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Old 03-04-2021, 03:11 PM
Bogmonster Bogmonster is offline
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Default Question about heavy picks

Hey guys,

I've been reading up a bit lately on guys talking about using heavy picks (very thick like 2.0mm and above) for acoustic in both strumming and single note lines. I've seen some old posts from this forum too. Can some of the more knowledgeable folks here enlighten me?

Currently I use the purple Tortex 1.14mm (sometimes a Gravity 1.1mm standard) on electric and a yellow (0.73mm) or green (0.88mm) on acoustic. Recently I've been trying to get used to the purple Tortex or Gravity for my acoustic playing in both my strumming and single notes. While I can do it, it does sound a little dead for strumming but ok for single notes. The lighter green and yellow sound fine for strumming but not great for single notes. I have a pretty heavy hand so I chew them up pretty quickly. But I've been laying back a bit and my tone is definitely getting much more dynamic.

I've heard guys here and other forums say once you use an extra heavy pick for acoustic you will never go back. Your tone will improve, dynamics will improve and your strumming can be much more controlled and defined.

I'm tired of chewing up lighter picks and they're just not really cutting it for me, feel wise. I'd like to get a hang on heavier picks to see what I'm missing.

How can I do this or at least try it out? I get I need to let my fingers flex and have a lighter grip on the pick but is there more to it?

For reference in what I'm playing, I have a Martin HD-28 (strung with 13's) and a Taylor 314 (strung with 12's).

Any tips or something I'm missing?
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Old 03-12-2021, 04:14 PM
tonyo tonyo is offline
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Location: Tyalgum New South Wales, Australia
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I started playing acoustic with .73 and .88 picks and quite enjoyed it. Several more experienced guitar playing friends suggested I try a thicker pick so I changed to using a 1.5mm pick.

It took a bit of getting used to and for me it's only been a very good experience. I've been using the thicker pick for at least 3 years now, it's enabled me to strum much more lightly which has opened up all sorts of new subtleties in my songs. I'm sold on them.

I do have several friends who've been playing all their life with the thinner picks and they sound awesome. So I'd say it depends on the player.
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Old 03-12-2021, 04:56 PM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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Location: Snowdonia, Wales
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Not all heavy picks are equal - in fact, they are all completely different!

The 3 aspects of a pick - shape, thickness and material are a "holy trinity" and they should be seen as one thing together. I play 1mm picks in some materials and shapes, 1.4 in others and 2mm in others. So when someone says that they prefer a heavier pick for flatpicking you are only getting a one part of the story.

There is also a 4th horseman of the apocalypse - and that's the player. A pick of a certain shape, thickness and material in my hands will not sound the same as the same pick in your hands, because we will have slightly different grips and styles of playing. The pick I like is actually unlikely to be your favourite.

So experiment - play lots of different picks in different shapes, thicknesses and materials and find what works for you to develop your tone for the style of music you play. And it sounds like this is the direction you are already going in.

Doc Watson used a Herco Nylon 1mm pick; Billy Strings uses a Blue Chip TP48 1.2mm; Molly Tuttle uses a Dunlop Jazztone 207 2mm. Probably the only common denominator is that bluegrass flatpickers rarely use anything 0.8mm or under in any shape or material.

PS: Just on the desk in front of me now while I'm noodling around on guitar this evening I have 19 distinctly different picks in various shapes and materials thicknesses ranging from 0.71mm to 2mm.
I'm learning to flatpick and fingerpick guitar to accompany songs.

I've played and studied traditional noter/drone mountain dulcimer for many years. And I used to play dobro in a bluegrass band.

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Old 03-12-2021, 05:52 PM
coopman coopman is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 473

Good questions. I initially struggled with the same issues. Most issues went away after a few weeks of sticking with it. You are on the right track regarding letting your hand "flex" a bit more. A bit of a hand rotation if you will. Hard to explain, but it just started to happen automatically after a while ... you can't count on a thicker pick having any flex, so your hand has to do it. Conversely, unlike a thin pick you should be able to get more volume without the pick folding back. Once that starts to happen, you can cut back on how hard you strike the strings, and ultimately achieve a broader range of dynamics. Sorry I don't have more specific tips ... easier to demo in person. But keep at it .. it will come.

As others have mentioned consider next the picks. No affiliation, but I've found blue chip picks to be super for this.. the extra bit of slickness helps a lot. Using a TP50. Also charmed life casein picks are awesome for this. I use a 1.5mm for mando, it has zero flex, but just glides over strings with just a bit of technique adjustment.

One last thought .. try a *really* thick pick for a while, and then go back to an only slightly thicker pick and it will feel much thinner and easier to deal with ;-). I did this with a wegens gypsy jazz pick @ 3.5mm !! Never bonded with that one, but it definitely jump started my transition to thicker picks.

Keep at it
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Old 03-16-2021, 09:14 AM
Bogmonster Bogmonster is offline
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Thanks for the input guys!

I've been getting used to the heavier picks now and there's definitely something to it. I tried a 1.5mm and 2mm as well. Just to get a feel for it and my findings on those were that they were too much for me. On both electric and acoustic. It felt like there was no contact with the strings. They just seemed to slide off them a bit more than I like. More of a feel thing than a tone thing. But I wouldn't rule them out down the line. 1.1mm - 1.2mm seems to be the perfect size for me. I can strum and play single note lines very fluidly and still feel like the strings are interacting with me.

I'm considering a Blue Chip TD45. Looks pretty much perfect for me on both acoustic and electric. I've also been looking at a Hawk Picks 1.2mm Tone Bird 1 with a rounded tip. I've heard so much about Blue Chip that curiosity will get the better of me I think....
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Old 03-16-2021, 09:17 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 8,381

I've settled on picks that are about 1.5mm to 2mm....that's the sweet spot for me.

And yes, they're not all the same. You have to find what material you like the sound of.

Currently, I'm really liking the Golden Gate mandolin picks. They sound great on acoustic or electric.
Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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