The guitar is a very technique heavy instrument. Now, when I use the word ‘’technique”, I am not talking about some unquestionable set of rules every player must follow. It’s more about learning some methods widely accepted as beneficial in the beginning and then later coming up with your own methods that cater to your specific needs.
Even doing something as simple as using the guitar pick requires technique. Understanding them and practicing them will allow you to learn much easier and help you to develop your own techniques.
In this article, you will be learning the proper methods of how to hold a guitar pick. As I disclosed in my previous article here I’m once again assuming most of the readers are right-handed. So, this article is also for right-handed handling.
How To Hold Guitar Pick?
1. Choose the material that suits you
Guitar picks are made of all sorts of materials. So, try them out before buying. The material that feels comfortable to you might not be the same for someone else. Consider pick density, flexibility, stiffness, smoothness, and actual feel to grip before choosing a material.
But if I had to choose, I’d recommend a plastic pick i.e, nylon, celluloid or acetal (different types and forms of plastic). They are lightweight and pretty cheap. That’s why I think they are the best for beginners.
2. Start with a thin pick
There are no set rules and each has their preference but for beginners, I recommend starting with the thinner pick. Thin picks are better for strumming chords than lead playing and effective with an acoustic guitar to produce a brighter tone. Start with a pick that’s under 0.70 mm thick and 0.46 mm pick in the popular one in that category. Then move up as you get more experienced.
Though medium gauge pick is the most popular and effective for both picking and strumming, many skilled guitarists prefer thicker or heavy pick since it favours great control and a wide range of picking force, mostly suited for electric guitars. Thicker pick also helps to play louder and allows particular notes or scales to be emphasized such as lead guitar stuff which becomes more important at a certain skill level.
As picks are quite cheap so it would be a good idea if you experiment with different pick sizes, shapes, and thicknesses. Practising with what you like will make it easier to continue, so feel free to examine different picks. Commonly, one would change guitar pick several times during his/her musical journey and use a different type of pick as skill improves over the year.
3. Always use two fingers
Never use more than two fingers to grab hold of the pick. You should only use your thumb and your index finger. This is the best way to hold the pick. Yes, there are guitarists that use more than two fingers. But that doesn’t mean you can too. If you belong to 99% of guitarists then using just two is all you will need.
4. Place the pick properly
There are various methods of holding the pick. Each has its own ups and downs. But my advice is to use the standard O-method. In this method, you bend your index finger kind of like a hook. Position the index finger so that the sides of the finger are parallel to the floor. Now place the pick on the top side of your index finger. Now, press down on top of it using the pad of your thumb.
This method is the easiest to follow. It provides adequate grip and control over the pick making it best for beginners.
5. Apply adequate pressure
Use your thumb to press the pick firmly against your index finger. Make sure you don’t press too soft or too hard. We don’t want the pick to slip while playing. We also don’t want to place unnecessary strain on your fingers.
6. Strum with your wrist
As a beginner, you might have the tendency to swing your hand up and down to strum the strings. This is the wrong way to play. Fix your hand perpendicularly to the strings. Your fist should be placed in front of the hole. Use your wrist to move the pick up and down. Your hand and fingers should remain still.
This method will provide the best control and prevent fatigue.
7. Strum gently
Don’t strum like a mad man while playing. Pay close attention to how much pressure you are applying. Applying to less pressure will produce weak sounds. And too much will cause the strings to break or at least wear them out much faster. Hard strumming will also produce harsh sounds. So, be gentle with your strumming.
8. Strum with the tip of your pick
Make sure the pick slightly grazes through the strings. Don’t shove it in too deep. This will make playing much more difficult. It’ll also force you to apply more pressure which we’ve previously discussed is a bad idea. Allow the pick to brush along the strings by slightly picking each string with nothing more than just the tip of the pick.
The guitar is an instrument that needs a lot of respect and care. Now that you’ve learned how to hold guitar pick, you can give it the respect it needs. I hope what you’ve learned here today, helps you out in the long run. Practice hard and remember all that you learned and you’ll become a pro in no time.
Wishing you all the best.