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GuitarPickSecrets's picture
Jul 2016
9 months ago

5 tips to pick better

I remember when I first picked up a guitar. It was waaaaaay back in the stone age or something.

It was a no-brand, zero-quality, horribly-sounding acoustic guitar, but it still meant the world. Even more than that, it was when I first picked up a guitar pick and used it. Maaaaaaan, those where the best moments, I automatically thought myself to be a rockstar just by holding it and doing some weird facial expressions while "attempting" to pick something on the guitar.

Yep, you guessed it. About 10 seconds later, those moments were spent and I watched in horror how difficult it seemd, compared to what I thought it would by watching my guitar heroes.

I want to share with you guys some of the best tips I've learnt along the way through many years of learning, playing, and performing.

1) Go with a "heavy" pick
Although some great players do use medium of softer picks, there is a pattern in favor of heavy picks. In general, harder means more control and power (that's what she said, anyway). Your technique will be much more seamless with such a pick.

2) Practice all picking styles
Most of us have heard of these. All down/all up, alternate, economy, sweep, there many ways, and you should practice each one to a proficient level at least. The reason this is a good idea is that it pushes your comfort zone to force you into training your hand and arm muscles in different ways, as well as training your nervous system to be more flexible.

3) Change the pick angle to change your tone
If you hit the strings with the flat of the pick, it will produce the most punch, but it will also require the most strength and control (great for alternate picking runs). Hitting the strings with the blade part of the pick will give a softer sound, as well as being easier on the effort (useful por sweep picking).

4) Keep your index and thumb solid
The movement of the pick should come from the wrist and/or elbow. Using the finger movement will not alow you to play fast or even for long as they tire quickly.

5) Consistency
One of the most important aspects. Your technique should be virtually the same despite speed and punch of what you are playing. This allows for a far better learning curve and will make the transitions seamlessly.

Hope you find these tips useful, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

- Max

kaicho8888's picture
San Francisco
Oct 2008
1 day ago

Good tips!  Thank you.

I've never analyze my pickn' technique and use mainly Jazz III picks. 

Old Rockers never die... we just fade away! 会長

GuitarPickSecrets's picture
Jul 2016
9 months ago
Originally Posted by kaicho8888

Good tips!  Thank you.

I've never analyze my pickn' technique and use mainly Jazz III picks. 

It's a good thing to analyze everything you do. The reason is that when you are actually playing you cannot pay attention to what exactly you are doing with each finger, hand, etc, and therefore you have to be very smart on how you learn so that your technique is flawless and automatic.

Of course, this applies to every technique.

Jazz III picks are nice, they make for a great picking sound, although it is a little too harsh for me. My favorite are Planet Waves like these: http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTE1NlgxMjMx/z/0nwAAOSwQItUA4Y2/$_35.JPG?set_id=880000500F

tminet's picture
New Jersey - Land of the Lost
Sep 2009
1 day ago

My pick choices have varied through the years. Some things require a little more flexibility in the pick (for example, some kinds of rhythm playing), while some lead work does benefit from a heavier pick.  A nice compromise for me has been the Dava Control pick.  If you hold it near the top, it's more flexible, but if you move down toward the point a bit, it's more rigid.  Good all around pick  

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If you hand me a guitar, I'll play the blues. That's the place I automatically go ~ Eric Clapton

http://www.youtube.com/Johndrakenosix

kaicho8888's picture
San Francisco
Oct 2008
1 day ago

I rarely use my personalized picks... LOL.

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Old Rockers never die... we just fade away! 会長

fruce_ki's picture
Jul 2015
1 month ago

1) Check! Been using a 1mm steel pick for most of my guitar-related life. The same. Yes, I don't lose picks. But I do prefer very soft picks for extensive strumming.

2,3,4,5) Uhm... not so much. 

GuitarPickSecrets's picture
Jul 2016
9 months ago
Originally Posted by fruce_ki

1) Check! Been using a 1mm steel pick for most of my guitar-related life. The same. Yes, I don't lose picks. But I do prefer very soft picks for extensive strumming.

2,3,4,5) Uhm... not so much. 

Don't worry! Those are just tips, not laws.

I still recommend you give them a shot. They have worked for me.

humbuckerstrat's picture
Dec 2015
1 day ago

I like V-Pick Snakes.

humbuckerstrat's picture
Dec 2015
1 day ago

I stopped using a thick pick pick, they were preventing me from speed-strumming octaves, and I love to do that. I now use a Snarling Dogs .73mm pick, it has a lot of flex. My speed picking single strings has improved also due to using a thinner pick.

You lose a lot in tone, but it's made up for in playability.