How To Hold a Guitar Pick

Julian Acosta
Written by
Julian Acosta

How to Hold & Use a Guitar Pick (for Beginners)

In this video guitar lesson for beginners, you're going to learn how to choose the right guitar pick, how to hold a guitar pick and how to use a guitar pick to play the guitar.

While this may seem trivial, it's actually one of the most important things to learn in the beginning. If you hold the guitar pick the wrong way or too hard, you'll end up in with a poor sounding guitar along with feeling tense and in pain. If you hold the pick sloppy and loose, next thing you know and your pick will be flying through the air.

Once you know the proper way to hold a guitar pick, you'll avoid many of the common mistakes that beginning guitar players tend to make. Plus, you'll have a much easier time learning more techniques as you progress through the lessons. Don't worry - mastering how to hold your guitar pick is easy!

Choosing the Right Guitar Pick

Most beginners don't know that all guitar picks aren't created equally. The choices are endless as guitar picks range in thickness, firmness, weight, colors and even brands.

Most beginners tend to choose picks that are lightweight and more flimsy. These types of picks are great for simple strumming. As you advance to playing scales and riffs, you may find that medium guitar picks works better. Those who frequently play the electric guitar and lead songs prefer heavy picks.

Guitar picks
Guitar picks

When you're just starting out, it's a good idea to try different guitar picks to find one that you like best. You can even purchase a pack that contains a sampling of all different weights and thicknesses.

Holding the Guitar Pick the Right Way

Now that you've picked out the right guitar, the next thing to learn is how to hold it the right way. If you're right-handed, hold the pick in your right hand and hold the fretboard with your left hand. If you're left-handed, do the opposite.

It's always a good idea to loosen up your hand before using your guitar pick. You can do this by shaking out your hand, relaxing it and then making a loose fist with your thumb over your index finger.

From that point, you want your thumb facing you as you slide the pick between your thumb and index finger.

With a relaxed grip, your pick should be positioned so that it's under the middle of your thumb and the pointy end sticks out away from your hand. Leave enough room for the pick to stick out underneath your thumb depending on how you plan to play.

How to hold a guitar pick
How to hold a guitar pick

Generally, a half an inch is a good amount to start. Leave more of your pick exposed if you'll be doing a lot of strumming and leave less if you'll be doing more picking and need to get close to the strings.

If you're playing an acoustic guitar, then hold your picking hand over the sound hole. If you're playing an electric guitar, then hold your picking hand over the body.

Using a Pick to Play the Guitar

Once you've gotten situated with the pick in your hand, now you can use it to strum your guitar. While strumming, make sure that you focus movement from your rest rather than moving your entire arm.

Imagine how you move your wrist while unscrewing a light bulb. Do the same motion while playing the guitar so that your wrist stays straight and rotates with a loose (but not sloppy) grip of the pick.

Start by strumming the thickest string all the way down to the thinnest string. Practice alternating by strumming up and down and trying different combinations and rhythms.

This may come down to the style of music you like most. Those who are into punk music will like fast strumming whereas those who enjoy country music might like slow strumming and everything in between.

In the next lesson. you'll learn more about guitar frets, fingers, and strings for beginning guitar players.