How to Hold and Use a Pick

2 Week ‘Kick Start’ Beginner Guitar Course
– with Mark McKenzie Part 1

“How to Hold and Use a Pick… The Right Way”

Most students who come to me don’t use a guitar pick. The most common reason is that they never learned how to use one. They tried, it felt weird and they gave up on it.

If you are not using a guitar pick – or if you are, but you’re not using it the right way – you are definitely missing out big time. Missing out on better sound quality, increased speed and improved accuracy.

It only takes 3 simple steps and a few minutes to get you holding and using the guitar pick the right way –  after that you can be sure that every moment of practice is not being wasted on reinforcing bad habits.

Small changes. Big results.




  1. Bill

    Thank you. As a person just learning to play the guitar, a life long desire, This lesson was extremely helpful.

  2. Moses

    Thank you Mark for your beginner guitar course, first how to hold a pick, it is helpful, I didn’t manage to watch consistently at first, it was hanging, but today I managed and have learned. Thanks

  3. Thomas E.

    I never knew how to use a pick before, but after watching a video on how to use it, may change the way I play now

  4. Jim

    I want to learn the guitar for a while and I will commit myself to doing whatever it takes to learn and do it right

  5. Tony Burke

    I cannot play the video for the first lesson

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Tony, where are you located? Also, can you get the other videos to play? Our video host Vimeo had some issue with their player this week but it should be resolved now. Let me know and I’ll look into this. Thanks.

  6. Mat

    Cannot play media video for first free 2week lesson. Screen says Sorry
    Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here. This is happening on both my iPad Air and iPhone 6? Where to from here?

      1. Kendal

        Yes, it still says the same thing, for me as well!

        1. Jon Coursey Post author

          There seems to be an issue with the Vimeo player, we’re looking into it. Hopefully we can have things working for you soon.

  7. kelly

    its a great honor for me to be ur student..
    hope to learn more about it.. thanks a lot in advance sir..

  8. Shihi Kennedy

    This was a very educational and calm way to learn as a beginner such as myself!

  9. kevin

    The first lesson is great .. Now i know what picks are use for … Hope to learn more on the second lesson … Hope its for free all the way

  10. Marcelo

    So I’m just learning to play the guitar and up until now I didn’t find any real reason why I should or shouldn’t use a pick, most people say it’s just a matter of personal preference so I started using it like a pen. Luckly I only started 3 days ago, I’m gonna try this way. Thanks man!

  11. Jb

    Great first lesson. It’s good the depth he goes into .

  12. Carl.Callen

    Great lesson, I didn’t know how or why you hold the pick a certain way .thanks .I think these lessons will work for me. I’m 61 years old and need all the help I can get.thanks

  13. Susan

    Thank you. That explanation was easy to understand. Looking forward to more.

  14. Jan

    Very helpful. Be looking out for next lesson.

  15. Sharie

    I live in a remote area, we only have dial-up internet services at this time. I am unable to play video for this reason. What do you suggest?

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Sharie, did you try turning HD off on the video player to see if that helps?

  16. Chris

    Very helpful, can I have next lesson please

  17. Cody

    To think that the way you hold the pick is all the difference! Wow! I never could have guessed!!!

    1. Mark McKenzie

      It’s very subtle by man does it make a difference!

  18. Nardopi

    This much needed info. The problems have gone away. Great lesson.

  19. Melissa M

    I am just learning at age 50 although I’ve played around for awhile. The way you showed how to hold the pick is really helpful. Thank you much! Plunka plunka – here I go!

  20. Allan K Lindsay

    Ready to move to the stage, thanks

  21. Samuel

    Kind of simplified approach,but can I pay for the lessons and get them in downloadable mp4 format?

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Hi Samuel, no the videos are only available on the site. Thanks

  22. Michael Crowe

    I took lessons as a kid and not once was I showed how to hold the pick correctly. Now 30 some years later, I’m trying to pick up playing again and this really helps. Never knew that the way you held the pick could make that much of a difference.

    1. Mark McKenzie

      It’s amazing what a difference it makes isn’t it! All the best Michael.

