Celluloid Picks made by Fender and many other companies are standard. They're fine but the thin ones break easily.
I have a slight preference for Dunlop Ultex .73 picks when playing an acoustic. They provide a little more friction when striking the string, creating a pleasing chime sound. I haven't used the lighter ones but I'll bet they're more durable than Celluloid.
My favorite pick for playing electric is the Dunlop Nylon Standard .88 pick. It has a grippy surface and won't tear like the celluloid picks.
If you struggle with holding on to your pick, Cat Tongue Picks are the grippiest I've found.
This is a pick. I still see guitar instruction books that call it a plectrum, but I don’t know why--no one else calls it that. Some guitarists like Jack Johnson strum with their fingers because they like the more muted, mellow sound you get. But I’d say 95% of guitarists prefer the crisp sound of a pick.
Picking a Pick
They come in a variety of thicknesses, materials, and textures. I recommend you get at least a variety of thicknesses so that you can experiment and find the gauge you like. Thin picks are easiest to hold on to, but they have a clickety-clackety attack that a lot of people don’t like--the attack is the sound of the pick hitting the string. Thick picks sound great, but because they don’t flex, you have to grip them lightly and let them flutter between your fingers as you strum. Until you get more experience, this’ll mean the pick flies out of your hand every five seconds. So for now, use light or medium-gauge picks. I’ve got some of my favorites listed below.
Gripping a Pick
For a long time I held my pick like this. It made it a little easier to hold onto playing songs like “Pinball Wizard”. But most guitarists hold their pick like this, and I’ve come to realize that this is really the best way. Once you start picking individual strings, this grip is going to give you more accuracy than the more loosey-goosey grip.
Here’s how you do it. Make a fist like this. Relax your fingers so that your thumb is resting against the side of your pointer finger. Slip a pick in so that it’s pointing perpendicular to your thumb with about half of it showing.
Ok, let’s use this thing. In the next lesson I’ll teach you how to strum.
How's it going?
Are you loving the lesson? Confused? Have a suggestion? I'd love to hear from you.