How to Hold a Pick

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The Goal: Using a Guitar Pick

Guitar PickEven if you’ve never played guitar before, you must have seen guitar players use a small plastic triangle to play the guitar. Officially known as the plectrum, more commonly known as a guitar pick, they come in a variety of colors, thicknesses and even shapes. Here I am holding a sample of typical picks that many guitar players use when playing.

Although you can certainly play with just your fingers and many styles require finger picking, playing with a pick can really give you a wide range of playing technique and flexibility, especially when it comes to strumming chords like this or when playing a solo like this.

First let’s talk about how to hold the pick. Ideally, you want to place it between the fleshy part of your index finger and thumb. Now you don’t want too much of the tip of the pick to jet out because then it becomes unstable when you strum. You also don’t want to cover the pick with your fingers, in which case, it’s your fingers doing the picking and not the pick itself. I personally like to hold it at about this distance from my index and thumb and over time and with practice, you’ll find just the right amount that’s comfortable for you.

The goal is to have it become an extension of your fingers and make it easier to create a smooth and flowing motion as you strum. Once you have a good grip, you want to make sure the movements are even and relaxed in order to produce a smooth sound. Very often when you’re starting, it’s easy to apply too much pressure, getting this sound[play] or too light, maybe a little nervous form playing the wrong thing.[play soft example].

It’s also common to dig too deep into the strings and getting frustrated that guitar requires a very rough and aggressive approach when in fact, the opposite is true. Once you relax your picking hand, it is surprising how easily notes ring on the guitar.

So make sure you keep good posture, and relax your arm when your picking and concentrate on smooth and relax motions. If you feel pain or pressure in your hand, you are applying way too much pressure and it’s okay to ease up on that until you find the balance to pick and strum smoothly.

This is an essential technique that needs to be learned and that you will use for the rest of your guitar playing years and it can take a bit of time so be patient, take a break when you need one and take it one step at a time.

See you at the next lesson.

pics

Guitar Picks

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