Choosing A Guitar Pick
Although often overlooked by newer guitar players, the guitar pick you choose makes a difference to the quality of sound. Unless you’re
planning on exclusively taking up finger style guitar, a good portion of your guitar playing time will be spent with a pick in hand. In this
article we take a brief look at the different types of guitar picks affect you’re sound.
Guitar picks come in a plethora of shapes, sizes, materials, and thicknesses. When your just learning the difference between each type it can
be somewhat overwhelming. Your standing there at your local guitar store looking down upon rows of different colours, and shapes; it makes it
difficult for the beginner to know where to start. There are a few factors in helping to determine which pick is the right one.
Picks come in many different shapes and sizes. The most common shape is the equilateral triangle shaped pick. Other shapes include round, the
type that attach to your fingers, diamond shapes, sharp tipped picks, and more. Certain shapes of picks can create slightly different sounds, but
tonality is affected more by thickness and material than shape. A sharper edged thin pick will have a bright, pointed attack, with more of an
inherent pick flapping sound than a thicker rounded edge pick, which tends to have a warmer tone. Of course with so many different shapes and
thicknesses every sound in between is also possible.
Most pick manufacturer’s rate their picks for thickness by marking the actual measurement, in millimetres or thousands of an inch, right on
the pick. Others -- such as Gibson, Fender, Peavey, or Ibanez – rate thickness with letter or word ratings from thin/light to thick/heavy. The
thickness of a pick does have a bearing on the sounds you can make, since thickness also changes flexibility. A more flexible pick will have more
of a pick flapping sound than a thicker pick which will have a warmer tone.
The biggest factor affecting the tone a pick will produce is the material that it is made of. Plastics are the most common type of pick.
Different plastics do have slightly different sounds, but the difference is slight. Celluloid, Nylon, Tortrex, and Lexan, are just some of the
plastics used in the making of guitar picks. If you choose plastics, ones that make use of raised lettering or a textured gripping surface can
help to stop the pick from slipping when your fingers sweat. Some players prefer the brighter sound of a metal pick. To others the unique warm
tone of Agate (stone) picks is the way to go. Other less common materials include wood, tortoise shell, felt, rubber, and others; each offering
its own unique qualities and sound.
So what pick should I choose?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question as personal preference will eventually help you decide what type of pick you use. There
are, however, some general rules to help you get started. It depends slightly on the type of music and the type of guitar you are planning to
In rock music, or other types of music that use high gain and distortion, thinner picks tend to produce muddier, heavier tones; while thicker
picks offer more control and a well shaped tone. Thicker picks are the pick of choice for Jazz guitarists. Some country music buffs prefer the
bright twang created by a metal pick. With the variety of choices available it isn’t hard to discover which type of pick you prefer.
Probably the best way to learn which material, thickness, and shape that you prefer, is to just try them. This article has given you a brief
overview of some of the types of guitar picks that are available. We will leave it to you to order up a few different kinds, and get to playing
so that you can discover what works best for you. The most important thing to realize if you’re new to the world of guitar is that your choice of
pick can, and does, make a difference to your sound.
About The Author
I'm Henry Genry: Guitarist, teacher, author, and editor of http://www.guitarsi.com. If you
would like some free lessons, tips, tricks and techniques then sign up for my course here: Free guitar lessons
Have you written an article about guitars? Do you want to include it on this site? Send your guitar article to guitarinfoguitarsi.com.
Read more guitar articles
Back to top