Which Guitar Picks Are Good For Beginners?

Last Updated on March 30, 2024 by Justin

I’m going to be covering everything there is to know about guitar picks for beginners. Including and most importantly answering, which are the best guitar picks for beginners.

Learning to play the guitar is an exhilarating experience, full of challenges and rewards. Among the early decisions you have to make is choosing the right guitar pick. If you’re a beginner, you may be wondering why this matters so much. The guitar pick you choose influences your playing style, the sound you produce, and even how quickly you learn. Here’s a list of plectrums that I believe to be the top choices for beginners. I have been playing guitar 18 years so I have seen a lot of picks in my time. Without wasting more time, here’s the list:

1. Dunlop Tortex Standard .73mm

Dunlop Tortex Standard 0.73mm

The Dunlop Tortex Standard .73mm is a medium-thickness guitar pick made of Tortex. It provides a good balance of flexibility and durability, making it perfect for beginners. Whether you’re playing acoustic or electric guitar, Its matte surface prevents slipping, and its bright tone complements a wide range of playing styles. Dunlop is one of the biggest companies when it comes to guitar picks so you can’t go wrong with any of their plectrums. This is seriously a great guitar pick for any beginner guitarist.

2. Fender 351 Shape Medium Classic Celluloid Pick

Fender 351 Celluloid

The Fender 351 Shape Medium Classic Celluloid Pick is a versatile pick with a traditional shape and a medium thickness, which is ideal for strumming and picking. It’s made from celluloid, known for its bright, crisp tone, and is one of the most popular guitar picks among guitarists of all skill levels. The Fender 351 is a great guitar pick for acoustic guitars and strumming chords. But it also really shines on electric guitar. Just look at Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn and you’ll see what I mean!

3. D’Addario Assorted Guitar Picks

D’addario Pack of 7 Medium Picks

D’Addario’s assorted pack gives beginners the opportunity to try out a variety of guitar picks. The set includes light, medium, and heavy picks, which lets you experiment and discover what you like best. The guitar picks are made of high-quality nylon, Delrin, Ultem and celluloid and come in an assortment of shapes including standard and jazz shapes. My favorite of the bunch is their celluloid guitar picks.

In my opinion, a variety pack is the quickest way to find the most suitable guitar pick for different applications (strumming & picking etc) when you are starting out. If you’re playing electric guitar, acoustic, and, bass guitar, the variety pack will save you a lot of time and effort.

4. Dunlop Nylon Standard .73mm

Jim Dunlop Nylon 0.73 Standard

The Dunlop Nylon Standard .73mm is another excellent pick for beginners. It has a medium thickness but is more flexible due to its nylon construction. This pick is highly durable and has a grippy surface, reducing the likelihood of the pick slipping out of your hand. The nylon series comes in an array of thicknesses. Whilst the 0.73mm is the best overall gauge, I’d recommend trying out the 0.46mm gauge for strumming chords on an acoustic guitar. These are probably the best guitar picks for acoustic guitar at any level.

5. Dava Control Picks

Dava Control Nylon Multi Gauge Technology

Dava Picks offers a unique solution for beginners by combining flexibility and control into a single pick. Their innovative design features a flexible center section with a rigid tip, allowing beginners to adjust the pick’s flex just by the way they hold it. This adaptability can be beneficial when starting out, as it allows for the exploration of different playing styles with a single pick. Made from Delrin, gel, or nylon, Dava picks also provide a range of tonal possibilities. However, the grip design may take some getting used to, but once mastered, many beginners find Dava picks a versatile and reliable choice. In my opinion, these are the best guitar picks for electric guitar due to their incredible versatility. But, you won’t regret trying the nylon version on your acoustic guitars!

Understanding Guitar Picks

The guitar pick might seem inconsequential, but it is actually a vital tool in shaping your guitar’s sound. Picks come in various shapes and sizes, made from different materials, each designed to bring out unique tonal characteristics from your strings. Whether you’re strumming an acoustic guitar or shredding on an electric guitar, the pick you use can greatly affect your tone.

The vast guitar pick range on the market today can be overwhelming. Many guitarists experiment with various types before settling on their preferred pick. But as a beginner, where should you start?

What Makes a Good Beginner Guitar Pick?

A beginner guitar pick should be comfortable to hold, easy to control, and produce a good sound. This often means choosing a pick with a gripping surface, a comfortable size, and a material that will make your acoustic, bass, or electric guitar sound rich.

Thin Guitar Picks

Thin picks are typically easier to manage when you’re just starting to play guitar. They are flexible and forgiving, perfect for strumming chords on your acoustic guitar. A thinner guitar pick offers a warmer tone compared to thicker picks, which tends to suit the open chords many beginners start with.

One interesting option for a beginner’s thin pick is the Nylon Series from Jim Dunlop. These nylon picks are known for their durability and comfortable grip. The only downside is that they might lack the precision needed for playing licks or solos, but as a starter pick, they are an excellent choice.

