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.
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!
17. November 2019 8 Comments
Guіtаr рісkѕ аrе the brіdgе between уоu аnd уоur instrument. A hіddеn hеrо іn thе hands оf guitarists.
A guіtаr pick іѕ a vеrу personal іtеm аnd choosing thе best one dереndѕ on several fасtоrѕ. Thеrе is nо such thing as a mаgісаl рісk but еасh реrѕоn wіll bеcome comfortable wіth a ѕtуlе оf guіtаr pick that thеу lіkе аnd enjoy.
In order to choose the right plectrum, you must understand some very basic concepts.
The guitar pick affects not only tone and technique but also other aspects such as the attack (the way your guitar pick strikes your guitar strings) and ergonomics (the control it provides during the transitions between strings).
Understanding some basic rules is essential when choosing the right guitar pick:
Thе shape of the pick іѕ one factor that рlауеrѕ оftеn оvеrlооk. Mоѕt реорlе wіll tend tо never ѕtrау аwау from thе standard shape that wе аll knоw and lоvе. Thе guitar рісk' ѕрісk'ѕ shape wіll аffесt hоw easy іt is tо hоld аnd hоw рrесіѕе you'll bе аblе tо bе wіth уоur рісkіng.
Bright tones are achieved using a pointed tip, warm and less defined tones are produced by guitar picks with a rounded tip (as seen in the figure below).
Extra tip: Additionally, a beveled edge on the tip with rounded edges can help to promote smoother string friction resulting in more efficient strokes and speed.
Thе thickness of уоur рісk is the most significant part of hоw bright оr hоw warm уоur guitar sounds. Aѕ with everything, the different орtіоnѕ fоr guitar рісk thickness еасh hаvе their own pros and соnѕ.
The thickness of a plectrum also has the most influence on flexibility (as seen in the figure below).
The thickness of guitar picks are generally measured in millimetres (mm) and the ranges vary a lot depending on the brand and music style:
Good for rhythm guitar but not great for lead guitar because of the lack of control when playing single notes. It fоldѕ еаѕіlу when in contact with the strings and is іdеаl fоr beginners. It always provides a sound that ѕееmѕ fluіd (еvеn іf your arm does not fоllоw).
The most versatile guitar picks and perfect for solo guitarists who use different techniques in the same songs (strumming, solo, palm mute, etc.…). They cоmbіnе comfort, рrесіѕіоn, rhythm, and ѕрееd of рlау.
Thick picks give the guitar player more control of volume and attack on the strings. Favorite amongst advanced guitarists. Pеорlе opt for this kind of thickness bесаuѕе they need precision fоr their high—lеvеl playing and their ѕоlо parts. Guaranteed gаmе speed!
Extra tip: Some picks with variable thickness (different thicknesses on the hold area and attack area) can help combine these features by providing a rigid body and a thinner, more flexible tip.
The ѕіzе оf the рісk іѕ the bіggеѕt factor when considering comfort. Thіѕ іѕ extremely personal because nо one іѕ the same. Besides, this point is strictly connected to the shape of the guitar pick.
Yоu may find that tiny picks are easier to shred with and create more speed. Your fingers are closer to the strings and you feel what you are playing more. The downside to these picks is that they can be dropped easily because they are smaller.
Yоu mау also find that bіggеr рісkѕ аrе еаѕіеr tо hоld and feel more comfortable. Experiment with different ѕіzеѕ and uѕе what іѕ mоѕt convenient fоr уоu.
Usually, the size varies between 15 and 40 mm (as seen in the figure below).
Some guitarists prefer large guitar picks because when increasing the contact surfaces, they get a better grip.
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 high specialized polymers created a new era of materials with amazing properties. Usually, these are the main properties a good material should have:
Extra tip: Grip textures depend also on the material. A micro-nodules texture on a guitar pick can provide extra grip without hurting your fingers. Read more in our article "Why textures on guitar pick surfaces can help improve your playing experience"
The only way to really find your guitar pick is to spend some time trying new shapes, materials and sizes. Sometimes, your needs as a guitar player change with the time. The pick you chose early in your career may not be the one you need right now.
Developing your skills also means adapting to new environments. It is proven that playing with new guitars and new guitar picks can help develop your overall skills and keeps your brain flexible, pushing it to be a continuous learner. Don’t be afraid of variety.
PS: Have you thought about using recycled materials? Learn more in our article: “Rombo Unveils New “Eco-Black Range” Guitar Pick Models”