I remember when I’d first started learning guitar, the guitar pick was one of the hardest things to grasp.
Just trying to pluck the string at the right angle was challenging enough, but as soon as I got the angle right the pick would turn on me or completely slip to the floor. So in addition to the pick slipping we will focus on how to hold a guitar pick correctly.
It was an agonizing laughable issue I had for quite sometime when first starting out.
If you find yourself wondering why your guitar pick keeps slipping on you? Ask yourself these 4 questions below to fix this issue:
- Where are you holding the pick at?
- Are you using too much of the pick?
- Are you holding the guitar pick too tightly?
- Is your pick too flimsy?
- What style of music are you playing?
Question 1: Where are you holding the pick at?
The first thing we need to take a look at is where are you exactly holding the pick at.
When we are playing guitar 95% of the time we are looking at our fretting hand and not our strumming hand.
This is why we need to spend some time playing something you are very comfortable playing so that you can watch your right hand (left hand if you are playing a lefty guitar), and take note of where you are naturally holding the pick at.
Do this for as many different styles of playing you do, for example, take note if your hand moves differently on the pick if you are strumming vs. playing a lead part.
Question 2: Are you using too much of the pick?
After you have answered question 1 for yourself, it will be much easier to now see if you are simply using too much of the guitar pick.
If this is the case for you, awesome we now know what we need in order to fix your issue, if this isn’t the case for you continue on.
What I recommend if this is your issue.
If this is your issue and you are using too much of the guitar pick, take your thumb and move it up the pick towards the plucking curvature end of the pick.
This will allow for you to keep a better grip and you will notice picking this way over a little practice that you feel like you have way more control over where you are at on top of the 6 strings when strumming or playing a lead.
Question 3: Are you holding the guitar pick too tightly?
Often people misunderstand the concept of holding the pick tighter in order to not have it turn or slip on them.
I have found while talking with other guitarists and my own experience with playing that I actually keep quite a loose grip on my pick, especially when playing lead guitar.
If you are experiencing a lot of the pick actually falling to the floor, or sometimes shooting to the floor, lol!
This can be from holding the pick too tightly. This is especially common with players that are aiming at speed and very rhythmic playing guitar, like metal.
If this is your current situation the thing to do first is recognizing that you probably are trying to grip too hard.
You don’t want to completely go to the other end of the spectrum though and hold it to lose.
What I recommend is just try and loosen up your grip by 25% at first.
Just enough to notice a difference but not to the point that you feel like you can’t play like you normally can.
What I mean by this is if you can usually play a particular riff exceptionally well.
Try and change your picking sometimes this can make you feel like you cant even play the lick that you know so well, so don’t try to be that drastic with changing your approach.
You’ll get much further if you can find a nice balance between just enough grip to not slip while still having total control of your playing.
Question 4: Is your pick too flimsy?
I’ve only ever played on a real “thin” pick one time. It felt very bendy and flimsy and didn’t feel right to me.
At the time I didn’t even know that there were different thicknesses in picks.
So let’s quickly take a look at what different picks are intended for, and discover what you are playing on and if that’s really the best choice for you.
First off guitar picks are generally measured in millimeters to determining the thickness of a pick.
When you read that a pick is Heavy or even in some cases extra heavy that means that its probably a 1.5mm or around that in thickness.
This type of pick will not have much bend to it, it’s extremely sturdy and is usually used for harder playing also most often producing a bit of a darker sound as well.
A medium pick is exactly that right in the middle between a heavy and a light pick.
These are quite versatile and many rock and blues musicians have been known to use a medium pick, although I believe many lean towards the heavier side still.
Due to having just a bit more control over the bend of the pick. They are worth checking out though and giving a try if you want to strum without as much resistance from the pick itself.
Then lastly as we started with you have a thin pick, that is usually around 0.33mm in thickness.
These picks are flimsy, but that is their purpose they are used during delicate music, and often producer a lighter, often brighter tone.
I can’t give too much more information on thin picks as I just have never used them much in my playing.
So if you’re not holding the pick too tightly, and you aren’t playing with too much of the pick.
You might want to explore different thicknesses of picks and see if by using a different millimeter if that helps with it slipping out or turning on you.
Often people need a thicker pick than they realize to feel like they have total control of the strumming hand.
Question: 5 What style of music are you playing?
the style of music you are playing can have a huge impact on your picking hand, everything from how you hold the pick to the thickness of the pick.
So you should take into consideration doing some research on the style of music you are playing.
You will quickly discover that many guitarists that play the same styles often have very similar gear, and usually for a reason at that.
For now, any easy way to decide on this is quite simple.
If you are looking to play heavy metal or speed guitar, you will more than likely be using a very heavy pick, with proper holding and the thickness of the pick, it just shouldn’t slip.
For more classic rock and blues guitar I would still recommend just a traditional Fender “Heavy” pick.
They are really great in that they aren’t too small like some of the speed picks out there.
They still have a good thickness to play quite hard on the strings be that power chords or intense blues bending they just are a great pick.
If you are playing folk music, you will probably want to try out a medium pick.
I think it will give you the flexibility you are looking for when strumming and it has a brighter tone than the heavy or extra heavy.
Yet, unlike the thin pick, it still gives you more control and isn’t overly flimsy.
If you are doing anything extremely light and gentle then you might consider a thin pick, but my guess is a medium pick can do most about anything for folk acoustic style music.
Now, I know there are many other styles of guitar and we just barely went over very broadly some of the more popular styles.
These are just some guidelines to consider when questions 1-4 didn’t answer your issue with slipping guitar picks.
Free Extra Tip: There is really no right or wrong way to hold a pick, as long as it works for you and what you are doing.
There are guidelines and you should try to follow them because you want the muscle memory in your picking hand.
In order to learn some proper playing so that you don’t learn a way that could potentially keep you from progressing as a player.
It is harder to break a bad habit that has a ton of muscle memory, then creating a new good technique habit right from the get-go, so don’t think that pick placement and pick size isn’t super important.
These are parts of the foundation of learning to be a guitarist and should be fun.
Experiment until you find what works for you and feels most comfortable for you.
At the end of the day, this is no one shoe fits all scenario. People have different opinions about everything and guitar stuff is no different.
So mess around and have fun exploring what works and feels best for you.
If you find that your playing is frustrating due to the pick slipping or turning on you mid-song, it’s more common then you’d think.
I hope that by simply becoming more aware of your current picking hand habits through asking yourself the 5 questions above and taking the time to actually observe what your picking hand is doing while playing.