How to make strumming with a pick smoother - and overall better

Hey guys! Ever since the first time I started learning the guitar I’ve prefered to strum with my thumb. Compared to when I strum with a pick it simply sounds smoother and the chords sound more cohesive. From my understanding that’s mostly because I kinda suck at strumming with a pick. The chords sounds uneven and cranky and I don’t like how it sounds.
I’d like to request some help from the community to troubleshoot this. Many songs I like are played with a pick, not to mention Justin himself said not using a pick because you don’t how to use properly is the wrong reason to not use a pick!
I’ve recorded a video comparing thumb vs pick so I can ilustrate what is going on. Let me know what you think! Maybe I strike the strings too hard, or maybe some drill or cue to help me with the angle of the pick is the answer. Or maybe it’s just because my guitar is way too old (It’s from 1979 and has broken and been repaired a couple of times). Any input is apreciated.

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Hi Joao,
My advice would be to get the thinnest pick you can find and build up from there. I now use a 0.50 but when I started my pick was really thin and easy to bend. It will feel less harsh when you strike the strings.

Your pick grip looked ok.

It’s a nylon string guitar - that’s probably why you’re getting that unpleasant sound with a pick. Maybe try a lighter pick, or different material pick? Personally I’m partial to Dunlop Tortex, I’d suggest trying .5 (red) or .60 (orange). You’d want a rounded tip, not a pointed tip for strumming.

That seems to be a key point!

I’ve read that playing nylon strings with a pick will wear out the strings very quickly - can anyone confirm?

Ok not sure you’ll like this but spend more time with the pick.

So mostly here is a difference of tone, the thumb is much more mid/low end than the pick.

The side of thumb playing is nice for its thing but very limiting in terms of tone.

With the pick try varying how hard you are holding it and (key) where you are strumming. it’ll be louder and more top end than the side of thumb approach but you can adjust that , even try strumming over the 12th fret or right at the bridge.

Thinner picks are better for beginners because they tend to hold them too tight but eventually it really doesnt matter so much as the technique you use.

Thanks for all the responses! I forgot to mention I’m using a Dunlop nylon 0.38, it’s already extremely thin!
You’re probably correct that the nylon string is an important part of the problem. Sad thing is there is not much I can’t do right now besides dishing out the money to buy another guitar.
Has anyone tried a pick with a nylon guitar who could provide some experience? What kind of material should I look for a pick? Are there specialized picks for nylon guitars?

I’m not sure what pick the experts would use for a nylon string guitar but I like these:

I have a Cordova C9 that I normally play fingerstyle but occasionally us a felt pick for a softer, more pleasant sound. Try them before buying a new guitar…
Good luck!!!


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I can’t confirm this, but if I were you I’d get a steel string guitar just to be on the safe side :rofl: