The Scottish Mandolin
Mandolin Tutorial - Lesson 1.3
There are lots of different opinions about the plectrum, also called the pick. Some books will advise you to use a soft pick; others will recommend a stiffer one. I'm afraid in the end it comes down to personal preference as to which pick will suit you. I would say start with a medium pick and see how it suits you. Try a thicker one and a thinner one after a while and see what difference there is.
Many players say that tortoiseshell picks are the best, but in order to protect the world turtle population, it is best to avoid them. There are plastic imitation and synthetic tortoiseshell picks which are not bad at all (my favourite pick is one of these).
Hold the pick firmly between the thumb and the index finger. The other fingers should be roughly in line. The thumb should be more or less straight with the pointed end of the plectrum coming out at almost right angles.
Many players, even professionals, like to play with the round end the the pick instead of the pointed end. Again, this is simply down to personal preference. I would recommend starting with the pointed end, and after while, turn it round and see if any advantage can be gained.
It is important that the pick is held loosely. If you are dropping the
pick, then it is too loose, otherwise loose is good. As you become more
experienced, you will adjust to holding it with just enough tension
without impairing your stroke.