Tech Tip:Picking The Right Pick

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The following tips for aspiring guitarists are courtesy of John McCarthy of The Rock House Method, publisher of video lessons for musicians at every skill level.


Charley Holand; Seminole, FL



Q: Does the size or shape of my pick affect the sound of my guitar? Do I need to use different picks to play metal guitar?


A: Yes there are picks that are used to create specific sounds on the guitar. Here are some of the most common.



Thin Picks - These are commonly used for playing rhythm guitar. Because they are flexible, they bend as you strum and help create a flowing rhythm. There also is a percussive sound that is generated that adds a great rhythm effect.


Medium Picks - Medium picks are the most common picks used. You can play rhythm or lead effectively. I suggest new players start with medium gauge picks while getting the feel for the guitar.


Heavy Picks - Heavy picks are widely used for playing lead guitar. Because they have a direct response to your hand movement many players choose heavy gauge picks to shred lead guitar.


Different Shapes - The shape of a pick is very personal. Everyone seems to have a shape that feels best for them. There are small and large picks available. There are even triangle-shaped picks.


Tip Shape - The tip of the pick can be very important. Many lead guitarists use a sharp-pointed pick to help generate more speed while rhythm guitarists tend to want rounded-tip picks to help make a warm rhythm sound.


Pick Material - The two common choices that you have for picks are water based and oil based. Water-based picks absorb water and tend to be easier to grip while oil-based picks are shiny, not porous, and can slip in your fingers as you play.



I suggest that you have an assortment of different picks to use at different times while you are playing; I know I have about 100 different picks to choose from when I play.


Hope this helps!


Yours in Music,
John McCarthy
Rock House