Take your pick…


… but not just any pick.

One of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of how your guitar sounds is the plain ol’ guitar pick.

This simply designed, wafer-thin implement is perhaps as significant of a factor in your guitar tone as is what kind of wood the guitar is made out of, or what kind of strings you use, or what kind of amp, or the many other factors that contribute to your overall tone. And that’s why I find it fascinating that guitarists spend so little of their attention on what pick they choose to use.

Tone is a very personal thing for guitarists. It is your sound. So, why is the pick such a neglected part of the picture?

I don’t really know. What I do know is that with many of the students I’ve worked with in my guitar education career, most don’t really think about it. When it comes to which pick they choose, they sometimes don’t consider it an important aspect of their overall sound.

I suggest this experiment: go to your local music store & buy one of every kind of pick they have. If there are too many & it’s too costly, then go for as wide an assortment as possible. What you’re looking for is a broad variety in these areas…

vintage picks







– You got your classic “Fender” shape, tear drop, triangle and more. The shape of the point you use to hit the strings with is most important to the sound. The overall shape is important to how it feels in your hand.


– This, too is mostly about comfort. However, everything about a pick will contribute to its sound.


– The thicker the pick, the thicker the sound. And vice versa. Also, thickness can produce a darker warmer sound & thinness results in brightness.


– What the pick is made of is very significant in the tone it produces. There are many options, from synthetic to organic. Years ago, they made picks out of tortoise shell. Fortunately, for the tortoises, that is no longer the case. But you will sometimes see a pick with a brown mottled color referred to as “tortoise shell”.

happy tortoise

“I am not a guitar pick.”








Now schedule some time to sit with your guitar & spend a few minutes with each pick. Strum some chords… play some scales. You’ll be amazed at how each of them will result in a different sound with the same instrument. Some will be brighter, some will be darker. Some with be thin sounding & others will be fuller.

The goal is not necessarily to find the best pick. The goal is to learn about your instrument. (Did I mention that the pick is an instrument?)

Also, you are not trying to come to a singular decision. I use all sorts of different kinds of picks to create different kinds of sounds, depending on what kind of music I am playing. Picks are tools and you always want to find the right tool for the right job.

All this might not be something that you can do in one sitting. After you try a few picks out, come back to them the next day & listen to each again.

Eventually, you will narrow it down to a few. Remember, this is all about personal preference so go with your ears & your hands.

One more thing- when you lose your picks… the first place you should check is the dryer.


Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field