I'm sure there's tons of threads for this already, and I apologize, but I need help.

I've been playing for...roughly 6 years. About 2 months shy. Like most, I'm not happy with where I am. It feels like I've hit a stopping point in my advancement as a player just in terms of technicality, and I feel like this is because my basics aren't well rooted or that maybe I didn't start with the proper technique.

I understand that picking usually differs from person to person and all that, but any time I've had any similar pattern (in the first few years it was with my fretting hand) I switched over to what was primarily recommended for me and it seemed to be very beneficial every time, rather than just doing what I already was.

About a week ago I decided to scratch everything I knew and just start bare bones (easier said than done obviously as old habits are hard to break) and really analyze my playing and see what I need to improve upon to help me progress further. One thing I came across was that I don't really have a defined method of picking. Some might not see it as a bad thing but I'm thinking that since I'm not using just one method, I'm not able to advance further because my practicing has always been cluttered with picking a different way each time. Kind of useless.

So here I have the 3 different ways I pick. Usually minor changed between them, but I feel a difference in my playing with each one...I'm just not sure if any of the feelings I get are bad. :p

Picking Style 1 - I feel like I have more control here. More precision with my movements. This is also a fairly new style that I've been doing so I don't feel like my playing is as natural. Seems more mechanic. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

Picking Style 2 - This feels the most natural. Been doing this since I started playing. Like I said, natural feeling, but at the same time I struggle more with precision here. Have to practice licks way more to get them down.

Picking Style 3 - The in-between. Not a fist, not just one finger. Not as natural as 2 but more precision, but not as much precision as 1.

Video demonstrating my picking

I'm not worried about tapping with any of these styles as I'm capable of doing so with any of these styles.

Once again, just any advice or critique is appreciated. Looking for the best method to help me advance technically and to avoid any future damage to my picking hand.
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All styles seems fine except for #3, to hold the pick use your first finger (people will say that you can always hold with the second, but i think its more appropriate to hold with the first, since youll have a lot more control over the playing)

About the video, all the picking styles you used are good, specially the first and the third one (the second one you said that your pinky gets its way blocked due to to the high E string, so thats not a good picking style for you)
You should try using the 3rd style you showed, but instead of holding the pick with the middle finger, use your first finger. It might get you confused for a bit, but train that position

Hope i helped :]
I use the second style (except I don't anchor. Never have. I guess I just got lucky?) I know a ton of great players that use the first one though. The fist.

There's one huge advantage that I've noticed with using the open hand one though. It makes sweep taps a million times easier. Your hand is already in the position to tap, so you just have to get up there and hit he note. I'm sure you can do it with the other style, but it'd take some getting used to.

As for the third style, if you feel like that's way more comfortable and you can do everything you want with it, use it. Honestly, the same goes for all three. There's no be all end all style. It's the same for economy and alternate picking. It's a little more movement to alternate pick, but it's easier to get the rhythm even. You just have to work on speed a little more. Economy is the opposite. Speed is easier to develop, but you have to get used to playing in rhythm. It's the same with this. Hold the pick how you feel best. You look like you don't have any tension or anything, which is great. That's the only time I'd say to change your style just cause it's dangerous to have tension. Just do what works for you. You'll get used to it and develop your style to make up for any disadvantages (like the rhythm in economy picking. etc.)
The guy's a beast, but he uses 8s. So he's shit.
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Last edited by VeilOfMaya at Jan 9, 2010,
First of all, way to go posting specific pictures and a vid - it gives you a lot to go on if you're thinking of giving some advice about this.

Picking style #3 is a bit more exoteric, and I don't have any experience with that one, though I understand that Eddie Van Halen uses something like this technique with the middle finger getting involved in holding the pick.

