90 percent of my playing is fingerpicking but whenever I have to play a rock tune I have to use a pick. I can fingerpick with my ring and middle fingers while holding the pick with my thumb and index but just can’t do many of the things I do when I play without a pick. What I’m missing is the power you get when playing power chords, etc. Has anyone been able to play rock strictly finger style ?
Sure you can!
You'll need a little bit of nail on your index finger and thumb, but you don't need much.
You pinch your thumb and index finger together as if you were holding a pick. Use the index fingernail for downstrokes and the thumbnail for upstrokes.
Also check out Andy Martin
Edit: This is what I do unless a gig requires a pick specifically. I mostly use index nail down, thumb nail up. For tremolo or other fast stuff, I might switch to just the index nail up and down. But I try to use all the nails at least a little, in an effort to distribute the stress and break fewer nails. For a lighter rhythm strum, you can strike Ukulele style and kind of slap the strings with all four nails at once and the flick the thumb nail back up for the upstroke.
Keep the nails as short as possible that still gets you the tone you need. Long floppy nails break. Keep them filed smooth. Nails with sharp edges chip. Chipped nails crack and break.
For more power, try downstrokes with index and middle nails combined. It gives you a super chunky attack because the effect on the string is like picking with the flat side of a triangle pick.
The most attractive feature of simulating pick styles without a pick is it allows you to seamlessly transition to other finger-only styles without having to juggle a pick at all.
I've always just used my fingernail like a pick - not because I need to be able to also play fingerstyle, but rather more mundanely because I once lost my pick right before a gig & had to try it.
I've stuck with it ever since.