Ask Eddie: How to Hold a Pick

In the latest edition of Ask Eddie, Jonathon Valenzuela wrote in from Australia to get some insight from Eddie Van Halen about the best way to hold a pick.

Valenzuela goes about it in a different manner than most other guitarists, and to no one’s surprise, Van Halen has an original way of handling the pick as well.

Read the entire exchange below.

Valenzuela: Mr. Van Halen, how do you personally hold your pick and what are some tips to help people with pick holding? I hold it with my thumb, index finger and middle finger (like a pen). I know that it’s traditionally incorrect, but it’s what’s comfortable for me, and now I’ve had two years of guitar experience and holding the pick like this. So I just wanted to hear your thoughts.

Van Halen: Hi Jonathon, thank you for your question.  I remember when I first started playing guitar, my mom bought me a beginner’s How To Play Guitar book by Mel Bay.  Of course like any good mother, she wanted me to learn how to play guitar “properly,” and of course that did not work for me from page one of that book.

On that page there was an illustration of how to hold the pick.  It was to be held with your thumb and index finger.  Well, I couldn’t, for the life of me, hold it like that.  It was very uncomfortable, and I felt like I had absolutely no control of the pick.  I immediately threw the book in the trash, to my mom’s disappointment, and proceeded to hold the pick very similar to the way you do, Jonathon.  I tend to hold it more with my thumb and middle finger with a little bit of my index finger, but mostly just my thumb and middle finger.  The only time I hold the pick with my thumb and index finger is when I am using the vibrato bar.  Bottom line is, and I say this a lot, do whatever works best for you!!  There are no rules when it comes to being creative, and playing guitar certainly falls into that category.  I hope that answers your question.

All the best,


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