Plectrum grip/right hand positioning

Discuss playing styles and techniques, or share your own here.
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Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 4:37 am

Hey there,
This has been giving me nightmares for a long time, although I think I've found a grip I'm comfortable with I thought that maybe some people here would relate to the way that such a simple thing as this can seem so awkward and tricky and impede your playing.

At the moment after much changing I have the plectrum not showing too much and slightly slanted towrds the nut/floor as I pick rather than the more conventional not showin much but being pointed straight down towards the body of the guitar. I only slant my grip by about maybe ten, fiteen, twenty degrees or so but I think it has helped. I want to be able to sweep, alternate pick and use pinched harmonics, plus I grip between my thumb and index finger, leaving the middle finger to tap with the others if I need them, plus I keep my right hand close to the bridge so that I can palm mute if I need to do that at any times.

The reason I slant the pick is so that when sweeping back the way (descending notes by sweeping) the pick isn't fighting the strings as it would if the pick was straight down, where it would be more likely to catch (sometimes it has when I've tried the conventional grip style), while I can also do pinched harmonics using the part of thumb that's closer to the bridge, whereas more conventionally I might have been using the part of my thumb nearer the frets if you see what I mean. I've seen Yngwie Malmsteen and Zakk Wylde using the slanted grip, but Vai and others using the straighter grip. Is there a right or wrong way and what do you think is the best all-round grip to adopt?
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2004 7:18 pm

theres really no right or wrong way to hold the pick. whatever is comfortably for you will probably work fine. the angle that you hold the pick will affect your picking ability in some ways. angling the pick might help for sweeping, but it will make alternate picking harder (for alternate picking, i find it easier if the pick is pretty much perpendicular to the strings).

your way sounds pretty good; it sounds a lot like mine. holding the pick with the index and thumb is probably one of the better ways. it leaves your middle (and ring and pinky) open for tapping or whatever else.

so whatever is comfortable for you should probably work. if you are used to a certain way, then stick with it. your way sounds pretty good.
Posts: 506
Joined: Sat May 03, 2003 8:59 pm

I hold my pick and angle it in different ways depending on the sound I'm after. Tone is everything. Listen to how it sounds when you pick with different angles, and not just what feels comfortable. Which kind of pick you use will also affect this.
As Knyq said, there's no right or wrong.
Posts: 686
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2003 10:33 pm

i hold my pick with my indes and thumb, and when i do fast passages i actually rest my index finger on my ring finger (which is straight out, i know wierd huh) but it really gives me stability and control
Posts: 226
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:48 pm

I agree, there isn't really a 'wrong way' to hold it. Unless, y'know, you can't play with it.

Me, I hold it with just a slight tip protruding. The rest of the pick is just wasted space. :? I know I should maybe rework the way I hold it, but hey, it works.

Funny thing, for over a year when I first started, I held the pick with my middle finger and thumb, no index. I still do it from time to time, as there are VERY definite strengths inherant with it. Great for downpicking at Metallica speeds, handy for tapping(your index is free) and I get the easiest pich harmonics EVER, because when I play that way, I 'pinch'('grazing' is more accurate) the string with the side of my ring finger and it screams on every note on every string all along the string. It's incredible. I was so bummed when I had to learn to use my thumb. LOL
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Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:29 pm

I use a tiny little dunlop jazzIII heavy pick, and it more or less forced me to develop my technique around it. I have just a tiny tip of the pick showing, and 99% of my pick motion comes from my wrist or thumb/finger joint. The pick itself is mainly flat, or at a slight angle(like I was turning a car key) towards the floor. But then again, I learned a lesson from Shawn Lane years ago. He said " I don`t even think about my right hand anymore. I just make sure it`s coordinated with my left so every note my left hand makes, my right hand is there to strike it." Not a direct quote, but close. There comes a point where one is so overanalytical that your style becomes sterile. If you`re having trouble with your pick hand, you might just need to develop overall technique. I spent the better part of a year on right/left hand coordination to get to the point where it`s almost automated now. The one thing that helped the most was to practice all the usual chromatic and three note per string runs, but skipping strings here and there. My left and right hand became synchronized, and when it came time to learn to sweep pick, it was actually pretty easy.
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2004 8:12 am

Well you might think its weird but i use 3 fingers in the pick. thum index and middle and only release the middle for tapping. The movements in one string are made with fingers mostly... and when changing strings the wrist. I dont know but comeone told me steve morse does it too so Im not alone eheheh
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