Buying Guide: How To Choose The Right Guitar Pick
At this point in your musical journey, you can probably conjure up a memory or two from your early days of playing with a pick.
For some of you, the first memory that comes to mind will be one of triumph: recalling the feeling of satisfaction and pride that coursed from your fingertips and through your veins when you finally mastered your first complex picking pattern.
For others, your memory will take you back to a moment of utter frustration — one that most experienced guitarists can relate to: fumbling your pick in your fingers, listening to it as it slipped between the strings and clattered around the sound chamber.
While those days may be long over, you can think back to those moments and smile, admiring your determination and grit as you practiced and improved your new skill.
And now, here you stand (or sit), comfortable with a pick between your fingers, ready to take on your next musical endeavor: defining your sound and setting your pick playing apart from the rest…
Why Use A Guitar Pick?
A pick is an important tool in any guitarist’s arsenal.
From strumming different chords to bending strings and playing powerful solos — a guitar pick is your primary means of creating sound, of breathing life into your instrument.
Using a guitar pick opens you up to new playing techniques — ones that would be difficult to master with your bare fingers. With a pick in hand, you now have the opportunity to play a range of riffs and complex chords, to produce different sounds in different situations.
It is the pick that enables your musical expression; it adds character and color to your sound — but it is you and you alone who possesses the power to master the craft.
Knowing what pick is best for your playing style is the perfect place to start.
Different Types of Guitar Picks
Before we dive into the nitty gritty of guitar pick selection, let’s do a brief overview of the most popular picks for different playing styles and specialties.
The Best Picks For Acoustic Guitarists
Ask pretty much any acoustic guitarist and they’ll probably tell you that they prefer picks with a little flexibility and give when they strike the strings. This is because a flexible pick moves easily across the strings, and enables the player to create that fulsome and distinctive rhythm tone that lies at the heart of folk and country music.
If you’re looking to bring out tones reminiscent of a 12-string , the Attak Pick from Acoustik Attak is the way to go, with a percussive, “double-striking” effect. This textured pick harmonically enhances mid-range frequencies, while smoothing out the individual string volumes on open chords. The result is a crisp and clear delivery of each and every note.
The Best Picks For Electric Guitarists
If electric guitar is your jam, you’ll want a pick that delivers clarity and packs a punch — especially for live performances.
That said, we have two great options for you to ‘pick’ from:
First up is the Blade Pick. This pick produces a compressed sound when picking individual notes. This allows overdrive and distortion effects to cut through the mix with more clarity, while simultaneously mitigating the muddiness of excess string resonance in the lower-frequency range.
The Stealth is the true “shredders pick”, the pointed tip allows for unmatched precision in attack for speed picking, tremolo (alternate picking), and sweep picking. Giving a slightly cleaner tone, Stealth shines in its ergonomic design. The center is concave with raised bumps to lock the thumb in and avoid slippage, such that you can rock out without losing the pick across the stage!
The Best Picks For Bass Guitarists
Last but not least, the best picks for the boss bassists out there.
Bass strings are typically much thicker than standard guitar strings — so you’ll want to find a pick that gives you the most control when plucking them. That said, you’ll also want a pick that adds some roundness to your tone, too.
In this case, a pick that’s too flexible won’t offer the kind of consistency and clarity that bass playing requires. With a sturdier pick, like the Juggernaut, you’ll get a thumping 3mm power with precise accuracy (1mm tip) on the attack of each note.
The second option is the Ambush Pick. This pick creates a really bright, percussive, and strong sound that’s guaranteed to make an impact. The raised structures allow for some snag but less-so on the higher gauge bass strings, which gives a “slap and pop” effect.
The Surge pick produces similar percussive elements as the Attak and Ambush, resulting in an edgy and growling, yet beautiful tone on bass.
As you can see, there’s a diverse range of guitar picks available on the market, so guitarists with various styles and playing preferences can find a one that best suits their sound.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Guitar Pick
Now, onto the most important details for your deliberation…
It’s also important to note that the size of the pick itself will impact how comfortable you feel while you’re playing.
