the wrist. This should flatten out the palm just a bit, extend the pick to the strings without extending the pick in your normal grip, and prevent the nail from hitting the string.
Changing something this funamental to your playing is not easy at all. You have to concentrate on your hand position and play slowly. Practice alternate picking like this while keeping the hand flatter in relation to the plane of the strings. When it comes to strumming, it's even more difficult to maintain this new approach because you tend to put the right hand oon autopilot.
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I always keep my right-hand nails long for fingerpicking. As such I worked my way around your problem long ago; I just curl the index finger so that last bone is closer to being parallel to the strings. On the other hand (well, same hand but, you know...), I can get a cool "double-pick" sound.
Some good ideas here! I did look at my picking hand as I "normally" play. A little curl of the middle, ring & Pinky, but my index finger is pointed almost straight down at the strings. I'm going to work on getting all the fingers curled towards the palm, like a loose fist, with the last bone is close to parallel with the strings. Just trying it out, I did not feel the tip of the index finger touch the strings at all. Feels very awkward right now, but I don't know how well I can fix a bad habit like this. If it doesn't work, I'll just learn to live with a shredded finger tip.