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How to hold a pick (plectrum) and what size to use?


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Quote Originally Posted by PatrickDavid View Post
Hey guys,

Before we start reading music and playing we're going to take a quick look at the world of picks, a brief video on what picks to start with and how to progress with different sizes,

Nice video. I particularly agree with starting with thin ones, for the reasons given, although I'm not sure I'd recommend as low as .30 or .40.
IMO, 0.60 is fine for beginner strumming: bendy enough to give when striking the strings (won't break or bounce out of your hand), strong enough to get a reasonable tone and volume if you want it.
(Of course, the best advice is buy a variety at the beginning, and try them all out.)

As for going thicker, I think a lot depends on the string gauge you use. Of course, there's personal preference about feel, but a good rule of thumb is the heavier the strings, the heavier the pick.
So I disagree that 0.90/1.00 is a good all-rounder, but then that's because I use fairly light strings (11s on acoustic, 10s on electric). The heaviest I go is .88, and often use .73 (Jim Dunlop in both cases).
But for standard 12s on acoustic, 73 would feel too light to me, at least for single-string lead playing, and probably for strumming if I needed any appreciable volume.

In fact, for any lead playing, heavier picks tend to work better IMO. The lack of give means that fine, fast movements are easier to control, transmitted better to the strings. But I couldn't strum with anything as heavy as a 1.00 (let alone more) - on my strings - without sounding crudely aggressive, or without risking dropping them (by holding them too loosely, afraid of breaking strings). Obviously that could be fixed with practice - rolleyes.gif - but I much prefer the bendier picks, where you can stiffen them with your grip when you need to, but otherwise they give more subtle dynamic variations more readily.

Because my playing (on electric or acoustic) combines rhythm and lead, I never use anything heavier than 1.00. I do like the feel and tone of thicker picks for lead, but I find them unusable for rhythm, at least my style of playing.
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Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
Nice video. I particularly agree with starting with thin ones, for the reasons given, although I'm not sure I'd recommend as low as .30 or .40.
IMO, 0.60 is fine for beginner strumming: bendy enough to give when striking the strings (won't break or bounce out of your hand), strong enough to get a reasonable tone and volume if you want it.
(Of course, the best advice is buy a variety at the beginning, and try them all out.)

As for going thicker, I think a lot depends on the string gauge you use. Of course, there's personal preference about feel, but a good rule of thumb is the heavier the strings, the heavier the pick.
So I disagree that 0.90/1.00 is a good all-rounder, but then that's because I use fairly light strings (11s on acoustic, 10s on electric). The heaviest I go is .88, and often use .73 (Jim Dunlop in both cases).
But for standard 12s on acoustic, 73 would feel too light to me, at least for single-string lead playing, and probably for strumming if I needed any appreciable volume.

In fact, for any lead playing, heavier picks tend to work better IMO. The lack of give means that fine, fast movements are easier to control, transmitted better to the strings. But I couldn't strum with anything as heavy as a 1.00 (let alone more) - on my strings - without sounding crudely aggressive, or without risking dropping them (by holding them too loosely, afraid of breaking strings). Obviously that could be fixed with practice - rolleyes.gif - but I much prefer the bendier picks, where you can stiffen them with your grip when you need to, but otherwise they give more subtle dynamic variations more readily.

Because my playing (on electric or acoustic) combines rhythm and lead, I never use anything heavier than 1.00. I do like the feel and tone of thicker picks for lead, but I find them unusable for rhythm, at least my style of playing.
Thanks for taking the time to respond jon,
Especially regarding the use of thicker gauge strings,

I really feel that 1mm is a good all rounder simply because to me there's still give enough but it also has enough strength,
however! this is my recommendation coming from predominately an electric guitar player, as you said, someone playing lighter strings could prefer the alternative, or not!

I love forums and learning how completely different every musician is, you prefer a less aggressive attack, but that's the tone i like from my pick.
So many little things can be fixed in practice I remember when i was first starting out i just to sand paper my picks so they had more grip haha

not saying this is at all bad practice i was just focusing on the wrong thing.

I've been using for a little while now a mixture of planet waves clear gel like picks, can't seem to find a link sorry (kind of clear black colour - they're in the video),

and planet waves cortex 1.25mm

cortex22.jpg
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Pic size is interesting. I took lessons for a guitar legend, and he advocating for heavier pics, going so far as to say that no guitarist of any significance plays with a medium or thin pic. Then on the other end of it, my favorite guitarist, who also happens to be a good friend, plays with a thin pic and sound better than darn near anybody. Conclusion: use what feels comfortable, but try a bunch of different ones first.

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Im a likely exception to this thread. I have used Dunlop nylon 46mm for a long time. When I started out I used really thick picks(those big Gibson triangles) but I destroyed them and the strings. I couldnt hold a fender standard for more then a couple mins before dropping it. The 46 nylons do form to my grip and they stiffen when they bend. I also hold them at about a 80-75 degree angle to the strings.

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