The vast majority of guitarists use one, but no one talks about it. Guitar picks. Are they all equal? Which one do I need? This little hunk of plastic or metal or whatever can make or break your guitar playing. I’ve seen students come to me year after year with these picks, and then they complain about their struggles to learn.
Faulty equipment hurts your potential. Today, I decided to tackle some advice on guitar picks and what to look for. There are a lot of ways to learn it, and we’ll talk about it here. But I really enjoy the lessons Guitar Tricks has on it in their introductory courses.
Check out Guitar Tricks online lessons.
What Is The Right Kind Of Pick?
If you walk into any guitar store, you’ll find hundreds of different guitar picks. Which ones are the right ones? Are the “penny” ones really worse than the expensive ones?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, more expensive picks are better than cheap ones. They last longer, sound better and are easier to use. However, you may not notice a difference if you’re unfamiliar with guitar picking. You need to look at a couple of different aspects of the guitar picks.
Thickness is the number one thing to look for. There are four thicknesses of picks to watch for. There are slight variations in the thickness outside these categories, but this will give you a good place to start. If you’re a new player, I recommend a medium or medium-heavy thickness.
- Light (.48mm-.60mm) – Good for light acoustic and delicate playing. Honestly, I don’t ever recommend these, but this is what most cheap picks are.
- Medium (.73mm-.88mm) – The standard pick. It gives you enough control over playing and tone without being too harsh.
- Heavy (1.00mm-1.14mm) – Great for soloing and projecting sound. The tone may get too harsh if you’re not careful.
- Extra Heavy (1.5mm-2.0mm) – This is a specialty pick. Ironically, the two groups that prefer these are quite different. Jazz soloists like them for the control and dark, mellow sound they pull with their light style of playing. Hard rock and heavy metal soloists like these too because of the same solo control, though they strike hard for the more aggressive sound.
On the pick, there may be some printing or grip engineered onto it. Cheap picks are likely just ink-printed. Good picks have the labels engraved. This provides a more gripping surface and security for the fingers.
All picks, no matter their thickness, have some level of durability. Of course, thicker picks tend to last longer, and your pick lasts longer with a gentler play-style. But still, some picks just last longer. Choose a higher-quality brand like Dunlop, Fender, and D’Addario for more durability. Outside of this, just ask the store clerk for advice.
Most guitar picks are made of plastic, but there are some other specialty ones. You don’t need anything other than plastic, but here are some other options you may want to try:
- Plastic (nylon, celluloid, delrin) – Good overall and affordable.
- Wood – Warm, dark tone. Good action but vulnerable to cracking and humidity.
- Metal – Great projection and action, metallic sound.
- Stone – Not common, like a mix between metal and stone.
Hopefully, this gives you a good place to start when picking the right pick for you. Please, don’t just pick the cheap ones by the cash register. Take your time and choose the right one for you. It’s worth it!