View Full Version : Pick Thickness
I'm sure this has probably been addressed a gazillion times....but....Over the past few three years I've been trying different picks to see what works best for me. Of course I latch onto one pick and like it for awhile and then find something different that I like better. I was loving a Bluechip 40 for the longest time. I tend to like thinner picks and tried thicker picks (i.e. Dawg, Red Bear JR) and found I wasn't fond of the thicker ones but I think this was mostly due to the shape of the two picks. I need something a little pointier. I recently had a birthday and a friend of mine who makes tortoise shell picks gave me one. Feeling obliged to use it, I've been playing with it for about a week. I have mixed feeling. I like it cause: 1) The texture of the pick helps to keep if from turning in my fingers while I play. 2) I get a woodier sound out of my mandolin. The downside for me is that it sounds as though I'm losing volume. The pick is 1.4 thick. So is this to be expected, the loss of volume with thicker picks?
It depends on your picking stroke. Some strokes need the pick to move out of the way so you can get past the string properly, other strokes need the pick to stay rigid and for the string to do all the moving. If you match the wrong pick with your stroke something's not going to work right. You'll lose volume or tone or both.
I don't much about picking technique but one difference is that some folks get really deep into the string and others use only very, very tip of the pick. And the ones who get deep sometimes use a "rest stroke" type geometry and other keep the stroke shallow and moving across the string rather than down-and-through. I'm more of a down-and-through type and thin picks just make a slappy sound so I stick to 1.2mm-1.4mm maybe even 1.5mm ones. But I never strum and when I try strumming a little that thick pick wants to skip off the strings and not get the volume I expect (so I would try probably a 1.0mm or 0.88mm if I were going to strum something).
But it's really down to your own stroke. There are certainly very good players who never use thick picks (Norman Blake?) and others who always use thick picks. Picking's weird.
The downside for me is that it sounds as though I'm losing volume.
And the downside for the tortoise?
I'm not sure what I'd do if someone gave me a tortiose-shell pick. Since the life's already been lost, there's probably no point in letting the pick go to waste. I might give it a try, but I think after the first sleepless night I'd have to pass it along.
I'm with you on that part, Laird.
as brent pointed out there are a lot variables at work. for me i've always gotten more volume w a thicker pick. trying to hang volume wise with two gypsy style gtrsts ...one using a 3.0 Wegen and the other using a 5.0 Wegen....the only way i could come close is w a thicker pick.
i'll sometimes go as thin as 1.5 but prefer picks for both gtr and mando in the 2.0 - 3.0 range. and it's not just volume...i also prefer the feel and tone...the "security" of a thicker pick. YMMV