It happened again: you set your guitar pick down, blinked for a second, then it was gone—vanished into thin air. Where could it (and all of your other picks) have gone?
Guitar picks always seem to disappear because their size and flat shape make them easy to misplace. Also, player’s tend to put picks down subconsciously. Picks that have “disappeared” usually end up inside the guitar, underneath furniture, or in the player’s pocket.
If you’re tired of losing a guitar pick every time you turn around, don’t worry! In this article, I’ll share a few ways to avoid losing your picks and what you can do about the picks that have already disappeared.
Reasons Guitar Picks Go Missing
Whenever you lose a guitar pick, you probably ask yourself, “how does this keep happening?!” Well, here are the most common reasons why picks seem to disappear in the blink of an eye.
The Pick’s Size and Shape
One of the biggest reasons picks vanish so quickly is their size and two-dimensional shape. By nature, a guitar pick is flat enough to catch individual strings easily and small enough to hold between your fingers as you play. Because of these qualities, a pick can fit into a multitude of small places. Picks can slide into such discreet hiding places that you might never think to look in.
You’re Playing With Improper Form
If you aren’t holding your pick correctly, it’s much easier to drop while you’re playing. Being able to grip the pick firmly between your fingers is essential to keeping track of your pick. If this is something you struggle with, I’ll explain more about the right way to hold your guitar pick later in the article.
Your Mind Is on Other Things
Sometimes, it can be challenging to focus on everything at once. Maybe you’re caught up in the guitar solo you’ve been working so hard on, or maybe you’re wondering what you’re going to make for dinner. Regardless of what’s on your mind, it’s far too easy to misplace things sometimes.
Many guitarists unconsciously set their pick down while their mind is on something else. A few minutes later, they can’t remember where they last had it. A distracted mind is just one reason you might frequently be misplacing your guitar picks.
Where Missing Guitar Picks Are Usually Found
Some may like to think that lost picks go to the same alternate dimension where missing socks go. But more realistically, they’re probably somewhere in the same room you were playing in or even still on your person.
Inside the Guitar
Most experienced guitar players have experienced the nightmare of trying to fish a precious pick out from inside of their guitar. If your pick slips into the black hole known as the soundhole, don’t panic. Here are a few methods you can try to save your pick as efficiently as possible:
The “Violent Shaking” Method
Many guitarists’ first attempt to save their pick is to turn the guitar over and shake it out. And I get it—after watching yet another guitar pick slip away into the darkness, you’re probably pretty frustrated. Keep in mind, however, while occasionally successful, it isn’t always the most effective method. It can even lead to more frustration if the pick gets stuck somewhere inside the guitar.
The “Swift Flip” Method
More practical than the “violent shaking” method is the “swift flip.” In this method, you try to dump your pick straight out of the guitar strategically.
Here is a simple 3-step process to mastering the “swift flip” method:
- Flip your guitar over. The guitar should be lying on its back on your lap so you can see inside the soundhole.
- Position the pick centered directly beneath the hole. Many acoustic guitars have a sticker beneath the soundhole. Shake your guitar gently until your pick is centered on that sticker.
- Use one swift motion to flip your guitar over. You must execute this step confidently and smoothly. If done correctly, swiftly flipping your guitar over will successfully dump your pick straight out through the soundhole.
For a visual demonstration of this technique, check out this short video tutorial posted by Shawn Parrotte on YouTube:
The “Sticky Pencil” Method
If you have tried the previous two methods and still can’t seem to rescue your guitar pick, there’s one more trick you can try. The “sticky pencil” method is just as it sounds—using a pencil and something sticky to fish the pick out through the soundhole.
Guitarists commonly use tape and a pencil or pen for this method, but you can use whatever you have available, like a wooden dowel or even a straw. The type of tape you choose to use isn’t important, as long as it’s sticky enough to cling to the guitar pick and pull it out.
In or Underneath Furniture
Couch cushions and rugs also serve as an excellent hiding place for runaway picks. The small, flat triangles can slip easily into the crack between the couch cushions or get swept under the rug. If you’re missing part of your pick supply, try pulling the cushions off of your couch and picking up the rugs; you just might find a colony of long-lost picks.
Inside Your Pocket
It might sound silly, but it never hurts to check your pocket as soon as you realize a pick has gone missing. After playing guitar for a while, guitarists tend to drop their pick in their pocket for safekeeping, then promptly forget where they put it.
Tips To Prevent Losing Guitar Picks
Here are a few tips you can try to help you keep track of your picks for longer:
Hold Your Pick Correctly
If you’re not gripping your guitar pick correctly, it’s much easier for the pick to slip out from between your fingers. To avoid this, practice proper form when holding and using your guitar pick.
If you find yourself frequently fumbling with your pick, here are three steps to holding a guitar pick properly:
- Relax your picking hand and form it into a loose fist. For right-handed guitar players, this will be your right hand. Your thumb should be resting gently near the upper knuckle of your index finger.
- Slide the pick beneath your thumb so it’s resting atop the edge of your index finger. You should pinch the pick between the pad of your thumb and the edge of your finger.
- Adjust the pick until approximately half an inch is sticking out past your thumb. The point of the pick should be sticking out far enough to reach the strings when you’re in playing position.
Learning how to hold a pick properly can help reduce how often you drop and lose it in your surroundings.
Add Some Texture to Your Pick
To get a better grip on a pick, some find it helpful to add a small piece of tape to it. No need for lots of tape—just a tiny strip stuck to the wide area you grip will suffice. This will add a texture that’s less slick than the pick itself, making it easier to hold onto.
Keep Picks in a Designated Location
When you’re playing at home, make a point to set down your pick in a designated spot each and every time. It can be a difficult habit to build at first, but staying consistent with where you put your pick ensures you’ll always know where to find a pick when you need one.
One easy way to do this is to have a specific container dedicated to guitar picks. Whether it’s a bowl, a jar, or a small desk tray, keeping your picks contained will slow the rate at which you lose them.
Use a Pick Holder
Because pick disappearances are such a common problem, innovative guitarists have designed a few innovative storage solutions. This Dunlop Pick Holder (available on Amazon.com) is a handy way to store up to 12 picks on the go. It can even stick to your guitar, so you never have to worry about leaving it behind.
Store Emergency Picks
It’s always a good idea to stow a pick or two in your guitar case so you always have one on hand. Sometimes losing a pick is unavoidable. But with a little bit of preparation, you can avoid being caught pick-less in a playing situation. If you don’t always use a guitar case, consider keeping a pick in your wallet.
Buy Plenty of Backup Picks
If you play guitar often, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll lose a pick eventually. So it doesn’t hurt to prepare ahead of time! Once you find a pick you like, purchase a whole pack of them so you’ll always have some on hand.
It also doesn’t hurt to buy colorful picks! It’s not uncommon for picks to be black, brown, or even transparent. Avoid buying these because they’re much more prone to blend into their surroundings. The easier your guitar picks are to spot, the harder they will be to lose.
If you’re looking into buying a set of picks, I recommend this Fender Pick Sampler Pack (available on Amazon.com). These premium picks come in a variety of colors that are easier to spot than your typical black pick.
Most guitarists agree that it’s frustratingly easy to lose a guitar pick. But hopefully, with a little bit of awareness, proper form, adjustments to your grip, you won’t lose nearly as many picks in the future.