Pick Holding Techniques for Shredding

Updated June 06, 2018

Learning to play shred guitar can be difficult. Learn the best method for holding the guitar pick to increase your speed. "Shredding" can be thought of as playing intricate guitar solos very quickly. Examples of shredding can be found in songs by guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Zakk Wylde. Learning to hold your pick correctly, angle it for optimum speed, brace your hand against the bridge and how tightly to grip the pick can help you master the art of shredding.

How to Hold

Many different methods of gripping the pick are used by guitarists, but one generally accepted method is best suited to holding the pick when playing shred guitar. Hold your hand out and bend your fingers in so the tips are close to the top of your palm. Keep your hands as relaxed as possible. Place the pick on the side of your index finger, on the joint that separates the middle section of your finger from the tip. Ensure that the tip of the pick is pointing away from your palm. Bring the flat of your thumb down on top of the pick to anchor it in place.

Bracing Your Hand

Often, new guitar players try to play guitar with their picking hand hovering uncomfortably in the air. Not only is this unnecessary, it also can be detrimental to your picking, especially in shredding, when speed is important. Resting the palm of your hand against the bridge can help "brace" your picking hand in position and give you greater control. Rest your hand on the inside of the bridge if you wish to "palm mute" the strings, or rest it on the outside if you want the strings to sound out fully.


Thinking about the angle that the pick is in when it makes contact with the string is important to picking speed. Many players will hold the pick so it is flat against the strings when it makes contact. This position causes unnecessary opposing force from the strin, and will ultimately slow down your picking. Tilt the pick so it strikes the string at about a 45-degree angle. This position will reduce the amount of resistance from the string and ultimately lead to you being able to play more quickly.


Another common misconception about pick holding for shredding is that you have to grip the pick lightly. This process can cause more problems than it solves, and it should be avoided. Likewise, having too strong a grip will make your picking arm tense and ultimately have a negative effect on your speed. Holding your pick in the correct way should eliminate most problems. Only grip the pick strongly enough so that it doesn't move when you pick the strings. Using a thick pick can be helpful for shredding.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.