We’ve been stealthily rolling out updates to the Pickslanting Primer to fill in long-standing gaps in its coverage. The first of these, a long-overdue section on pick grip, went up this week. You can check it out right here!
Getting A Grip
The fundamental challenge of holding a guitar pick is actually a much more sophisticated topic than it appears on the surface. Just between the fingers and hand alone, there are a surprising number of variables at play and choices to make. On top of this, there are an array of subtle interactions between the grip itself and the other parts of your technique that it is connected to further up the arm.
For beginners, the sophistication of all these moving parts means that glib advice to use whatever grip “feels natural” ignores the fact that to a beginner, nothing feels natural yet. By contrast, experienced players probably adopted a particular grip early on in their playing career, through a process of trial and error that they may no longer even remember. With the passage of time, the feel of this grip becomes familiar, but the way it interacts with the rest of their technique can remain frustratingly opaque.
We’ve hinted at some of this interaction in these new lessons, so that there will be some mention of concepts like forearm setup, body contact/anchoring, wrist orientation, edge picking, pickslanting, and so on, even though they won’t be formally introduced until later sections. We’re trying to be as concise as we can be here, giving both beginners and experienced players just enough information to make sense of this topic so that they can experiment in a hands-on way with a pick and guitar.
We’ve taken everyone’s great feedback into consideration in planning and filming these new sections. The most important design consideration was to keep lesson videos short, limited to a single topic, and whenever possible, to ensure that the topic is present in the title of the video itself. This way, the Primer can also function as a kind of quick online reference or index for key concepts. It’s tedious to scan a one-hour lesson to locate a particular subject of discussion. But scanning a one-page list of video titles is almost instantaneous.
Thanks to the single-topic approach, most of these pick grip chapters are between two and six minutes in length — just long enough to communicate a key concept with a few examples. This modularity also allows us to add more chapters if there are subjects that we missed, or topics we would like to expand upon.
We’ll be adding more sections over the coming months, stepping backwards with an even more introductory overview of different pick designs and some practical tips for choosing one. Compiling a clear, organized, approachable “instruction manual of everything” in the universe of picking technique may not be a small task, but that’s what you pay us for, and we take that mission seriously!