GUITAR PICKS AND PLECTRUMS
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!
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...
1.1 Lead Guitar
The style of guitar you will be playing will affect choosing the correct plectrum. 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. The reason you will need a softer guitar pick for rhythm is that you want to allow the tip of the guitar pick to essentially stroke the guitar strings as easily and softly 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 And 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 along with their fingers. while some use a thumb pick for a multitude of reasons. These include not dropping the pick along with the most important reason, enhancing the bass notes of the guitar.
I should point out that finger picks and thumb picks are both used for fingerpicking. But, they are two different things. Some players use thumb picks in conjunction with finger picks. Whilst others just use a thumb pick. Thumb picks are definitely a lot more popular than finger picks.
1.4 Acoustic Guitar Picks?
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 a softer guitar when playing acoustic guitar. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, a softer guitar 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
1.5 Electric Guitar Pick?
Electric guitar players tend towards heavier picks however this is not always true. As mentioned above, you may be a rhythm guitarist and be playing an electric guitar in which case you might tend more towards the softer guitar pick. These are just general rules of thumb and guidelines when it comes to choosing guitar picks and plectrums. The truth is that there really is no right or wrong when it comes to guitar picks. It just boils down to what your personal preference is. However, if you are a beginner, the guitar picks I have suggested are a great place to start.
1.6 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 wanting to know more about bass plectrums and picks.
2) Shape 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.
For example, I started off using regularly shaped picks but then tried the Jazz size which are much smaller. After that I could never go back to the regular shaped ones. But then I also discovered that I really like triangle picks. So the journey to finding your favored guitar picks is one that should always evolve.
When it comes to the shape of the guitar pick there is a plethora of shapes available out there. Some of the most popular plectrum shapes include among others (as listed below):
- Odd shape guitar picks
These are just a tiny list of some of the shapes out there. Guitar pick and plectrum manufacturers are constantly coming up with new designs and ideas for guitar picks. The list of shapes could go on forever.
3) The 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. Come to think of it, the guitar pick material along with the stiffness are the two most important factors that contribute to your sound.
The choice of material for the guitar pick that you choose will most certainly have an impact on your overall tone. There are all sorts of different materials are available when it comes to guitar picks. Almost every material you can imagine such as:
The above are just some of the most popular material guitar picks.
4) Guitar Pick Gauges
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.
Generally speaking, lead guitar players, as well as electric guitar players, will usually tend towards using heavier gauge guitar picks. Whilst strummers, rhythm players and acoustic guitarists tend towards softer plectrums.
When it comes to plectrum gauges, there are generally 4 groups of gauges. These include:
- Extra Heavy
Within these 4 groups of gauges, there will be more specific i measurements. And, guitar pick/plectrum gauges are almost always measured in millimeters.
Thin Gauge Picks
These are of course the thinnest types of plectrums you can get. Thin plectrums are often also referred to as "soft picks" or, "light picks". They were range anywhere from 0.40mm all the way up to around 0.60mm. A thinner gauge like this is quite hard to play notes and do leads and scales. But they're great for strumming chords. Some guitarists find thin gauge guitar picks to be too flappy and harder to control. Personally, I've gone back to the thinner gauges, even for lead guitar. Despite having played heavy plectrums for years
Medium Gauge Picks
The medium gauge picks are some of your most popular out there. They will usually range anywhere from 0.61mm all the way up to 0.79mm. In my opinion, medium gauge plectrums are the most widely used among guitarists all around the world. If I'd had to narrow down the specific gauge I'd say 0.73mm is the most chosen out of all the medium picks. What's great about medium gauge plectrums is that they're like the best of both worlds between thin and heavy gauged picks..
Heavy Gauge Picks
These are the popular plectrums among your lead guitar players and have quite a spectrum of different gauges within. The heavy gauge guitar picks will range anywhere from 0.80-2.0mm. heavy guitar picks are generally stiffer and can be easier to gain control over note picking. hence, the reason they're often used by lead guitarists.
The extra heavy picks are probably the least favored gauge but, some guitarist swear by using them. Some believe that playing with such thick plectrums improves dexterity. It boils down to your personal guitar playing style. But, I find the extra heavy plectrums slow me down. Strumming is quite a challenge with the extra heavy plectrums. Also, if you strum too hard with these kinds of guitar picks, you have a higher chance of breaking your strings.
5) Guitar Pick Edge
This refers to the edges of the guitar pick. These are two different types of edges that a guitar pick can come with. These two are:
- Beveled Edge Picks
- Smooth Picks
Beveled Edge: Guitar picks with a beveled edge glide off the string easier and create less friction. They're used by players that like to play fast. Beveled edge plectrums are something new that I've just discovered and I'm really enjoying how they glide off the string.
Smooth Picks: Pretty much most of the guitar picks that get made have smooth edges.
