Take Your Pick


Quite a few of the tutorials on this site have concentrated on the theory side of things. This one, however, is purely about the practical - the often overlooked subject of how to hold a pick (or plectrum). How you hold your pick can fundamentally affect how you play. If you've been playing for ages you've probably become accustomed to the way the you hold the pick, but does that mean that you're actually holding it the right way?

This is kind of difficult to explain with words alone, so I've included a few photographs to illustrate - click on any of the small pictures here to see a bigger version.

Firstly, consider how you actually grip the pick. It should be held between the outside edge of the index finger, past the end joint and the thumb-print part of your thumb. Take care not to allow too much pick to protrude - just enough to reach the strings. Remember that you only need to strike the strings with the very tip of the pick. If there's too much expanse of pick between your hand and the strings then it's liable to 'wobble' when you hit the strings, making it difficult to keep your picking technique tight, fast and accurate.


Some people prefer to hold the pick keeping their hand in a relatively 'closed' shape - something like a relaxed fist, with the pick held between the index finger and the thumb. Personally I prefer to keep my hand fairly open.

The reason for keeping my hand fairly open is because it allows ease of movement between 'straight' picking and other techniques, such as:

Moving my right hand towards the neck for tapping... Music_PickHolding3a_T.jpg


Reaching down to the tremolo arm... Music_PickHolding3b_T.jpg


Reaching down to the volume control with my little finger for volume swells... Music_PickHolding3c_T.jpg

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