If you’re someone with smaller hands, you’ll probably prefer to use a smaller pick because it will bring your strumming hand closer to the strings and make it easier to alternate between different playing techniques.
On the flip side, if you have larger hands, a bigger pick is best — they’re harder to drop or fumble between your fingers.
The thickness of a guitar pick determines its overall durability and the kind of sound it creates.
Generally speaking, guitar picks come in 1 of 4 different gauges:
- Thin — 0.40mm to 0.60mm thick.
- Medium — 0.60mm to 0.80mm thick.
- Thick — 0.80mm to 1.20mm thick.
- Extra Thick — 1.20mm+ thick.
Thick picks are stiffer, heavier, and more durable than thin ones (which are more flexible in nature).
Guitarists using thicker picks can easily attack the strings and produce a stronger, more distinct tone. However, some guitarists prefer thin picks because they’re easier to use when strumming chords and flying through different picking techniques.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try using two different kinds of pick at once — a thick one for digging into individual notes, a thin one for strumming.
Consider recording your sessions as you experiment and practice with different picks. Later, when you’re resting your fingers, you can play back the audio to see how different picks impact your tone and enhance your overall sound.
The final factor to consider is the guitar pick’s material. While celluloid, nylon, and delrin are most commonly used, many guitar picks available on the market are made from other materials — such as wood, metal, acrylic, and stone.
As you can likely imagine, picks of different materials will wear down at different rates — depending on how often you use them and how aggressively you play. For example, certain materials like celluloids aren’t as durable as nylon, so they won’t last as long as you might like.
Although the choice of material is mostly based on your own personal preference, there are two specific elements you’ll want to take into account as you deliberate: texture and tone.
Why Choose a Textured Guitar Pick
Different materials have different textures and, naturally, you’ll want to find a pick that feels good between your fingers.
Picks made of materials like celluloid are smooth in texture. They often have a polished shine that makes them look great, but feel slippery. So if you’re prone to sweating on stage — or anywhere else you prefer to play — you may find your pick sliding from your fingertips and ruining your riff.
Alternatively, textured picks — like those made of nylon — have a coarser surface and create more friction between your fingertips. This makes them much easier to grip than smooth picks, and far less likely to slip from your grasp during an intense jam session.
At the same time, it’s important to consider how these various textures will generate different sounds and impact your tone as you play.
For all intents and purposes, smoother picks produce a softer sound. They slide smoothly across the strings and create that soft and well-rounded tone that so many musicians know and love. It’s the kind of tone that warms your insides, fills you with a sense of comfort. The kind that lulls you to sleep.
Textured picks, on the other hand, generate a colorful, complex, and defined sound that really stands out. For instance, Acoustik Attak produces picks with ridges, bumps, and other raised structures on their attack zone tips. With just the single pluck of a string, these textures create a pattern of multiple strikes, echoing out in a series of sound waves at different times. The result of these textures is brighter tones, desirable harmonics, percussive effects, and different frequencies that flat picks just can’t deliver.
A guitar pick is an essential piece of equipment — one that can greatly enhance your performance and help you refine your sound.
While different factors such as shape, size, thickness and material will influence your decision, choosing the best guitar pick ultimately comes down to personal preferences and playing style.
Whether you’re an acoustic guitarist who prefers flexible picks and fulsome tone, or a bassist looking for a sturdy pick and strong sound, the selection available from Acoustik Attak will exceed all of your musical expectations.
Attak Pik: Where Sound Meets Science
New to Attak Piks? Acoustik Attak guitar picks feature raised structures on their tips, leading to various sound enhancements such as desirable harmonics, tone brightness, and percussive effects.
Get Attak Picks now. With a single pluck of a string, these structures produce a pattern of multiple strikes which produces a series of waves at different times. This results in a greater complexity in wave action when compared to that produced from traditional picks.
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