How to Hold A Guitar Pick: 3 Easy Steps

Want to learn how to hold a guitar pick? This free guitar lesson will show you!

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 4 must-know pick tricks which will make you sound amazing.
  • 2 essential tips which will take your guitar playing to the next level.
  • How to hold a guitar pick in 3 easy steps.
  • The no1 secret that will enhance your musicality and phrasing.

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Learning to hold a guitar pick is the secret to playing guitar fast.

Let’s learn how to hold a guitar pick.

1) How To Hold A Guitar Pick | Do A Thumbs Up Sign!

This is arguably the coolest step of all, and it’s the easiest too.

You may have used this kind gesture from time to time, but don’t underestimate it.

It’s the first step you must take when learning how to hold a guitar pick.

how to hold a guitar pick

2) How To Hold A Guitar Pick | Place The Pick On Top of Your Fingers

When you do this, make sure that:

  • The pointy edge is facing towards you.

Like this:

how to hold a guitar pick

3) How To Hold A Guitar Pick | Clamp Your Thumb On Top Of The Pick

For the final step, place your thumb over the top of the pick.

Like this:

how to hold a guitar pick

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

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So we created a cheat-sheet! A key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

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how to hold a guitar pick

Quick Pick Tip!

When you learn how to hold a guitar pick, make sure that a decent amount of pick can be seen.

Your picking will not be consistent if:

  • A tiny amount of plectrum is showing.
  • If there’s too much plectrum showing.

When you’re holding a guitar pick, try and get a balance between the two.

Like this:

how to hold a guitar pick

What Size Pick Do I Need?

Picks come in a range of shapes and sizes. From thick to thin and large to small.

If you’re new to guitar playing, we recommend a medium sized pick. This size is perfect for beginners:

  • 0.65-0.73

Any thicker than this and your strumming can feel rigid and stiff.

Any thinner than this, and you won’t get much power out of the plectrum.

Check out these awesome hand made guitar picks by Time Tones:  Timber Tones: Largest Collection Of Luxury Guitar Picks Worldwide

How Do I Strum With A Guitar Pick?

One of the most common ways to use a guitar pick is to help your strumming technique.

We’re going to show you some essential tips which will take your strumming to the next level.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the basics of guitar strumming technique.

how to hold a guitar pick

Guitar Posture

Having good posture is the secret to great strumming technique. Here are a couple of cool tips which will help you master your posture:

  • Sit on a chair with no arms.

Your arms needs to be free to move, sitting on a chair with arms restricts your movement.

  • Your legs are at a 90 degree angle.

This keeps your back straight, and allows you to sit properly with the guitar!

To learn more about guitar posture go here:

What Do I Do With My Strumming Arm?

Make sure that your strumming arm is placed over the ridge of the guitar. This is where you have MAXIMUM movement when strumming.

Your strumming arm needs to pivot back and forward over the strings.

Don’t Bend Your Wrist!

Bending your wrist is a big no when learning to strum the guitar. Not only is it painful, it’s also detrimental to your strumming.

Your wrist shouldn’t be bent like a swan’s neck. Your wrist should be straight. Like this:

how to hold a guitar pick

Notice how the pick is directed at the strings, this is the PERFECT pick position.

How Do I Strum The Guitar With My Pick?

When you strum the guitar, your wrist should be locked. All the movement MUST come from your elbow.

When you strum the guitar, make sure that you:

  • Use big bold movements from your forearm.
  • Strum from your elbow, NOT your wrist.

All your strumming power comes from your elbow, not your wrist.

When using your pick to strum the strings, you should be pushing through the strings with a downward motion.

Here’s what strumming a guitar looks like from your perspective:

how to strum a guitar

Want to learn how to strum? Go here: How To Strum A Guitar

3 Essential Plectrum Techniques

Using a plectrum is the best way to enhance your guitar technique. It’s a fantastic tool which will make you a better guitarist.

Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common ways to use a guitar pick.

1) Alternate Picking

Alternate picking is frequently used by all guitarists. It’s a lead guitarist’s secret weapon.

Alternate picking is useful for genres such as:

  • Rock.
  • Jazz.
  • Metal
  • Blues.

It can be used ANYWHERE. If you’re going to learn one pick technique, make sure it’s this one.

What Is Alternate Picking?

Alternate picking is a smaller version of strumming.

When you strum a guitar, most of the time you are doing down and up strokes. When you alternate pick,  you strike each individual string with a down and up motion.

This technique is useful for:

  • Rapid lead lines.
  • Intricate melodies.
  • Killer sounding guitar riffs.

To learn how to become an epic lead guitarist, go here:

how to hold a guitar pick

How Do I Alternate Pick?

To alternate pick:

  • Play a down stroke and an up stroke on each individual string.

Here’s a challenge which will get your alternate picking up to speed in no time.

For a FULL lesson on alternate picking, go here: Alternate Picking

Alternate Picking Bonus Challenge


  • Play your low E string (6th string) with a downstroke.

As soon as you have played a downstroke, follow it immediately with an upstroke.

Try this on each of the following strings:

  • A string. (5th string.)
  • D string. (4th string.)
  • G string. (3rd string.)
  • B string. (2nd string.)
  • E string. (1st string.)

Every time you do a down stroke on a string, immediately play an up stroke after.

how to hold a guitar pick

Don’t understand this? Go here: How To Read Guitar Tabs

It sounds like this:

On tab, watch out for these symbols:

how to hold a guitar pick This tells you which way you should pick a specific note.

To take your picking to the next level, we’re going to apply alternate picking to the following scales:

  • The minor pentatonic scale.
  • The major scale.

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