Best Guitar Picks: Top 10 Plectrums
Welcome to my best guitar picks for 2021. In the world of plectrums, there are an overwhelming amount of options, brands, gauges, materials, and sizes available to choose from.
For that reason, I've compiled a list based solely on my opinion, Of the picks that have impacted my guitar playing over the last decade.
My aim is to review each product in-depth and then give some recommendations as to which applications and styles of guitar, each pick is suitable for.
What are the best guitar picks?
It is important to remember that guitar picks are all about personal preference and feel. However, these are merely what I believe to be the best guitar picks for electric and acoustic.
- 1) V-Pick Screamer
- 2) Jazz III
- 3) Herco Nylon 75
- 4) Fender 351 Classic
- 5) Graphtech Tusq
- 6) Sharkfins
- 7) Tortex Standard
- 8) Dunlop Max-Grip
- 9) Gravity Picks Stand
- 10) Classic Standard
Pick Material, Gauge, and Shape
When it comes to picks, there are three main elements to look for. These are the material, the gauge, and the shape of the plectrum. Picks come in so many different types of materials.
Many people believe they are made from plastic. But there are so many different types of plastics. Not only that but there are other materials such as nylon and also more exotic like bone wood and metal.
The second element to look out for is the gauge. This is actually quite a crucial aspect because it will have a drastic impact on the way the guitar playing experience will feel.
Some like to break up gauge into thin/medium/heavy. However, most picks come with specific numeric gauges. Usually anywhere from 0.46 all the way up to 2.5mm and sometimes even heavier.
Lastly, you'll want to consider the shape. Because picks come in a variety of shapes. Like triangular, teardrop jazz, and the most popular standard shape.
The V-picks company is known for making some of the best guitar picks. You can see this just by looking at the list of guitarists who use and endorse V-picks: Carlos Santana, Billy Gibbons, and Orianthi. These famous names would suggest that this pick is chosen for lead guitar. But, whilst this might be true to a certain extent, this plectrum is actually very versatile and can suit any player of any genre. V-picks characteristics:
- The tone is rich
- The material is strong
- And the Acrylic sticks to your hands and improves the more your hands warm up.
As a result of all of this, you get a sound that is louder, sharper with a brighter tone. V-picks have taken this plectrum and improved it even more by adding a small hole in the middle of it. This helps to know exactly where the pick is in your fingers at all times. This pick has a triangle shape. Which also makes it one of the best picks for beginner guitarists. The triangle helps with dexterity and guitar pick angle. which is particularly useful when you're still developing your skills.
The Dunlop Jazz III is a popular guitar pick among guitar players because of its small size and sharper tip. The smaller size means that the thumb can make more contact with the string.
Thus, enhancing the guitar players' control over note picking. The "standard" or "regular" Jazz III is made out of Nylon and comes in either black or red.
The difference between the two colors is that the black Jazz III is stiffer than the red one. The term Jazz III has become more of a referral to the shape of the plectrum rather than what the plectrum is made of. These now come in a large number of options with regard to shape, material, and gauge. For example, you can get Jazz III picks in an XL, Max-grip, Tortex, or Ultex option.
As the name would suggest, this is one of the best guitar picks for Jazz. However, these are favored by guitarists that play a wide variety of styles. For example, some guitar players I know even use the Jazz 3 for metal.
The Herco Flex 75's are a medium gauge is the closest thing to "The pick of destiny" it gets. They've been used by rock legends and the old ones from back in the day can bring a pretty penny due to the fact that the company went out of business for some time. However, in recent times Jim Dunlop, one of the best pick brands, swooped in and somehow got the rights to produce these plectrums again. The Herco Flex 75's are back in business.
Notable guitar players that use these include Jimmy Page, Gene Simmons, and David Gilmour. With all of that in mind, I would have to say that this is my chosen guitar pick for rock guitar. It gives me all the attack I need whilst still maintaining the flexibility that is often associated with nylon picking. Furthermore, the list of famous rock guitarists who use this pick is long. Therefore, it becomes the obvious choice as the best guitar picks for blues, electric guitar, and rock music.
The Fender Celluloid is a historic and classic guitar pick. They pretty much-shaped blues guitar as we know it. This is due to the blues guitar players that have used this plectrum. These include names such as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. These plectrums have become the best guitar picks for rock and blues over time.
Guitar players like the rounded tip and the regular/standard shape as well as the gauge options which range from thin to extra heavy with a medium and heavy gauge in between. The plectrum is great for the different styles of guitar playing thus enhancing its popularity. These are some of the best celluloid picks in my opinion. However, the D'addario pearl celluloid picks are just as good.
The company that makes these is called "Graphtech". They are perhaps better known for their high-quality guitar saddles, nuts, and end-pins. However, this plectrum feels great and sounds amazing. They manage to achieve this by using a material that Graphtech invented. The material is a "man-made ivory" as is referred to by them. This special material is used on most of their guitar gear and is what separates them from the rest. The plectrum is able to produce increased harmonics in comparison to other plectrums and thus results in a much sweeter tone.
