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How to Choose a Guitar Pick

A guide to pick materials, shape and thickness.

There are a couple famous guitarists who use money for their picks. For example, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) uses a Mexican peso and Brian May (Queen) uses a British coin.

A pick is usually one of the most important inexpensive accessories to select, often costing a little more 25¢. A trip to a music store reveals just how many choices there are for guitar picks. In fact, it is quite astounding. So how do you pick your pick?


There are a lot of materials used in making pick, but the most common are:

  • Celluloid: Is a plastic which is probably the most common material used for picks.
  • Delrin: Another plastic which has a slightly a dull finish which makes easier to grip.
  • Nylon: This material can have raised lettering which provides additional grip.


You’ll find numerous shapes for picks, but dividing them into three categories helps:

  • Small: Sometimes known as jazz picks, with slight variations. Some players like to use these for speed.
  • Large: These are easier to hold onto. Occasionally each of the three corners are the same.
  • Standard: Technically referred to as style 351, this is the shape you will find most often. If you don’t have a preference, you might just want to go with Goldilocks on this one, as it tends to be just right.


Fender uses words to describe thickness such as thin, medium, heavy and extra heavy, while other brands might give the exact millimeter measurement.

An analysis of popular players will show that there is great variety in the types of picks used. Pick throwing has always been a ritual rock stars partake in and if you’re lucky, maybe you will catch one that can be your weapon of choice. In the meantime, a starting point would be to try the medium standard sized picks made of celluloid (Fender Medium) and as you play more, experiment with others.

To learn more about how to use a pick when alternate picking, watch this video from Fender Play. And if you're not a member yet, click here for a free trial.