Angle picking acoustic guitar

Hello everyone ! I reached Grade 2 of Justin’s course and I have been also practicing the Aerials Riff by System Of a Down in my free time.
One issue I’m having is the angle picking. I need to master it since this riff is pretty quick so I need speed, but I am not sure that I’m doing it correctly ? Flat picking gives me a much nicer sound on my acoustic so I’m not really sure if I’m angling my pick correctly, is there any way for me to know if my picking technique is correct ?

Take a photo or video and share here for folks to see would be the best way.

For sure yes !
I’ve been trying a very slight angle so I take advantage of the speed of angle picking (when i practice enough for it to be actually fast XD ) without it sounding too weird or scratchy

I tried to have a video hopefully it will do the job ! (Im a new user and can only put one media in my reply)

If you need a specific angle to take the picture let me know

The issues im noticing now is that the sound of the picking itself feels too loud, sometimes it feels I hear the sound of the picking louder than the string itself, althought it might just be be

Hi Mira,

the angle in the video is looking ok for me. It is good, if the pick doesn’t get “stuck” between the strings and passes them quite smoothly.

When in doubt, it’s always good to go back to the roots and check Justin’s Lessons again, for your topic maybe this one:

Regarding picking sounds it’s normal when one solid thing hits another solid thing. E.g. I made an attempt to learn 5-string Banjo few years ago where you wear metal finger picks and the sound of metal meeting metal almost did my heads in, as I thought I did it wrong. :rofl: Turned out to be pretty normal though. :sweat_smile:

Have you tried a thicker pick? I’ve seen other people complain about the sound of the white Dunlop picks.

Though I didn’t hear any obvious problems in your recording, TBH.

I think Mira is already using a 1.5mm pick (white tortex)…I’ve never used one that thick and was wondering if perhaps exploring pick thicknesses and materials might be helpful. As you know, Justin recommends thinner picks especially for beginners. I love trying different picks - they’re cheap (well, most of them)!

I thought the white Dunlops were the thinnest, but when I zoom in it does indeed seem to say 1.5 mm, which is very thick.

I’ve had good luck with orange Dunlop tortex picks that Justin recommends.

Yes, I was unsure as well. The thin ones Justin recommends are made of nylon. I also like the Tortex picks, have the in both .50mm (red) and .60mm (orange). @Mirz - maybe those thinner picks will sound nicer to you. I also have a .60mm nylon Dunlop pick that has embossing, making it easy to hold in place. The nylon definitely sounds different.

Hello Mira.
I actually watched your AVOYP video of the Aerial’s RIff and noticed many things that I wanted to give you advice on. From there, I wondered if you have posted other AVOYP, searched your history and found this topic - which is you asking about the very issues I wanted to comment on. I have taken screenshots from both of your videos.

My overall comment would be that you need to reset your entire body and hand posture when playing.

[1] _ _ _ _ _

This picture shows you holding the guitar at an angle, leaning it in towards your body. The guitar itself needs to be held in an almost vertical plane. I’m not sure what sort of chair you are sitting on. You need to be upright and comfortable in a chair with no arms. The guitar needs to be pulled in to an upright position. Cuddle it close like you love it! :slight_smile:

Something like this.

image -


From that shift in posture and position you then need to wrap the elbow of your strumming arm more around the upper back part of the guitar body. That can be seen in the last pic above. Your forearm is resting on top of the body and your elbow sticks out behind the guitar. That makes the actual mechanics of the strumming movement very difficult. It forces your hand away from the strings which has the undesirable and uncomfortable effect that your wrist has to be forced to work at an angle, aiming it and the fingers back in towards the strings. Look at the pic below to see how big a gap there is between your wrist and the guitar body. By hooking your elbow around the guitar your forearm will more closely follow the surface of the guitar body, your wrist will lie in a more comfortable and flatter plane for optimal motion up and down as it swings in short arcs for strumming.

mira 8

[2] _ _ _ _ _

mira 1

This shows again the extreme angle at which your guitar body is held. It also shows another issue I would recommend you address and try to break the habit. You have curled up and tense-looking fingers in your picking hand. Try to allow fingers 2, 3 & 4 to relax, stretch out a little bit, fall from the tight curl they are in and ease your hand tension.

[3] _ _ _ _ _

Holding the pick.

[] _ _ _ _ _
mira 3

This picture shows the amount of pick that you are allowing to protrude beyond your thumb and 1st finger. Justin does mention to beginners that they can allow a reasonable amount to stick out - allied with a recommendation that they use a very thin pick. Your pick is very thick (1.5mm) and you are not a total beginner. You need to bring the pick much further inside of the grip and have only a small amount of the tip sticking out. I also recommend trying thinner (not thin, just thinner) picks. 0.5mm-0.8mm perhaps.

[5] _ _ _ _ _

This shows that your 1st finger is being held very straight from the first join to the tip. Try to curl it around fully from both of the joints. See the next picture showing this grip.


[6] _ _ _ _ _

This shows the direction of your strumming as your pick moves across the strings. The way your body posture, arm position, wrist angle and grip are all working, your strumming is moving in the direction of the guitar bridge on the way down. Your pick is also going in too deep as it moves from one string to the next. Instead of gliding across the surface and just stroking the strings it is clashing into them and ‘digging in’ which makes for a strumming and picking sound that can be jerky and not smooth.

You want the movement of your forearm, wrist and fingers to follow a shallow arc across the strings something like this.

Your arc has your hand and pick moving in this sort of arc.

I hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard | JustinGuitar Approved Teacher, Official Guide & Moderator


There is quite a lot of information on edge picking in these Troy Grady videos.


Hello !! Thank you so so much for this !!! It helps a lot yes !!! I was practicing now and saw your comments and will instantly start integrating your tips into my playing ! I’m still at the consolidation phase of Grade 2 and will not move an inch from there until I do everything you advise here !

I ended up changing my pick and found my comfort spot to be the 0.8mm and 1mm picks depending on what im playing !

Thanks again ! the pictures are a life saver as well thank you for taking the time ! its very much appreciated

1 Like

Thank you so much !! Im checking them right now

Hello again richard ! After trying out your tips I noticed two slight issues I have with them and I was wondering if you could help me point out why I’m seeing slight difficulty :slight_smile:

In the “protruding amount of pick” I realized that when I try to tuck my pick in my fingers actually end up hitting the strings as well, which is also probably why Im having the rest of my fingers being curled up so i dont hit the strings either. I tried resting them but the faster picking I have to do they just instantly go up to try and help me not hit the strings with my fingers.

Any idea on if im doing something wrong that is making my fingers hit the strings ? and how I can also counter that ?