Picking Your Pick

THICKNESS


Picks are categorized between: Thin [.40mm - .60mm], Medium [.60mm - .80mm], Heavy [.80mm - 1.20mm], and Ultra Heavy [1.20mm+].

  • Notice some brands will simply state “Light” or “Medium” whereas others such as Dunlop will use the measurement in millimeters.



Thin Picks

Offer the least resistance against the strings and are least prone to have you popping a string if self control is a concern. In regards to tone, these tend to be the brightest (severely lacking in the lower end / register). Thin picks offer the most flexibility and often result in the greatest level of “Pick Noise” (the flapping of the pick against the strings).

I would recommend these picks to:

  • Someone only playing chords and wanting a brighter tone.

  • A younger student who may be too aggressive on the strings.


Medium Picks

These are your Goldilock picks. Typically the most balanced between highs and lows, allowing for smooth chord strumming yet with enough stiffness to offer control in single note picking. I typically find a more consistent dynamic range with these picks.

I would recommend these picks to:

  • A student learning both chords and single note patterns.

  • Someone wanting a clear balanced sound with a still noticeable high end.


Heavy Picks

Heavy picks will usually emphasize the lower end of your frequency range while sacrificing your highs. They have the least flexibility of all the picks. Because of the greater mass, these picks can result in a greater output / volume level than other picks. The main drawback is that these picks are the least forgiving, so if you mess up, you mess up big.

I would recommend these picks to:

  • Someone wanting a more mellow sound.

  • Someone primarily playing single note runs.



 


MATERIAL


Guitar picks come in many different materials, these materials greatly affect the feel and comfortability, and also impact the tone. The tone should only be a consideration to more seasoned musicians as there are several other factors that come into play affecting the tone before we get to the pick itself. If you are recording your guitar, be intentional with your pick!


Nylon

Provide some of the greatest flexibility while having an overall thin tone. These are most commonly sought for their grip pattern, nearly assuring that they will not come loose out of your hand.


Tortex

Composite replication of the back of a turtle shell, this material offers a balanced sound with a usually powdered texture. Coming in all thicknesses, these tend to have a less aggressive attack as compared to D’Addario’s Acrylux picks.


Celluloid

One of the most common pick materials today, these have your traditional “plastic” pick feel. They were designed to be a replacement for turtle shell picks, in efforts to provide a more natural feel. These are however, most prone to slipping out of your hand.




 



SIZE & SHAPE


While sky’s the limit on this one, there are (2) most commonly made shapes of picks to the beginning guitarist.

  1. Is your traditional pick

  2. Teardrop or Jazz pick

The “full-size” pick most comfortably fits in your hand and is ideal for strumming chords. Teardrop picks or Jazz picks are found most favorable to the “shredding” communities. Smaller picks provide less drag (friction) against the string offering greater picking speed, the drawback is that with less pick in your hand, you need a tighter grip.



To the more perceptive eye, alterations can be found between multiple Full Size picks with the same thickness and composition. If you look at the end of the pick (what makes contact with the string) you will notice some picks are bevelled and have a more rounded edge than others which may appear sharper.

  • Rounded picks offer faster playability, but with a sacrifice of attack.

  • The inverted is true for picks with a sharper tip.




 

NOTES


Experiment with your guitar!! Different thicknesses and compositions will accentuate the different high, mediums, or lows on your guitar. Your guitar has its own unique EQ, so even if we use the same pick, it will sound different because of the variable of our instruments. Find what fits your setup and your hands!



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