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A pick, also known as a plectrum, is used to strum or methodically target the strings on an acoustic or electric instrument. Picks can be made of many different kinds of materials, including: rubber, stone, glass, metal, nylon, and even tortoiseshell. Guitar picks are usually shaped as isosceles triangles, in which the third corner is less rounded than the other two corners.
One of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a pick is gauge. Medium gauges are perhaps best for beginners; medium gauges guarantee smooth cord strumming and precise picking. Alternatively, heavy gauges would usually be employed by more experienced musicians, bass players or any instrumentalist using thicker strings. Heavy gauged picks are ideal for jazz players who need to crisply pull off bright notes. Thin gauges are well-suited for beginners and strumming, although very thin picks may fracture with continued wear.
Perhaps the most well-known purveyor of picks, D’Andrea’s picks are the originators of plectrums. In 1922 D’Andrea marketed the first pick, which was made out of celluloid. D’Andrea has noted, over the last 90 years of its operation, that picks are an integral component to the instrument’s tone and resonance. In fact, D’Andrea likens the pick’s importance to strings, effects, amplification, and the instrument itself. A crucial complement to the foregoing components might be a guitar lesson.
Past to Present
Modern day D’Andrea picks come in a variety of designs and materials. (1) Many of the picks on D’Andrea’s website are made from high quality resin or plastic materials. In fact, D’Andrea is proud to offer over 50,000 separate designs to the public. The sheer variety of designs coupled with expert craftsmanship makes D’Andrea an easy choice for the beginner or advanced guitarist alike. In fact, musical greats such as Bon Jovi and Slayer have given D’Andrea their imprimaturs and professional endorsements!
While a brand like Dunlop may not hold the cachet of a D’Andrea, Dunlop has been manufacturing durable amplifiers, strings and picks for decades. Dunlop’s Tortex brand of picks, for instance, bridges durability and innovation. (2) Tortex picks are noted for high memory and resistance to wear. Dunlop’s vision for the Tortex picks is to revert back to the old tortoiseshell picks, especially as regards toughness and gauge. The Dunlop Tortex picks are .50 mm standard gauge and come in packs of one dozen for under five dollars! A deal such as Dunlop is offering might be most ideally coupled with an expert guitar lesson!
Fact Checking Dunlop
According to the following criteria, Dunlop’s picks would be considered thin: thin picks are between .45 and .70 mm; medium picks are between .70 and .85 mm; and, heavy gauge picks are above .85 mm in magnitude. As both D’Andrea and Dunlop offer different styles, the main pick variations may be worth considering. Picks come in three prominent ilks: triangle pick, in which three sides can be used for picking; jazz pick, which is smaller and used primarily for precision; and, thumb pick, which is employed in folk music and quicker fingerpicking techniques.
Fender: More than Strats
Although Fender is perhaps most revered for its stratocasters and telecasters, the company has made significant inroads on the guitar pick market. For example, the Fender 351 standard picks line has received acclaim for durability, playability and customizability. Fender’s 351 picks are affordable priced and they come in three gauges: thin, medium and heavy. (3) Some guitar players, such as Lee Ranaldo from the band Sonic Youth, prefer heavy picks. Higher gauges are especially important when players are dealing with thicker gauged strings, such as the setup on Lee Ranaldo’s instruments. Thinner picks may be ideal for strumming or rhythm sound. At any rate, even the thinnest style of Fender’s 351 picks can stand up to daily abuse without cracking!
Trust the Originators
D’Andrea has claimed for over ninety years that a pick is an integral component to any serious player’s setup. Although picks come in a variety of styles, perhaps tortoiseshell and high quality resin composites are the best materials at the moment. The only thing left to do is enlist the help of a professional and sign up for a guitar lesson!