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The 7 Best Guitar Picks for Every Kind of Guitarist

Cool guitar picks

The best guitar picks are the ones that help you achieve the tonal sound you’re looking for, while providing just enough grip and comfortability.

When you take a trip to your local music store or shop for guitar picks online, you will run across thousands of options. Don’t be intimidated! Every guitar player starts off trying a variety of different types of guitar picks.

Guitar picks are made out of many different materials including nylon, plastic, wood, stone, or metal. Some picks are floppy and some are stiff. They can also be small or large in size.

The cool guitar picks on this list each provide a great deal of tonal variation. So if you’re trying to get a nice and bright, jangly sound, or a darker, more muted sound, there is a guitar pick on this list for you!

The 7 Best Guitar Picks for All Guitarists

1. Sharkfin Guitar Picks

Sharkfin - Cool guitar picks

Sharkfin picks give you a lot of versatility, and the way they’re cut provides an easy grip. With a sharkfin pick, you get the traditional sounds that come from a regular pick, in addition to unique tonal qualities brought to you by the knurled edge.

You will be able to achieve different effects by dragging the knurled edge along your strings or brushing them as you strum. These unique guitar picks usually run between $1-$2 and are sold by Landstrom, Dunlop, and others.   

2. Stubby Picks

 

Stubby - best guitar picks

Its small size, hardness, and overall look make the stubby a necessary addition to this list of cool guitar picks. The stubby pick feels comfortable and has a bit of a rough grip which makes it easier to hold.

Numerous brands make stubby picks, such as Dunlop and V-Pick. You can find them for a little over a dollar, then try out multiple brands to see which one you like the best.

3. Nylon Flex Guitar Picks  

Nylon flex best guitar picks

This is a great option for guitarists who want a really floppy pick for strumming, and many reputable brands sell them. The Herco Flex 50 specifically produces a nice, bright tone and gives you all the flop you could need. It also has just enough grip to not slip from your fingers.

A Herco Flex 50 should run you about a dollar, though sometimes the thicker versions cost a bit more. If this option isn’t available at your local music shop, a good runner-up to this model would be the Jim Dunlop Nylon 60mm pick.

4. Star Picks

Star pick - Cool guitar picks

You should definitely consider adding a Star Pick to your collection of best guitar picks. The .73mm pick is an excellent choice from Star Picks because of its hardness. A hard pick produces a bright, biting sound. Some players prefer a pick to have that bite when it comes to playing solos, because it makes the solo pop out of the mix a little more.  

When using a naturally bright guitar like a Fender Statocaster, hard picks are great for getting a little extra tone above the rest of the band. The Star Pick has these advantages, but also seems to grip to your thumb pretty well. It has a small star cut-out which makes it really easy to hold. These unique guitar picks are fairly cheap, usually costing a little less than a dollar.

5. Tortex Picks

Tortex - best guitar picks

The Tortex picks by Dunlop come in a variety of colors and thicknesses, and are fairly inexpensive. Many guitarists like the feel of this pick. You will notice a considerable change in tone when using it, but you may like it if you’re into a more mellow tone.

When you’re using a Tortex pick, the tone does not really become muted, but the ringing quality of some strings are brought down. So if you have a guitar that seems a little too bright, the Tortex might be the perfect pick to help take away some of the harshness.

There are a couple other comparable picks that don’t darken the tone, such as the Clayton 1.07mm pick and the Dunlop Ultex pick. The Clayton is especially easy to keep a grip on.

6. Metal Thumb Picks

Metal Thumb Pick - Cool guitar picks

Metal thumb picks are probably one of the most useful and unique guitar picks to own. These metal finger picks are perfect for boosting the volume on your guitar just a little bit. For only a dollar you can’t go wrong.  

Some people find that using a regular pick is difficult because they are easily dropped, or they get cramps in their hands. The advantage of using a thumb pick is that it doesn’t fall out of your hand when you play.

You can find these cool guitar picks in metal, plastic, and some that are a hybrid of plastic and metal, although the hybrid picks tend to be more expensive. One good thumb pick to check out is the Dunlop 3040T.

