Guitar picks come in a lot of different shapes and thicknesses, in addition to being made from many different materials.
There are a few “basic” shapes that you will find, regardless of what brand you come across. Three common shapes are the “teardrop”, “triangle”, and “Dorito”. Every manufacturer has its own name for each style, these are just what I call them.
Picks also come in a lot of different thicknesses. Some manufacturers simply say “Thin”, “Medium”, “Heavy” or “Extra Heavy”, while others measure thickness in mm. Settling on a guitar pick is a personal choice and, fortunately, they are fairly inexpensive, so you can buy several and try them out to decide which works best for you and your playing style.
My preference is the triangle. I have fairly large hands and it’s easy, and comfortable, for me to hold. For thickness, I like Medium.
Now let’s talk about how to hold the pick, strum the strings and get great sound.
This is always better to demonstrate and may be hard to do from reading an article, so watch the short video below.
You want to hold your pick between your thumb and forefinger. If you are using a larger pick, you may want to also use your index finger. Hold it firmly enough so it doesn’t just flop on the strings as you strum and/or fly out of your hand.
Now, hold the pick so it’s at a right angle to the strings and rest it on the 6th string with the tip of the pick a little past the string, like this.
Next, angle the pick about 45 degrees.
I like to strum with my forearm, so my wrist is kept straight. This lets me easily, and painlessly, adjust my strumming anywhere from gentle to strong.
Now, strum your strings, one at a time and stop to rest on the next string. Just push down and smoothly slide off each string. Kind of like you would stroke a dog or cat.
Do this a few times.
Now, let’s strum all six strings in one motion. This will be like we just did, except we are not going to stop on each string.
Do this 6 times. How does that feel?
Practice these strumming exercises on your own until it is smooth, effortless and you don’t even have to think about it.
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Steve started playing guitar in ‘69, and has been performing regularly since ’90. His involvement with recording and sound engineering began in the early ‘70’s.
Steve, and his bands, have always given back to the community, supporting Special Needs Families, Christian Outreach, Food Pantries, Homeless Shelters and Medical Research.
As a songwriter and registered artist with BMI, Steve’s songwriting and gig sets span the Blues, Rock, Folk, Country and Christian genres.
2009 was the start of a busy solo performing schedule as well as sharing his love of music by teaching both Guitar and Live Performance Techniques. Steve teaches his guitar students to play the music THEY want to play, right from the start, without getting bogged down with music theory. With Live Performance Techniques lessons, students learn how to move from the living room to a live stage.