18. December 2022
Tone, timbre, ring, and sound, are some of the terms that are usually used to refer to the sound waves produced by your guitar and amp.
Music doesn’t understand restrictions. So, one way for you as a guitarist of expanding your repertoire of guitar sounds is by asking yourself simple questions:
We will cover these aspects and discuss some specific examples of guitar picks and guitar techniques and tones.
As a guitarist, you should not only reflect on your practice and skill improvements but also look for ways of increasing the amount of totally different sounds your guitar (in your hands!) is able to produce.
Imagine the wide palette of different sounds and effects that you would need to learn 30 songs from different genres.
The advantages of mastering ways to change the sound of your guitar playing are countless:
In other words, you will be a better guitar player.
Think about the “chain” of connected elements that is present when you play guitar. I like to reverse it and start from the sound source:
It starts with your guitar amp and amp settings and continues through the cable (from a specific brand and specs) and your particular effect pedals. After another couple of cables, your guitar pick-ups, circuitry, wood type, and guitar strings will play a role in the tone too. What comes after that? The guitar pick and your picking hand. Note, that also your fretting hand will have an influence on sound (string pressure).
If you replace just one element, the sound will change.
The good thing here is that this is 100% measurable by recording the guitar. So everyone at home with a mid-class microphone can start noticing the differences. Of course, then, the microphone and audio interface will play a role on tone too!
Now you know what to “adjust” to allow you to make the same guitar passages sound differently.
Go again through the complete sound chain. From all the mentioned elements, guitar picks have three main advantages when your goal is changing the tone:
Sure, using another guitar or replacing one of your pedals will have a much higher impact on tone! Nevertheless, something as simple as using another guitar pick can create appreciable differences that you will hear and enjoy.
Guitar picks can be reduced to 4 main qualities: Material, Thickness, Shape, and Size.
These qualities define the “personality” of the guitar picks to at least 80% and they affect how guitar strings vibrate. In consequence, the different guitar string vibration patterns are different.
Some materials like Nylon produce warmer, mellower tones. Others like Tortex, create brighter sounds.
The material can also influence grip and flexibility.
Pointy guitar picks have more attack and produce brighter tones. Rounded guitar picks are especially useful for soft release and warmer tones. In techniques like strumming, rounded picks will produce less pick noise.
Thin picks and some medium picks are very flexible. This quality can produce a very characteristic “snappy attack” that is not possible with very thick picks.
Of course, everything is interconnected: Flexibility also depends on the material and shape! Thickness affects grip and guitar pick noise too.
The larger the pick, the more “mass” it has. Picks with high mass will produce warmer, darker, and fuller tones. Small picks tend to be much less flexible and have a more aggressive attack.
As you can see, you have to consider all factors together. A Tortex pick is able to produce warm tones, it needs to have the right shape, thickness, and size. On the other hand, the same happens to Nylon picks: A very pointy medium-sized Nylon pick can produce brighter sounds than the average less pointy Tortex guitar pick.
Let’s compile three ideal examples:
An ideal guitar pick for thick, full, and dark overdrive or distortion sound could be made of Nylon. It should have a sharp tip for note control and at least 1.5 mm thickness. The larger the pick, the thicker and fuller the tone.
One specific example of this could be Jazz iii XL or Rombo Diamond. The last one uses variable thickness along its body to increase its total mass and create even fuller tones with high bass in the background.
Strumming is especially easy to perform when the tip of the guitar pick is rounded. To achieve even warmer tones the ideal strumming pick should have enough mass. The material Nylon, in combination with a medium thickness and the already mentioned rounded tip, will help reduce the pick noise.
Depending on your preferences you can use medium thickness or heavy thickness. The last one is more difficult to master but will reduce the pick noise substantially.
Clear and defined guitar tones are produced by pointy pick tips. Ideally, the surface of the tip is polished and has a beveled edge.
Most guitarists prefer small picks for these kinds of tones. Sweep picking, alternate picking, pinch harmonics, and other advanced lead guitar techniques are much easier to perform with such picks.
Depending on your preferences you can then choose different materials: Tortex will increase the attack and create very bright peaks, while Nylon will produce a fuller sound with more bass. Other materials (celluloid, carbon, wood,...) will behave differently.
Rombo Jade is the perfect candidate for speed, control, and attack.
Do picks change your guitar tone? Definitely yes!
Not only the tone is affected but other aspects like flexibility, grip, pick noise, attack, or control will be affected by the guitar pick too.
