When I first started learning the guitar, I did not use guitar picks.
Because I was obsessed with songs like More Than Words, Tears in Heaven, and basically everything by James Taylor. While all my friends played Blink 182 songs on repeat, I gravitated towards the more easy-listening fingerstyle acoustic. They always called me an “old soul”…but I think I was actually just ahead of the curve.
Times did eventually change as I began to delve into punk rock, metal, classic rock, country, jazz, and everything in-between. As my musical repertoire (and guitars) changed, so did my view towards guitar picks.
Like many beginning guitarists, I started using thin picks. This was mainly due to the fact that if a pick was thicker than .50mm, it would either end up inside the guitar or on the floor due to my inability to hold it tight enough while strumming hard. Judge me all you want…almost every beginner guitarist has this struggle. These picks were so thin that despite the gusto of my strum, my dreadnought was barely audible.
Being the person I am…I decided to make the move from thin picks to heavy picks. At this point, I was moving past just playing chords and was really digging the leads from people like John Mayer and David Jon Gilmour. The thin paper picks couldn’t dig into the strings enough for me to get that coveted “face melting” tone that Jack Black would describe in School of Rock. Having little flex in your pick really can enable you to get more volume and consistency with your lead lines.
As I started leading worship more…I was less concerned with playing lead lines and more focused on singing and keeping down a good rhythm. But I had a problem; I kept snapping my strings playing with heavy picks. I run around quite a bit on stage and strum pretty hard…which caused me to murder a set of strings almost every week mid-set. Since I play acoustic most of the time now, I made a compromise and moved to a light/medium pick gage. I didn’t tell my other fellow guitarists though as I felt like what I was doing was one of the cardinal sins of a somewhat seasoned guitarist.
Out of curiosity, I created a poll and asked a group of mainly worship leaders what gauge of pick they used. Here were the results:
Though you can’t see the top number, 167 guitarists out of 311 said they use Medium picks. That’s more than all the others combined. You may be thinking… “Gee thanks, you just told me something that I really don’t care about”. You’re right! That’s the point.
The guitar pick you use is completely your choice and you should not care what others are using. Every guitar player has a unique playing style, different instruments, and different tone needs. I play mediums because I typically play dreadnoughts and strum the guitar like I hit a hammer. You may play heavy because you play a strat and incorporate many lead lines. Another person may use no picks because they play a classical acoustic and have the wheel power to grow out their fingernails (yes we’re jealous of you). Everybody’s different. Simple as that.
So what’s the best guitar pick thickness?
Answer: The one you like.
Prepare For Worship. A resource provided to you by the easy-to-use worship planning software WorshipTrac.