Which Is Better Fingerpicking Or Pick?

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

There are two major ways you can play guitar. One is to use fingerpicking, and the other a pick. Both are popular techniques with equal strengths and weaknesses. However, which is better? 

Fingerpicking and picks are equally good. However, fingerpicking may be better if you play complex single notes since you have four striking surfaces. Picks protect your fingers and produce a more consistent strumming sound. The key is to use them at the right time.     

This article explores fingerpicking and picking and decides which is better. We also examine which situations suit each playing style before discussing which style is better to learn first.

Want to see the latest guitar accessories that are popular right now? Just click here!

Which Is Better Fingerpicking Or Pick?


How Do You Fingerpick?

Fingerpicking is played using the PIMA fingers (Thumb, index, middle, and ring finger). Each finger is responsible for plucking certain strings. Fingerpicking is commonly used to play classical guitar or other complex musical pieces.

Fingerpicking is a popular option, although a more technical way to play guitar. You play fingerpicking by using your PIMA fingers. PIMA refers to the four fingers but in Latin instead. 

  • Pulgar (Thumb)
  • Indice (Index)
  • Medio (Medium)
  • Anular (Ring)

Generally, fingers may only be assigned to play certain strings when you play fingerstyle. Below is the common guidance many guitarists use:

StringPlaying Finger
BIndex, Middle, Ring
GIndex, Middle
DIndex, Thumb

These finger positions help to balance flexibility and performance. These fingers are placed in a position where they can easily reach as many strings as possible. 

However, they also do not cause the hands to go out of position; the fingers cannot play the strings assigned.

When fingerpicking, there are also many ways to execute the technique. One of the most common is Travis picking. In this method, you alternate between plucking with the thumb and the other fingers in a steady rhythm. You may hear this a lot in country songs. 

Which Is Better Fingerpicking Or Pick?
Fingerstyle 101: 2nd edition 

(Press Image to check on Amazon)

A common progression or sequence in the Travis picking method is the P-I-M-I. You pluck with your thumb, followed by your index finger. Then you continue with the middle finger before returning to the index finger again. You repeat the pattern again with your thumb. 

Fingerpicking is common with softer, slower music and can be played with acoustic and electric guitars. It is most popular with classical guitars since nylon strings are designed for picking.

How Do You Play With A Pick?

Playing with a pick requires you to use a plectrum. The plectrum is used to strike or pluck the strings, freeing your fingers from the work. Picking is popular in music genres that require loud playing or a lot of strumming. These include pop, rock, or metal.

Picking is a popular music style requiring you to use a plectrum or a pick. You use the pick to strike or pluck the guitar strings. This means your fingers are not used to play the strings, protecting them from possible injury or cuts.

You generally hold the pick between your index finger and thumb when playing with a pick. Depending on the pick shape, there may be sharper, more protruding ends meant to be used to pluck the strings. 

It is also common to rest the palm on the guitar’s bridge when playing, especially when using the pick to pluck individual strings. Players may remove their palms from the bridge when strumming the strings to allow their hands more freedom to move. 

Picking is more common with popular, modern music. These music genres usually use a lot of strumming, making picking more suitable. You should see most musicians in the rock or metal niche use picks.

Is Fingerpicking Better Than Picking?

Both fingerpicking and picking are equally good. The key is to use them in the right playing conditions to achieve the best results. Fingerpicking can be more difficult to master than picking. However, fingerpicking allows a player to play faster and more complicated pieces of music.

Generally, it is hard to claim that fingerpicking is better than regular picking. This is because both techniques work well and can be used to play pretty much all genres of music. 

However, both techniques are played in very different manners. This means depending on your music, one technique may be better. 

For example, suppose you are playing electric guitar as a rhythm player. Your job is to create a ‘wall of sound’ to serve as a background for the lead guitar to shred his solo. 

In this case, you should play open chords and frequently strum to produce the background sound. For this type of playing, picking may be better. This is because picks can help you produce a more consistent sound without hurting your fingers. 

When Is The Best Time To Fingerpick?

