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Old 01-22-2014, 04:41 PM   #1
Thrasher22
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Holding the pick... I am absolutely lost

Hello UG Community (I apologize for the long post, if you just wanna get to the point, skip the first two subparagraphs),

This is my first post. Allow to quickly introduce myself: I am Jason and I have been playing guitar for a little over a year now. I am self-taught. I mainly play Metallica, a little Slayer, a little Rammstein and some other riffs. For now, I generally do rhythm and a little lead stuff.

However, I've been stuck with a problem for way too long now. It all started back in April last year, I had learned myself how to speed pick. After a while, I could finally make my pick fly over that low E-string to play riffs like Whiplash and Damage, Inc... These are technically not really complicated to play, but seeing as I had only been playing 3-4 months, I was quite proud of myself for being able to do it already.

There was, however, a major problem. Maybe I could do that stuff, but how? I was putting all the pressure on my index finger. It hurt like a bitch but I was like "meh, I'll find a smoother way to do this". Well, nope. The pain lasted for months until I figured out a new way to pick. Being mainly inspired by James Hetfield, I noticed that he used a 3-finger grip. I never understood how he did that, so I wanted to figure it out seeing as 2 fingers was not working for me anymore. I figured it out and for a month or 2-3, all of my problems went away. Until suddenly, the tendon in my thumb started hurting when I was speed-picking. DAMNIT! Yet again I am stuck...

I've been trying to solve this problem for so long, and have looked up "how to hold a pick" countless of times. Nothing seems to work. My guess is that the joints in my index finger are ****ed up... It could also still be that I put too much pressure on my index finger... Even though I really try not to. I just can't help but at least put some pressure on it to get the job done...

Here's some pics to show you how I hold the damn thing, I either use Dunlop 1.14mm or Mediums. Do you guys possibly have some tips for me, or other things to try? I am absolutely lost and really don't know what to do anymore. I am hesitant to get a teacher, simply because it's expensive.

2 fingers (2 pics):





3 fingers:



Thank you very much in advance for any advice you have.

Last edited by Thrasher22 : 01-22-2014 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:38 PM   #2
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You have to hold pick tight, but your arm has to be relaxed, otherwise it will hurt (obviously).

And remember, practice makes it perfect, I was unable to do all that speed picking too when I was starting, but now it's the easiest thing for me. Start slow, you have to get the feeling for it.
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:57 PM   #3
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i pretty much put my thumb across my index finger at right angles. pick in-between them, going parallel (more or less) to my index finger.

more or less like your second picture, except my pick is at a different angle. and i don't bend (well, maybe slightly actually, but it's closer to straight than bent) my index finger at the knuckle closest to the fingernail.

whether i'm doing it right, i dunno, i should clarify. but it works for me.

EDIT^ I dunno, I actually hold the pick pretty loosely. I think being relaxed is the thing.
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:36 PM   #4
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Ease up on the grip man, looks like you're death-gripping it to hell in those pics!
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Old 01-22-2014, 11:14 PM   #5
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Here's how (also involves lots of fast picking stuff):

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Old 01-23-2014, 01:00 PM   #6
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I'd like to borrow your thread if it's alright. If not, too late.

I've recently encountered this issue with my strumming, that when I do upstrokes my pick always get's stuck on the high E, twists a little bit so my pointing finger gets stuck on the same string. It's really irritating. What am I doing wrong?

I pretty much hold the pick the same way as in the pictures.
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Old 01-23-2014, 02:45 PM   #7
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Rule of thumb (no pun intended) here: If the flesh under your thumb's nail is going white, you're holding it too tight.
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Old 01-23-2014, 03:27 PM   #8
Thrasher22
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^ I suppose that counts for your index finger as well?

Thanks guys, I've tried the stuff you suggested.

It still hurts though, but my finger was also still sore from playing yesterday. So I guess I'm going to stop playing for a few days and try again.

