Experience with Alaska Picks

Hello, 

For the next few weeks, I will comment on my experience learning to use the Alaska picks playing classical guitar. At this point of time, I am looking for something that I can use as a temporary solution when I have one or more damaged nails.

 

Here is a video of someone that used them for several years on classical, acoustic and electric guitar. 

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  • I will follow your experiment!  I used Alaska Piks for decades when my focus was steel string guitar, I thought they were a godsend!  I modified their shape significantly and used them on i, m and a.  For p, a heavily modified Kelly Slick Pick was the answer.  The net effect was minimal change to my right hand "geometry" as compared to the classical right hand. However, I've put  the Alaska Piks aside since returning to classical guitar three years ago. Good luck!

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    • Andre Bernier 

      For the Carcassi challlenge, I used the large pics for the i, m, a fingers and no pics for the thumb.

      I tried to shape them close to what I used to have with my natural fingers. 

      Here is a picture of the i finger pics with and without shaping:

      1- See that my finger nail does not fit completely the bottom part of the pic. Despite that I did not experience problems keeping them in place

      2- I am not happy with the shaping I did. I will again with a new one with no modification and see how it works.

      3- The unmodified pic is a bit too long for me but I will try to see if I can get used to that length.

      4- When you put them on your finger, there is a kind of ''belly'' under your finger that can give some problems. Over time , I will check with other brands if I can get some that would get completely around the finger.

      5- Before using them, you can squeeze them which makes them fit more tightly.

       

       OK, enough for today......

      Like 1
  • The problem with these picks is you need some nail to hold them on place.  If your damage is such that your nail is too small you need to get glue on nails.  They last two weeks at best before falling off.  So in that sense they are temporary.  

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  • I've used them with very little nail... they really don't need much give the over/under nail attachment. A set would last me months of daily use. 

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    • arifturgan
    • arifturgan
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I tried couple years ago, they are not stabil.. Moving while picking.. İf ı put small size then not moving but it is not comfortable squeeze my fingers 

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    • Barney
    • Barney
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Thanks Andre for providing us with this information.  It's great to know more about the options available and experiences of players in our community. 

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    • Ronnull
    • Ron.3
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Thanks for sharing Andre, it will be interesting to see how you find them.

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    • Jim King
    • Retired
    • Jim_king
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Andre Bernier Thanks for posting Andre.  Looking forward to see how well you make out with them over the next little while.

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  • Hello,

    This last week, I decided to add a pick for the thumb.

    So far, I feel it is progressing well with the i, m, a, fingers but I found it very difficult to get used to it with the Thumb.

    For the next few weeks; I will not try to learn a new piece but just go back on the pieces I learned last year and see how it works with the Alaska picks.

    😉

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    • Carlo Martins
    • A scientist with a passion for the study of proteins
    • Carlo_Martins
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Listening to your playing during the Carcassi challenge makes me think they are doing a good job in terms of tone. I wonder if the difficulty with the thumb is due to the fact that, with this finger, we change more often between free and rest stroke?

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  • I have now about 10 days experience using the Alaska picks.

    I started using picks shaped close to what I was doing with my normal nails. 

    I then tried a few days using unmodified picks. This was very, very, very difficult as they felt way too long for me.

    I went back to the picks shaped like my nails and started using one for the thumb. 

    So far it is going fairly well for the i,m,a fingers but it is still a challenge for the thumb. I just need more time to get used to positioning my hand and thumb  differently. 

     

    Here is a video of F. Sor - Op 60 no 1 that I learned last year.  I will work on few other pieces and come back with other videos and comments.

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  • Over the last two weeks, I kept experimenting with the Alaska picks.

    I made few more recordings during that period using pieces I learned last year.

     

    I am currently getting ready to record a couple more pieces with the actual picks. From there I will try a new set with slightly modified shape and see if I can improve the performance.

    I also purchased a set of the Original Alaska picks from ''strings by mail'' . They are much more expensive than what you can buy on Amazon but they are made from a plastic similar to what is used for standard guitar picks. They are stiffer and will probably sound better. However I want to wait I finalized my idea on the shape before using them .

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  • May 6th,

    I have been doing this experiment for 3 weeks now and I am fairly happy with the results so far. I am gradually getting used to them and even use them with my acoustic guitar.

    On top of having to get used to them; you need to record yourself to get an idea of how each finger sounds and make adjustments on the trimming and sanding of the picks.

    At this point, I feel this is a good option to permanently replace the use of natural nails. We just need to be patient. Like for a new technique; it just takes time and dedicated practice.

     

    Today, I will attend the Webinar with  Brandon Acker. Maybe this will change my mind....😉  

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  • May 8th

     

    Brandon's Webinar was very interesting but I am not convinced yet to return to play without nails.

    I will keep experimenting with the Alaska picks for some time.

    One thing I noticed when listening to some of my recordings was a strong scratching from my index picks when playing a wounded string. I decided to change the slope (length and angle) of that finger picks and the issue is almost completely gone.

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      • Jim King
      • Retired
      • Jim_king
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Andre Bernier Good to hear that you have found a solution for the scratching sound.  Hope to see your angle of attack of the right hand in the next set of videos where you use the Alaska picks.

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  • June 4th -2024

    This will likely be my last post on this subject.

    After experimenting for more than a month with the Alaska picks; I have to say that I am impressed by how fast you can get used to it. My original intention was to use them when I break a nail but now I feel I can use them all the time on both the classical guitar and acoustic guitar. The only difference is that I do not use a pick on the thumb with the classical guitar. For those interested here are few tips that could help you getting used to them faster:

    • They replace your nails; then they should be shaped like your nails using the same tools and polishing them the same way. Each pick needs to be dedicated to a specific finger identified for that finger and shaped accordingly.
    • You still need some (not much) finger nails because this allows you to support the pick when plucking the string. 
    • You can squeeze them before you put them on. This will make sure they are tight enough.
    •  If you decide to try them; make sure you only use them for about a month starting with simple pieces of music you know well. You will find that your right hand position will slightly change over time to adapt to the new nails.
    • After a period of time; I felt that using the picks with the thump was way too powerful and decided to just get back to use my thumb with no nails. However; I use the pick on the thumb with my acoustic guitar even when strumming. Again it takes some time to get used to them.

    Good luck  😉

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      • Jim King
      • Retired
      • Jim_king
      • 6 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Andre Bernier Thank you for all of your postings on this subject.  I have found it interesting following your experimentation with the Alaska picks.  You mention that you "feel" that you can use them all of time, does this mean you are going to make this permanent?  I would think going back and forth would be confusing for the hands since you need to adjust the angle of attack a little bit different.

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    • Jim King  You are right; going back and forth always requires a period of adaptation. I am actually using them all the time on my classical and acoustic guitar.

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