How to Hold the Pick

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How to Hold the Pick

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to hold the pick, but first, a short story about pick holding history…  I used to hold the pick in a lot of different ways. I tried Pat Metheny’s way and Wes Montgomery’s way – with my thumb. Then I got into John Mclaughlin and I adopted his way, his technique and, of course, when I played rock and blues, I needed to lean on the bridge and play alternate picking.  So, I tried it all and I never felt like “This is exactly my thing” until I got to rest-stroke picking, the picking method used in Gypsy jazz, which is the same as the technique I use on my Oud. This is also the picking method used by Gypsy guitarists who play jazz. 

They usually use a very big and thick pick, but you can adopt this method with whatever pick you use. When I learned this technique, it really changed the way I play.  I really love the sound! That’s the main benefit. This technique helps you get the best sound out of your guitar.  

You can implement the way I hold the pick with any picking method, but in Gypsy jazz picking, we play with a floating hand; this means that my hand does not touch the guitar body when I play.  I’m not leaning on the guitar. I’m floating and I’m letting the strings ring.

The pick that I use was made by Wegan and it has lines on it, on both sides. They’re like 45 degrees from the top of the pick.

Wegan pick with lines

If you follow these lines with your index finger and thumb on either side of the pick, you’ll get the following shape:

Finger placement on the lines of the pick

My thumb goes in one direction and my index finger goes in the other direction and the pick is in the middle and when I pick the strings, the pick hits the string and the nail of my index finger can hit the string a little bit as well.

See how the pick and the nail of the index finger hit the strings

My index finger goes in one direction, my thumb goes in the other direction and the pick is in the middle:

Relative placement of pick and fingers

Don’t hold the pick too tight, because you want the pick to be flexible on your strings, not going into the string, but to have flexibility there.

I hope you enjoyed this. Don’t forget to add your comments below.

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