We spend an inordinate amount of time on selecting our guitars. What top should I get? Do I want lush overtones or a solid mid range? Long sustain or quick decay? Standard or short scale? All of these are very important factors in how a guitar sounds. But a much-overlooked feature of a guitar’s sound is the pick you play with.
Many of us think a pick is a pick. You hold it, strum or hit the strings and you’re done. Find one on the floor….that’ll work. Doing laundry and find a couple in the dryer…..yep! Those work too.
However, there is more to a pick then just the one closest to your guitar. The color, shape and material have an impact on the sound of your guitar. Picks can help elicit a certain type of tone. Think of them as the difference between a tv that is 720p versus 1080p. They can enhance and bring out tones you didn't think were in your guitar. Here are some guidelines on picks:SHAPE
A rounder striking area will create a darker, warmer tone. A pointed striking area will be brighter and sharper.RIGIDITY
A thinner pick is great for strumming. It will even out a player’s attack across all the stings. These are perfect for beginners. A thicker pick is great for note articulation and can give the player more control of the tone range.STRIKING SURFACE
A smooth edge will allow for more precise note definition and faster response. A rougher surface will create a darker sound with additional pick noise.
These are very general and do not cover the wide range of features a pick can have. The costs of these range from pennies to more than $50 (and that’s for ONE!). Do not just pick up a pick a play. Experiment! Come to the shop and play around with different shapes, materials, and stiffness. You may find that your guitar has more tonal capabilities than you imagined. And what better time to try as many as possible than Christmas. The perfect stocking stuffer!