Which Guitar Picks Are Good For Metal?

Last Updated on March 30, 2024 by Justin

Metal music demands a high level of precision, speed, and power. Whether you’re delivering rapid-fire riffs or sweeping solos, the guitar picks you use significantly impact your playing. Here, we’ll take a look at the best guitar picks for metal music and the factors that make these picks ideal for this genre.

Below are some options that I have used in the past for playing metal. These reviews are based solely on my experience and my opinion. let’s jump right in!

1. Dunlop Tortex Sharp 1.14mm

Tortex Sharp 1.14mm

The Dunlop Tortex Sharp 1.14mm is a favorite amongst many metal players. The sharp tip and thick gauge allow for precision and control, especially when playing fast riffs or complex solos. Tortex offers both durability and a bright tone. For me, it is the shape that makes it easier for me to articulate the notes better when I’m shredding and sweeping.

2. Dunlop Jazz III XL

Jazz III XL Series

The Dunlop Jazz III XL has a sharp tip and a thicker body, which offers a lot of control, making it perfect for quick, precise movements. Its larger size may take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to the regular Jazz III. But many metal guitarists find it improves their playing speed and accuracy.

3. Ibanez Paul Gilbert Signature

Paul Gilbert Ibanez Picks

The Ibanez Paul Gilbert Signature guitar pick, with a gauge of 1.0mm, is designed for fast playing. Its pointed tip and rigid material are perfect for precision playing, and it’s made from durable celluloid material, known for its bright, clear tone.

4. Ernie Ball Prodigy Picks 2.0 mm

Ernie Ball Prodigy 2.0mm

Ernie Ball Prodigy Picks are crafted from Delrin for exceptional durability and a bright tone. With a 2.0 mm thickness, these picks are extremely sturdy and offer increased precision and high-speed playing. Their sharp and beveled edges enable better control for fast, aggressive metal music. It is the beveled edges on the Ernie Ball Prodigy picks that make them super slick for playing smooth lead lines and solos.

5. Dunlop Ultex Jazz III

Ultex Jazz III

The Dunlop Ultex Jazz III is highly durable and features a sharp tip for precise picking and riffage. The Ultex material delivers a wide range of bright tones that cut through any mix, allowing you to achieve the right sound for your metal music.

6. Gravity Guitar Picks Classic Standard Polished 2mm

Gravity Picks Standard Classic

Gravity Guitar Picks are handcrafted and offer a unique playing experience. The Classic Standard 2mm pick is thick and durable, with a polished surface for smooth playing. The sharp beveled edges enhance control and speed, perfect for the demanding requirements of metal music. If you would like to read more about this pick, view my top 10 best guitar picks of all time.

7. Dunlop James Hetfield White Fang

JIM DUNLOP Hetfields White Fang Custom Flow 1.14mm Guitar Picks

White Fang Guitar Picks (James Hetfield)

Co-designed by Metallica’s James Hetfield, the White Fang pick is specifically designed for heavy metal. The pick is made from durable Ultex material and its pointed tip is perfect for fast, precise picking. The custom grip, featuring a series of raised surfaces, helps prevent the pick from slipping during aggressive playing. Hetfield himself uses the White Fang for both studio recording and live performances, a testament to its reliability and quality.

Key Factors in Choosing a Guitar Pick for Metal

1. Thickness

Metal guitarists often prefer thicker picks (above 0.88mm) for their rigidity and control, allowing you to play with more power and precision. Thick picks don’t flex as much as thin ones, allowing for quicker response times, essential for fast-paced metal music. Medium guitar picks on the other hand offer the best of both worlds. There is no right answer here. At this point, it comes down to personal preference.

2. Material

Durability is crucial when playing metal music due to its aggressive style. Materials such as Tortex, Ultem, or Delrin are known for their durability and firmness, ideal for metal guitarists. These materials also produce a bright and sharp tone, well-suited for the genre.

3. Shape

The shape of the pick also plays a significant role. Many metal guitarists prefer a pointed tip, which allows for more precise control when playing intricate solos and fast riffs. While other guitarists such as Darron Malakian of SOAD, prefer a triangle guitar pick.

4. Grip

Metal, as a genre, is known for its energetic and dynamic style, often involving fast-paced, aggressive strumming, complex riffs, and intricate solos. It’s not uncommon for a metal guitarist to go from a rapid-fire sequence of palm-muted power chords to a high-speed, alternate-picked solo, sometimes within the span of a single song. These technical demands make it crucial for the guitarist’s pick to stay securely in hand throughout a performance.

A pick slipping or shifting can disrupt the guitarist’s flow, lead to missed notes, and break the intensity of a performance. More than just a nuisance, it can be a real hurdle in maintaining the precision and speed that metal music requires. Thus, the guitar pick grip becomes a significant consideration when choosing a guitar pick for playing metal.

Many guitar picks are designed with enhanced grip features, such as textured surfaces, indentations, or even holes. For example, the Swiss Picks Nuclear Cheddar has beveled holes that offer an excellent grip. The Ibanez Paul Gilbert Signature Picks have a unique ridged design for an improved grip, and V-Picks Snake is made from a material that sticks to your fingers when warmed by your touch.

So Which Picks Is For You?

The best pick for playing metal music is one that supports the fast, precise, and aggressive style of play that defines the genre. The right pick can elevate your performance and make playing more enjoyable. The picks on this list are excellent options that have proven to be favorites among metal guitarists. Happy shredding!