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How To Hold a Guitar Pick

How To Hold a Guitar Pick

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If you are just starting to learn guitar, you may not be aware that how you hold the pick matters.

While beginner guitarists may not feel the need to use a pick right off the bat, playing with one and learning how to use it is helpful and recommended. 

In fact, learning how to hold a guitar pick properly is a vital technique that every beginner guitarist should master. Holding the pick the right way will make playing the strings easier.

But if your grip is too loose or too tight, creating the proper sound will be a challenge. Mastering the guitar at any age does require learning chords, but before you jump into the strum, make sure you understand how to hold a guitar and a pick properly.

Even if your fingers are not in the right place, utilizing the proper holding technique for your pick will create a better sound.

Taking guitar lessons from a professional is the best way to learn the proper pick-holding technique.

Many times, self-taught guitar players have developed improper habits for holding their pick. For example, when a guitar player is losing their pick time and time again while strumming, improper pick-holding technique is often to blame.

So, is there a correct way to hold a guitar pick? Definitely! This article will outline how to choose the right pick for you and go through the steps of learning how to hold a guitar pick correctly.

We’ll also provide some tips for changing up your grip to find what’s most comfortable for you.

Choosing the Best Guitar Pick for Beginners

Choosing the right guitar pick begins with understanding the different types of guitar picks since different picks are used in different ways.

First, thinner guitar picks are best for strumming, while thicker picks are used for lead guitar rhythms, electric guitar (for solos), and bass guitar.

There are also “in-the-middle” picks that are not thin but not too thick. These are often the best guitar picks for beginners because they’re not flexible enough to slip in your hands, but not so thick that they catch your guitar strings.

There are different materials used for guitar picks.

You can get a pick that is plastic, metal, or even rubber and each type of material will produce a slightly different sound. In general the stiffer the material the deeper the tone, the more flexible the material, the higher the tone. 

Picks also come in different sizes. The size pick you need will most likely depend on the size of your hand. Experimenting with different sizes, materials, and thicknesses is the best way to find the right guitar pick for you.

Picks aren’t expensive, so try a variety to see what you like. There is no wrong choice for which pick you choose to play with. It is more a matter of which pick feels best in your hands, helps you feel more relaxed, and gives you the sound, strumming, and picking effects you desire.

Keep in mind that flexibility will be most important for learning picking and alternate picking techniques, so a thinner pick that has more bend is often a great choice. Flexible picks are also more forgiving than thicker picks, so if you pull or strum too hard, you don’t risk breaking it.

How to Hold a Guitar Pick Correctly

The pick’s appearance sometimes gives beginning guitarists the wrong impression of how it should be held.

The term “pick” seems to indicate that you should pull the string upwards from underneath it, which would mean you want a firm grip on the pick. However, that is not the proper technique for picking.

Instead, you should approach the strings with your pick from an angle. The force will have a better balance if you’re holding the pick at a decent angle when you strike the string. 

Here are four things to keep in mind:

  1. Your grip should be just firm enough to keep the pick from falling out of your hand. A lighter grip will help your arm stay relaxed.
  2. The placement of your thumb on the pick is key. The pick should come out from the side of your thumb, never the tip.
  3. Start by holding the pick close to its tip. This will give you more control as you practice and get the feel of using a pick.
  4. Remember to move the pick by flicking your wrist up and down, not your fingers.

How to Master Proper Pick Position Step-By-Step

Follow these steps to position the pick properly in your hand:

Step 1:

Hold the pick in your strumming hand, placing it on top of your index finger.

The pick should point in the same direction your finger is pointing.

Step 2:

Put your thumb on top of the pick so that the pick is coming out of the side of your thumb, not the tip.

Close your other three fingers.

Step 3:

Rest the tip of your pick gently on a string with the long side of the pick perpendicular to the string. Pivot your wrist toward the guitar and flick your wrist up and down to strum or pick the strings.

Brush the strings gently but firmly. You don’t want the sound to be weak, but you also want to avoid catching the strings.

Practice some easy guitar songs to help you master the technique.

How Tight to Hold The Pick When Playing Guitar

One of the first things a beginning guitarist must learn is how tight to hold the pick.

The best grip to have when picking is a gentle but firm one. If you hold the pick too tightly or too loosely, you risk losing the pick over and over while strumming or picking.

