26. May 2021 6 Comments
In our article “How to choose the right guitar pick,” we did a deep analysis on the qualities you should consider when deciding which plectrum to use.
In this article, we will discuss the most important characteristics needed in a guitar pick in order to make the playing experience as comfortable as possible and obtain the best results. These characteristics are not as obvious as others but are essential to getting the most out of this accessory.
The Cambridge Dictionary says premium is “used to refer to something that is of higher than usual quality."
Therefore, a premium guitar pick will exceed in qualities like material, shape or texture and will provide a playing experience that’s above average in terms of precision, durability, comfort, tone, or other areas.
Put simply, a premium guitar pick will perform better than regular picks.
Reducing the definition of a guitar pick to its basic intrinsic features, it is easy to understand how to improve certain areas.
For example, it is logical to conclude that better materials will have an impact on the guitar pick’s tone and durability.
Also, with the help of basic ergonomic and design laws, you can create a shape that enhances grip or slides better. The key is to know what you are looking for.
Back in 2018, with the help of a number of professional guitar players, we defined the requirements the Rombo picks had to achieve:
With these premises, we started a journey to identify the qualities that would provide an above-average experience in every area.
Grippy, non-sticky surfaces are perfect for the guitar pick’s hold area. 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 is uncomfortable for long practice sessions.
When developing the grip texture, our focus was to create a type of grip that allows the player to maintain flexibility and freedom along with a feeling of security and control.
More information on guitar pick grip can be found here.
A guitar pick with a polished tip allows the player to experience more control and less friction. Reduced friction between the plectrum and the strings of the guitar will increase the durability of the pick because it will wear less and reduce its noise.
Noise reduction is a feature especially useful for recording studio tracks.
Furthermore, a polished tip produces more clear individual tones, a requirement for some guitar techniques such as sweep picking.
One of the less common characteristics in guitar picks is variable thickness. It is ideal for the pick to be thick for better control; however, this could significantly reduce its flexibility.
For that reason, plectrums of variable thickness have been created, giving us the best of both worlds.
That is to say, we could have a guitar pick with a solid, thick body that gives us better grip and control. Additionally, it features a thinner tip that provides enough flexibility to achieve greater versatility when developing various guitar techniques.
Remember that an increase in the thickness of only two sheets of paper will substantially reduce the pick’s flexibility!
Read more about the advantages of using a guitar pick with variable thickness here.
By following ergonomic models, the surface of the pick can be adapted to feel more comfortable and also look great.
Similarly, we can take advantage of concave or convex surfaces, as they help keep the plectrum’s position oriented and avoid losing control in turning movements.
The shape is also closely connected to the tone of the guitar pick. Just like with the design of a surfboard, you need a specific shape to optimize your energy when catching a wave. The same effect is caused when the guitar pick plucks the strings; different shapes will produce different results.
If your hands are doing an arduous job, then they deserve the best tools, right? Many people spend a lot of money on guitars, amplifiers, strings, and other accessories, but they overlook the guitar pick. This is a big mistake.
The material with which the pick is made can influence the tone, attack, flexibility, durability, and many other aspects. Therefore, without paying attention to it, you can hardly find your personal sound.
Are you curious about the materials used for the Rombo guitar picks? Read a full article on the topic here.
The design of everything you own is a way of expressing yourself and defining your personal style.
When it comes to guitar picks, functionality is everything. This is the reason we have spent so much time integrating beautiful geometric patterns that also fulfill the functional requirements for every technique.
In short, guitar picks are personal items that are bound to subjective perceptions. However, some aspects are measurable and can be improved to fulfill requirements that every guitarist needs.
Don’t overestimate this small piece of gear.
Not sure what is the right guitar pick for you? Let us help you 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?
16. February 2021 1 Comment
The grip of a guitar pick is one of the most controversial topics when it comes to guitars.
Different materials or shapes of guitar picks make this topic as interesting as confusing to many guitar players.
Everyone is different and everyone plays differently. However, we (guitarists) have the same goal in this area: have a decent guitar pick grip and play as comfortably as possible.
Grip is defined as “a firm strong hold”.
The grip of a guitar pick should be good enough to avoid the slipping of the pick, the turning of the pick, or (worst case!) the dropping of the pick. In addition, it should be able to give you enough flexibility and freedom to change the position of the pick when needed.
The grip is mainly caused by the material and the texture of the surface. Nevertheless, there are other aspects like overall size or 3D geometries that can substantially increase how firmly a guitar pick can be held.
