Nylon Guitar Picks – Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on August 14, 2023 by Justin

Nylon guitar picks are some of the most popular and widely used by guitarists. Back in the 60s and 70’s Nylon as a material for guitar picks was probably the most popular but subsequently has been taken over in popularity by the Dunlop Tortex material and similar Delrin-based picks.

Nylon picks were mostly popular among rock n roll guitarists of the 1970s like Jimi Page just to name one.

Despite the fact that nylon plectrums are popular for rock music, they are also widely used by jazz guitarists. This should give you an idea in terms of the versatility of nylon picks.

In this article, I’ll be discussing the sound, feel, and characteristics of Nylon plectrums as well as reviewing the top nylon picks on the market. If this interests you, check out my list of the best guitar picks.

Dunlop Nylon StandardD'addario Nylon FlexHerdim NylonDunlop Jazz IIIDava Grip Tip Nylon
My Top ChoiceBest AttackBest Grip SurfaceBest For LeadMost Innovative Pick

What Are Nylon Plectrums?

Quite simply put, nylon guitar picks essentially refer to the fact that the pick has been made out of nylon material. Whilst some guitar pick companies make their plectrums slightly differently, for the most part, they are molded using injected nylon.

I’ll discuss some of the different shapes and gauges that you can get these nylon picks in below.

Best Nylon Guitar Picks

If you’ve come this far it means you’re probably interested in trying out nylon guitar picks for yourself. So the next step is to find yourself some of these picks. A problem arises like with all guitar picks.

This is the problem of having way too many options to choose from. I’ve tried most nylon guitar picks and I’ve narrowed down my list which you can see below.

1)  Dunlop Nylon Standard

These Dunlop picks are what I’d consider the most classic nylon plectrums. They are very popular and have been for some time. The Nylon standard picks are made from durable and flexible nylon, which gives them an unrivaled dynamic response when it comes to both strumming and picking.

Dunlop Nylon Standard 0.38mm
Dunlop Nylon Standard 0.46mm
Dunlop Nylon Standard 0.60mm
Dunlop Nylon Standard 0.73mm
Dunlop Nylon Standard 0.88mm
Dunlop Nylon Standard 1.0mm

Furthermore, they are available in a wide range of gauges from super light (0.38mm) all the way to heavy (1.00mm). If you’re just starting out playing then I definitely recommend this pick as it is one of the best guitar picks for beginners due to its versatility. They’re great for lead and rhythm on both electric and acoustic guitars.

2) Dunlop Nylon Max-Grip

Following on from the Standard Dunlop nylon picks are their Max-Grip nylon picks. These are the same shape as the regular nylon picks, but they feature Dunlop’s patented “Max-Grip” feature. This feature is a criss-cross grip that is raised and helps keep the plectrum firmly in place whilst you are playing.

Dunlop Nylon Max-Grip 0.60mm
Dunlop Nylon Max-Grip 0.73mm
Dunlop Nylon Max-Grip 0.88mm
Dunlop Nylon Max-Grip 1.0mm
Dunlop Nylon Max-Grip 1.14mm
Dunlop Nylon Max-Grip 1.5mm

The Max-Grip take an already classic nylon pick and elevates them to a whole new level by adding this incredible gripping feature. I always say this but a lot of the time, these types of grips are nothing more than a gimmick. However, when it comes to the Max-Grip feature, I’d definitely say it functions as it was designed and intended.

The Max-Grip picks are available in gauges all the way up to 1.5mm.

3) Planet Waves Nylflex

When it comes to one of my favorite nylon guitar picks, I always go for this Planet Waves (D’addario) Nylflex pick. I love everything about this pick but to be specific, I like the grip and I like the shape.

Daddario Nylflex Nylon 0.50mm
Daddario Nylflex Nylon 0.75mm
Daddario Nylflex Nylon 1.00mm

The shape is unique in that it has a slightly narrower tip when compared to a standard shape plectrum. And whilst it is very similar to a standard/regular shape, it definitely has its own thing going on in my opinion which is worth trying out. From what I understand this is a relatively new guitar pick to the market but I highly recommend them. They remind me of the classic Herco picks. But I think the D’addario version has a better grip.

