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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2006 » Archive through February 21, 2006 » Guitar players: What pick do you use? « Previous Next »

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Advanced Member
Username: tom_z

Post Number: 277
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 8:18 pm:   Edit Post

Okay, this may seem like a small thing but I've noticed an audible difference in tone when I use different picks. I'm wondering what you all use and why?

Iíve tried pretty much everything thatís come down the pike, but recently I've come full circle after over thirty years of playing to celluloid picks. Lately Iíve been using Pyramid or Fender extra-heavy picks in the standard teardrop shape. They are comfortable and sound clean and clear to me. I also like the feel of Ibanez metals. They appear to be plastic, but they apparently have some kind of metal in their surface, which eventually wears off. They have a nice subtle drag on the string that makes the tone kind of shimmery. The Ibanez picks also sound nice on an acoustic guitar. And since it's so difficult to get real tortoise, I have also been playing with Tortis brand picks (supposedly a type of synthetic tortoise). They are expensive but very rich sounding.

While I'm at it - What strings are you using and what gauges?

Lately I've been using Pyramid strings .011 - .048 on my Skylark and .012 - .054 on my other electric guitars. They have a beautiful tone and remain very flexible and fast even in heavier gauges. They also seem to last significantly longer than any of the $5 strings I was using.

Just wondering what else is out there, and what sounds good on an Alembic.

Username: zuperdog

Post Number: 21
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 6:08 am:   Edit Post

I've grown very fond of Clayton teardrop picks. I'm back and forth between the .63 and heavier, but usually stick right around there. Picks weigh heavily on your tone, as well as your right had "connection" to the guitar, and are a very personal thing.

I was using Elixir 11s on my electric for a while, but just recently switched back to D'addario. I'm still using elixirs on my acoustic, as they seem to last just fine, but I wasn't getting the same long life out of the electric version.

That being said, I'm not playing an Alembic... yet! Les Pauls and a 335.

Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 930
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 7:08 am:   Edit Post

Pick: Jim Dunlop .88 tortex - the green one

Strings: .10 on top, usually D'addarios, but right now I'm experimenting.

Anybody ever try the Jellifish pick?

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 1685
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 7:34 am:   Edit Post

I'll agree with Rob: Picks, strings, etc. are a very personal and subjective thing.

Personally, I can't use regular celluloid picks. I mean I can, but after a few minutes, my right hand gets so sweaty, I can't hold on to the pick. The lack of friction not only makes it harder to hold, it makes it harder for me to feel and controll the strings IMHO.

I like a stiff pick (thin pick's have that spongy feel that adds a "delay" that I can't stand, IMHO), so I use relatively heavy guage Dunlop Nylon picks (i.e., grey - 73mm).

They sound good (on both acoustic and electric steel strings) and are a lot easier to hold onto and string feel is good with the added friction. They have lots of guages (not just L,M & H) and are available everywhere.

I've read lot's of stuff about pick preferences...including players going thru hundreds to find the "right" one (McLaughlin?), and others (like King's X's Ty Tabor) who are so dependent on a particular pick that they simply can't play without it, etc.

Strings are the same deal. I've used D'Addario XL nickel steel roundwounds (with plain "G") on my electric solidbodies with good results for over 20 years:

(XL-120: 0.009 - 0.042 for 25.5" scale, XL-110: 0.010 - 0.046 for 24 3/4" scale).

I've used D'Addario Phosphor Bronze roundwound strings on my flat-top acoustics (EJ-116 Light: 0.012 - 0.053's for 6str. and EJ-37 Light: 0.010-0.047 for 12str., all with wound "G") for nearly 30yrs. and I love 'em.

My guitar guy uses GHS bulk strings to make up his owns custom sets and the tension, guages and shapes are close to the D'Addarios. When I get a set-up, that's what he uses.

FWIW, I am currently using his "custom" nickel roundwound strings (O.012 - 0.054) on my Heritage Golden Eagle 17" JazzBox (wound "G") with good results. As a pro Jazzer, he bucks the traditional flatwound string convention on archtops.

His advice: Use nickel uncoated roundwounds (electric) for better tone and NO stainless UNLESS you have stainless frets or your frets will be toast. Keep 'em wiped clean and change 'em often.



(Message edited by kmh364 on January 31, 2006)
Advanced Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 318
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 9:12 am:   Edit Post

For picks, I use the Jim Dunlop Heavy (the red one).

For strings, I go light. My hands aren't huge and I'm a lazy player (low action etc...) I've been using the Ernie Ball Super Slinky's (9-42)on almost all my guitars. At one point, I had Extra Slinky's (8's) on my Les Paul, Orion and PRS. They were a little too flimsy. I have 10's on my Zemaitis, which sound great, although bending is a little tougher. I just bought some Hybrid Slinky's (9,11,16,26,36,46) which I haven't yet tried.