Sound changes will remain as a way of adding some color and dynamic to your music and guitar picks can help you here. With a very low budget and little time, you can experiment and add some fresh input to your daily guitar practice.
The most convenient way of trying many different guitar picks in just one session is by trying a variety pack containing many different guitar picks. Here you can find ours!
26. September 2022 1 Comment
In June 2022, we finished the first 3D sketches of our four new guitar pick models. However, the picks weren’t 100% ready.
The thickness, size, and even the names of the picks were still undefined.
We decided to take the approach of involving as many guitarists as possible to help us co-design our new guitar picks.
The aim of this article is to summarize the results of the survey that 2122 guitarists completed. These people directly influenced the final design of our picks.
The guitar community has strongly supported Rombopicks since its beginning in 2019.
We did not want to create new guitar picks without asking the people who have been with us since the beginning. You all are the core of Rombo, and you should decide which products we develop.
The most logical step was to create a big survey, allowing users to tell us how they prefer their guitar picks. We think this is the only way to develop a product based on the wants of our users, allowing us to make essential decisions about our company's direction.
This is only possible by listening to the thoughts of every guitar player.
2122 guitar players participated in the survey and, therefore, have taken part in the design process of these new guitar picks for 2023.
509 of them left a private message with detailed information.
We discuss these private messages below.
There is a clear winner. Guitar pick number 2 is the favorite for most people.
Could it be because of its similarity in shape and size with the iconic jazz iii guitar pick?
Surprisingly, number 4 is the guitar pick that surprised me the most during the
prototype test. But of course, you never know until you try it!
Average Thickness: 0,66 mm
Size: Small Size with 89% of the votes
Average Thickness: 0,953 mm
Size: Medium Size with 77% of the votes
Average Thickness: >2 mm
Size: Large Size with 55% of the votes
Average Thickness: 0,72 mm
Size: Medium Size with 85% of the votes
A total of 509 people left us a private message regarding guitar picks.
We have read all of them carefully and we will use all this information during the
Here are the top 10 questions we have repeatedly received and our comments on them:
● Will the guitar picks be available in different colors?
Yes! The launch will include all regular Rombo colors.
Other “special edition” colors are in the pipeline.
● Will they have the same grip structure?
Lots of people have sent us e-mails and letters regarding the grip structure. With the micro-nodules, we have the advantage of medium-grip surfaces which add lots of control.
However, a very small number of people want the picks to have more grip. We had to make a decision here, and it was hard. We will slightly increase the “grain density” on the textured areas, so there are more “micro-nodules” per square millimeter.
This way, we hope to satisfy the needs of all groups.
● The material is cool but it produces warm and mellow tones. I prefer
bright tones. Do you plan a new material range?
We have intentionally created our compound in order to reach those mellow tones. However, about 12% of the users reported preferring bright tones.
We have decided to start the research on a new material that will be launched as an extra range as soon as we find the correct formula. The expected date for the launch of the new material is early 2024.
● Why don’t you create different guitar pick thicknesses for each one
of the models?
We want every guitar pick to be unique. As every person has individual preferences, we believe every guitar pick should have its own design. In the future, we hope to be able to create a wider range of plectrum designs to cover each possible necessity.
● What about picks for bass players?
Most of our picks are compatible with bass, as we have confirmed this with some bassists that are using them regularly, especially Rombo Diamond and Rombo Origami. We explained this HERE.
● You should create some merch, T-Shirts, and other stuff:
Maybe in the future. Now, we want to focus 100% on the development of the guitar picks. Every minute we spend on the design of a T-Shirt will be taken away from the quality of the picks! ;)
● Will you offer the EcoBlack range in other colors?
The EcoBlack material can only be produced in one color at the moment.
The recycling process creates a very dark pigmentation. The industry is working hard to find a way to create new recycling processes. We hope we will manufacture all of our picks out of recycled material in the future.
● Why don’t you create boutique picks?
Counter question: What is a boutique guitar pick?
A boutique pick is a unique piece of art with the shape of a guitar pick that you can use for guitar playing. Usually, these picks are handmade and out of exotic materials. They contain some artistic elements like ornament geometries and usually they are unique special edition pieces with elevated starting prices.
Our approach is different. We create boutique-like guitar pick designs at very affordable prices. Otherwise, there would only be a couple of Rombo designs available for the most influential pick collectionists.
We think, this way, we found a niche in the middle of mass production picks and single special editions. With this approach, we bring the boutique feel to a larger number of people, reinforcing the guitar pick community and the awareness of this small but important accessory.
● Some picks I ordered in 2019 had burrs. This is not a problem for
playing but it doesn’t look cool.
