How To Hold A Guitar Pick

In this free guitar lesson you will learn the following:

* Learn the life-changing guitar pick tricks which will RAMP up your guitar sound and playing.
The two critical tips which will take your guitar playing to another level.
* Learn how to hold a guitar pick in 3 easy steps.
* Learn the theory secret that will make you more connected with music and improve your guitar phrasing technique.

If you learn to hold a guitar pick correctly, you will not only learn how to hold a guitar pick for strumming, but you will learn how to play lightning fast.

Method 1, Step 1)

How To Hold A Guitar Pick

Put your fingers as in the following display:

thumbs up

This is a very common gesture used in everyday life. It is an excellent way for beginner guitar players for having an easy method to hold their guitar pick correctly. It's arguably the first step in learning to hold a guitar pick.

Method 1, Step 2)

How To Hold A Guitar Pick

The next step is to put your guitar pick on your finger, like in the following picture:

how to hold a guitar pick


Method 1, Step 3)

How To Hold A Guitar Pick

And the last step is to put your thumb on top of the guitar pick, like the following:

how to hold a guitar pick

Advice on holding your guitar pick

One essential thing that you must watch for is to leave some of your pick exposed. If your guitar pick is overexposed then it will be harder to play faster, that's why it's better in fact to get smaller guitar picks, so there is less material showing.

The Jazz III is a very popular option. Though larger picks are better for strumming, and you want more material to be exposed, but small picks can do. Look at the difference between a large guitar pick and a little guitar pick:

guitar pick size difference

And a more accurate representation of the difference in guitar pick sizes. The Jazz III picks are cheap and are one of the best investments that you will ever make into your guitar journey.

guitar pick size difference

If you are a Metallica fan, you might also like Kirk Hammet's guitar pick. His pick is also a Jazz III, but it's green and has a cutout. Giving it a heart-like shape.

kirk hammet guitar pick

There are other strange ways of holding a guitar pick such as using your thumb and your middle finger. This is used by guitar players like Glen Drover. It also comes down to personal preference; there is no right or wrong way to do it.

You might be asking, "What is the best guitar pick size?" It is purely subjective, and it depends on the situation and your own personal preferences. Thicker guitar picks are better if you are playing fast music. If you use a thin guitar pick like a 0.50mm gauge, then every time you hit the string, it will bend, slowing the pick in the process.

1mm gauge is a popular choice if you are playing fast music, and is a good balance between thick and skin. You don't need anything thicker than that, as it will stay rigid through all guitar string gauges.

The best thing to do is to experiment with different picks and find what works for you. Here are some popular ones:

Jazz III (Best for shredding, especially alternate picking)

Jim Dunlop Tortex (Most Popular and is used in all styles of music)

Jim Dunlop Max Grip (Best for grip, the same size as Jazz III and is also great for shredding)

 

The Correct Guitar Posture

Having bad back posture can really give you long-term consequences, the obvious been back pain, but spinal damage is also possible. To avoid back pain and form of bad habits, here are some ideas that will put you on the right track and help you avoid bad habits.:

  • Use a chair that doesn't have arms so you don't damage your instrument and so you have enough space. If arm rests are a must for you then you can buy chairs where the arm lefts lift them self, or you can buy stools just as this:

guitar chair

This is the same type of chair that drummers use. It will give you a straight back posture, which is exactly what you want. On these stools, you can adjust the height as well.

 

A straight Wrist Is A Must

What ever you do, don't bend your wrist unless you want major tension in your hand. Unless you are a guitar player like Marty Friedman, don't attempt this.

THE RIGHT WAY

As you can see the wrist is sitting nicely on the guitar bridge, and there is no tension on the hand.

how to hold a guitar pick

THE WRONG WAY

OUCH! That's all that needs to be said. Some guitar players can pull this off like Zakk Wylde, but chances are this won't work for you.

how to hold a guitar pick

If you are doing normal guitar picking like alternate picking, then you should lay your wrist on the guitar bridge. If you are strumming, you can still leave it on the bridge if you don't want your hand going all over the place or to avoid scratching your guitar. It is common for guitar players to let their hands go free when strumming.

 

The Three Types Of Guitar Picking Techniques

Utilizing a guitar pick versus your fingers gives you a huge advantage over other players. Here are some of the benefits that you will experience:

1) You will sound a lot better. Don't believe me? Use your guitar pick then your fingers and then tell me which one sounds more crisp. You will find in a lot of musical situations that using a pick is better.

