Guitar picks, also known as guitar plectrums, are small, thin pieces of plastic or other materials that are used to strum or pluck the strings of a guitar. They come in a variety of thicknesses, shapes, and materials, each with their own unique characteristics that can affect the sound and feel of the guitar.
One of the most common materials used for guitar picks is nylon. These picks are inexpensive, durable, and come in a wide range of thicknesses, from extra-light to heavy. They are also available in a variety of colors and designs.
Another popular material for guitar picks is celluloid, which is a type of plastic that is known for its ability to produce a warm, natural tone.
Some guitarists prefer to use metal guitar picks, which are typically made of stainless steel, brass, or bronze. These picks are known for their rigidity, durability and ability to produce a brighter, more articulate sound than plastic or celluloid picks. However, they can be more expensive and can wear down the guitar strings more quickly. Brian May, from the band Queen, is one such guitarist. He makes use of a British sixpence coin as a guitar pick. Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top fame, is also known for using a coin as a guitar pick – in his case a Mexican peso.
Another option for guitarists is the use of natural materials such as wood, stone, bone or tortoiseshell for their guitar picks. These materials are less common but are known for their unique textures and tones. They can add a distinct character to the sound of the guitar.
Some common guitar picks include:
- The Fender 351 Shape Classic Celluloid Pick: This is a standard pick shape and is made of celluloid, which is known for its warmth and natural tone. It has a medium thickness, making it suitable for a variety of playing styles.
- The Dunlop Tortex Standard: This pick is made of a durable, long-lasting material called Tortex and is available in a range of thicknesses. It is a very popular choice for guitarists for all types of music.
- The Dunlop Gator Grip Pick: This pick is made of a durable material and has a unique, textured surface that provides added grip and control. Some find it less ‘slippy’ than the Dunlop Tortex picks.
- The Clayton Ultem Tortoise Standard Pick: This pick is made of a hard, heat-resistant plastic called Ultem, which provides a bright and articulate tone, resembling that of a real tortoiseshell pick.
Ultimately, the choice of pick is a matter of personal preference and playing style. Experimenting with picks of different material and thickness can help guitarists find the one that feels and sounds the best for them.