7. Felt Picks

Felt picks - Cool guitar picks

Even though they’re marketed for ukuleles, felt picks are very useful for guitarists as well. Felt picks typically run around $1-$2, which is a bargain for the cool tonal variety they bring to your playing.  

The muted sound that you get when playing with a felt pick is truly unique. It’s not muted to an extent that you can’t hear your instrument, but it certainly changes the tone and can make your guitar sound like a totally different guitar. This pick would be very useful in recording sessions if you’re trying to go for the sound of two different guitars, but only have one.

Final Tips

No matter what type of guitar or genre of music you play, there is something on this list of best guitar picks for everyone. Most types of guitar picks run for less than a dollar, so if you can afford it we recommend buying a bunch and trying them all out.

If you want to start out small, try the thumb pick and felt pick first. These guitar picks are the most distinct in the tonal sounds they create, so you’ll be able to really experience and appreciate the variety that different guitar picks can provide.  

This selection of cool guitar picks should give you plenty to try out and practice. You can find them at your local music store or online. Remember that a good guitar teacher can help you learn proper picking and strumming technique, and TakeLessons is the place to go if you want to find an experienced guitar teacher in your area.  

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches acoustic, bass, blues guitar and more in Winston Salem, NC. Willy has been teaching for over 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to adults in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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11 Quick and Easy Tips for Reading Guitar Chord Charts

11 Quick and Easy Tips for Reading Guitar Chord Charts

While it’s true that you don’t need to read music to play the guitar, you should learn how to read guitar chord charts. A guitar chord chart is a visual representation of a chord.

This helpful visual is a little like music-by-numbers; it tells you which finger goes where and on what string, so in case you come across a chord you don’t know, you’ll be able to play it. Here’s an example of a guitar chord chart, also known as a guitar chord diagram:

Guitar Fingering Diagram E minor

Guitar chord charts are a cinch to read once you learn what all the lines, numbers, and circles mean. Are you ready to start learning how to play songs on the guitar? Here are 11 things you need to read guitar fingering charts.

11 Tips for Reading a Guitar Chord Chart

Visualization

The grid of six vertical and five horizontal lines represents the guitar fretboard. If you’re having trouble understanding the basic layout of the image above, hold your guitar in front of you so that the strings are facing you and the headstock is pointing up.

The image of the guitar chord chart represents this same view of your guitar, with strings running vertically and frets horizontally.

Which End Is Up?

Guitar chord charts are more commonly situated vertically (like above) rather than horizontally, especially in songbooks. It’s good to learn to interpret both vertical and horizontal grids though.

Righty or Lefty?

Since guitar chord charts are typically written for right-handed guitarists, they provide a challenge to left-handed players, who have to do a bit of re-visualization by flipping the chart around. If a given source doesn’t provide a left-handed version, you can download left-handed guitar chord charts online.

Chord Name

The letter at the top of the chart is the name of the chord.

RELATED: 20 Easy Songs with Basic Guitar Chords

Vertical Lines

The vertical lines on a guitar fingering chart represent the six strings of the guitar. The low E string (the thickest one) is on the left of the diagram, followed by the A, D, G, B and high E string, which is on the right of the diagram.

The string names are sometimes noted at the bottom of the guitar chord chart.

Horizontal Lines

The horizontal lines on the chart represent the metal frets on the neck of the guitar. The top line will generally be bolded or marked by a double line, which indicates the guitar’s nut. Fret numbers are sometimes noted to the left of the sixth string.

Chords Beyond the 4th Fret

If the guitar fingering chart is depicting frets higher than the fourth fret, the top line on the chart will not be bolded (or doubled) and fret numbers will be shown, either to the left of the sixth string or to the right of the first string, to help orient you on the fretboard.

SEE ALSO: How to Read Guitar Tabs

Black Dots

The black (or red) dots on the diagram tell you which frets and strings to place your fingers on. The numbers inside the dots indicate which fingers to use on each of the frets. They correspond to the four fingers of the fretting hand.

Number 1 is the index finger, 2 is the middle finger, 3 is the ring finger, and 4 is your pinky. You don’t use the thumb to fret, except in certain unusual circumstances. In those cases there would be a “T” inside the black dot.

Fingerings can also sometimes be found written along the bottom of the strings of a chord chart, or between the nut mark and the chord name instead of inside the dots.

