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Holding the pick has to be the most fundamental starting point after taking the pick out of the box and tuning up. (If you store your pick by threading it between the strings, be sure to remove it before tuning up).

I have spent the last few weeks struggling with picks that keep twisting as I am playing, which makes it difficult to play with confidence.

Fortunately (maybe) I came across an instructional video by Scott Fore on blessi.com.  Along with this there is a video of Scott playing Ragtime Annie which is tremendously inspiring.

In the instructional video, Scott shows how to hold the pick.  Most importantly, he says that the pick should strike the string at a 45 degree angle (not at an angle where the front of the pick hits the string! This produces a raspy sound on wound string) but where the pick is square to string but at a 45 degree angle to the top.  This allows the pick to get off the string quickly.  To do this it is necessary to push with the thumb on the downstroke and push with the forefinger on the upstroke.  This seems to me to make perfect sense.  The catch is, that in order for the pick to bend enough, aside from using paper-thin picks, the finger which is not pushing has to be supporting the pick very loosely.  This will obviously require considerable practice.  Holding the pick loosely also improves the cadence greatly and probably prevents a sore wrist. 

I have been trying to hold the pick back toward the first thumb joint.  This seems to give more torque with less effort.  Moving the forefinger down and back puts more meat on the pick and should tend to hold it steady.  I recently realized that if I move the forefinger so it is in the centre of the pick it is better balanced and does not twist any more.  This means that I can only move the pick back until it is uncomfortable to place the forefinger in its center.  It is likely possible to practice moving the pick back and getting your forefinger used to curling even further, but this may not be worthwhile.

I have now gone back to a normal pick but it is between light and medium while I try to get used to holding it loosely.  It seems to be a matter of balance.  This I estimate will take six months as I try to graduate to a full medium pick. 

The above seems to make sense to me.  I wish there was an instructional video which either confirmed this or presented something better.   If you decide to try this, remember that I know less about this than you do!


Views: 2152

Comment by Scott Fore on September 9, 2011 at 10:20am


I'm not sure where these posts go either.  As far as the video goes, I don't know about attaching it to these posts; however, you can send it to me directly at  theflatpickking@yahoo.com

Alternately, you could use Dropbox to send it to me.  I use dropbox to send larger files.  If you send me an e-mail address, I'll send you a link to connect to my dropbox folder.


Also, finding the correct posture is a bit of trial and error.  It's good to experiment.



Comment by ganon on September 9, 2011 at 10:35am


videos can be loaded either by navigating to 'videos' in the navigation block at the top right of each page. Once you get there, just click the ADD+ button which is right below the navigation block. These become part of the 'public' viewing library. You can also attach files to comments in certain places (probably what you want to do here). In particular, either on your home page or Scott's you can add a comment and then look for the paper-clip icon on the tool bar at the top of the comment entry box. The paper-clip (attach file) tool is not available everywhere, i.e., not here in comments on blogs. We can discuss the structure of blogs, groups, discussions, the forum, home pages, etc., if you need it.


Comment by ganon on September 9, 2011 at 10:40am

You can see an example of attached files in this discussion:


These are mp3 sound files, but videos work the same way (watch out for size limitations).

Comment by David Rathgeber on September 10, 2011 at 9:04am



I received your email direct to my personal email and was in the process of replying when I noticed it came from a do-not-reply address.  The only way I know you will get this is to go back to an earlier posting, open the internet, log on and I get this forum which only has 3 pages of blogs.  The beginners flatpicking forum has more than10 pages and contains my original posting but nothing after that.  I wish I knew how this thing works.  I now find that the reply was sent to do-not-reply but I am repeating it here. 


I watched Steve Kaufman's Winfield Winners which I assume everyone owns.
Without exception, the nine players have their elbow at the corner of the
lower bout of the guitar, and their forearm at approximately 45 degrees to
the strings.  This gives the pick also an angle of 45 degrees to the strings
without having to twist the wrist.  That problem is settled.  They also rest
their wrist either above or on the bridge and move it along the bridge
depending on which group of strings is being played so that the angle of the
pick to the strings is pretty much constant.  I believe most riffs involve a
maximum of 3 strings.  Classical harmony dictates that a group of notes not
be too far apart and this is probably true of flatpicking it it were
analyzed in that way.

I have adjusted my playing position so that I have the same angle with my
forearm. My arm is longer than most, so I have to rest the guitar on my left
leg and spread my lets.  Otherwise, my wrist is above the soundhole.  I am a
knuckledragger.  The only other knuckledragger I have found is Del Puckett
who appears on the blessi.com website playing the William Tell overture
which is something to see.  He raises his arm at the shoulder which must
have been uncomfortable to learn and which I certainly can't do.

I have tried filing various picks to have a 45 degree angle on the attack
edges, front and back.  The results have been disappointing to say the
least.  Loss of high harmonics, scratching on wound strings, and with a
rounded pick end, noise as the pick rubs over the strings on release.  I have gone

back to my original 0.88 mm Brain pick and the joy is back in my life!  I am
going to discuss this with Scott at the end of the month.  On the other hand,

with the proper seating position, I am now very comfortable and will start moving forward from this point.

Scott says the left forearm should be parallel with the fingerboard.  I
believe this occurs almost naturally.  Steve Kauffman says the thumb should
not be used to hold the guitar and should be out of the way.  However, Steve
holds his guitar on his right leg and is playing at the side of his body
which puts his left forearm at a 90 degree angle to the fingerboard, and he
therefore has no choice but to keep his thumb below the fingerboard.  I have
always had trouble with this but now I understand.  But he's Steve
Kauffman - what can you say!


It is wonderful to have this blog site where we can list our mistakes and hear other opinions about how to correct them. There is no flatpicking group in Toronto and guitar teachers want to concentrate on making you a good strummer.  I don't read music.  Neither does Paul McCartney.  It can't be that important!  I can read guitar tab but it never comes out as music.  If it weren't for my Tascam Guitar Trainer, I still wouldn't be able to play anything.  If I have a problem with note, I put it on a loop at half speed and may spend 2 or 3 days finding it on the guitar.  It takes me about a month to get 32 bars down, and most of my repertoire of 8-1/2 tunes is only that long.  I should probably be on the junior pre-beginner forum.


Talk to you again in a couple of weeks.


Comment by ganon on September 10, 2011 at 9:11am
David, the email you get is a blind routing from Flatpicking Guitar Network for a message that I placed in your mailbox here (top right of page, just below the navigation block). The email is a convenience so that you can see the message without having to log on here. To reply, you should open it from the mailbox here and then hit the reply button. Alternatively, real Email address is ganon1950@gmail.com.
Comment by ganon on September 10, 2011 at 9:26am

The critical structure here is understanding the difference Between FORUM, GROUPS, and BLOGS (again see the navigation block). The FORUM contains DISCUSSIONS, usually of a general nature, e.g., "What brand of strings do you use?" that do not fit within the scope of a GROUP. GROUPS also have discussions, but you must be member of the group to start a discussion, or respond to one. BLOGS are open to the whole site and are similar to the FORUM discussions, except that they have the flavor of 'This is what I think, comment if you like' as compared to 'I have a question, can we talk about it?' for DISCUSSIONS. I expect what you really wanted to do here would have be to start a discussion within the Beginner's group, rather than an open BLOG.

Hope that helps!



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