08. May 2021 32 Comments
We all know how complex guitar picks can be. Qualities such as pick thickness, material, shape, and size define the character of a pick.
We want to help you solve one of the most difficult tasks every guitar player faces: how to choose the right guitar pick.
Guitar picks are the bridge between you and your instrument, a hidden hero in the hands of most guitarists, and the loudest amplifier in your hands. If you have a better definition, we'd love to hear it!
A guitar pick is a very personal item, and selecting the best one for you is dependent on a number of factors. There is no such thing as a perfect pick, but each pick serves a specific purpose, has strengths and weaknesses, and performs differently when used with different techniques or instruments.
The right guitar pick for you will be the pick that makes you feel most comfortable with your playing style and will meet your needs in terms of tone and control.
The right guitar pick can make you feel like a guitar hero. You just have to find it!
Guitar picks have many advantages over finger picking.
They help speed up your playing, produce a louder, brighter sound than fingers, and can be shaped to achieve better results when using different techniques like strumming, palm muting, pinch harmonics, and more.
Furthermore, certain types of guitar picks can easily change the tone. This allows you to experiment with different tones until you find the one that works for you.
There is a simple and fast way to make your guitar sound different: try another guitar pick.
The guitar pick affects not only tone but also volume, flexibility, and grip.
You will feel different grades of control and comfort depending on the guitar pick. Every pick is unique and will perform differently depending on your guitar-playing techniques, the type of guitar and type of strings, and your level of expertise.
In order to choose the right plectrum, you must understand some basic concepts.
The following are the most important attributes when it comes to guitar picks:
These characteristics define 80% of how a guitar pick will feel and perform and are the best points from which to start.
The thickness of your pick is measured in millimeters and mainly affects the tone and the flexibility.
A minimal change in the thickness of a guitar pick of only 0.2 millimeters (equal to two sheets of paper) is enough to change its properties drastically.
For most guitar players, this is considered the most important characteristic when choosing the right guitar pick, and this is the first information you will find on a product page when purchasing picks online.
Properties and techniques
● Trebbly tone
● Low dynamic range. Maximum volume is limited
● Noticeable pick noise
● Low durability
● Less control over single notes
● Flexible or stiff (depending on the material)
● Warmer tones than light picks
● Can provide high volume with the usage of hard materials
● Reduced pick noise
● More durability than thin picks
● Versatile in terms of technique and control
over 1 mm
● Warm and dark tones
● High volume and broader dynamic range
● Reduced pick noise
● More durable
● High control of single notes
Keep in mind these properties are categorized in a general way, and most of the properties will depend on aspects like material and shape.
Thin guitar picks are thinner than 0.55 mm. How did we come to this number? We performed a large survey in March 2021, which you can find here.
This type of pick is usually good for rhythm guitar but not great for lead guitar because of the lack of control when playing single notes. These picks tend to fold when plucking the strings due to their flexibility, and the maximum volume is limited as a result. This can be an advantage because it works like an analog limiter. These picks always provide a fluid sound (even if your arm does not follow).
Most beginner guitar players use thin picks because their skill set at the start is limited to strumming. However, we have discussed why medium guitar picks are actually better for beginner guitar players here.
Medium gauge guitar picks have a thickness of between 0.55 and 1 mm.
These are the most versatile guitar picks and are perfect for solo guitarists who use different techniques in the same songs (e.g., strumming, solo, palm mute).
They combine comfort, precision, rhythm, and speed of play and have the advantages of both thin and heavy thickness.
This thickness range on plectrums is the most complex of all and deserves a separate article (which you can find here).
Thick picks are over 1 mm. Since there is no limit to thickness, some players like to use “extra thick” picks, which are over 3 mm thick.
Thick picks give the guitar player more control over volume and attack on the strings. They are the favorite amongst advanced guitarists.
Advanced guitarists choose this thickness because they require precision for their high-level playing and solo parts. Game speed is guaranteed!
Because they are thicker, heavy picks produce more mellow and dark tones. A bevel edge can be created (more on this below).
Guitar picks can be made out of anything: metal, wood, plastic, and fabric. In the past, some exotic materials like bone were used to produce guitar picks.
The technological wave that came with highly specialized polymers created a new era of materials with amazing properties. Generally, the following are the main properties that a good material should have:
In addition to thickness, the material of the guitar pick will have a substantial influence on the tone, the flexibility or stiffness, the durability, and the grip.
The most common guitar pick materials are Nylon, Delrin and Celluloid. Other materials found nowadays are leather, rubber or fabric (especially for Ukuleles).
At Rombo, we decided to adapt the properties of common Nylon by changing its formula. We were able to keep the tonal properties of Nylon and improve its durability and grip. We believe we have achieved an excellent balance of sound, comfort, aesthetic properties, and durability.
Our guitar pick material is manufactured in Italy, and we discussed its properties here.
This is the first quality you’ll notice when using a pick for the first time.
Due to the high number of guitar pick makers online nowadays, there is a virtually infinite number of pick shapes. However, there are some classical shapes that need to be mentioned. Here are the four most common guitar pick shapes:
The most popular pick shape is the standard shape. Nearly every brand offers a pick in this shape and in different sizes.
They are a good starting point for beginners because of their size and their tip. The tip is neither too round nor too sharp. This means they are an all-rounder pick that can be used for almost every technique.
Nevertheless, there are some variations of this shape that include a very pointy tip and, of course, after the pick wears down, it will get a rounded tip. You can read more on durability here.
A good example of this pick is Rombo Origami.
If you are looking for precision, this may be your best choice. There are many variations of teardrop picks, but all of them have the same goal: to allow the player to get closer to the strings, providing better feedback and control.
Because of their small size, they require a certain level of control and can therefore only be used if the guitar player has learnt how to use them properly.
A good example of this pick is Rombo Jade.
Ironically, jazz-shaped guitar picks are most often used by players who love rock and metal.
These picks have gained popularity over the years. Unlike standard picks, which are designed to be versatile, jazz picks are designed to achieve two things: speed and precision.
Jazz picks typically have heavier gauges with a significant beveled edge and sharper tips. There are many different sizes, from very small (the most common type) to Jazz XL, like Rombo Diamond.
