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OK, Is there really a correct way to hold a pick???

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(@dylanbarrett)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 628
Topic starter  

Hi all

Well, you'd have though that after a year, I'd know the answer, but having never used one for more than five minutes previous I thought I'd scan YouTube etc for the definitive answer....

Yup, you've guessed it. Absolutely loads of different ways, but a lot of 'similar' ways.

Now, I'm thinking that actually there's no definitive way, but different ways, some better and more controllable than others, but, does it really matter if you get used to using one a particular way?

Did Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Gilmour or Jimmy Page actually ask someone 'hey man, is there a proper way to hold this thing...' - I think not (or maybe I'm wrong).

I've now started practicing with a pick... please tell me if I should just use whichever way feels comfortable... :?

Rock on!

D 8)

I'm nowhere near Chicago. I've got six string, 8 fingers, two thumbs, it's dark 'cos I'm wearing sunglasses - Hit it!


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(@elecktrablue)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4389
 

You're absolutely right. There are as many ways to hold a pick as there are guitar players. Find the position that feels the best to you, that allows you complete control over the pick (after all, we don't want them flying all over the place, but we do want them to hit the strings we are aiming for!), and that gives you the tone you want. Don't hold the pick so tightly that your hand cramps. Eventually, it will feel like an extension of your fingers.

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"


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(@falcon1)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 176
 

It's taken me quite a while, but slowly I am starting to realize that when it comes to most things on the guitar, there are a million ways to do something, and only a few of them are things you should really avoid. I say hold the pick however is comfortable for you - some people hold it at different angles, different fingers, choke up more, less...whatever works for you I think.

I recently started holding it slightly different to allow more control, but I suppose looking back, I constantly modify it a little bit to make it better and better. Again, if it works for you, then that is probably getting close to the best way to hold it. :)


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(@wabbit)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 14
 

I'm guessing that most people hold it as they hold their pen
And people do hold pens differently
Correlating how one holds a pen with how well one writes an essay is probably similar
to comparing how one holds a pick and how well one plays the guitar


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(@jase36)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 247
 

Ive been playing 2 and a half years starting off as self taught. Last year I took 3 lessons and 1 of the things that was worked on was to grip the pick in a way that allowed the pick to move more freely. I had found I tended to struggle on making upstrums sound good. I couldn't try to explain how I hold it but if you take a look about 4 minutes into this video http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=8iwjzmbDb0E the teacher who I learnt with demonstrates the technique I'm using. I don't think there is one way that is right but this did help me.

http://www.youtube.com/user/jase67electric


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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2764
 

Not really, but it cannot be very different from two people. Ultimately, the pick has to strike the strings.


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5384
 

Dylan: in rock it doesnt seem to matter but pick-control is a very important subject in progressive rock and metal: really fast passages seem to require specific ways to hold the pick. Look on yourtube if you can find some lessons from Satch or such, you'll find people like him talk constantly about which angle the pick should in and such. Personally I use a coin, not a pick, and I hammer at it any way I see fit.


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

As everyone has said, everybody has their own way. Most folks grip the pick between the thumb and index finger, but Eddie Van Halen is known to hold the pick between his thumb and middle finger. And he's a pretty good player. :D

I do think it's important to choke up a bit on the pick. I find that it is very easy to strum smoothly when you hold the pick in the center or even out toward the outer edge. Just more flexibility. But when you want to go from strumming a chord to maybe playing a single note run, it is very hard to be accurate this way, you will often miss. Plus, you can't hold the pick secure enough to play very fast multiple notes.

When you choke up on the pick, with just the very tip showing, then it is far easier to be an accurate and fast picker. But it is more difficult to strum smoothly, your rhythm guitar can sound clanky or choppy and you can even get caught up on the strings.

So for me personally, I try to choke up as much as possible, but not overdo it. You have to find that perfect spot where you can strum smoothly without sounding choppy, and be able to go to single note runs accurately, with speed and control.

For me, I have about 1/4" (just a guess by looking, haven't really measured it) of pick extending below my thumb.

And there are folks that will tell you that you have to hold your pick at a specific angle. I have tried some of these angles, didn't really work for me. I do hold my pick at a small angle, but not extreme. I have to feel comfortable.

All I can say is experiment constantly until you find what works best FOR YOU.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 833
 

If you can learn to hold the pick with your thumb and index finger it is useful if/when you want to do hybrid picking (combine using a pick with fingers).

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
 

Now I use those small Jazz III picks but I used normal size picks, specifically the Dunlop Tortex. I used to hold it in such a way I played with the "rounded sides". When I hold in the "normal" way, it is too long for me and I touch another strings with it. Furthermore, it sounds in a different way.

Once I was in a store and somebody told me that Pat Metheny also hold the pick in that way. I didn't try to emulate the Metheny, in fact I played in that way before I knew it. I guess you try several ways consciously or unconsciously and you finally get which is more comfortable for you and also sound better to your ears. It is part of your tone!


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(@dylanbarrett)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 628
Topic starter  

Hi guys

Thanks for all the input. I liked the YouTube video - I thought he was a beginner like me ... made me feel inadequate until I looked at his other videos and realised he was just a right hand player learning to play left handed -

Yup - I reckon I'll hold it as I hold it and keep practicing....

Rock on!

D 8)

I'm nowhere near Chicago. I've got six string, 8 fingers, two thumbs, it's dark 'cos I'm wearing sunglasses - Hit it!


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 Noff
(@noff)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 102
 

I've seen a couple people who like to hold it sideways from the 'normal' way because they like the sound and grip better. I've heard Stevie Ray Vaughan played like that too.


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(@chaisewilson)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 41
 

it makes no difference.... i have seen use picks.. no picks at all.. even bass pick on guitar...... in fact i believe in an interview the edge( u2) said he uses the fat side of it to get different tone.....


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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Nope. I proved it to myself over this past year.

After...what...45 years I rizzed an angle grinder over the top of the last joint of my right pointing finger last year. I thought it'd be okay...but it wasn't...got infected...saw the quack...got fixed...and NOW the last joint is frozen solid...and the second joint is stiff, but still bends okay.

Nope...somehow I still hold a pick pretty right.

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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 KR2
(@kr2)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2725
 

I've been wearing jeans for over thirty years. And I didn't know this:
Jeans have this little pocket . . . you know the one . . . that little pocket above the right pocket.
My brother told me what it was for.

It's for holding your guitar pick.

It's called a pickpocket.

KR2

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


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