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Thread: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

  1. #1

    Default Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    So, in my ongoing bid to understand what people are on about:
    What size (thickness, weight - I'm not sure what the appropriate description is) pick do you use, and why?
    I'm not looking for the relative merits of so-and-so is better than such-and-such, just what reasoning is applied to pick usage? (Or acquisition, I've always maintained one of the delights of a hobby is the shopping.)
    For example, just starting out, I'm using a Dunlop 1.14 guitar pick, a slightly elongated triangle with rounded ends, purely because it's what I had (and it's pink, I like pink . I find a thinner pick is too floppy, and I don't yet own any thicker picks.
    Just interested to hear what you all say...thanks.
    Again, my apologies if this is a question that's been asked before.
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  2. #2
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    A general rule is that, all things being equal, a thicker pick will give more volume. 1.11mm is a common thickness for mandolin; in fact, I use the same pick quite often. They are not exclusively guitar picks.

    I've tried fancy picks like the Dawg and Wegen, but I keep going back to the Dunlop. I like to sand or score the face of the pick to give a better grip.

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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Greetings-

    Yes, this is a common and long-discussed topic. But pretty important. My two cents is many, me included, prefer a thicker pick for the tone and volume, and attack, that it provides. For example I usually use a Golden Gate or Dawg pick, at about 1.5mm.
    Last edited by Luna Pick; Jul-26-2018 at 10:48am.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    I started my mandolin journey using my collection of guitar picks and quickly learned that I got better tone with the thickest of my pick collection. I learned from researching the Café that most players use thicker picks, so I experimented with picks from 1.11 to 2.0. After trying out all of the great options in Pick Sampler #2, I finally settled on 1.5mm De Andrea, BC TP50, and Primetone mandolin 1.5.

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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Contrary to other posters, I don't find the thickest pick the best. I use a 1mm, anything thicker and my G string suffers. I feel a thicker pick warms the mandolin, so if your mandolin is brighter then by all means use a thicker pick. If on the other hand your mandolin is warmer on the highs and has a deeper low end the thicker pick will work on the highs fine, but looses quality on the low end. Different mandolins need different picks, strings, etc. You will need to find what works with your mandolin and playing style. Enjoy the search.
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    The wight and style of pick depends upon so many things including your paticular instrument, the age/make/weight/material of the strings on it, the feel/sound you're looking for and, most importantly, how happy you are playing with it.

    Try a few and decide for yourself; that's the only way. It's no use wondering what so-and-so uses - its up to you.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Ah, but you need to understand that I'm a very curious person, and I learnt a long time ago that the best way to learn is to ask questions. I know that my choice is completely up to me, but it helps to have a better understanding of the kind of thing that makes people choose one thing over another.
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  8. #8
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Quote Originally Posted by emmadragon View Post
    Ah, but you need to understand that I'm a very curious person, and I learnt a long time ago that the best way to learn is to ask questions. I know that my choice is completely up to me, but it helps to have a better understanding of the kind of thing that makes people choose one thing over another.
    Nothing wrong with that, Emma, and judging from the dizzying number of these type threads, many, many of us feel the same way.

    I enjoy reading and sometimes contributing to these type threads, sometimes you might get introduced to something new. I don't have any advice here other than to say I believe you should try a variety, and keep experimenting for the rest of your life. The folks who *might* miss out are the folks who have finally decided what they like and then no longer *ever* try anything new.

    My best advice to a newbie wondering about picks is usually to find the Pick Sampler thread in the General Discussion forum and sign up to receive the sampler. Crazy variety of picks contained in there.

    I like best, for now, picks of a thickness between 1.0 and 1.4 mm. Why? Just because that's what I like best right now. My main preference is 1.0 to 1.1 with a pointy tip large triangle.

    That, of course, has nothing to do with what you or anyone else may prefer.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    I use a Blue Chip TPR35 or Blue Chip Kenny Smith 35, which are .88mm in thickness. Tried using a 1.0mm pick for awhile, liked the tone but I prefer the .88mm for playing triplets and trebles - I exclusively play Irish traditional music on the mandolin, if I played bluegrass I might gravitate towards a heavier gauge of pick.
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Well, for my style, or complete lack thereof, a 1.0 thick pick seems to work fine. Right now, am using Blue Chip picks TAD-1R 40. Both on mandolin and guitar. Used them on guitar for years and started with them on mandolin when I took it up. There are times when I prefer a little bit thicker. And sometimes a bit thinner. But for overall 1.0 seems to work.

