Should you play guitar with a pick or fingers? We weigh up the tone and technique benefits of both approaches

3 images depicting guitarists using pick and fingers to play
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When playing guitar or bass, one of the choices we can make at any stage is whether to play with a guitar pick or with our fingers. Both ways require a different approach with the picking hand, and can lead to two very different playing styles. So what’s better – playing with a pick, or fingers?

As you might expect, there isn’t really a right answer to the pick vs fingers debate. Or at least, the simple answer is: whichever one you prefer. One or the other might be more comfortable for certain players, plus both techniques will give you different tones that can work particularly well for certain styles of music. In some cases, you might want to get to grips with both techniques.

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Richard Blenkinsop

After spending a decade in music retail, I’m now a freelance writer for Guitar World, MusicRadar, Guitar Player and Reverb, specialising in electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When my head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, I run a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and I play bass in an alt-rock band.