Nearly every triangle-shaped pick is an equilateral triangle (60° tip and all sizes with the same length). These picks are very popular among bass players and are usually larger than the average picks.
The practical side of this pick is that the player can play with all three corners.
A good example of a triangular pick is Rombo Prisma.
Sometimes each corner of these picks has a different thickness. We do not recommend this. You want to avoid external factors that can cause mistakes when playing guitar. Varied thickness on a pick will lead to complications.
Thе shape of the guitar pick tip іѕ one factor that рlауеrѕ оftеn оvеrlооk. Mоѕt реорlе focus on the shape and thickness and won’t think about the sharpness of the tip.
The shape of the guitar pick tip has a huge impact on the tone.
Bright tones are achieved using a pointed tip, while warm and less defined tones are produced by guitar picks with a rounded tip.
This is the main reason why guitar tones can change as picks wear down.
Tip: A beveled edge on the tip with rounded edges can promote smoother string friction, resulting in more efficient strokes and speed. More on this topic below.
The size of the pick is the most important factor when considering comfort. Because no two people are alike, this is a very personal choice. Besides, this point is strictly connected to the shape of the guitar pick.
You may find small picks make it easier to shred and play with speed. Your fingers are closer to the strings, so you feel what you are playing more. The downside to these picks is that they can be dropped easily because their total surface is smaller.
You may also discover that larger picks are easier to hold and feel more comfortable in your hand. They can provide better grip, since there is more surface in contact with your fingers. However, they can add a lot of bass to your tone because of the larger material volume.
Experiment with different sizes to determine what is most convenient for you.
Usually, the size varies between 15 and 40 mm in height.
Thickness, material, tip and body shape, and size make up 80% of a guitar pick.
However, the remaining 20% can make the playing experience much more comfortable, giving you better results and a more enjoyable experience.
The following aspects are essential to consider for those players who want to get the most out of this guitar accessory:
The grip a guitar pick offers is created by the material, the shape, the size, and the surface texture.
This is one of the most debatable aspects of guitar picks because it is quite subjective. While some players want a comfortable pick with no aggressive textures, others require the maximum possible grip to feel secure.
External aspects like sweaty hands will also directly influence grip. (If your hands sweat while playing the guitar, you can avoid this problem by following simple steps here.)
In our case, we tried to find a balance of comfort, tone, grip and durability. When designing our grip, we considered material and texture. We developed the hold area of our picks using variable thickness and 3D geometries.
If you want to go deeper on this topic, read our article entitled “Understanding Guitar Pick Grip: Essentials”
A bevel edge can be created if your guitar pick is thick enough. This means more speed and therefore more fun!
Beveled-edge guitar picks are the best option for guitar players who want to use thick, pointy tips that also produce warm, fluid tones.
Using guitar picks with beveled edges may feel strange at the beginning. The pick feels different: it slides differently, and the feedback you receive from it is different. However, after some practice, you will begin to notice that some techniques are in fact much easier.
We published an article called “The Guitar Pick: Bevel, Tip and Shape,” which discusses the relationship between these attributes.
Guitar pick thickness is important. What are the advantages of using a pick with variable thickness? Actually, there are quite a few.
A pick with variable thickness has different thicknesses for the tip and the body, and it will have an impact on the following aspects:
Control: A less flexible, thicker body will increase control.
Tone: The pick’s extra mass will produce more bass tones and therefore will have more presence.
Versatility: Since the pick is thinner than the body, more adequate techniques for thinner picks can be used with the control thick guitar picks offer.
Grip: The thicker hold area will allow the designers to create 3D geometries that enhance the grip without aggressive grip textures.
A good example of such a pick is Rombo Diamond. Its tip is 1.35 mm, whereas some areas of its body go up to 2.65 mm thick. The tilted surfaces act as a support for your fingertips.
Adding textures on the tip of the pick can slightly change the tone and sound.
The surface of the guitar pick tip can be:
We decided to implement the high mirror polished tip in our picks because of the advantages it provides in terms of noise, tone, and durability.
A guitar pick with a polished tip causes less friction between the strings and the pick, and this is the reason the pick noise is reduced and the pick lasts longer.
Durability is affected by a number of aspects, such as pick material, shape, thickness, and the gauge of your guitar strings.
Durable guitar picks are perfect for players that use aggressive techniques like shredding. I have heard of some guitar players whose pick is gone after just a few hours!
If you are a regular player using common guitar pick techniques with less than two hours of practice a day, this is not something you need to worry about.
Creating long-lasting guitar picks was one of our goals when we began making picks, and we achieved this by using an improved version of Nylon.
A point that sometimes is forgotten is that the tone of your guitar will change as guitar picks wear down. The relationship between tone, durability and wear is described in depth here.
Medium-gauge guitar picks (thicknesses between 0.55 and 1 mm) are best for beginners, despite people telling you to use thin picks.
You are at the beginning of your journey, so your tastes, preferences, or guitar types may change.
A medium guitar pick will give you the versatility you need at the beginning and will allow you to change to thin or thick picks more easily.
In our article “Medium Gauge Guitar Picks,” you can find more details about these picks and decide if they fit your profile.
Another good option is a variety pack, which contains guitar picks with different attributes. This is a good way to test several picks and track your development as you start increasing your skill for each one.
Through perseverance, patience and discipline, you have reached a guitar skill level many people dream of. Congratulations!
The guitar-learning process is a journey, and your gear choices will influence it substantially. Guitar gear won’t make you a better guitar player, but it will add more fun, more creativity, and more knowledge to the learning process.
We can’t say this often enough: Every guitar player should have at least three favorite guitar picks and, most important, know why.
As an experienced player, you probably have many different skill areas that require different gear. For example, some phrases of a song might require warm single note tones, while other songs require bright tones and lots of volume.
If every song has different requirements, why always use the same guitar pick?
We know how complex these guitar picks are.
If you are still having trouble choosing the right guitar pick, send us an email using our contact form and answer the seven questions below, and we will send you a personalized suggestion. We try to answer every email in less than 72 hours.
- Do you play electric guitar, acoustic guitar, or bass?
- What music genre do you play?
- Are you a lead guitarist, a rhythm guitarist, or both?
- Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced player?
- If you are an advanced player, what are your favorite techniques?
- Do you prefer bright or warm tones?
- Do you prefer flexible or rigid picks?
If you are a practical person, you can try by yourself and make your own judgement by getting a variety pack containing picks with varying thicknesses, shapes and sizes.
There are thousands of different guitar picks and even more types of guitar players. The possible combinations are infinite, and that’s what makes music so beautiful.
Not only is the harmony theory important for a song to be wonderful, but so is the way it is played and the way it sounds.
Here is the secret: there isn’t a right guitar pick for you. There are hundreds of them that could change your playing in a way you couldn’t imagine, so go discover them!
I wish you the best in the endless journey of experimenting with your guitar.
04. April 2021 2 Comments
Medium guitar picks are the most popular choice amongst guitarists and they offer the best of both worlds, right? Well, it is not that easy.
In our last article, “thin vs thick guitar picks”, we discussed both guitar pick thickness ranges in depth. Medium guitar picks deserve a separate analysis.
Guitar pick thickness is usually measured in millimeters and this is an attribute that can change various aspects of a pick like flexibility, tone, volume, pick noise, durability, control over single notes, and more.
The thickness of a guitar pick is for this reason considered one of the 4 fundamental attributes of a guitar pick, along with guitar pick material, shape, and size.
Medium guitar picks range in thicknesses from 0.55 and 1 mm.
The following is what a survey performed in March 2021 has shown. Thousands of guitarists were asked to define the following pick thicknesses:
With both limits established, we obtain the thickness definition of medium guitar picks.
The maximum thickness of a thin guitar pick was defined as about 0.55 mm by 2.292 guitarists.
The minimum thickness of a thick guitar pick was defined as 1 mm by 1.308 guitarists.
Medium guitar picks are guitar picks with a thickness between 0.55 and 1 mm. These guitar picks are very popular because of their versatility; in some areas, they offer the advantages of both thin and thick guitar picks.
Medium gauge picks have the broadest flexibility range. In this pick thickness interval, the material will play the most important role when it comes to defining the flexibility of a pick.
In other words, thick guitar picks are always stiff and rigid. With thicknesses over 1 mm, even the most flexible pick materials are stiff, and therefore the material has less influence on the flexibility of the pick. This relation creates a broad flexibility range amongst medium guitar picks, which can be very flexible or very stiff, depending on the material used.
The same effect can be applied to tone, durability, and pick noise.
Typically, medium guitar picks are used by lead guitarists who also implement rhythm guitar techniques and look not only for an all-round compromise between single-note melodic phrases and strumming, but also potentially developing a more versatile guitar career that integrates different techniques and mixes both worlds together.
Thin guitar picks (under 0.55 mm)
Medium guitar picks (0.55 - 1 mm)
Thick guitar picks (over 1 mm)
Medium flexibility or stiff, depending on the material.
Lighter tones, less bass
Warm tones for softer materials. Brighter tones for harder materials.
Warm/dark tones and mellow tones
Maximum volume is limited. Lower dynamic range.
Can provide high volume with the usage of hard materials.
Provide high volume. Broader dynamic range.
Guitar pick noise
Noticeable pick noise
Reduced pick noise when the pick has a variable thickness.
Reduced pick noise
Depending on the material.
Less control for single notes
Very versatile. Control of single notes is possible if the player is experienced with this type of pick.
High control of single notes
Rhythm guitar, strumming, tremolo picking, ...
Very versatile. A combination of both thin and thick guitar picks is possible if the player is experienced with this type of pick.
Lead guitar, shredding, sweep picking, ...
Common type of players
Beginners, acoustic guitar players
Most popular thickness. Medium thickness is used by beginners, intermediate and advanced guitarists.
Intermediate and advanced guitarists
This makes medium gauge guitar picks the most difficult picks to estimate without having tested them, and it is one of the reasons why we created the “guitar pick parameters” included in every product page, like in Rombo Origami.
For most beginner guitar players, medium gauge guitar picks are the best option. You are in a process in which experimenting with sounds and learning new techniques will shape your profile as a guitarist in the future.
You might change your music taste during this process or even change your guitar type. You must stay flexible and versatile to allow your skills to develop in all directions and be a more rounded guitarist.
For this, a medium guitar pick is perfect, since you will be able to try different techniques with a pick that works very well in many different areas. After you have decided the direction of your development as a guitarist, increasing or decreasing the gauge won’t be that difficult.
Therefore, this is statistically the best option to start with if you want to try different guitar learning paths.
However, there are some exceptions: Some beginner guitarists know exactly what kind of player they want to be. They know from the very beginning if their dream is to become a very technical metal player, if they prefer being an expert acoustic guitar rhythm player, or if they will focus on songwriting and not on their guitar skills.
These examples are very rare, but they exist. In this case, you might want to consider starting with a guitar pick that has been designed for the type of skills you want to improve.
If you are a beginner, this might be interesting for you: Guitar pick for beginners
Flexible but still rigid enough for note control. Right amount of flexibility for a snappy fluid attack that's bright and crisp. The concave surface on the hold area ensures ergonomic and comfortable hold.
Rombo Prisma guitar pick - 0.8 mm (available in September 2021)
A classic shape enhanced by modern surface technology. The geometry on the main body has different height levels for the most comfortable hold and grip.
Rombo Crisp guitar pick - 1 mm (available in September 2021)
Medium thickness combined with geometric concave design surfaces. The result? Unexpected flexibility with great bass tones. Its medium-sharp tip provides extra warm tones.
Each pick has a specific purpose, and you choose the pick based on the sound you want to achieve as well as other personal preferences like comfort and grip.
Medium picks are not just the picks in the middle of thick and thin guitar picks. They are a perfect approach for those guitarists looking to develop versatility and flexibility in their learning path.
Due to the high influence the material has on these picks, they are the most difficult picks to estimate before testing them, and every medium guitar pick is unique. Despite this, they are the best choice for most beginner guitarists.
However, if you have a very clear idea of the skills you want to develop in the future, you might be looking for either thin or thick guitar picks, which we discussed here.
