Fingers or pick

Should I ditch the pick.
Let’s start with, I started playing classical when was younger but want to learn electric blues / rock style. Been trying on and off to get going assuming I need to use a pick but keep coming back to I am more accurate, contoled, relaxed and happier when I ditch it and just use my fingers. Or should I persavier because I’ll run into problems latter on in the electric guitar style


Same. I’m just not interested in using a pick, I much prefer to user thumb to strum.

There are some great electric players who fingerpick e.g. Mark Knoffler of Dire Straits, but he’s the only one I can think of right now.

I suspect it will be highly dependant on the type of electric playing you want to do. Hard for me to imagine doing chugga chugga palm muting without a pick, for example.

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Depends on what music you play? What bands you like, how those bands players play - do they use pick or fingers?

Hi @Macraf , this question comes up from time to time and you can find lots of opinions by searching the forum. Here’s my take:

I think at the beginning stages there can be a strong temptation to throw away the pick and play only with the fingers. Playing with the fingers is much easier at the start and sounds much better. At the beginning, the pick can sound grating or too loud and in any case unpleasant. Learning to get a good sound with the pick is difficult and is a gradual process. You have to stick to it for a while to see the pay off. Strumming with the fingers, on the other hand, sounds pretty good from the start. But, I would persevere with the pick, because much (probably most) guitar music is played with a pick and it’s definitely worthwhile learning the techniques.

Of course, some people will prefer playing fingerstyle in any case, which is fine, of course. However, I would suggest becoming fairly proficient with a pick before deciding to not use it, if that makes sense.


I’d recommend becoming at least basically proficient with both.

In my case, I learned both approaches, but I tended to use picks with electric guitars, and limited fingerstyle to classical guitars and steel-string acoustic guitars. Then I gradually started “hybrid picking” on electric (i.e., holding a pick, but also using the other three fingers of my RH). Lately I’ve increasingly been playing electric without a pick – not all the time, but sometimes – and found that I enjoy the expressive control. I’m still better on electric when I use a pick, but I’m getting there with just fingers.

FWIW, if you get good at playing electric with your fingers it can be hard to tell that you’re not playing with a pick. Check out this vid of Richie Kotzen playing electric with his fingers (especially the solo parts):

Or check out Andy Martin’s gear demos where he plays electric without a pick. He talks about his approach here:


Depends on genre and your level of experience. I started with the pick as the lessons go, dropped it when got into fingerstyle and now started it using it on again due to the song type I’m working on. As mentioned above, better to be able to use both, at some point, then stick to just one type.

Haha, that’s me for the last five years! :rofl:
I’ve finally started trying to use picks more regularly now. You’re going to get better at whatever you use, aren’t you?


Hi Brian,
I hear your imploring fervent wish/question, let me tell you ’ yes boy, it will get better when you do your best… :joy:
Good luck…I’m still not a fan of the picks most of the time, but as the Zeelanders say here ‘Luctor et Emergo’ :sweat_smile:

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Google ‘rhetorical:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

(You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose,
but you can’t pick your friend’s nose…)


I was at a house concert on the weekend and one of the guitar players there used only his fingers on the electric and it was exquisite to listen to.

My view is you have to do more importantly than anything else what ever it is that keeps your passion alive, keeps you picking up the guitar. If ditching the pick and using fingers does that for you, then go for it. You can always grab the pick another time if you fine you want some of that technique.

When I started again, because I’d tried and failed to keep the effort going some years before, I was more determined to be clear on my goals and keep the passion going. Now that I’m well beyond the beginner stage, I’m so glad I did.

For me, esp at the start, it was finger style only. Now I play a mixture of finger picking, finger strumming, pick strumming and thumb pick with finger style. Whatever suits the particular song.

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Learn to be proficient with a pick and with your fingers. That’s what we do when we learn to play guitar. Learn the things. Become a well-rounded player to keep your options open for finding your own voice on the instrument.


Right now I’ve been fingerpicking a lot, but its good to be proficient with both.

Make it a choice rather than be limited by your skill

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Hi @Macraf Mark,

I guess the valid point is to develop skills in both. After all you can play fingerstyle with or without finger and thumbpicks, and you can strum and pick melody lines with your thumb only, or by using some kind of a more elaborate fingerstyle.

There is even a hybrid style where you use both a flat pick and middle and ring finger when the need arises. It depends on the style of music you are learning. I guess it is easier to get the volume out of an electric with both picks and with fingers.

If you have really nice strong and thick and well shaped nails, you will be in luck, and be able to play consistently with the fingers. Mine are very brittle, and last me for about 2 weeks of playing, after trying to get them to grow for about a month or so, then I have to trim them down again, and I will be playing with the flesh, so the (admittedly acoustic) guitar tone is totally different. I am not quite sure how a single line guitar solo on the electric would sound like, I guess you would play it with the thumb only.

I am pretty sure that B.B. King played with a pick :wink: to get that sharp attack.

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My personal, humble opinion (I’m no expert) … if you’re more relaxed and happier when you ditch the pick and use your fingers, then ditch the pick - at least until if and when you decide you want to use it :woman_shrugging:
Go with developing your own style, I reckon
but hey, that’s just me. Like I said, I’m no expert…

This, this and this. You’re struggling with a pick now because you’re not used to using it. Learn both, then specialise later.

Jeff Beck

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You can get a pretty sharp attack with jus your fingers