Most people tend to grasp the pick with their strumming hand, which is also their dominant hand. That way you can easily finger specific notes and chords using your non-dominant hand to hold the strings on the fret.

Take some time to work on the steps of proper tightness and grip on your pick while playing. It’s essential to learn what feels the most comfortable and keeps you from losing your pick.

Once you have chosen your pick and found the proper grip, practice keeping your strumming hand relaxed and exercise good posture, whether sitting or standing.

Learning how to hold your guitar itself correctly is just as important as how you hold your pick, so it’s something every beginner should practice.

How Close to The Tip Do You Hold a Guitar Pick?

Your thumb should take up most of the space on the top of the pick so that it doesn’t move around while you are playing. Holding the pick closer to the tip will give you more control when you’re first learning.

Over time, you can experiment with different positions.

For example, when you are strumming, try holding the pick further away from the tip.

When doing alternate picking or playing a solo with individual notes on the guitar, hold the pick closer to the tip. This gives you much better accuracy control to strike the single notes solidly.

How to Hold a Guitar Pick When Strumming

Whether you strum with your right or left hand, keep your wrist and elbow loose. You want to form the right rhythms and brush the tip of your pick along the strings.

When strumming, you will brush from the thickest to the thinnest strings and hit each one along the way. You can do this fast or slow, depending on if you want to blur the sound together or play more individual sounds per string.

When you pluck the strings, a common way to keep the chord formed is to pick a single note from the chord held by your non-dominant hand.

Then, when you transition between strumming and plucking, you can practice maintaining your chord form so that your shifts have less movement from one chord to the next.

Should I Change the Way I Hold a Guitar Pick?

Also read: Guitar Lessons For the Best Solos of All Time

You may have noticed that every great guitar player holds their pick a little differently. That’s because changing the way you hold your pick can greatly improve your playing.

Even the smallest detail can make a huge difference in how relaxed your arm is.

While having a proper pick hold is an important thing for guitar players, it can vary slightly depending on what works best for the guitarist.

There is no one “right” way to hold a guitar pick, except that you must hold the pick between the thumb and index finger in your picking hand. Once you’ve mastered the basic grip, try changing the way you hold your guitar pick to see what feels most comfortable for you.

Here Are Some Different Pick-Holding Techniques to Try:

The “O” Method

The “O” method involves holding the pick between the pad of the thumb and more towards the side of the index finger. This creates more in an “o” shape, which balances the tone and control of the pick.

The “Pinch” Method

For the “Pinch” method hold the pick between the pads of the thumb and index finger. This technique is more widely used with thinner picks when strumming.

The “Fist” Method

The “Fist” method requires you to hold the pick between the first joint of your thumb, which is under the pad, and the side of the index finger.

This technique is more typically used by bluegrass players and is best for the thicker, heavier picks. You may want to slightly change your grip on the pick depending on how you are playing.

Practicing different pick-holding techniques will help you learn which one works best for you. It will also help you determine how to change your hold depending on what you are playing (strumming, picking).

Depending on the technique or style of music you are playing, this could vary. Learning the best pick hold takes practice.

Consider practicing with an acoustic guitar versus an electric guitar to see which one you find easier for your picking exercises.How To Hold a Guitar Pick 1

Practice and Learn Proper Guitar Pick Holds

Many factors go into holding a guitar pick properly, but the basics are essentially the same.

You might even start by learning how to pluck the strings with your bare fingers to help you get a feel for holding your pick and creating the proper fist with your hand.

If you take guitar lessons online or in person, don’t be afraid to ask questions about proper pick technique. Learn how your arm should fall while holding the pick, how to strum in a specific style of music with a pick, what the strokes should look like when you strum, and so on.

As a student of guitar, practice is the best way to advance your picking skills. Holding the pick properly will eventually become second nature while playing.

As you become more confident, you can work on alternate picking exercises. You’ll be on your way to learning complex guitar solos and reaching Eddie Van Halen status in no time!

One Response

  1. I teach classical guitar, but try to get my students to use a pick in order to be more well-rounded. Your tip about using thinner picks is great! Not only do they not break, but the sound is often more forgiving.

    The different techniques mentioned here are great, and I’ll use these moving forward.

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