    I mainly switch between Scandinavian folk music and old time. 1.0 helps the mandolin be heard with accordions.
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    I've been using 1.4mm or 1.5mm big triangles for a long time. For the last few months, I've been playing a lot of electric guitar, which I use a much thinner .88mm single point pick for. I'm going to give these thinner picks a shot on the mandolin. Sam Bush seems to do pretty well with it

  12. #12

    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    I usually use (and have for about 9-10 years or so) a Wegen dipper pick. I believe they are 1.5mm. These picks produce good tone and volume, in my opinion, as well as wearing very little, making them last almost forever. In the almost 10 of playing with this pick, I had to reshape it only a couple months ago, using a metal file and 320 grit sandpaper.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    The travelling pick sampler is a great way to find out how different picks of varying weights, sizes and composition affect your mandolin's tone and volume. The feel, also, plays into the equation. I'm almost done with Sampler 2 and it has been fascinating - so much so that I've been keeping notes on what picks sound best for each genre. Even a few of the thinner picks work well in some pieces, though I do favor 1.2 to 1.7 mm. My next purchase will probably be an OM where I'll need to try the picks all over again.
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    I play a lot of classical and I find for what I play (and my technique,) I prefer thinner picks. I use Blue Chip TD 35 and TD 40, and in other brands I like 0.70 - 0.88mm picks. Anything more than 1mm is too thick for me, and while some like rounded picks, I prefer pointed picks. But as many have said, you need to make your own decisions.

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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    On picks …. you have four things to consider five if you seriously want to count color ….I. shape.... from small teardrops to large triangles to German plectrums sort of a trapezoid . 2. thickness ….. thin is floppy thick can drive the dual courses of short strings and using them requires a relaxed grip and wrist... 3. Materials …. celluloid , nylon , plastic , metal, bone, horn, natural tortoise shell which is now illegal due to the endangerment of that species of sea turtle, and space age products that I can never remember the names of... which brings us to four 4. Cost … from a few for a dollar to thirty-five buck each. Picks need to be searched through and tried out just like strings for your instrument and style of play. I played with shell for years and gave it up as I am down with the turtles. I went through several types of material as I already had my preferred shape and thickness. I wound up using a Bluechip CT-55 on mandolin and a TAD-60 on guitar. Take your time and check out the Traveling Pick Sampler here on the Café or go to your local brick and mortar store and buy several shapes sizes thicknesses and materials to try out. Enjoy the journey. R/
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    My thoughts: When I started mandolin I had a whole lot of guitar picks, a Fender Medium was what I had used for years. Even then I was gravitating to heavier guitar picks as I began kind of bouncing them off of strings as I got faster. Heavier picks allowed me to play cleaner. I think I was using 1mm when I started playing mandolin.

    It quickly became apparent I could get a better mandolin tone with a 1.2, then a 1.4. I use the 1.2 Wegen Dipper for guitar and the 1.4 for mandolin, but I bought a Blue Chip TAD 60 witch I use on one mandolin. Great pick. I have one Wegen pick that is 2.2, and I see it's possibilities. I intend to try a 1.8 next. I think the loose grip needs a thick pick.
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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    This is my favorite:

    https://www.jimdunlop.com/product/51...137-07722-5.do

    I've tried a whole lot of others including some of the high end picks, and still like this the best.The grip is fantastic, the sound is bright and clear. I use one of those four surfaced nail files to slightly round off one of the points,matching the bevel as best I can. This makes the sound a little less bright but it makes tremolo a lot easier IMO. You end up with a pick that can give you two distinctly different sounds. On top of all that, they're pretty inexpensive.

