Hi everyone,

Firstly, this is my first post here ... love reading these forums and hoping to become a regular poster on here!

Trying to cut a long story quite short, I started playing guitar around aged 12 and played solid for a good 8 years. Then my life changed a bit, and for the past 4 years or so, I fell out of love with it all. I still picked up an axe occasionally, but I could go a few months without touching one.

However, from about a month ago, I decided to get back into it. Without getting into it too much, I feel like I'm enjoying playing more than I ever did previously. It's really making me happy, and I'm using it as a sort of escapism, I guess.

Since I picked the guitar up again, I decided that this time I am going to do this properly!

Before I always held my pick with my thumb, index and second finger. I never really had any problems. I knew sometimes it hindered me when trying to pinch harmonics etc, but I always felt okay with it. I could achieve decent enough speed for what I wanted to play.

Since I picked the guitar up again, I've been playing the 'proper' way, i.e thumb and side of index finger.

Playing for about a month solid like this I have gotten quite used to it. It feels quite good and allows me to be quite precise with my picking and obviously I can pinch harmonics whenever I like.

I'm really struggling developing any sort of speed holding the pick this way, though. If I try any sort of quick alternate picking or tremolo picking, the pick either moves around my thumb or it just sounds horrendous and I can't get any sort of consistent flow. It sounds terrible, frankly. I just find holding the pick this way really awkward for playing anything fast. I have to contend with bending my wrist to ensure the pick is parallel to the strings and hitting them at 90 degrees. I'm trying to stay relaxed in the wrist, but with keeping it at an angle, I just can't pick in a fast consistent sequence at all.

If I revert back to my previous style, I can pick quite quickly, certainly a lot faster than I can using the traditional method. Again, it just feels uncomfortable having the plectrum on the side of my index finger. If it moves around to the front of my index finger a little, I can get more speed, but this isn't the proper way.. I told myself if I'm getting back into guitar again, I'm doing it by the book ..

Anyone got any tips or advice? I've read plenty of old threads but not really found anything that I could relate to how I feel.

Or has anyone got any songs they would recommend for me to perhaps get my right hand wrist back up to speed? Nothing crazy, something that can actually be learned and isn't improvised waffle haha.

I'd love to be able to shred, basically. I've always been a fair guitar player, but most of my solo-ing is based on pentatonic and nothing particularly standout. Do some of us just have to accept we won't be able to build the crazy speed others can find?

I've looked at a few speed picking videos on YouTube, but I can't get anywhere near their speeds holding the pick 'properly'. Either the pick flies off somewhere or my arm just gets too tense trying to compensate for the angle of my wrist.

Anyhow, thanks guys

Hope you're all well

I ran into a similar issue when I got rid of anchoring. I had to slow things down again and relearn my picking, especially sweeping.

I'm not totally sure I can picture the issue you've described but if I understand it right, you're picking angle shouldn't really change that much between your old style and new style. And your wrist should be basically straight aside from your picking motion. Also, you don't absolutely have to pick parallel to the string unless that's the tone you want. The pick angle has a big effect on tone. Some players angle the pick a lot, some just a little. Experiment to find what's comfortable. If the pick is moving around on you, you can grip it a tad tighter (just be careful with your tension) and/or use picks with something to grip (I use V Picks).

If you haven't already, you may find it helpful to peruse videos of your favorite guitarists and see how they pick.

This takes time and a lot of practice, but you can figure it out. Slow down for a bit, work on getting comfortable and relaxed, and the speed and fluency will come. Hang in there!
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7 String Legion
Yeah a picture would really help here as the whole point of holding the pick with the thumb and index is that it allows you to have a straight wrist - your wrist shouldn't be bent at all
Actually called Mark!

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Thanks for your replies guys, and apologies for my delayed reply, had some trouble getting online over the last few days.

Forgive my silliness, but what do you mean by anchoring?

You might have noted from my username that I'm a big fan of Joe Bonamassa - I love the guy's playing and the sounds he usually goes for. I've been watching him and it seems that he holds the pick probably about half way down his thumb, rather than having the point coming out towards the top end ... previously, I was holding mine towards the top and I found it really awkward.

I've been trying with the pick around half way down my thumb. Probably around the joint part. It make me use my wrist a lot more which is fine, but I seem to have better control over the pick and it doesn't move around so much. I'm still struggling with tremolo style picking ... do you just think this is something that will come in time having adapted to a new style?

Thanks again guys, really appreciate you taking time from your days!
By anchoring I mean I had my pinkie touching the body of the guitar when I picked. Jason Becker, John Petrucci, and I think Jeff Loomis are examples of players who have anchored in some way. I went to a picking style similar to Paul Gilbert or Guthrie Govan where my fingers aren't touching the guitar.

YMMV but I hold my pick between the side of my index finger and the pad of my thumb, past the last knuckle, just above where the center of my thumbprint would be. It's just what's most comfortable for me and it's a pretty common grip. I think the speed and control will come in time so long as you're working on minimizing tension and maximizing accuracy and synchronization. That said, I second what Steven said, it would be great if you could post a pic of your picking style.
Ibanez UV777 - Carvin TL60 & 727 - Jackson KE3
Splawn QuickRod - Mesa Stiletto & RoadKing - Peavey Ultra+ - Peavey Bandit
Some pedlulz & cabz

7 String Legion
Hi Paul,

Like you I've come back to playing after some time away and refocused my picking technique a bit. I've settled on something now that works well for me where I hold the pick between thumb and index finger - pad of thumb and side of index finger. If i look closely at the way I hold it, the top left edge of my thumb nail (before the pointy bit of nail curves out) meets with the bottom left edge of my index finger nail. Its slightly less than a 90 degree angle. I find that pretty comfy now.

I was having some issues with crossing strings with alternate picking and noticed that may picking was coming in at a slight curved angle (not as much as when you try crosspicking) but this was digging into the strings too much. I've narrowed the angle more and using rotating the forearm ever so slightly more than I was which is helping.

I'd recommend Troy Grady's videos on the mechanics of picking etc which might help hone in on where your issues are!
Good luck
If you want to really learn great picking techniques, YouTube Troy Grady has THE most in depth picking practices. He goes over pick slanting, sweeping and articulate picking. I can assure you it will be the best guitar video you will watch he breaks EVERYTHING down so it is completely comprehendible take a look I promise you that you'll love it. Tell me what you think! Enjoy!
Thanks guys, I will take a look a look at those videos when I'm home from work tonight.

I've had a bit of success picking like Bonamassa. He does seem to have the plectrum quite far down his thumb towards the knuckle, if not in line with it. I had quite short fingers, so it is always a bit awkward, even with small picks (I'm using Jazz IIIs).

I find that doing it this way I'm not having too much trouble with terms of accuracy moving between strings .. I think that may have even improved ... as I say I just struggle with getting clean speed. I seem to tense up a bit and it is just not fluid. I need to work on my synchronisation too, as I think that sometimes I'm either picking too fast for the other hand or vice versa.

Thanks for all your replies, I truly do appreciate it. I will try and get a couple of photos uploaded too!

Thanks again.