Music and Media Recording Studio in Montreal

Professional Label Quality Recording + Mixing + Mastering + Photo + Video Studio

4 Best Exercises: How to Play Guitar Without A Pick

If you hate playing guitar with a pick, you must wonder how to play guitar without a pick or how to strum without a pick?

When it comes to playing guitar, using a pick is not a requirement. I don’t always use a pick when I play guitar.

If you don’t like using a pick, you may wonder how to play without a pick or how to strum without a pick. The answer is simple: just ditch the pick. 

However, if you’re used to playing with a pick, it can be challenging to switch to playing without one. 

How to Play Guitar Without A Pick

Some prefer using a pick because it produces a harsh and sharp sound. However, I don’t recommend always relying on a pick. The guitar is a string instrument that requires a lot of practice. You can produce a wide range of styles playing guitar with your bare hands. A pick can’t always hit the strings the way you want it to and may even slip between your fingers at times. It takes practice to get comfortable holding a pick between your fingers. 

So, which should you focus on practicing: playing guitar without a pick or using a pick? As a guitar player, it’s essential to learn both fingerstyle and pick playing if you want to be a professional. While using a pick limits your ability to use fingerstyle, both techniques have their benefits when it comes to playing the guitar. 

Let’s discuss both techniques further.

How to play guitar without a pick?

There are many ways to guitar strum without a pick. Here are the basic techniques you can follow.

Strumming guitar without a pick by joining your index and thumb

I personally use this technique quite often. It works great every time, and it’s easy to understand, even if you are a beginner.

  1. Assume that you are holding a guitar pick between your index and thumb fingers.
  2. Just strum the strings with your index in the down position and your thumb in the up position.

That’s all. You don’t need to keep long nails to replace the pick.

This is the most popular and straightforward way to play guitar without using a pick.

The Bass Strum Technique

This is the 2nd best method to play guitar without a pick. This technique is incredibly helpful for studio or recording purposes. One of the best things about it is that it adds a lot of richness to the sound. It almost sounds like there are two instruments playing together, such as the guitar and the bass. There are many instances where this technique can come in handy. In fact, Paul McCartney famously used it on his song “Yesterday.”

Exercise 1:

At first, hold down the G chord.  Then play the E string with your thumb and then strum the D, G, B, and high E string down with your index finger.

Until feeling comfortable keeps on repeating this exercise.

Exercise 2:

Play the bass with your thumb on beat one, then strum down three more times on beats 2,3 and 4.

Exercise 3:

Now speed the process by playing 8th notes.

At first play the bass with your thumb and then “up-down-up” using your index finger.

Benefits OF Finger-style:

Finger-picking or Finger-style is a technique. The process you pluck the strings directly with the fingers or fingernails.

  • It gives you the softest and warm tone.
  • It works great for a folk, music composer, acoustic blues, a singer that sweet pleasant tone.
  • Pluck the strings with your own skin of fingertips and also a part of the nail.
  • A lot of slow tempo, a mid-tempo song to practice this finger-style to become advanced.

Benefits OF Using Pick:

A pick is also known as a plectrum. It can be used for any style and type of guitar.

But Electric guitar and Lead guitar players love to use a guitar pick.

You can add different sounds and effects on the sound by adding speed on the guitar pick.

This technique can rich your guitar playing experience.

Benefits OF Using Pick

  • Down-picking.
  • Alternate Picking.
  • Sweep Picking.
  • Economy Picking.
  • Hybrid Picking.
  • Strumming with a pick.

Pretend Pick Strumming:

In this picking system, you have to hold your thumb and index finger. As holding a pick. So, your Index finger will use as a pick.

Image Credit:

How To Strum Your Guitar?

If you practice enough open chords, barre chords, hammer, sliding will not be a problem.

But, I have met so many persons. Who has been playing guitar for more than 14 years? But one single song he can’t play on guitar.

He can play finger-style but not rhythm. Strumming is much more than practice.

It’s all about feeling. It requires subtlety, feel emotion, confidence and much more.

Can Play chords are 50% and Strumming fills up the last 50%.

If you understand, How to strum a guitar? This is the first step to learn the guitar perfectly.

Image Credit: National Guitar Academy


  • If you play with a pick or bare hand. Notice that the wrist is locked.
  • Don’t force much. Feel the tone and slowly move your hand on the strings.


  • Sit in a comfortable place.
  • Sit in a correct posture.
  • Your wrist and strum are in a parallel position.
  • Make touching the last four strings with your index finger(For Down-strokes).
  • Make touching the first two bass strings with thumb finger(For Upstrokes).

How To Hold And Use A Guitar Pick?

It will go between your index and thumb finger. Don’t hold your pick so hard. If this you can’t able to play fast or it does hamper your pick, guitar strings also your finger too.

A lot of picks out there in the market. Beginners should go for the gauge 0.65-0.73. Some like this.

how to hold a guitar pick


  • It feels like a feather. It makes a barrier between you and your guitar easily.
  • Don’t go much thinner than this. And also don’t go for the hard one. Like steel pick.
  • Some steel pick can be used for electric or bass guitar.
  • Try to make less use of your guitar pick.


How to play guitar without a pick. It depends on your own preference.

If you ask me what to follow. I suggest first to go without picking. Then you can enrich your playing experience by adding pick with you.

Thank you.

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.

Other articles you may like

Share this article


Leave a Reply