13. March 2021 3 Comments
Thin guitar picks vs. thick guitar picks. This eternal battle has been a part of every guitarist's conversation for decades. It is time to finally evaluate both alternatives in depth.
The thickness of a guitar pick is generally measured in millimeters, and it is an attribute that influences many physical aspects like tone and flexibility. For most players, this is considered the most important attribute when choosing the right guitar pick.
However, after doing some online research, nobody seemed to really know how thick a guitar pick needs to be to be considered as a thick or heavy guitar pick. Where is the line?
Therefore, the first thing we did was to create a big online survey on our Instagram guitar community.
The survey we created was online for 24 hours on an Instagram story and the participants were asked to answer two simple questions.
This question was the first one, and its aim was to see if guitar players prefer thick or thin guitar picks. Here are the results:
It seems that over two thirds of the guitar players prefer guitar picks considered as thick. Honestly, I thought there would be a 50-50 relation and this surprised me a lot.
This was the second question, and the guitar players could select different thicknesses they considered to be the “least thickness needed for a guitar pick to be considered as thick or heavy”.
The results showed that on average, a pick must be at least about 1.0 mm to be considered as a thick guitar pick.
These results are very interesting, since the information we found during the research claimed that a pick is considered as “thick” or “heavy” if it surpasses 0.8 mm thickness. We did not find any study or survey with more participants than ours.
Of course, we have to consider that we do not have any way to track more specific characteristics of the participants like skill level, music preferences, guitar type, age, and so on.
Additional research on this topic showed that during the past decades, the average thickness of the guitar picks has increased substantially. Thin guitar picks are even considered as vintage by many players due to the tone they produce.
This is no surprise, given that most modern guitar techniques and effects that require thick picks (like shredding) were non-existent during the 1950s and 1960s.
The thickness of a guitar pick is one of the most influential attributes.
The guitar pick thickness influences:
A minimal change in the thickness of a guitar pick of only 0.2 millimeters (equal to two common paper sheets) is enough to change the properties of a guitar pick drastically.
Let's pretend there are no medium guitar picks and create a clear line that divides both thickness ranges, to make the differences between thick picks and thin picks more appreciable.
Thick / heavy guitar picks
Thin guitar picks
Warm/dark tones and mellow tones.
Lighter tones, less bass.
Provide high volume. Broader dynamic range
Maximum volume is limited. Lower dynamic range
Guitar pick noise
Reduced pick noise
Noticeable pick noise
High control of single notes
Less control for single notes
Lead guitar, shredding, sweep picking,...
Rhythm guitar, strumming, tremolo picking
Common type of players
Intermediate and advanced guitarists
Beginners, acoustic guitar players.
Thick guitar picks will provide mellower/darker tones. The common rounded edges that can be manufactured with thicknesses over 1 mm – combined with their rigidity – increase the bass tones and the volume these guitar picks can provide, while reducing the pick noise the pick produces.
These picks provide more control over single notes and are usually the best option for lead guitarists.
Most advanced guitarists prefer thick picks, because in their guitar journey they develop new guitar techniques that can be performed better using this kind of picks. Thick plectrums provide more control when it comes to single notes and complex guitar pick techniques like pinch harmonics.
One of the biggest advantages of using heavy picks is the durability they provide. Nevertheless, the lifetime of a guitar pick is influenced by many other aspects, as we learnt in the article “Durability of a guitar pick”.
Thin picks are the best option for guitarists looking for brighter tones, especially using acoustic guitars and some strumming techniques on electric guitar.
The flexibility of these picks limits the maximum volume that can be achieved. This can be an advantage because it works like an analog limiter. This is especially helpful in a studio session, where the maximum volume achieved must be controlled.
Most beginner guitar players start using thin picks because their guitar skill set at the beginning includes guitar techniques like strumming.
Note control can be difficult with thin guitar picks. However, some players use this attribute for specific guitar techniques, like in surf music, where a super fast tremolo picking is required.
Rombo Jade is the perfect example of a thick guitar pick. Thanks to its thickness, a very large bevel edge could be implemented to be as sharp as possible, providing the precision needed when using these kinds of picks.
The size is small, a typical attribute of thick guitar picks, and its shape ends with a very pointy guitar pick tip for maximum attack.
Rombo Classic is the thinnest Rombo guitar pick. In the middle, it is only 0.38 mm.
This guitar pick is extremely flexible and has a medium/large size with a standard 5 mm diameter guitar pick tip.
In spite of its thickness, the dynamic range of the pick is great. This is caused by the material used in our picks.
I am sure you already have an idea of your favorite guitar pick thickness. In case you don’t, it is probably because you are at the beginning of your guitar journey.
Is there a wrong guitar pick thickness to play guitar? Any pick you use to get sound out of your guitar can work, if the sound produced is the sound you are looking for. It is entirely a matter of personal preference.
If you are a beginner guitar player, I recommend you start with something like 0.75 mm, as I described here: "Guitar Picks for Beginners"
However, if you are an intermediate player trying to find a way to discover new guitar tones, I do not have better advice than to tell you to try many different thicknesses and start integrating other important aspects of the guitar pick in your decision, like materials, size, shape, etc...
The good news is, you will probably end up having 3 to 5 favorite guitar picks which you can use for different techniques. So, enjoy the journey and be open to experimenting with different tones and textures with your guitar!
For this chapter I included the new guitar picks, which will be officially released during 2021.
As you can see on the thickness scale, there are still some slots missing (for example something like 0.6 mm), we will be filling them in the future, as we design new guitar picks.
However, we might repeat thicknesses if other aspects change a lot, for example the shape, the sharpness of the tip, the size of the pick, or other grip textures.
Another important factor to consider is that some picks do not have constant thickness along its design. But why?
As we did our research back in 2018, we found out that designing guitar picks with variable thickness comes with many advantages.
Let's take Rombo Origami as an example: The guitar pick tip is 0.75, but its hold area is thicker. This simple change makes the pick produce darker and mellower tones without losing much of its flexibility.
In the case of Rombo Diamond, the middle area (where all vertices collide) the thickness goes up to 2.65 mm. We increased this area after experiencing that the relation between the thicknesses along the guitar pick also increases the control over the pick for single notes.