X’s and O’s

An “X” above the bolded nut mark indicates a string you don’t pick or strum. An “O” in the same location means to play the string open.

Alternate Fingerings

You may come across a suggested chord fingering that you simply cannot contort your fingers to play. In this case try experimenting with alternate fingerings. The most commonly used chord fingerings, however, will work for most guitarists.

How a Barre Chord Is Charted

As you probably already know, barre chords are chords that involve using one finger, usually your index finger, to hold down multiple strings in a single fret simultaneously.

A barre is noted on a guitar chord diagram by a curved or solid line running through a fret from the first note to the last note of the chord, or by a series of dots in the same fret that all bear the same number.

Ready to give it a shot? Check out this infographic from Guitar Domination to learn 32 essential chords. [Preview below]

Learn to Read an Acoustic Guitar Chord Diagram

 

About The Author

Guitartricks.com is an online subscription service that has provided video guitar lessons for beginners and advanced players since 1998. The site has more than 11,000 video lessons and 600+ song tutorials. Learn more about the site with this Guitar Tricks Review.

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Why is My Guitar Feeding Back? A Guitar Feedback Guide

Why is My Guitar Feeding Back

Does your guitar make a shrieking noise when you sing and play? Do you want to harness its power for good? Here, guitar instructor Zachary A. explains the phenomena of guitar feedback and how it can be manipulated to enhance your music…

An Example of Feedback

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of guitar feedback is Jerry Garcia, the guitarist for the Grateful Dead. Creating a paralyzing shriek, he manipulates guitar feedback in a wizardly fashion, pushing the boundaries of the electric guitar and his amps.

Below is an example of Garcia playing around with feedback.

When you think of feedback, you’ll likely remember sitting in a class assembly – as the person at the podium conducts their speech, a loud shriek comes over the auditorium.

This screech, which is referred to as feedback, happens mainly due to a sound loop that occurs between an audio input device (a guitar or microphone, for example) and an audio output device (an amp or speaker).

What Causes Feedback?

All that’s needed for feedback to occur is the components of a basic public address system; a public address system consists of a microphone, amp, and speaker.

Feedback happens when sound is amplified out of the speakers, then travels back through the microphone, and is amplified again, and then sent back through the speakers for a second time. This loop happens so fast that it creates its own frequency, which results in the infamous shrieking noise. It’s one of the many guitar tones that you can produce.

When musicians talk on the subject of feedback, the comments are mostly negative due to this howling sound that’s produced in the middle of the song they’re trying to play. In addition to the dreaded sound loop, feedback occurs when the gain is too high in the output of an amplified instrument.

As well as ways to minimize and control feedback, there are many ways to increase the chances that feedback occurs. One main point that needs to be reiterated is that feedback occurs in a system that’s at a point of high gain and resonance. This can make it particularly challenging to control, but it can be accomplished.

How to Prevent Guitar Feedback

First, we’ll discuss ways that you can reduce the chances of feedback happening. Then, we’ll dive deeper into the ways of working magic with feedback.

One major change you can make to keep feedback down is by monitoring the amplified volume of your instrument in relation to the space that you’re playing in.

Another quick and painless way to reduce feedback is to change the position of your microphone and or speaker so that the speaker output isn’t feeding directly into the microphone. Keep the speakers further forward, closer to the audience, then the microphones further back.

Other ways to avoid the dreadful shriek are to use a directional microphone. Also, speak or sing close to the microphone; practically kissing the microphone. Also, turn off the microphone when it’s not in use, thus equalizing the signal and lowering the frequency.

Another way is to lower the speaker output. There are devices you can purchase that can be connected in between the monitor and the amp in order to reduce the amount of audio frequency that occurs.

How to Manipulate Guitar Feedback

Feedback can be used as a very interesting tool for a musician, as we heard in the Jerry Garcia video. There are a few ways to increase your chances of feedback happening so that you may utilize this technique.

For example, use a higher gauge string – they vibrate for a longer period of time and require less feedback from the output to hold a note. It’s just another way to transform your guitar sound.

Another simple cosmetic change you can make to increase the amount of sustain and feedback your instrument produces is by making the guitar as rigid as possible. If you have a bolt-on neck, make sure the screws are tight or this will reduce the sustain of the strings.