Guitar picks with a high grip can help to keep your pick from slipping. These guitar picks “stick” to your fingers even when you play aggressive guitar techniques.
They are also known for providing a feeling of secure hold and control. Your hand will need less tension to hold the pick and this will help to relax your muscles.
We have already discussed how important it is to have relaxed muscles when practicing guitar in our article “7 easy warm ups every guitar player should know”.
The biggest advantage is their usage in live performances, where control and security is essential to play correctly every chord. However, they can still drop and get (instantly) lost. Therefore we suggest having a couple of extra picks with quick access somewhere on the stage or to use a Guitar Pick Holder.
Although guitar picks with high grip feel very secure, this feature often comes with some disadvantages. The aggressive grip surface can feel uncomfortable or even damage your skin. This is a common problem for professional guitarists training over 2 hours a day.
The high grip sticks to the fingers and this eliminates some of the freedom you have when moving your pick on purpose, for example when you change its position to execute pick slides or harmonic pinches.
Depending on the type of guitar you play, your music style and techniques, or how sweaty your hands are when you play the guitar, you will need a different type of grip texture.
These are the most common grip textures on guitar picks:
Maximum grip. Very aggressive texture. Can be uncomfortable for long playing sessions.
High grip. Aggressive texture. Can feel uncomfortable for long playing sessions.
Medium grip. Comfortable texture and adequate for long playing sessions.
More information about this grip texture can be found here.
Medium grip. Sometimes uncomfortable when holding the pick very tight.
Some players use tape or make scratches on the pick surface to create a custom experience.
As mentioned before, not only material and textures can create grip on guitar picks. There are two factors that are usually unknown and can be very helpful to increase the grip.
3D geometries are an underestimated way to increase grip on guitar picks. The concave and convex surfaces will create a very defined position of the guitar pick and avoid the turning of the pick without the drawbacks of aggressive textures.
In addition, correctly tilted surfaces will use your fingers as support or pivots when moving the pick on purpose.
At Rombo, we believe this is the future of guitar picks and we are increasing our efforts in this area.
One very visible example of this is Rombo Crisp.
The shape and size of a guitar pick are essential to increase the grip. The larger the surface, the more contact it will have with your fingers, and therefore the more friction it will create.
The best example for this are bass players that use picks. The strings of the bass are very thick and with every impact, the pick must be held very firmly. Most bass players use big sized triangle picks or teardrop picks with enough surface on the body.
This is an external factor and not intrinsically dependent on the guitar pick. However, I decided to include it because of the number of players having trouble with this issue and not being aware of it.
If you feel you cannot hold the guitar pick firmly and some techniques make the pick slip or drop, you should question how you hold a guitar pick before you question the grip provided by the pick.
For these people, we created an article called “How to hold a guitar pick”, which can be found here.
The absolute guitar pick grip of our picks is determined by four factors:
The combination of these factors creates a medium-high grip, which is still comfortable enough for long playing sessions and adequate for live performances.
When developing the grip, our focus was to create a type of grip which allows the player to keep enough flexibility and freedom, as well as providing a high feeling of security and control.
With the material, we made no compromises and chose a very improved version of nylon manufactured in Italy. We have discussed its properties here.
It is up to you to find a balance between comfort and grip. Some players prefer non-sticky guitar picks, others need the maximum grip available.
Depending on your playing style, your hours of practice, and the environment (solo, studio, live, ...), you might need different guitar pick grips for different occasions.
Personally, I put comfort at the top of my priorities when it comes to guitar playing. Once I get used to a guitar pick, the grip is a secondary aspect to take into account. If I choose a comfortable holding I can put my attention on other aspects like tone or attack.
There are many different levels of guitar pick grip depending on the material, the textures, the size, and other secondary aspects.
The greatest guitar players use different picks for different occasions or instruments, and we recommend having at least 3 favorite guitar picks to vary things like tone, attack, grip or flexibility, and become a more versatile guitar player with the ability to adapt yourself to different environments.
Choosing the right guitar pick grip is a journey every guitar player will experience. I hope you enjoy the journey and try lots of different and interesting types of guitar picks!
31. May 2020 6 Comments
You have probably heard this question many times: Should I use a pick or my fingers to play bass? You can find a huge amount of different answers on the Internet and still be confused.
My philosophy is, to never limit yourself. Both methods are valid and appropriate for the right musical context.