In addition, with more thickness on a given material, you have more possibilities to introduce design elements, like the 3D geometries we use in our picks. These geometries have two positive effects: on one side, they enhance the grip of the pick because of the tilted surfaces, and on the other side, the guitar picks look very cool!
In short, variable thickness will make your picks more versatile and give you extra control.
Thick picks vs. thin picks will remain a hot, trendy topic in the guitar community.
However, if you are already an intermediate player with some knowledge about equally important aspects of a guitar pick like shape or material, spread the word to avoid confusion among the newcomers.
We have already discussed the huge variety of different guitar picks you can find online in our article “Guitar picks online” since this can be overwhelming for some beginners.
The best advice I can give you: love both thin and thick picks and try to understand why they are different. Both need to exist in a world where creativity and different tones and styles are needed!
Now it’s your turn, what is your favorite guitar pick thickness?
25. October 2020 7 Comments
Guitar pick noise can’t be avoided completely. Especially while recording acoustic guitar, plectrums tend to create a lot of click and clack sounds and noises that can ruin your playing experience as well as your listeners’.
As you learn how to play the guitar better, you will reach a point where you want to focus on transmitting emotion, playing with impact, and enhanced dynamic control.
In order to master your guitar techniques, you must have total control of every sound produced by your guitar; intended and unintended.
Personally, I think pick noise is a part of the guitar playing, and I even enjoy some vintage recordings where the guitar pick noise seems to be present almost on purpose. However, for most of the occasions, you want to eliminate it.
We have summarized all the tips and tricks we think can help you reduce the noise when playing with a guitar pick. Enjoy it!
Guitar picks create noise when plucking your strings. Holding your guitar pick more loosely will help a lot, since your fingers absorb some of the energy when the pick hits the strings.
We have published an article called “How to hold a guitar pick”, which contains everything you need to know to master this trick.
If you are recording your tracks, one thing that can help is to add some more volume to your instrument in relation to the others. This is a common method used in studios that helps the guitar players to relax.
Whether you are planning a studio session, a jam with your friends, or some solo relax sessions at home, a conscious warm-up before playing guitar is mandatory.
The angle of the guitar pick in relation to the strings is the most discussed element when it comes to guitar pick noise.
Basically, the less pick is in contact with your guitar strings, the less noise it produces. Angle the pick slightly to the strings.
Try different angles when plucking your string. This will require a conscious adjustment from your side, but once mastered will allow you to vary the attack of the pick more easily.
Depending on the guitar pick you are using, the music style and guitar techniques you use, and your skill level, you will need a different attack angle, so focus 30 minutes on trying to find the best one for you and get used to playing this way.
Sometimes you are playing and the flow starts, you mentally leave the room and enter “the zone”, that beautiful place where you sound better than usual.
We get so much into the music, that we just naturally pick harder.
Excessive picking force is one of the most common causes of guitar pick noise. In addition, it can choke out the sustain and cause the notes you are playing to decay in a much less natural way.
The material of the guitar picks not only affects the tone, but also the noise the plectrum creates.
Nylon is considered to be one of the least noisy formulas when it comes to industrial materials used for guitar picks.
This is due to the toughness of this compound, which thanks to its mechanical properties, is able to absorb heavy impacts efficiently.
At Rombo, we are using a modified version of nylon, which adds some extra durability and prolongs the lifespan of the guitar picks. This was necessary since nylon guitar picks wear down very quickly. You can learn more about the materials here.
If you are not sure if you are using the right guitar pick, a good option is a variety pack, which contains guitar picks with different attributes. This is a good way to test several picks and track your development as you start increasing your skill for each one.
As a rule of thumb, you can estimate that heavier picks will be less noisy, which sounds kind of contradictory. But, why is that?
Using very thin picks in combination with fast-playing, like strumming, will cause the picks to bend as they leave the guitar strings, creating a kind of click noise. This happens especially when playing acoustic guitar, since the body of the guitar will act as an amplifier for that sound.
Heavier picks will let each string make its own noise without much unwanted accompaniment.
The variable thickness, included in all our guitar picks, not only improves the control but also reduces the noise. The body of the plectrum is thicker and stiff, while the tip is thinner and more flexible. With this feature, the overall flexibility of the tip is reduced while conserving its original thickness and material. This means more control and less noise.
Thick vs. thin guitar picks. In this article, we discuss all the aspects that make a difference.
Guitar picks with a beveled edge will slide better and cause less noise. In combination with the angle of attack we already mentioned, they can help you reduce the pick noise a lot.
Also, the shape and size of the pick are important, but this is more a matter of preference.
We have frequently discussed the impact a polished tip has on the tone and durability of a guitar pick.
A polished tip also slides quite easily over the edge of the guitar string. On the other hand, guitar picks with a rougher texture on the tip, will produce more treble response even when played on the edge. This also happens when the picks start to wear down.
However, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, some purist guitarists even prefer the pick to create noises and they included it extra in their recordings.
Very experienced live players that don’t have much studio experience sometimes do not reflect enough on all the little nuances on their playing.
A good exercise to avoid this is to record yourself. It is amazing how much we miss when we get into the zone. You will notice pick noise when listening to your tracks and it is much easier to identify critical areas than while you are playing.
If you play acoustic guitar, try to locate the microphone(s) in different locations, you will discover how much of a difference it can make in terms of guitar pick noise.
We can’t eliminate pick noise completely, but there is enough to do to improve our playing and reduce it substantially.
The best way to reduce pick noise is to be aware of it and reflect on your playing to improve your skills and try different picks for different styles and guitar types.
If you discover a new way to reduce the pick noise, please let us know so we can include it in the article!
27. September 2020 5 Comments
This article was created because you asked for it. It is meant to be as transparent as possible, so that you can see who the faces behind Rombo are and how we organize this project internally.
We hope you enjoy it!
Since 2019, Rombo has been researching surface finish and design in order to find the perfect balance between grip, ergonomics, and function in guitar picks and other guitar accessories. Rombo was born thanks to an amazing guitar player community whose aim is to continue this adventure and quest for the perfect guitar accessories.
We are Judith and Carlos, a happily married couple trying to innovate in the world of guitar picks. We live near Stuttgart, Germany.
