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The Best Guitar Picks to Strike the Right Cord

A close-up of a guitar players hands strumming with a wooden pick.

When it comes to picks, guitar enthusiasts and professional players tend to have their favorites. Performers can even be superstitious about them, often needing to use a new pick with every performance. So it is important to find a pick that is perfect for playing and admiring.

Fun fact: picks, or plectrums, were originally made of wood, stone, or quills. Then in the 1800s, tortoiseshell reigned as the most popular material until the 1900s with the invention of celluloid. No matter your material preference, there is a pick to fit your performance. Here are some fantastic guitar picks we recommend.

Purchasing Guitar Picks

So what qualities do guitarists look for in a pick? When shopping for your next set of picks, consider these important factors:

  • The Feel: When broken down, the general feel of a pick entails release, tone, and memory. Release involves how quickly a pick snaps back after you strike the guitar strings. Memory is about how long it retains its shape over time, and tone is a synthesis of release and memory. In addition to memory, tone, and release, the pick’s shape size, thickness, and material affect the overall feel.
  • Gauge: In general, thin gauges produce brighter sounds, and thick gauges produce darker sounds. What’s your style? If you are new to this, consider a variety pack that allows you to explore different tones.
  • Instrument: Most picks work well for acoustic guitars. Electric guitars, however, are a bit different. If you have an electric guitar, check out thicker, heavier gauge picks.
  • Material: What a hotbed for controversy, at least among enthusiasts. There is nylon, celluloid, acetyl (aka Derlin or Tortex), and wood. Do some research, then try something!

Best Sampler Pack: Fender Premium Picks Sampler

An assortment of colorful guitar picks.

If you don’t know what you want, why not get a sample of everything? These picks are made from celluloid, which tends to create a warm, full tone. This Fender sampler includes thin, medium, and heavy gauges, so you get to try them all out. If you are new to the instrument, this pack allows you to explore a range of sounds. The sampler also gives you a multitude of colors and allows you to choose between 12, 24, and 48 packs.

Best Sampler Pack

Fender Premium Picks Sampler - 24 Pack Includes Thin, Medium & Heavy Gauges

A HUGE brand name in the guitar world, and their picks do not disappoint.

Best for Electric Guitar: JIM DUNLOP Variety Pack

Twelve different guitar picks in different colors and featuring different illustrations.

For electric guitar, thick picks are most popular. The JIM DUNLOP variety pack offers a number of pick materials, gauges, and shapes to complement your playing style and sound. The pack includes 12 popular Dunlop heavy gauge electric guitar picks: standard, jazz III, max-grip, celluloid, gator grip, Tortex, and Ultex.

Best for Electric Guitar

JIM DUNLOP Electric Variety Pack Guitar Picks, 12 Pack, Multi-Color

With one pack, you get 12 popular picks for plucking away.

Best Value Set: BARKER CREEK D’Addario Assorted Pearl Celluloid Picks

Five different colored picks positioned in a flower shape.

D’Addario is known for its high-quality pearl celluloid picks, a material that produces a warm, fat tone. Choose between light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy gauges and packs of 10, 25, and 100. Their light gauge (50mm) is great for strumming; medium gauge (70mm) for strumming and articulate playing; heavy (1mm) for strumming and articulate picking; and extra heavy (1.25mm) for highly articulate playing.

Most Unique: Yeshone 10 Pieces Exotic Wood Guitar Picks

An assortment of different wood guitar picks ranging from light beige to dark brown.

The wooden pick produces a warm, earthy tone compared to celluloid, nylon, or acetyl. Some say that wooden picks bring out the acoustic of the acoustic guitar. The outstanding characteristics of the Yeshone wooden picks are the sheer variety of exotic wood used: The 10 picks include African red sandalwood, chacate preto, golden sandalwood, olive wood, maple guitar, rosewood, and ebony. Each pick features a thumb impression and finger groove for a comfortable grip. Additionally, the set comes in a nice storage box.

Best for Beginners: ChromaCast Sampler

Twelve guitar picks, all different colors, positioned in a ring.

The ChromaCast sampler really is perfect for beginners, many of whom are kids. In this colorful sampler, you get six Duralin (also known as Acetyl or Delrin) picks and six celluloid picks. Duralin is a material that’s strong, stiff, fatigue-resistant, dimensionally stable, and has low friction. It gives the guitarist the ability to highlight the bright sound of the pick hitting the strings in contrast to celluloid picks, which provide a warm tone. The pack includes a variety of gauges and colors to match every style.

Best for Beginners

ChromaCast CC-SAMPLE Sampler Guitar Picks (12 count)

This option includes picks made with different materials, gauges, and colors.

Britta Kallevang Britta Kallevang
Britta is a professional writing tutor and freelance writer that is trained in journalistic, technical, and creative copywriting. At LifeSavvy, she researches products, writes about the items, and shares what she's uncovered with readers. Her writing is comprehensive and sometimes a bit silly. Read Full Bio »
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