We have good news for you. In 2021, we developed a new method to manually remove the burrs from the picks. This means that all Rombo picks are manually revised and processed to remove all the visual aspects that don’t belong to the original design (like small burrs on the border).
This cost us extra time but as a premium brand, we need to keep improving our quality standards to make sure your guitar picks are as good as your expectations!
● Why Kickstarter again?
See below :)
The new guitar picks will be launched in spring 2023.
If you want to receive an E-Mail as soon as the picks are available, join our
mailing list (see the footer).
This is the timeline we created for this project:
Kickstarter campaigns turn dreams and ideas into reality. Rombo is still a small start-up run by two people, and with limited access to resources. Through Kickstarter, we involve the community of guitar players, showing our guitar picks before launching.
This process brings us in contact with the real guitar players. It forces us to remain flexible, accept changes, and it challenges us to create new designs to fulfill the expectations of our audience.
We love open and critical criticism, and this is the best place to get it, where all comments and thoughts are visible. By sharing your experiences, we can listen to your needs and wishes, and create guitar picks that make a difference.
25. June 2022 1 Comment
Playing the guitar is fun and requires numerous hours of practice. Sometimes guitarists find themselves developing pain in different parts of the body such as their wrists, back, neck, forearm, and/or fingers.
Guitarists underestimate the dangers of injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in recent surveys, nearly three-fourths of professional musicians reported past injuries and pain that affected their playing.
Every guitarist I know underestimates the risks and frequency of injuries caused by playing an instrument. As with many repetitive activities (like sports), you can prevent some injuries by understanding the root cause. Being aware of this is the only way you can commit to your guitar practice and have a worry-free (and pain-free) guitar-playing routine.
In this article, we will cover the following topics:
Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice and is not a replacement for diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional. Our goal is to advise you of some preventive methods to help you avoid injuries in the first place.
Playing the guitar, there are many sources of injuries that can be overlooked.
In most cases, the pain caused by playing the guitar starts from a combination of some of these reasons:
In chapter 3, we will discuss how to prevent injuries and pain caused by guitar playing and will explain some “best practices” related to these reasons.
Guitar injuries are serious because they can take guitar players out of the game permanently. There are many examples of these tragedies along with the history of music and their reason is always the same—underestimating the signals that your body sends to you.
If you are experiencing pain in some of the following areas, your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. In that case, going to the doctor is the best option. If you want to learn how to prevent these injuries, go to chapter 3.
Most injuries can be categorized as RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury. RSIs are often long-term injuries that won't go away easily. These are directly associated with specific activities that involve repetitive movements. Guitar learning is all about repetition.
If you are experiencing pain in any of the following areas, our recommendation is to take a break for a few days and visit the doctor to ensure things aren’t more serious than they seem on the surface.
2.1- Pain in the forearm when playing the guitar:
Unlike what many guitarists think, forearm injuries are not only common for the fretting hand but also for the strumming one. If your hand position is tight, your forearm muscles are likely to tighten up too.
Putting too much pressure on the fretboard or holding the guitar pick with too much tension can develop into tendonitis.
Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons—the tissue that connects muscles and bones together and is involved in the function of moving your body properly.
Symptoms are pain, swelling, and motoric problems like limited hand movements. Many guitarists describe it as “the forearm feels like an old rubber band".
2.2- Pain in the hand area when playing the guitar. Wrists and fingers:
We are not talking about fingertips pulp pain known by every beginner guitar player without calluses. Those develop over time, making guitar playing comfortable at some point.
The main issue in these areas is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that not only affects guitar players, but also any kind of activity that involves fast, precise, and repetitive finger and hand movements like pianists, hairstylists, video gamers, etc.
Again, the tendons are involved as in many movement injuries. The flexor tendons that go from the fingertips to the forearm can be easily stressed.
Symptoms are pain, weakness, or motoric problems like limited hand movements.
2.3- Pain in the elbow when playing guitar:
The famous "tennis elbow" is also a guitarist's nightmare. Technically, this is also an issue that concerns the tendons, and its correct name is "lateral epicondylitis."
The main symptoms are pain when gripping the fretboard or pain on the outside edge of the elbow.
As in most problems related to the tendons, the first symptoms are very subtle, and this can be ignored by ambitious guitar players who want to add some extra practice to their daily routines. If you are starting to feel this, the best way to prevent it is to have a rest for a couple of days and visit the doctor if the pain persists.
2.4- Pain in the back and shoulders when playing the guitar:
A lot has been said about posture, and this has a simple reason. Good posture habits can save you from experiencing lots of pain.
The problem with playing the guitar is that you need to position yourself in a bad posture to actually see what your fretting hand is doing properly. When you focus on the movements of your hands, it is very easy to forget what the rest of your body is doing, and you might slouch or sit with your back curved with no tension on it.
Back pain is dangerous because everything here is connected. So symptoms can appear on the shoulders, lower back, upper back, neck, and in other areas. This depends on many individual factors.
Fact is, this can be prevented by practicing good posture and holding the guitar closer to you as we will discuss in chapter 3.
This problem is very common among ambitious beginners that want to scale their skills fast.
A combination of three things causes the pain:
On an Instagram survey we performed with 455 participants, 64% reported having had some injuries in the past. This means almost two-thirds of the guitarists that participated have experienced some pain or lesions. You are lucky if you are amongst the 36% injury-free guitar players.
Simple actions can make a huge difference in your playing and help you avoid injuries and pain when playing the guitar:
3.1- Warm up before playing the guitar:
Playing at even semi-intense levels is stressful on the arms, hands, and the back and shoulders, just like a gym workout would be. So you need to treat it as a sport.
Warm-up can be something as easy as stretching your fingers or starting off your session by playing some techniques that aren’t as demanding as your current guitar level.
The cool thing about warming up is that once you start playing, your muscles are already prepared to deliver their best performance.
We have summarized our seven favorite warm-ups HERE.
3.2- Proper guitar technique, posture, and guitar position:
I am a big fan of self-learning. I have used self-learning techniques for foreign languages, technical skills, software, and cooking. However, in guitar, and especially in terms of avoiding injuries, I cannot repeat it enough: get a teacher.
A professional experienced teacher can help you not only develop your skills and define your learning path but also avoid and correct bad posture, too much finger tension, wrong guitar position, and other bad habits such as slouching when playing the guitar.
My recommendation if you do not have a teacher:
Sure, it will cost you some extra money, but it will prevent future problems that have a higher impact on your life than a couple of bucks.
3.3- Play guitar with less tension:
Typical tension areas are the forearms, fingers, and back.
What I did to avoid this is playing simple chords and phrases that I knew well and, while playing, concentrating on other areas of my body: is my back straight? Am I placing too much tension on the fretboard? Am I holding my guitar pick correctly? Can I avoid turning my neck and looking left?
Some hand tension can be avoided by holding the guitar pick properly. If are experiencing this, you can check our article How to hold a guitar pick.
3.4- Breaks and time management when playing the guitar:
There is a rule of thumb amongst experienced guitar players; 50 minutes practice, 10 minutes rest.
In the 10 minutes, you can check harmony and music theory, study some tabs or just stand up and move around to reduce your overall body tension.
This has two advantages:
3.5- Do not play the guitar through pain:
If you experience some sort of pain while playing the guitar, this isn’t normal. Stop playing immediately and take a break, then evaluate whether you should go to the doctor or the physiotherapist.
3.6- Play sport:
Having good musculature in other areas of the body helps a lot when playing guitar:
The combination of these aspects make playing sports a great alliance when it comes to guitar playing.
3.7- Use a lighter guitar for practice if you play standing up:
This is only logical: the less weight you put on your shoulders, the less stress you will have to handle. Some professional guitarists use light guitars for practice or even guitar stands and only use their performance guitars for their performances.
This is especially useful for guitar teachers that usually spend their whole days with a guitar in their hands.
3.8- Massages and ice for guitar pain relief:
If you treat guitar playing like a sport—and with sport, I mean high-stress levels caused by muscular movements in some areas of the human body—then you need a cool down.
Massaging your forearms and hands or using ice and cold water to reduce possible swelling can be a very simple additional routine to include in your daily practice. Furthermore, it is proven that such techniques reduce the recovery time, resulting in better practice results the next day.
This can also give your skin a break. If you are dealing with sweat problems when playing guitar I recommend you the article: 10 ways to avoid sweaty hands when playing guitar.
Nearly three-fourths of professional musicians reported past injuries and pain that affected their playing.
Some of this pain disappears after a few days of rest. However, some injuries caused by guitar playing can be very harmful and in the worst case, they will kill your guitar career.
There are simple actions that can prevent you from injuries, such as warm-ups, good posture, breaks and other common-sense actions. The good thing is that these actions are simple and do not take much time. Even better, these actions increase your learning speed.
My advice: Reflect on your routine and consider every chapter of this article as a checklist for avoiding a guitar tragedy. Good luck!