Introduction: Plectrum (Pick) Advice

Following the moderate success of my first 'ible, "How to Pick a Guitar," I thought I'd give a few pointers on guitar picks. After all, picks are important for guitarists as they add to the sound and make playing a different experience.

Let's go!

Step 1: Material

Generally, guitar picks are made of plastic, but some can be made of wood or metal, though plastic is the most common. Material is quite important as it contributes to how the instrument will sound when played. I find that a metallic pick gives a clearer sound, but plastic picks are best to use as they're more gentle on the strings, cheap and abundant in music shops. If, however, you fancy experimenting with different pick materials, go ahead!

Step 2: Shape

No matter the shape, length or width, the pick is held at the widest end, while the thinnest plucks the strings. Some picks are a strange shape, this tends to be for show only and gives no advantage to playing. Longer, thinner picks are better for strumming multiple strings at once, but gives you less control when you're playing single note melodies, as opposed to shorter picks.

Step 3: Thickness

One of the most important factors when choosing a pick is the thickness of it. Thinner picks can bend more, while thicker picks do not. Thickness can be easy to distinguish as it can be labelled on the pick itself (e.g. 1.5 mm tends to be common). A trained eye can tell a pick's thickness with a glance, but don't worry about doing this, it's not the most important skill to possess. Thinner picks are better for strumming, while thinner picks are better for picking individual strings. Taking that into account, it's a good idea to find a pick that fits your style, depending on if your a rhythm guitarist or a lead guitarist.

Step 4: Alternative Methods of Picking

Despite everything I've mentioned in this 'ible, the pick isn't the only method of playing the guitar. Many guitarists prefer to play with their fingers (finger picking) as opposed to using a piece of plastic. When I need a pick, but don't have one, I tend to use a 50p piece that's lying in my pocket to play my instrument. Also, if your a big Led Zeppelin fan, you could take inspiration from Jimmy Page and play with a violin bow. Be sure to have an advanced knowledge of the guitar before doing the latter, however. If you've got a piece of plastic lying around and the tools to work with, make your own custom pick!!

Step 5: Finished!!

If there's anything more I could add, it's this: find a pick that does what you want it to. if you want to switch between chords and picking, a medium thickness pick is for you. But, ultimately, the instrument is yours, so play as you see fit!! If in doubt, get a small bag full of picks, can't go wrong then!

Comments

author
nwonharp (author)2015-12-20

Good info !

When I was a kid and didn't have a few cents to buy guitar picks , I would get a pair of scissors and cut up a plastic bottle . My home-made picks worked as good as the ones I could buy at the music store ! Since then , I have made picks by cutting them out of various materials , all recycled or re-purposed items .

I cut up an old zildjian crash cymbal from my drum set that had chunks knocked out of it from vigorous playing . Picks made from bronze cymbals are really stiff . I have used different plastics and metals of various thicknesses and stiffness . My favorite is .005" , .127 mm Aloma " C " stainless steel shimstock . A friend of mine has a " punch " that can be used to make picks out of old credit cards ! similar to this one :

http://www.pickpunch.com/

Cheers , take care , and have a good day !!....73

author
Eran-Li (author)nwonharp2015-12-20

Mate, could you private message me? I'm really interested to see how different materials affected the sound of the guitar? Thanks for the comment man, take care!

author
Eran-Li (author)2015-12-17

I do it often, actually

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Bio: I am me. I enjoy playing instruments, preferably with strings, writing my own music and keeping my instruments in good condition, so that's why ... More »
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