Pick rotates in hand

Hello all, I’ve had this problems for years but it’s really bugging me now.
The pick rotates in my hand no matter what im doing, picking, strumming, arpeggating chords etc.
The tip of the pick rotates towards the headstock and unless I adjust it I won’t be able to continue to play.
Has anyone had this problem before? Any insight as to why this could be happening? I use Dunlop Jazz 3 max grip but the grip on picks doesn’t stop it from rotating.


I’ve had that issue my whole life playing the guitar which has been over 30 years! I never seem to have any stability in holding a pick no matter what pick I use. Very strange :confused:

I too, have this problem…specifically while strumming fast. Following.

There has to be a reason we have these problems whereas others never do…?
I’ve tried gripping in a variety of different ways to try and solve the problem but with no success

Yep! Me too! I’ve tried everything. I think there’s some muscle or ligament in my thumb Or first finger that’s weak or just off in some way. :confused:

How long does this rotation take before you reconfigure your grip? Does it rotate clockwise or CCW looking an your thumb?

The rotation begins almost immediately but I can still play while it is slightly rotated, however if I have to play something where it’s continuous notes with no break for a while I can run into trouble there.
The pick rotates clockwise so that the tip starts to point towards the neck pickup. I think I’ve gotten used to playing with it pointing in this way, but I do end up having to readjust it.
My thumb also has a tendency to slip forward on the pick also, but the rotating is a bigger issue.

Nice to see this topic brought up, as I’ve had this same problem over the years with the pick point rotating towards the headstock, it’s frustrating. Something that I’ve found that seems to help is in altering the way the index finger presses the pick against the thumb. I don’t move the position or grip, just the direction the finger pushes “toward”. My index tends to push towards the tip of the thumb, so I tried pushing towards the bottom of the thumb instead. I also noticed that my pick was often slightly pointed in that direction to start with and it got to be more pronounced especially after strumming. So I’ve tried to make sure to keep the pick “straight” when I start playing. Something else unique to me was grip-related. When I used an extended index sort of grip I’d lose control of the pick more quickly and the curled index grip I use now is much more stable. It still rotates sometimes but not nearly as much as before. In my case, the type of pick I’m using isn’t relevant to whether the pick rotates or not, it’s about what happens with my grip when the pick hits the strings and what part of the pick is contacting the strings as well. I wonder how common this issue is, I thought it was just me.

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How deep is the contact between the pick and the plucked string? When I play my pick barely hits the string so I don’t get pick rotation even while pinching the pick with modest pressure. But my tone is not the best, perhaps digging in sounds better but results in rotation?

That’s great that you managed to find a way to overcome this problem. It’s seriously frustrating especially as it happens with any sort of playing not just attempting to play something difficult. Like you, I’ve noticed that I start out with a slight angle also, it is pointed a bit towards the headstock. This may just be because I got so used to playing with it rotating, I’m not sure. If I try to start out completely straight, it feels very strange and immediately tends to rotate.
I have noticed that it seems to be upstrokes or strums that displace the pick. As a test, if I do palm muted upstrokes on powerchords the pick will instantly rotate towards the headstock.
This problem actually has me so stressed out I feel like I can’t play at all :confused:

I don’t put that much pick into the string really. I do allow a fair bit out of the thumb and index but don’t tend to pick deeply. My tone suffers also but because of the fact I’m not picking exactly with the tip once it has rotated.

When doing a bit of an experiment today, I found that the pick rotates on upstrokes. What I did was just perform an upstroke on a single string with a relaxed grip and the pick immediately turns towards the headstock. Now I’m not sure what to do with this information other than to maybe get used to holding the pick firmly no matter what I’m doing. Although that still results in some rotation anyway.
My index finger is slightly curled, I’ve tried with a curl that is more perpendicular to the thumb but that didn’t help and I also tried with a straight index finger but found that the curl would naturally creep in, it seemed impossible to keep it straight.
I’m totally at a loss as to how to tackle this problem. I’ve searched the net and was surprised to find this is not talked about much at all, so I’ve not seen any solutions to the problem.

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I wonder if something with more grip would make a difference…I find those ‘cat tongue’ picks pretty…grippy

Cat tongue picks? I’ve not heard of these before… Who makes them? Might be worth a try although the Jazz 3 max grip has very good grip on it but doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Lately I’m also having the problem where the thumb slips forward on the pick. From a bit of experimenting I think the downstroke can cause the thumb to slip forward and the upstroke can cause the pick to rotate. You’d think something so fundamental would be easy to solve…
I’ve experimented with a few changes in the way I have my index finger so maybe if I just allow it to do what feels right, in time, I may be able to get control of the pick. I’m just curious as to whether others have experienced either rotation or thumb slipping forward and how they solved the problem or did it sort of solve itself…

Great question. I assume you’re talking about this, right?

We didn’t have a term for this, so when we were doing the Pickslanting Primer we started calling it “pick point”. Not our most inspired term. But the idea is that your thumb isn’t really the reference point you want to be looking at. It’s the picking motion. You want the pick’s orientation to be the same when you hit the string on upstrokes and downstrokes, and that’s not always 90 degrees.

For example if you use an extended wrist form, like Molly Tuttle, you may need to go less than 90 degrees to get a pick attack that is equally smooth on upstrokes and downstrokes:

If you use a flexed form, like several players we’ve interviewed, you may need to dial in positive pick point to get to the same orientation and attack. Name those famous flexers!

When you get this right, the pick will have less desire to rotate because the upstroke and downstroke will keep pushing it toward the center point.

TLDR a non-90-degree pick point isn’t necessarily bad. It’s rotating because that’s the center of your pick attack. You might consider keeping it there!

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Ah ok thanks for that. I’ll stop trying to fight against what is naturally happening and see how it goes.
This does make sense as when I’m doing alternate picking and just arpeggiatting chords, my hand is in a different position and the pick tends to move so the tip is pointed towards the headstock when arpeggiating, I’m not doing anything differently with the grip as far as I can tell, but the difference in position and angle to the string could be why the center point changes.
Now if I can stop this slippery thumb thing I’ll be flying lol. Although perhaps my thumb shifts forward also to in a way to help the center point and possibly something I shouldn’t try fight against either…
I do have a tendency to overanalyse small details in my technique, which would be a good thing if it were actually helping me out and not hindering me lol.

I hate to keep bumping this thread but my frustration today has peaked lol. I noticed when trying to play sweet child of mine with all downstrokes, cause, why not!, the pick rotated the other direction, the tip pointing towards the bridge and continued to rotate to the point that I couldn’t play the intro riff in it’s entirety. I don’t know if I’m doing something fundamentally wrong as I’ve managed to stop rotation when alternate picking, but when arpeggiating chords, the tip rotates towards the headstock, but that’s ok as it only goes so far and I can continue to play. However, when doing all downstrokes, it rotates to the point I have to stop and fix it… ugh!!! Can I just glue the thing to my hand and be done with it??

This might be less invasive than glue. http://www.gorillasnotusa.com/

As I mentioned before I’m always having issues with the pick moving around in my hand, and I’ve tried every pick under the sun from big to small. The only one that has ever stayed in place is this one. That rubber grip really helps.

Thanks I may have to try that stuff and see if it helps.