Beginner’s Guide How To Hold A Guitar Pick Properly

It requires special skill to hold a guitar pick properly to learn the right way to play guitar. However, not many players give time to analyze the right way to grasp the pick.

Unskilled techniques can hurt you when you start playing more complicated and faster music pieces. Hence, to establish right habits from before and avoid any muscle memory locking to make you choose shoddy pick holding techniques, you need to find out the right way how to hold a guitar pick properly from the start.

What’s the right way to hold a guitar pick?

Before analyzing the different methods to hold a guitar pick, you should know a common debate which guitar players have: Is there a right method to hold a guitar pick?

The presence of a single “correct” way is a heated discussions topic- if there is a proper manner to hold the pick, then do the other players hold it in the wrong way? How does the “right way” approach takes into considers the professional players who have unconventional ways to hold their pick?

And, while the fact lies that a lot of players hold their pick in the same manner, there are several other ways to hold a pick which work on a technical standard. Emphasizing one way over the other may make the young guitarist struggle and may force them to quit playing guitar completely.

Comfort is a major aspect to right pick holding approach. Some guitar players just find it more comfortable to hold the pick in a particular manner. Whether or not that particular method is the perfect way to hold a pick, the aim is to find out whether the player is comfortable with his technique or not so that he can play quicker and more precisely.

Talking about the variations in the styles of guitar players, the one-size-fits-all approach to hold a guitar pick may rather be misguiding. Though you have several pick techniques, but online resources share a completely different story. It is simple for amateur players to get intimidated and struggle to hold the pick in an unnatural way which may hamper their self-esteem and make them drop the instrument completely.

The answer to this problem according to teachers and players lies in concentrating on the technique’s results rather than motion. Yes, you should look at results and the guitarist’s hand, wrist and forearms individually. It is very much possible that two talented guitarists can hold their picks differently from one another and play with same speed, form and phrasing without causing any harm to their joints.

But, surely this doesn’t mean that every method of holding a pick is right. You should find out the flaws and work on your technique to hold a pick. If you think that your picking hand slows you when you play some specific pieces, then critically analyze how you hold the pick and see if you can improvise.

The right way to hold a pick

If you wish to know the right way to hold a pick which is natural, then here are some recommended options for you.

Thumb and index finger

The most recommended method to hold a guitar pick is between your thumb and index finger. It is the conventional approach to hold a pick which usually all jazz and hard rock players do.

And, this is obvious, but holding the pick between your thumb and index finger needs more than just mere holding the plastic and playing. Initially, you have to bend your index finger so that your nail tip points backward and your fingers touch your palm.

Now put your thumb against your index finger side and make your thumb nail pointing more or less straight resting on your index finger’s second digit.

Put the pick between two fingers with its apex facing downwards. Your style can vary a little bit, but usually the pick lies at a 90 degree position to your horizontal index finger.

Another common approach to hold guitar pick, Thiatis is recommended by teachers. If you don’t know which pick holding method you should go for, then try this one.

It is simple to learn and gives you high dexterity with your picking hand. It keeps the pick locked between two fingers and helps you in playing the notes clearer and louder.

If you choose this method, then turn your wrist to other pick rather than using your finger motors. However, holding the guitar pick in your forefinger and thumb doesn’t mean that you have to hold it with your two fingers expanded further. However, some players do it this way. And, if it is coming naturally to you, then stick to it.

Thumb and middle finger

Though people prefer using thumb and index finger, but some guitarist also use thumb and middle finger. It may appear strange, but this approach has its own benefits and it feels more natural.

You cannot round your middle finger and press your thumb against it to hold the pick like your thumb and index finger. You have to leave place for your index finger amidst. Hence, you should keep your middle finger a little more extended.

This approach is beneficial for some specific music styles like Eddie Van Helen.

Professionals state that the approach keeps your fingers loose and permits higher freedom while playing and provides the ability to deal with passages at quicker speeds in comparison to other picking methods.

Also, with your index finger free, it can be used to play other notes, like Van Halen used it to tap.

Tips to hold a pick

Irrespective of what style you choose, here are some tips mentioned for you:

  1. The manner in which you hold the pick isn’t necessary as the manner in which you hold your picking arm. So, irrespective of how you hold a pick, you have to concentrate to the tension in your arm, wrist and elbow. Playing with discomfort in these areas may cause continuous injuries. It is very important to feel loose on stage so bring in that aspect in your picking technique.
  2. Hold the pick only with one other finger apart from your thumb. Using several fingers on the pick may prevent you from moving the pick flexibly.
  3. You should rest your finger in line when you strum.


The pick hold technique is important for all guitar players. While there is no “one approach” to hold a pick- several professional guitarists choose their zany picking method. Developing a unique method here will help in the formation of a strong base for your playing down the line.