Choosing and Using Guitar Picks

Risko Music Guitar Picks

 Picks come in many different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, materials and designs. Picks are made of plastic, nylon, wood, metal and other materials.

Thin picks sound great when recording an acoustic guitar because you can hear the pick sound during strumming, which sounds cool. They are easy for beginners to handle; however, they do break easily. Thin picks also don’t keep up with fast playing, because the pick is so pliable, by the time you are trying to play the next note the pick is still on its way there.

Medium picks are the most common and can be used for any style of music.

Heavy picks are very difficult to break, and last a long time but sometimes get caught up in the strings for a beginner.

Extra heavy picks are ridged and never break and take a little time to get used to.

Picks are fun to experiment with and there is no correct pick to use for a given style. You might notice some similarities in picks from players of a certain style. For example, you might notice that jazz players tend to use a thicker pick and lots of country players use a thumb pick. Picks get lost easily and sound extremely different from each other. Buy lots of different picks and experiment, you will be amazed at how different they sound from one another.

The most common shape of picks is a triangle with rounded points. The different points of the pick sound very different from each other. The tip or most pointy part of the pick will sound brighter and the two more blunt points will produce a mellower, softer sound.

Thumb picks are another choice. Thumb picks wrap around the thumb and allow you to use your index, middle, ring and pinky separately.

Picks/fingers and hybrid picking   

There are many ways to produce notes on the guitar. You can use the pick, fingers or a combination of both. Fingers will give a warmer sound. There are endless ways of using the right-hand fingers to pick notes. Many guitar players hold the pick in between the thumb and index finger and then use the middle, ring and pinky to play other notes simultaneously with the pick or separately. It is also common to play notes with the pick and pluck triads (three-note chords) with the middle, ring and pinky.

Many players, including myself, use a pick and fingers. Sometimes I use my thumb and index finger on my right hand to play and I also sometimes just use my thumb, while I hold the pick in the middle finger of my right hand.

Using your thumb on your right hand to play notes produces a warm fat sound.

Classical players typically do not use a pick. They use fingers and usually grow their nails out on their right hand to pluck the strings.

Have fun and experiment with different picks and see what you like. See what kind of picks your favorite players are using and try those as a starting point.

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