9 reasons to consider thick guitar picks

Guitar picks thin vs thick:

Why you should consider thick guitar picks

When you are new to guitar, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of different guitar picks.
Should you choose a thin or thick guitar pick?
Even though you are a beginner at guitar. In this blog we’ll let you know 9 reasons to consider thick guitar picks.

Thick guitar picks have several benefits, you don’t find in thin and flexible picks, even when you’re not a pro.
These are benefits in tone, playability, durability and versatility.

When is a guitar pick heavy or light?

Guitar pick thickness, also known as gauge is measured in millimeters (mm).
In general guitar picks gauges are classified in certain groups.

  • < – 0.6mm may be called Light. And in my opinion “Extremely Light”.
  • 0.6 – 0.9 mm medium picks
  • 0.9 – 1.4 mm Heavy picks
  • 1.2 mm and thicker will be Extra Heavy

At ChickenPicks guitar picks we start at 2.0mm, which we call Light; check the guitar pick size chart for all models.

Plectrum or pick?

You will see both names and both mean the same. “Guitar pick” has its origin in the American English language.
Plectrum comes from British English. But in general, we speak about picks.

The word plectrum is found in early papers around the 15th century.

Heavy but still flexible

1.2mm – 1.5mm are so-called Heavy picks. But they may still be kind of flexible, no matter what material they’re made of.

Standard Heavy: very uncomfortable

A standard 351 model Heavy pick for instance, may not feel very comfortable for many people. This is due to the fact that they are sturdy and do not feel well balanced.

Using standard Heavy picks may give you the feeling that you have to work harder.

High-end Heavy: very comfortable

Some thick boutique kind of guitar picks have beveled edges, which allow you to glide of off the strings very easily. When you are new to guitar, a high-end guitar pick may not come up in your mind immediately, but it may help you a lot.
Check this article about how easy these picks play.

Beveled edges guitar pick

The image shows the beveled edges of a thicker guitar pick (i.e. Badazz III). These allow you to let the pick glide on and off the strings extremely easy.
The sharp edge get you that amazing attack and control. Besides that pick noise is reduced with these beveled edges.
And because it is extremely sharp, it does not feel too far from home when you are used to thinner picks.

Pick slanting may help, but you have to change your playing technique

We already said it, to glide on and off the strings effortlessly, it helps to do some pick slanting.
By turning your picking hand slightly clockwise or counter-clockwise, the edges of the pick will touch the string.

Upward- and downward slanting

Upward in this case means that the side edge of the pick nearest to the fretboard, points to your face. Downward slanting of course, is the opposite of that.

With rounded- and pointy tips as well, this may help the pick roll off of the strings easier.

Beveled edges are some kinds of built-in pick slants

Thicker picks with beveled edges give you the feel of pick slanting, but you don’t have to work on your slanting technique. This is the reason why these picks play so easy. Once you try some, you will immediately feel the difference and ergonomic way of playing.

This is my story on making my favorite ones

The uncomfortable feel of standard Heavy picks for me was the reason to create something that suited my needs.
From that moment in 1986, I made my own picks in 2.6mm, just for my own use.

Read more about my guitar pick journey that led to start ChickenPicks guitar picks in 2010.

Thick guitar picks

Materials used

In stores you may see mainstream plectrums.
All of them are made from different materials, whether these are light-, medium- or (extra-) heavy etcetera.
Here are a few to mention.

Celluloid guitar picks

This material was invented in the 1800’s. but in use for modern guitar picks since 1922 by Luigi D’Andrea.
The history of guitar picks is interesting.

Real celluloid picks are still available, but mostly replaced by one of the next materials.

Celluloid picks

Celluloid picks are quite flexible because of the structure of the material.

Nylon

Still used a lot, but extremely flexible and slippery. Guitar tone with Nylon picks does not have a lot of body and sustain.

Delrin

Popular for cheap guitar picks and a lot more rigid related to Nylon and celluloid. But still bendy and tone wise it misses bottom-end.

Acrylic

Popular for thicker picks and much more rigid. Tone wise, these picks deliver a wide variety of the tone spectrum. These picks are more expensive than mainstream thin picks, but the lifespan is longer.
Although the material is rigid, it is not extremely hard. As a result, these picks wear fast when used with metal strings.
They also may become jagged, which causes pick noise.

Ultem

This material is comparable to Delrin, but stiffer and it may last longer.

Thermoset

This is an extremely hard material that lasts for months or even years when used for guitar picks. Thermoset is the name for a thermosetting plastic. Contrary to regular plastic this is a ceramic material. It is baked, instead of solidified after melting. This makes it heat resistant.
Thermoset picks absolutely don’t bend. The tone of these picks is different because of the higher mass. Higher mass means more tone within the whole tone spectrum.