#1 and #2 are both valid ways to pick, that is if you can modify #2 to anchor less. I've played with both techniques in the past, #1 initially, then for the last good amount of time #2. This is strictly personal opinion because there are a lot of people that use #1 successfully, but I found there was a little bit more of a tendency to tense up and tighten the fist with #1. That said, my version of #2 doesn't have anywhere near as much anchoring as yours does.
The big difference I'm noticing in how I"m going about #2 is that I hold the guitar lower down. I have a drummer's stool that I picked up at Guitar Center for about $50. That allows me to sit with the guitar a bit lower, more like a cross between playing sitting down and standing up. That puts my elbow at a more comfortable angle, with my fingers pointing slightly more towards the floor and less along the direction of the strings. That allows my fingers to hang a bit more loosely, and a bit more away from the high E string where they might get in the way.
Best of luck getting it figured out.
Well I use the second picking style you mentioned, just without the anchoring. I do this because I started by learning fingerstyle before picking up a pick. I do find it also makes sweep tapping easier aswell.

If I was to chose one, I wouldn't chose the "Fist" styles because this limits how much you can use your fingers. So try and get style two without anchoring.

If you have to anchor it might be because you're introducing tension somewhere and having to "steady yourself" against it. If that makes sense?
Appreciate all the input guys. se012101 I'll look into how I pick using that method while having the guitar a bit lower from my body.

Been playing a bit today and one is definitely starting to feel the best. We'll see. Once again, appreciate all the input.
The Clarion Call - Solo(unfortunately) music project

ESP/LTD EC-1000 in Dark Cherry
Line 6 Spider Valve MkII 100W Head
MESA 2x12 Rectifier Cab @ 140W

Chances are, I will lurk your profile.
A loose hand is best for playing comfortably and correctly. Hence, however you can pick without causing extraneous tension is best. I personally have my hand limp except for my thumb and first finger (which are holding the pick, of course). It's just most comfortable to me. If #2 seems most natural, do it. (Unless you're anchoring, to which I respond not to anchor and to use one of the other 2 styles, preferably #1.)
First of all, with #2, that isn't actually anchoring. Your fingers are brushing against the body, which isn't what an anchor is. An anchor is a fixed point (one which does not move) between any part of your hand/finger/arm and the guitar. The reason it may look like anchoring is because you're using some circle picking, which means your wrist isn't moving a whole lot (which means your finger, which is attached to your wrist, ends up looking like an anchor), which brings me to my next point...

If anything I'd say my biggest critique is your movement of thumb/forefinger throughout your picking motion, which is known as circle picking. I only know of a few good circle pickers out there (Takayoshi being one), but for the most part I'd say it's not a very efficient way to pick. I recommend sticking to essentially all wrist movement for the actual picking motion itself. Check out Paul Gilbert for an example of what I (and most others here) would call good picking technique.

I myself use a wrist-picking version of #2. My fingers do brush up against the body naturally, but it isn't anchoring and it isn't a problem. If you do find it to limit your range of motion in any way or find that it acts as a pivot point, it wouldn't hurt to lift or curl your fingers even the slightest bit when necessary (I do sometimes), but to be honest it looks fine to me. Just focus on wrist movement for picking

Another thing, if a recommended solution doesn't feel right at first, don't give up immediately (you don't seem to be the kind of guy to do that, but just saying). Keep experimenting with it. I've had some similar issues/concerns as you in the past, and it's taken some consistent frustration to get past it. Remember that playing correctly won't "feel natural" at first to someone who has been playing incorrectly for so long. Incidentally, this is probably the biggest reason people reject the concept that they are not playing with ideal technique.

Good luck with everything.
Last edited by fixationdarknes at Jan 9, 2010,
Quote by theclarioncall
Appreciate all the input guys. se012101 I'll look into how I pick using that method while having the guitar a bit lower from my body.

Been playing a bit today and one is definitely starting to feel the best. We'll see. Once again, appreciate all the input.

That's cool, man. Actually, I think lowering your guitar will help you whichever method of picking you choose. When I got that drummer's stool I mentioned, I noticed quite a difference in my picking comfort and overall tension levels just because my elbow was at nice comfortable 45-ish degree angle.