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Should You Use Guitar Finger Picks?

Updated on February 14, 2011

Guitar finger picks are basically plectrums that are worn on the fingers and thumbs. By using multiple picks in this way, the guitarist can play finger style techniques, but with more volume than plucking with the fingers alone can give.

Finger picks are often used by guitarists who play country music and some folk styles. They’re less common among rock guitarists, but there’s no reason why finger picks can't be used to play just about any musical style.

Fingerstyle guitar can be awkward at first, especially if you're only used to using a flat pick. If you're familiar with playing classical guitar, you’ll find the right hand movements easier, although it’ll probably still take some time to get used to playing with picks as opposed to fingernails.

Finger Pick Materials

National Brand Fingerpicks & Thumbpicks


Finger picks can be made from various materials, and plastic and metal are by far the most common. If you experiment with these, it’s a good idea to try both, as they do produce very different tonal qualities. You may need to file down or otherwise manipulate the picks in order to get the playability and tone that you want. Plastic finger picks can be filed down quite easily, and metal picks may be manipulated with a pair of pliers. Like conventional flat picks, finger picks also come in a variety of thicknesses, to suit different playing styles.

How Many Picks?

It’s common for guitar players who use finger picks to use one on the thumb (called a thumb pick, unsurprisingly), and two finger picks, on the index and middle fingers. However, there's nothing to stop you using a pick on every finger if that suits your style.

Advantages Of Finger Picks For Guitarists

Although the finger picks may be awkward to use at first, many guitarists find them worth persevering with. Finger picks produce a clear bright tone which many find appealing, and also enable you to play loudly. Finger picks also give the player more control than playing with a single flat pick, since you can pluck multiple strings at once. Although many nylon string guitar players like to use their nails to pluck the strings, doing this on a steel string guitar can lead to nail damage very quickly, so finger picks also provide a way to play finger style techniques on a steel string guitar without damaging the nails. They also make it easy to play bass lines and melody lines at the same time. Another advantage of finger picks is that if you have very short fingers, picks increase your reach.

I wouldn’t recommend that somebody was completely new to the guitar begins learning with finger picks right away, as they can complicate things a bit. It's better to get a good grip on the basics first, but once you can play chords and single notes quite fluently, and has mastered basic strumming and picking techniques with a flat pick, it can be fun to give finger picks a try if you want to experiment with different styles and add a new skill to your musical arsenal.


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    • 6 String Veteran profile image

      6 String Veteran 7 years ago

      Good hub. Guitarist Scotty Anderson is mind-boggling with a fingerpick.