Metal guitarists often debate whether thin or thick picks are better for playing their genre. While some prefer the light touch of a thin pick, others swear by the added control and power of a thicker one.
This article explores the factors that make a pick suitable for metal and compares the pros and cons of thin and thick picks.
The thickness of a guitar pick affects its tone, volume, and control. Thin picks are more flexible and produce a brighter, more trebly sound, ideal for fast picking and shredding.
Thick picks, on the other hand, are stiffer and give a fuller, warmer tone, better for heavy riffing and chugging. However, thicker picks require more effort to play and may cause fatigue or discomfort over time.
Key Takeaways on Are Thin or Thick Picks better for Metal?
- The thickness of a guitar pick affects its tone, volume, and control.
- Thin picks are more flexible and produce a brighter, more trebly sound, while thick picks are stiffer and give a fuller, warmer tone.
- The choice between thin and thick picks depends on personal preference, playing style, and skill level.
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The Role of Guitar Picks in Metal
Guitar picks, also known as plectrums, are an essential accessory for guitar players. They come in different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses, and each one can produce a unique sound and feel. In metal music, the choice of pick can have a significant impact on the sound and style of the guitar playing.
When it comes to metal, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to guitar picks. The thickness of the pick is a matter of personal preference and playing style. Some guitarists prefer thin picks, while others prefer thick picks. The choice of pick can also depend on the type of metal music being played.
In power metal and thrash, for example, guitarists tend to use thinner picks. Thin picks allow for faster and more precise picking, which is essential in these styles. Black metal and death metal guitarists, on the other hand, often use thicker picks.
Thick picks produce a heavier sound and are better suited for the aggressive playing style of these genres.
Doom/stoner metal guitarists may use either thin or thick picks, depending on their preference. The slower, more deliberate playing style of these genres allows for more flexibility in pick choice.
Thin vs Thick Picks: Understanding the Differences
When it comes to playing metal music, selecting the right pick can make a significant difference in the sound produced. The thickness of a pick is one of the most crucial factors to consider when making a choice.
Thin picks, which are usually between 0.38mm and 0.60mm, and thick picks, which are between 0.73mm and 1.5mm, are the two main options available.
Thin picks are popular among metal guitarists because they are flexible and produce a brighter sound. They are also easy to control, making them ideal for fast picking and shredding. However, they may not be suitable for players who prefer a heavier sound because they produce less attack and volume.
On the other hand, thick picks are less flexible and produce a darker, more powerful sound. They are ideal for players who prefer a heavier sound and those who play with a lot of distortion. However, they may not be suitable for fast picking and shredding because they are harder to control.
The size and shape of the pick can also affect the sound produced. A larger pick will produce a louder sound, while a smaller pick will produce a softer sound. The shape of the pick can also affect the attack and volume produced.
The gauge of the string being played can also affect the choice of pick thickness. For example, thicker strings require thicker picks to produce a fuller sound, while thinner strings require thinner picks to produce a brighter sound.
Material Impact on Tone and Control
The material of a pick can have a significant impact on the tone and control of the guitar. Different materials can produce different sounds and levels of control, making it essential to choose the right pick for the desired effect.
Wooden picks are known for their warm, mellow sound and are popular among acoustic guitar players. However, they are not commonly used for metal music due to their lack of control and durability.
Celluloid and nylon picks are affordable and widely available, making them popular among beginners. They produce a bright, snappy sound and offer excellent control. However, they can wear down quickly and may not be suitable for heavy metal playing.
Plastic picks, such as those made from Delrin or Tortex material, are popular among metal guitar players. They provide excellent control and produce a sharp, aggressive sound. They are also durable and can withstand heavy playing.
Carbon fiber picks are relatively new to the market but are gaining popularity among metal guitarists. They provide excellent control and produce a bright, clear sound with a strong bass tone.
Pick Shapes and Their Influence on Playing Style
When it comes to playing metal music, the shape of the pick can have a significant influence on the player’s style.
There are various shapes of picks available in the market, including rounded, pointy, teardrop, triangle, and more. Each shape has its own unique characteristics that can impact the sound and playing style.
One of the most popular shapes for metal picks is the teardrop shape. This shape is known for its versatility and is suitable for various playing styles. The pointed end of the pick allows for precision when playing complex riffs, while the rounded tip provides a smooth sound when strumming chords.
Another popular pick shape for metal is the triangle shape. This shape is ideal for shredding and playing fast-paced solos. The three edges of the pick provide a firm grip, allowing for quick and accurate picking.
The rounded tip shape is another popular pick shape for metal players. This shape provides a smooth and warm sound, making it ideal for playing melodic solos. The rounded tip also allows for easy string bending and vibrato.
When it comes to the tip type or edge type of the pick, players have two main options: pointed or rounded. Pointed picks are ideal for precision and accuracy, making them suitable for playing complex riffs and solos.
Rounded picks, on the other hand, provide a smoother and warmer sound, making them ideal for strumming chords and playing melodic solos.
Pick Size and Its Effect on Precision and Speed
The size of a guitar pick can have a significant impact on a player’s precision and speed. When it comes to metal music, the right pick size can make all the difference in achieving the desired sound and style.
Thick picks, typically measured at 1.0 mm or higher, are ideal for metal players who want a heavier, more aggressive sound.
The thickness of the pick allows for greater control and accuracy when playing fast, intricate riffs. It also provides a more substantial grip, making it easier to hold onto during intense playing sessions.