I'm going to keep experimenting and see a doctor if the pain stays no matter what I try. I just hope I eventually find a solution, because this is really discouraging. I've considered quitting many times because of this stupid issue... but one big part of that issue is that I tense up automatically when playing the faster stuff. I'm gonna try as hard as I can to just relax...

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Old 01-23-2014, 03:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Ease up on the grip man, looks like you're death-gripping it to hell in those pics!


Yeah. the natural instinct when things get difficult/fast (I do it too ) is to tighten up, when that's the worst thing to do. It's counterintuitive, but trying harder (which normally results in tightening up) makes it worse.

I mean I'm not the fastest player in the world by a long shot, but I can play reasonably quickly, and i'm holding the thing very lightly indeed. for some reason the other day I was thinking about this (unrelated to the thread) and I found that if I gripped my pick with my non-picking hand, it just slid out of my usual pick grip. I'm barely holding the thing at all, frankly, it's just sitting there more or less.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetalMullet
I'd like to borrow your thread if it's alright. If not, too late.

I've recently encountered this issue with my strumming, that when I do upstrokes my pick always get's stuck on the high E, twists a little bit so my pointing finger gets stuck on the same string. It's really irritating. What am I doing wrong?

I pretty much hold the pick the same way as in the pictures.



Hold the pick with a light firm grip, and also are you angling the pick when doing up strokes? That might be your problem if you're not angling the pick it causes the pick to fight against the strings causing it to get caught in the string while playing. While strumming you're not suppose to feel resistance it's more like a cutting through butter kind of effect your pick is suppose to just glide through the strings. Angle your pick when up stroking is what i'd suggest you to do.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:24 PM   #11
Thrasher22
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Hey guys. I think I finally figured out what's mainly causing the pain.

On the pics, the grip looks fairly natural (in my opinion)... but when I looked at it from the other side, I noticed that I was pushing my index finger into my hand, thus compressing the joints! No wonder it hurt all the time... Here's a pic to show you what I mean:



I'm going to try and hold it like this now. Maybe you won't see that much of a difference, but this gives way less pressure:



This is really something to get used to though, so I guess I'm gonna have to re-teach myself how to pick properly (with a grip like this but more importantly, keeping it relaxed). I just experimented a little with this and my index finger feels a lot better (just a little sore, but no joint pain) than when I was practising with the other grip

I think I'll come back to this thread after a week or two to tell you how I'm doing. I really hope I found the solution now, but if you guys see anything wrong with the grip I'm now going to try, please tell me!

Cheers.
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:10 PM   #12
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if that helps that's great

even in the last pic i can see your forearm is tensed up. it wouldn't hurt to relax a fair bit more (and i'm not sure you need to bend/clench your index finger as much, either). for example, off the top of my head my index finger has an angle of about 120 degrees at the first knuckle and about 160 degrees at the second (i.e. just barely bent and very relaxed).
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Old 01-25-2014, 11:54 AM   #13
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Agreed Dave, I still think my advice of less pressure/grip is still going to be the best thing; it's causing tension in your arm and pain in your joints. EASE UP.
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Old 01-25-2014, 12:49 PM   #14
Thrasher22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
if that helps that's great

even in the last pic i can see your forearm is tensed up. it wouldn't hurt to relax a fair bit more (and i'm not sure you need to bend/clench your index finger as much, either). for example, off the top of my head my index finger has an angle of about 120 degrees at the first knuckle and about 160 degrees at the second (i.e. just barely bent and very relaxed).


The forearm tension is because I had to put my hand in a really weird angle in order to get a good picture to show you what I meant :P. Will try to not bend my finger as much either, thanks!

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Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Agreed Dave, I still think my advice of less pressure/grip is still going to be the best thing; it's causing tension in your arm and pain in your joints. EASE UP.


