How to Hold A Guitar Pick for Speed

Learn how to hold the guitar pick for speed in style with these easy tips and tricks
James Delaney BY JAMES DELANEY 21 FEBRUARY 2022
How to Hold A Guitar Pick for Speed
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Have you ever watched in awe as incredible speed guitarists make playing look so effortless? How do they manage to switch from one part of their instrument to another so smoothly, and hit the right strings with such precision all the time? Well, hold on to your hat for this one, cause I'm about to lay down the how's and why's of how the pros play fast. Listen carefully and get ready to start shredding.

As you'll see, playing fast isn't just about thumbs, fingers, and speed. It's also about attitude! We'll teach you the rest...

There are hundreds of ways to hold a guitar pick. From the big, floppy hold to the pinch. Some playstyles require more grip, some less. So it’s up to you what works best, but one thing is key to all of them - ensure that you have as small an amount of plectrum showing as possible and more grip on the plectrum than the string.

The tip of the plectrum will stick out just a few millimeters beyond the webbing of your fingers. Practice holding it there and squeezing to get used to how this feels. This is definitely a case of practice that makes perfect. While this can be a bit difficult at first, it will soon become second nature. Once you get used to this technique, you won’t want to go back!

 

Less grip on the string = more speed. More finger grip on the pick = more control. Try to keep your thumb and index finger close together. This is super important for speed players.

 

6 tips to develop techniques for speed picking

How you hold the guitar pick has a big influence on your playing speed. it is important to choose a pick that gives you the right amount of control so you can just lightly brush or "kiss" the strings. The goal is to play faster by doing less. To do this, you want to strum in an up-down motion rather than twinging your wrist or arm back and forth.

Guitarists who play at fast speeds do so by holding their pick close to the tip. This allows the pick to move rapidly in one direction - across multiple strings - and then return to its starting point.

1. You have to hold your pick right at the top, close to the tip. Holding your pick near the butt isn’t going to produce that sweet tone you crave. And it won’t give you the speed either - you’ll have a hard time getting any kind of consistent sound if you grip too low on the pick.

2. Ideally, you should hold the pick between your thumb and forefinger - the middle finger should rest on top of the pick, while the ring and pinky fingers can curl up underneath.

3. The most critical thing to consider when playing fast with a pick is wrist movement. You should be tilting your wrist slightly upwards when performing downstrokes and slightly downwards when performing upstrokes. This technique will allow you to gain speed while still maintaining a comfortable grip on the pick.

4. Another important tip is that you should always be mindful of what angle the pick is at in relation to the strings as well as keeping it as parallel to the strings as possible. Gradually moving from more vertical angles to more parallel angles will ensure that you can increase speed without losing control of the pick.

5. The best way to learn how to play fast is to practice alternate picking. This means picking upstrokes and downstrokes with equal speed and precision. This is important because you can use alternate picking to play fast, even if you don’t have a lot of strength in your individual fingers or hands.

6. There are many ways to get your fingers used to pick quickly, but one of the easiest is to play with a thicker pick. Thicker picks are more rigid, and they make it easier to pick faster because they don’t give as much when you hit the string - they’re almost like a machine.

To develop your guitar speed playing skills through video lessons, there are several dedicated modules in JamPlay (you can access these guitar lessons with JamPlay trial version, it's free), entitled "Speed ​​and technique" offered by two experienced teachers guitarist, Brad Henecke (21 years of experience) and Nick Greathouse (28 years of experience).

 

Things to avoid when practicing speed playing with the guitar pick

1. Do not expose too much of the plectrum to the strings. This can cause an issue with the strings as it will go too far into them when played and slow your down as you will need to move your plectrum more between each string.

2. It’s important not to grip your pick too tightly. The more pressure you put on the pick, the easier it is to lose control. This is especially true when playing speed metal.

3. Avoid pinching with the fingertips. Instead, use a combination of your thumb and forefinger to grip the edge of the pick.

In addition to the tips presented here, we recommend that you watch video tutorials. If you want to benefit from the best experts in the field, we have done a thorough research of the best guitar lessons, which we present in this article.

 

Conclusion

Speed is important for every musician but it can be tricky to hit the right riffs and chords as fast as you want. The right routines, exercises, and skills along with the right equipment can help you build better technique that empowers your hands to develop faster skills.