I have been playing the guitar about a year & half now and I don't think I am improving.

For the first like 8 months I only down picked and I anchored my index/middle/ring/pinky all on the pick guard. I stopped myself from doing that now.

I alternate pick everything now, but sometimes say I am alternate picking I pick up down up, then on a different string I go up up by accident before I do another down. Usually though it is ok. I don't down pick anything anymore.

ok but my main problem I think is my actual picking and how I hold the pick. I was told by a friend when I started playing just do whatever is comfortable. well that didn't work for me because I didn't find a way.

i tried picking like marty friedman one of my favorite guitarists. he keeps all his fingers curled in and makes a fist an picks with his wrist bent an pick parallel. well that didn't work for me because i cant do things like palm muting and i catch the string.

i watched like 4 30 minute videos from this guy who taught buckethead (not a buckethead fan) sarrod picking or something. did not do well with that either. pick kept sliding.

i watched a paul gilbert video but its hard to see the angle.

Some of the ways I tried myself were... try to explain them best I can since I cant post pictures.

1. tightly curl index finger in and place pick between index and the nail parallel to strings. thumb holding down on middle of pick with knuckle bent. this just felt weird.

2. another one was like my index finger making a 90 degree angle, pick in the same place (nail/middle) and I placed my thumb over top. but the actual place where I held the pick down was on my thumb joint.

3. new one im trying is angle the pick between the nail and middle part of the index with thumb knucke slightly bent holding it down.

basically i want to know if im doing this all wrong. if there isnt 1 way maybe i should give up as much as i love guitar its frustrating having a loose picking moving around or not being able to palm mute or try to learn a pinch harmonic because i hold it weird.

i also dont know maybe its my wrist. i dont really move my arm when im playing and i heard thats a good thing. but i dont go up and down with my wrist. i sort of jiggle it like you would jiggle a door knob.

in about a year or 2 ill be able to get some guitar lessons once i get a second job but right now i cant my bills are to expensive.

please share your thoughts or videos or comments on picking.
Indeed, you should try to hold the pick in the way that it feels comfortable to you and than you can try to progress as you feel comfortable.
Not moving your arm is great, the movement should come from the wrist.
I Suggest you start with some really easy picking patterns, in your case up down up down, etc..
Use a metronome and start at a really low speed untill your comfortable and than speed up and use other patterns.

This is how I hold the pick, and it's also the standard. (It's also how Paul Gilbert holds it.) Holding it this way makes it easy to get different picking sounds by just moving your thumb back and forth, and by holding the other fingers into your palm gives you less friction.
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Last edited by BlisteringDDj at Sep 9, 2010,
Well it also depends on what kind of pick you are using.
I personally prefer a thin pick or medium but never a thick.

That is what alters my style the most, so I think you are not using a pick that you are comfortable with. Try using different picks and it could change a lot.
Slow down and force yourself to do 3 note per string strict alternate picking.

To find out whether your picking is holding you back on a certain phrase, do this:

Play the phrase at the speed where it's manageble but not stupidly slow. Do it legato. If your fingers on the left hand can get it in time, but once you alternate pick it it falls apart, then it's your picking you need to work on. There is no other way but to use different picking patterns and inside/outside picking combinations and work your way up with them via a metronome.
hello you guys thanks i am going to take the slow alternate pick advice.

one thing i cant tell from your picture.

is the pick flat on your index finger or is on an angle up towards the thumb holding it down.

also do you keep it parallel to the strings or on an angle.

im sorry i forgot to add.

when i play the side of my thumb usually rubs or brushes against the strings. does this mean im holding the pick to close.

in your picture you show a lot of pick if that makes sense. when i started playing my friend told me to choke the pick really close so only the point is showing when you pick the strings.
Last edited by slityourguts at Sep 9, 2010,
^ The picture is not taken by me. Normally my pick would be flat on and parallel to my index finger, and it's usually on an angle pointing down towards the strings, but it also depends on what sound I want. I'm not sure if I'm explaining this very well... I'd say you're holding the pick too close. I hold it pretty close as well, but my thumb only makes contact with the strings when I want a pinch harmonic or a softer kind of sound... (My vocabulary isn't that great).
Please check out some of my original music and leave me a comment @ SoundCloud
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Last edited by BlisteringDDj at Sep 9, 2010,
hmm any other pictures I am still finding it tough.

It's either the side of my thumb that hits it, or the index finger nail. I can pull it back but then a ton of the pick is out and it's weird.
Probably not good to choke the pick at this stage, that's what I do for pinch harmonics. It's difficult to give other advice than to do whatever is comfortable because every player is different!

If you're just playing a simple song, I hold it parallel but if I tremelo then hold it at an angle. It depends on your style. Personally, I use think/medium picks and avoid thin picks like the plague purely because they don't give me the right sound so it's just a case of trial and error really.

The way I pick is if you hold your index finger to your thumb so they are touching and basically slide a pick between them and there you go! I also cut into the pick with a knife and make criss crosses at the top of it for better grip. This helps if it keeps slipping out of your hand.