Reviews of guitar related products aren’t hard to find online. So many people write reviews of everything from effects pedals to the guitars themselves, but finding the best guitar picks can be more difficult. Maybe this is a less glamorous topic. Of course, lots of us geek out over amplifiers or effects pedals which have a clear impact on the sound, but guitar picks or plectrums don’t have the same excitement factor. In spite of not being ‘fashionable’, picks are so vital! One of the smallest financial investments we make in our playing, and often a decision we make with little thought, but the pick can totally shape the sound and playing style of whoever is using it. Don’t underestimate this piece of kit.
Picks are not just for guitars! In this article we have some pick reviews, and have looked at the options for both acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele, mandolin and bass guitar.
Ironically, in spite of a very low price point (generally), and a lack of excitement around the product, there are actually a lot of different options. The fact that picks have such a big impact, and are effectively the tool that links man with guitar, means that there are a lot of variations. If you don’t know what all of the different factors are that make up your pick, you could end up making the wrong choice. The main options are in the following areas.
Thickness. This is probably the most important decision to make in terms of sound. Navigating the thickness can seem difficult, but it is pretty simple.
- Extra thin guitar picks are featherlight and often preferred by acoustic guitar players and even classical guitar players. They go up to about 0.45mm
- Thin guitar picks are .45mm up to .7mm but they do vary slightly. They’re a popular choice for those trying to avoid tendonitis, which can be an issue with guitar playing, and a lot of the picks you get in packs that come with guitar sets for beginners will be thin ones.
- Medium guitar picks are around .7mm up to about .8mm and give a middle ground between bulk and lightness. They’re also popular with beginners and good for those unsure what to go for.
- Heavy picks are from .85mm to 1.2. You’ll see a lot of picks made at .96 and these are popular for electric guitars and give a bit more of a rough and ready sound. Good for striking electric guitar strings and give a nice rounded tone.
- Extra heavy guitar picks are anything higher than 1.2mm. These are designed for the heavier electric guitar players and are also an option as a pick for bassists. Many bass players use their fingers, but some do prefer to use a pick, and something thicker is needed for those heavy bass strings.
Material. A quick glance at some options for the best guitar picks will show that they come in a lot of materials. Nylon are very popular, but celluloid and even stainless steel are an option. Personal preference comes into play a lot here, but you should also think about how hard-wearing the materials are and if they’re likely to last you long enough. Luckily, picks are so cheap that you can buy a few different options made in different materials and thicknesses in order to see what works best for you and your instrument.
Shape and Design. There is a standard ‘shape’ of guitar picks, the peardrop. This isn’t strict, and though it is popular due to making life easier for guitarists, some will prefer different shapes and sizes. Lots of people like to make a statement with their guitar picks, and you can buy some amazingly cool designs! Some people get famous artwork printed on their picks, some just cool patterns, some are made out of coins or other novelty items. We’ve seen heart shapes, circular picks, and all sorts of different looks. As long as you’re comfortable with the plectrum and you have the right thickness for your preference then the design is your chance to get something to reflect your personality.
Making Your Own Picks
This is a very cool option. In recent years, many people have started to make their own picks as products called ‘pick punchers’ become popular. These are basically guitar pick makers you can keep at home, or even in your guitar bag, and make your own picks out of different plastics and other items. Discarded pringle lids work brilliantly. You can also buy plastic sheets in the desired thickness great for your pick punch. I lose my picks a lot, they’re small and easy to misplace, and being able to make a few new ones every time you need to is pretty convenient.
The Best Guitar Pick Options
We’ve looked at some of the best picks and plectrums out there to give recommendations. Of course, there is only so much variation within guitar picks, but there are models from all of the best brands you would expect to see. Dunlop, Fender, D’addario and more all have some sort of offering. There are also brands specializing in just guitar picks with some inventive and interesting products.
Fender Premium Picks Sampler
Most lists of guitar products will contain something from the powerhouse that is Fender. Fender picks can be found in rehearsal rooms, guitar bags and gig venues all over the world. This sampler pack is perfect for those who want to work out which type of pick is going to be best for them, or need picks suitable for both electric and acoustic guitar.
They’re made from celluloid and offer a quality tone and the Fender logo we’ve all come to know and love. This is something of an assortment pack available in either 24 or 48 and with different designs to choose from. You’ll definitely want to make sure you stock up on picks as they go missing all the time.
The multiple sizes and gauges are perfect for experimenting with different sounds and working out the best for your individual needs and sounds. These come with thin, medium and heavy gauges. This is a good option for beginners and pros alike.
Pick Geek Trio
As the name suggests, Pick Geek are a brand who specialize in picks and plectrums. “Trio” does not mean you get three picks (that would last most of us about a fortnight before they got lost). Trio means three different sets of picks.
- Comes with a Celluloid set, a second Delrin (Tortex) set, as well as a jazz set which has alternative shapes and steel picks. All packaged within a very nice cylinder box making them great for gifting.
- There are four thicknesses in total from light to extra heavy, and lots of colors and designs.
- Suitable for acoustic guitar, electric guitar or bass guitar players.
A super nice set that is more on the luxury end, but is perfect for experimenting with different sounds and genres. The way these are packaged means that it is great to carry around in your guitar bag and to keep your picks stored away safely.
The reviews of the pick geek models show how happy the vast majority of customers are with their purchase, and the nice feel and easy playability of the sets they offer. The trio is just one of their sets, and there are more picks and packages in their impressive range.
Personalized Guitar Picks
This is another quirky but cool thing you can do if buying a gift or for yourself! There are companies offering personalized picks so you can put someone’s name, or even a band name on the pick. These are often stainless steel and very high quality.
Guitar picks are a relatively cheap product, especially if you’re used to buying guitar effects pedals and other accessories. Finding the best guitar pick for you can be quite a unique thing, and finding out what is comfortable and sounds the best for your own music is the goal here. The fact that you can buy assortment packs such as the Fender assortment means that experimenting is pretty simple, and you can quickly be up and running with the right pick for you.