Will definitely try to do that. I guess I'm just going to play slow melodies and try not to speed up for a while, to get used to playing more relaxed.
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:11 PM   #15
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Another trick is to make your hand limp (palm looking down), then turn your arm over so the palm looks up - still keeping your hand limp. You'll find that your thumb and index finger touch each other naturally. Then with your other hand just place the pick in between them, and that's how you should be holding it all the time.
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Old 01-25-2014, 03:55 PM   #16
Dave_Mc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Agreed Dave, I still think my advice of less pressure/grip is still going to be the best thing; it's causing tension in your arm and pain in your joints. EASE UP.


Yeah, I agree.

Also I'd say that I don't really hold my pick against the side of my index finger (perpendicular to my fingernail), it's sort of at a 45 degree angle to it, halfway between the side of my index finger and the flat fleshy part of my fingerprint (if that makes sense). I have no idea if I'm doing it right, maybe that's terrible technique, but it does let you relax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrasher22
The forearm tension is because I had to put my hand in a really weird angle in order to get a good picture to show you what I meant :P. Will try to not bend my finger as much either, thanks!


haha no worries
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Old 01-26-2014, 08:43 AM   #17
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Mmmm.... Interesting one this cause its mostly subjective I guess.

I studied Hetfields style a lot when I was starting out and I still play more towards his style than others and it his style is mostly from his right hand.

The things that I noted from your picks:

I suspect the pain you are having is because you are clasping your entire hand around the pick in effect.

Hold the pick using your thumb and the two fingers next to it (which ones are they again?) and then straighten the other two..... Yes it's quite hard at first but flatten em out across the bridge because this will relax the unused tendons in your hand, stop the knuckle joints rubbing together and getting sore and give you much better palm muting technique.

When I first started doing this I taped my fingers together to help me (kirk Hammett still does)

I think that's the issue, your focusing on how your holding the pick but I think it's more the pressure your putting on your hand

I hope this helps you, if not I will analyse my own technique tonight and see if I can work it out for you 👍
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Old 01-26-2014, 01:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silord1
Mmmm.... Interesting one this cause its mostly subjective I guess.

I studied Hetfields style a lot when I was starting out and I still play more towards his style than others and it his style is mostly from his right hand.

The things that I noted from your picks:

I suspect the pain you are having is because you are clasping your entire hand around the pick in effect.

Hold the pick using your thumb and the two fingers next to it (which ones are they again?) and then straighten the other two..... Yes it's quite hard at first but flatten em out across the bridge because this will relax the unused tendons in your hand, stop the knuckle joints rubbing together and getting sore and give you much better palm muting technique.

When I first started doing this I taped my fingers together to help me (kirk Hammett still does)

I think that's the issue, your focusing on how your holding the pick but I think it's more the pressure your putting on your hand

I hope this helps you, if not I will analyse my own technique tonight and see if I can work it out for you 👍


Thanks for the tips. I just have to experiment around a little I guess. By the way Kirk actually tapes his hand so it doesn't bust open when playing:

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Old 01-27-2014, 02:28 AM   #19
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The method of Hetfield on holding the pick is terrible. All of his live footage show that his playing is tensed up.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:43 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Thrasher22
Thanks for the tips. I just have to experiment around a little I guess. By the way Kirk actually tapes his hand so it doesn't bust open when playing:



That's pretty cool, I've done that a couple of times from too much rockin!! Point still stands though straighten out your hand and relax - you shouldn't have white fingers from gripping the pick!

Hold it lightly and just keep adjusting your grip if it moves, you get used to doing it subconsciously after a while.

Also something that I think we all didn't mention, have you warmed up enough before letting rip with the speedy riffs?

My hand will do that now of I don't warm up properly and I've played for a long time now. Also, does this only occur when you play guitar or does it affect you in other walks of life too? Could be an underlying issue, like a damaged tendon? Might be worth seeing a doctor about it - what job do you do? Is it repetitive? Could your hand already by tired out before you even start? It might sound crazy but it isn't forced to be guitar related that's causing this.
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