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Thread: How thick of a pick?

  1. #1
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    Default How thick of a pick?

    Just wondering how thick of a pick everyone uses? Pros and cons of thick and thin picks?

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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    60/1000ths of an inch, or 1.5mm is a good start for mandolin. Thinner picks generally give you more ping and less projection, fatter picks can more easily drive the strings harder giving you more volume and less tinny high end. Get a pick with a beveled edge if you can. It should be stiff too.

    That said, people do all kinds of great things with all manner of picks, so always experiment for yourself as much as possible.

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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    It depends on how your mandolin sounds. A brighter mandolin will benefit from a thicker pick, a very warm mandolin may not. I use Wegen TF100 at 1mm, I like them thinned down better for my mandolin. Anything heavier and I don't like the sound of my G string. I don't notice much difference on the rest of the strings, but the thickness of the pick depends on how my G string sounds.
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    For a good while now, my favorite picks have been JT's Pix, Style #2, blue polycarbonate at 1.2mm and Wegen white TF120 at 1.2mm and Wegen black TF140 at 1.4mm, and I'm Jonesing to try the Wegen TF100 that pops1 mentioned, I haven't tried one of those yet.

    Pros & cons: We all have different preferences and it is good to experiment with a large variety, I'd say for me a relatively stiff pick with just a little give, like the JT's are great. A stiffer pick like Wegen with hardly any give is fine if the material is right and a bevel is there. Any "floppy" pick is not good IMO.

    David gives the pros of a thicker pick with stiffness. The cons for me for the opposite, that is, a thinner pick with floppiness, is less control of pick noise, and too much flex for accuracy and loss of energy to drive the strings.

    Your question was only about thickness ... just know that thickness does not always translate directly to stiffness in a linear way. You need to concern yourself with materials as well as thickness, and think about stiffness and shape as much as anything else.

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Blue Chip TPR35's for me, so .89mm - I only play Irish trad music, so prefer not too heavy of a pick and the TPR35 seems to be the sweet spot. I've tried TPR40's (1.0mm), like the tone I get with them but feel like they affect my ability to play triplets/trebles so I always end up back with the TPR35.
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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    I have a fun array of picks, 35-65 thousandths. My pick of choice right now is a TAD 40 bluechip. Lots of bite, lots of volume. My thicker picks prove a rounder, or softer, attack, which doesnít cut in the mix of a group. If Iím just playing solo, or recording, I use thicker, live shows or jamming, I like the bite of the thinner bluechips.
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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Golden Gate MP 12 1.5 mm works for me.
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by J Mangio View Post
    Golden Gate MP 12 1.5 mm works for me.
    I have used Wegen picks for 15 years and nothing else works as well for me. I started with the 1.4 guage but then had 2.00mm and if I ever pick up a 1.4 by mistake I know.

    For me it has to be 2.00.

    A Wegen 2.00 pick will make a £500 mandolin sound like a £1000 or more mandolin. Volume and tone. End of story.

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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    1.4 mm is my sweet spot on mandolin. BC CT-55 or Wegen TF 140 are my favs. On OM I play a BC TAD 50 and on guitar BC TAD 40 or Wegen TF 120. But, I can make the thicker picks work for guitar. I used to play Fender Heavies before discovering Wegen, and I haven’t been back since. I play all kinds of music, and my favs still hold...

    As others have said, though, try a bunch and see what works for you. I’ve never bonded with Primetones (They wear too quickly for my), but they are a cheaper way to experiment with BC-esque picks before you drop the big buxxx.
    Chuck

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    Registered User Bill Baldridge's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    You simply have to try different picks with the same mandolin. Every combination will get you a different sound, tone, and volume. To my ear, a BC TAD 50-3R has a fuller, smoother, deeper tone than a BC 60 with beveled point. The greater stiffness and mass of the 60 produces more volume, and when I am sitting across from the banjo player I want volume. But, the tone produced by the heavier 60 after the point has been beveled has less bass and more treble, because at the point of contact it is thinner than a 50 rounded pick with no bevel. So....have fun in the pick haystack. The perfect one is in there somewhere. For many of us, trying every pick put in our hand is just one more way to enjoy our mandolin.

  11. #11
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    I'm now using a Dunlop 3.0 Flow. I never thought I would use such a fat thing on either a guitar or mandolin, but it's overtaken my BlueChip TP1R60 and my Primetone 1.5 for mandolin and guitar. I can more easily get a louder, fatter sound from the 3.0. The catch for me was that it made me improve my technique in order to use it properly.

  12. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    I have evolved through various BC's over time. Started with a thinner LG Jazz 40 and went through some rounded triangles like TPR60 and realized that I preferred a slightly more pointed and a hair lighter pick so now my main one is a TP50.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Over 40 years ago I started playing guitar and used the old Jim Dunlop grey 0.73's or black 0.88. I started mandolin 11 years ago and tried these same picks - just no good. Too thin and floppy, they sound like a baseball card flipping through bicycle spokes.

    No matter what stringed instrument, if your pick is flexing that means energy that could be providing volume/tone is being wasted.

    I gradually went to thicker picks. The best so far for me on mandolin, resonator mandolin, banjolin, mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and guitar are the Wegen M200's (2.0 mm thick). For a brighter tone I use Gravity acrylic picks, also 2.0 mm.