Whether using picks or using your fingers, each technique has its place and, ideally, you need to feel comfortable with either one you choose.
Is there a wrong way to play an instrument? Any method you use to get sound out of your instrument - fingers, pick, nails, palms of your hands, etc - can work, if the sound produced is the sound you are looking for. It is entirely a matter of personal preferences.
Therefore, this is an unimportant debate, if your plan is to be a versatile musician, and be able to understand the rich parts of every bass line, regardless of the method used to play them.
For me, it is difficult to understand how this debate has been one of the most controversial topics since the advent of modern music creation decades ago.
Why not keep an open mind and become comfortable with both methods? There is room for everything.
Usually, bass players report having more control when using their fingers, giving them a richer tonal variety, and beefier tone. In Addition, the popular slap technique used by many bassists can be easily implemented, if you don’t hold any pick between your fingers.
A funny positive argument is, that you will never lose your bass pick if you don’t own one.
One of the drawbacks of this method is that it takes a little more work to learn. Nevertheless, if your goal is long-term learning, this should not be a technical obstacle.
The biggest advantage of using a pick for the bass guitar is obvious: Instant speed. You can develop speed more quickly and effortlessly.
If the bass lines you want to learn, belong to certain music styles that are speed intensive, a pick might make sense. You can develop the same speed as with your fingers, but it will take much more time.
In addition, the tone can be easily changed by using a different guitar pick. This allows you to have different tones, and experiment a lot to find the right sounding bass guitar pick.
Every pick - for guitar, bass, or other instruments - has four different main parameters: Shape, material, thickness, and size. Combined together, they result in a very specific range of tone textures, attack soundwaves, and feedback. Therefore, choosing your guitar pick is one of the most difficult tasks. We have created a guide HERE, that will help you find your tone.
Bass players generally use thicker picks. The thickness improves the bass playing control, and the overall tone of the string.
The average pick thickness for bass players is 1.17 mm, while for guitar players is 0.89 mm. Remember, bass strings are much thicker than guitar strings. Therefore, a thinner plectrum will give you much less control in comparison to a thicker plectrum.
The size of the pick will also have a role in the creation of the tone.
If you have no idea where to start, take the average value and look for picks with a gauge of about 1.2 mm. This is a good place to get started. From there, you can go up and down and try other picks depending on your preferences. It might be a good idea to look for the bass picks your favorite players use, and try to understand why they do so.
The truth is, most classical shapes tend to have an excellent reception between the bass players.
The most popular shapes are the classical teadrop pick shape, the rounded teardrop pick shape, and the triangle pick shape.
In addition to shape, there are many other attributes that define a pick. HERE you can read about the 6 most underrated attributes of guitar and bass picks.
Teardrop is the most popular and known type of guitar and bass pick. Semi-sharp point for quick attacks, that maintain a wide range of possibilities, depending on the thickness and material used.
Rounded picks provide a more warm sound and smooth attack. These are for the bass players looking for a way to play the bass strings with less force and attack. Sometimes they are totally free when a teardrop pick is completely worn down.
A triangle pick is the most practical option because of the tri-sided feature. You can pluck your string with any of the three pointy tips this pick provides. A triange pick is recommended for those players who constantly break the tips of their picks.
When it comes to bass, we apply the same rules as with guitar picks.
After studying the physics of guitar picks, and all the material possibilities we have, we came to the following conclusions. The pick material should:
You can read all about materials used at Rombo HERE.
You will also find a link with the information about Eco-Black - These picks made out of 100% recycled fibre waste, that we manufacture ourselves.
Because the strings are thicker, and bass players tend to play with more energy, the lifetime of your pick will be substantially reduced.
A way to reduce the wear and tear of picks for bass is:
Playing bass with a pick is as valid as using your fingers, if this is the tone you are looking for.
Finding a pick you are comfortable with, is a difficult task, but testing lots of them and recording some of your bass lines can help you find a balance between the tone you want, and the feel and feedback you wish from the pick.
In picks, qualities like thickness, material, shape, and size play a pivotal role in tone, feedback, grip, pick noise, sustain, etc... Music is about staying dynamic and monotony kills dynamic. Therefore, the most logical step for you is to explore enough to understand as many aspects of the bass as possible.
This applies to guitar gear in general (including picks, strings, cables, etc...) and your practice habits, style preferences, and your own psychological bias/barriers.
Sometimes the best place to start is testing a Variety Pack