Is It Better To Play a Guitar With or Without a Pick?

Learning how to play the guitar mostly focuses on getting the chords right, but learning how to strum is just as important. People have various approaches to this process; some find using a pick much easier, and others prefer using their fingers. Which playing style is better for a guitarist?

Playing your guitar with a pick is not better or worse than not using a pick; it’s just a matter of preference and technique. Your choice should depend on what you’re comfortable with, the type of guitar you play, the genres you want to explore, and the techniques you want to use. 

The pick will come in handy for genres like rock, metal, and funk. Strumming chords with steel strings produces richer sounds and louder volume. But string skipping is an issue you have to be aware of. So, you have to build a proper technique to have more control over your picking.

For genres like country, folk, and classical music, fingerpicking might be a better choice, as you will have to play lots of arpeggios and fingerpicking patterns.

Should I Use a Pick To Play the Guitar?

Let’s get one thing out of the way: there is no right or wrong answer to this particular question. Using and not using a pick are legitimate methods of playing the guitar and have advantages and disadvantages. Some people may like one way better, but it’s mostly subjective and does not take away from the alternative.

In other words, no way of playing guitar is better than the other; it’s just a matter of preference, style, and other factors, which I will cover below. Once you examine all the factors, you can choose the playing style that suits you best. However, you can also learn both styles, giving you more versatility.

Typically, many beginners start with a pick because they find it easier to use while learning the placement of their other hand. However, some beginners prefer using their fingers since they find it easier to coordinate their hand movements at first; using a pick may require a different type of coordination between your hands, which can take longer to master.

As you practice, you will improve your chosen style, and you can explore other styles if you feel comfortable. If you learn to play with and without a pick, you can decide which is more suitable and comfortable for you. However, there’s no objective way of ranking these styles.

How To Decide Whether To Use a Pick or Not

If you’re just starting and want to choose a single style of playing to concentrate on, you need to consider a few different factors. Once you analyze them, you can choose to go with or without a pick. Here are the factors you should consider:


The most crucial aspect to consider is your comfort, especially as a beginner. You should start with a style that makes you more comfortable and secure in your abilities, allowing you to concentrate on more complex issues, like difficult chords. Once again, this is a matter of personal taste; some people are more comfortable with a pick, while others like using their fingers.

If you intend to become a professional musician, you will eventually need to leave your comfort zone and learn other uncomfortable playing styles to become a great instrumentalist. However, always start with what you’re comfortable with.

Music Genre

The music genre you want to play is also important to remember when choosing a guitar-playing style. Even as a beginner, you may have a certain type of music you want to play, like pop, rock, country, or more. Certain genres benefit more from a pick, while others are more suitable for fingerstyle.

For instance, genres that feature faster and louder songs, like rock and metal, can be played better using a pick. On the other hand, genres like folk, blues, or jazz may benefit more from fingerstyle. Of course, certain genres can be suitable for both styles, like pop. Consider what you want to play more and factor this information into your decision.

Sound and Tone

The sound and tone are closely connected to the genre you want to play, but it may also have a separate purpose for you, such as a particular performance or style. You may want a loud, bright, bold sound, which is more easily achievable using a pick. On the other hand, you may like a softer and warmer tone, which fingerstyle is better known for.


When you decide what playing style you want to learn, you should consider the versatility of your playing. Most amateur players just want to strum along and play rhythm guitar to accompany vocals; a pick is the best choice.

However, other guitarists aspire to be more versatile, using complex techniques like pulling, plucking, and muting the strings. These techniques are better achieved using your fingers. 

Type of Guitar

The type of guitar also makes a significant difference in your playing style. Certain instruments are better suited for picks than others. For instance, any guitar with steel strings is easier to play with a pick than with your fingers because the material can be too harsh on your hand, and you may not be able to achieve the desired sound.

A classical guitar, on the other hand, may require you to go without a pick. These guitars have nylon strings, which are softer, more pliable, and, therefore, much easier to manipulate with your fingers.

Advantages of Playing the Guitar Without a Pick

Here are some advantages of not using a pick to play your guitar:

  • You can be more versatile, technique-wise. As mentioned above, fingerstyle allows for many more complex techniques than a pick.
  • Fingerstyle makes it easier to play different notes. Using your hand, you can easily and conveniently play a succession of non-adjacent notes without missing a beat because your fingers are much more agile than a pick.
  • You may achieve more natural tones. Sometimes, using a pick can create a too-bright and plucky sound. Using your fingers, however, can help you achieve more natural and soft sounds.

Final Thoughts

Picks are great accessories that can help you achieve the sound and style you want, but they are not better or worse than the alternative. Both picking and fingerstyle have advantages, so you can choose whichever makes you comfortable and is more suitable for your desired sound. 

Generally, you should use a pick if you’re playing the guitar with steel strings and you want to explore genres like rock, metal, or punk. Fingerstyle is more suitable for classical guitars and genres like jazz and folk. If you want to keep your options open, you should learn both styles.

If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.


I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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