The Wild World of Guitar Picks in 2020

Everybody knows that guitarists love gear.  We all check out our friends' pedalboards, geek out over different pickups or after market modifications, and many of us have a drawer full of over drive pedals we don't know what to do with.  That said, one of my favourite gear rabbit holes to venture down is the wild world of guitar picks.

The impact that your guitar pick has on your tone is often overlooked, but these inexpensive and easily available little tools can provide the much needed change in tone that breathes new life into your playing, and holds you back from purchasing that hand wired fuzz pedal or custom shop guitar for a little while.  And all of this at the cost of a cup of coffee.  Most of the time..

Let's take a look down this rabbit hole together, starting with some tried and true models.  If these picks aren't something you've ever played with, I highly recommend you give these a try.

Dunlop Tortex 0.73mm

If you're a rock or blues player, chances are you've seen these picks around.  And this pack of 72 of them should last at least a few weeks before they all end up in your washing machine.  At 0.73mm thick, these picks are thin enough to maintain a bright and present tone, but durable enough that you won't wear them down too quickly or bust or crack them when playing agressively.

Fender Heavy 

The Fender Heavy pick offers a bit of a darker tone than the Dunlop 0.73's, but is still used widely across a range of genres.  These picks are celluloid, which is a little smoother than the Tortex picks.  This material provides a little clarity and makes this pick great for any use.

Dunlop Jazz III

The Dunlop Jazz III's are a super small sized pick, and a little bit on the thicker side at 1.38mm.  These picks are commonly seen in not only jazz playing, but alot of shredding heavy metal and in the hands of many fast, technical guitarists.  Their small size is intended to help in fast alternate picking, and the pick itself is pretty dark sounding.  

Jim Dunlop Prime Tone

Venturing now into the world of premium guitar picks, these Dunlop Prime Tone picks are hand burnished.  At 0.73mm, these picks are the same thickness as the popular yellow Tortex picks, however there is something about the material of these picks that gives them a slightly fuller tone than the Tortex, and they feel a bit firmer, as if they give away to the strings less than the yellow Tortex picks.  If you're willing to pay the slightly more expensive price, they're definitely worth it!

StoneWorks Hand Carved Stone Picks

Here we are finally in the world of boutique hand crafted guitar picks.  This market is surprisingly large, with lots of small businesses hand carving picks from a variety of materials including shells, stones, animal bone and horn.  While it may seem crazy to pay around $20 for one pick, these picks made from stone really will not wear away the same way that nylon, or other plastics will.  If you can manage to keep track of this pick, and not lose it in your car, you can hang on to this pick in pristine playing condition for a very, very long time.  

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