If you’ve just started playing guitar, or even if you’ve been playing for a while you may not realize just how much your guitar pick affects your sound.
I was lucky enough to have a teacher in college, and not even a guitar teacher at that, who helped me dial in my sound one day after I purchased my first guitar before I was about to leave for my first big tour. His guidance helped me pay more attention to a lot of the parts of my sound I had overlooked until that point including the picks I used.
There are lots of different styles, shapes, materials and thicknesses to choose from. Over the years I’ve been playing I have changed up my preference a number of times. I guess thats where the saying comes from that we all experiment in college right? No? Well anyways, I went from ticker to thinner before landing these days on a medium gauge pick. I also went from using tortex and nylon to usually using celluloid picks these days.
It all really comes down to your own preferences for tone and how it feels in your picking hand. Different picks will affect your rhythmic abilities of your picking hand, the tone of the strings and overall sound of the guitar.
I personally like the control and sound of a medium pick. Sometimes for the right song it can be nice to switch it up and use something thinner for more of that percussive picking sound you get from a thinner pick.
What I recommend is just picking... see what I did there! ...up a bunch at your local music store and trying them out. My personal favs right now are Fender mediums, I’ve really liked the Dunlop Nylon and the Dunlop Tortex picks too over the years too. You can often find assortment packs or individual picks at your local store.
Experiment and see what feels best for the grip and mobility in your picking hand, how it sounds as it strikes the strings and if you like the tone as it resonates out or have any ideas on how specially you want to use the sound from that particular pick in your playing on certain songs.
Personally I think a harder/ticker pick sounds great for precise lead parts or if you’re doing something driving and rhythmic. Thinner picks tend to have a more bright pick noise with a softer sound volume wise that I don’t love for all my playing but is nice on the right song.
It’s honestly amazing how much just changing the guitar pick can completely change the feel of a song. Try using voice memo on your song to record a verse and a chorus with one pick and then switch to another pick and play the same sections. Listen back and see what you think and which you like better.
Picks have been made from everything from tortoiseshell and felt to glass and stone. You might find something else you like better then the standard batch of picks. I often try out new picks and have even used a corner of a gift card when I was in a pinch on the road... certain gift cards and royalty cards sound better then others in case you’re wondering.
I was asked to try out this new guitar pick from Bog Street which features an ergonomic, three sided shape with thin, medium and thick sides. I love that I can change mid-song from a driving chorus for example with the medium or thick sides to a softer verse sound with the thinner pick side. The shape makes it easy to turn while I’m playing and the grip in the middle keeps it in my picking hand.
You can check out their picks for lead and rhythm guitar players at www.bogstreet.com
I’m doing a giveaway with them over on my Instagram right now. Be sure to head over, check that out and enter, it’s super easy!
Hope you find the best pick out there for your sound!