Medium Guitar Picks

As you progress in your learning guitar journey, you might want to explore medium guitar picks. They offer a balance between the flexibility of thin picks and the control of thicker picks. This allows for a broader range of playing styles, from chord strumming to single-note picking on the electric guitar.

A great example of a medium pick is the Dunlop Tortex Standard. With its matte surface, it provides a better grip than most picks, ensuring it won’t slip from your fingers while playing. It also delivers a bright, crisp tone, making your guitar’s steel strings sing.

Guitar Pick Variety Packs

Many companies offer variety packs, including picks of different shapes and thicknesses. These packs are excellent for beginners, as they allow you to experiment with various types and discover what feels best for you. A popular choice is the Fender Premium Picks Sampler, which provides an assortment of their best-selling shapes and sizes.

Moving on to More Advanced Picks

As you gain more confidence in your guitar playing, you might start exploring picks that cater to more specific needs.

  • Thick Guitar Picks: Thicker picks can help if you’re keen on playing fast, intricate pieces. Their rigidity gives better control and a brighter sound compared to thinner picks. Thick picks are also great for playing pinch harmonics – a technique often used in rock and metal genres. Although this technique can be quite challenging for beginner guitarists.
  • One such pick is the famous Dunlop Jazz III. This small, thick pick with a pointed tip is beloved by many guitarists for its precision and speed. It’s worth trying once you’re comfortable with the basics. If you’re looking for the best guitar picks for speed, then the Jazz III is in my opinion, the ultimate choice.
  • Max Grip Picks: When playing live or during long practice sessions, picks might start to slip from sweaty fingers. Max Grip picks, like those in the Dunlop Max Grip Series, combat this issue. These picks have a textured gripping surface for a firm hold, ensuring your pick stays put no matter how hard you rock out.
  • Specialty Picks: Picks like the Gravity Guitar Picks come with beveled edges that allow for a faster and smoother attack on the strings. Although these are a bit more costly for a single pick, many guitarists swear by their unique sound and feel.
  • Bass Guitar Picks: If you’re venturing into the realm of bass guitars, using a bass pick can add a different texture to your sound. Bass picks, such as the Dunlop Tortex Triangle, are usually larger and thicker than regular picks, and the Tortex material sounds great on bass strings.

Exploring the World of Guitar Picks

While this guide provides a great starting point, the best guitar pick for you will depend on your personal preference and the specific demands of your playing style. From the teardrop-ish shape of the Dunlop Jazz III to the variety pack options, there’s a wealth of choices to explore.

Remember, the journey of finding the right pick is just as important as the destination itself. Experiment with different materials to find the one that gives your guitar playing the warm tone or brighter sound you’re after. Try picks with different shapes to see what suits your hand and playing style best.

In conclusion, while the world of guitar picks may seem overwhelming at first, exploring it is an exciting part of learning guitar. The guitar pick, unassuming as it may be, is a key component to mastering your instrument and developing your unique sound. The pick you choose is an extension of your musical voice – so choose wisely, and most importantly, have fun doing it!

What Should Beginners Look For in a Guitar Pick?

1. Thickness

Guitar picks come in a range of thicknesses, usually measured in millimeters (mm). Thin picks (below 0.60mm) are great for strumming chords but can be flimsy for individual note picking. Medium picks (0.60mm-0.80mm) are more versatile and suitable for both strumming and picking. Thick picks (above 0.80mm) offer greater control for individual note picking, making them ideal for lead guitar and solos, but less ideal for strumming.

As a beginner, it’s advisable to start with a medium guitar pick as it allows you to explore different playing styles.

2. Material

Guitar picks can be made from a variety of materials, including nylon, celluloid, delrin, and tortex. Each material has its distinct sound and feel. For example, celluloid guitar picks have a bright, crisp tone, while nylon guitar picks are more flexible and produce a softer tone. As a beginner, you might want to try guitar picks made from different materials to find one that suits your preference.

3. Shape and Size

Standard-shaped plectrums, which are small and teardrop-shaped, are great guitar picks for beginners. They are easy to handle and provide good control. However, larger and differently shaped guitar picks, such as triangle-shaped picks, are also available, and they can be more comfortable for some players. It’s all about personal preference and what feels comfortable in your hand.

When it comes to guitar picks for beginners, the shape is a crucial factor in ensuring comfort and playability as one gets started playing. Standard or teardrop shapes are typically the best guitar picks for novices, providing a good balance between control and versatility. Light pick options are often recommended to beginners as they make strumming easier while developing hand strength and control.

Medium picks could be the next step as they offer more precision and a fuller sound. Quality picks from reputable manufacturers, such as Gravity Picks, offer a nice blend of durability, performance, and feel. Specifically, Gravity picks, known for their unique shape and gripping surface, offer excellent control, which is crucial for beginners striving to be a better guitarist.

Bass picks, typically thicker and more robust, are specifically designed for bass guitars but can also provide an interesting feel and sound on a standard guitar. Ultimately, it’s about trying different shapes and gauges and finding what feels best in your hand and sounds best on your instrument.