A guitar pick is the point of contact between you and your guitar. When one starts learning how to play the guitar the importance of a guitar pick is not stressed enough. However, knowing how to pick the right guitar pick is essential as it affects your playing style, along with the your guitar sounds. Hence, if you know how to choose the best guitar pick for yourself, it will improve your guitar playing experience.
While some people prefer using small and hard guitar pick, others prefer thin and floppy picks. Some people even prefer not using a guitar pick at all, however, it is advisable not to do so. Everyone has their own preference and style of using it! Picks can be useful for a number of reasons. For instance, picks are very useful for playing single-note lines as in lead guitar or for melodic playing and even for improvising. It is suggested that you definitely use a pick when playing an electric guitar. Even for an acoustic guitar, a guitar pick is useful for strumming chord progressions.
If you thought before buying a guitar pick you only need to know about the colour, size and shape you are wrong. That is only half the knowledge there! In this article we will give you a detailed understanding of the key factors to keep in your mind before buying a guitar pick, along with the 5 best guitar picks in the market now that you should definitely not miss out on.
4 Key Factors To Keep In Mind Before Buying A Guitar Pick
1. Shape and Size of Guitar Pick
Guitar picks come in various different shapes and sizes depending on your level of comfort. Most of the guitar picks are in the form of a deformed triangle. There is no right or wrong guitar pick, you have to know which one is right for you. Here are some of the most popular shapes available:
- Standard: They are wide enough to provide you with a firm grip, allowing you with comfortable strumming with its gentle point. When you pick, the point tends to slide off the string that gives you a mellow tone.
- Jazz or Teardrop: They are slightly more rigid than the standard guitar picks, but the thickness is the same as a standard pick. When you are picking, they are fast in response giving you a bright tone.
- Equilateral: They are easier to hold and are great for those who look for experimenting with filing down the point, as you are provided with three tips to experiment with.
- Shark pin: This guitar pick can be used in two ways. One, as a standard pick and otherwise it can be rotated to use it as a multi-point edge to create as many contacts as possible per strum.
2. Material of Guitar Pick
The material of your guitar pick affects the way it sounds and the feel of it. For instance, if you’re going for a celluloid pick it will give you a brighter tone. Plus, they are slightly thicker than a nylon pick, which is preferred by most players because of their flexibility and grip. There are a variety of materials available to your guitar pick but here’s a list of the best ones you should choose from:
- a) Wood
- b) Celluloid
- c) Nylon
- d) Metal
- e) Stone
- f) Plastic
3. The thickness of Guitar Pick (Gauge)
The thickness or gauge of guitar picks varies from extra thin to extra heavy. Alike the shape, the thickness of your guitar pick also affects the feel of your guitar. Here are three levels of the thickness level of your guitar pick:
- a) Light Gauge (0.38 – 0.66 MM): The picks of this kind of gauge are often bendy and ideal for strumming. The tone produced from it is bright and clear. If you are a beginner, we suggest you go for this one as they offer less resistance than a heavier pick.
- b) Medium Gauge (0.65 – 0.88 MM): They are slightly more rigid and produce thicker sound. If you are looking to use for single notes or for solo playing then go for a medium gauge guitar pick.
- c) Heavy Gauge (0.96 – 3 MM): they are slightly less flexible and are ideal for rock rhythm playing, or soloing styles and bass playing. We do not recommend them for strumming.
4. What Style Of Guitar will you be playing?
Want to know how your guitar type affects your pick, read on to know about it:
- Lead Guitar: If you are playing lead guitar, we recommend you to go for a thicker pick, as the sound will be a lot crisper. This is so because lead guitars require more control, and a thicker pick will allow for more control.
- Rhythm Guitar: For playing a rhythm guitar, go for a softer pick because it will help you stroke the guitar strings at ease with the tip of the guitar pick. A softer pick allows for flexibility in playing different sorts of rhythm.
5 Best Guitar Picks 2018 – Detailed Review
Here’s a comprehensive list of the top 5 guitar picks available in the market for you. We have made the task of choosing the best guitar pick for yourself a lot easier here by listing you the key features, and why we recommend it for you. So explore your top 5 with us here!
