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It there any difference between holding a pick in a fist like this

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and with your fingers sticking out like this:

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I've found that most online guitar lessons teach it the first way, but I've noticed some bands pick using the second way.

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6 Answers

From what I hear other players say, there is no definitive 'right' or 'wrong' way to hold your pick. It depends a lot on personal preference, comfort, and playing style.

For example, an acoustic strummer may want to hold the pick with the thumb on one side, and using the index and middle finger on the other to hold it. A folk guitarist may want to employ the technique demonstrated in the second link you provided, so they are free to fingerpick if they wish to.

If your pick holding is causing you aching in your fingers or hand, you may want to think about trying a new position, because this is your hand telling you that you are doing something not quite right.

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In both pictures, the pick is being held between the thumb and index finger in essentially the same manner (it's impossible to tell quite how the index finger is placed in the first picture). The only difference is how you hold your non-active fingers. Since they are not doing anything, by definition, it doesn't really matter how you do it. It's mostly a matter of comfort and won't make a huge difference to picking style.

Personally, I use a closed fist when strumming so that I don't get my fingers caught up in the strings. I use an open hand when playing single notes or lead as I find I have slightly better articulation of my thumb and index finger to control pick attack, and occasionally to pick using just the motion of the thumb and finger (and as mentioned to do hybrid picking).

Mostly, I think it's preference though. Whatever feels more comfortable. Just make sure that if you're making a fist, it's not tense. Your right hand should always be loose.

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The former gives more control and is especially good for heavy downpicking while the latter is for hybrid picking

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May be when you will be good enough / satisfied by your skill level, you might end up making a new style for yourself :)

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There is likely no "perfect" grip or hand position. However, part of more advanced playing is learning to manipulate the pick as you're playing. Extending the pick a bit for a more forceful tone, retracting it for more muting or even actively fingertip-muting (Al DiMeola refers to this as his "Mutola" technique." As well, different angles of attack can alter the tone. As long as you don't drop them all the time.....Should be good.

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I agree with yossarian.

I don't see a difference between those two grips. To me, the pick is being graped between the thumb and the index finger, which is "correct".

What the other fingers are doing is not that relevant - you will curl those fingers up, or perhaps hold them against the body of the guitar (for support). Fanning them out is useful when tremolo picking. You'll just do with them what feels natural depending on what you are doing.

With practice, it should just become a natural part of your technique and you won't think much about how they are placed.

The free fingers can also be used to hide the pick while you are playing, so you can switch to finger-picking.

The important part of what those pictures demonstrate is that the pick is perpendicular to the thumb. Holding the pick at that angle is what I consider the "best" approach.

You'll be able to attack the strings cleaner, harder and you'll be able to pull off artificial harmonic much easier and at will with that grip.

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