Holding Your Guitar and Using Your Pick The Correct Way

Published: 23rd July 2006
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Each step of learning to play your guitar gets you closer to your ultimate dream and that is to be a "good" guitar player. It is important that you remember to practice each step over and over again until it is just second nature and you cant remember ever having trouble or feeling awkward. You will feel stiff when first starting and you will have to do mental checks to make sure you are positioning yourself properly but in a very short time and there is no point in learning to play any instrument and then skipping the parts we don't like if your going to learn, learn properly the first time.

Find the most comfortable armless chair you can find, that will usually be a dining room chair sit with your lower back against the back of the chair make a conscious effort to stay sitting with good posture don't slouch as this will give you sore back and shoulders and bad habits.

Hold your guitar so the back of the body is against your stomach while the neck is running parallel to the ground. If you are holding your guitar properly the thickest string will be on top whilst the thinnest is closest to the floor. For a left handed person ideally you should buy a guitar made for left handed people but this is not always necessary as I know a lot of lefties who can play using a standard guitar perfectly.

When you are holding your guitar while sitting you will notice that the body of the guitar is resting on your right leg (If your right handed, left leg if your left handed) the guitar will rest on the leg furthest away from the headstock. Try to sit in this position for a little while taking mental notes on how your posture is and how it should be.

We are going to focus on your fretting hand, that's the hand closest to the neck of the guitar. Your thumb needs to be behind the neck of the guitar with the remaining fingers being slightly curled held just above the strings, it is important to keep these fingers curled at the knuckle unless you are told otherwise.

The Guitar Pick

By now you will have bought yourself a few picks and if you haven't you should, you will soon find out that picks have a habit of going missing. Picks come in different thicknesses, brands and shapes you can play around with them and find the type you favor but for now we will use a medium pick its not to hard or to flimsy.

1. Open your picking hand and open your palm so it is facing you. Your picking hand is the one positioned closest to the bridge.
2. Close your hand and make a very loose fist making sure that you thumb is next to your index finger.
3. Turn your hand so you are looking at its profile you should now have your thumbs knuckle facing you.
4. Use your other hand to put the pick between your thumb and index finger. The pick should be behind the knuckle of your thumb.
5. Make sure the point of the pick is facing away from your fist and is sticking out about half an inch. Hold your pick firmly.
6. Put your picking hand over the sound hole of the acoustic guitar or if you are using an electric guitar over the body. With the thumb knuckles facing you your picking hand should be floating just above the strings. Don't rest your picking hand on the body of the guitar or the strings.
7. Use your wrist only to strum don't use your whole arm, using a downward action strike the sixth string, that is the string furthest from you. Sometimes this will cause an excessive rattle just simply hit the string a little softer.
8. Now do the same but in an upward stroke. Repeat this exercise several times making sure to minimize the movement of your picking hand, one short picking stroke downwards and one short picking stroke upwards.
9. Do the same exercise on all other strings starting with the sixth string and moving up towards the first strings.
10. Most of all remember practice makes perfect you may feel a little awkward to start but the more you practice the more fluent you will become. Don't forget to recheck your posture from time to time and adjust if necessary.

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