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7 Easy Ways On How To Hold A Guitar Pick

When it comes to playing the guitar, you can fingerpick the strings or use a pick. We recommend beginners use a pick and learn how to hold a guitar pick to get started

Quick Answer: How to hold a guitar pick

  1. Pinch Method: Hold the pick between the tips of your thumb and index finger. The pick should rest on the side of your index finger and the tip of your thumb.
  2. Fist Method: Hold the pick with your thumb wrapped around it and your index finger resting on top of your thumb. This is similar to making a fist around the pick.
  3. Side Method: Hold the pick with your thumb on one side and your index finger on the other side. The pick should be angled so that one end is closer to your thumb and the other end is closer to your index finger.
  4. Flat Method: Hold the pick with your thumb and index finger in a flat position, so that the pick rests on the pads of your fingers. This is a good method for strumming.
  5. Thumb and Middle Finger Method: Hold the pick between your thumb and middle finger, with your index finger resting on top of your middle finger. This method can give you more control over the pick.
  6. Thumb and Ring Finger Method: Hold the pick between your thumb and ring finger, with your index and middle fingers resting on top of your ring finger. This method can help you play faster and with more precision.
  7. Hybrid Method: Experiment with different ways of holding the pick to find a comfortable grip that works for you. You can also try using a combination of methods, such as holding the pick with your thumb and index finger and resting your middle finger on the pick for added support.

Let’s get into it!

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how to hold a guitar pick

When it comes to playing the guitar, you can choose to fingerpick the strings or use a pick. Fingerpicking is exactly what it sounds like. You pick at the strings, or strum, with your fingers.

However, this usually takes quite a lot of practice and sore hands. The other method is to use a guitar pick. This is a little piece of material (usually plastic) that you hold between your thumb and index finger.

Picks, also known as plectrums, are generally made from a uniform material such as different kinds of plastics. These include:

  • Nylon
  • Delrin
  • Celluloid

However, you can also use other materials, such as:

  • Rubber
  • Felt
  • Wood
  • Tortoiseshell
  • Metal
  • Glass 
  • Stone
  • Tagua

While you don’t have to use a pick to play the guitar, we recommend you learn to do so. As with learning a new instrument, it can be challenging at first but, with practice, knowing how to use a pick will open up more musical possibilities as time progresses. 

Today, we are going to guide you through the process of using a pick to play your favorite tunes on the guitar. We will show you how to hold a pick properly and which guitar picks are the best options for you.

With a little patience and time, you will be strumming and picking along your favorite tracks with absolute ease.

So, let’s pick up that pick and start playing!

How to hold a guitar pick properly

If you’re beginning your journey on the guitar, holding a guitar pick is one of the most important lessons you will learn.

When you see an experienced guitarist use a pick, you may think it looks easy and there’s nothing to it. However, there are improper techniques that can impede your musical quest.

If you grip the pick too tight, it can cause cramping. You want to feel comfortable and relaxed when using a pick, not tense and in pain. If you hold a pick too loose, then it can wiggle and fly out of your hand. 

So, yes, there is a right way and a few wrong ways to hold a guitar pick. Today, we will show you the most common method to hold a pick but not all guitarists use it in this way.

Some incredible guitarists have their own unique style when holding a plectrum. But, they probably started with the most common method.


There are a few things to keep in mind when learning to hold a guitar pick properly:

  1. Pay attention to your thumb when you first pick up that pick. The pick should come out of the side of your thumb. Many beginners make the mistake of holding the pick so it sticks out from the tip of the thumb. This is not the right way, not for this method, anyway.
  2. The pick needs to be placed well. With the pick coming out from your finger, it should be showing around a centimeter or so of the body of the plectrum.
  3. Try to hold it as lightly as possible. However, do not hold it so loosely that it falls out of your fingers. A light grip will ensure that your arm, wrist, and hand remain relaxed as you strum the guitar. If you are tense, the sound of your playing will not flow so well.

Step 1

Place the pick on your index finger. It should be pointing out of the top of your finger. You can also bring in your middle finger as extra support underneath the index finger.

Step 2

Place your thumb on top of the pick. It should now be sticking out of the side of your thumb. You need to have a good amount of your thumb on top of the pick to prevent it from shifting as you play. Make sure a larger portion of the pick is exposed for strumming. For single notes, you can expose less of the pick.

Step 3

Lightly squeeze your thumb and fingers together with the pick in between. You are now ready to tackle those 6 strings!

Yes, it’s really as simple as that. While this first part is easy, it’s the strumming patterns and movement of your wrist and hand that are the more challenging aspects. But, for now, learning to hold a pick is a great start! 

Choosing a pick

Before you start strumming the guitar, you will need to find a suitable pick. Not all picks are the same. Some are thicker than others. Ask most experienced guitarists and they will have a preference for a style of pick.


We recommend starting out with a very thin pick, maybe the thinnest you can find. This is because thinner picks are more flexible and won’t get tangled up in the guitar strings so easily. You want a more forgiving pick at this stage.

However, thin picks can be less accurate when picking out individual strings but for strumming, this is the best way to start. Try the Dunlop Nylon .38 to begin with as these are comfortable and easy on the fingers.

When it comes to the size of the pick, you should start with a standard-sized model. If it’s too small, it will be too stiff and complicated to hold and pick out different strings.

Picking individual notes

If you want to pick out individual strings and notes, we suggest using a thicker pick such as the Dunlop Tortex Orange. You will get a better, thicker sound with these thicker picks.

In Summary

Holding a pick is one of the first lessons you should learn, even before you hold a guitar. It will allow you to play a whole host of different songs that only work with picks.

Whether you want to be the next folk guitarist sensation or rock soloing maestro, you won’t get far without your trusty pick.


How should I position my hand when holding a guitar pick?

When holding a guitar pick, your hand should be relaxed, and your wrist should be in a comfortable, neutral position. Avoid tensing up your hand or wrist, as this can cause strain and affect your playing.

You may also want to experiment with different hand positions to find what feels most comfortable for you.

How tightly should I hold the guitar pick?

You should hold the guitar pick firmly enough to prevent it from slipping, but not so tightly that it affects your playing.

A good rule of thumb is to grip the pick with enough pressure so that it doesn’t move around in your hand, but not so much that it feels uncomfortable or restrictive.

What’s the best way to hold a guitar pick for strumming?

If you’re playing rhythm guitar and strumming chords, you may want to hold the pick with a flatter grip, so that the pick makes contact with the strings at a wider angle.

This can help you strum more efficiently and produce a fuller sound. Experiment with different angles and hand positions to find what works best for you.

What’s the best way to hold a guitar pick for lead playing?

When playing lead guitar, you may want to hold the pick with a slightly more angled grip, so that you can strike the strings with more precision. Try holding the pick between your thumb and index finger, and angling it slightly so that the tip of the pick points toward the guitar strings.

Can I use my fingers instead of a pick?

Yes, you can definitely play guitar without a pick and use your fingers instead. This is known as fingerstyle playing, and it involves plucking the strings with your fingertips or nails, rather than using a pick.

Fingerstyle playing can produce a different sound than playing with a pick and can be a great option for certain styles of music.

YouTube video guide: How to hold a guitar pick

Happy Playing!

Passionately invested in the music world for over 20 years, Jake studied music for 14 years at the Royal Conservatory Of Toronto. He has a degree from Champlain College & Bishop’s University in Business & Music. He is the owner of Fly Away Music & Media Studio in Montreal since 2014, with over 500 happy artists recorded, mixed and mastered.

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