How to Choose a Guitar Pick Based on Shape, Size & Thickness

Learn how to choose a guitar pick based on shape, size and thickness from musician Michael Aarons in this Howcast video.


There are hundreds of different kinds of picks. They differ in thickness. They differ in shape and size and they all have different kinds of uses. For me, I tend to gravitate towards the medium pick. The traditional pick shape I use is this. This is actually a Dunlop pick. It's thinner than what I use. I actually use-- this is a Fender medium. This is the traditional pick shape. You can find them anywhere. One pick that I've come across for some reason I really like is this Cool pick. It's a medium. It's got a texture. This blue part it's got a grip, which I used to not like, but for some reason I like it now, and it's got a little bit of a pointier tip than the regular, traditional Fender medium picks.

I like to play with the back end of the pick actually. It rolls off the string in a totally different way then when you use the point, for obvious reasons. And it really gives you kind of a warmer sound. If I'm playing jazz or sometimes if I'm playing even on the acoustic guitar it really sounds a lot different. So that's with the back end of the pick as opposed to the tip. You can hear it. It has a much different effect playing with the tip as opposed to the rounded edge of the pick. And it also depends on the kind of you're using.

So a lighter pick, a thinner pick is more flexible. There's different gauges. They can go anywhere from paper thin to somewhat of a light medium. It just all depends on what you like. I find that the thin picks work really good on a 12-string guitar. Because of the flexibility of the pick, it tends to move with the strings and the more strings you have, like on a 12-string guitar, I just find it works better. A heavy pick is pretty immobile, not very flexible and so you get a duller sound, a thicker sound tends to bring out some of the bass notes a little bit thicker. Just experiment and see what works on your guitar.

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