I was taught this technique by several guitarists/singers who were playing on the London folk scene in then ’60s (Bunjies club, Les Cousins Club etc). My stage name was Mark McCann.”Pick and Flick” is a technique used by acoustic guitarists who wish to add rhythm to their music by adding a simulated “snare drum beat”. I may even have coined this term myself. I seem to remember that I did but it was a long while ago… I certainly did not invent the technique. It is accomplished by a sharp striking of the strings near the bridge usually with the second finger nail of the right hand. The first time I saw the technique in its infancy was when used by Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Davy Graham and others. They used it intermittently for effect but it was perfected by the wonderful Nic Jones later. His album “Penguin Eggs” with tracks like canadee-i-o and farewell to the gold are supreme examples of mastery of the technique. Nic kept a steady “snare beat” throughout the songs and developed a completely unique style.
I have used it in my folk albums and have a great friend (and wonderful musician) Andy Wahlberg who uses his own version of it using a variety of fingers. He often appears to use three fingers of his right hand to produce the beat, striking with all three fingers simultaneously. Andy plays gigs primarily in the Naples Florida area of the USA but also plays many venues all over the states. I also play gigs now in the Naples area and give guitar lessons.
To produce the sound it is necessary to bounce the fingers off selected strings near the bridge so that the beat rings for a while and is not damped by the finger or fingers resting on the strings. I have found it useful to embed the second finger into the ball of flesh under the thumb before flicking the finger. This produces some slight resistance and gives the flick a sharper and more explosive character.
After Googling the term Pick and Flick I now see that there are one or two other techniques that have come later which have been given this name. They are not what this article is about so if you are interested in this article I seriously suggest listening to the Nic Jones album I mentioned before. He is undoubtedly the finest and the first to really perfect Pick and Flick.
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