On the other hand, thin picks, typically measured at 0.6 mm or lower, are better suited for players who want a more delicate, nuanced sound. They allow for greater flexibility and finesse when playing softer, more melodic passages.
Thin picks also tend to have a smoother attack, which can be useful for achieving a cleaner, more defined sound.
It’s important to note that the choice of pick size ultimately comes down to personal preference and playing style. Some players may find that they prefer a thicker pick for certain songs or techniques, while others may prefer a thinner pick for a more versatile sound.
The Impact of Pick Thickness on Volume and Sustain
The thickness of a guitar pick can have a significant impact on the volume and sustain of the notes being played. Thicker picks tend to produce louder and more sustained notes, while thinner picks produce softer and shorter notes.
This is because thicker picks are stiffer and require more pressure to flex, which results in more energy being transferred to the strings. Thinner picks, on the other hand, are more flexible and require less pressure to flex, resulting in less energy being transferred to the strings.
The stiffness of the pick also affects the attack and tone of the notes being played. Thicker picks produce a sharper attack and brighter tone, while thinner picks produce a softer attack and warmer tone.
It’s important to note that the thickness of the pick is not the only factor that affects volume and sustain. The material of the pick, the shape of the tip, and the angle of attack also play a role.
Personal Preference and Skill Level
When it comes to choosing between thin and thick guitar picks for metal, personal preference and skill level play a significant role. Some guitarists prefer the flexibility and playability of thin picks, while others prefer the sturdiness and control of thick picks.
Personal preference is subjective and can vary from one guitarist to another. Some guitarists may find that thin picks produce a brighter and more articulate sound, while thick picks may produce a fuller and more powerful sound.
Ultimately, the choice between thin and thick picks comes down to what feels comfortable and natural for the individual player.
Skill level is another factor to consider when choosing between thin and thick picks. Beginner guitarists may find that thin picks are easier to handle and control, whereas experienced guitarists may prefer the precision and responsiveness of thick picks.
However, this is not always the case, as some advanced guitarists may prefer the flexibility and finesse of thin picks for intricate playing techniques.
Popular Picks for Metal
When it comes to playing metal, choosing the right pick can make a big difference in the sound and feel of your playing. There are many different picks available on the market, but some have become particularly popular among metal guitarists. Here are a few of the most popular picks for metal:
1. Dunlop Tortex Standard
The Dunlop Tortex Standard is a popular pick among metal guitarists. It is made from Tortex material, which provides a good grip and durability. The standard shape and thickness of the pick (0.88mm) make it suitable for a wide range of playing styles.
2. Fender 351
The Fender 351 is another popular pick for metal. It is made from celluloid, which gives it a smooth surface and a warm tone. The medium thickness of the pick (0.71mm) makes it easy to play fast and precise.
3. Jazz III Ultex
The Jazz III Ultex is a smaller and thicker pick that has become popular among metal guitarists. It is made from Ultex material, which provides a bright and articulate tone. The thickness of the pick (1.38mm) makes it ideal for heavy playing and fast picking.
4. Ernie Ball
Ernie Ball offers a range of picks that are popular among metal guitarists. Their Prodigy picks are made from Delrin material, which provides a good grip and durability. The thickness of the pick (1.5mm) makes it suitable for heavy playing and fast picking.
Gibson offers a range of picks that are popular among metal guitarists. Their Standard picks are made from celluloid, which gives them a smooth surface and a warm tone. The thickness of the pick (0.71mm) makes it easy to play fast and precise.
The choice between thin and thick picks for metal depends on personal preference and playing style. Thin picks are ideal for players who prefer fast picking and strumming, as they are more flexible and allow for quick movements.
On the other hand, thick picks are better suited for players who prefer a heavier attack and want to achieve a fuller tone.
It is important to note that both thin and thick picks have their advantages and disadvantages. Thin picks may wear out quicker and may not be suitable for heavy playing, while thick picks may be more difficult to control and may produce a harsher tone.
Ultimately, the choice between thin and thick picks for metal comes down to what feels comfortable and sounds best for each individual player. Experimenting with different pick sizes and materials can help players find the perfect pick for their playing style and preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal guitar pick thickness for playing metal music?
The ideal guitar pick thickness for playing metal music is subjective and varies from person to person. However, most metal guitarists prefer thicker picks with a gauge of around 1mm to 2mm.
Are thin guitar picks suitable for playing metal music?
Thin guitar picks can be suitable for playing metal music, but they may not produce the same sound or feel as thicker picks. Thin picks are generally more flexible and may not be able to handle the heavy playing style of metal music.
What are the advantages of using a thicker guitar pick for metal music?
Thicker guitar picks offer more control and precision when playing metal music. They can also produce a heavier sound and are less likely to bend or break during intense playing.
What are the disadvantages of using a thinner guitar pick for metal music?
Thinner guitar picks may not be able to handle the heavy playing style of metal music and can produce a weaker sound. They are also more likely to bend or break during intense playing.
Which guitar pick thickness is preferred by professional metal guitarists?
Most professional metal guitarists prefer thicker guitar picks with a gauge of around 1mm to 2mm. However, the ideal pick thickness can vary depending on the guitarist’s playing style and personal preference.
What are the best grip guitar picks for playing metal music?
The best grip guitar picks for playing metal music are those that offer a secure grip and prevent slipping during intense playing. Some popular options include picks with textured surfaces or rubber coatings.
My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!