#1 D’ Addario Pearl Celluloid Guitar Pick
D’ Addario Celluloid Guitar Pick comes with premium quality celluloid that provides a warm and fat tone. It comes in a standard shape for comfortable playing. It is a medium gauge guitar pick that is an ideal choice for both strumming and articulate picking.
D’Addario was founded in 1974 and since then have been a renowned manufacturer of musical instruments and accessories. You can rely on the brand’s name. Though they are more popular for selling strings, they also sell cables, earplugs, electronic tuners, drumsticks, and guitar picks. They are essentially growing with their quality sell of celluloid guitar picks. Although the material is slightly more slippery than tortex, they provide with the firm grip for producing bright tones. So here is a rule of thumb if you are not comfortable with celluloid pick because of them being slippery than you surely have to tighten your grip. There could be many reasons for the discomfort prevailing. For instance, if your hands are a little sweatier or you tend to lose grip more often than it could distract your practice. It could turn out be disastrous when you are doing a live performance if you are unable to hold a tight grip, as it could lead to you consistently slipping your grasp. So give a thought before you plan to buy this celluloid guitar pick from D’ Addario.
This guitar pick comes in assortments of 10, 25 and 100. They come in three types of gauge – light (0.50 MM), medium (0.80 MM) and heavy (1 MM). Ideally, lighter gauges are suitable for strumming while heavier gauges are more suitable for lead guitars. Celluloid is good for producing warm sounding guitar picks. The D’ Addario Pearl Celluloid Guitar Pick is a great value for money for musicians and beginners who are looking for an affordable guitar pick.
Why We Recommend It
- Medium gauge works great for strumming and articulate picking.
- It comes in standard shape for ease of playing.
- Available in all the three standard types of gauge.
- Produces warm and bright tones.
- Great value for money and ideal for those looking for an affordable guitar pick.
#2 Dunlop Tortex Standard .60mm Orange Guitar Pick
Dunlop Tortex Standard 0.60mm Orange Guitar Pick is one of the top picks in the market today recommended by most professional musicians. They come in a wide variety of gauges, shapes and sizes that allow one to pick their choice of guitar pick according to their comfort and style of playing. Whether you are looking to do a live performance, or practicing at home or for a professional studio and whether you play classic country or metal, this Tortex pick from Dunlop is a widely preferred choice by a lot of top musicians worldwide. Dunlop’s Standard 0.66mm pick contains 72 orange Tortex picks
Dunlop was founded in 1965 by Jim Dunlop and is one of the leading manufacturers of musical accessories. Dunlop Tortex Standard Guitar pick is one of the best in quality guitar pick adopted by both beginners and professionals alike.
As the name suggests, this guitar pick is made of tortex, a good attempt to replicate tortoiseshell. As a material, tortex is very widely available and is affordable at cost. It is also clean in sounding and imparts brighter tone, alike nylon resulting in the warmer tone. They come in three ranges of gauges ranging from 0.50 to 1.14 mm, which is a good range for playing different styles and rig. Apart from the aforementioned, orange color, it comes in five other shades – red, purple, yellow, green and blue. Apart from the above-mentioned features, they provide the good amount of volume and tonal response and strike a good balance.
The Dunlop Standard 0.66mm Orange Guitar Pick is an affordable and quality option for musicians as well as for beginners and you could also choose from a various range of thickness.
Why Do We Recommend It
- It is one of the most affordable guitar picks.
- It is widely used by professional musicians worldwide.
- It comes within gauge range of 0.50 to 1.14 mm.
- Provides a good balance of right volume and tonal response.
- Imparts brighter tone.
- Maximum memory and minimum wear.
