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Strum a soft melody or shred a powerful solo with the right selection of Guitar Picks
Choosing the right guitar pick is one of the most important decisions any guitarist can make. With a wide range of size, material, thickness, colour and more, the variety of guitar picks available can seem nearly endless. Yet just about any guitarist has that favourite style of guitar pick that they fall back on again and again. Knowing what kind of guitar pick suits your style can make all the difference in putting your true guitar skills into action, here is a closer look at the diverse selection of guitar picks available to choose from.
Types of guitar picks
While guitar picks can vary in so many ways, (including size, shape, and colour just for example), the key difference between different types tends to be in material and thickness. These are the factors that tend to have the greatest effect on how a guitar pick feels and performs.
The material from which a guitar pick is made will greatly affect its flexibility and grip. Some common materials for guitar picks include vinyl, celluloid, and Tortex.
Vinyl picks tend to be softer and more flexible, while celluloid picks are a slightly harder plastic. Vinyl picks also often feature a textured area on the surface for extra grip. Tortex is a plastic material developed specifically by the guitar pick manufacturer Dunlop, and is the most rigid of all three. It has an almost “tortoise shell” texture to it, hence the origins of its name.
Thickness also plays a huge role in the flexibility and feel of a guitar pick. A thinner guitar pick will always be more flexible and less rigid than a thicker guitar pick of the same material. Most guitar picks fall in the range of very thin (0.38mm) to very thick (1.5mm), with most player’s preference falling somewhere in between.
Which type of guitar pick is best?
Here is where personal preference really comes into play. There are no real rules about which type of guitar pick is best in any given situation, it really just depends on what style you prefer. That said, players do tend to lean toward certain materials and thicknesses more than others depending on the sound they are trying to achieve.
Guitarists who play acoustic and/or strum softer melodies often prefer thinner picks. Thinner picks tend to produce a more delicate sound and allow for a broader range of dynamics when playing acoustically. Conversely, those playing on electric guitar tend to lean more toward a thicker gauge. A thicker guitar pick will generally yield a fuller, heavier tone and allow individual notes to stand out more clearly.
You may also want to consider durability in your guitar picks. Nylon picks tend to be the most durable, while more rigid plastic celluloid picks are more prone to wearing down or breaking over time.
What is the best guitar pick for a beginner?
Again, it is difficult to narrow down exactly which guitar pick is “best” in a given situation, as so much simply relies on personal preference. Many beginners simply start off with a middle range thickness (somewhere in the 0.71-0.84mm range), and ultimately decide whether or not they prefer to go with a thicker or thinner gauge over time. Simply experimenting with a variety of materials and sizes will also help beginners decide what type of pick feels and grips the best for them.
Can I use a guitar pick with a bass guitar?
Absolutely! While many prefer a finger-picking approach, there are also a number of bass players who prefer to use a guitar pick depending on their personal style and the type of sound they wish to produce. Some notable bass players who use a pick include Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Mike Dirnt of Green Day, and none other than Sir Paul McCartney himself!
When choosing a guitar pick for the bass guitar, players will likely want to lean toward the heaviest gauge of thickness. The heavy strings of a bass require an equally heavy thickness of guitar pick for both sound and durability.