Dan Crary: Unique Method Of Holding Flatpick

By John Hill:


Eclectic California flat picker Dan Crary performs a medley comprised of “Fishing Creek Blues,” “The Blackbird,” “Turkey in the Straw,” “Bonaparte’s Retreat” and “Arkansas Traveller.” From the DVD “Legends of Flatpicking Guitar.”

About the artist:

“Dan Crary (aka Deacon Dan Crary) (born September 29, 1939 in Kansas City, Kansas) is an American bluegrass guitarist. He is also a Speech communications Professor at California State University, Fullerton.

He helped re-establish flat picked guitar as a prominent soloing bluegrass instrument. Crary is an innovator of the flatpicking style of guitar playing.

Crary categorizes himself as a “Solo flatpicker” and has recorded several projects that feature him along with guests, usually other innovators of the guitar in all styles. A stylist with an international reputation for innovation, taste, and brilliance.

His performance style blends traditional material from a variety of American sources and continues to blaze exciting new territory in his recordings and personal appearances today. Dan is a veteran of tours in more than thirty countries as he connects musically and personally with fans throughout the world. If creativity, quality, and longevity are hallmarks of artistic achievement, then Dan Crary must be recognized as one of the greatest traditional artists of our day.” (From: Bluegrassonthetube.com; Wikipedia; dancrary.com)

Thanks John Hill for that info. I can’t help but chime in here, seeing how I’ve studied guitar from Dan Crary as he was and is my big influence.

Take a look at the way Dan is holding the flatpick on this video…
I’ve always thought it unusual how he was holding it (with thumb and two fingers). I know a few guitarists now that are doing it the same way, one being Beppe Gambetta who was doing a guitar duet with Dan Crary for a while. (Seems like that would be a great match). There’s inherent power in holding the pick with more than just the thumb and the index finger, so it’s not going to be as much work to get the tone out when you hold the pick like that. The other method of course is to hold the pick in a fist. This will give the best tone with the least amount of tension.




  1. aaron says:

    What kind of guitar is that?

    1. Bob Harris says:

      He’s playing a Taylor in this vid. But Dan used to play a Mossman… I thought that was a great guitar.

      1. aaron says:

        I thought it was a Taylor, but the pick guard threw me off.

  2. aaron says:

    WE should try to encourage him. I think if he keeps out he will get really good one day. :)

    1. aaron says:

      *at it