Raise your hand if you’ve never spent a lot of money on a guitar / amp combo, looking for the best of the best to shape your sound! But how many of you has also considered the pick in the chain of sound?
If we think about it, the sound chain is composed of: ( obviously the hands … mainly responsible for what we hear, let’s not tell stories ????) -> pick -> strings -> guitar (wood) -> guitar (pickup) -> effects -> amp -> speaker.
So, if we exclude the hands (which we cannot change, but certainly shape with the studio), the usually most underrated parts of the sound chain are the pick and the strings (which we will talk about another time).
But let’s see what changes between the various picks, both in terms of feeling and sound …
Sound: tip, thickness and material.
The sound depends mainly on three factors: the shape of the tip, the thickness of the pick and the material.
More pointed picks give a more pronounced attack, with more defined notes, while the more the tip is rounded the more the sound becomes grainy. Which is not bad, it depends on what you want. For example Brian May (not just anyone!) Used a six pence coin. In addition, a smaller tip allows for less surface hitting the string, to the benefit of both execution time and accuracy. So for fast and accurate phrasing it is better to use a jazz pick, or one like the Dunlop Big Stubby. The great John Petrucci , among others, also used the Dunlop Jazz III.
The material also matters a lot, although not as much as the shape or thickness. Like the nut of the guitar, the harder and more resonant the material, the richer the frequency will be. Therefore, wooden picks will have a softer and more velvety sound, while the tusq-like plastic will be more open, and finally the metal will clearly give an even richer sound.
The thickness allows you to keep the shape under pressure. It is like the rubber of a car or a motorbike, if correctly inflated it maintains the shape and therefore the footprint on the ground and optimal grip. The thicker the pick, the more decisive the attack. While thinner picks forgive hoe strokes, thicker ones would risk bouncing off the hand (how many have ever lost the pick from their hands while maybe playing live, with decided embarrassment?). However, thin picks also allow less dynamics than a nice hard one, because while with a thick pick you can choose how hard to hit a string, the soft one has a limit.
This is all personal. It all depends on how you play, how you hold the pick. Jazz players generally argue that only a small fingertip should stick out, but even there, it’s all very personal. Jazz players themselves usually use small picks, while the standard shape is slightly larger. There are also those who use triangular-shaped picks, larger than the classic standard ones.
Finally, for those who do strumming, an important factor could be a groove that adds grip, or a shape that allows for a good surface to allow the right grip.
A valid solution is the zeropikThere are three shapes, small, standard normal thickness and standard extra thickness. The main feature is that they have a hole in the center to promote grip (they are also located onamazon). I bought all three, and personally, while I love nice thick picks, I find the mid-thickness standard to be the best. The thicker one from a too soft sound, should have the most pronounced tip and the point of contact with the smaller strings.
For a year I used the coins, I tried them all. The best are the 1, 2, and 5 cents. Those 1 and 5 sound very similar, practically indistinguishable. They have a great attack, albeit a fairly soft sound (the edge of the coin is rounded). Those of 2 are much worse, even shrill if you do not know how to dose the dynamics well. The edge is much more angular and the sound suffers.
I six pence? Good, but nothing striking. My advice? With 2-cent coins, gently juggling the picking, you will have practically the same sound. Really, try using the 2 cents and you will get enormously close to Brian May’s sound, especially in the rhythm parts.
Therefore? Which pick do I choose?
Once an old guitar teacher of mine revealed to me that Santana used thin picks for a softer attack. So, of course, I immediately tried them too for a while. another teacher, later, however, told me: “you must be able to modulate the force with which you press on the strings, if you use a soft pick you have no dynamics, while if you use a rigid one you can always press less to have a stronger attack soft”.
Currently my best compromise with the electric guitar is the Dunlop Big Stubby , the bigger ones (there are 23mm long or the standard size, 30mm), 3mm thick. The plastic they are made of reminds me a lot of tusq, so I can have a nice sound rich in frequencies, then if I want to cut the highs I can always act from the tone of the guitar. As Joe Bonamassa said in an interview, “it’s better to have a sound rich in frequencies and highs, because when something is there you can always remove it, but when it’s missing you can’t add it”.
In the solo parts I use them with the tip, while I got used to turning them on the run and using them with the rounded part for the rhythms, so as to have a more open and grainy sound, similar if you want to a coin. Again, it’s always a compromise, and if I really want to play a Queen song, I’ll get a sixp. In the case of the picks that I keep in the guitar bag, however, I have all kinds.
Finally for the acoustics, if I have to alternate solo parts with rhythms, I always go to Big Stubby, otherwise if I have to concentrate only on strumming the Dunlop Nylon Standard 0.60 mm are my favorites, they give that “zan zan” on the strings typical of a guitar acoustics. And in some ways they also remind me of the harpsichord.
So I know that as soon as I find something else I buy it to try it, who knows what the definitive pick will be, the sound is always evolving and so is the pick! ????
Published on musicanza.it on: 17/05/2020.