Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big plectrum test 2021. Here we present all the picks we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best pick for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to when buying a guitar pick.




Summary

  • A plectrum is the right thing for you if you want to protect your picking hand and fingernails or if you want to achieve a certain sound with your guitar.
  • Picks are available in different thicknesses and materials. Depending on your guitar model, string gauge, habits and genre, you should choose the right pick.
  • The cheapest plectrum is a plastic plectrum, which costs about 0.05 to three euros per piece. Other materials such as wood, horn or casein are more expensive and cost up to 17 euros per piece.

The Best Plectrum: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should deal with before buying a pick

Are you thinking about buying a plectrum, but are a bit overwhelmed by the choice and the different offers? Then you've come to the right place, because we explain what you should look out for when buying picks.

What is a plectrum?

A plectrum is a small plate that is used to strum the guitar strings. It is made of different materials. The shape of the plectrum can be drop-shaped or triangular. Picks come in different thicknesses and are made of different materials that affect the sound of the guitar.

Why do you need a plectrum?

A plectrum is useful for protecting your strumming hand and fingernails when playing the guitar. But even if you prefer a certain sound, it is worth buying a plectrum. You have to try out which sound of the guitar you prefer and then you can decide on the material of the plectrum. Under the point "Buying criteria: These are the criteria you should pay special attention to when buying picks" you will find more information about the different materials and their sound colour.

Decision: What types of picks are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of picks:

  • Classic plectrum
  • Fingerplectrum

Due to the shape, the respective functionality of these types of picks is different. Therefore, there are different advantages and disadvantages with each of these types of construction. Depending on the intended use and preference, a particular pick is best suited for you and your stringed instrument. In the following section, the differences between the individual types are explained further so that you can decide for yourself which pick is the right one for you.

In addition, the individual advantages and disadvantages of each type are clearly compared and described. Basically, there is no such thing as a wrong pick. For musicians with large hands, for example, larger picks are suitable, while guitar players with thin fingers and small hands prefer small picks. You should therefore try out different picks to be able to decide on the one that suits you best.

What are the characteristics of a classic pick and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The classic pick is held between the thumb and index finger - sometimes also between the thumb, index finger and middle finger. The tip is pointed towards the body of the stringed instrument. When striking or plucking the strings, the hand is simply guided over the strings.

Did you know that the most expensive pair of plectrums in the world costs around 3,200 euros? These two picks owe their proud price to the material they are made of. These are picks made from a meteorite that is around four billion years old.

In certain musical styles, such as rock, hard rock or heavy metal, the use of a plectrum is an important requirement in many pieces of music. The hardness and thus also the material play an important role here, as soft picks are more suitable for playing chords and ballads. On the other hand, harder picks are often used for harder-tempo pieces of music, as it is easier to play a fast sequence of notes and to switch between power chords and riffs. In addition, using a plectrum is also easier on your fingertips.

Advantages
  • More pressure and control
  • Easy to handle
Disadvantages
  • Can fall out of hand
  • Fingerpicking difficult

When playing a stringed instrument with steel strings, your nails can tear quickly and your fingertips can get sore. Especially during longer sessions and practice sessions, this could become a problem. Musicians with thin nails should therefore always carry a pick in their pocket for emergencies.

What are the characteristics of a finger pick and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The finger pick is a further development of the classic plectrum and, unlike the latter, does not have to be held between two fingers. The pick is simply placed on the thumb or a finger. Depending on whether you want to pluck or strum the strings, a particular finger pick is best suited for you. You can choose between a finger pick for the thumbs with lateral alignment or a pick with straight alignment. The side-facing pick is attached to the thumb with an additional clip and is basically held like a classic pick.

Advantages
  • Versatile
  • Suitable for musicians with sensitive nails
Disadvantages
  • Requires practice
  • Clip can twist

The plectrum with straight alignment is also placed on the thumb. However, the tip here serves as a nail extension and protects your fingertips in case of weak or short fingernails. Additional picks in different sizes can be easily attached to the rest of the fingers for both versions.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate picks

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible picks. The criteria you can use to compare the picks with each other include:

  • Material
  • Strength

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Material

Besides the plastic pick, which is the most commonly used and best suited for beginners, there are a variety of materials from which picks are made. Casein, is a protein derived from milk, and is similar to the originally used material tortoiseshell. Picks made of horn not only look very nice, but also have a certain hardness and can therefore be used for a long time. Bone also lasts a long time and has a high strength.

Stone is a very hard material and therefore hardly shows any signs of wear. Depending on the material of the pick, the sound produced also changes. The hardness of the material also determines the wear of the pick. The sound of a stone pick is cool and you can hear the touch of the strings. Picks made of wood need a certain strength, otherwise it wears out quickly. The wooden pick has a warm sound.

Depending on the material, a plectrum has different sound characteristics. Harder materials produce rather cool sounds, softer materials rather warm sounds. (Image source: pixabay.com / Didgeman)

Leather is a natural material and is processed into a thicker plectrum. Metal is a very thin material that has a longer or shorter longevity depending on the metal. The sound is rather cool. The "harder" materials, such as metal and stone, produce a rather hard, rough, cool sound and the "softer" materials, such as wood, produce softer sounding tones and warmer sounds. In the following table, we would like to introduce a few more materials and discuss their characteristics:

Material Sound pattern Description
Acrylic glass Warm Acrylic glass picks are very resistant, which means that both thin and thick picks are no problem. The big advantage is that this pick develops a strong grip even at low heat and therefore does not slip out of the hand so easily.
Felt Wadded, Soft These picks are usually very large and thick so that the functionality can be guaranteed. Due to their characteristics, felt picks are more suitable for special applications, such as a mandolin.
Leather Warm Leather picks are characterised above all by their lightness and pliability. In addition, the plectrum is very thick and is best suited for the ukulele or bass.
Bone Balanced, Full Bone picks usually have notches, which should allow for the most ergonomic posture possible. This pick offers little resistance and is also characterised by its long durability.

Thickness

The thickness also influences the sound of the guitar. Picks are available in the strengths light, medium and heavy. There are also intermediate grades such as extra light, light-medium, medium-heavy and extra heavy. The thinnest pick starts at 0.51 mm and medium picks start at about 0.76 mm. A plectrum with a thickness of approx. 1.01 mm can be classified as heavy.

Thickness Designation
Approx. 0.38 mm Extra light (very soft)
Approx. 0.51 mm Light (soft)
Approx. 0.64 mm Light-medium (medium-soft)
Approx. 0.76 mm Medium (medium)
Approx. 0.89 mm Medium-heavy (medium-hard)
Approx. 1.01 mm Heavy (hard)
Approx. 1.14 mm Extra heavy (extra hard)

Thinner picks are usually more flexible and therefore produce a soft sound, thicker picks are more expressive and produce a harder sound. Buying picks is a matter of taste and depends on which pick you prefer to play with, which sound and which material you prefer!

(Image source: unsplash.com / freestocks.org)

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