#1
I bought a pack of guitar picks a couple months back,



All I've really used up to this point is that small red Jazz III pick.
I've noticed that many of the picks are different sizes, some are sharp, others aren't, and they are all made with different materials.

I've tried all of them on the same Amp and guitar settings on my MH50, but have not heard much a difference.

So, does pick size/shape/material make a difference? or are they just something of personal preference?


------------

Also I've noticed around online that (I forget which was which) the neck and bridge humbucker pickups sound "brighter" or "darker".

What does that actually mean?


Thanks
-Parac
#2
It makes a difference in your attack and on certain techniques, but it is one of the more subtle effects on your playing. Pick choice is mostly about the player's comfort.
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#3
They do sound different though, for instance I don't like Jazz IIIs because I find the material to produce gross sounds. On the flip sides, V-Picks seem to have a chirpy and crisp attack.

My favorite material is Tortex.

How much of this is psychosomatic is probably more than I would like to admit.
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Last edited by DeathByDestroyr at Jan 29, 2016,
#4
Quote by Parac
Also I've noticed around online that (I forget which was which) the neck and bridge humbucker pickups sound "brighter" or "darker".


Here is a bright, and some would say, 'jangly' tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW21rcHiVU0

This is a darker, thicker, fuzzier tone : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKPicUnsPPg

Edit: the levels of distortion are different, so it isn't a perfect example, but hopefully the idea comes through.
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#5
It will be easier to hear differences in the picks and also picking location without distortion. Start with your jazz III and strum the strings between the pickups (neutral), between the bridge pickup and the bridge (bright), and right near the 22nd or 24th fret (darker).

If you use a lighter touch on the strings, I think it'll be easier to feel the differences between pick shapes. Your feel and preference is going to develop over time though.
#6
I like to use the term "spanky"...
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you better check under the sea,
because that's where you'll find me..."
#7
Quote by black_box
It will be easier to hear differences in the picks and also picking location without distortion. Start with your jazz III and strum the strings between the pickups (neutral), between the bridge pickup and the bridge (bright), and right near the 22nd or 24th fret (darker).

If you use a lighter touch on the strings, I think it'll be easier to feel the differences between pick shapes. Your feel and preference is going to develop over time though.


What he said.
#8
Hell yes it makes a difference. It took me a long time to find my favorite picks -- but now that I have, nothing else will do. I use Cool Juratex Triangles. They are big, so they fit my monster hands/fingers.

But the material is what affects your tone, mostly. Juratex is a slightly softer plastic or nylon. I've found that I really don't like the tone of harder plastics or anything else, really - - though my picks do wear out a lot faster. But that softness "bites" into the string a little and produces a little more raspiness that I love. With harder picks, it's more of a "clean" pick attack which I don't like as much.

And I hear those differences clear as day through heavy distortion (6505+ lead channel).
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#9
It's a matter of comfort and familiarity for me. I have used the standard Fender 451 picks since the 70's. I am so familiar with how they feel in my hand and what I have to do to get a certain sound that it just feels right. I don't know how much of a difference in sound it makes but I know that I can buy a gross (144) of Fender 451 picks for $25 on Amazon so they are also inexpensive.

I like the confetti colored version. they are easier to locate on a dark stage at the end of a gig no matter what color the floor is.
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#10
Quote by Parac


So, does pick size/shape/material make a difference? or are they just something of personal preference?



Yes. And yes.
My personal preference is for a smallish pick from 1.5mm - 3mm thick made of hard plastic with a really sharp point and something that keeps it from slipping easily out of sweaty fingers. But there's a noticeable (though not huge) difference in the sound as well.
#11
Finger picking is the most.
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#13
The most significant difference between picks I find is the rigidity of the pick. For example a thin, flexible pick will just bend if you try to pick aggressively, while a thicker pick will let you hit the strings harder when you want to.
The material can also make a difference, but unless you decide to do a brian may and use a coin or something similar, the difference in sound won't be major. The shape of the pick can affect the attack, but personally I see it as more of a comfort/preference thing
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#14
It's mainly the hardness of the pick that makes the most difference in sound. A really bendy pick vs a very stiff pick make a fairly noticeable difference in the attack (the very beginning of the note right when it's picked). Different materials of similar rigidity can make a little difference, not as noticeable, but there is some difference.

I only use Jazz IIIs and have settled on the Max Grips for the past couple of years, which are made of carbon fiber. They're all fairly bright with a sharper attack than floppy picks. The tortex ones are what I would consider the baseline normal sound - brighter than floppy picks, but just the "norm" for hard picks. The carbon fiber ones are a little brighter sounding than the tortex, and the ultex ones are super bright and have a clicky clacky sound.

