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I remember being at a jam when somebody called a tune I had been woodshedding for quite some time. My break was finally jam-ready, and I excitedly thought, “I’m going to take one this time.”
I banged out the rhythm and waited my turn. Just as the mandolinist was about to pass the break to me, my guitar pick slipped out of my hand and dropped to the floor.
I stepped back and nodded toward the next person in the circle. They took my break. I went looking for my pick.
If you jam outside during summer, or even under hot lights indoors, you’ve probably fallen victim to sweaty fingers and slippery guitar picks. It’s not always sweat that makes it hard to get a grip on your pick. Some people just have naturally oily hands. Even excessively dry skin can can cause the pick to slide around.
Guitarists have a lot of different ways of handling this, so here are some ideas for how to keep your guitar pick from slipping.
Your first option is to find a substance that helps your guitar pick stick to your fingers. The following solutions all have guitarists who swear by them.
Gorilla Snot drumstick grip is a favorite of many guitarists. It was invented for sweaty drummers so they wouldn’t lose their drumsticks, but a dab on the fingers should make your pick stick.
Picker’s Grip is a similar product that does essentially the same thing.
Many pickers with sweaty fingers swear by fiddle rosin. This shouldn’t be too hard to find at your local jam if you have an emergency situation, but if you like it, get your own and keep it in your guitar case. Just be aware that your guitar could get a little chalky.
I know guitarists who use small strips of the putty that’s designed for hanging posters on the wall. They just sandwich the pick between two of those and everything stays snug.
Finally, you could try Big Sexy Hair Powder Play. This is a white powder that women sprinkle in their hair to add body, but apparently it can also help you get a good grip on your pick. I’m not joking—people use this.
If you don’t want to put strange foreign gunk on your fingers, I get it. In that case, you might want to look for something you can cut out and stick to your pick to provide it with a more grippy surface.
Monster Grips are by far the most popular choice here. These little stick-on grips are made especially for guitar picks and work very well.
Two-sided tape is another good option. Eventually it’s going to lose it’s stickiness, but it’s inexpensive and relatively quick and easy to replace when that happens.
I know of guitarists who attach stick-on Velcro strips to their picks and say it does a great job.
Finally, there’s Dycem. This is an interesting material that sticks to any surface without any glue. It’s often used for physiotherapy. Try a small patch of that on your pick and see how you do.
Scar or puncture the pick
If your guitar pick is slipping because the surface is just too smooth, the simplest solution might be to rough up the surface. There are a few popular ways to do this.
You could scratch lines on the pick using a tungsten carbide scribe. Try a diamond/cross-hatch pattern where your thumb and finger would go.
Even a razor or box cutter could do the job of cutting a few grooves. Best not to go straight in at a perpendicular angle, but try an angled cut from one side, then the other, to see if you can create a narrow trough.
You may have seen guitar picks that come with five or six holes cut in the middle of the grip. You can do this yourself. Just get a very small drill bit or a tiny finishing nail and puncture some holes in it.
Finally, maybe some sandpaper to scuff the pick up is all you need to roughen the surface and make it stick better.
Change your pick
Blue Chip picks made our list of the best bluegrass guitar picks. The people who use them will tell you they’re not only incredible picks that produce great tone, they’re really easy to hold on to as well.
I mentioned earlier about drilling holes in your pick. If that’s too much manual labor for you, Wegen offers a number of picks that come with holes pre-drilled. They’re know to be easy to grip.
Fred Kelly’s Delrin Fat Flat Large Guitar picks also have a pretty good reputation because they’re designed with a highly grippable pad on the surface.
Finally, you could make like a banjo player and use a thumb pick as a flatpick. In fact, Herco makes a thumb pick especially for flatpicking guitarists. It looks like a thumb pick with a regular guitar pick attached:
You might need a few hours of picking to get used to it, but your pick-slipping problems will be solved for good with one of those.
The last option is small sleeve that is specially designed to slip over the portion of the pick that you hold and provide you with a better grip. One of the better known brands is The Pick Bag.
I’ve given you a lot to think about here. I know I didn’t exactly narrow it down for you, but I wanted to give you some options. If you’re looking for specific recommendations, these are probably my top three choices:
I do hope you find a solution that will keep your guitar pick from slipping, even during the sweatiest summer jams. Happy pickin’!