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Getting a Grip – How to Hold the Pick Properly

Gripping the pick properly is essential to good strumming and picking technique. Students often overlook this when just starting out, which leads to a slow down in progress and frustration. The following is a visual, step-by-step guide on how I recommend holding the pick. It's the way I teach students here from my studio and it works. Whilst it's true that there are guitarists out there that have unconventional, even strange grips, there's nothing like old-fashioned orthodox practices for developing sound technique.

What pick suits you best? 

Hetfield Black Fang Picks - I love 'em

The style of music the student is learning generally determines the thickness of the pick. The picture above shows the James Hetfield signature Black Fang pick, which is very thick at 1.14mm. It's also got a nice pointed tip which is very good for lead guitar playing.

Most beginners do well with a .60mm pick, which is thick enough for rock guitar, but not too thick as to make strumming clunky. The brand I recommend are Dunlop Ultex picks, which in my experience, are the most consistent for keeping a steady grip.

How to Grip the Pick

  • 1 - The first step is to place the pick so that the point extends from the tip of the index finger. Place the pick so that it sits just under the outer side of the index finger with the tip pointing outwards.
  • 2 - Now close the thumb over the pick and make sure that the end of the thumb extends over the side of the pick by a small margin.

If you've done everything correctly, when you bring your picking hand back to the strings, the tip of the pick will be pointing back toward you, ready, and in position to pick or strum.