Angle Your Pick For Smooth Strums

What you’re about to learn is such a tiny change, but it makes strumming easier! The devil is in the details - and the full lesson is here!

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Just had a quick scan through some of the lessons and this one stuck out for me. Justin gives a much fuller explanation of pick angle in two planes. I had sort of worked this out previously from a other videos, Grade 1 including RUST, but was good to see it all combined in one lesson, with a clear explanation.
Michael :+1:

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I did it wrong all these years. I had too much motion with my wrist.

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Roland @Rolandson
I was the opposite of you I don’t think I was doing enough wrist rotation. Since trying it out after the lesson much more comfortable, with up strums in particular.
Michael

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For me, I always find that the pick seems to slide a little out of position. Kind of behind the line of my thumb nail… i do not know if this is a bad thing… but when playing it seems to always find its way there…

I am very aware of it and find myself trying to correct it all the time thus distracting my playing…

Plus… I find i can really hear the difference when the pick passes over the strings… almost like a scratching sound as opposed to a Click

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Chris @cjt5079
I tried a orange tortex a while ago but as it is smooth it kept moving around when I was strumming so gone back to JD USA Nylon which has a bit texture where the fingers go and that works for me. I also have some JD Max Grip which has more texture.
Might be worth trying one of those.
Michael

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Hi, I’m 61 and have been playing about ten years. The first instructor I had was insistent that the wrist should rotate when strumming. A motion like “brushing crumbs off the table.” And he always corrected us when our strumming was too much elbow movement and not enough wrist. So I was really surprised when Justin was just as insistent that you should NOT rotate the wrist much. Interesting how there can be such a strong difference of opinion on something so basic! Anyway, I signed up for this course because I was frustrated with my strumming and I have to say that so far I’m doing much better with Justin’s method! Thanks man! Mike

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Thanks Michael… I appreciate your reply and feedback!

I also have the JD picks with a light texture which offers a little more stability… i do find the same thing happens though…

I dont know why lol

Chris

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Chris @cjt5079
I think there is always a tendency for the pick to move around and I sort do what Jason teaches in one of his lessons on manipulating the pick but when it was nearly every strum that was unworkable.
I did try the max grip 0.6 but found it less flexible than JD USA Nylon 0.6 and was giving the same issue as the orange tortex.
Started Justin’s new strumming course and have dropped back to JD USA Nylon 0.46 and finding much less problems with the pick moving.
Michael

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You should eventually use both arm and wrist but in my experience its better to start with the arm and use the wrist when things get a little faster! :slight_smile: Glad ur enjoying it!

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I doa whole less on on pick manipulation in the Dynamics course - and how to use the pick as a ‘fiddle toy’ to help you control it!

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Hi all, my name is Jan and i have been taking lessons from Justin for several years now. I felt like I was a beginning intermediate although there are only two or three songs I can retain without the tabs in front of me! I signed up for the strumming as I had a weird little stroke like incident last year and it totally messed up my fretting and strumming hand. But I have managed to get my fretting hand back in shape but my strumming was suffering. It threw all my timing off. My doctors suggestion was sell all your guitars and forget it!!! I left furious and determined to get back what I had gained from Justin over the years. My guitar playing is my meditation. I did notice in the lesson on picks and holding the guitar that I was angling the guitar and had given myself a sore neck and left shoulder. What an eye opener after all this time!! I played tonight in the way Justin recommended and no pain after playing!! I just had my 70th birthday last week and have had GAS during lockdown really bad, so i am committed to continue the enjoyment I get from the guitar. Many thanks to you Dr. Justin. :wink:

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Glad to hear you’re making a recovery Jan.

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So I have been traveling over the last year and anytime I find picks in souvie shops, I always get some. I try to get thin ones but sometime all they will have is thick ones, and I’ll get them anyway thinking eventually I’ll use them. In my practices I’ll play around with the different thicknesses and I always end up coming back to my Fender Thin ones. I don’t know what they’re made of but some of the other picks I have feel like a piece of plastic. The plasticky ones will sound very clicky.

I have been paying attention to how clicky my strumming sounds now, and I am experimenting with angling the pick some because that seems to be less clicky sounding. There’s three concerns that have arisen as a result.

  1. I feel less control over the pick because of the rounded tip sliding over the strings easier.

  2. I find my hand coming away from the strings when I angle the pick. I’ll end up only grabbing the thickest strings on the down strum and the thinnest on the up strum.

  3. I feel the nail on my first finger going over the strings on down strums. This can’t be good.

Are these normal? Am I over-angling? Maybe I need to either force myself to correct these or just stick with the normal straight angle I am used to?

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I’ve tried, but angling the pick doesn’t work for me. You have to get the angle JUST right or the note won’t ring out. Too much angle and the pick seems to ride up and over the strings. Or the strings move out of the way of the pick. Either way, the note doesn’t ring out.

I think you need to settle on a pick you like and move forward with that pick. Otherwise you’re contantly having to adjust your strumming dynmaics to adjust to the new pick.

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Dunno if this is anticipating the Dynamics part of the course, but I’ve found myself adjusting the angle depending upon how loudly I’m strumming. For moderate+ strumming, angling the pick works great and gets rid of any flapping noise; however for soft strumming, an angled pick creates a lot of what I’ll call “pick-squeak” (similar to finger-squeak during chord changes) - flattening out the pick gets rid of that (without reintroducing any flapping noise since the strums are soft) … this may or may not be applicable to most players, but folks like myself who like to play (and sing) soft moody songs where I’m just barely touching the strings on each strum, that squeak can get pretty annoying :slight_smile: … but then, maybe I should be finger-strumming instead (Grade 3 - which is mostly why I’m taking this course!)

Paul.

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Can my index finger instead of pointing toward angle of pick, be folded and perpendicular to pick?
I am asking this because the perpendicular position feels more comfortable to me.

Please suggest!
I am attaching photo of the perpendicular position.

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@Indranilkapuri Comfort is important. Looking at your photograph I would pick up on two issues.
1] Your pick is sticking out a long way from your grip. Try having less of the pick protruding for more control.
2] Your fingers 2, 3 and 4 are curled tight in a fist-like shape. Try relaxing them and allowing them to uncurl. Tension in the fingers is not good for playing well.
I hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard |

Is angling the pick a good technique for picking individual strings or only for strumming? Just watched a Flatpicking technique video by Tony Polecastro and he said to angle the pick for individual strings.

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I angle my pick for both strumming and picking individual strings. For me, it helps the pick slide over the strings more easily, prevents the pick from getting “stuck” in the strings during up-strums, and, when combined with a more “in-out” vs. “up-down” motion when picking, makes string-skipping much easier and more natural feeling.

So, my pick is angled in two directions. The bridge-facing-edge is angled HIGHER than the nut-facing-edge (about 45 degrees to the strings), and the tip is angled up so it’s slightly above the grip area (about 30 degrees)

YMMV

Edit: Changed word in BOLD from “lower”. I meant to say higher. Sorry for the confusion.

I’ve seen a few players who hold the pick with the bridge-side lower than the nut side, but it is rare.

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