Tone Tuning: Choose the Right Pick!

Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by AxemanVR, Feb 23, 2021.

  1. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    I use to be one of those guys who would use the exact same pick for every guitar set up, but eventually discovered how much of an impact different thicknesses and materials directly affect a guitar's tone.

    By "directly affect" I mean a change in pick type can change the guitar's tone as much as, dare I claim, pickups!

    I know what you're thinking: "BS!" but I'm telling you, if your pickups sound a little muddy or too bright, try using a different thickness pick before ripping them out in favor of something else. Furthermore, I'll go though a whole pack of picks that are supposedly the same thickness and "fine-tune" my sound" since I've heard differences in tone from one "Medium" pick and another "Medium" pick. I'm not kidding!

    I first noticed this while playing acoustic guitar years ago. My Guild D-40 was so rich and thick sounding that I had to go from "Heavy" to "Medium" picks to dial in a more balanced tone. Ever since then I have been trying different pick types in order to get the optimal sound out of each instrument.

    Anyway, picks are cheap (a lot cheaper than pickups) so what do you have to lose?



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  2. Reno922

    Reno922 Strat-Talker

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    I think you're right on the money.

    I came across a old video of myself playing and thought, "Wow, I used to be a lot better, my tone is way worse now than 3 years ago." But then I found an old worn out pick and suddenly my tone was back.

    I guess Fender changed the way they make these picks or maybe it was the material, but I finally found some these old confetti type picks in a Mom and Pop store and bought about 10 of them.

    When I lay an all black Fender heavy pick on top of a Fender confetti heavy pick, the confetti pick is larger and seems to have different edges.
     
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  3. Antstrat

    Antstrat Most Honored Senior Member

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    I agree in spades! In my opinion you will hear more of a difference using different picks than a lot of internet must do upgrades.
     
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  4. RobZ69

    RobZ69 Senior Stratmaster

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    I do agree, but I hardly ever use a pick. I've been practising with one lately but I struggle.
     
  5. jwj1701

    jwj1701 Strat-O-Master Silver Member

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    I use V picks, and they are not cheap. Acrylic for a strong attack.
     
  6. ChrisD

    ChrisD Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    Yeah picks make a huge difference. Material, thickness, how you hold it! I'm currently using 3mm Dunlop Flow picks. Love them.
     
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  7. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    You are correct! I can clearly hear a difference between materials. My wife thought I was nuts when I told her that brass and copper picks have a different sound. Then I explained how other different materials affected tone and I got :rolleyes: from her. lol
     
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  8. cranky

    cranky Senior Stratmaster

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    Huge difference. For me, at least, the thicker the pick the thicker the tone.

    The difference is more pronounced on acoustics, where I really prefer nothing thicker than around .60. I use something like a .42 for fast strumming like Ramble On.
     
  9. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    @AxemanVR I think you're understating your case. The difference between a pick and fingerstyle is bigger than the difference between any "vintage" style Strat pups.
     
  10. thebowl

    thebowl Strat-Talker

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    I agree that a lot of folks seem to rip out pickups at the drop of a hat. They also seem to ignore making adjustments to pickup height, which is a very easy way to change tone. I just did that yesterday to one of my guitars, after having had it professionally set up.

    I have many picks at all price points. My feeling about picks, to paraphrase Louis Armstrong, is that there are two types- good ones and bad ones. Full disclosure is that I never use one with an acoustic guitar, or with a slide.

    my favorites are Blue Chips and bone and horn picks made by Bob Colosi, with Ultex right behind.
     
  11. Jasco

    Jasco Strat-Talker

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    I rarely ever use picks unless I'm recording something that absolutely calls for one. Then I choose the pick based on the tone needed. I've got a jar of picks I've found at open jams over the years of all sizes, thicknesses, materials, etc... for this purpose.
     
  12. GuitarGeni

    GuitarGeni Strat-Talk Member

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    Couldn't agree more. I used to only use one type or one gauge or brand of pick. Now I find that I use many different picks depending on what sound I want. Also use a lighter gauge for strumming to make it a little smoother and easier on my wrist. Heavier if I'm playing lead or something that needs a little more umph.

    Definitely cheaper than any other mod or upgrade!
     
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