The Woodshed

Tucking pick ala Setzer


Years back I always played electric with a pick, and would use the middle and ring fingers to do finger picking along with the pick, which worked pretty good, but not as good as regular fingerpicking with thumb. Then due to my reactive arthritis my index finger swelled so bad I couldn't hold a pick so I switched to using a thumbpick full time, even after the finger returned to normal a couple years later. Lately, I returned to the pick again, which I didn't realize how many things I can do better both rhythmically and single notes with a pick. But I got rusty on the middle/ring finger thing so I've been trying to learn the Brian Setzer thing where he tucks the pick away in order to fingerpick. I'm getting faster but need to bring it up to speed to use. Just wonder if anyone here has any insight to how he manages it so quickly, or if anyone knows of a good demo video showing this trick.


Not exactly what you're looking for, but a variation where the pick is pinched between the index & middle fingers (instead of curled into the index finger).


That's how I did it in the above video, too. No idea how Brian Setzer does it, but my approach feels very natural. So natural, in fact, that I had to trick myself into doing it without thinking in order to record it.


I just graduated from seeing Eddie Van wanken do it, to Setzer when I finally saw him do it live in high school. Simple index finger slide into the palm pushing the pick back, and then extend the thumb in a more forward "thumbs up" position with the hand slightly cupped so the middle and ring finger are pickin in a claw like fashion.. Sorry cant find any vids on tucking other than this one.


Tough act to follow, Tavo.

Here's an image showing how Mr. Setzer holds that pick.

edit - I think this image is taken from a video that may no longer be available. This might be tough to do with arthritic fingers!


I tried the Setzer method, and it does leave the middle finger feeling a little freer, which is nice. It seems as though tucking the pick away is no more difficult than the technique I currently use, but getting it back into position is slightly trickier.

Both are faster than the other method, which is sticking the pick in your mouth.


I'm doing it similar to the first video except I tuck it between the middle and ring finger,close to the palm, which allows me to use the index and middle finger freely. I actually can use the standard pick as one would a thumbpick, but forces me to use the middle/ring finger which is OK, but the other way is better for what I'm trying to do. I just need to keep practising it while driving/watching TV, etc. I think I can get it up to speed sooner or later without dropping it.


I use the method in the video all the time. I agree BS's method leaves the middle finger more free, but it's not a natural move for me. I've just been doing it the other way for about 30 years... Great for slide, when you want to get some meat on those strings.


I do it, but my thumb slides the pick down to my ring finger, which catches it. I started doing it without really realizing it, and can do it so fast no one even notices, usually.


This never worked for me. I remember seeing it in his first Hot Licks video. I've palmed the pick and sort of left all fingers free, but slightly paralyzed.
Done the James Burton flatpick finger pick on middle finger, but like the tuck method you loose use of the index finger.
Thumbpick with free fingers which I enjoy because I really feel use of the index finger is important
But when I thumbpick I can't strum as easily. So the endless debate in my head never ends...

Register Sign in to join the conversation