What is a guitar pick? (it's pretty simple)
A small, rounded triangular piece of hardened plastic
Guitar picks are a simple triangular-shaped accessory (tool) that you use to "pick" the strings on a guitar. Most are made of hardened plastic. The popular Dunlop Tortex picks (pictured to the right) are made of a hardened plastic called Delrin Tortex.
This article is going to be pretty simple, because we're defining a very simple device: A guitar pick.
So what exactly is a guitar pick?
Picks are a small, triangular piece of hardened plastic that guitar players use to "pick" or strum strings on a guitar.
These are used as opposed to fingers, and preferred by the majority of guitar players in more contemporary styles, especially for heavier steel guitar strings. Nylon strings, especially on classical guitars, are typically played with fingers.
Here's an example of what they typically look like.
We should mention, Walrus Audio primarily makes pedals. The most common pick makers are the following:
- D 'Addario
We've always recommended Dunlop Tortex picks. They're a company that specifically focuses on their pick design. With Fender and, to an extend, D'Addario, it feels more like an afterthought.
Thumb picks are often used in tandem with fingerpicking. Worn on the thumb, they leave the other four fingers free to pick strings, while the thumb pick is used to strum down, or pick the thicker strings.
This is sometimes called hybrid picking.
There are several different variables to consider when choosing a guitar pick. They include the following:
Thickness is the most important factor here. This depends on your preference, though musical style should also be considered. For example, something like strumming an acoustic guitar might be better served by a lighter pick, while playing heavy power chords with distortion on an electric guitar is going to sound better (and feel better) with a heavier pick.
Here are some of your choices with the gauge (thickness) listed:
- Extra Heavy (>1.5mm)
- Heavy (.80 - 1.49mm)
- Medium (.60 - .79mm)
- Thin (.40 - .59mm)
- Extra Thin (Under .40mm)
Again, you should choose whatever feels most comfortable to you. That's the biggest concern. Musical style should probably be a secondary factor, especially if you're a beginner who is getting used to the feel of a pick.
Some picks come with different types of grip, like a more rigid surface.
This depends on the brand, though we've found that having at least a little friction is helpful.
Wrap it Up
Ok - that's a guitar pick.
A simple tool that makes guitar playing a lot easier, unless you just prefer to use your fingers, or you play a style that isn't really pick-relevant.
If you have questions, the comments section below is a good spot. We'll do our best to help out.
Thanks for trusting our content and experience.