We both love music, guitars, product development, challenges, and attention to detail, so Rombo was the perfect excuse to mix all these things together and have some amazing adventures.
From Remseck, near Stuttgart in Germany, we do almost everything.
Here, we receive the packaging and the dots we use to fix the guitar picks to the packaging. We try to be very organized and keep the place very tidy. Tidy places also look better for photographs!
In the shipping station, there is one tray for every guitar pick model. We also include a flyer and a “thank you”-card with every delivery. This way we make the experience more personal, while sharing our journey of packing your guitar picks directly with you!
We have a label printer, which is super useful, and thankfully our web system allows us to automate the printing for every customer and create a label with just one click.
Our post carrier receives the boxes from us with all the information they need to bring our products to you, including weight, countries, and import information for the customs.
We ship every order directly from our location.
The envelopes we use are not very cheap, but they protect the product well, they are made of 100% recycled paper and they are plastic free.
We have to be very multifaceted to cover all the tasks we do, from idea generation, product development, graphic design, photography, web maintenance, logistics, social media, packaging development, and accounting, to all the stuff a start-up involves.
We believe that doing everything by ourselves gives us a very close perspective from the customer side.
This means, when you ask something on Instagram or Facebook, you receive an e-mail from us, or we answer your comment. It is us behind the screen typing every word and every smiley!
We love walking a lot. We go for a walk for 5 kilometres almost everyday. Almost every idea we applied to Rombo was created while having a walk. We called it our daily inspiration walk.
Two years ago, at the very beginning of this journey, we could not have imagined how many things we needed to learn!
We have encountered many challenges on the way; for example, I remember it was very difficult to find out how to sell internationally and establish a system that is fast enough for us.
I cannot tell how many books on startups, online marketing, Kickstarter or time management we have read! One of the most useful ones was A Crowdfunder's Strategy Guide: Build a Better Business by Building Community, by Jamey Stegmeier.
A funny anecdote is that Judith and I don’t have our own Instagram profiles. For the first post from Rombo, we had to check out a tutorial on Youtube to try to understand the process. I am glad to say that two years later, we have reached almost 20K followers!
PS: We still don’t have our own accounts, the one for Rombo is enough work! :)
The most complex part is the design process of a guitar pick.
I like to sketch a lot, so I have lots of old ideas and sketches which I use as an inspiration source. Sometimes, we use questions to challenge the design process, like “Is it possible to create a guitar pick that is flexible and rigid at the same time?” While trying to answer this question, we came up with the idea of “variable thickness”, which has proven to substantially increase ergonomics.
Since we have an engineering & design background, we also do the modeling in 3D and product engineering. Every detail is important here to create high-quality products.
When we think the design is ready, we create some prototypes and send them to the testers. If you follow us on social media you will know some of the testers from our stories.
In total, we have about 30 guitar players that help us during this phase of the project and communicate with us which points they liked or didn’t like. Thanks to their feedback, we are able to improve areas of the guitar picks which we would otherwise not have thought of.
For the manufacturing of our guitar picks on a large scale, we use a technology called injection molding.
In this process, the melted raw material is injected into a mold with the negative shape of the guitar picks.
It is a very complex process with lots of engineering in it, the material has to be treated in a special way to keep the proper humidity, temperature and pressure, and to avoid external contaminations.
On the left, the injection mould from Rombo Diamond: Our polimer flows through the mould runner (yellow arrows) after it reaches over 270°C degrees and it is pushed forward.
The red area is the area we use for the grip texture. The blue area is high mirror polished.
On the right: The first ever produced Rombo Origami from 30.11.2018. The first 50 guitar picks we produced were sent to guitar pick testers who gave us feedback about the material, the grip, the tone and the shape.
The raw material we use is produced in Italy. We have worked very closely with our material partner to accomplish every requirement we had, including the 100% recycled material of the EcoBlack sets. If you want to know more about the materials we are using, you can find more information HERE.
We believe packaging is a very important aspect of a product. We not only use it to create an atmosphere and emphasize the quality of the product, but also to inform you about the attributes of our guitar picks.
This is the reason we created packaging with lots of printable areas to describe the guitar picks. We include our parameter bars, a short description of the guitar pick, the 6 special attributes of a Rombo guitar pick, and a QR-code with extra information.
We had a total of about 6 different concepts before we decided which one was the most suitable.
Right now, we are creating the packaging layouts for the new models that will launch in 2021. We have received some samples and they look great!
If you want to see the new models, you can click HERE.
Carlos takes the pictures for social media. We are not very skilled with the camera, but we have learned a couple of tricks and after thousands of trials, we are able to take decent pictures in our living room.
In our Instagram you can find the best pictures.
You have probably noticed that our posts on Instagram are mainly informative. Guitar picks are often underrated and most guitar players don’t think much about it.
However, guitar picks are the loudest amplifier you can have in your hands and are the bridge between you and your guitar.
We try to pass the know-how we have obtained directly to you, so you can make conscious decisions about the products you purchase. Aspects like the variations on the tone depending on guitar pick thickness, or why are there so many guitar pick shapes and materials… And this is the reason we created our blog articles.
Our aim is to create a communication process that goes back and forth between us. Some of you have become friends of ours and have won a new perspective of thinking about guitar picks.
“To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.” – François de La Rochefoucauld, essayist.
We believe we have one of the most engaged communities ever! We try to answer every comment and every private message, and we are sure we have an answer rate very close to 100%.
You all have participated in surveys, and you have left amazing comments and reviews. You post stories regularly and we have had very deep conversations with some of you! Thank you!
Rombo is expanding. We are working with dealers around the world and currently we have sellers in the following countries:
This means, with the help of our dealers we are able to sell in Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, almost every country of South America, and South Africa.
Transparent communication with our dealers is a priority with us, and so far 100% of the new sellers stay with us! Together we are developing the brand and taking it to the next step.
During our inspiration walks, we talk about Rombo in the next few years. It is very difficult to imagine what the future will bring.
We would like to bring new designs (lots of them!), to increase the amount of recycled material for the manufacturing of the picks, or even be able to create colored recycled guitar picks. We want to talk more to our customers and share our experiences, and from time to time, share some great music and playlists.
