Fix that Boring Pick!

01 Jan

On my quest for interesting guitar sounds, I found that I liked brighter, shimmering tones at times, and more muted tones for softer passages. Experimenting with picks was fun. I tried all sorts of materials from brass to aluminum, to steel, various plastics… basically anything I could cut into the shape of a pick. Laminating several sheets of material together makes some interesting sounds as well.

What I settled on was a variation on the basic pick most of us use. I took a pair of diagonal cutters and cut the first 1/32 inch (about a millimeter) off the sharp point of the pick, making a flat edge.

The effect on the guitar sound is dramatic. While it still sounds like a plastic pick, the high end is accentuated, and it works really well to get a guitar lead cutting through the mix, and being heard over that guy in the back of the band banging on all those brass platters (that’s the drummer, I’m told).

To get a more mellow sound, I just turn the pick around in my fingers and play with one of the blunt edges. That works better for rhythm work, or bluesy low volume passages.

So take a set of cutters, or even nail clippers, and clip the tip of your pick and slip in a hip trip. It’s like having two guitars in your hands.


2 Responses to “Fix that Boring Pick!”

  1. Annie January 31, 2016 at 2:47 am #

    Cool idea. Sometimes I play guitar with picks, other times with my fingers. I find that playing with fingers can improve and transform coordination and guitar sound.

  2. Gabe May 15, 2016 at 7:11 am #

    i’m going to try that. I’ve used Clayton 1mm teardrops exclusively for years. After some recent experimentation with different picks I also now also use the V-pick by Chicken Picks ($5 a pop – not sure it’s worth it, but I do like they way they roll off the string nicely so i always keep 4 or 5 around).

    I read about someone famous who always scuffed his picks before using them. He hated new picks for some reason, and preferred old beat up ones (Can’t remember who…). In a convoluted way I attribute to that story, i started pulling from my pick graveyard (a small wicker bowl in my garage guitar shop) and filing off the teeth marks, restoring the edges with a fingernail file…. and I liked it. They already fit my finger shape, slightly bent and worn from use. Then I started filing the tips a little more round, less pointy. i liked that too, similar to the V-Pick feel. Finally, on a fluke I drilled a small (1/4″?) Hole in the center so my finger and thumb would touch a little to prevent rotation when strumming or picking fast.

    End result, I now use old Clayton Teardrop picks with filed tips and a hole and love them. I even put a hole in my V-picks. I know… ODC, Right? But it gets shit done!

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