Watch any Warren Haynes video on YouTube and you'll notice that he often likes to mix it up and play solos with a pick but mid-way switch to using his fingers.


Joe Bonamassa is another guy I see doing this a fair bit. A nice technique if you can get it to work!

Where do people think he is most likely holding the pick in the right hand when he has switched to finger picking?

I've tried putting the pick between the 4th and 3rd fingers, or using the pinky to hold it against my palm. I just can't find anything that feels comfortable, but still allows the other fingers to move freely in order to fingerpick, AND can easily transition the pick back to the fingers for playing.

Does anyone have any insights or tips on this technique?

Also, when he has switched to finger picking, it looks like the way he would use the right hand when playing slide guitar. I.e. mainly thumb and index finger.

  • I wear glasses, and wear my hair very short. I simply tuck it above my ear between my glasses and my head.
    – user24191
    Oct 20, 2015 at 13:20

8 Answers 8


I know that Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats does this a lot too. He explains his approach ina video here; he forfeits the index finger, and uses it to hold the pick, curling it against his palm:

alt text

He then uses his thumb and remaining fingers for fingerstyle. The article says:

You may find it feels awkward playing fingerstlye without your first finger, but it shouldn't take much practice before this feel completely natural. If you really can't get used to it, then try tucking the pick under whichever finger you find easiest.

I can also recommend this DVD, where you can see him do it in some detail.

  • Thanks, very helpful. As I mentioned in my own answer, this is also how Joe Bonamassa does it
    – asgeo1
    Jun 8, 2011 at 9:11
  • +1. when playing bass, I do this but use my middle finger. this frees up the index for plucking when slapping. it's the simplest way I've found other than just dropping it
    – jammypeach
    Sep 22, 2014 at 19:51

Since the 4th finger isn't usually used for picking, seems logical, that use can hold the pick between 3rd and 4th fingers, but this will require some tough training, because you will have to have some extra tension in your right hand witch is not good - the right hand must be relaxed as possible.

for me, I use two "techniques", if you can call the that:


Out a pick in my teeth. Not very hygienic, but very easy and it works (also some girls find it quite attractive :)


Use a pick holder glued to the body of a guitar - makes really easy to get rid of a pick fast.

alt text

  • 4
    RE point 1, it is very easy to inhale a guitar pick. Less easy to get it back out!
    – Anonymous
    Jan 18, 2011 at 17:23
  • 2
    Or use the technique Cheap Trick's guitarist Rick Nielsen uses. Play for about a minute with a pick then throw it into the audience, run over and grab another from the mike stand, and play on. But he's making fun of rock and rollers who do similar things from what he said in an old Guitar Player interview.
    – Anonymous
    Jan 19, 2011 at 19:27
  • Some people use their ring + little fingers, put them together, but slide the pick between them. It takes very little pressure to hold it there, and leaves the thumb + index + middle finger for picking.
    – Anonymous
    Jan 19, 2011 at 19:30
  • 3
    Instead of putting it between the teeth, I prefer to just press it on my forehead. It holds there pretty well all by itself! :-) Feb 14, 2011 at 9:53
  • @the Tin Man - I've used the toss-the-pick many times, generally for one particular song that had a fingerstyle ending. It works well with a brightly-colored pick. Mar 15, 2011 at 12:09

Hand palming pick

I picked this up before I could do anything really well. I hold the pick between the joints of my picking hand ring finger. This leaves the thumb, index and middle finger free to fingerpick.

  • This is exactly what I do. It stays there without much thought and gives access to all the fingers :)
    – Kyle
    Jun 15, 2016 at 11:46

I tend to

  1. tuck it into the strings beyond the nut
  2. pop it between my teeth
  3. tuck it between my 2nd and 3rd fingers (I use p and a more than i and m)

Need to get some Metaltech branded picks so I can lob them into the audience though - I should have thought of that before!

  • I assume you use a locking system like Floyd Rose, or else tucking into the string would affect the tuning. Jul 18, 2013 at 16:29
  • I do this with all my guitars. Some have locking nuts. Most don't. I have very few problems with guitars going out of tune.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:10

I simply have an oval silver ring in my ring finger. I tuck it there and it sticks well, I sacrifice no fingers, and can go crazy with fingerpicking.


Well, I'm actually going to answer my own question.

I can do that, because I recently saw both Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa play. I was close enough that I could actually see for myself how they do it.

So even though I like this question to be quite general (in order to be helpful to others), to be honest, I actually just wanted to know how Warren Haynes does this ;)

And I can say that Warren actually puts the pick between his index and middle fingers, high up, so he can still move all of his fingers to some degree.

In that way, he is able to finger-pick with all of his fingers, and not sacrificing any particular finger. The trick seems to be though that you can't go crazy with the finger picking, or the pick is going to come loose.

As well, you have to really practice that transition of moving the pick from your normal grip, to holding it between your fingers, and vice versa. Warren does it smoothly, and without effort. He's obviously been doing this for decades. I think it's going to take me some time to get even close, but I'll keep trying.

The other benefit to Warren's technique, is that as a very good slide guitarist, Warren naturally has very well developed finger-picking technique with the thumb, index and middle fingers. (Warren's style of slide involves plucking and muting the strings with those fingers). So of course, it then makes sense to keep those fingers free when finger-picking with the plectrum tucked away, to make the most of that well-developed picking technique. I was thinking that when I originally wrote my question, and I can see that it is true.

The technique Bill Cheatham describes for Brian Setzer is actually the same technique Joe Bonamassa uses.

I'm going to concentrate on Warren's technique however, because it is closer to what I'm hoping to achieve with my playing.


I do this a lot as I learnt electric guitar without a pick at first, then learnt to use a pick later. I end up alternating between the two a lot.

I have a few methods that I use : 1) Stick pick between teeth/lips - works on but there's a yuck factor (as others have mentioned) and it takes too long to do. Need it out of the way instantly really.

2) I play a Strat. I often put the pick between then top of the scratch plate and the body. I've enven loosened the scratch plate a little to accommodate for this. this is my preferred method as it's very fast and easy to get the pick back.

3) Tuck between 2nd and 3rd finger (assuming forefinger is 1st) quite high up near the knuckle. That means it can sit there while I noodle about and doesn't fall out as my fingers move. This is fine but not if I want to span several frets withg right hand (which I sometimes do).

I see you've answered the question anyway (thanks, really good info) but thought I'd mention some other techniques.


You can basically make any finger work. Really depends on what feels good to you and which fingers you primarily use while playing.

I go over a few different ways of doing it in this video I did.

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