The Best Guitar Picks for Speed: Enhancing Your Rapid Riffs and Solos

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Justin

Playing at high speeds on a guitar is an art in itself, requiring precision, technique, and the right tools. Whether you’re a metal shredder or a jazz virtuoso, a crucial part of your toolkit is your guitar pick. In this article, we’ll examine the factors that can make a guitar pick better suited to fast playing and review some of the best picks for speed available on the market.

Recommended Picks for Speed

Dunlop Jazz III

Dunlop Jazz III Nylon

The Dunlop Jazz III is an industry standard when it comes to picks for speed playing. Its small size and sharp point offer excellent control and precision, and its thick construction makes it durable enough for fast, heavy playing. The Jazz III is made of Ultex, offering great grip and durability.

Ibanez Paul Gilbert Signature

Paul Gilbert Picks by Ibanez

The Ibanez Paul Gilbert Signature pick is another excellent choice for speed playing. Designed by shred maestro Paul Gilbert himself, this pick features a pointed tip for precise picking and a decent grip to ensure the pick stays securely in hand during fast passages. Its 1.0mm thickness adds to its durability and control. Although in recent times Paul uses a lighter gauge of these I believe.

Dava Control Pick

Dava Control Delrin Jazz Tip

The Dava Control Pick offers a unique design that combines a stiff center with a softer, flexible edge. This design allows you to adjust the flexibility of the pick based on your grip, offering versatility and control. Its smaller size and pointed tip also make it well-suited for fast playing.

Gravity Picks Classic Pointed Standard

Gravity Picks Standard Classic (Pointed Tip)

Gravity Picks are handcrafted, offering a range of custom options. The Classic Standard model features a sharp point for precision and is available in multiple thicknesses to suit your preference. It’s made of acrylic, providing a slick, fast-playing surface. But also a playing surface that stays nicely in place.

V-Picks Screamer

V-Picks Screamer

The V-Picks Screamer is made from acrylic, offering a slick, fast-playing surface. It features a pointed tip and a thickness of 2.75mm, providing the precision and durability needed for speed playing. The Screamer also has an indented edge for better grip.

Certainly, let’s delve into some additional picks that are renowned for facilitating speed playing, along with further considerations to keep in mind when searching for your ideal pick. This guitar picks features at number 1 on my best guitar picks.

Ernie Ball Prodigy Picks

Ernie Ball Prodigy Black Mini 1.50mm

Ernie Ball Prodigy picks are precision-engineered for high-speed playing and hard-hitting strumming. Made from Delrin, they provide a smooth release that makes fast passages easier to execute. They come in two thicknesses – 1.5mm and 2mm – and feature a highly durable, machined beveled edge and sharp point for increased control and accuracy. They also come in a variety of shapes. Check out the link above to see more shapes from the Prodigy range

ChickenPicks Badazz III

Chicken Picks Badazz III 2.0mm

The ChickenPicks Badazz III is a boutique guitar pick designed with speed in mind. This pick is on the thicker side at 2.2mm and has a unique, sharp contour, allowing for precise, fast playing. Made from a proprietary thermosetting plastic, it offers a bright tone and quick response.

Dunlop John Petrucci Signature Jazz III

John Petrucci Signature Dunlop Jazz III

John Petrucci, the virtuoso guitarist of Dream Theater, is known for his speed and precision. The Dunlop John Petrucci Signature Jazz III pick, made from Ultex, features a custom beveled edge and a sharp point to facilitate swift, accurate picking. This pick’s slightly larger size and added grip also aid control.

Swiss Picks Nuclear Cheddar

Swiss Picks Nuclear Cheddar features a unique design with beveled edges and holes for extra grip, which can be helpful for maintaining control during speedy solos. The sharp point allows for precise picking, and the Polycarbonate construction offers durability and a smooth string release.

Factors to Consider for Speed Playing

Thickness

Generally, thicker picks are considered better for speed playing. A thick pick doesn’t flex as much as a thin pick, which can offer better control and accuracy when playing fast sequences. A thick pick will also hold up better under the increased stress of rapid picking. Many guitarists also prefer a medium pick for speed. When it comes to gauge, it really depends on personal preference and which thickness makes it easier for you to play faster. It differs from person to person.

Material

The material of the pick also plays a significant role. Some materials, like Tortex or Ultex, offer a good balance of grip and durability. On the other hand, materials like Delrin or Acrylic are slicker, which can reduce the friction between the pick and the string, facilitating faster playing.

Shape

For speed playing, a pointed tip is usually preferable. The sharper point allows for more precise contact with the strings, which can lead to cleaner and faster note articulation.

Size

A smaller pick can often offer better control, which can be beneficial when playing at high speeds. However, this largely depends on personal comfort and the guitarist’s picking technique.

Technique

Perfecting your picking technique will significantly improve your playing speed, regardless of the pick you’re using. Alternate picking and economy picking are two techniques used by many fast guitarists. Regular practice with a metronome can help you build speed gradually while maintaining precision.

Comfort

The most effective pick will be the one that feels most comfortable in your hand. Everyone’s hand shape, grip style, and comfort level is different, so what works well for one guitarist might not work as well for another. The best way to find the right pick is to try out several different ones and see which one feels and sounds the best to you.

Experimentation

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different picks. Even if a pick isn’t marketed as a ‘speed pick,’ you might find it works well for your style of fast playing. Picks are relatively inexpensive, so feel free to experiment and find the best fit for you.

While picks like the Dunlop Jazz III, Ernie Ball Prodigy, and ChickenPicks Badazz III can enhance speed playing, it’s essential to focus on technique and personal comfort. Remember, speed isn’t everything; expressiveness and precision are just as important in crafting a memorable performance.