I've been using large triangular pick for a long time, and I'm used to it. Now, learning shredding, I once thought: "Does a regular pick have any advantages over a triangular in terms of speed?". Maybe physics are different, or smaller size gives more motions per second? Or is it just the speed of my hand and all the picks are equal?

pick enter image description here

  • 1
    I don't shred, but physics says that a splayed out hand like that will not be as efficient, thus fast, as one which is more compact. And a smaller pick must have a greater terminal velocity.
    – Tim
    Jan 10, 2019 at 17:51
  • That's an uncommon grip, but if it works for you then that's okay. Most shredders seem to favour a particular thickness rather than a shape; usually very thick picks, like 2mm thick. Also, see this video about holding your pick at an angle to the strings: youtube.com/watch?v=QokbZbc791U&t=16m29s Jan 11, 2019 at 5:14
  • @YourUncleBob Hi! Damn, thanks a lot! The angle helped a lot. Already feeling like picking faster.
    – Eugen Eray
    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:20
  • Not a fan of the picking method. (1) It's based on a falsehood that if you pick flat you will catch the string (not with practice and the right shape pick) and (2) it will generate a scratchy sound. There are flat pickers out there with comparable speed. At the end of the day it needs to (1) feel good and (2) sound good.
    – user50691
    Jan 11, 2019 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


There are a lot of factors to consider in answering this question.

First of all, there are no "quick fixes" when it comes to shredding. The only way to shred clean is to practice very slow with the metronome for a long time, slowly working the speed up. The key is relaxed control. You want to be able to play 16th notes at 240 bpm without getting tennis elbow or other debilitating problems.

As for the physics of the pick, it only makes sense to talk about that if you are not going to change your string gauge or type. A large, "thin", flat pick will naturally flex making control of the pick an issue. But this statement assumes that (1) the pick gauge is thin (and I cannot tell if it is), and (2) that you are holding it near the center rather than the tip. So it isn't really a fair question since you have control over those factors.

I do shred, at the speed mentioned above. I find that a key factor is the ability to be able to firmly plant the pick on the string with little or no string flexion and get the pick off the string as soon a possible, with the smallest motion possible. Hence, a weak flexing pick and/or loose floppy string are not good for achieving this. Rigid is good. I personally tend to use gauge 11 strings and a very heavy Jazz III or similar style pick. The combination works for me.

That being said, it works because I work at it. Like I said, no quick fixes. One thing that's nice about your pick, which I did not mention, is that it seems very pointed and that is also critical. A pick with a wide tip will catch too much string and almost hook it, making speed picking impossible. But again there is a caveat, I am assuming a flat pick style of picking and many shredders tilt the pick so the edge "slides" off the string like a violin bow (I do not like that at all).

If you are holding the pick close to the tip so it cannot flex I think it should work. Along these lines practice is the most important factor. If you train yourself to make very small movements with the hand relaxed you will eventually build that speed up. Your muscles will get used to the string+pick combination you are working with and if you suddenly change (e.g. gauge 8 to gauge 12, or Jazz III to a medium standard pick) don't be surprised if it all goes to hell for a while.

Lastly, the set up matters. Be sure you have low action to avoid unnecessary movement of the fingers. And your hand position will matter too. As Tim points out in the comments, physics would suggest a closed hand may work better. But there are guitarists who play fast with the hand open, some anchor it on the top of the guitar and move the whole arm. I'd check out some videos of the following guitarists for details on picking hand posture:

Michael Angelo Batio

Frank Gambale

John McLaughlin

Yngwie Malmsteen

Al Di Meola

Jason Becker (prior to ALS)

I am sure there are more current shredders but these guys all play very well and if you really look you will see a variety of right hand posture.

  • Thanks for answer. I use strings gauge 12 (for 7 years already, actually) and sometimes it's hard, sometimes not. I've listened to your suggestions about holding the pick more to the tip and yes, it helps to get rid of the string noise, but I'm not really used to that position, so it's kinda hard for the first time.
    – Eugen Eray
    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:29
  • @EugenEray, 12s are pretty heavy. Are you a rock or jazz player, or a little of everything? I would add that (1) nothing feels right the first time so don't give up, you need to train yourself to "feel" that new position, and (2) I would guess that 12s are hard to bend but if your action is low it shouldn't be hard to play scale patterns. It takes very little force to push a string down.
    – user50691
    Jan 11, 2019 at 15:25
  • Frank Gambale is a proponent of "sweep picking". Steve Morse is a proponent of strictly alternate picking. Both have their points. Also check out John Petrucci. (Note that Morse has revised his technique due to a repetitive stress injury, so you may want to review his early technique rather than his current state.)
    – Kirk A
    Jan 12, 2019 at 20:59
  • Frank Gambale is a proponent of ALL techniques, he is quite proficient at consecutive picking but in his method books recommends that all techniques be drilled.
    – user50691
    Jan 12, 2019 at 21:37
  • Jesus, listened to Batio — he’s the ultimate anal punisher of all shredders.
    – Eugen Eray
    Jan 12, 2019 at 22:09

Lots of good points already mentioned, so let me just add that looking at the photo I think that you may get more benefits from researching new hand positions rather than just new picks.

There used to be a great article by Tuck Andress on the various approaches to picking and picks. Recently some other guitarists have started elaborating further on it. Google "Tuck Andress picking technique" and dive in...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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