Can You Play Electric Guitar Without a Pick?


Playing an electric guitar produces versatile sounds for various genres. Guitarists are equipped with proper training and exercise to develop a technique. As such, can you play electric guitar without a pick?

You can play electric guitar without a pick. The method is respectively influenced by the volume, control, tone, accuracy, speed, slaps, arpeggio, and sound quality. Playing with fingers is also a matter of preference.

If you want to know more about playing guitar without a pick, we will guide you through this article. We will discuss topics such as

  • Can you play electric guitar without a pick?
  • Which is better between pick and finger?
  • Is playing an electric guitar without a pick good for blues?
  • What techniques can you use to play electric without a pick?

Can You Play Electric Guitar Without a Pick?

Generally, yes you can play electric guitar without a pick. Playing it during recording or in a crowd is possible. Aside from picking, your fingers will work long as you’re comfortable with it.

The only downside to playing without a pick is the sound the guitar produces. Since it uses an amplifier, it will lessen the treble. The overall sound is influenced and will not express the desired tone you expect.

A Hand poicking on guitar strings

There are specific genres that may suit playing an electric guitar using fingers alone. It may take time to get used to it.

Which is Better?

Using a pick and fingers produces different sounds in electric guitars. Factors that influence it are tone, volume, accuracy, speed, control, arpeggio, slaps, and quality.

Pick provides a sharp tone while fingers create warm tones. When playing in public, a pick creates a louder sound and fingers can make it softer. Picks are more accurate than playing them with fingers.

Most band guitarists use picks to increase their playing speed. The controls and slaps are much easier compared to playing them with fingers.

Arpeggios are a common technique in playing guitars. Using fingers is usually employed for a smooth transition. For the quality, picks can make the sound less natural.

Playing Guitar: Pick vs Finger

Electric guitars are delicate in terms of sound adjustments. Using picks and fingers comes with contrasting elements.

AccuracyLess accurateAccurate
Arpeggio (Simultaneous Notes)EasyHard
QualityNaturalLess Natural

Volume & Tone: Pick vs Finger

Picks are made of materials like plastic, rubber, etc. and they are hard. This results in increased volume and sharp tone. Fingers are soft, indicating the soft sound and warm tone the electric guitar produces.

Playing electric guitar using fingers during recording or a random jam with your bandmates is fine. Genres also impact the tone you would like to amplify. Using picks and fingers may fit the type of songs you play.

In public places or in crowds, using picks to play a song is necessary. Volume is essential in these instances and pick can make it louder. It will prevent other instruments from overpowering your guitar.

Accuracy: Pick vs Finger

Using picks while playing guitar is accurate compared to fingers. Due to its structure, you can ensure the strings are pluck. Using your fingers is fine as long as you’re comfortable with them.

Playing solos and leads is better with the use of a pick. Aside from the tone, the sound is precise. This also affects the type of music you’re accompanying.

For beginners, both picks and fingers are hard to use in electric guitars. The accuracy will follow depending on what you practice with.

Control & Speed: Pick vs Finger

Picks give the guitarists more control in playing compared to using fingers. You will only focus on the movement of your wrist. This allows you also to increase the speed with precision.

People who have double-jointed fingers may find it comfortable to use picks. Tendencies such as locking up their fingers often happen when playing with fingers. Picks can help to prevent their fingers from having hard contact with the strings.

Plucking strings requires significant control. Guitar solos are often fast to hit the proper measures. Picks can improve your speed due to the feel it brings.

Playing Simultaneous Notes: Pick vs Finger

Arpeggios or simultaneous notes are best when playing it with fingers. This technique is applied by playing each note or string of a chord. It is easier to move the fingers since you can hit multiple strings.

Several professional guitarists also use picks even when playing arpeggios. Rock band guitarists are trained with the use of picks. Regardless of the technique, whether a solo or arpeggio, picks are easy and smooth for them.

Fingers are easier when playing arpeggios. Rock songs commonly sound sharper, while jazz most likely needs a warmer tone. These are affected if you use either of the picks or fingers.

Playing Slaps: Pick vs Finger

Guitar slaps are easier when using fingers than picks. This technique requires literal slaps on the strings to produce a percussive sound. Picks are technically made to pluck and strum the strings.

Similar to arpeggios, fingers are more convenient in guitar slaps. Some musicians experiment with their slaps with the use of thumb and picks. This is rare and quite difficult when you’re new to this technique.

Is Playing an Electric Guitar Without a Pick Good for Blues?

Most blues guitarists preferred to play their guitars with fingers. The sound and flexibility of using fingers in this genre are substantial. This is how they can deliver the music through various techniques.

Fingerpicking is one of the common techniques used in Blues. This is exhibited by plucking the strings. Fingers allow you to produce a warm tone that is usually heard in this genre.

Blues usually uses arpeggios when playing the guitar. Fingers emphasize the technique more than using picks.

What Techniques Can You Use to Play Electric Without a Pick?

There are several techniques you can use to play an electric guitar without a pick. Almost all of these are possible to play with fingers. That will determine what you practice with.

Without a pick, every finger has a designation when hitting the strings. Here are the following:

  • Thumb – Used to play the strings E, A, and D. These are considered the low strings.
  • Index – Used to pluck the G string
  • Middle – Play for the B String
  • Ring – For the E string
Fingers on a Guitar

One of the known techniques to play without a pick is “String Skipping”. The method is expressed by playing two notes from different strings simultaneously. Using fingers expands your skill to produce accurate sounds.

Tapping is another recommended style when playing with fingers. From its name, you will need to use your fingers to tap the strings for a specific note.


Playing an electric guitar without a pick relies on specific factors. The genre, technique, and skills may depend on it. If you are a beginner, this will affect the journey of your learning. You will develop the expertise in playing with fingers and may seek a desire in using picks over time.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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