Question: What's the best picking hand position for fast alternate picking? Thanks!

Tom Hess's Answer: The “best” picking hand position must allow you to pick the strings with enough force for the notes to be heard, while doing so cleanly (without extra string noise), and one that does not cause your picking hand to move all over the place sacrificing efficiency and doesn’t cause any pain or strain.

The hand position for playing guitar is simply a means for achieving an “end result”. The end result is the type of playing I described above. So as you experiment and test different pick angles, hand positions etc…stop when you find the one that achieves the above mentioned things.

The way you hold the pick is also very important. Make sure that you don’t let the pick to wobble around in your hand. It must be held FIRMLY (but not tightly) to make fast playing possible. There is a point at which you can hold the pick and not have it move at all in your hand, but without applying a huge amount of tension and pressure to hold it in place.

Fact is that optimum picking hand position is determined by several factors which is different for each person such as:

  1. How you hold the pick (the angle and the tilt)
  2. The size and shape of your thumb (some people - like myself - cannot bend their thumbs backwards, other people can)
  3. If you will be using thumb muting (as I do) or palm muting to mute strings you are not playing, when playing lead guitar.

You can check out my guitar playing videos at my website to see how I hold my picking hand.

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