How to Hold a Guitar Pick Correctly

Learn how to hold a guitar pick from Broadway musician Michael Aarons in this Howcast video.


So I found that over the 25 plus years of playing guitar one of the biggest things that I found that is overlooked by players, by teachers is how to properly hold a pick. I found that in the music that I like to play the technique that I've employed and the hero's on guitar that I like the most and try to emulate their playing style, they all seem to pick the same way. And over the years I've shown some people and it's opened their eyes too. So I think it's a really important technique.

The best way to describe the technique that I'm going to show you, it's multi-faceted. But if you take the pick, right here we have a medium pick. Let's just play one note. I'm playing in the middle of the guitar between the pickups and I'm just playing right parallel with the string, the flat under the pick. If I turn my hand under so that the pick is not perpendicular to the string or parallel, it's more perpendicular like this, facing this way. So this as opposed to this. It may sound like I'm picking harder. I'm actually not.

What's happening is the angle has changed so that I'm using different muscle groups in my arm, actually. I don't know if you can see my wrist. I'm curving it around. Not too much, but just enough so that the angle is going this way towards the head stock. Almost at a 45 degree angle on the back end of the pick. But I am picking straight down. Keep the joint of your thumb locked. Don't do this, because if you notice the angle of the pick, let's just do the open string. If I bend the knuckle, it's all it takes. The angle of my hand is the same.

You may pick like this. If you pick like this with your hand up and around, this is with the knuckle bent, this is with the knuckle straight. You can hear right away double in volume, warmer, more rounded. Some of my heroes, like George Benson, Grant Green, even people like Nile Rogers, Cornell Dupree, some of the great rhythm players, Jimi Hendrix also, somehow they; if you look at pictures of them; they all pick this way on the underside of the pick.

And I don't know why that is or why they all pick that way. It's just that I love their playing, tried to emulate it. And when I was learning about picking and saw that they all picked the same way as opposed to some of the other guitar players I was seeing, a light bulb kind of went off. And when I was learning how to pick the right way, I was able to do some of the things that I wasn't before, able to do technically and tone-wise because of this picking method.

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