What kind of pick should I use when learning guitar?

This is a question I find many people often asking.  This really does have a big impact on the tone that you get.

One crucial thing to keep in mind is that you need to hold the pick lightly when strumming.

If you don’t, you will most likely hear a very stiff, awkward sound.  To get a smoother sound you need to hold the pick lightly, and let the pick give in to the string as you strum.

Pick Size

Thin picks will give you a thinner sound and produce a nice strum effect and sound great on acoustic guitars. I don’t really like them so much for electrics though.

Medium gauge picks to me sound better for electric, but they can also work well when using them on acoustic guitars.

Thick picks work when you really want to dig in on an electric guitar, especially for power chords and soloing.  Using thick picks on acoustic guitars will give you a big duller sound, which may sound good depending on what you’re going for.

Here’s my suggestion to you

Go to your local music store, and buy one of each kind of pick.   Now play each kind of pick on acoustic, and then electric using different styles of music.

This will help you to determine what you like best for each kind of guitar or style.  This is crucial!

YOU need to find out what YOU like.  Music is a great thing.

Why? Because it allows individuality and there are no steadfast rules, just basic guidelines.

This means that you can use a thin pick on electric for power chords, and it won’t be wrong because I said to use thick picks earlier in this article.  I’m telling you to use thick picks for power chords because I have tried them, and prefer them for power chords. Experimentation is the key.

Now that you’ve read my opinion, here’s the picks that I like to use.

  • Dunlop Jazz III
  • Fender Medium

When learning the guitar, don’t be afraid to try something new.  I find that out of failure often comes greatness.

John W Tuggle
John W Tuggle

I love teaching the blues and have created numerous training courses and lessons to learn how to play like BB King, Clapton, Duane Allman, and more. Get Started Now

Articles: 171


  1. Some people might think that the use of a pick is not a necessity, but in reality, it actually is. There are several guitar pick types for various music genre and it can definitely help in the improvement of sound the guitar produces. Your post can sure help musicians and guitar players improve on their skill.

    • Sorry but no ! As far as I am concerned, I play the guitar since the age of 12 and I am now 65. I have 4 picks on my right hand and they are called fingers. There is nothing a pick can do my fingers can’t. The angle on the attack, the part of the string I play on, all these let me play, classical, jazz, blues, rock etc. I found out though, that the right hand is the most difficult hand to master while you play.

      • Thanks for the comment. I think it’s hard to get the same sound you get with a pick with your fingers. You may get a sound you like but to say that using a pick is nonsense is not really the truth. flesh – string sounds different than plastic – string.

  2. John, I can tell you think or your guitar and your music as an art form and not just a hobby and I really admire that.

    • Thanks. It’s very personal for me and music is a very spiritual and emotional experience in my opinion.

  3. Thanks for the tips. I’m new at this and only in the last 2-3 weeks have picked up the guitar to learn how to play it. I’m finding it very confusing in some ways and would love it if anyone had any advice as to where i could get some help learning to play the guitar that’s not so confusing and preferably free or atleast not expensive? It’s not easy learning an instrument when your trying to teach yourself.. lol I recently bought a 12 string guitar to learn on but while i’m waiting for its arrival in the mail a friend lent me her 6 srting guitar. Once my guitar arrives i have to give back the 6 string i’m borrowing from my friend, So i really need to figure out how to play a 12 string instead of a 6 string. Doesn’t anyone no where i can go online that can help teach me the tricks of playing Acoustic/Electric guitars? I don’t have much money so i can’t get really expensive lessons, so if possible i’d prefer free or cheap if there’s any such thing. I’ve always wanted to learn to play guitar since i was a kid but never had the money to buy a guitar till recently. I found one that was a very good deal. Any words of wisdom or advice i can get?

  4. @ Stephanie, I am so keen if I may ask you how do you feel after one year self learning?

    All the best!

  5. As a player who just began playing again after a long hiatus, my best advice for brand new players, is a simple, & cheap one. Either go to your favorite music store online, or downtown to your local music shop, & pick up a couple Pick Variety packs. Most shops carry them, and usually in various thicknesses. Pick up a couple variety packs, & start trying them out. Eventually, you will find the pick that you like best, & doing it this way, is usually pretty cheap. Most variety packs will run you about $2.00 or so. Personally, I like my Dunlop Gator Grips .71’s or .96’s. Depends on the music I am playing. Occasionally, I will use the classic Fender 351 Tortoise shell mediums. But, experiment with some variety packs, & you will find the picks you like best.

  6. Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write about not just left handers but also kids. My son Adam is a super keen budding guitarist (7 yrs old) but we are struggling to get him a real left handed electric. It looks as though I’ll have to get him one from the USA as Australia has virtually no options for lefty kids – think I’ll go with the Ibanez Mikro. I’m right handed but have two left handed guitarists as sons (who incidentally are right handed at everything else!!).

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