  23. jim

    I hold the pick real close to the way you do made a few little adjustments seems like I can articulate the strings a bit better Thanks

  24. James

    Wow, all this time (for 9 months) that I have been holding the pick wrong. I am really glad that I am finally learning how to hold the pick correctly. Now I don’t have to feel like quitting from time to time. Thanks.

  25. Richard Weintraub

    Very clear & effective approach

  26. Chris

    I was very skeptical but for a first lesson this was impressive

  27. Richard

    Can I get lesson 2 please. Thanks

  28. Richard

    Helped with Plc finger positions on the pick. Good lesson, how not to start off with a bad habit?

  29. Gary c

    I’ve been checking your express lessons great stuff going on I’m no youngster a bit late to try guitar but hey I’m no quitter, I like your style and find it easy to follow look forward to some great lessons and finding my ability to play great guitar .

  30. Ralf

    Allright , never did it like that. I was more the pen holder typ. First try outs are quite good. Cheers

  31. tin

    Thankyou for the tips I can already feel a difference!

  32. Paul

    Hi Mark can you send the second lesson on the strumming,the video is spooling all the time and very hard to follow thank you.

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Paul, perhaps try turning HD mode off on the video player and see if that fixes the issue.

  33. Billy Smith

    Are there anymore free lessons and how do i get to them

  34. Rodolfo

    LOL Yup, I was holding the pencil! Thanks!!

  35. James Koyle

    So far so good, I have tried in the past to learn the guitar but I get overwhelmed with the terms and trying to read the music. I have gotten as far as a basic understanding of measures and counts but I become overwhelmed from there. I am considering signing up for the full course but am a bit hesitant to do so. How deep and how clear are the lessons? Thank you.

  36. thomas lister

    Hi , i only have electric guitar and to be honest only want to learn on electric will this be a problem for me, or are the principals for holding the guitar and using the pick apply to both electric and acoustic.

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Hi Thomas. No this won’t be a problem. All of the concepts apply equally to both acoustic and electric guitar.

  37. Aroti

    Good lesson. Would the next lesson follow tomorrow? Is there a way to get the rest of the lessons together? I tend to spend more time when I can.
    Also for the paid lessons, do we have access to the entire courseware from day 1? Or is it one lesson a day?

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Aroti, with the free courses the lessons are spread out (a lesson a day). With the paid membership and paid courses you get access to all the lessons, so you can do as many as you like, whenever you like.

  38. Kristin Slaughter

    Excellent! I didn’t realize that my wrist was up. The visual cue about a line from thumb through wrist to elbow is very helpful. Thank you!

  39. oluranti oluropo

    I love it.its simple and clear

  40. Edwin Maldonado

    I thank you for this first lesson it changed the way i was never taught to hold a pick i’ve been to other guitar and even started taking lessons with a teacher. I got so unmotivated i almost put the guitar with short lesson i see it could be done you just have to find the right person and you are that person i’m so happy although it might sound silly that im learning the very basic on holding the guitar pic look foward to many more lessons iwth u again ty

  41. Gopal

    haven’t received the free picking lesson so far. please arrange.

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Gopal, did you get an email with a link to confirm your subscription to the lessons?

  42. Charlie Hook

    Very interesting FIRST Free lesson. Am ready for the second lesson. Am I confused, or is this complete Jamorama program selling for $39.00 or less. please respond
    Thank you,

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Charlie, yes the $39 offer is for 12 months access to the paid membership side of the site where you have all of Mark’s lessons (you can see them all in the courses section).

  43. Joe

    Nice lesson! Growing up I use to watch incredible artists live. Mike Stern, Al Dimeola, Allan Holdsworth, Yngwie, etc. I plan on signing up soon and start living the dream. Thanks again

  44. Moses Omozuanbbo

    Pls i need some solo scales, tricks, and chords movement

  45. Anthony

    Hi Mark, just started learning, so lesson on how to pick was great. Thanks now I need to learn how to place fingers on fret to get right notes.


  46. Stephen king

    I understand now by holding it correctly my problem seems to be I keep missing a string and getting my wrist correctly

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Just make sure you practice it slowly for a bit before bringing it up to speed. You’ll get there 🙂

  47. Zoe

    That helped so much can’t wait till lesson two

  48. Andy Hamilton

    Nice to see a teacher that knows what he is talking about i am a advanced player so will be taking a look at the lead guitar course there is always something you can learn no matter how good you think you are

  49. Joan

    Mark, your lesson was great. Very clear to understand and works good for me. I am retired now, always was interested in learning to play the guitar and now have the time. Look forward to signing up for lessons. Look forward to my next free lesson. Thank you.

