How To Choose The Best Guitar Pick For You
Tommaso Zillio

Choosing the right pick to play guitar is one of the earliest decision that a guitar player takes in his/her career. And while it is really easy to change this decision anytime, the earlier you find the best pick for you, the easier it will be for you to improve.

Choosing the right pick is not rocket science. Let’s see a few simple pointer:

Rigidity. While most people will tell you that the choice between a “thin” and a “heavy” pick is “matter of personal preference”, this is not really true. In fact:

  • If you play electric guitar, either lead or rhythm, you want to choose a “heavy”, rigid pick. This will allow you more control of articulation (notes to be accented, artificial harmonics, etc) and greater speed.
  • If you play acoustic guitar, you may find that thin picks sound better when recording strummed parts with a microphone. A heavy pick will still give you more control on single-note lines, but in this case you may compromise using a medium pick. Or you may consider using one heavy pick and one thin pick, and switching rapidly between them.

Size. While it’s true that many famous players seem to prefer smaller picks, I found that most people simply do not give large picks a chance. I personally prefer large picks as I can get more grip and control. My suggestion would be to experiment with the smallest and the largest picks you can find, and see which one seems more suited to your hand. Pick size has no influence on sound.

Material. The material the pick is made of has a large influence on how it will sound. Some material (like Ultex/Ultem) give you much more attack than other (Acetate/Delrin). The market for “exotic materials” is pretty large today: you can have picks made of wood, stone, specialty plastic, bone, horn, metal… they all sound different. Try a few and hear the differences.

Practical considerations. In general you want to choose a pick that is easily replaceable. Picks can break, and they are incredibly easy to lose. If your choice picks are handmade from yak horn in South Elbonia and costs $50, coming up with a replacement may be painful. So make sure you try all the “cheap” picks that are available at your local store. You may find that $0.50 picks sound as good and are as comfortable as a pick costing literally 100 times more.

Have fun searching for your perfect pick!

About The Author
Tommaso Zillio is a professional guitarist and teacher. With his team of teachers he gives guitar lessons in Edmonton to many local up and coming guitar players. He’s also a respected writer of guitar columns.