I don't know as much about the sound of various floppier picks because I just never used them very much. I was interested in mainly playing metal and such where tremolo picking, galloping, etc. are very important and these things are much easier and cleaner sounding with a stiff sharp pick and even though I've branched out a lot since then I still prefer those kinds of picks since that's what I'm used to. Floppy picks feel like trying to play with a sponge to me. I also play with my fingernails a lot which has a great sound as well. It's a crisper attack than without nails.
#15
+1 on guitar picks being way more than *just* a comfort and ergonomics thing ( they are that as well though! ).

I think picks make a huge difference in your tone, mostly in the attack, but also in the overall tonality of the note produced. Call me crazy but I've been A/Bing picks back to back to back for many years at this point, and it makes a big different to my ears. I also play with the Jazz III maxgrip that 4thHorsemen mentioned, but there's things I miss about traditional sizes, shapes, and pick edges; the "scratch" that you hear in your attack on the wound strings under med/heavy gain is super cool to me, and nothing can produce that quite like an a regular old guitar pick somewhere in the 0.7-1.0mm range. Paul Gilbert talks a lot about that scratchiness that you get from using regular picks, which is why he never got on board with Jazz IIIs like many other shredders did. 4thHorsemen said the attack is sharper on Jazz IIIs and I would agree if what he means is that it's more precise; tonally I think there's a high-end brightness to the attack of regular picks that the Jazz III is missing. The price you pay to get that sound though is that it's literally the sound of the pick's edge dragging through the winding of the strings. The Jazz III is considerably thicker and made of more rigid material so it never gets caught up in the windings like that, hence its faster and more precise response but lack of tonal scratchiness in the attack that some people are into.

I use the Jazz picks for other reasons, though; precision, articulation, consistency/durability, etc. I use the max-grips after having tried every type they make because they get closest to the bright attack of a regular pick without sacrificing the glide and precision you get from a jazz. Plus, as the name implies, those bad boys have some major grip action going on.

Anyways... good luck yo. Picks make a difference - get out there and play with a bunch of picks and let your ears and fingers decide on the one you like the most. Be honest and play with the gear that sounds and feels best to you regardless of what other people are doing.
Last edited by lumberjack at Feb 1, 2016,
#16
As someone who has ran through a lot of different pick types, it certainly can be a major difference.

A Bass Heavy pick will respond completely differently on the Electric if it's not used on thicker or heavier gauged strings (also much more likely to snap the strings). Consequently, a Light pick from a lighter-gauged Electric, used on a heavier-gauged one, will most likely snap off and break the pick instead of the strings. Been there, done that on both claims :P Also may or may not affect playability too, but that might be counteracted by who is playing.

Personally, just go with what works best for you.

-Sharky
#17
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
They do sound different though, for instance I don't like Jazz IIIs because I find the material to produce gross sounds. On the flip sides, V-Picks seem to have a chirpy and crisp attack.


I started using v picks a while back and I love em. Had been using a tortex in a jazz III shape, which I also really liked. Agreed about the plastic or whatever material the jazz picks are usually made of. Brittle sounding. The v pick is so damn nice though. It's all I use now. I keep a thin-ish tortex in my wallet for acoustic strumming, but if I'm playing more riffy stuff or picking, I'll use the v pick even on the acoustic.
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#18
I use jade, agate, carbon fiber, copper, steel, and plastic. Usually pretty stiff stuff. But each has some unique characteristics that make me choose one or the other...pretty much like I originally posted.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

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Log off and play yer guitar!

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#19
Quote by lumberjack
4thHorsemen said the attack is sharper on Jazz IIIs and I would agree if what he means is that it's more precise; tonally I think there's a high-end brightness to the attack of regular picks that the Jazz III is missing.


I find it a kinda hard to talk about these tonal differences since it's all in the high end, but it's like they cover slightly different ranges in the high end, like some are like a click and some are like a clop, but then there's also difference in the volume of the attack. I think what I mean by sharper is that it's a cleaner attack, which I guess could also be called precise. I just scrounged up some of my older picks that I haven't used in forever mainly Jazz picks of different materials, but I did find a medium gauge normal plastic pick with an old local shop that went out of business's logo printed on it. With the medium pick he high end click of the attack is definitely louder than all the rest and it does have that scratchy kinda sound on the wound strings.

I wonder how much difference the feel of how a pick hits the strings effects the perception of the sound. I don't have one to test, but I remember the really floppy picks as sounding flubby, but that may just be how awful and imprecise they felt intruding on my memory of the sound lol.
#20
Flexible picks, to me, don't offer me the precision I need...'cause I'm kinda sloppy,
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#21
I've tried with too light of a pick. It snapped straight in half. And those were very good picks for a very good electric guitar with light-gauge strings. Switched to a bit heavier of a pick (still near light and with grip markings on it). No snapping whatsoever out of either string or pick

Flexi picks are good for solo work, which is what I recently do, but before, it was mostly hammering on chords and more chords, so they snapped constantly.
#22
i use two different types of picks.

the carbon fiber jazz iii's. and the second thinnest nylon.

they are very different, but they each are important to me.
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#24
The picks absolutely affect the tone!