#3 Fender 351 Shape Classic Guitar Pick
Fender 351 Shape Classical Guitar Pick is considered an essential part of a player’s gear list. No matter what guitar you play or what bass you use, Fender picks provide comfort and good flexibility to allow you to enjoy high-performance. It comes in the variety of sizes and gauges suitable for your style of playing and other preferences. Celluloid is the material used by Fender and it is good to give you a warm and round musical tone. The traditional 351 is a popular pick in terms of its comfort of use and design. If you are a musician who experiments with versatile styles and techniques, this is the best guitar pick for you. It consists of a wider body and a rounded tip, which has made it a favorite among players who like to experiment with styles.
Fender has been known more widely because of them being the top manufacturer of guitars but their guitar picks are equally high quality and widely used. The Fender 351 is made of celluloid and is highly flammable rigid plastic, which is an early replacement for ivory. Unlike tortex which produces brighter tones, celluloid picks produce warmer tones. However, this depends a lot on your style of playing.
The Fender 351 is a quality option for the versatile players. They will offer you a pleasing and warm tone and clean volume. The only flaw can be that it is slippery compared to a tortex pick but you could sideline this flaw with a tighter grip.
Why Do We Recommend It
- It is comfortable and affordably priced.
- Preferred by those who experiment with different playing options.
- It is made of Celluloid and comes with a smooth surface.
- Allow you to play warm and round musical tone.
- Provides comfort and high-performance flexibility for players.
#4 Dunlop Max Grip Jazz III Guitar Pick
If you are looking to intensify your guitar playing session, this guitar pick is for you. Dunlop Max Grip Jazz III Pick comes with a molded-in grip that gives you a tight and superior hold. It also features a combination of coarse and smooth texture across the entire gripping surface. It is made of molded nylon and gives you sharp attack.
Dunlop has been a renowned name in the musical instruments manufacturing space and they have been maintaining their brand name for decades now. The Dunlop Max Grip Jazz III Guitar Pick is no exception to their world-class legacy. The striking feature of this guitar pick is that it comes in two great options – carbon fiber and nylon, both of which are durable in their quality. While the carbon fiber picks comes in black with noticeable fibers, the nylon one comes in red. Another thing about this range of guitar picks from Dunlop is that they come in a smaller size compared to a standard guitar pick, however, it is thicker than most. This combination of a smaller size with a thicker pick helps the player to glide from string to string with ease when performing.
This picks also features a bevel in its design, which helps you to increase the release of the pick with great attack. This pick is excellent if you are looking to work on music, which requires fast and intricate pick work. The sound quality is similar to a nylon guitar pick. It is a great value for money for any musician looking to intensify their performance and experiment with versatile styles.
Why Do We Recommend It
- It comes in two great options – carbon fiber and nylon – both provide smoothness of surface and excellent ease of use.
- Smaller in size compared to most other guitar picks which help to glide across strings easily.
- Bevel in design which helps to increase the release of the pick with great attack.
- Extreme precision and durability of texture.
- 24 picks per bag.
#5 National NP2 Finger Guitar Pick
These finger picks, made in America, provide smooth, comfortable and adjustable sound. They are ideal for bright, fingerpicking sound on acoustic guitar or even for banjo. One of the striking elements of this finger pick is that they are made of metal. Metal picks deliver sharper and more focused tone, unlike standard plastic picks, which produces the relatively warmer tone. Hence metal picks are great for banjo players who focus on playing R&B and roots guitar since metal produces a nasal tone. The thickness of this pick is easily malleable and it still continues to produce a full tone in reasonable volume. The only concern for you here will be that it is comparatively smaller but that could vary depending on one’s personal preference.
Why Do We Recommend It
- Long-wearing and fine, made of silver.
- It has the right gauge to easily bend to conform to the finger.
- It sold in a pack of 4.
- It produces focused tone compared to plastic picks.
Now that you have gone through this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we are sure your guitar buying experience will be a lot smoother than you might have planned before. A guitar pick is a musical accessory that is often sidelined and not paid much attention to, but many at times we do not realize that it is the first connection between you and your guitar. Therefore it is very important that the guitar pick you choose should fit into your comfort and style of playing. Whether you look for warmer tone or brighter tone will depend on your guitar pick. So, go out there and buy the best guitar pick available in the market for you and bring your guitar playing sessions to the ultimate level of comfort.