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Holding the pick differently for picking/strumming?

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(@dan_54321)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 10
Topic starter  

I've been playing guitar on and off for about 8 years. If I'm picking individual notes I tend to hold the pick in the 'proper' way, between the thumb and side of the forefinger (i.e. in the picture here http://guitar.about.com/library/weekly/aa071200g.htm ). However, I find this way of holding the pick doesn't work very well for strumming, especially when strumming fast powerchords on 3 strings. I've always strummed holding the pick between my thumb and end of the finger, which i find is better for getting more of a flicking action from the wrist and helps the pick hit the strings a lot cleaner; it just sounds and feels a lot better than when i hold the pick in the 'proper' way. The only problem with this is that when I'm changing between strumming and picking notes I have to change the way i hold the pick quickly. Does anyone else hold the pick differently when they're picking and strumming? Ideally I would hold the pick in the 'proper' way for strumming, but I've practised for years and I've just never been able to strum properly/cleanly holding the pick that way, either hitting the strings too hard or too soft and not really being able to get a decent strumming action from the wrist. Any thoughts/suggestions?


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

If you've been playing on and off for 8 years, then I suspect you know that holding the pick different ways not only changes the ease of doing certain types of string strumming/picking/attacking, but it also changes the timbre. That ability to change the timbre alone makes being able to use many different pick grips a useful and important skill. So I wouldn't worry about doing it the "right" way, as you are going to learn even more than just two ways to hold that pick. And FWIW, "right" is a guideline that works for a reasonalble percentage of people, and usually is a good starting point, but not always. Eventually, each player finds a variation, slight or major, that works better for him or her.

Now, what specifically seems to be bothering you most is the inability to switch from rhythm to lead and back, as you've found very different pick grips for each. Many of us have or have had this issue. That's why you see players with picks palmed or in their mouths -- always looking for that quick change. And it is never fast enough. The compromise ends up being a decision about which grip is more important based on which part of the playing that is more crucial in the particular song, or maybe how fast and to what extent we can shift grips between some suboptimal, but still somewhat usable grips that will get us thru the various parts. And we then practice that, and practice it some more, and even more. So instead of learning to use one "right" pick grip for all your playing, I recommend learning to use several different grips and make these work as well as you can for each of several styles of strumming and picking. And again: that will require practice. This is really the big win: When you get all this down, you also will gained the ability to make your guitar sound very different using different picking methods and grips.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@dan_54321)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 10
Topic starter  

Thanks for the reply, it was helpful. I guess like most things it's down to practice, but it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only guitar player who has this problem changing picking grips; I was starting to wonder whether I should take a step back and really try and change my technique, but instead I think It'll be worth my time trying to improve strumming using the grip I use for picking to broaden my playing techniques rather than replace my existing strumming technique.


   
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