5 Tips When Using a Guitar Pick For Beginners

Plainly put, you can’t use a guitar pick in a wrong way – you’ll (almost) always make a certain sound when you strum your guitar, regardless of how you hold your pick. However, there are ways that will help you feel more comfortable, get more accuracy, and, in the end, sound better altogether.

We’ve made a list of 5 tips that aim to help beginners with using their guitar tips, so let’s see them right away:

Tip #1 – Choose the right pick

As you might’ve already guessed, there are countless pick styles and variations, and you shouldn’t force yourself to practice and play your guitar with the one that doesn’t suit you. Not only will you progress at a slower pace, but you’ll also get accustomed to the pick that was obviously not meant for your playing style.

Without going too far into details, you’ll want to take into consideration the thickness and material of the pick you intend to use. Now, in order to find the right one, you’ll need to experiment. Consider paying a visit to your local music shop and inquire about the picks they sell.

Note that you don’t need to use a pick on the guitar to check them out – simply feel it over with your fingers, or ask the clerk if you’re in doubt.

Tip #2 – Hold your pick in a natural position

There’s a common mistake people make in regard to using a guitar pick – assuming that the finger position your favorite guitarist is using will be ideal for you won’t get you far. Some people have taller fingers, some have wider hands altogether, and what’s natural to some might not be so for you.

The most natural position of your hand when holding a guitar pick is the one that will pass this little test:

  • You shouldn’t feel any strain – if your fingers get uncomfortable or your ankle hurts, the chances are that this is not your natural position
  • Not too tight, not too loose – Holding on to your pick too hard might fatigue you faster while holding it too loose won’t keep it in your fingers for long
  • The finger positioning – your thumb and your index finger should be the ones holding the pick. Some people prefer to keep the other three fingers straight (allowing for more efficient palm muting), but it might feel uncomfortable to beginners.

Tip #3 – Find the right angle

Finding the proper angle depends solely on your playing style. Musicians who need accuracy for chord play tend to use the angle that is sharper than musicians who strum their guitar a lot (musicians who rely on flexibility instead on accuracy).

Anyhow, the angle of your hand will also come naturally when you find the natural position, but you can always experiment until you got it.

Try holding your pick with your thumb and your index finger in the most comfortable position known to you and lift it right in front of you so that it makes the right angle with your body (90 degrees). Lay it down on your guitar and loosen your ankle so that your fingers fall right onto the strings.

This will sharpen the angle you’re looking for, leaving you with less to worry about, as it will narrow down the object of your search substantially.

Tip #4 – Experiment with your technique

As we’ve already mentioned, different playing styles ask for different hand positions regarding the use of a guitar pick. Using a single position you deem “perfect and comfortable” will make you somewhat stiff, as you’ll find certain songs and riffs more difficult to play.

The best tip we can offer you relies on experimentation – you’ll have to write off what you thought you know and simply relax and go with the flow. The best way to use your guitar pick is the one you’ll come to feel, not the one you’ll learn or see.

For example, heavy strumming relies on a flexible ankle while soloing requires pinpoint accuracy. Palm muting techniques require a comfortable hand position while finger tapping techniques can be performed without a pick. A guitarist’s world is a huge one, so keep your mind open and your hand relaxed.

Tip #5 – Essentials: “Downstroke & Upstroke”

Again, we won’t to accentuate one of the biggest and most common mistakes most beginners make. The “downstroke” literally means “strumming your guitar downward” while “upstroke” is the exact opposite of that. While most beginners use the “downstroke” (as it’s substantially easier), it makes them harder to grasp the “upstroke” at a later point.

You’ll find many songs and techniques harder if you use “downstrokes” alone. There are various exercises you can use to nail down both techniques, among which the most famous one is striking a single string up and down every day for a couple of minutes. After a few months, you’ll have acquired this skill without even knowing.

Conclusion

Using a guitar pick is very simple, but finding your sweet spot and comfort might not be so. Hopefully, you’ll learn to utilize your pick using skills to the maximum with our humble help – we wish you good luck while doing so.