Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by AG
Holding a guitar pick correctly is an essential part of playing the guitar. Without the right technique, your playing will sound sloppy and lack precision. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of how to hold a guitar pick so you can improve your playing and take your guitar skills to the next level.
To hold a guitar pick, place it between the thumb and the tip of your index finger, ensuring the pointed end extends away from your hand and is aligned with your thumb’s edge for striking the strings. Hold the pick firmly but not too tightly, you can use your middle finger for more support.
How to Hold a Guitar Pick?
When holding a guitar pick properly, the first thing to consider is the position of your picking hand. The hand you use should be the same one you normally pluck strings with, your strumming hand.
You want to hold the guitar pick between your thumb and index finger, with the point of the pick facing in the direction the index finger does and the pick perpendicular to your thumb.
The pick should be resting on the fleshy part of your two fingers before the first joint, not on the nail. This will give you a firm grip and more control over the pick, making it easier to play accurately.
The next thing to consider is the angle at which you are holding the pick. You want to hold the pick at a slight angle, with the point of the pick facing toward the strings. This will give you more control over the pick and makes playing guitar easier and you will be able to play faster and more accurately.
Another important aspect of holding a guitar pick is the amount of pressure you use. You want to hold the pick firmly between your index finger and thump, but not too tightly.
A too firm grip will make it harder to play quickly and accurately, while a loose grip will make it harder to control the pick. The right amount of pressure will vary depending on the type of music you are playing and your personal playing style.
Finally, it’s important to practice regularly and to experiment with different pick-holding techniques and pick styles to find what works best for you. Last but not least there’s not one “correct” way to hold a guitar pick properly, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Everyone has little variations. To hold a guitar pick is a little like holding a pen. We all agree on how not to hold it, but if you look at others you will see that there is still some variation. With practice and experimentation, you’ll find the proper pick technique and perfect style for you.
What Different Guitar Picks Are There?
There are several different types of guitar picks, including finger-picks, thumb-picks and flat picks, which is probably the form most think of when talking about picks.
Flat picks are what we want to talk about here. They can be divided by form into triangular, teardrop, and half-rounded picks. Most picks range in their form between the triangular and teardrop shape.
Each form has its unique characteristics and feel, influenced heavily by the material used, and can produce different sounds depending on the type of music you are playing.
Like I mentioned, next to the form there are also different materials to choose from: the most common is plastic (Celluloid, Nylon, Delrin, Tortex), but there are also ones made of rubber, wood, stone, metal even glass. If you want to know more about the characteristics of all the materials out there, look at this article by guitarpickreviews.
So you see there can be a lot of choices to make. But it is half as bad as it sounds. So here are the most typical shapes you will find with a variety in between.
Triangular Guitar Picks
Triangular guitar picks, also known as “tri-picks,” have a unique shape that features three corners, which can provide a different playing experience than more rounded or teardrop-shaped picks.
Like many others, they are often made of materials such as Celluloid, Delrin, or Tortex, which provide a bright and snappy tone when playing. The triangular shape allows for a comfortable grip and can also help players achieve a more precise attack and control of the strings.
They are particularly useful for fast, intricate playing styles and picking techniques, as the sharp corners allow for quick and precise movement. Some players also find the triangular shape helpful for alternate picking and for playing with a more aggressive style.
Like all picks, they also come in different thicknesses, allowing players to find the perfect pick thickness for their playing style. Triangular guitar picks are less common than the more rounded and teardrop-shaped picks and may be harder to find in some music stores
Guitar Picks in Teardrop Shape
Teardrop guitar picks are a type of guitar pick that is shaped like the name says, like a teardrop. They are popular among guitar players because of their unique shape, which allows for easy gripping and control.
They are often made of materials such as Celluloid, or Delrin and provide a warm, natural tone when playing.
The shape of teardrop guitar picks also allows for fluid strumming and picking motions, which can add a new dynamic to your playing. Some players also use them on their guitar strings in combination with their bare fingers for fingerpicking parts, due to the shape and size of the pick.
Teardrop picks are also known for being versatile, as the pointy end of the pick can be used for lead playing and the rounded end for strumming, which can be useful for players who like to change their sound or style frequently.
And if you are looking for guitar picks here you find some choices.
Thick vs Thin Guitar Pick
Next to the material and shape, thickness is another factor affecting the sound of your picking.
A Thinner pick (0.41 to 0.88 mm)has a brighter sound and while the initial attack can be strong the sound fades quicker compared to a thick pick. They also have a lower volume output in comparison and are easier to start with for beginners as they have more give.
Thicker picks have a warmer, louder sound. A thicker pick (starting from 0.96 mm) is popular in bluegrass and metal and advanced players like them for their increased tonal control.
Overall, play with the pick you find most comfortable. Find your preferred pick thickness through trying out various picks and settle for the one that is most comfortable for you.
Choosing the Right Guitar Pick
There are countless variables you must look into when choosing the right guitar pick for you. But we would recommend to start with a pick of medium thickness (of 0.60 – 0.80 mm), before then trying thinner picks or thicker picks depending on how the medium one feels for you.
The same approach works for the material, start with a common one like Celluloid and find your way from there.
Try Different Picks
If the pick isn’t working for you, you should try an alternative pick. Luckily, picks can be bought very inexpensively and there is a wide variety of options to suit every budget. Hence you could purchase different ones in your local guitar shop and take them for test strums. You can also get sets with a variety of picks including different materials and thicknesses.
Holding a Guitar Pick Without it Slipping
Even amazing guitarists have their pick slipping or dropping occasionally. So don’t feel bad if it should happen to you.
But you can take steps to avoid such incidents. If you get slippery fingers while playing, the proper pick hold won’t be your problem as long as you can hold on to that pick.
There are picks with a rough surface to address that problem and then there are grips, essentially stickers you can put on your pick to solve that problem.
Am I Holding My Guitar Pick Wrong?
The position of the guitar pick can impact the player’s play, however this ultimately depends upon personal preference. So like we mentioned above, there is not just one “right” way to hold a guitar pick. However sure signs that you should read up on how to hold a guitar pick are:
- cramps in your hand holding the pick
- you have a problem increasing you picking speed
- your pick is dropping all the time and its not because of slippery fingers
Even if there is neither right nor wrong, if it doesn’t work for your guitar playing, you should change something. Many guitarists need some time to find the proper technique for their acoustic or electric guitar journey. Try and see which method suits you best.
How to Hold a Guitar Pick While Fingerpicking
Whatever your specific style, there might be times you want to change between playing with your bare fingers and using a pick in your strumming hand. A question that everyone playing acoustic guitar has come about and not just beginning guitarists is: what should I do with the pick while fingerpicking?
There are many options out there. You can hold it between your teeth, you can place it between the strings above the nut, you can lay it down on your knees or a nearby table or have spares laying nearby and just drop the one you are holding. But what if you want to keep it in your hand while playing?
You can practice holding it in the crook of your middle finger (see picture). You can also hold it between the middle and the ring finger, or your with your ring or small finger against the palm of your hand.
It depends on which fingers you use for fingerpicking, and what feels best for you. Just try it out. And then it is all about practicing scales or individual notes so you get familiar with doing it.
In the End
In conclusion, holding a guitar pick correctly is an essential part of playing an acoustic or electric guitar. By following the tips in this article, you can master it and improve your playing.
Remember to experiment with different techniques and pick styles, and practice regularly to find what works best for you. Happy strumming!