How to Properly Hold a Guitar Pick

May 9, 2024
min read

For anyone who is just getting into learning guitar, even the slightest things, such as knowing how to hold a guitar pick matter.

So, if you think not knowing how to hold a guitar pick will suffice and you will still be able to play guitar like a pro- dismiss that thought right now! The way you grip the guitar pick contributes to the overall playing technique and to avoid any confusion or problems later on, start reading this article right now to discover more about guitar picks and the different ways you can hold them.

symbolically holding a guitar pick

How To Hold A Guitar Pick?

Learning the proper technique to hold the guitar pick is crucial because it affects the produced tone, speed, and overall comfort that you have while playing guitar.

An improper technique where the pick is held too loosely will cause it to wiggle and fly out of your hand. While a pick that is held too tightly will cause your hand to cramp and, in both cases, result in you getting uncomfortable, distracted, and not focusing much on developing your playing technique!

proper guitar pick holding grip

Therefore, it is important that you stand on the middle ground between the pick’s tightness and looseness (which is essentially also the right way to hold the guitar pick). Since you are still in the initial stages of guitar learning, we will teach you the most basic and easiest way to hold the guitar pick- the flat method.

The Flat Method

flat method for holding a guitar pick demonstrated

However, once you have gotten the grip of the pick- feel free to change your pick holding in any way you like. But, for now, it is advisable that you attempt to hold the pick in the way we recommend.

  1. Make sure that before you hold the guitar pick, your strumming hand is relaxed. 
  2. Put your thumb and index finger together while closing the other three fingers facing toward your palm. 
  3. Now, slowly slide the guitar pick in between your index finger’s flat area and the thumb such that the index finger and the pick are pointing in the same direction. 
  4. Grip the pick tightly but not too tightly. Your two fingers should have a solid amount of control over the pick so it does not fall once you start strumming. 
  5. With the pick properly and firmly placed in your hand, you are ready to start playing! 

If you want to hit single notes, then cover the majority of the pick with your fingers, only leaving some exposed surface behind so that there can be better accuracy in the sound. On the other hand, if you are going to strum, leave a large portion of the pick exposed.

do not bend wrists warning while playing guitar

Important Note:  The goal of learning the proper pick-holding technique is to ensure that it does not fall out of your hand. So try your level best to hold the guitar pick as lightly but as firmly as possible.

Other Pick Holding Techniques 

Previously, we have stated the flat pick method, but if it is not working out for you and you are having difficulties keeping the pick in your fingers, there are several other styles you can try.

It is not set in stone that the method suitable for the majority will also work out well for you. Therefore, if the need arises, do not hesitate to test and try out guitar pick-holding techniques until you find the right one for yourself.

However, something that you must remember when trying out any of our following techniques is to avoid bending your wrist when playing the pick- keep your wrist straightened out!

Even if you accidentally or unconsciously bend your wrist when playing the instrument, not only will it be painful, but it will also impact your strumming.

Before exploring the alternatives, might I suggest learning how to play the electric guitar.

Pinch Method 

Hold the guitar pick for this method between the tips of your thumb and the index finger. Here, you must make sure that the pick rests on the thumb’s tip and the index finger’s side.

pinch method for holding a guitar pick

Side Method 

Position the pick between the sides of your thumb and the index finger, ensuring that one end is closer to your index finger and the other near the thumb.

Side Method for holding a guitar pick

Fist Method 

The most convenient way to practice the first guitar pick method is to form your hand into a fist. However, instead of curling your thumb around the fingers, rest it on top of the index finger with the guitar pick in between.

Although the fist method is yet another easy way to hold the pick, this technique is typically used for picks that are heavier and thicker, and as beginners, the ideal pick for you will be the lightweight one.

Be patient, and wait out on this method until you have become more proficient at playing the guitar and getting a hang of guitar picks.

Fist Method for holding a guitar pick

Middle Finger And Thumb Method

Some people may not prefer to hold guitar picks between the index finger and the thumb and want to opt for something different, so instead of the index finger, they utilize their middle finger. Here, the middle finger will provide the function that the index finger was previously serving, and now the index finger will just rest upon the middle finger.

