• Billy Jones

Size doesn't matter. Does it?

Pick size, that is!


What did you think I was talking about?


Pick Primer


Guitar picks are used for a few reasons. They help:

  • create a sharper and louder sound than your fingers

  • increase playing speed

  • support different techniques such as strumming or palm muting


The main quality of a guitar pick is indicated by gauge. This number indicates the thickness of the pick.


A pick with a low gauge of 0.6 mm or less is light, thin and flexible. These picks can be especially good for strumming.


A pick with a high gauge of 0.84 or higher is heavy, thick and rigid, best for precision and speed.


Pick Shapes


The 2 most common pick shapes are the "Standard 351 Shape" and the "Jazz III".



The standard pick shape gives you more to grab onto.


The smaller size/shape of a Jazz III pick is known for helping you "glide" or "slice" through the stings faster and with more ease because there is less surface area to push past each string.


The shape of the pick you choose comes down to preference. If you are interested in a specific technique that many players do, and they use a certain shape and gauge of pick, you may want to try it out!


Remember, it will take awhile for a new pick to feel normal to you if you've been using the same type of pick for a long period of time.



My Pick Story

When I started playing guitar, and for many years, I swore that the Fender Medium 351 pick (0.60mm) was the best. I used these picks exclusively for almost 20 years.


Medium picks are the most versatile. With the Fender Medium 351, I could strum with a bit of pick noise or I could work on precision techniques.


However, over the past two years, my guitar playing started to grow in a different direction.


I started playing more electric guitar with a focus soloing and technique. This led me to begin studying and listening to more instrumental guitar players. I started to focus on increased speed and working to get clear crisp notes without a lot of pick noise.


This new approach required a different pick. Now I’m using the Dunlop Ultex 0.79 gauge. It’s a similar shape as a Fender Medium but firmer.


I also pick up a Jazz III from time to time, but it hasn't quite clicked yet!



So does the size of the pick matter?


If one of your goals is to play fast on the electric guitar, you need to us a higher gauge pick. Anything less than 0.79mm will prevent you from reaching your true speed potential.


Many of the fastest guitar players use a small very firm pick called a Jazz III. The most common Jazz III gauge is 1.38mm.



Get Inspired By The Greats


Here are the picks that some of my favorite guitar players use:



Try Something New


Ultimately, when it comes to pick size, it's about your goals and your comfort.


But it can be worthwhile to try a different pick.


A simple switch might make the difference and help you reach your goals faster.


 

If you are looking for guitar education like this that goes beyond just learning a bunch of songs, Bones Jones Music is the place for you.


Schedule a free introductory lesson today!