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Strumming With PICK vs THUMB

Which is better: strumming with your thumb or strumming with a pick? Before you answer, let's take a constructive look at both of them.

I have experience with both of these techniques, and go over the pros and cons for each of them. You might be surprised at what you find out.

Strumming With Your Thumb

Play Guitar With Fingers

Let's start with your thumb. One of the immediate pros about strumming with your thumb is that you don't have to worry about misplacing your pick or losing it in your sound hole. It's also a little easier if you're just starting out on guitar. It's a good bridge while you're working on using a pick. You can strum quieter with your thumb and really control the dynamics at a low volume.

There are a couple downsides with using your thumb. It's more difficult to get a crisp and clear tone. Not impossible, but difficult. It's also harder to play single notes and melodies, and your thumb is likely to get sore after a while. And if you're the player that uses your fingernail, it can break!

Strumming With A Pick

Play Guitar With A Pick

Strumming with a pick makes it easier to get a nice crisp and clear strum. Single notes are way easier, you don't have to worry about your fingers getting sore. And picks come in all shapes, sizes, materials, all of which create different sounds on your guitar.

When you're first learning guitar though, holding onto a pick can be quite the challenge. And there's a strong possibility that it will end up in your sound hold. You can also lose it before you even pick up your guitar. I lose picks all over the place. In the couch cushions, under the rug, in the washing machine (oops!). I buy in bulk just so I never have to worry about running out.

And lastly, it's harder to control your dynamics with a pick when you're first starting out. It's really easy to strum really loud, but harder to reign that in.

They're Both Great Options

There really isn't a "best" option here. They both have different purposes. And I still use both of them. Sure a pick will sound better in one scenario and your thumb in another.  But knowing how to use both of them properly will give you more options. And that's always a good thing.

Do you use your thumb or a pick to play guitar? Let me know which one you use and why you use it in the comments below!

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  1. I'm new to guitar. I learned ukulele at the beginning of the year, and actually prefer the tonal quality of using index finger vs thumb. It's a hard habit to break.

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