    I find that flexible picks don't drive the strings enough for decent volume.
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
    This is my favorite:

    https://www.jimdunlop.com/product/51...137-07722-5.do

    I've tried a whole lot of others including some of the high end picks, and still like this the best.The grip is fantastic, the sound is bright and clear. I use one of those four surfaced nail files to slightly round off one of the points,matching the bevel as best I can. This makes the sound a little less bright but it makes tremolo a lot easier IMO. You end up with a pick that can give you two distinctly different sounds. On top of all that, they're pretty inexpensive.
    Same here. I tried a bunch of picks including the expensive one. That Dunlop 1.4 is the cat's meow IMHO. And at 3 for $5, it allows me to eat more than cat food for lunch.
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  21. #19
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    I like heavy picks, 1.4-1.5 thick on most instruments. But different picks interact differently with different mandolins, so it's not the same brand pick on each mandolin. The Dunlop primetones do okay most of the time, and they are relatively cheap, so they are the general purpose pick for me, I use 'em on guitar now as well. One instrument works well with a BC 60 pick, another with a heavy (1.3mm) fender Tru-Shell pick, those just stay with the instrument. But my stradolin sounds much better with a lighter pick, something under 1 mm, quite different from my other instruments.

    I keep trying new picks as they appear, it's not much money. Ran into a fellow a guitar show recently making picks out of taga nut, which is used as an ivory substitute by carvers. Very thick, very bright picks.

    The comments about the traveling pick sampler are right on the money, it is really worth the effort to try a bunch of picks on any given instrument. The whole discussion of picks and mandolins sounds so absurd and geeky, but you can really hear it. It's not as bad as fiddle bows at least, we can be thankful for that
    Last edited by Dave Sheets; Jul-28-2018 at 9:21am. Reason: spelling, again
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    On picks …. you have four things to consider five if you seriously want to count color ….I. shape.... from small teardrops to large triangles to German plectrums sort of a trapezoid . 2. thickness ….. thin is floppy thick can drive the dual courses of short strings and using them requires a relaxed grip and wrist... 3. Materials …. celluloid , nylon , plastic , metal, bone, horn, natural tortoise shell which is now illegal due to the endangerment of that species of sea turtle, and space age products that I can never remember the names of... which brings us to four 4. Cost … from a few for a dollar to thirty-five buck each. Picks need to be searched through and tried out just like strings for your instrument and style of play. I played with shell for years and gave it up as I am down with the turtles. I went through several types of material as I already had my preferred shape and thickness. I wound up using a Bluechip CT-55 on mandolin and a TAD-60 on guitar. R/
    You left out an important thing to consider: the contour of the picking edge. The overall shape of the pick doesn't really change the tone, except for the sharpness of the point. The contour of the point makes a big difference in tone, though.

  23. #21
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Quote Originally Posted by Teak View Post
    Same here. I tried a bunch of picks including the expensive one. That Dunlop 1.4 is the cat's meow IMHO. And at 3 for $5, it allows me to eat more than cat food for lunch.
    While finding the link that I posted about the Dunlop,I noticed that there's also a 1.5 .Anyone tried that one and compared it to the 1.4? It's hard to imagine one tenth of a mm would make much difference, but you never know.
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    A thicker pick produces more fundamental, a thinner pick produces mode overtones.

    If you use a pick with no "give," then your hand and fingers must relax. A pick with some flex is often easier for beginners, who havent developed that fine muscle control yet.

    I like a 1.00 mm pick

    Andy

  25. #23
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    People tend to talk about thin & flex as if they're inextricably intertwined ... yes, they are to an extent, but type of material used can be as important to flex as thickness is.

    I most prefer a 1.0 and a 1.2 mm pick at the present time, but the 1.0 is a rigid 1.0 due to the material used. I need a rigid pick, not a flexible one, for my own preference.
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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Hatfield View Post
    If you use a pick with no "give," then your hand and fingers must relax. A pick with some flex is often easier for beginners, who havent developed that fine muscle control yet.
    Andy
    It's a good idea to play with a relaxed hand and fingers right from the start. Your playing will be a lot more flexible if you're relaxed all the way up to the shoulder. You can always bear down a bit more on the pick if the tune requires more drive.
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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick weight (thickness, size, whatever the term is)

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    You left out an important thing to consider: the contour of the picking edge. The overall shape of the pick doesn't really change the tone, except for the sharpness of the point. The contour of the point makes a big difference in tone, though.
    Absolutely. To my taste, a pointier pick may be thicker (about 0.055 - 60“), a pick with rounder „corners“ may be thinner (0.040 - 0.050“).

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