32a. Right Hand Technique

Basic right hand technique can be broken down into 3 basic types:

1. With a pick

2. With the fingers

3. With a pick and fingers


Almost all examples for how to hold a pick look like this:


However, though it works well for many, I feel it is NOT optimal!

This is simply because…

The largest possible range in grip pressure is best.

I always use the thumb and both the index and middle finger:

 I strongly believe the “tripod” effect provides the best chance to hold the pick very lightly when necessary, particularly useful  for strumming. 


Although there are advanced picking techniques, for single line picking,  a basic up and down motion should be learned.


Whether strumming or picking, economy of motion is key. Beginners will tend to use a very wide arc, a “wild” right hand; this is wrong:

Restraint is not easy at first, but really pays off:

Whereas the wrist should be close to the bridge when using a pick:

Fingerstyle and classical position calls for more of an angle, away from the guitar

The basic stroke pushes in toward the palm. Beginners will usually “pluck” away from the strings in an effort to produce volume; this is wrong:

The “push” does a better job, without taking the hand away from the guitar:

Using the pick and fingers together can be handy–This is a topic worthy of its own discussion. 

© 2012 Jim Greenfield