How To Hold A Guitar Pick

Guitar Picking

Watch the video below to get started. It will teach you everything you know to hold the plectrum properly:

If you want to learn to play guitar, you need to learn how to hold a guitar pick, or 'plectrum' as it is sometimes called. Holding a pick and holding ONTO a pick while you play, is often a challenge for beginners. But if you form good habits early on, it will become second nature for you, and you will excel a lot more quickly.

There are a lot of different teaching methodologies regarding how to hold a guitar pick, but most of them share a common deficiency: they don't take into account the fact that every human hand is different. The method detailed below will provide you with the best, most natural way to hold a pick.

The first thing to note is that there are two ways to hold a guitar pick. The first way is used for lead soloing. And the second way is perfect for strumming - particularly light strumming. Both techniques will take advantage of your unique physiology to form nature's perfect pick grip.

The first thing to do is to form a loose hook shape with your right (strumming) index finger. Notice that by bending the finger slightly, your finger automatically forms three crevices or 'nooks', where the joints are located. The first nook (closest to the top of your index finger) is where the pick should rest when you are strumming chords. The second nook is where the pick should rest when you are playing lead solos or individual notes or playing loud heavy chords.

In both cases, the proper way to hold the pick requires three steps:

  1. First, gently place the widest part of the pick (the top of the pick) in the appropriate nook (the second for soloing, and the first for light strumming).
  2. Second, place your thumb over the middle of the pick, allowing just a small amount of the tip of the pick to peek out below your thumb.
  3. Finally, bend the index finger upward toward the middle of your hand until it is just above the tip of the pick. This will ensure a clean contact with the string.

Once you've done these three steps you have nature's perfect grip. You can find a video explaining all of these steps with visual cues here.

For the first month or so of practicing, you should go through all three steps slowly and methodically, in order to form the proper habits.