The Basics - Holding a Pick

You would think that holding a pick between your thumb and index finger would be simple.  However, teaching a student how to hold and use a pick is similar to teaching a child how to hold and use a pencil for the first time.  The photo below shows the ideal way to hold the pick.

  • Notice that the point of the pick is coming out of the side of the thumb.
  • The pick is held between the thumb and the side of the index finger (towards the finger tip).
  • Don't squeeze the pick too hard.  Hold it just enough that you won't drop it and you feel that you still have some mobility in all your fingers.

Learning how to use a pick is critical (for those that use a pick) for producing good tone on the guitar.  If you hold the pick too tight, you may hear lots of buzzing and a tone that is not pleasing to your ears.  Hole the pick too loose, and the sound of your instrument will not project well (and you may drop the pick right into the sound hole).  I guess what I'm trying to say is you need to hold the pick "just right."  It takes time to develop the "feel" of using a pick, just like it takes time for a child to get the "feel" of writing with a pencil.  


Here's are three simple exercise using the pick.  
  1. Strike each string with a down stroke four times.  Be sure you strike each note evenly.  By this I mean the tone should be the same each time, and you should strike each string at the same pace.  Be sure your down stroke moves the pick towards the guitar (or the next string) and not away from the guitar.
  2. Repeat the above exercise, but follow your down stroke with an upstroke.
  3. Repeat both exercise, but now try to play all the strings as quiet and soft as possible.  Then try it loud.  Finally, try it somewhere in between (medium loud).  It's hard to play soft with a real tight grip on your pick.  As you play louder, you may grip a little harder.


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