A Guitar pick is a rounded-triangle shaped piece of plastic used to "pick," that is strum or hit, the strings of a guitar and come in varying thicknesses to accommodate the different playing styles and kinds of strings.

They come in 4 basic varieties of thickness/weight:

Light/Thin - Light picks are very flimsy and can break easily. They are mainly for strumming chords, slowly.
Medium - These picks are used more for chords and strumming and are good for rhythm guitar.
Heavy - Can be used for chords but mainly for lead guitarists as they are better for single note picking such as in riffs, licks, and solos.
Extra Heavy - Somewhat awkward for any sort of chord playing used for riffs, licks and solos.

Most manufacturers print the gauge or thickness in millimeters or inches on the pick or denote with a letter, T for Thin, M for Medium or H for Heavy.

Approximate Guideline for Pick Thickness;
Other Marks
Extra Light/Thin
.038mm / .014" or less
0.51-0.60 mm / 0.020"-0.023"
T - Thin
0.73-0.81 mm / 0.028"-0.031"
M - Medium
0.88-1.20 mm / 0.034"-0.047"
H - Heavy
Extra Heavy
1.50 mm / 0.060" and more


Generally, there are 3 shapes of guitar picks and you should try several types to find one that's comfortable for you. Guitar picks are very inexpensive so experiment to find the one you like.

The equilateral pick can be easier for beginners to hold and use since each corner is a playing edge.

The shark's fin pick can be used in two ways - normally employing the blunt end or the small perturbations can be raked across the strings producing a much fuller chord or used to employ a "pick scrape" down the strings producing a very harsh, scratching noise.

The sharp edged pick is used to create an easier motion of picking across the strings.

How To Hold A Pick

Picks are usually gripped with two fingers—thumb and index—and are played with pointed end facing the strings. That's the most common technique. However, it's a matter of personal preference and many notable musicians use different grips.

For example, Eddie Van Halen holds the pick between his thumb and middle finger; James Hetfield and Steve Morse hold a pick using 3 fingers—thumb, middle and index; Pat Metheny holds a pick normally, but plays using the rounded side of the plectrum, as does George Lynch. Stevie Ray Vaughan also played with the rounded edge of the pick, citing the fact that the edge allowed more string attack than the tip.


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