4) Ernie Ball Nylon

Ernie Ball is most well known for its celluloid guitar picks but a lot of people aren’t aware that they make these nylon picks.

Ernie Ball Nylon 0.53mm
Ernie Ball Nylon 0.72mm
Ernie Ball Nylon 0.97mm

I’d have to say that there isn’t much that differs between these and the Dunlop standards above other than the fact that the Ernie Balls have quite a nice grip which I think is better.  Read more about these Ernie Ball Nylons here.

5) Dunlop Jazz III Nylon

This is the guitar pick that changed it all for me. I mentioned earlier in this article that Nylon guitar picks are used by rock players as well as jazz players.

Dunlop Jazz III
Dunlop Jazz III Stiffo
Dunlop Jazz III XL
Dunlop Jazz III XL Stiffo
Dunlop Jazz III Max Grip
Dunlop Jazz III Stiffo Max Grip

The Jazz III is as the name suggests, for jazz. However, they are most definitely not only for Jazz! Some famous blues and metal guitarists have a signature version of the Jazz III including guitarists such as Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Joe Bonamassa, Jim Root, and John Petrucci. And that is just naming a few.

The Jazz III is a game changer and has been since it came out in the 80s. The smaller size and sharper tip help you play with precision and make you a more accurate player. Dare I say they make you play faster? Seriously, the Jazz III picks are amazing. They’re available in multiple variations including the classic Red, Red Max-grip, and Black (stiffer) as well as a bunch of signature picks.

6) Dava Nylon Grip

This is a very innovative nylon guitar pick made by Dava. I won’t get too much into this because I have a full article dedicated to these Dava guitar picks here.

Dava Nylon Grip Tip
Dava Jazz Nylon
Dava Control Nylon

If you are looking for a guitar pick that is different from what you are used to then I suggest giving the Dava nylon picks a go.

7) Snarling Dogs Nylon “Brain” Picks

Snarling Dogs is a sub-brand from the D’andrea company. D’andrea is known for being the first company to produce guitar picks in 1922. Without them, the guitar pick market would not be what it is today. Nowadays, they also produce high-quality guitar accessories such as straps, slides, strings capos, and more.

Snarling Dogs Nylon 0.53mm
Snarling Dogs Nylon 0.60mm
Snarling Dogs Nylon 0.73mm
Snarling Dogs Nylon 0.88mm
Snarling Dogs Nylon 1.0mm
Snarling Dogs Nylon 1.14m

Having said all of that, the Snarling Dogs “Brain” picks are some of the best nylon picks I have ever used. They are specially molded with an integrated grip which improves playability and accuracy. Simply put, they feel incredible in your hands. They’re made in the USA and comprise the highest quality nylon materials.

You’ll be sure to find a gauge to suit you as the Snarling Dogs Brain picks come in the following gauges: 0.53mm, 0.60mm, 0.73mm, 0.88mm, 1.0mm, 1.14mm. Each of these comes in a different attractive bright color.

8) Dunlop Nylon Stubby

The Stubby picks have been a mainstay in the Jim Dunlop range for decades now. However, the most common and most popular Stubby picks are the Polycarb versions which you might be familiar with in either dark blue or bright red.

Dunlop Big Stubby Nylon 1.0mm
Dunlop Big Stubby Nylon 2.0mm
Dunlop Big Stubby Nylon 3.0mm

Whilst the classic Stubby picks are indeed great, their Polycarbonate material makes them produce a brighter-sounding tone. A lot of the time, I prefer a mellower tone, which nylon provides. As a result, I discovered that Dunlop produces the Stubby picks in Nylon material.

You get all the thick and stubby features but with a much mellower tone.

9) Herdim Nylon Picks

Herdiom guitar picks are one of the best-kept secrets in the guitar pick world. Not many people are aware of their existence. However, they have been around for a long time. They were first produced in “West Germany” which hasn’t existed since 1989!

The Edge from U2 is a famous user of the Herdim picks and I have a dedicated article that explains how the Edge uses Herdim guitar picks.

You can get the Herdim picks in a choice of three gauges light, medium and heavy.