We are only two people and every step takes its time. Some of you have written beautiful thank you letters to us or left very good reviews and we want to let you know that we are working hard everyday not to disappoint you :)
You are the best and you have a vote on the future of Rombo!
14. June 2020 5 Comments
The guitar pick has been in constant evolution since the 1920s.
Today, 100 years later, we have achieved great accomplishments in the area of durability of this very important piece of guitar gear.
In this article, we will review all the important points that can cause picks to wear out, and summarize all you need to know about guitar pick durability.
We will make some comments on the tone, to help control the changes, which happen after a guitar pick has worn down.
In addition, we will give some advice to keep your picks “healthier“, longer than expected.
We all know that using different guitar picks, will also make a difference in your tone, and your playing. Material, shape, thickness and shape of the pick, directly affect the tone and playability.
Most standard plectrums can resist heavy strumming for a long time, without much wear and tear.
The first thing you may notice after using a guitar pick for some weeks, is that the tip is not as pointy as the new guitar pick. You will see it, and you will hear it, because the tone of the pick will change over time, with wear.
The rounded shape of the worn down plectrum, will create warmer tones, and feel darker. This is totally fine, if this is the tone you are looking for.
It will also affect the way your plectrum plucks the strings:
Just like the guitar strings, the frets, & other components, the guitar picks will wear out over time.
Some players feel a lack of control after the guitar pick has worn down, while others use the rounder picks because of the tone they produce. This especially happens to jazz guitarists, who tend to choose picks that are almost circular, for example: Rombo Waves.
Gaining control when using rounder guitar picks, is an ability you can train yourself to do, and improve.
Guitar strings are usually made from a mix of steel, nickel, bronze, or brass. In other words: Metals.
Since most players use some kind of plastic material for their guitar picks, (nylon, delrin, …), it’s not surprising that friction between strings and picks will cause the guitar picks to wear down.
You will notice, the thickest guitar strings have a spiral wire wrapped-around, acting like a sanding file on the plectrum.
The short answer: If you are an average user, your picks should last a few weeks to a month. If you are a professional player, using specific techniques, like heavy picking and strumming, it will probably last just one day, especially if you are a studio musician recording new tracks every day.
The long answer: This answer includes many factors including guitar pick attributes, and external factors, regardless of the guitar pick you are using. We discuss all of them below.
The attributes that define the durability of a guitar pick are as follows:
Harder materials will wear down slower. This is one of the reasons there has been a lot of research in the area of suitable materials for guitar picks.
The goal is to find a wear-resistant material, that keeps the tone characteristics that guitar players want, while still giving a good grip.
However, material is not all. The thickness of a guitar pick will enormously affect the wear and tear. Thinner picks will wear down almost immediately when using heavy pick techniques.
Other attributes of the pick that affect the durability, are the Tip Shape, and the Tip Texture. Very pointed guitar tips tend to wear down faster, because there is less material on the tip.
However, this problem can be partially solved with the right guitar pick tip texture. A polished tip on the guitar pick will cause less friction between strings and plectrum. This is one of the most underrated attributes of a guitar pick, and you can find more information HERE.
Results show, that the best way of altering and degrading the shape of your plectrums is to perform “pick slides”.
This guitar technique will wear away the edges of your plectrum and will make it useless very quickly.
This won’t directly affect the tone or control of the plectrum, but the damaged sides will contain some dents. The plectrum will get stuck either on the up stroke or the down stroke.
It’s not only the guitar pick quality that is responsible for its‘ damage. There are three more factors that can play a role on the durability:
It is a very simple equation: The more hours you practice, the more your picks will get damaged.
Thicker guitar strings will increase the area of contact with your plectrum, and therefore, wear it down much faster.
Aggressive guitar playing techniques, like fast palm mute, or pick slides, will damage your guitar pick very easily.
The best way to find out, is to test it, and make your own judgment.
You can take advice of expert players, who have tested lots of guitar picks. However, if their playing styles differ from yours, this information won’t help much.
Besides, many expert players have not changed their picks for decades, and they might be missing the material improvements of the last decade.
As mentioned, not only is durability a factor to take into account when choosing a guitar pick, but also the tone and the ergonomics (grip, size,...).
If the edges of your pick are becoming more rounded, you might start to consider purchasing a new one.
However, never throw away your worn-down guitar picks! The rounded edges can be used to create more mellow tones, and you might want these for some of your songs.
One of the most important things about playing the guitar, is to keep your mind open to new tones and styles. This is the reason some guitar picks have rounded tips even when they are new.
In addition, you can store your old guitar picks in a box. I wish I still had my first guitar pick, that I used, when I was learned to play guitar as a child. A guitar pick can be a beautiful piece of your past.
A tip from my side, is to double check every guitar pick before going out on stage, or studio. A visual inspection is fine.
Always keep some unused plectrums aside. Considering plectrums are probably the least expensive gear of your complete guitar rig, constant wear and tear issues is not a thing you should worry about.
Are you using the right pick? This is a question you should ask yourself every time you play a song.
Some players have their 5-favourites, depending on the style and type of guitar they want to play.
The most important factors when choosing the right plectrum for you hinges on….
We created a guide that will help you find the right plectrum for you.
You can find it HERE.
The support we are getting from the guitar community makes us very happy!
We, (Carlos and Judith), are really doing our best to create the best guitar picks for you.
If you consider supporting a small family start-up, you can share this article and directly have an influence on our online visibility.
These small actions have helped us since January 2019, and we count on your support! :)
19. December 2019 1 Comment
Guitar picks can really be made out of anything. In the past, some exotic materials were used to produce guitar picks.
The technological wave that came with highly specialized polymers created a new era of materials with amazing properties.
The material of a guitar pick is strictly connected to its flexibility and tone. It is hard to imagine that such a small piece can have a big impact on playability.
However, you will clearly notice some sound differences when testing a couple of different guitar picks.
Luckily, these small useful gems are the cheapest guitar accessory you can acquire, allowing you to test many guitar pick models.
When it comes to guitar picks, changing the properties of a material is not an easy task.
Flexible guitar pick materials can create mellow and warm tones when using specific guitar techniques. However, they can also achieve brighter tones when holding the pick very closely to the pointy tip or “attack area”. This is the reason they have been the go-to choice for guitarists for decades.
