Just wondering how necessary it is to use a pick. I personally struggle with them, preferring to just use my thumb and index finger. Are they a vital component in the learning process or is it okay to choose not to use and it won’t hinder my progress?
Hi Cate, not sure if it will hinder your progress or not. I tend not to use a pick for a lot of the time as I enjoy finger picking. But do use it on certain songs. A pick increases volume and projects the notes more. You might find it helpful to try both, then you have two valid differing styles.
Hi Cate. Justin recommends using a pick and I’d certainly suggest you follow his advice. His system works and if you start to deviate from it when you’re only a few weeks into learning then you may run into trouble.
Once you gain more experience you can start fingerstyle etc if that’s what takes your fancy.
I think it’s the projection which is also the issue. I live in a gated community with townhouses very close by and was worried about the volume it projects. I do also love classical finger picking, albeit I’m not at that stage but it is the struggle of holding one. My grip isn’t what it was many moons ago but I’ll keep using them until I get used to it.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate all the feedback I get from here.
Thank you for that Gordon. I’m following him religiously in the app and YouTube, watching his suggestions on the varying picks. I do have a few light, flimsy Dunlop ones only at this stage but will invest in different ones and hopefully I’ll get used to them.
It was only within the last week or so that I learned about his website. Until then, I first found him on YouTube (recommended by a NZ friend - also a Gordon) so I then bought the app. Thanks so much. He’s incredible and generous with all these avenues to learn from.
No, you won’t. I lived in a block of flats with thin walls and went through the first three grades of Justin’s course barely ever touching a pick. Worked perfectly fine. Sure, there are some techniques that are certainly easier with one, but nothing is impossible. Justin himself constantly promotes experimenting and doing what works for you, so to say we should stick rigidly to his exact instruction is a bit off, to be honest.
You’re taking me a bit too literally there Ross. The point I was making is that if you’re following a course of instruction it’s best to follow that course as it’s been designed to achieve a result. Obviously you can mix things up a bit to suit individual needs.
I’m kind of curious about this. I’ve lived in apartments my whole (adult) life and have never thought twice about playing acoustic guitar with a pick, as long as it wasn’t too late at night (say, up to 10 p.m.). I have never had a single complaint from a neighbour. Is this really an issue for people?
Maybe I’ve lived in easy-going places my whole life, and people are less tolerant elsewhere. The rules in my current building stipulate that quiet hours are from 10 pm until 8 am. I live in Italy. Are other places less tolerant of somebody strumming a guitar in their own home?
The noise was definitely a factor, due to the close proximity of each townhouse although it was, which seems odd in that it’s only thin and light, my rheumy in my hands from just the strumming can impact my strength which in turn, made using the pick not so comfortable.
No, it’s probably just me being conscious of the fact I’m only a few weeks in so they wouldn’t be hearing anything too pleasing to the ears right now but I’ve not had any complaints as yet……to my face anyway
It was more so my grip but it’s something to work on with strength/comfortability when holding it.
Yes, I know what point you were making and I disagree with you. This isn’t a plastering course where there is one proper method to get a single perfect result. It’s learning guitar, where we all have different ideas of what we want to achieve as the end result. That’s why Justin so often makes the point that people should experiment and do what works best for them.
Yes it is, because not everyone enjoys listening to perfectly played guitar… let alone a beginner. Long ago before I started learning I used to live with a housemate that was. Being in the room below his used to drive me mad when I was trying to work or listen to anything, as all I could hear was his guitar. I didn’t want to be “that guy” to my neighbours, as I believe in having consideration for those around you.
But it depends on the quality of your walls, to be honest. In my flat they were rubbish, so thin you were in danger of falling through them if you tripped. Now I live in a house with solid brick walls throughout, and my wife can barely hear me in the next room when I have my amp at a volume which hurts my ears.
plenty of time to learn fingerpicking after the first 2 grades. justin has fingerpicking lessons later…theres a reason he is a great teacher with a great structure and i intend to follow his lead. if i was going to go all cowboy i wouldnt be taking lessons
I like to think of the pick and fingers both as useful tools for playing. This means I would like to be reasonably proficient at using both. I recommend you practice with both.
It took a few months for me to get comfortable with the pick. It sort of happened over-night, I went into practice, and it just worked ‘right’ and has been comfortable ever since. I can still drop a pick, but I can strum nearly as comfortably with a stiff pick as a flexible one.
Later in the lessons, you may find a reason to use both as Justin covers reasons for using each.
One thing that is not in your lessons yet, but will be important eventually, is volume control with your playing. Keep it in mind and see if you can play softer. It helps my hands with discomfort (for me, fretting hand) when I do not use as much force to play. Maybe it will help you with the loudness and concern for neighbors?
I agree with those who recommend the pick for a while. It is a worthwhile skill and a good consistent place to start.
I dislike the pick, but used one for more than my first year. Then I switched to finger style and classical. So no pick anymore, but I am glad I did use one.
One thing I have noticed, is that strumming and rhythm are my challenges and I have recently been working on Justin’s strumming courses.
Strumming without a pick is much more challenging and much more difficult to maintain consistency.
In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time early with strumming, rhythm and timing…and with a pick.
So I guess I would recommend staying with a pick until the mechanics of strumming and rhythm are pretty well established and then work in pick-less strumming later (you don’t realize how close spell check had me to writing “pickle strumming”… I don’t recommend strumming with pickles).
Of course you can still work on fingerpicking as you do this as well.
Learn and practice the things! Try to be a better and more well rounded player. Learn to play with a pick, your fingers, thumb, slide, etc. That’s what it means to learn to play the guitar. Each method has an appropriate application.