Guitar picks (also known
as guitar plectrums or plectra) have existed in the plastic form we know today
since 1922, when the company D'Andrea Picks started producing them out of
celluloid. Up until then guitarists had made picks out of various materials
customizing them for their own use. This company also started the trend of
custom picks, as they were the first to start printing the company name on the
picks. They also defined the pick shapes by numbers that are still used
today, like the 351.
Getting to know your
picks is quite important as different types and thickness of the picks
can truly alter the sound and the way of playing the guitar. Choosing the right
picks is something I truly can't give a good answer to, as it depends a lot on
personal preference. However, I can provide some general guidelines that you can
use in your experimentation. Picks are quite cheap so it won't cost a lot to
Browse guitar picks at zZounds.com
Guitar pick types,
materials and shapes
There are so many types,
materials and shapes of picks, so I will only explain a bit about the most
common types here.
The most popular of them
all is probably the
Dunlop Tortex 351.
The Tortex material was designed to replace the tortoise shell picks as they
were banned in the 1970s. 351 is the shape number, this shape is an isosceles
triangle (a triangle where two of the sides are of equal length), which is the
most commonly used shape in guitar picks.
Thickness of guitar
Picks come in a variety
of thicknesses. This is needed to meet the demands of different string gauges,
playing techniques and the type of sound they produce.
For example a heavy
metal guitarist using a thicker string gauge will usually prefer a quite thick
pick to be in control of the playing and to produce that truly heavy sound.
In general a thin sharp
tipped pick produces a sound with a pointy attack and a "click" or
"flapping" sound, also known as pick noise, while a thicker pick with a round
edge will produce a rounder sound with not so much attack and pick noise.