Fingerpicking may be the best way to play if you need more striking surfaces since you have four fingers to play. These include pieces with many complicated, single notes. If you need to play fast or use classical guitar, fingerpicking is also a better style.

Which Is Better Fingerpicking Or Pick?

When playing fingerstyle, the biggest advantage you have is that you have four striking surfaces. These are each of your PIMA fingers. This means fingerpicking may be the better playing style under these conditions:

The Music Is Faster

Now, fast music may not mean you need to use fingerpicking immediately. For example, suppose you need to play power chords repeatedly and fast as if playing punk music. In this case, a pick may work better. 

However, if the music has many single notes, you are better off with fingerpicking. You can play the notes faster since you have four striking surfaces. That is four times the speed of if you play with a pick.

The Music Has Complicated, Frequent Single Notes

Some musical pieces may contain many complicated and frequent single notes. These notes may be based on a chord, but you do not strum them. One example would be ‘Hey There Delilah’ by Plain White Ts.

In music pieces like this, you may be better off playing fingerpicking. This technique should allow you to play more complicated single notes since you have four striking surfaces. 

You Are Playing A Classical Guitar

Classical guitars are different from steel acoustic or electric guitars. Classical guitars are usually given nylon strings, which sounds much better than plucked, strummed, or played with a pick. 

This means you want to play fingerpicking if you are playing classical guitar. This allows you to get the best sound out of your classical guitar. You get to play classical pieces better since they tend to consist mostly of single notes instead of strumming.

Which Is Better Fingerpicking Or Pick?
The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method – Volume 1: Guitar Technique

(Press Image to check on Amazon)

When Is The Best Time To Pick?

Picking may be a better technique when you need to strum a lot or if you need to play aggressively. Picking may also be good if you need to protect your fingers and nails if they are not in the right condition to play guitar. 

When picking, you use a plectrum to replace your fingers. You trade away the ability to have four striking surfaces, but you get one that can take the abuse. As a result, picking may be a good method when you:

Need To Strum A Lot

If the music you are playing requires a lot of strumming, you may be better off playing with a pick. This is because strumming using your fingers can be stressful to your fingers and hurt it much. A pick would have spared your fingers from the torture. 

When strumming with a pick, you are likelier to get a more consistent sound than using your fingers. Unlike fingers, this is because a pick has a more consistent striking surface. 

Need To Play Aggressively

In music genres such as rock, punk, or metal, there is a lot of aggressive playing. Guitar players are usually expected to play power chords and fast. Players also are expected to hit the strings hard to produce loud sounds.

In conditions like this, a pick is always a better option. You can dish out the punishment on the guitar strings by playing with a pick without destroying your fingers. 

You also can produce the loud sounds required since you can hit the strings without worrying about your fingers. 

Need To Protect Your Fingers And Nails

Guitarists play with their fingers. However, in bad times, guitarists can also injure their fingers. In situations like this, the finger may not be able to stand the pressure of fingerpicking. 

This is when picking may be a better option. By switching to a pick, you avoid placing your fingers and nails in situations they may get injured further. Picking is also a popular option with girls since it prevents their nails and fingers from being damaged. 

Should You Learn Fingerpicking Or Pick First?

For new guitar players, picking may be a good learning option first. It is easier and allows players to play songs fast. These give quick wins that keep newbies motivated. Fingerpicking can be difficult to learn and take a longer time to master.

Generally, it is better to start with picking new guitar players. This is because of several major reasons:

It Is Easier To Learn

Picking only requires you to control a single striking surface, compared to four if you fingerpick. When a pick, you can also just strum a steady rhythm while focusing on your fretting fingers.

This means you can learn to pick faster, which allows you to become a competent guitarist fast. You may be unable to play complicated single-note songs, but you can strum to open chords.

You Can Play Songs Fast

When learning guitar, the challenge is to go from being a complete newbie to being able to play a song independently. What is the fastest way to achieve this? Learn strumming with a pick, and play open chords on the fretting hand. 

If you start learning how to use a pick, you can play songs fast. This also means you have a shorter learning curve, which should help your motivation to pick up the guitar.

Similar Posts

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments