How to hold a flatpick

The pick should be held firmly enough so that you don't drop it.  That's all.  Any tighter and you'll choke the life out of it, and your strumming will sound "stiff" as well.

Try holding the pick between your thumb and finger, then try pulling it out with your other hand.   What you want to see, and feel, is a little bit of play in the thumb.  It should flex but not let go.  That's perfect.

When you strum, do not push the pick through the strings.  You should let your arm fall (pivoting from your elbow) so it falls straight down and quickly across the strings.  What you have to do is stop the fall of the arm just as it crosses the 1st string.  If you are trying to push the pick through the strings, you will have to hold the pick tighter.

Also when you pick if you can loosen your other fingers.  To achieve this, place your pick on the 3rd string and set your other fingers (2,3,&pinky) on the face of the guitar.  When you lift that away from the guitar you will have what I call the "perfect pick position".  If your fingers are curled into your palm your hand will stiffen, causing your pick grip to tighten.

Then start with your pick just above the 6th string and let it drop across the strings.  Your wrist should not move and your hand should not change position.  Just let it fall, but be sure to stop it as soon as it's done strumming across all six strings.

Then when you strum up, you should not change the position of your wrist or the pick again.  Just brush up.  You will probably notice that you can't hit all the strings that way.  You don't want to.  The up stroke is usually an "off beat" and should be weaker than the down strum.

Is that enough of an exercise for you? This is the way I explain it all of my students, most of whom are very good strummers.

Donated by Tom Rasely


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