6) Guitar Pick Grip & Surface
The surface of the guitar pick will directly affect the way the pick grips in between your fingers. Most guitar picks have been specially designed with built in grips.
Whilst other guitar pick manufacturers coat the guitar picks with a layer of something from the factory that improves grip. Other people have come up with more innovative ways to improve the grip of a guitar pick. That is by using acrylic materials. As your fingers warm up, so does the grip improve.
Read my article on guitar picks with grip for more information on this.
The hardest aspect of giving advice for choosing a guitar pick is choosing a brand. That's due to the crazy amount of brands available. Personally, my favorite guitar pick brand are the Jim Dunlop Guitar Plectrums. This is due to the fact that I believe they make the top guitar picks in the world.
However, there are still crazy amounts of plectrums brands out there. Some brands include:
- Jim Dunlop Picks
- Ernie Ball
- Fred Kelly
- D'addario (planet Waves)
- Fender Picks
- Dragon's Heart
- Chicken Picks
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. Read more here about guitar pick variety packs.
More On Guitar Picks..
Guitar Pick Zone is a website dedicated to guitar picks. For that reason, we have a lot more plectrum related information for you to check out.
Some more topics we cover here are:
8) Guitar Pick Accessories
The world of picks and plectrums doesn't end just there. In fact, there are quite a few guitar pick accessories that are out there. And that we felt were definitely worth mentioning. These range from objects to hold your plectrums, to store your plectrums and to wear your plectrums. Yes, you heard that correct. You can wear your guitar picks as accessories nowadays! See the paragraphs below for more on this
8.1. Guitar Pick Holders
Loosing and dropping your guitar picks is one of those annoying aspects of playing guitar. because it sometimes feels like we're spending more time searching for our guitar picks than we do playing the actual instrument. However, luckily for us, there have been some clever inventions in the form of guitar picks holders to stop this all from happening.
There are so many different types of plectrum holders. Everything ranging from ones to attach onto your guitar, pick wallets, pick straps, guitar pick carry cases, storage boxes and so many more. I have all things related to guitar pick holders here
8.2 Guitar Pick Necklaces
Making jewelry out of guitar picks has become quite a trendy thing to do in the fashion world. Making jewelry out of guitar picks not only appeals to musicians but also music lovers world wide. hence, their global and large appeal. We have a full article dedicated to the best guitar pick necklaces we could find.
9) Guitar Picks By Famous Guitarists
This is a segment on this blog that I've just started. It takes a look at famous guitar players and the different guitar picks that they use. The latest two articles in this segment looked at John Mayer as well as The Edge from U2
- The Edge - Which Guitar Picks Does He Use?
- John Mayer's Guitar Picks
- Metallica's plectrums and picks
10) Guitar Pick Reviews
Lastly, we also review guitar picks. Keep up to date and follow us on social media to see when the latest plectrum reviews comes out. The plectrum review aspect is new to the blog but, we plan on growing this section as much as possible to inform all you wonderful plectrum people out there. Some of the latest guitar pick reviews are:
Guitar Gear Reviews
Guitar picks and plectrums are one of my favorite topics to talk about. But, along with guitar picks comes the actual act of playing the guitar. And with that, over the years, has developed somewhat of an obsession for guitar gear. For that reason, I feel like I've built up enough knowledge on some guitar gear related topics. Therefore, I thought I'd use Guitar Pick Zone as a great platform to also talk about my these reviews related to guitar and bass guitar gear.
Some of the gear topics I've reviewed can be seen in the list below:
Guitar Accessories Reviews
- Gibson Speed Knobs Vs Top Hats
- Roadie 2 – Automatic Bluetooth Guitar Tuner
- Guitar String Changing Tools
- Best Guitar Polishing Cloth
- Top Rated Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Best Earplugs for Guitarists
- Best In Ear Monitors Under 200 Dollars for Guitarists
- Curly Guitar Cables
- Best Guitar Stools
- Most Comfortable Guitar Straps
- Best Guitar Strap Locks
Guitar Pedal Reviews
- TC Electronic Nova Drive
- Digitech Ex-7 (Expression Factory)
- T Rex Comp Nova Review
- Joyo Pedal Clone List
- Best Chorus Pedals Under 100
- Fulltone OCD Vs. Soul Food | Pedal Comparison
- Ditto Looper Vs. EHX 360 | Pedal Comparisons
- Behringer Reverb Machine Pedal (RV600)
- Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Boy
- MXR Reverb vs Hall Of Fame 2
- Top 5 Daisy Chains For Pedals
- The Best Power Supply For Small Pedalboard
- Best Guitar Tuner Pedals For Electric
- Best Tap Tempo Pedal For Effects
- Best Reverb Pedal Under 100
- Best Guitar Boost Pedal For Solos
- best guitar pedals under 50
- Best Small Midi Foot Controller
- Best Patch Cables For Pedal Board
- Boss DD7 Delay Pedal
- Mooer Micro Pedals Review