Guitar Picks: The Buyers Guide For All

The importance of buying guitar picks is not stressed enough to players when they begin playing guitar. The guitar pick is the first point of contact between us and the guitar. Therefore it will affect the way playing the guitar feels as well as the way it sounds. Buying guitar picks, the right one for you that is, will improve your experience when playing guitar.

Think of guitar picks as the seat adjustment of your car seat, everyone has their own preference. Over time you will figure out which best suits you and your playing style but if you don’t know where to start, this guide to Buying guitar picks online will set you on the right path!

If you’d like to bypass this buyers guide to guitar picks and go straight to the buying part, check out our best guitar picks here or maybe you’d like to be adventurous and see our cool guitar picks here.

Before buying guitar picks, here are some important things to consider:

1) Style of Guitar you will be playing?

What does this have to do with buying guitar picks you might ask? Well I’ll explain…

buying guitar picks - a buyers guide for guitar picks

1.1 Lead Guitar

The style of guitar you will be playing will affect choosing the correct one for example if you are playing lead guitar you will probably need a thicker pick making alternate picking easier such as the one below. Also a firmer pick will sound crisper than a lighter pick. Because playing lead guitar requires a lot of control, a thicker plectrum allows for greater control. The reason for this is because the harder the guitar pick the less flimsy the tip is, therefore you have a lot more control over the guitar pick hitting the strings .

1.2 Rhythm Guitar 

If you are playing rhythm guitar that comprises mainly of strumming you will most likely go for a softer pick. such as the Red Tortex guitar pick by Dunlop pictured below. The reason you will need a softer guitar pick for rhythm is because you want to allow the tip of the guitar pick to essentially stroke the guitar strings as easily as possible. A softer guitar pick is a lot more flexible and therefore you are able to play all different sorts of rhythms that would be much more challenging to achieve than a harder guitar pick.

1.3 Finger Picking or Hybrid picking

Perhaps you would fancy using both your fingers and a pick? (known as “hybrid picking”). Don’t worry, there’s a pick for that! Some players develop a hybrid style using the standard guitar picks as shown above while some use a thumb pick for extra convenience as pictured below. There are a wide one recommends either the Ernie Ball thumb pick below, the Dunlop thumb picks and the butterfly finger picks featured on our list of cool guitar picks here

1.4 Electric or Acoustic Guitar?

Another important question to ask regarding the style of guitar you’ll be playing when buying guitar picks is, will you be playing Acoustic or Electric guitar?

Most guitar players tend to use softer guitar when playing acoustic guitar. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, a softer guitar pick pick sounds a lot smoother and softer sounding which acoustic players tend to try and achieve. If you use a harder pick on an acoustic guitar you’ll get a snappier and harsher sounder. When we say harsh, this is not in a bad sense but rather in a comparative sense to the softer guitar picks. Electric guitar players tend towards heavier picks however this is not always true. As mentioned above, you may be a rhythm guitarists and be playing an electric guitar in which case you might tend more towards the softer guitar pick.

1.5 Bass Guitar

Perhaps you are a bass player and would like to play bass with guitar picks. This decision will definitely require some research into the matter. As a bass player you will most likely want more control as the strings are much heavier. Therefore you will require a heavier and sometimes bigger guitar pick. We have just the article for you if you are a bass player. It tells you everything you need to know about bass guitar picks

2) Shape & Size of The Guitar Pick

Guitar picks come in many different shapes and sizes. There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the right guitar pick with regards to the shape or the size. You have to go through the process (which is actually pretty fun) to find the guitar pick that feels right for you. If after all the guitar pick searching you are still not winning, try look at going the custom guitar pick route.

When it comes to the shape of the guitar pick there is a plethora of shapes available out there. These include among others (as shown below). All of these shapes and sizes of guitar picks below can be found by clicking here.

  • Standard
  • Teardrop
  • Jazz III
  • Triangle
  • Sharkfin

3) Material of The Guitar Pick

The material of the guitar pick is essential when buying guitar picks as the material affects the sound and the feel of the guitar. For example a celluloid pick will give you a crisp attack with a brighter tone. These picks tend to be thicker than nylon picks for example which are preferred by players due to their grip and flexibility. There are all sorts of different materials are available when it comes to guitar picks. Almost every material you can imagine such as:

  • wood
  • stone
  • nylon
  • metal
  • plastic
  • ultex

The above are just some of the most popular material guitar picks. However, if you are looking for out of the ordinary materials then we suggest having a look at our list of cool guitar picks here.


4) Gauge of the Guitar Pick

What does the gauge refer to? It refers to the thickness of the guitar pick. Once you’ve chosen your preferable shape, size and material of the guitar pick it is time to choose the gauge (or thickness). Guitar picks come in many different gauges from extra thin to extra heavy. Once again the style of music will most likely direct you to the correct gauge however like I mentioned, there is no right or wrong when it comes to buying guitar picks.

When referring to “gauge” some companies have different terms for different gauges and thicknesses. For example Fender refer to their gauges as:

  • Medium
  • Heavy
  • Extra Heavy

While Jim Dunlop guitar picks will have the exact gauge measurement such as:

  • 0.88
  • 1.14
  • 2.0

the great thing about the Jim Dunlop guitar picks is that their gauges are color coded so if you don’t remember the exact gauge measurement you’ll never forget your guitar pick color! Everly Star guitar picks also feature this awesome color code for their gauges

My Advice for the beginner is to get a variety of guitar picks. Try different gauges and materials.That way, you can mess around with options and come to learn which ones you like and dislike. Something I discovered over the years is that the picks that I started out using are ones that I never use now. However, a lot of guitarists have been using the same pick since day one. The great thing is that the choice is up to you. Check out this awesome Guitar pick video by Rob Chapman and The Captain from Andertons and let the discovering begin!


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