Use whatever suits your tastes and playing styles. Try as many different picks as you literally can get your hands on!

A buddy just sent me a Pick Punch. For the past few days, I've been playing with thick picks punched from expired credit cards. I positioned the two debossed (raised) lines of characters so my thumb has a comfortable non-slip home to anchor. These are much thicker than the textured Snarling Dog Brain or Dunlop Max Grip picks I typically use, but they do sound and play differently.
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#25
I used to use Tortex, but when Dunlop brought out Ultex I switched over to them and noticed an immediate, albeit very slight change in the tone of the attack - it was slightly brighter and scratchier, which I actually really like. A little more "cutting" than the Tortex was.

As others have said, though, pick choice really just comes down to the individual's preference. The feel of a pick to the player far outweighs its tonal properties.
#26
without reading through all of these posts (no offence, no time is all) I'm going to offer my advice with pick vs tone:

Thinner picks will produce a lighter attack and depending on how you PERSONALLY attack the strings will produce from the lighter attack side a "wispy" tone best used with "full bore" chords (barre and cowboy, etc) to something akin to "harsher" version of that wispy tone.... those very flimsy thin as all get out picks are usually best (think plastic tissue thin) for playing chords with a very "light and airy" sound. This is due to how they bend more around the string than the string doing the bending... thus getting a lighter in volume pick'ed note or strummed chord. The harder and faster you attack the strings, the more of a pronounced "pick attack/pick whip" you will hear. (*pick whip my own term lol). Thinner picks do tend to break more with people that have anywhere near a "medium" (subjective) attack or harder.... so keep in mind that.

VERY thick (Jim Dunlop stubby's for example) produce, with a light attack, a sound that is very chirpy (I mean with a medium to light amount of overdrive/distortion you'll actually pick up "chirp" sounds with a humbucker let alone a single-coil. Outside of that it's the most string bound tone you will get, but you will not get away from the chirp... it's there forever unless you destroy your guitar's tone to do so... and even then... yea I got my self a good ways away from those picks for that reason... used to love em till I heard it finally... must have been blind, deaf and dumb (on my part). Now, this I will say, chirp aside, this will get you a very thick sounding strum or pick of a note... In this I mean the notes and chords you create, and thus their tone, is VERY full and almost over saturated in the smoothness of this tone... to me it sounds like it actually causes it to sound muted because of this... kinda... like it's overly smooth... and actually near flatlines. This kind of tone is PERFECT I find, minus the chirps again, for a sound similar to the heavy fuzz tones you get out of groups like Corrosion of Conformity... but then again that's more up to the effects and eq'ing than their picks. The fun with this pick for beginners into that kind of tone, you don't have to vary your attack too much as from medium attacks to hard and even overly hard attacks will sound the same I find...except in volume of course.

Standard heavy picks... Ok, here you have a nice thickness that doesn't go to far, but provides you the ability to cause the strings to bend around the pick rather than what thinner picks do (in which the pick bends around the string more). This is awesome for most lead passages and single note riffing. Not as good for chords though as medium picks would be.

Medium picks: The best of both worlds, sort of. You get a nice hard tip that will allow you single note riffage and lead passages, yet enough give to allow chords to be clean and clear while also giving the player more comfort in playing chords. The harder you tend to attack with it, the more it acts like a stiffer and thicker pick, the lighter you play it the more it gives like a thinner pick... kinda.


All of this of course assumes the same material. Thinner materials give more and can break more. Harder/thicker materials don't break near as easily if at all (but still wear down over a long period of time). Some materials used for thick picks would be horrible for thin picks, and same goes for the materials used for thin picks... others don't obey this "law"...

Some materials will even absorb some of your string's sound if you are slow and light enough on your attack.

Some materials are bouncy when it comes to striking your strings.... and thus can be a good thing, or a bad thing depending on what you are going for.

It all comes down to your own preferences here for what you're going to like. So as you've already seem to have done... try em all and see what you like most.

I've tried a wide range, and LOVE the Jazz III picks by Jim Dunlop. They give me an incredibly clean, clear, and versatile tone. They are hard enough and thick enough for lead passages, but comfortable enough in my grip to allow easy chord playing, especially power chords. But I could use a thinner variation on this if I get myself more into full chords and such.

I don't know what's going on with that guy and others who are putting down the tone that Jazz 3's produce, but... that's definitely not going on here with me. Then again, I could say what that person said about jazz III's... about tortex picks.

Now I must say this, I don't use standard Jazz III's, mine are the translucent yellowish ones made of Ultex. I find they don't drop out of even the sweatiest of hands ... well my own hands that is when they sweat. LOL.
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Last edited by Outside Octaves at Feb 3, 2016,