(Message edited by jalevinemd on January 31, 2006)
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 1687
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 9:40 am:   Edit Post

FWIW, Since I originally started on an acoustic with 0.012's, I used 0.012's (with wound "G"'s)on my first electrics. Over the years, I got lazy and started playing lighter guage strings. Now, as I am studying Jazz and have been playing my Archtop with 0.012's exclusively, going back to my LP or Strats with light guage strings is a piece of cake. You don't even feel like the strings are there and bending is effortless. You also don't realize how much better heavy guage strings sound until you switch back to "human hair" guages, LOL!

Working out on my Alembic basses (with 0.45's) also helps to keep-up the finger does the Planet Waves finger exerciser my guitar instructor gave me as a XMAS present.
Username: rusty

Post Number: 15
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 1:57 pm:   Edit Post

I used to use 3mm purple scalloped picks, I think they were Dunlaps. About a year ago I switched to a 2.5mm agate pick I bought from Picks and Stones.

The attack is not as agressive as plastic, very smooth. Triplets are effortless. I seem to get from string to string quicker, but who knows. I was a little wary of speding $20 bucks on a pick, but there is no wear at all and after a year I still have it. I guess it's like buying an expensive pair of sunglasses, you tend to keep better track of them than the ones you paid $2.00 for at the Turnpike reststop.

As far as strings, D'Addario 10's.
Username: applejuice

Post Number: 10
Registered: 1-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 3:00 pm:   Edit Post

I use the clayton picks (don't know the size) and the green .88 dunlops. If I am not close to picks, nickels work and sound great. For strings I use Elixer 10's. They last awhile and sound real good.
Username: daveo

Post Number: 22
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 4:11 pm:   Edit Post

For about 8 months now all I can use are the Dunlop Ultex 1.0. They are light, feel great, have a good hold for me and don't bend much. The sound is outstanding on my 335 with strings .11-.50. I use DR high beams on that guitar and they sound great. On my Tribute I've been using DR 10-46 and like both the "Tight-Fit" and "Pure Blues" versions, although I've been thinking about bumping up to the 11-50's on my Tribute. I'm just afraid of the truss rod adjustment that may go along with the change. Best of luck to you...
Advanced Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 336
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 4:34 pm:   Edit Post

For years I have only used the Dunlop Big Stubby 3.0mm.
In the past i have tried many picks and prefer the big stubby because it doesn't move. Thinner ones tend to flex too much for me and seem less accurate.

They do give a bigger tone and more clarity whereas the thinner ones to me seem a bit too think and when strumming you get more pick noise as the plectrum flicks the strings.

Since I've been using my new Orion I have found the big stubby makes a big whack as well as the chord soound when doing a reggae chop strum.

I'm trying to hold the plectrum lighter to reduce that sound but I may in the end have to use a lighter gauge pick for just rhythm playing.

As for strings, my preference for tone is D'addario's EXL's 9 gauge. However the coating doesn't last long enough so when touring i use the Nano coated Elixir strings of the same gauge.

Intermediate Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 123
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 6:23 pm:   Edit Post

I use Adamas Graphite picks. I think they are 2mm. I like them because they are completely stiff but very light. Also, there's a good texture to get a grip. They have a bit of an edge when new, but that wears off quick. They are great for guitar and bass (the pick of choice for Jerry Garcia and Trey Anastasio).

Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 610
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 6:46 pm:   Edit Post

Just In from The Old School:

For the slap/pull-challenged among us (I'm first in line), back in the Analog Age of AM Radio, many of our Recorded Forefathers (and Carol Kaye) used a plectrum to play bass . . . I know this is a shock to the chronologically challenged among us.

I still do. Fender 355-style BIG triangles, Heavy.

J o e y
Username: jack

Post Number: 36
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 12:30 pm:   Edit Post

Picks are for noses.

Actually I dig the way picks sound, especially in hard rock and metal. Never had the patience to acquire that skill though.
Advanced Member
Username: tom_z

Post Number: 281
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 2:12 pm:   Edit Post

Rusty - the stone picks look interesting, and if a stone pick helps to create a more subtle attack (i.e. less pick sound) it might be a nice tool to have in the box. The price is high, but around what I paid for the Tortis brand pick.

Edwin - I haven't played with an Adamas Graphite in many years and I didn't realize they were still available (none available here in Vegas in the stores - that I've seen, anyway).

Kevin - if you like the tone of heavier strings and that bend like lighter gauge strings you might try Pyramid Nickel round wound.

I agree that picks and strings are subjective and personal, but I'm always looking to expand the toolbox of tone so I appreciate the responses. =)


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