Choosing A Pick

With so many picks available in just about every shape, size, and material, how do you choose one?

The operation of the ubiquitous string-plucking wedge is deceptively complicated. Attributes like thickness, point shape, edge shape, and material choice can all influence how picks behave when they hit the strings. The good news is that with a few simple pointers about how picks actually work, you’ll be able to quickly choose a few of them that match the kind of technique you like to use.

For our most compact introduction to pick selection, check out the first lesson in this section on choosing a pick with what we call “The Rule Of Roundness”. It’s a great summary of the most important ways that pick shape affects your playing. If you’re ready to start improving your technique, this single video is all you’ll need to select the right tools and get playing.

The next section, “Pick Design”, is an introduction to the history of picks and how they work. It includes an array of in-depth tests of pick shapes, gauges, materials, and more, and how those attributes affect playing technique and frequency response.

If you’re already an experienced player, and especially if you’re a pick nerd, you’ll probably get a kick out of some of the tests we perform in this section. However if you’re new to playing with a pick, or if you’d simply like to stay focused on understanding and improving your technique, we recommend skipping “Pick Design” for now, and moving on to choosing a pick grip in the next section.

Choosing A Pick

Choosing A Pick With The Rule Of Roundness

How to select a pick that matches your technique


Pick Design And Function

Chapter 1 - The Classic 351

This historic D'Andrea design is the pick we all know, whether we know it or not


Chapter 2 - Edge Picking

Understanding one of the most fundamental effects in pick-string interaction


Chapter 3 - The Jazz III

The jazz pick that conquered rock, and how its signature point affects tone


Chapter 4 - The Big 346

This triangular ancestor of the modern large pick is another D'Andrea creation


Chapter 5 - Gauge

Testing the effect of pick thickness on frequency response and dynamics


Chapter 6 - Angle Of Attack

How does a pick really get through the string and play a note?


Chapter 7 - Material And Tone

What are picks made of, and what do those materials sound like?


Chapter 8 - Chirp

Love it, hate it, or maybe never even notice it, chirp reveals how you play and how you listen


Chapter 9 - Abrasion

The connection between pick wear, surface texture, and frequency response