Those who want to have more control over the pick can use this method.

muscular hands holding a guitar pick with the Middle Finger And Thumb Method

Ring Finger and Thumb Method

Similar to the above-stated method is the ring finger and thumb method. The pick will be held between the thumb and the ring finger to play the guitar more precisely and at a comparatively faster pace.

Choosing Guitar Picks As A Beginner

When choosing a guitar pick as a beginner, you must consider two primary attributes of the pick: its thickness and material. If you succeed at picking out the most suitable type of pick right now, rest assured, progressing with your guitar journey will be much simpler and hassle-free.

Keep in mind the cost of your guitar, and the brand of your choosing may have an impact on this decision.

Guitar Picks Thickness

Each brand manufactures picks in three labels: thick, medium, and thin, all accompanied by thickness measurements in millimeters. The thinnest guitar picks will be available in 0.4mm while the thickest in 3mm.

Typically, thinner guitar picks are recommended for strumming, whereas thicker picks work ideally for handling leads and rhythm on an electric guitar. However, there are also medium-thickness guitar picks that are not too thick but, at the same time, not too thin, rigid, or slippery, and are flexible.

Still, for beginners the best guitar pick is the one whose thickness ranges between 0.6 to 0.8mm. We recommend this pick because it has a good combination of flexibility and stiffness, allowing you to easily play the guitar while also making sure that you get more comfortable and well-acquainted with how to hold a guitar pick.

Regardless, if you do not feel comfortable working around the guitar with a medium pick, there’s always the alternative of going ahead with a thick or a thin pick. You never know when and which kind of pick could really be the one for you.

thickness scale for guitar picks


Guitar Picks Material 

When you go shopping, you will encounter guitar picks available in many materials. Again, it is important that you cautiously choose the material of the picks as different pick materials will produce varying sounds.

For example, softer materials like a rubber pick will produce a thick and heavy sound. Whereas a metal pick will generate a high-pitched sound, and a plastic pick will release a hushed, soft sound.

Most guitar picks are made of plastic and are cheap. Similarly, they are also best suited for beginners because they will help you in pinning down the guitar basics while learning how to attain a firm grip over the pick.

Considering that plastic guitar picks are inexpensive and as someone just beginning with the guitar, you will be practicing rigorously and continuously, using these picks is your optimal option. Even when the pick’s edges wear out, you can always purchase a new one simply by spending a few bucks

Guitar Picks Shape

4 Guitar Picks Shapes

Even the shape of the guitar pick will impact your playing style and the produced sound because different shapes have different surface areas that will aid you with the grip and comfort of the pick.

The most common and widely used shapes for a guitar pick by the most famous electric guitarists and those perfect for beginners are the standard and the teardrop shapes. These two shapes will provide enough area for you to have a solid grip on the pick, and their sharp edges will also bring about better precision in your music.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What is the ideal pick thickness for a beginner?

Someone playing the guitar at a beginner level should buy a medium-sized thick pick, which is 0.6 to 0.8mm in thickness.

Which fingers do you hold a guitar pick with?

Typically and generally, most people opt for holding guitar picks with their thumb and index finger. However, a handful of people also feel more comfortable with holding the pick in their middle or ring finger instead of the index finger.

Why does my hand hurt after playing guitar?

Your hand hurts after playing the guitar because when playing the guitar, you had your wrist bent, which caused unnecessary tension and strained it. To avoid this from happening again, remember to keep your wrist straightened when playing guitar with a pick.

Is it important to play with guitar picks?

While people might choose to use their fingers for strumming, it is advisable to play with guitar picks because the pick will allow you to play fast with precision and control, resulting in an accurate bright tone.



Although there are different ways in which you can hold a guitar pick, still the one that is going to be the right for you will be the one through which you can play the guitar most comfortably. Learning how to hold guitar picks is something that comes to an individual through experience and it is only after you have played the instrument for at least some time that you will be able to experiment with your pick style.

Till then, try out the easy guitar pick methods that we have stated for you, and remember a few basics:

  • Do not bend the wrist while playing
  • Choose a medium-thick guitar pick, most preferably in plastic, and in a teardrop or a standard shape

About the Author

Preston has been a professional guitar instructor since 2010 and is the founder of SLC Guitar and the Guitar GPS Method. His holistic method helps players learn quickly and understand what they are doing musically, while his gamified learning platform make practice fun and effective. 

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