Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Check out these tabs. It's for the song From The Sky by Gojira.

The intro (0-0-0-0-0-0-3-3-3-3-3-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2, etc) are down/up down/up strokes. And it's pretty fast(for a beginner like me). I've no problem with down strokes but my pick gets stuck behind the string almost every time on an up stroke. I am not having any trouble when I play it slowly, but it happens when I try to increase some speed.

What am I doing wrong? Not enough "loosening up"? Wrong angle? Please help!

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Several things to try. Holding the pick so there's only a tiny tip showing. Trying a thicker/thinner pick. Holding the pick more gently so it can 'feather' each way.Start slowly and build up gradually to speed. Practise just using the open string. Use a metronome to keep track of speed.Relax the wrist. Rotate the picking hand rather than use an up/down movement. Get your arm in line with your hand instead of having one at an angle to the other. Report back, please !

share|improve this answer
I get it now. That helped! Thanks! – Amar Duplantier Jan 21 '14 at 15:48

I used to have this trouble too - as a result I didn't use a pick (on a strat) for ages.

I got around it by ..

1) using flexible picks - the Nylon Dunlop 60 grade work for me (lightish grey). This allows the pick to flap over the strings a bit more. That's personal choice of course.

2) Hold the pick not perpendicular to the strings (so that it hits the string with the flat edge of the pick), but at a slight angle, so that the strings run across the edge of the pick. Works for doen and upstrokes.

That way the pick can glide over the strings easily.

hope this helps!

share|improve this answer

All Tim's advice is great here. Just wanted to add: keep your pick perpendicular to (pointing towards) the front of the guitar, so it isn't pointing even slightly upwards or downwards. Often beginners get used to playing down-picks first, and having their pick pointing slightly upwards. This often causes the pick to get caught under the string on up-picks.

EDIT: Hey everyone! Just to be clear, Dougus and I might be talking about DIFFERENT pick 'angles'. I think he's talking about turning the pick slightly in relation to the string; as he says, this allows it to glide off the string. This is the same way classical guitarists use their nails to release the string (usually described as creating a ramp to release the string). This can work well with a pick, but it will affect the tone. Generally your sound has more attack, and so a brighter sound, if you keep it in line with the string, and you get a mellower sound if you turn the pick a little. Also, if you want to play really fast don't turn the pick too much, as the pick has to travel further on each note as it glides over the string.

Anyway, the pick 'angle' I'm describing in my answer above, is the direction of the pointy end of the pick. You want this to be at 90 degrees to the front of the guitar's body. This means that you will be able to pick the same for up-strokes and down-strokes, which will help you to play fast and fluently.

When I describe pick position to my pupils, I compare it to flying a plane, as though the pick is 'flying' towards the guitar. The pick position can be changed in three ways: 1. whether the end of the pick points up or down, this is like the 'pitch' when flying a plane (front of the plane pointing up or down); 2. whether the end of the pick is turned in relation to the string, this is described as 'roll' when flying a plane; 3. whether the end of the pick points sideways (towards the neck or your right elbow), this is like 'yaw' when flying.

As with so many aspects of guitar playing, this can be demonstrated face-to-face in seconds, but is a little harder to describe in text!

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.