10) Jim Dunlop Midi Nylon Picks

I have already featured the standard Jim Dunlop nylon picks further above in this review. However, I am featuring the Dunlop midi picks which are somewhat similar but offer a unique difference.

Dunlop Nylon Midi 0.53mm
Dunlop Nylon Midi 0.67mm
Dunlop Nylon Midi 0.80mm
Dunlop Nylon Midi 0.94mm
Dunlop Nylon Midi 1.07mm
Dunlop Nylon Midi 1.14mm

What makes the midi nylon picks different from the standard nylon picks is that they come in “in-between” gauges. Hence, the name “midi”. What this means essentially, is that they come in gauges that are not commonly found on the guitar pick market. This offers us an opportunity to try out gauges that we as guitarists might not be used to trying.

Furthermore, a standout feature, besides the midi gauges, is the molded grip that is integrated into the midi nylon picks.

They sound and feel great and If you’re looking to mix things up in terms of thickness, then definitely give the Dunlop midi picks a try.

History Of Nylon Guitar Picks

Celluloid was popular, and so was tortoiseshell, everyone looking for alternatives. Jim Dunlop came up with nylon as an alternative which quickly caught on. The Herco was actually the first nylon pick (an example of a reissue can be seen to the right) but Dunlop acquired the brand and ran with nylon.

After discovering nylon as a replacement for celluloid. Jim Dunlop also discovered Tortex, which as I mentioned above has now taken over the number position of the most popular plectrum material. That being said, nylon guitar picks are still widely used.

How Do Nylon Guitar Picks Sound?

In comparison to most other guitar pick materials, Nylon is one of the warmest soundings. However, despite being warmer in tone a brighter sound can be achieved simply by striking the strings in a particular way. It is this versatility in sound which I believe makes it popular in different styles of guitar playing from rock to jazz.

When the strings are struck hard with a nylon attack one gets almost a compressed sound which ultimately leads to a much tighter tone. It must be because of this that nylon picks are preferred by rock players.

On the contrary, nylon picks are insanely popular for strumming especially on the acoustic guitar with a thinner gauge plectrum. Ultimately the nylon plectrums are very versatile in my opinion and I’d recommend you try them at least once whether it be for guitar or as a pick for bass.

How Do Nylon Guitar Picks Feel?

The number one thing nylon is known for is the flexibility it allows in terms of feeling when striking or strumming the strings. This flexibility is also consistent throughout gauges.

What I mean by this is that nylon picks feel thinner than they actually are. For example, a 1mm nylon medium guitar pick feels like a 0.88mm nylon plectrum.

Another characteristic of the nylon guitar pick is the slippery feel. However, MOST nylon picks are designed with a stubbed grip which is also referred to as dimples.

This stubby grip has combated the slippery feel of nylon and was adopted since the first nylon plectrums came out in the 1970s.

In fact, these stubbed grip/ dimples found on nylon guitar picks have actually been adopted by many guitar players over the years by using the stubby part/dimples to actually strike the string.

One of the many challenges I face is trying to express the way a guitar picks by putting it into words. The same goes for describing the way nylon picks feel as it is definitely something that needs to be tried in person.

However, there are some key characteristics in the feel of nylon picks that are consistent no matter which guitar pick brand you choose.

Downsides To Nylon Guitar Picks?

The flexible way in which the nylon plectrums feel is something that unfortunately wears away after extensive use of the pick. Also, over time nylon can also disintegrate and break.

So we can tell that nylon might not be as strong and durable a material as Delrin, stone picks, or wooden picks but having said that, when last did a guitar pick last forever anyway?

What Shapes & Gauges Do Nylon Picks Come in?

As with pretty much most guitar plectrum materials, nylon comes in a vast array of brands, shapes, materials, and gauges. The two most popular shapes when it comes to nylon picks are probably the Jazz shape as well as the regular shape.

However, with that said, you’ll find nylon in most plectrum shapes. The fact that nylon is a synthetic material, means that they are generally cheap and easy to produce and so you won’t find yourself paying a lot for them like exotic plectrums.

Also, this means you can find them in pretty much any gauge and any shape because of how easy they are to manufacture.

Despite this, Nylon thumb picks and Nylon finger picks are incredibly rare.