I cannot fret with it. So I am learning as a lefty. I also cannot hold the pick in this hand. So is it ok to just use the fingers which I can do? I am a beginner.

  • 4
    Just to clarify, the muscles of your left hand were damaged in some way before you started to learn to play guitar, and were not damaged from playing guitar, right? You might also clarify what you are able to do with your left hand. If you can't hold a pick then it's not clear to me how you would strum with just your fingers. Do you have any finger motion in your left hand? Jun 20 '16 at 16:08
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    We've had a lot of questions about damaged hands, and there are talented players who've succeeded despite quite serious impairment. As Todd says mention which fingers you can use and in what way, and I bet people will suggest something.
    – Andy
    Jun 20 '16 at 16:59
  • Are you able to use a thumb pick?
    – Dedwards
    Jun 20 '16 at 21:16
  • I had a cut to the back of my left thumb once. For a few weeks I played "Jeff Healey" style (look him up) - guitar flat on my lap and using the four fingers of my left hand stopping notes on the front of the neck. A tricky but interesting technique. That might be worth trying, just to see how it goes...
    – Andy
    Jun 22 '16 at 12:17

Take no notice. Press on as you are. There have been plenty of remarkable guitar players who have found stranger ways to play. You sound like you want to play despite having found problems doing it in the 'conventional' way. Good for you. People rest the guitar on their laps and play that way (which I feel is actually more productive, once one's accustomed),so just get on with it, and make the guitar make music however you play it. There's actually no reason for using a pick, if you can play without, fine!!

As an afterthought, I play with several players who play without plectrum, and each time I think I wish I could ditch mine!


Fingerstyle guitar is awesome, but it's hard to say whether that would be a good fit for you without more detail — I would guess that you don't have the strength or control.

However, if you're thinking of playing with your fingernails acting as a pick you can definitely do that! A number of well-known guitarist just use their fingernails, frequently just growing out the thumbnail (which might work better for you since the thumb has the strongest muscle). You can also curl your fingers and use the backs of the nails to strum, which has a neat effect with multiple strikes on the strings.

You might want to get some clear nail polish if you are playing consistently, to prevent your nails from wearing through or chipping.

  • Just to clarify. I suffered a severe cut to my left wrist when I was seven. This left me with severe muscle wastage. I now do not have any muscle in my thumb and it is what is known as a trigger thumb. I can only hold pick with it if I tie a loop around my thumb and anchor it with my little finger it is ok but not ideal and feel more comfortable not using it. I can use the thumb to pick the base strings ok but not strum with it. i have tried a thumb pick but it seems not ideal for strumming up. Perhaps it is just me. I do have very strong nails. Thanks for answering my question. Jun 21 '16 at 17:46
  • @MickGeorge Understood. In that case the second method I mentioned is probably best for you, so you can play rhythm/chords.
    – user28
    Jun 21 '16 at 17:50

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