  50. david payne

    thanks Mark,
    i was holding right but lesson reminded me to hold wrist and arm straight which help my strum, looking 4ward 2 next lesson 🙂

  51. vijay

    hey MARK thanks for this amazing teaching on “how to hold a guitar pick”..learned some new things as well..can i ask u for more videos so that i can learn how play the guitar..

  52. Lisa

    Thanks very much Mark! Simple yet very effective!

  53. Jorge

    Thank you Mark for all this useful information and video explanation.

  54. jimmy

    Thank you Mark.I do appreciate your efforts

  55. Aashi

    Pleased to find myself on the right track 🙂 Thankyou !!

  56. Jimmy Byrd

    Thank you very much I’m a SUPER BEGGINNER and all I had was a make shift pick but the lesson got across I’ll be Getty a real pick soon and beginning my practice! Again thank you and I’m ready for the next lesson soon

  57. geoff

    All good information, can I have the next lesson now please, very keen. Thanks for the video’s

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Thanks Geoff. The next lesson will be in your inbox tomorrow morning.

  58. Julien

    G’day Mark,
    I would love to play guitar, but I have short stubby fingers, would that be a drawback?

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Hi Julien. Having short fingers will influence the way you play the guitar for sure, but it shouldn’t be a drawback. I would say go for it. Get hold of a guitar and try it out. Learn a few things (I’ve got free courses here on the site for that), and see how you go. I’ve seen plenty of people with short fingers learn to play well, proving the old adage true – it’s not the size that counts, but how you use it.

  59. Chintan

    Hi Mark, Your lessons are very helpful and easy to understand. You are doing a great job by making people learn Guitar with an ease. Now I know the use of Pick and how to hold it, can you please let me know how I can get link for next lesson.

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Hi Chintan, good work! Check your inbox in the morning for the next lesson.

  60. milan

    hey mark, will u please tell me which song do u played in the video nd also how to play it. i love this song

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Hey Milan, it was just something that was floating around in my head before filming. I should really turn it into something… perhaps I’ll film a lesson on it and share it up on the blog. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  61. john

    A very nice simple lesson i am looking forward to your next one many thanks.

  62. Ashley

    Sorry, Mark, I believe your lesson is great, but I cannot watch the video somehow. It says the link has been redirected. (It is because I am in China now?)

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Hi Ashley, unfortunately Vimeo (the video player we use) is blocked in China, so this is most definitely why you can’t view the videos 🙁 I’m not sure if there’s any way to get around this. Maybe someone here will know?

  63. Dennis

    Really amazing stuff makes free access unfair.Very hard to separate the crap from the real stuff on the internet for any learner..Eureka!!!..Your course is the real deal having tried a lot of the internet junk ..Am so excited..cant wait to subscribe!

  64. Tomislav

    C’mon man, that is not fair, how long are your fingers!? you can play the guitar from the kitchen….

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Sadly no, I have to take the guitar with me to the kitchen, just like everyone else hehe.

  65. Harry

    Good Job, amazing how the simple things become clear when explained properly.
    Well pleased 🙂

  66. David

    Thanks Mark, can’t wait till the next lesson, chomping at the bit here, lol.

  67. Edward Monaghan

    Thank you for your reply, however the only interest I have is in the Peavey Power Slide guitar. Can you supply lessons regarding this guitar only. If so, I look forward to a sample before subscribing.

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Edward, we don’t do any lessons specifically for that type of guitar. The lessons here are for standard acoustic and electric guitar.

  68. Scott

    Good lesson. Found one of my problems already. Thanks.

  69. Harry

    Mark: A very good lesson. Not just for beginners only. Lessons like this will help any guitarist keep
    correct methods in check.

  70. Vignesh

    Thanks Very Much Mark. My usage and understanding of the basics were off and these lessons are truly helping. Cheers

  71. coraz

    A great tip, the pick feels totally comfortable this way.

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