Why Is Playing With a Pick Louder Than Finger Picking?

As you learn how to play the guitar, you may use a pick or your fingers to pluck the strings. You may consider using fingerstyle if it suits you better as you get better. However, you may notice that using a pick will always produce louder sounds than fingerpicking; why does this happen?

Playing with a pick is louder than fingerpicking because the hard material and the sharp edge of the pick transfer more energy to the strings. Moreover, the pick makes contact with the strings more consistently and stably. Your soft and rounded fingertips can’t achieve the same volume.

The picks are clearly made of harder material than your fingers. This is the main reason for the richer sound and louder volume you get with the pick. So, for genres that require gritter and heavier sound, pick is a much better choice.

Why Playing With a Pick Produces Louder Sounds

Guitar beginners typically use a pick when they start learning. A pick makes it easier for them to strum properly while concentrating on practicing different chords. When you use a pick, you can notice that the sound of your guitar is pretty loud and crisp, which is typically a good thing.

If you try to strum using your fingers, you will notice that the sound your guitar will produce won’t be nearly as loud. This fact will become even more evident when you try fingerpicking, a style that creates pleasant sounds but much quieter than strumming with a pick.

There are a few reasons why using a pick can produce louder sounds compared to fingerpicking. 

  • First, picks are made of hard materials, like plastic, metal, or wood. Understandably, all these materials are much harder than the skin and flesh of your fingers as the pick makes contact with the strings, the plastic or wood transfers more energy, which results in louder sounds.
  • Another important factor is the shape of the picks. Picks have a triangular shape and sharp edges, unlike the rounded tips of your fingers. Because of the sharp edges, the initial contact with the strings is much more concentrated and aggressive, which results in a louder and sharper sound.
  • Finally, using a pick provides more consistency in your contact with the strings, intensifying the sound much more. When you use a finger, you typically make more contact with the first string you touch, and the effect dissipates as you move on to the next one. A pick is more solid and stable, making consistent contact at the same angle as all strings, creating a fuller sound.

Other Factors That May Affect the Loudness of Your Guitar

Although the method you use to strum or pick the strings is essential, other aspects affect how loud your guitar is. For instance, your playing style and technique are major factors. Because of their superior technique, some players can generate loud sounds, even with their fingers. 

If you have nails on your picking hand fingers, you can create more sound. As fingernails are quite hard, just like picks, they can create pretty high volume. That is why many fingerpicking guitarists tend to have longer nails.

Additionally, the material of the strings is quite important. Metal strings are harder and, therefore, able to produce much louder sounds. Nylon strings, on the other hand, are softer and more pliable, which makes them significantly quieter compared to steel strings.

Another potential factor is the type of guitar you’re using. Different brands can offer various levels of loudness. Even specific models within the brand can differ. The environment around you also makes a difference, as temperature and humidity can affect the strings and how they sound.

Pros and Cons of Playing With a Pick


  • Playing with a pick is louder. As I explained above, the pick will provide more volume, which is preferable in most cases.
  • A pick is ideal for rhythm guitar. If you prefer playing rhythm guitar to accompany vocals, using a pick is much easier than using your fingers.
  • Using a pick is more consistent. A pick or plectrum makes your playing more effortless and consistent, as the hard material always creates the same vibrations.
  • You will be able to play all types of songs. When you use a pick, you can play both slow and fast songs very easily without needing a lot of practice.


  • Without much practice, the guitar sound may be too brave. While the sound is louder, it may also be unpleasant, especially when you’re still inexperienced.
  • Using a pick may not be suitable for all styles and genres. Certain genres sound much better with fingerpicking because of the more delicate sounds and more complex melodies.

Pick vs. Fingerstyle: Which One Should You Choose?

The style you choose when you play your guitar depends on what you prefer and the music you want to play. If you want to be a musician, you should learn both styles to play any kind of song you want in any style. However, if you want to learn just one, you should consider what you want to do with your guitar.

If you just want to play rhythm guitar to accompany vocals, you can simply use them both; this is what most amateurs prefer.. On the other hand, if you want to play more intricate melodies and instrumentals, you may want to invest more time to learn to fingerpick. If you want to play rock guitar and shred, which means playing fast licks and solos, you will definitely need a pick.

Fingerpicking is generally considered to be a bit harder to learn and perfect, but it’s worth it if you intend to learn this specific style. You can also incorporate both styles if you like fingerpicking but want a louder and more consistent sound. Plastic covers can be placed on your fingers, which will create a fuller sound.


Using a pick offers several benefits, including a louder and sharper sound. This happens for several reasons, including the harder material and shape of the pick, which transfer more energy to the strings. Other reasons include playing style, string material, and guitar model.

Using a pick is typically easier and allows you to play different songs faster and more effortlessly; moreover, it’s ideal for rhythm guitar. If you like the more intricate fingerpicking style but still want the loud and sharp sound, you can buy plastic covers to place on your fingers.

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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