How to Hold a Guitar Pick – 3 Easy and Simple Steps

The first thing that you need to learn if you are just starting to play the guitar is the proper way of holding a guitar pick or plectrum. To help you with this, we have written this how to hold a guitar pick guide.

Gripping the guitar pick too hard can cause pain on your arms and it will produce a bad sound. If you hold the pick loosely, it might fly out of your hand and you might not able to produce the right sound.

You also need to have the right posture when playing the guitar, so it would be easier for you to learn more techniques as you go along. Before you start playing the guitar, make sure you have the right guitar pick or plectrum on hand.

Tips on Choosing the Right Guitar Pick

Beginners would normally choose a lighter pick for strumming. A medium weight plectrum is ideal for picking scales and basic riffs. If you play leads on an electric guitar, you need a heavy weight pick.

There are factors you need to consider when choosing the right pick, some of which are as follows:

1. The Material it is Made of

Most electric guitarists prefer guitar picks that are made of plastic or nylon. But, the types of plastic used in making picks have transformed over the years. The very first guitar pick that was introduced in 1922 by Luigi D’Andrea was made of cellulose acetate.

Until today it is still used in making picks. Others are made of tortoiseshell taken from the Atlantic Hawksbill Turtle. Some are made of powdery texture – this will help you apply the right friction to the strings and for a surer grip.

There are also the ones made of nylon. Many players prefer this type of pick. They produce a brighter sound and more flexible as compared to thick plastic picks. They have textured grips to prevent themselves from slipping out of your hand, especially if you have sweaty hands.

Other materials include stone, leather, wood and more exotic materials. The harder and denser the materials used for the plectrum are, the crispier the sound will be.

2. Thickness

A thinner pick that measures between 0.40 and 0.60 mm will produce a lighter sound that works better for acoustic strumming. Thin picks, on the other hand, is ideal for rock rhythm guitar or lead, But deliver little bass or midrange tone and lack the heft needed to bring out a well-rounded tone on single note leads.

The majority of the picks in the market is the medium-gauge pick that ranges between 0.60 to 0.80mm. It is recommended for rock rhythm and full-bodied acoustic accompaniment. Choose a heavier plectrum if you are going to play play a heavier sound. A guitar pick with over 1.5mm is ideal for bebop and other big-body jazz guitar playing.

3. The Shape

Normally, the plectrum is triangular in shape. There is also some with multi-point edge and the standard rounded point. You also need to consider which part of the pick you will use. Some guitar players use the rounded rear part of the standard pick shape to produce a full and well-rounded sound.

4. The Texture

Some guitar players overlooked this aspect. Believe it or not, the pick’s surface can be a big deal. Traditional picks have raised lettering and other patterns designed to help maintain a better hold, especially if your hand becomes sweaty.

If you want to save some dollars when buying guitar picks, we suggest you buy it in bulk. Guitar picks get lost easily. Choose a bright colored pick so you can spot it easily in case you drop it.

Steps on How to Hold a Guitar Pick

Step 1 – Determine which is your dominant and non-dominant hand

Guitarists who have been playing it for quite some time normally use their dominant hand to strum and pluck the guitar. In fingering chords and notes, they use their non-dominant hand. Interact with your guitar and determine which grip you are comfortable.

Step 2 – Place your Pick between your thumb and index finger using your dominant hand

Start holding the pick with an extended index finger. Then bend your two index finger joints near to the tip of the finger at an almost right angle. Place the plectrum on the side of the tip segment of your index finger.

Roughly cover half of the plectrum with your index finger. Some plectrums are designed with a groove where you can place your thumb and forefinger. Hold the guitar pick firm enough, but not too much to allow the tip of the plectrum to bend. Do not hold it lightly, or it might slip out of your hand.

Step 3 – Check which grip is right for you

There is no right or wrong way in holding a guitar pick, but there are grips that stress on control, comfort and tone. You can consider the three methods below:

  • “O” Method – holds the plectrum between the pad of your thumb and the side of your index finger and makes an elongated “O” shape with the rest of your fingers. This grip balances the tone and control.
  • Pinch Method – hold the guitar pick between the pad of your thumb and the pad of the index finger. You can use this method if you have a thinner-gauge plectrum and strum a lot.
  • Fist Method – hold the plectrum between the first joint of your thumb and the side of curled index finger, close to the first joint. This method is used by bluegrass players and for those who use heavy picks.

Final Words

By keeping the above tips and guide in mind you can master playing the guitar easily. Just knowing how to play the guitar is not enough. There are factors you need to consider to produce a better sound, One of which is knowing how to hold your guitar pick or plectrum.

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