Other materials (boutique guitar picks)

More different materials are used for guitar picks, especially for boutique guitar picks. Think of stone, bone, glass and wood.
You should check them on the internet as most brick & mortar stores will not carry them.
Picks made of these materials are some kind of super nice knickknackery.

We wrote an interesting article about boutique guitar picks in general. Read more about boutique plectrums.

9 benefits of using thick guitar picks

  1. Increased Control: Heavy picks provide greater stability and control over your strumming and picking technique. This can be especially advantageous for intricate passages or fast-paced playing styles.
  2. Better Tone: Heavy picks produce a fuller, richer tone compared to lighter picks. The more mass brings more energy to the strings, resulting in a fatter sound.
  3. Durability: Heavy picks often last longer. This is because they’re mostly made from denser materials. This make them more durable than lighter picks. These picks are less prone to bending or breaking while played aggressively. They will last longer.
  4. Reduced hand fatigue: While heavy picks require less effort to play, they may reduce muscle fatigue.
    More mass means less force is needed. Heavier picks produce more volume out of the strings.
  5. Versatility: Heavy picks are versatile and suitable for various playing styles and genres, from heavy metal to jazz. They offer a balance between the warmth and precision of thicker picks and the flexibility of thinner picks.
  6. Articulation: The extra weight of a heavy pick can improve articulation and attack on single-note lines or lead playing and strumming as well. This may help notes to stand out more clearly.
  7. Adaptability and grip: Heavy picks are great for different playing styles by adjusting grip. This allows you to fine-tune your sound. And thicker picks may have beveled edges, which makes it easier to glide on and off the strings.
  8. Less string breakage
    Although you expect having more string breakage with heavy pick then as with light picks, that is not true. Fact is, with thick guitar picks your guitar delivers more volume out of the strings. So, you should pick less hard by gripping less firmly. This also is a benefit in prevention of hand fatigue.
  9. Less picking delay
    With thin and flexible guitar picks, there’s always some kind of delay because the pick bends. With heavy or thick guitar picks you will eliminate this. We wrote an interesting article about why guitar picks should not be flexible.
Heavy guitar pick

Best guitar picks for acoustic guitar

Although acoustic guitars are different to electric guitar at some point, there is no specific guitar pick for acoustic guitars.
Finding out what the best guitar picks for acoustic are for you, means that you have to check out different models, thicknesses and materials.
In another Guitar Essentials we wrote some useful guidelines for choosing the best picks for acoustic.

Why do jazz guitarists use thick and small guitar picks?

Jazz guitarists often use very heavy gauge small guitar picks (>2.0mm), because they typically play faster single note lines, but they also need slightly more mellow tones.
Most jazz guitarists like to use small guitar picks with mostly sharp tips, called “jazz shaped picks”.
Most famous models are the Dunlop Jazz III and ChickenPicks Badazz III  

What do metal guitarists use?

The thicker picks will also tend to be more rigid, which will help with accuracy & control, resulting in more nuanced playing. Advised thickness for metal at least is 2.0mm and thicker. Most of our customers use 2.5 – 3.5 mm small guitar picks for playing metal.

What picks do funk guitarists use?

On the other end of the spectrum, guitarists playing funky styles of music often use heavy gauge picks and somehow larger picks.
This allows them to strike their strings hard producing a more biting and aggressive but clear funky tone. The heavier the pick the more mid- and bottom-end tones, allowing them a higher level of clarity in their playing.

Why do rock guitarists use thick picks?

Heavy picks are great for lead guitar playing. The thickness prevents for pick drag, which gives you greater control and precision to hit the notes you need.
These picks also give your playing greater clarity and a wider dynamic range. This means a wider reach in the tonal spectrum with clear bright- mid- and bottom-end tone.

The verdict: guitar picks thin vs thick

Ultimately, whether a heavy guitar pick is suitable for you, depends on your playing style, personal preferences, and the sound you want to achieve.

Experimenting with different pick thicknesses and materials can help you find the perfect match for your playing needs.

Regarding tone, playability, durability and versatility, thick guitar picks will always deliver more benefits than thin picks. And this is the reason why pros in most cases use thicker guitar picks.

Why ChickenPicks guitar picks ?

In the world of boutique guitar picks, ChickenPicks guitar picks is unique because of the use of “Thermoset”.
This is a thermosetting plastic which is used in aerospace and medical equipment because of its high-quality isolating characteristics.


What others say about ChickenPicks guitar picks

Eppo Franken

About the author


Hi, my name is Eppo Franken and I started to make my own picks in the mid ’80’s. In 2010 my wife Jolanda and I thought that it may be interesting to look if other people also would like my idea of picks.
I play guitar since 1980 and my favorite style is country chicken picking and some kinds of rockabilly.
Send us an e-mail and let’s talk about guitar tone and picks 🙂

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *