Best Way To Hold A Guitar Pick

A pick has three different angles in which it can be held discuss the best way or angles to hold a pick for the best and fastest alternate picking

Question from Breakthrough Guitar Student – Mark Carroll
The Best Way Hold A Guitar Pick

The assumption is that the pick or with your guitar pick only has three different angles that you can pick with.

What’s the best way to hold the pick or what’s the best angle more specifically to hold the pick to be able to pick faster Essentially I think that’s what we’re getting at. 

So, first of all, let’s be clear about something… how many degrees does a circle have in it? 360° at least how many different ways can you divide one degree? How many times can you divide one degree in half? I would say an infinite amount. The pick is flat. The pick is two-dimensional. I have my guitar pick flat on a string how many degrees can I rotate the pick before it gets flat again. 180 degrees and anywhere in between that 180 degrees. How many different variations can I have how many different ways can I half the degrees that I’m turning there’s an infinite range there’s a spectrum right? I have 180 degrees that I can turn the guitar pick. So, first of all, there are not only three ways to hold the pick and there are not only three ways to angle the pick. There’s literally an infinite way an infinite number of ways or an infinite number of angles to hold and angle the pick within 180 degrees. 

Check out our list of top Online Guitar Tuners

Let’s just talk about something that’s a general principle of physics everybody loves physics right? The guitar pick is flat on two sides. If I’m trying to pick a string I put the flat side of the pick on the string because it’s flat. There’s a lot of surface area that requires a lot of force to pick through the string and then when I do that I pick it really hard and it sounds really harsh but if I angle the pick a little bit what happens is now the edge of the pick is in a sense slicing through the string and it’s a lot easier.

For my guitar pick, it actually goes through all of the strings at an angle like that. So, the point is there’s not the best way or there’s not a perfect way or there’s not a predetermined perfect angle to turn your pick you just need to think about well if my pick is flat and I’m trying to do alternate picking or economy picking or any kind of picking and my pick is flat against the strings it’s going to be harder to pick. It’s going to be harder to pick. It’s going to slow you down and you won’t be able to pick as fast. So, the goal is to start angling your pick. If I have my pig flat the goal is to start angling your pick a little bit so that it starts to slice through the strings as you pick.

Now what I would do is go to the extremes and then find a sweet spot. What I mean is to start with a flat start with your pick flat on the strings see how that feels it’s probably going to feel really bad. It’s hard to pick through the strings with your pick flat so start to angle it a little bit now let’s say you’re playing a pattern. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing with your left hand as long as you’re doing as long as you’re playing across all of the strings you can even just play like this. If you want to you don’t have to do anything with your fretting hand but start to angle it a little bit and then play whatever you’re going to play and see how that feels. Then angle it a little bit more to see how that feels. If I angle it too much it’s going to get ridiculous and uncomfortable. So, you’re not going to go that far that’s just an extreme so go to the extreme see where it feels uh there’s going to be a sweet spot where it feels bad at first when the pick is perfectly flat and it’s going to start to feel a little better you might find a sweet spot there but go all the way to the extreme to where it feels uncomfortable again and then go back and forth until you dial it into that perfect little sweet spot.

First of all, that’s how to find the picking angle um that will allow you to play the fastest for whatever it is that you’re trying to play the part of this is it depends on what you’re trying to play. The other part is I don’t want you to think so much about how you’re moving your hand or what you’re doing or what the angle is or what the square root of five is you don’t need to be thinking while you’re doing that. At first, think about it and try to practice it to find a general picking angle that will work for you, and then just play the guitar.  Just play and play and play because you get used to it and then over time it the guitar pick just becomes a part of your fingers. 

How To Stop Dropping Guitar Picks?

everybody still drops guitar picks. Even people who have been playing for 60 years everybody does it it’s not just you. If you just play and just focus on playing the picking angle will take care of itself as long as you’re aware of the fundamentals and you kind of find a little sweet spot then just play try to relax try to play comfortably and over time you’re going to find your own sweet spot it’s going to feel perfectly comfortable and you’ll be able to play faster and faster. 

We’ve had some students who have been playing guitar for you know 20 years and just a tiny little tweak to how they hold their guitar pick has made the difference. I think it’s something you experiment with and you play around with and find what works best for you. In fact, we had a student the other day who’s who literally said she doubled her picking speed with one little tweak there’s one of the videos in one of the courses that we have specifically on how to hold the pick she said one of the little tweaks one of the little insights in that video she said literally doubled her picking speed instantly.

A great way to increase your speed is to practice with a metronome. Here is our tap metronome that you can use to increase your speed. Tap Metronome

Related Articles