    I've had several Bluechips but they're too dark and subdued/muffled sounding to me. One new-to-me pick that I'm really liking is the Gravity Gold in 2.5 mm. I have the rounded triangle mandolin shape and standard teardrop guitar shape.

    Everyone taking up mandolin should at least try a good thick pick to see if it works for them.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    I started with plain old Fender heavies (.96mm I believe) 40 years ago and I'm still there. I have tried other picks of different weights and materials but seem to always come back to the Fender. It seems like if I go heavier I lose some of the note clarity, if I go lighter I lose tone. Works for me. But everyone has a different style, a different set up, a different preference in terms of sound, etc etc. Best advice I could give would be just to try as many different picks as possible till you find the one(s) that most give you what you want to hear and feel.
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Iím a huge Dawg pick fan. I believe itís about 1.8 mm thick with no bevel. I also play with a manouche pick made in Netherlands that is 2.0 with slight bevel. In general bevels make picks sound too bright for my taste. No pick that I have tried compares with the Dawg pick in terms of volume and the tone is great. I had to learn how to use the pick to get the full effect but that only made my right hand better.

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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoPlayer View Post
    Just wondering how thick of a pick everyone uses? Pros and cons of thick and thin picks?
    Pick thickness makes a noticeable difference in the sound of the mandolin. The pros of one or the other are your preference for the sound, of one, or the other.

    I prefer 0.7 mm for classical and instances where I want to scintillate. I prefer 1.4 mm in genres where the chop matters.
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    Question For what music style ?

    Depends on the mandolin and the strings, and rounded or pointed tips are another variation...


    Several combinations.. in my assortment..

    what musical style do you have in mind?








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  18. #18
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    Over 40 years ago I started playing guitar and used the old Jim Dunlop grey 0.73's
    I used those grey, floppy nylon picks for 50 years! Like you, it was learning the mandolin that turned me away from them, and for the same reason. Floppy picks are a waste IMO.
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Thinner picks from .8 to 1.0 or so work best for my style and instruments. But I don't play bluegrass and don't strive to sound like Monroe.

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    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    I will preemptively say, “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself.”

    https://youtu.be/ldXdnZtTWp8

    But seriously.
    I love the way a CT 55 sounds on the strings. The right hand bevel with a slightly angled attack allos me to get a tone the it quite nice.
    I also greatly enjoy using a TP1R50. The one rounded corner allows me to gain a strong but softer attack to the note. Both enjoyable. Both having their place.
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  22. #21

    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    I'm fussier with guitar picks than mando picks. For mando, give me a guitar pick of from one to two millimeters and I'm happy.

  23. #22
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    For the past few months Iíve really liked the Dunlop Primetone 1.5 rounded triangle(with grip) I like it for flatpicking guitar too. The pros are it produces a tone thatís dark and woody, and kinda thuddy. The cons are it produces a tone thatís dark and woody, and kinda thuddy.

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    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    As it may be with cars or other somewhat technical devices. The higher quality the main product has, the more fussier you may be with equipment.

    A thick pick may make a "cheap" mandolin sound better than a "flimsy" pick. It will not necessarily make a world class mandolin sound good/better.

    It somewhat depends on your instrument, the musical style etc.

    The general consensus here is heavily dominated by (us) bluegrass diehards. In this genre of music a (very) stiff pick will give a good mandolin a good sound. People like David Grisman like a very heavy (2 mm or more) rounded pick. Others (Bill Monroe, Jimmy Geaudreau) like a pointed pick. I find that rounded or pointed makes as much a difference as thick or thin when it comes to sound. I f.ex. switched from rounded (formerly it was the Golden Gate/Wegen pick, then the rounded side of a pointed pick/Tortex Ultem 1,2 mm) to a pointed pick. My verdict is still out for the thickness even though I tend to not overdo it (less than 2 mm, probably around 1,2 mm).

    The brand/material makes as much a difference also. While many are sworn in Blue Chipers I do not see any major benefit in this material. I do like the sound of the Wegen picks very much. I also like Red Bear picks (havenīt heard an update for a while; I believe there were health concerns etc. that slowed the brand down). I like the Hense picks very much (mostly for guitar). And of course I like the illegal material. (I have some that were bequeathed to me, so no legal troubles). I have not tried Primetones (though they have a following).

    If you leave the bluegrass genre things are a lot more diversified. Check this video from Catarina Lichtenberg:



    You will see, that she has quite an assortment of picks on her leg. Picks in the classical field may have different materials and different thicknesses.

    What about electric mandolins?
    Olaf

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    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I used those grey, floppy nylon picks for 50 years! Like you, it was learning the mandolin that turned me away from them, and for the same reason. Floppy picks are a waste IMO.
    Pretty sure there are 10 or 12 of these in my guitarcase right now. But honestly when I play my guitar these days, I tend to use the Wegen TF120 that I use on my mando.
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  28. #25

    Default Re: How thick of a pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    If you leave the bluegrass genre things are a lot more diversified...

    You will see, that she has quite an assortment of picks on her leg. Picks in the classical field may have different materials and different thicknesses.
    She seems to be recommending something very similar to what most bluegrassers use. She shows Mike Marshall's 1.5mm D'Andrea Pro Plec, Caterina uses a 2mm Wolle, and she has a thin pick only to demonstrate how bad it sounds.

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