How To Strum Without A Pick

Learn to strum a guitar without a pick and actually sound good!

View the full lesson at How To Strum Without A Pick | JustinGuitar

I am learning guitar and now I have one two and tree and four in my head lol


I’ve been playing for a while and have picked up the habit of positioning my hand like a pick but playing down with my first finger and up with my thumb. Seems to work for me so far…

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thx for the help aka im a kid

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@Honeymustard @jackbhouston @TovGold

Welcome to the Community. I hope you are all having a positive learning experience with JustinGuitar and look forward to you being engaged here in the Community.

Consider posting up an intro in #community-hub:introduce-yourself

Any recommendations for lessons on the folky finger style Justin plays towards the end of the video where he hits the bass note and strums/picks the melody at the same time?

Yes, here: How To: Thumb & Finger Strums |

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Thank you @jjw1 !!

Thanks Justin. I’m a beginner and have learned so much from the videos already. I’m curious - what’s the song you were playing when you demonstrated strumming without a pick (but where your fingers were positioned as if you were holding a pick)? Or are you just stringing together some chords? It sounded really good and like the kinda tune I’d like to learn to play down the track. Thanks again for so generously sharing your time, expertise and love of guitar. It’s really appreciated.

I am practicing one minute chord changes and have found that I can make significantly more changes using my thumb as opposed to using a pick. It seems more natural. Is this common to be faster this way and is it ok to practice like that?

Welcome Jerry!

I have thoughts on this. I have essentially abandoned the pick, primarily be cause I have discovered that I want to play finger-style and classical guitar.

However, others will choose to play with plectrum (pick) or hybrid (pick and fingers), which does suit itself well to electric guitar as well as steel string acoustics.

Early on, the pick is a pain, so it feels more natural and easier to use your thumb to “pick”.

But, in the absence of fingerpicking, the pick is really much more versatile, faster and more dynamic. The thumb will have a softer sound, and will be limited to down strums.

So unless you have chosen a path as I have, I think you would shortchange yourself by not making every effort to learn to use the pick.

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I am all the way into module 8 and I just now decided to start trying to strum without a pick. It has been quite challenging for me so far. I can’t imagine it being more easy than with a pick, as several of you have stated above. I’m strumming with my thumb and I feel like the sound when I strum is just so soft and “dull” and the upstrums have been especially challenging, as I feel like I’m only picking up the bottom string no matter what angle I place my hand/thumb. Hopefully I can eventually get used to it.

I downstrum with the back of my index fingernail and up with the back of my thumbnail. I get the brighter tone I want that way.

Hold your index and thumb together, or close to each other, in a loose and relaxed way. That works for me. Then you can reverse and use the pads for softer warmer sounds, or use the backs of all the fingernails together for a multi-string jangle.