Using the right guitar pick (also called plectrum) for whatever genre you want to play will make playing the guitar much easier. Don’t just select your picks based on color and shape, there are several things you need to take into consideration.
Triangular Guitar Picks
Standard, triangle shaped picks are the most common. The wider part allows for grip, the narrow part for picking. The end of the narrow part will slide off of the strings, offering a mellow sound.
Sharkfin picks can be used as standard picks, and by quick rotation, they can also be used to add multiple contact to the strings with their multi-point edge, creating a different tone.
Teardrop shaped picks and Jazz picks are usually more rigid than Standard plectrums with the same thickness,, and will therefore offer a brighter tone and faster response.
Equilateral picks form a perfect triangle, and are thus easier to hold, since you can grip them at either equilateral side. This also makes them last longer, since if one point becomes worn, you can just use another point.
Thumb and Finger Picks
For those of us that like to play fingerstyle, but have short fingernails, these picks offer the perfect solution. They are attached to your finger tips, and act as a fake nail, allowing for a much crisper sound, than plucking a string with just the tip of your finger.
Other Guitar Pick Shapes
The shape and form of picks has naturally evolved to suit the taste of different guitarists. Some are larger, some have inline grooves, some fit into your entire palm, there are even brush picks which practically comb against your strings. Experimenting with these non-standard picks can be fun, and often offer better sound for a given genre.
The most common material of picks is plastic. Other materials include wood, rubber, stone and metal.
Guitar picks range from very thin to very thick, offering different sound and tone. The thinner the pick, the more flexible it will be, but the easier it will break or crack. Thicker picks are more durable, and will give a brighter sound as opposed to their thin counterparts. Plectrum thickness is measured in millimeters. Generally, thinner picks are better for quick strumming, while thicker picks are used more often for solos and runs.
So which plectrum will you chose? It will always depend on the type of music you want to play. The sound you achieve will be dependant on the pick material, shape and point, thickness, and how you hold it.
It’s always a good idea to experiment with different types of guitar picks. You’ll see that each type will offer a different sound, and therefore be more or less suitable to play a given genre. Picks are inexpensive, so go ahead, visit your local music store or an online guitar shop, buy a couple, experiment and have fun!