I've been playing for 8 months and I think that this is a common newbie problem: my pick gets stuck. I started to analyze my picking motion/hand and I realised that the pick is too flat ( perpendicular to the strings). I have watched some videos about pickslanting and I'm trying to learn downward pickslanting. Everything is fine with some licks/patterns but when I try to play the songs that I already know with this technique ... everything falls apart.

I'm trying to follow this lesson: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/guitar_techniques/complete_guide_to_downward_pickslanting.html

The main things I learned from this lesson are:

  1. You switch strings on an upstroke.
  2. You start with a downstroke.
  3. You do some legato in order to make the first 2 points work.

The problem is that I encounter a lot of patterns where this doesn't work. Am I missing something?

I know that there are players that use only downward pickslanting, how do they do it?

  • I suggest you go back to Troy Grady's original outline for this topic, Cracking The Code Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 5:19
  • You may find a training pick helpful. 'Stylus' is the name of one and I used it to good advantage. Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 13:59
  • @KeithPayne, I knew these existed. I could swear I had a yellow one in the 80s. Even if the company wasn't making them then it could have been a prototype I got at a NAMM convention.
    – user50691
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 21:15
  • @KeithPayne Just order a set.
    – user50691
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 21:22

3 Answers 3


I may be barking - up the wrong tree here, but watch windscreen wipers working next time it rains. They do what's called feathering. They change angle on the glass after each stroke. Otherwise they judder like crazy. Also notice they hinge easily.

You probably hold the pick too tightly - most beginners do it - for fear of it flicking out of your fingers. For normal playing, hold it only as tight as need be to stop that happening. That means it will flex back and forth as you change direction. Strum in the same sort of way. And, leave only the tip showing. Sometimes beginners will have a quarter of the pick sticking out. Also consider what you're holding it with. Players vary a lot, thumb/index, thumb/index/middle, thumb/middle, etc.

There are times when the pick needs to be solid - raking comes to mind.

And I don't agree with the things you learned in that lesson!

I find most times when I'm playing, that the pick is flat against the string, not like in your picture, so that technique isn't for all playing.


Looks like you stumbled onto an advanced technique and skipped the small note about the basic technique that underlies it. In the article you linked: "the most important part about all of this is positioning your hand so that the pick is angled in the right direction" - referring to the fact that the pick should not be parallel to the strings (as shown in this image.) pick angle


I would disagree with the answser that shows a slant.

If you've been playing for 8 months you still have not developed real deep muscle memory for correct movement. "Tricks" will cheat you out of good technique and tone in the long run.

I've been playing for almost 45 years, and shred. I flat pick. As you analyze your pick orientation also analyze your pick shape, material, and thickness (stiffness). The pick is everything. I'd take the time to procure a variety of pick sizes, shapes, etc. If the pick is tapered it is "slanted" by default no matter how you hold it.

At the end of the day practicing with slow controlled relaxed movements over a long period of time (that is years, not for 8 hours straight in one day) will produce amazing clean speed.

And your observation is very astute! Some picking patterns will not be easy with the slanted pick posture. When engaging in alternate picking, consecutive picking, sweeping, etc, you will find slight variations in posture may help. So don't worry if that is the case. The hand is a very complex structure with many degrees of freedom. Slight rotations in different directions may be needed to get good tone, etc. But I would suggest that a good starting point is flat picking, just as you are doing.

As far as the list of things you provided from the lesson (which I'm not inclined to watch) these do not seem like a universal recipe for good picking. It may apply to one style. But in reality people often switch strings on a down stroke and start on an up stroke. In fact learning to start on an up stroke is key to learning how to optimize picking patterns.

You are a beginner. I'd recommend taking it slow, controlled and relaxed and most of all accurate. In time your body will learn to play anything at any speed in that frame of mind+body.

  • 1
    True. I'd also advocate having a break from watching on-line 'tutorials', and just plough your own furrow...
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 20:58
  • 1
    Or taking real lessons. Even if an online tutorial is well made and the player is good they cannot watch you and give feed back.
    – user50691
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 21:13
  • 1
    Real one to one lessons are the way to go, but right now, that's risky to impossible. I've started to do some on Wattsapp, but I much prefer teaching face to face, Answers are immediate, rather than not even possible!
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 7:16
  • "practicing with slow controlled relaxed movements over a long period of time ... will produce amazing clean speed" : Troy Grady says that playing slow and playing fast are two different techniques with different movements, like walking and running. And you don't learn to run by walking faster, you have to enter a different operating mode. forum.troygrady.com/t/the-building-speed-question/11257 The consensus seems to be that slow mode movements don't necessarily translate over to fast mode, so you have to have a method for verifying if your picking motions are "fast-friendly". Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 9:23
  • That consensus is not proof. I would cite Kenny werner, effortless mastery. It works for me.
    – user50691
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 11:03

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