Some guitar players use a mix of their fingers, and the guitar pick it self as part of, their sound. You might find when playing songs, for example, that you prefer the sound of combining your pick and your fingers, as opposed to just using one.

2) You will play faster. Since your fingers are bigger than a pick and it takes more times to go over a string, you will be slower in the process. Using a small and thick pick (even a sharp pick), you will get across the string much faster.

Those are the benefits, there are some con's such as losing your guitar pick time to time, but the pro's definitely out way the con's.

3) Using a pick makes your guitar playing easier. If you have tried to use your thumb, you might have noticed that it can get quite messy. Of course, you can get used to using your thumb but why when the benefits of using a pick are more significant.

Like anything, doing anything in life for the first time might be awkward, but after a few practice tries, you will get the hang of it. You will also avoid pain in your fingers.

4) It is more ideal for in a recording situation. If you have never recorded an album before, one crucial thing is to have the clearest sound possible. Using a pick will make your playing crystal clear on recordings and will really make a difference.

So the three methods are:

1) Alternate Guitar Picking

One of the most common forms of picking. It's a straightforward concept to understand. It is just picking up and down; that's it! It is in all forms of music such as rock, blues, country; you name it. This technique is used heavily in heavy metal when guitar players are doing fast runs.

This technique is a MUST to learn if you want to become a lead guitar player. Every time you practice your guitar scales, you are most likely using alternate guitar picking, even on the songs that you play.

Play a song that you know, any song and pay attention to your picking hand. You will notice that it is performing an up and down motion. If you want to practice your guitar speed and improve the speed of your alternate picking, here are some exercises:

Fast scale runs all are done using alternate picking. You can try down pick every note, but chances are there is no way you will get to a good speed, nor will it sound good.

 

This first alternate picking exercise is done in a chromatic like fashion. All notes are played in groups of four. It starts with four notes on one string then moves on with four notes on the next strings.

guitar alternate picking exercise

This exercise is similar, except it's not in a chromatic fashion. It alternates between strings, but the patterns are mixed up.

guitar alternate picking exercise.jpg

Start off slow and make sure that you pick every note. Gradually speed up the tempo. Use a metronome to keep track of your playing.

Bonus!

 ‘Arpeggiating’ is the term that is used to pick out individual chords. If you have an 'A' major chord, for example, instead of strumming all the notes, you will strum them individually.

The idea of this is to perform something called 'sweep picking'. You might be wondering what sweep picking is. It's a broken chord essentially make into shapes. The idea is to break the chord and play the notes individually (Usually up and down the neck) it is very popular in metal music and is used to make that (bloop, bloop) sound effect.

In sweep picking the guitar strings are muted to give it that 'bloop' sound. Check out this video with Michael Angelo Batio. You will also learn the right technique for sweep picking in this video!

 

Here is a chart of 'D' Major guitar arpeggios in various positions on the neck. If you know the three notes of this arpeggio; you will be able to build arpeggio shapes like the following.

D major guitar arpeggio

That's it for alternate picking. Let's move onto the next style of picking.

2) Hybrid Guitar Picking

This is a quite advanced style of picking and can take some time to pick up but is really fun once you get the hang of it and is worth it.

What it is, is you using the combination of your fingers and your pick to get a specific sound. You might be thinking, "Isn't this the same as normal finger picking?" Sort of but the osund that you get is quite different.

Look at this video of Kiko from Megadeth, to get an idea of what hybrid picking sounds like.

 

BONUS!

Here are some hybrid picking exercises if you really want to challenge yourself. Remember to start off slow! You don't want to be fast and sloppy.

guitar hybrid picking exercise

Don't get frustrated if you don't get it right away, take it slow and enjoy the process. Remember it's a marathon, not a sprint.

3) Down Picking Guitar Technique

Down picking is very common in rock and heavy metal. If you have listened to songs such as blackened, and master of puppets by Metallica, you will notice the heavy down picking. At the start, it can get tiring, but with practice, you will get used to it.

Down picking gives you more a machine gun type of sound,  where as alternate picking gives your more of a groovy sound.

Question: How do I down pick?

Answer: The question is the answer to the answer! You just need to hit your pick against the strings in a downward motion. Look at this guitar cover of Master of Puppets, and you will see:

 

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