The guitar is a popular instrument for musicians and aspiring rock stars around the world. The different ways in which it is possible to play the guitar are virtually endless.
Whether it is heavy metal thrashing or the delicate and vibrant sounds of flamenco, there is a guitar and style for everyone. Still, the majority of guitar styles have a few things in common and one is the necessity for a pick. Even those guitarists who favor playing with their fingers will have at least one pick on hand for certain sounds.
The pick is the small piece of plastic, metal, or other material that is used to pluck at the strings of the guitar in order to produce sound. Most people may not know that there are as many types of guitar picks as there are guitars.
Luckily, guitar picks are relatively inexpensive, so it is usually quite possible to have a number of different styles at the ready at any given moment. Guitar picks are widely available for sale in specialty guitar stores, general music stores, or online from Amazon.
Types of Guitar Picks
To the majority of people, most guitar picks probably look about the same. In fact, many people probably do not even know that there are different types of picks at all, from standard flat guitar picks to curled thumb picks and everything in between. To a seasoned guitarist, on the other hand, it is obvious that there is vast spectrum of guitar picks available, each offering its own unique sound and feel.
Flat Guitar Picks
Flat guitar picks are the most popular and can be seen in most styles of guitar music, from rock guitar to classical. They are generally triangular in shape, made of some composite of stiff material so as to catch the strings, and come in a variety of colors.
Flat Guitar Pick Shapes
One of the first things that one might notice about a guitar pick is the shape. The most common shape for a guitar pick, known as the standard guitar pick, is that of an isosceles triangle. This pick has two rounded corners and one pointed corner, which is used for picking. The point of the triangle makes it easier for the pick to slip off the string and create a warm, mellow sound.
A jazz guitar pick, does not spread out into a triangular point, rather spread out into an isosceles triangle. The grip area of the pick is much more rounded. This can mean more responsiveness and brighter sounds as compared to the standard pick.
An equilateral guitar pick, as the name suggests, has three equal sides as well as three points. The advantage of this type of pick is that any point can be used for playing and there is no “wrong way” to grip it.
Finally, the sharkfin guitar pick is a bit less popular and certainly more unique in terms of looks. These picks have one point that can be used for standard picking or strumming, and one side that has two points, situated so that they can both be used at the same time, which makes for a unique sound.
Finger and Thumb Guitar Picks
While flat guitar picks are certainly the most commonly seen in rock and roll music, there is another popular type of guitar pick known as finger and thumb guitar picks. Unlike the flat picks, which are only kept in place by the force of the guitarist who is holding them, these picks wrap around the individual fingers and thumb. These picks are most commonly used in classical guitar playing as they mimic the use of one’s fingernails, which are traditionally used to pluck strings, but can be difficult to maintain.
Guitar Pick Materials
One of the most important considerations when selecting a guitar pick is deciding the type of material from which the pick is made. While the oldest guitar picks were made by the individual guitarists from natural materials such as bone, metal, and tortoise shell, today different types of plastic are the most popular and affordable, as described in the table below.
|Nylon||Affordable, lightweight||Not as durable as some other plastics|
|Celluloid||The original plastic for picks, offers vintage tone||Flammable|
|Tortex||Synthetic that mimics real tortoise shell||A bit more expensive|
|Tortoise Shell||Natural; made from tortoise shell||Illegal to make or purchase new ones|
Aside from tortoise shell, the table lists only plastics as these are by far the most common and useful materials for guitar picks. However, some guitarists do aim for a less traditional route and choose metal guitar picks, or even those made from wood or glass.
Cardboard Guitar Picks
For those guitarists who may fancy themselves eco-conscious, it is even possible to make guitar picks at home from little more than an old cardboard box. By cutting a piece of cardboard into the shape of a pick and then coating it with a household glue to stiffen it, anyone can have a guitar pick in minutes.
This process avoids any plastics that may be damaging to the environment and recycles cardboard that may otherwise end up in the landfill. While a cardboard pick may not be appropriate for headlining at Madison Square Garden, it should work just fine for playing a set in the garage.
Guitar Pick Thickness
The thickness of the guitar pick can make a huge difference when it comes to the sound that the pick produces. This is because the thinner the pick, the more flexible it will be when it slides against the string. Guitar picks range in thickness from extra light guitar picks, which are less than .02 inches to extra heavy guitar picks, which are more than .06 inches.
Although the difference may not sound like a lot, it can make a huge difference in the sound the pick produces. For instance, heavy metal guitarists tend to prefer much thicker picks for their kinetic style of play, while lighter picks are more appropriate for delicate styles. Most guitarists, however, have a range of picks of different thicknesses for variety.
Personalizing Guitar Picks
For anyone who has ever had the good fortune to catch a guitar pick that his or her favorite musician has thrown into the crowd, personalizing guitar picks is most likely familiar. Generally, touring bands have their own guitar picks that are somehow branded with their logo or their name.
Luckily, this is not a service that is out of reach for the common musician; it is quite affordable. There are a number of online services that offer personalized guitar picks.
In most cases it is possible to simply email or upload an image or logo to the site, and they will manufacture a number of guitar picks. There is generally a minimum order so be prepared to have at least 100 picks with this image on them.
How to Buy Guitar Picks on Amazon
Buying guitar picks on amazon is quite simple and has a number of advantages. Because the site allows you to browse products from sellers around the world, it is easy to ensure that you are getting a great deal. It also means that you get to browse thousands of different types of guitar picks all at one site, which is more convenient that other methods of shopping around.
In order to find the right guitar picks for you on Amazon, you can enter “guitar picks” into the search box on the homepage. If you have a more specific idea about the type of guitar pick you are looking for, you can add more terms to the phrase, such as “pink guitar picks” or “metal guitar picks.” You will then be presented with a list of all the results your search has returned. You can sort using price, brand, and other descriptors to get the best results for you.
Once you have selected the guitar picks that suit your needs and style of play, be sure to take a moment to review the seller. As with any online transaction, it is important that you have an idea of who you are buying from before completing your purchase. On Amazon, a quick glance through the seller’s feedback rating should tell you all that you need to know in order to complete your purchase with confidence.
Playing the guitar can be a fulfilling way to express oneself and plumb the depths of one’s creativity. Unlike some hobbies, there is very little equipment required to begin playing the guitar. However, most guitarists will not be successful without the purchase of at least one guitar pick, if not many over the course of a career. While it may seem like a simple endeavor, any person will quickly find that there are far more types and styles of guitar picks available than ever imagined. Not only is it necessary to choose between a flat pick and finger picks, but factors including shape, size, thickness, and material must be considered as well. Luckily, just a bit of research should give you a much better idea of how to go about choosing the right guitar pick for you. Because guitar picks are extraordinarily affordable, even the most indecisive guitar players can find the right guitar pick by purchasing a few of every type until they find the one they prefer.