Strumming an acoustic guitar: Pick with 1 or 2 fingers?

I was working in the studio the other day with an artist who had only ever played an acoustic guitar with fingers. We were working out a guitar part for one of his songs, and realized it needed to be strummed with a pick for brightness. Strumming with fingers sounded good, but wasn’t cutting through the mix.

I ended up showing him how to strum with a pick, and then the question of how many fingers to hold the pick came up. It’s something I had never given much thought, and I happen to play with thumb + 2 fingers.

So I posted this question on Facebook and Twitter to see what my guitarist friends might say:

“Guitar Players: While strumming an acoustic, do you hold a pick with thumb + 1 finger or thumb + 2 fingers?”

Below are some of the responses:

Most said thumb + 1 because

  • “definitely frees up other fingers for picking”
  • “it allows you to finger pick w your middle & third and even pluck w your pinky”
  • ” thumb & index to hold a pick which leaves 3 digits free for fingerpicking should the situation call for it”
  • “Usually one, since two fingers have a greater chance of brushing the stings / killing the sound…”

Some said this about thumb +2

  • “It makes me feel secure…”
  • “Not a guitarist, but if I do, it’s thumb+2! “
  • “Using 2 fingers to hold a pick seems not very efficient.”

Others said:

  • “depends on the pick and what feels natural”
  • “try putting something tacky on a pick .. rubber cement”
  • and my favorite: ” 2 fingers? What fresh hell is this?”

How do you hold a pick for strumming an acoustic guitar?


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