Why A Pick?
A guitar pick, or plectrum is used to pluck, or strum guitar strings; to improve sound, allow faster strumming, and reduce injury on fingers. You can just use your fingers, especially for picking, but a pick gives far more bite to notes, and hurts a lot less. There are many types of guitar picks to choose from: different materials, shapes, as well as sizes and colors. Some guitar picks are even used for special purposes, such as a double-sided pick for “double plucking.” This article explores some of the diffent types.
Different types of Guitar Pick
Guitar picks are commonly made out of plastic, but also bone, amber, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, stone, metals, and even gemstones. Each of the materials has it’s own unique sound, but also properties such as ease of grip, and durability. For instance, metal has a very distinct bright sound when plucked against a guitar string- but offers little grip. Tortoiseshell is one of the best for gripping, and sounds great, although an international ban on tortoise shell led to the creation of Tortex picks.
Choosing your favourite material is a matter of trying them all out, and deciding on which sound and grip works for your playing style- whether it be metal, bues, or jazz. If all else fails, weird guitar picks aren’t unheard of- from bone, to an Allen wrench- just about anything can become a useable plectrum!
Figure 1 - Traditional picks, a thumb pick, and a triangle pick example