Guitar players are faced with many choices when shopping in the music stores, and one of the most confusing is that of a pick. Actually, even a plastic tab from a bread bag can work as a pick, but for the best results, you’ll want to be a little more choosy about your pick. Picks come in a variety of sizes, hardnesses, and styles.
For beginning, you’ll probably want to use a flat pick in a medium size and medium weight. Large soft picks are recommended by some for learning to strum enthusiastically, because they flex, making the movement easier for the arm. On the other hand, experienced players often prefer firmer picks. A textured pick can be a big help if your hand gets sweaty, making the pick slip around.
A good way to hold a pick is between the pad of the thumb and the side of the first knuckle of the index finger. Be careful not to tense up the hand between the thumb and the finger. It should remain open and relaxed. The tip of the pick should just barely pluck the strings, and not extend deep between them.
For strumming, you can pass the pick down over the strings, or you can strum down and back up. It’s nice to learn to pluck the bass string and then strum the strings, particularly if you are playing country or folk style music. For plucking the bass strings, you might like to experiment with using a thumb pick. Many bluegrass and country guitar players use a thumb pick for almost everything.
Picks can be made of a variety of materials. Plastic is widely used, as is nylon. Tortex is an artificial version of tortoise shell, while some picks are also made of natural stone. Plastic picks can make a click when they hit the strings, but many guitarists like them anyway. Some guitarist prefer to use a small sized pick that they can hold in their hand while doing a bit of finger playing.
Your sound can be altered by the type of pick you use. If you enjoy a particular guitarist’s style, it would make sense to find out what type of pick they prefer. Some might prefer a pick with a sharp point, or perhaps they play with a penny! The performer’s choice of pick might have a great bearing on their musical sound.
Of course, some guitarists prefer to play with their fingers. This offers several advantages, including the fact that you never drop your pick into the sound hole if you don’t use one! But the downside of playing without a pick is that the guitar is not as loud, and it can be hard on the thumb. Still, if you enjoy the feel of the strings, you can always use a microphone to increase your volume.