Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Holding the pick

This is a big topic for a small issue!!

I’m pretty new to flatpicking, and am wondering what the common consensus among you fine flatpickers is for holding the pick. I’m accustomed to a light grip, with the pick sort of favoring the end of my index finger and the last knuckle, near the nail (hope that description makes sense).

In experimenting, it seems like I can get a good deal more control and power out of holding the pick so that it sort of rests between the two knuckles, resulting in a generally more closed hand while picking. Also, this method seems to make it easier to have that more streamlined looking right hand that a lot of great flatpickers have, with the right hang middle finger sort of tucked in.

After 7 years of banjo playing, it seemed like common wisdom was ‘do what’s comfortable and sounds good.’ I’m sure this applies to guitar pickin as well, I’m just wondering what some of you more veteran players can suggest!


I’d ride that change for a while and see if you can get used to it. I changed similarly a few years ago, and it showed promise for me, but at some point I unintentionally reverted back to a more open hand.

I encourage you to watch this…it’s the same principle for guitar/mandolin:

I completely changed my pick hold to match Ben’s video where the index and thumb are in opposite directions, and I changed from open hand to a more closed hand. However I do not keep a completely closed fist, instead I relax the rest of my fingers but try to keep them tucked. This has made a huge difference for me, but it took some months to get used to it.

Thanks for all the replies!! I find that when I tuck my fingers in more, I end up lightly bracing with the knuckles of my pinky and ring fingers. Does this seem about right? JP says in the mando hand position video that it’s maybe best to not brace at all, but from years of fingerpicking and banjo pickin, that may be a hard/impossible habit for me to break…

I have gone back and forth, actually. I’m at an extremely relaxed position now that let’s my fingers come out a bit. My mantra is to do whatever causes the least amount of tension.