The old method to increase feedback was to connect a treble boost before the amplifier to overdrive it. Another cosmetic feedback enhancer that can be done is lowering the pickups to increase the distance between the pole pieces in the pickups and the strings.

Although some people choose to raise the pickups to produce maximum drive to the amplifier, this will decrease the amount of feedback that may occur. Unfortunately, pole pieces are magnetic and close proximity to strings will dampen the vibrations.

 

Now go out and create some scary horror movie sounds using feedback and get creative with it. You can use feedback to convey a vast range of sounds and emotions! Happy playing!

Zachary A

Post Author: Zachary A.
Zachary A. is a guitar instructor in Katy, TX specializing in beginning and intermediate students. Zachary has been playing for more than four years. He is currently earning a bachelor’s degree in music theory. Learn more about Zachary here!

 

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The F Chord: Guitar Chord Misconceptions and Beginner Tips

The F Chord on the Guitar

If you follow our blog, then you’ve already seen the best tips and tricks for learning guitar chords, but what about playing the infamous F chord on guitar? In this blog post, we’ll address common myths about the F chord and give you some helpful advice that will make playing it more easy.

Misconceptions About the F Chord

The six-string F chord is one of the hardest standard chord shape to play on the guitar. When many people try to play the F chord on guitar (and often succeed) it’s with far too much struggle and effort than is actually necessary. Even extremely influential guitarists can have a hard time with barre chords.

There are plenty of guitarists who can play the F chord without keeping the following points in mind, but for everyone else, here are a few misconceptions to watch out for as you practice F chords (and many other six-string barre chords).


F Chord question about barres

1. Barre chords are too hard. Can’t I just play a different F shape?

This is a good point, and to be honest, sometimes you shouldn’t bother with all six strings. Maybe three or four notes are plenty for the sound you’re looking for.

But there are other times that you really need a full six-string sound, or perhaps you need the low F to keep the bassline across the chords shaped the way you want.

In case you don’t want or need all six strings, below are a couple other options. Included are the six-string F shape, two Fs with fewer strings, and a common chord that is often played when guitarists don’t want to play the full F chord.

Beware, this last example is actually an Fmaj7 chord (notice the open E on the first string). 

F Chord 1 F Chord 2 F Chord 3 F Chord 4


F Chord question about finger position

2) Do I have to press down all six strings with one finger?

No. This is where many people struggle when first learning the F chord. If you look carefully at the chart above, you’ll notice that there are only three strings with dots on the first fret.

This means that you can hold down the low F (first fret, sixth string) with the tip of your index, and curve your finger slightly above the center strings and press the two highest strings with the base of your curved index finger. You only have to press down half the number of strings as most people think! It may take some time practicing but it will save you a lot of energy. 

Once this technique is mastered, it’s possible to actually cover all six strings gently (muting them all) and then while strumming, isolate specific strings to press down one at a time with the same finger position muting the rest. It sounds tricky, but it can definitely be done!


F Chord question

3) If I can’t make all the notes play, I should just squeeze the neck more, right?

Another big misconception among guitarists is that barre chords, like the F chord, require lots of pressure from the thumb pressing forward on the neck. This often works, but takes much more energy than players usually realize.

Because of this, after a few measures of a barre, beginning guitarists often complain of pain or cramping in the thumb or wrist.

The pressure you put on the back of the neck works against your fingers pressing on the strings. Because of our natural reflexes, our body tells our fingers to press extra hard, so the notes tend to ring but with lots of extra work on our part.

Resist this urge when practicing and playing the F chord. Many guitarists can play barres without their thumb touching the neck at all! 

Conclusion

Now that we’ve proved wrong some of the common myths about the F chord, have fun practicing it! Keep in mind that it will take a lot of time and effort to comfortably play the F chord without thinking about it too much. A good guitar teacher can show you every variation of the F chord, so if you have any problems with the normal F chord, you’ll be set up for success.

If you’re just starting out as a guitar player, check out the 5 basic guitar chords for beginners. Share about your previous experiences with the F chord and other barre chords in the comments below!

Kirk RPost Author: Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He earned a bachelors of music in Guitar Performance at The College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and he is currently pursuing a masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!

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