by Jack Grassel
The shape of a pick can help or hinder you depending on what angle you are hitting the strings. The pick shape and right hand position should allow you to change the strike angle. To get a fat tone (sacrificing speed) the pick should be parallel to the string, putting maximum material on the string. To get speed (sacrificing tone) the pick should be at a 45 or less degree angle. The material from which the pick is made effects the sound, slippage on the string, and feel on the skin.
When selecting a pick, rate it according to: shape, sound, feel, slippage on string, and overall ability to play what you want to play. If after using the pick for a suitable assessment period, it's not right, try again. Also, if you have been playing for a long time, you may suddenly begin to have some technical problems. After years of practice, one's technique may change and a new pick choice must be made.
Surf picks. Ra Denney custom designs these for me out of Lignum Vitae. Visit him at www.surfpick.com. I also had him design a bridge saddle for me out of this same material which makes my classical guitar sound wonderful.
Moshay picks. These have a hole in the center so you can hold it in exactly the same place all the time which makes for a consistant technique. The nylon material sounds great. www.moshaypickcompany.com
Tone Tek picks are a big innovation. You can make synthesizer-like sounds with this pick and distortion. See amazing videos of inventor / guitarist David Kleczka at www.tonetek.biz/
The Stylus Pick was invented by Rich Acocella for high speed alternate picking. It even comes with a book of exercises. A benefit of playing with this pick is that it reduces the size of right hand movements, making it more efficient. www.styluspick.com
The Tone Cat is a contoured plectra made of ergonomically tempered plastic for superior grip, comfortable feel and accurate string response with a variety of playing edges. www.tonecat.com
A pick is an important piece of equipment. It's selection is crucial.
Every time you change your pick, your technique has to make an adaptation. Assuming that your posture and technique are perfect, you are then ready to chose a pick. Once you get the right pick, seldom change it. I bought a lifetime supply of the perfect pick for me, which was fitted to me by one of my teachers, and have used it for 39 years. Master violinists will use the same bow most of their career. You must also have consistency in string choice. Every time you change your string brand or type, it affects how the pick works.
I prefer a pick design which incorporates a hole or ridge or something which enables the me to hold the pick in the same place each time, reducing slippage and dropping.
The flexibility of the pick used is determined by string gauge and height as well as the angle at which you are striking the string. Generally, if the strings are heavy the pick should be light. If the strings are light the pick should be heavy. However, this isn't the only factor.