How To Strum Without A Pick

Are you just starting your guitar journey? The best way of learning how to strum is by using a good guitar pick for beginners.

If you're curious about strumming with your fingers, it's ok. There are a couple of different ways you can do that. As long as you get the hang of strumming with a pick as well, you're good to give it a try.


Is it better to strum with or without a pick?

There's no right or wrong here. It depends on your taste. As I've said, learning how to use a pick will help you develop many other techniques. When using a pick, most people tend to do it in the same way - so it's easy to know what to do!

When you don't use a guitar pick, you have many options to use your fingers to strum. You can use many fingers at the same time and explore how much you move them no matter your arm's movement. Keep in mind that you can always explore some dynamics too!

Without a pick, there are more variety and modifications available to you. It adds tonal variations to get particular cool sounds. I tend to do at least 50% of my practice without a pick, but I'm pretty comfortable when I have to use one. Set this as your goal. ;)


How to Strum the Guitar With Your Thumb

Strumming with your thumb gives you a rounder sound, and strumming with a pick gives you a brighter sound.

Keep in mind when learning how to strum the guitar with your thumb:

With the down strums, use the fleshier part of your thumb. On the up strums, your nail may catch the string. It results in a brighter sound that doesn't always make sense. It can be a bit awkward.

Work on getting your thumb's angle right! You don't want your thumb to get caught on the thinnest string on the up strums. You can flat your hand out a bit, so you don't get too much of your nail on the up strums.

Keep your fingers open and strum from your elbow, just like you would when strumming with a pick. You can also anchor your fingers on the guitar and strum using your thumb more independently of the arm. See which one works better for you!


How to Strum the Guitar With Your First Finger

When you strum with your first finger, you generally get a more pleasant sound. Your nail hits the downbeats, and your flesh hits the upbeats. It's the opposite of strumming with your thumb.

If you want the flesh to hit both the up and downbeats, flatten your whole hand. It'll give you a softer and more delicate sound. It may be that sound you're looking for! :)


Get a Brighter Sound Without a Pick

How to get that brighter sound that you get with a pick but without using one?

Put your thumb and first finger together as if you're holding a pick between them. When you strum this way, your nail hits both the up and down strums, mimicking the sound of the pick.

You can also strum from your elbow, just as you would if holding a pick. It's great for when you drop your pick mid-song, which happens from time to time!


Explore Your Strumming Options

No matter if you're strumming with your first finger or with your thumb, the key is to experiment. You have to find the right angle and what works best for you. Your fingers shouldn't get caught on the up strums, and the sound should feel right.

Also, be aware that guitarists that strum with their first finger tend to use less arm movement.

As you get more comfortable with strumming, you can try mixing things up. For example, you can hit the bass note with your thumb and then strum with your first finger.

Play around with your guitar. It's a great way to develop and customize your own sound. Don't get too caught up with the "right" and "wrong" ways to do this. Always remember – playing the guitar has technical aspects, but it's a creative adventure. Put your personality all over it!