Angle Pad Grip nail pain

So, I’ve been playing with Angle Pad grip, and it’s been giving me results I like - however, the way I descend the strings, to maintain the same angle my hand wants to shift the pick around the pad towards the nail of my index finger on the low strings.

I can play this, but it causes some superficial pain due to my nail digging into the skin by the side of it as the pick presses down. Just enough to not make it comfortable.

Is this something that can be overcome by just getting used to it and deadening the nerves there a bit or is my only option to adjust my grip? I feel like this exact grip is working well for me, so if I have to change it I’ll have to hunt around for some other minor adjustments to my position that allow me to do so with the same result.

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Any chance you can take a pic? I think I know where you’re referring to (like the small “lump” of skin on the left side of the index finger)?

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Do you have a picture of the way you’re holding it and the exact place you’re getting the pain? I’m having trouble visualizing or trying to recreate an angle pad grip that feels uncomfortable.

My first thought is to see if it’s something where you can file the nail that’s causing the problem but your fingernails may be different than mine.

So here’s starting position on the high strings. No issues here.

It’s right about here where it hurts, and I feel like I have to rotate it around the index like taht to maintain pick angle. Not much nail to file really. I’m playing supinated, up until now I’ve used pad side grip at my DIP knuckle, but this seems to have some distinct advantages reach wise and just in terms of general angle of the pick/leverage, so I want to see if I can work with it.

Side note, you get that nice sharp angle where your thumb connects to your hand, that I’ve noticed in Anton’s grip:


I cannot actually make my joints do that, I’m pretty flexible too. I thought it might make sense to strictly imitate his setup, and that’s how I noticed it. It’s interesting how different everyone’s hands are.

Back to your ‘problem’. I can’t quite recreate any pain, but if I do my comfortable angle pad, I think it’s a little different than yours so my contact points are ever so slightly different.


That’s just what happens if I don’t even think about it, play a little and take a picture of where the pick ends up. I have no clue if that’s right or wrong, but that’s what I’m used to.

And wow the camera really does add weight! I’ve always though my hands/fingers were pretty slender. They look kinda chunky in that photo lol!

I know you mentioned in another thread you thought Anton was a side angle pad guy, or whatever that CtC term is.

Here’s a still of him from his video where he talks about how he holds the pick

Have you tried it exactly like that ever? It’s, I think, a little bit different than what you’re doing. I know the angle in the image itself is a little different.


For me this was an extremely problematic grip for high-speed playing and for double escape. This was my default grip when I was young and I put too much side pressure on the index finger. I never had enough stability when i went to play fast. It eventually started hurting.

Now I grip the pick primarily between the first knuckle of my index and thumb. I can’t use the end of my thumb, it doesn’t seem to work with my hand.

My grip looks like Steve Lukather’s.

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The first pic looks more pad to pad, whereas the second pic looks more like where it becomes angle pad. I’ve played with angle pad for years and find it tends to work best when the pick is closer to where you have it in the second pic.

I’ve not experienced any pain with this grip before though. So I’d say experiment and see what feels right.

The second pic is where it feels best in terms of everything except for the side of the nail digging into the skin a bit. So that’s my predicament.

What I’m trying, and I think could work, is making sure to kind of pull that skin back with the pick/my thumb as I get into position. It doesn’t seem to hurt like that. Ingrown nails run in the family a bit so it could be related to that. Worst case scenario I’ll have my nail removed :smiley:

Seriously though, I think as I’ve messed with it, sensitivity has gone down already, maybe I’ll keep working on tucking the skin back like I mentioned and see if that works for me.

You’re right, I actually just made a similar comment in Anton’s Universal Thread about that after realizing my thumb did that with angle pad. I always avoided it because the initial discomfort was a problem, but in terms of my current picking style it feels noticeably better mechanics-wise.

@joebegly You know you made me realize something relating to a video of @Tom_Gilroy I recently watched, on opposing structures and pick grip which discussed with trailing edge picking. The related concept being, you can apply pressure with the index finger for free, without causing tension, rather than the thumb. I was trying to think of a way to achieve something similar with leading edge grip but wasn’t able to.

However, I notice that Anton’s middle finger is not connecting to the index in a fully parallel way, which is what I had been doing, connecting the fingers at their respective DIP joints. Instead - it’s angled, as evidenced by the fingers having a gap at the knuckles.

I’d noticed that before but hadn’t really accounted for it. If I try that out, it seems like I can manage to get enough pressure from the middle finger + index to maybe get some similar benefit pressing from that side of the pick against the thumb, I wonder if that’s allowing him to reduce tension in the wrist as well as support the pick overall.

I think I missed that point in Tom’s post. I do remember that part now that you mention it, but for whatever reason I didn’t internalize it. So you made me realize something too :slight_smile:

How far does this concept go I wonder? Like, can we also just press with our middle finger, if doing that Anton 3-finger-unit pick hold approach?

For this, I wonder if it’s important, or anatomical/personal. Not sure if he still does, but I noticed in a lot Rock Discipline clips John Petrucci reinforced with his middle finger but much differently than Anton. I’d also think, again given everyone’s different hands, that exactly how the index and middle line up could vary. So as long as we don’t experience any tension or discomfort, maybe the important thing is just to reinforce somehow. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong about that :slight_smile:

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I don’t think the force vectors line up in this case.

EDIT: My feeling is that most of the pressure in Anton’s grip is created by the thumb. Pressure against the index finger alone can create a torque on the index finger, which can lead to injury.

Anton’s reinforcement with the middle finger involves activation of the FDP muscle. FDP is an interesting muscle. Any significant FDP contraction effecting the index finger will activated FDP for the middle finger aswell.

The implication then, is that when gripping tightly with FDP, there’s no reason not to reinforce with the middle finger. It’s going to be activated anyway.


You can sort of do it if you curl the middle finger into the underside of the pick, but it’s not particularly comfortable and the tip of the finger just isn’t stable enough to prevent pick wobble. One little variant I immediately tried is making essentially a dog shadow puppet, where the middle finger curls up to press under the index. This seems to work also, and applies the force in a more direct angle. Not sure if there’s any drawback, it feel less comfortable and less like a natural force grip even though the angle against the index is more direct.

I am pretty sure that is the John Petrucci way I’d mentioned earlier.

@Tom_Gilroy yeah that makes sense - trying out different angles and comparing to the index pulling the thumb back and down, they don’t feel similar at all. It does seem to help keep the pick from wobbling a bit more than just aligning the DIP join in each finger, so that’s probably the difference I’m feeling in conjunction with that the angle pad grip feels better mechanically overall vs the side pad grip for me.

This is probably more “side” than angle pad, but another variation on bracing the index finger against the middle finger.

How long have you been playing this way?

It could be a matter of building up some sort of callus / desensitizing the area a bit with time. I think I played pretty much on that area directly years ago, but not that much anymore. Now I’m mostly on the middle bone (behind the DIP joint). However, I play most rhythm stuff closer to that first picture, kinda pad to pad.

That’s what I was kind of getting at with the last paragraph in the OP - I’ve only just started seriously trying it out, so I’m wondering if the sensitivity will go away with practice

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Oh I totally oversaw that the second time around, sorry!

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