When learning how to play the guitar you will want to know how to guitar pick so here are some words of advice.
As with everything there are conventions to guitar finger picking and the standard way is by holding the pick in between thumb and the profile of the first finger with the other fingers resting against the guard – this can be firmly resting or merely draped.
Although this is the standard method you may find some discomfort in pressing the pick between thumb and the side of the finger as it has to be firm otherwise it will become unsteady and may get caught in the strings.
Guitar Finger Picking – Off Guard
A different approach is where the rest of the fingers are held in a ball either tightly or loose and where it’s not held against the pick guard so the pick is the only contact between guitar and picking hand. To many players this is better because the lever of hand and wrist are a tighter combination and there is more control. For players just starting out though, they often find that because of the lost reference point, that is the hand contact with the guard, there is a certain amount of accuracy that is lost when guitar finger picking.
A third method of picking the guitar is where the palm is resting flat against the bridge, sometimes in front and others behind depending on if the player wants the sound from the strings muted. The fingers can be closed or open.
This way of dealing with the guitar pick works great for players of the electric guitars who are able to control unwanted feedback. The downside is the motion of playing which is not with the wrist but a side to side movement. This means that the wrist becomes locked and limits the speed of playing.
A variation on the guitar finger picking method above is where you have a side of the palm on the bridge and the picking part, that is the thumb side, slightly raised. So this is similar except for the location of the hand and some people find it gives less discomfort to the wrist.
Guitar Finger Picking in a Circle
Yet another method that has evolved is one called circle picking – who thought there could so many ways of holding a little piece of plastic – whereby the pick is held the same as the standard way but you make a circular motion on the strings with the end of the fingers as opposed to the wrist or arm. This is achieved by sliding the pick along a part of the string and then crossing it, turning anticlockwise on the down stroke and a clockwise turn on the upstroke.
This limited movements of the joints means less aching from the hours of practice and is also good for older players or anyone suffering with their joints. The sound is good although it can look a bit odd.
This way of picking guitar is quite popular but it’s necessary to concentrate on timing which can be affected as can the speed of playing as the circular motion is a more complicated movement compared to the up and down of normal strumming.
The George Benson style of picking a guitar looks and feels a bit like the caricature of a genteel way of holding a cup of tea. The pick is held at the end of the thumb and index finger with the thumb and top two finger joints locked, the index finger being arched. The pick is held with it pointing out at a 90 degree difference to the normal method of holding the pick which is at a right angle to the hand.
There you have some ways to pick a guitar. Find the one you like the best but try them all and see how you get on. Choosing a guitar is fun but guitar finger picking is better. For programs with lessons on finger picking here are a round up of the best online guitar lessons reviews.