In my opinion, I'd have to say that these are a good choice of guitar pick for shredding and speed picking. This is due to the fact that these glide off the strings more so than plastic picks. And, they have somewhat of a beveled edge.
I came across these unique guitar picks at my local music store when I was still a student. They intrigued me because of their name and odd shape. Essentially the only part of it that looks like a regular pick is the rounded tip. The great thing about these is that each tip is shaped differently and thus produces tones. And can be used for different applications. This is a popular guitar pick among acoustic players as they are thinner (although you do get thicker ones) which makes for the pleasant sounds of chords being strummed. They are my best pick for acoustic guitar strumming. The Beatles, Trevor Rabin, and the Beach Boys have used these picks before. I often suggest these sharkfins as a good choice for beginners. The reason is that they really allow for a simpler grip when compared to other guitar picks out there.
The Tortex plectrum is loved by many players for its sound and its feel. To be precise, it is the material of Tortex that makes them so loved. The plectrum comes straight from the factory with a fine layer (almost sand-like) for better grip. But I find this layer to wear away very quickly. It provides the player with a bright and responsive tone, referred to by Dunlop as a "snappy" sound. In simple terms, this means that the plectrum has a fantastic attack. You can get the most popular shapes in Tortex material as well as choose from a full spectrum of gauges for each shape. The yellow tortex is one of the best-sounding guitar picks in my opinion. And are the perfect thickness for electric guitar. I absolutely love these.
The nylon plectrums with max grip are another very popular pick by Dunlop guitar picks. The nylon Dunlop's have been used by artists such as Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. However, the addition of Max-Grip is a new feature that you can choose. This material will produce a much warmer tone compared to other materials. The Dunlop nylons are known for their superior grip. This is because of the microdots that form little "stubs" mentioned above, on the pick. The pick thus remains tightly in the player's fingers, improving control and makes for much less slipping. I like to recommend the Max grip nylons for acoustic guitar players. Specifically, the lighter gauges. I believe that the grip along with the warm sound and feel of these make them the perfect choice for strumming
The Gravity Guitar Picks are a relatively new addition to the plectrum market but are seriously worth mentioning. The reason is due to their growth in popularity and their fantastic products. Gravity picks are made from an acrylic material which as far as we know has never been used as a material for a plectrum before. The thick acrylic material makes for a much more Treble-orientated sound as well as being higher on the decibels in comparison to other plectrums on the market. Bluegrass guitar players tend to like this pick a lot. Possibly because it is a thicker pick allowing for more control with hybrid picking. Bluegrass music requires speed picking. So does shredding some lead guitar. Therefore, I've chosen the Gravity classics as my top choice for shredding and speed.
D'addario (Planet Waves) has this range of picks with one of the best grips on the market. This feature is the checkerboard-like grip on the pick. Little squares have been strategically placed with divots in between that enhance the grip dramatically for the guitar player. These are also supposed to be very stable in the hand, which prevents your hand and fingers from getting pain. This also makes it yet another possible contender for beginners.
Here are three more honorable mentions of some that could have very easily made this list. I have a lot of favorite picks and I wish I could have chosen more. Alas, these are some more that didn't quite make the top 10.
Dava Poly Gel
Here’s a guitar pick that could also be classified as a great guitar pick. It’s the Dava Control Poly Gel series of plectrums. These guitar picks are seriously good because they give you the ability to control the gauge while you’re playing. The way you control the gauge is determined by where you hold the guitar pick in your fingers. These Dava picks are seriously revolutionary but might not be what you’re looking for if you’re looking for a consistent gauge. The picks feel really good on the guitar strings and respond well.
Ernie Ball Standard
The Ernie ball standard plectrums are very similar to the Fender Celluloid picks. They're similar due to the fact that they are both celluloid guitar picks. due to the popularity of these picks over the years and the impact, it has made to guitar and music. Eric Clapton has been a user of these plectrums and still uses them today. Like the Fenders, they come in a variety of colors and range from thin, medium to Heavy. The picture above is Eric Clapton's personal plectrum for a US tour way back when. This is definitely a personal favorite due to the epic caption on the plectrum. Also, the mere fact that it was owned and played by "Slowhand" himself.
Fender Tru Shell
If you don’t already know the history of guitar picks, I’ll give you the shortest version ever. Basically, for a long time guitarists would use guitar picks made from real tortoiseshell. Since then, it has become illegal to produce and sell real tortoiseshell guitar picks. Guitar pick companies have tried to replicate the tortoiseshell sound. Many have come close. However, Fender has recently come up with a real replacement that could pretty much kill all other tortoiseshell guitar pick replacements. Called “Tru-Shell” and is made from real proteins. Which means animals or the environment are not harmed in any way.
Conclusion on My Top 10 Best Plectrums of All Time
The picks featured in this list are the ones that I have used extensively in my time playing guitar. Having said that my true recommendation is to test out as many of my best guitar picks as possible to find the one that suits your playing style. There are definitely no rules when it comes to guitar picks so let your creativity run free!