Musical Dictionary – P

Pick

A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. A pick is generally made of one uniform material; examples include plastic, nylon, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, and stone. They are often shaped in an acute isosceles triangle with the two equal corners rounded and the third corner rounded to a lesser extent.

By Frédéric Jacquot (deelight@poulet.org) (Self work) CC-BY-SA-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons


 

Styles

Pick shapes started with guitarists shaping bone, shell, wood, cuttlebone, metal, amber, stone or ivory to get the desired shape. Most of today’s guitar pick shapes were created by the company that made the first plastic pick in 1922, D’Andrea Picks. The plastic pick was an idea that Luigi, and his young son Tony, Sr., had after purchasing sheets of tortoise shell-like celluloid from a street vendor. It appeared similar to the real tortoise shell picks used in their Greenwich Village neighborhood.

Sound

Playing guitar with a pick produces a bright sound compared to plucking with the fingertip. Picks also offer a greater contrast in tone across different plucking locations; for example, the difference in brightness between plucking close to the bridge and close to the neck is much greater when using a pick compared to a fingertip.Conversely, the many playing techniques that involve the fingers, such as those found in fingerstyle guitar, slapping, classical guitar, and flamenco guitar, can also yield an extremely broad variety of tones.