Stiff guitar pick materials can create a snappier, bright tone that can be very delightful, provide more volume and more clarity to your chords and solo notes. These picks are often used for more specific guitar techniques by lead guitarists.
Thickness, shape and size will play an important role too!
Flexible guitar pick materials can create mellow, warm tones. However, when using plectrum thicknesses over 1 mm, the tone will get darker and heavier. This can be used to create the feeling of having more “bass” in your instrument. The same effect happens with the size. The more material you have, the heavier the sound will be.
We have a guide to find your guitar pick HERE. You will learn how these 4 attributes (material, shape, size, and thickness) are connected.
Every guitarist has different preferences. Throughout our development, we have involved as many professional guitarists as possible, and asked them to define how their perfect material should feel.
We came to the following conclusions. The guitar pick material should:
With these premises, we started our long journey: the search for a suitable material.
After lots of tests, feedback rounds and sending dozens of pick prototypes around the globe to our guitar pick testers, we think we`ve found it!
We are using a thermoplastic polymer that belongs to the family of the polyamides. This material is used in aerospace and automobile industries and has the following properties:
The raw material we use is produced in Italy. We have worked very closely with our material partner to accomplish every requirement we had, including the 100% recycled material of the EcoBlack sets.
We believe we have achieved an excellent balance between, sound, comfort, aesthetic properties, and durability.
Combined with well-thought ergonomic designs, different textures, and very good quality control of the process, this material can accomplish all 5 premises we defined above.
We are also experimenting with recycled materials. In our “ECO-Black" range, we offer the same material formula, but use 100% recycled material from pre-consumer waste.
In this product range, the guitar picks are only available in Graphite Black. Currently, this is the only color we can produce when using this compound.
In addition, during compound manufacturing, there are 90% less emissions, 65% energy reduction, and a 61% reduction of total resources.
We will continue our hard work in this area and someday in the future, we will be able to create colored guitar picks out of this material. When this day comes, all of our guitar picks will be 100% recycled.
Read more about the Eco-Black range and the recycled guitar picks in our article "ROMBO Unveils New “Eco-Black Range Guitar Pick Models".
Finding a material you feel comfortable with is not an easy task, but you will have lots of fun along the way.
We believe material development is fundamental to ensure a future of plenty of functional, good-looking and environmentally friendly materials.
Share this article with friends to help us with our mission: vote for development, for the implementation of new ideas and for questioning deep-rooted standards to find something better.
24. November 2019 1 Comment
In our article “How to choose the right guitar pick”, I summarized the aspects you should care about and consider when deciding which plectrum to use.
In this article, we will discuss the characteristics of a guitar pick we must pay attention to in order to make the playing experience much more comfortable and obtain better results. These aspects are not as obvious as others but are essential to get the most out of this incredible musical instrument.
Grippy, non-sticky surfaces are perfect for the hold area on a guitar pick. The best way to achieve this is to create a texture, that fits between the grooves of your skin and prevents the guitar pick from slipping or creating an aggressive grip geometry that hurts the fingers of the guitarist.
A guitar pick with a polished tip allows you to experience better control and less friction. In this way, reduced friction between the plectrum and the strings of the guitar will help increase the durability of the pick because it will wear less and reduce its noise.
One of the less common characteristics in guitar picks is variable thickness. It is ideal for the guitar pick to be thick for better control; however, this could significantly reduce its flexibility.
For that reason, plectrums of variable thickness have been created, since this would give us the best of both aspects.
That is to say, we could have a guitar pick with a solid, thick body that gives us better grip. Additionally, it features a thinner tip that provides enough flexibility to achieve greater versatility when developing different guitar techniques.
Read more about the advantages of using a guitar pick with variable thickness in our article "5 advantages of a guitar pick with variable thickness"
By following ergonomic models, the surface of the pick can be adapted to be comfortable, provide well-being and does not hurt the guitarist's fingers. It is advisable to look for picks with a 3D surface (those that are not flat) that have geometric patterns that offer a pleasant feeling to the grip. Similarly, we can take advantage of concave or convex surfaces, as they help keep the position of the plectrum oriented and avoid losing control in turning movements.
If your hands do an arduous job, then you must give them the right tools, right? Many people spend a lot of money on fancy guitars, cables, amplifiers, and other accessories but set aside the pick. This is a big mistake.
The material with which it is made can influence the definition of tone, attack, and flexibility. Therefore, without paying attention to it, you could hardly find your personal sound.
Are you curious about the materials used for the Rombo guitar picks?
Read a full article about it here:
If you want to project an image with your own style, you must pay close attention to the design of your implements. To do this, you can try all the shapes and colors of guitar picks available in the market. Just imagine having one with an incredible appearance that is also very functional.
In short, all aspects are subjective and depend on each person. Nevertheless, knowing such valuable information can expand our possibilities and options to choose the guitar pick that best suits our needs.
Tell us if you think this data can help you during the learning process of playing guitar and let us know if there are any other details about guitar picks that you think we should consider.
PS: Remember, you should share your skills with the world. In the article, “MUSIC AND DIY GENERATION”, I explain how the Internet community of guitarists helped me understand the importance of sharing my work.
03. November 2019 9 Comments
Rombo Picks has unveiled a new series of plectrums made out of 100% recycled waste. The material is not only environmentally friendly, but also has high mechanical strength and stiffness, excellent impact resistance and superior aesthetic properties.
Rombo uses this material for its Eco-Black range. In this range, all four guitar pick models are available only in Graphite Black, which is one of the properties of the recycled material. Each pick has been carefully developed for a concrete purpose.
For this reason, the Rombo team has redefined the four attributes of a guitar pick: shape, thickness, material and size.
Since 2019 Rombo has been researching surface finish and design in order to find the perfect balance between grip, ergonomics and function in guitar picks. Rombo was born thanks to an amazing guitar player community whose aim is to continue this adventure and quest for the perfect guitar pick.
We have a full article about the materials used for the manufacturing of the Rombo guitar picks here:
Did you found this article useful? Please share it with your friends!
Do you think these features are important attributes for guitar picks?
What do you think about the material we are using for this range?