How To Hold A Guitar Pick & MORE!
Today I am discussing how to hold a guitar pick, as well as where does the fret hand thumb belong when playing guitar.
So like anything, holding a pick is subjective but I have watched a great many players and have noticed a definite similarity between many players with great chops and how they hold a pick.
I like to hold the pick between the pad of the thumb and the side of the index finger if I am playing single note lines. If I am playing chords or strumming, that changes to the pad of the index finger along with the pad of the thumb (see video below). The reason I like this vs holding the pick with 3 fingers or with the middle finger etc. is that I can quickly morph into doing what is called “hybrid picking” (see my videos on that style of picking), or I can tap easily with the middle finger of my pick hand as well.
In the end it is whatever feels right but try the grip I show in the video and see if it feels right.
I have included a lick to get your alternate picking happening. See ex. 1 at the bottom of the text. This should be played on all strings once daily.
Where does my thumb belong when I am playing guitar?
Next up we are talking about the fret hand placement of the thumb. This is a very sticky subject with some practitioners. I remember my first audition to get into music college. I was playing a piece by Joe Pass and on one particular succession of dom13 chords in tritones I used my thumb. After I performed the piece I was informed by the jazzbo audition guy that using the thumb is sacrilege. I was mortified lol! Anyway, I worried about it for about 5 minutes and realized that such pedanticsm really has no place in music and so I say place your thumb wherever it may roam, with parameters of course, such as; if you are playing notes on the lower numbered frets on the thicker strings it is only logical to put the thumb behind the neck to allow the fingers access the notes cleanly. Also if you are doing a bend, the thumb should be over the neck and used as a winch to help the bending fingers bring the note to pitch. I have noticed players that did not do the latter. They always have weaker bends and vibratos than those that use the thumb over the neck.
Ex. 2 is a lick where the thumb starts on top of the neck and gradually ends up behind the neck the the classical tradition.