Whether you play bass, electric, or acoustic guitar, choosing a guitar pick can be confusing. You might think all guitar picks are the same; however, there are actually many different types you can try. Although the tips may differ in roundness and design, most guitar picks are made in a roughly triangular shape.What materials are guitar picks made of?
Guitar picks come in a wide variety of durable and functional substances. While they can be made of anything from metal to wood, the most common materials are plastics such as:
- Celluloid: The slick texture of celluloid produces a clear tone when you strum.
- Nylon: One of the first to be used, nylon picks are still going strong. Texture is sometimes added to the smooth surface to allow for a better grip.
- DuPont Delrin: Made as a replacement for turtle shell, this plastic is used in Delrex, Dunlop Tortex, and Fender guitar picks. It has a matte surface for grip and produces a solid tone.
- Ultem: These are durable, stiff, and well-suited for creating strong low tones.
There are five main classifications of guitar pick thickness:
- Extra light: These picks are generally less than .40 millimeters thick. They are good for bright acoustic strumming.
- Light: Light, also called thin, picks are also suited to delicate strumming. Ranging between .40 and .60 millimeters, they're very flexible.
- Medium: Mediums are usually between .60 and .80 millimeter. They offer decent control while still hitting the string with a good high- to mid-tone.
- Heavy: With a thickness from .80 to 1.2 millimeters, heavy picks give you very good control while producing solid tone with low noise. Heavy is the preferred weight for lead guitar.
- Extra heavy: This size is above 1.2 millimeters and is typically used by guitarists who need a particularly strong, warm tone.
Bass picks are typically above 1.0 millimeter because of the string size on a bass guitar. Ultimately, pick choice comes down to personal preference. It's helpful to try out a range of sizes and to see which ones fit your playing style.What pick should you use for an electric guitar?
Medium and heavy are suited to for electric guitar playing. Again, though, it comes down to what feels and sounds good to you on your specific instrument. It's fun to experiment with different types and sizes to see how they affect your music.