Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Thicker picks

So I’m just curious about anyone who plays with a guitar pick thicker than 1mm. All other things being equal, I’m wondering if it made any difference in your speed, tone, and overall sound. I’ve taken the blue chip plunge and started with a TD40, then got the Kenny Smith 40 model because I loved the tone of that rounded corner. It’s so small though so from there I went to the TP-1R 40 to keep the rounded corner and I’ve found I actually like the pointed end better especially for fiddle songs and lots of eighth notes. I’m debating trying out the TP48 and would just be curious to hear anyone’s thoughts or experiences.

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I use the TAD50 the most on guitar. I like the thickness a lot, and I feel it’s a good all-around pick for bluegrass. I also like the rounded edge of the TAD40-1R for when I want to sound more mellow and less cutting. It’s also great for mandolin. If you’re looking to move up to a thicker pick, I might suggest a 50-1R or something similar. I’ve never tried a 48, but I wouldn’t imagine that it would be that different than the 50.

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I have a TD40 for picking and a TP45 for playing mostly backup. I have a JD Crowe thumb pick and Sammy Shelor picks for playing banjo. I like my picks.

As for thickness… well, I just don’t want one too thin.

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Will the 50-1R also make me play as well as you?! Ha hope you’re doing well buddy.

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The TD40 was my first bc but after camp and talking to Kenny Smith about the rounded end the TD40 became hard to play with the pointed end. I definitely don’t want to go lighter, I just thought I read somewhere on here the the heavier picks help with speed. I could be wrong though.

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It certainly might make you a TAD better… found that joke on the store page :slight_smile:
Thanks brother, the Lord is good!

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My Guitar speed limitations is more with the left hand. I trying to lighten up on the grip or how hard I fret the strings. The second problem is lack of understanding the fret board geography. If I knew where the left hand was going it could get there faster.

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Yeah I agree with you 100%. All things being equal though I was just wondering if people really liked the thicker picks and noticed a difference in the sound, etc.

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I like the TP60 BlueChip, the very thickest of the TP styles. Yes I love thick picks. The thicker the better! More punch, power, tone, and volume.

(I have a TP48 too. It’s slightly thinner so I prefer the 60 but it’s a great pick as well.)

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Wow the conversations on here really make me think which is good.
I have settled on 1 mm picks (Stubby) Alice . Mainly because I lose so many and can just buy them in bulk (Ten a penny , Dime a Dozen)

I think the washing machine has seen a few LOL. My preference for this size just came through practice anything thinner seemed too flexible.
Above that size seems too clumsy.

The question was about sound and maybe just all in the head but sounds cleaner too me but this is probably the confidence in the hand as it were. Which is added to by the moulded knurled centre.

Happy Picking

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Just read a bit more and went online wow $35 for a pick . I have driven cheaper cars :wink:

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Yeah man the conversations around here are often thought provoking for sure. I think 1mm picks are pretty standard for a lot of players especially in bluegrass. That’s what all mine are. And there’s nothing wrong with not using a bc pick they’re pretty pricy for sure. I look at that stuff kind of like workout supplements. I don’t think anyone could tell you with a straight face that they became a great player because of a bc pick. But once you get enough hours under your fingers and you have a great foundation of skills then something like a bc really can make a difference and you’ll be able to notice a difference not only in sound but also in feel, etc. If all someone took was supplements but didn’t have a diet or exercise routine established then the supplements are worthless. But once all that stuff is in place they can really make a difference. If you do ever decide to make the plunge I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the investment.

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I play the mandolin but I guess it is the same idea (used to play guitar)
I used the 1mm for a long time but currently use a 1.5mm Dunlop
Personally I think the tone is better I am not at a point in speed where there is any difference between 1 and 1.5
Also once you get to 1mm the tone differences are minor

Mainly I just found after I started playing considerably more I started to like the thicker pick. So probably more to do with personal preference.

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Here’s a brief raw audio comparison between the TAD40 and TAD50:

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Hello Michael 2 very nice pieces to listen to which I enjoyed . Here is my problem though and quite possibly it is just me and others with better tuned picking ears will correct me on. I cannot hear any noticeable difference and even looked them up as being 1 mm and 1.25 mm (Correct).

I will like all forums I get involved in pay keener attention . I did scratch around in my cases today and found that I was using 0.85 as they were in the 12 string case but settled on 1 mm when going for flatpicking.

Good stuff though and making me a better listener.

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Hi Scot

I think the thinnest pick I have is about 0.5mm and it’s very bright

Most of the picks I have vary between 0.75mm to 2mm. The picks don’t seem to affect my speed. Though I think my accuracy is a bit sloppier with a thin pick as I find the resistance of a thicker pick to the strings helps me know if I’ve hit the note cleanly and evenly. I also think I get some kind of advantage from the picks resistance to the string which helps me keep my timing together.

As for overall tone. I don’t think about it too much. If my playing sounds bad on a particular day, it is not the picks fault. I’m simply doing everything wrong and haven’t got my into groove. I just often grab the first pick I find in a mixed bowl of picks I have and start from there. I often have the cheap yellow Tortex picks - I can always tell if I’m using one of those - But I don’t really have a preferred pick.

The most I’ve spent on picks was about £20 for a large mixed set of various different horn and bone natural material picks. I was disappointed with them as I thought my overall volume went down. They seemed a bit harsh for rhythm playing too, but I’ve got used to them now. I’ve now watched Jake’s video on picks and maybe I appreciate them more as perhaps the tone is more balanced and consistent. But I still don’t really know?

Some days my guitar sounds amazing - but I never attribute that the the pick I’m using. I tend to focus on my overall down up technique and am always working to keep it tight and even with a relaxed wrist. Once I am comfortable with the basics the different tones and dynamics seem to flow from how I play, not the the pick I’m using.

This is only my opinion and no doubt I’ll look into trying one the various high end picks that so many good players here recommend. I just know I’ve already got enough to work on technique wise to not believe that my pick is holding me back from being a better player - that it’s still just me who need to get better.

I’ll probably get a blue chip pick one day - but I tend to be more interested in my strings. If my guitar sounds or playing sounds a bit flat and lifeless - it’s usually because I need to change my strings.

All the best!

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I personally use a Dunlop 1.4mm, and I almost never use a sub 1mm pick. For mandolin, I really like 1.4 to 1.6 mil, for guitar between 1.02 and 1.4 depending on what tone you want. I really liked the TP48 I tried at camp, but it wasn’t enough better than my primetones for me to justify the price.

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I notice a tone difference with different picks.

  • 1.0 mm Dunlop Tortex - the tone is dull to me but the pick is nice and firm.

  • 1.14 mm Dunlop Ultex - this is my go to pick. Tone is clearer than the Tortex pick and it’s not as slippery in my hand

  • 1.0 mm Golden Gate pick. I LOVE the tone I get out of this pick - loud and clear. I use these at a noisy jam. The 1.0mm feels flimsy compared to my Ultex but man it sounds good.

  • 1.3 mm Golden Gate. Feels better than the 1.0 but I don’t hear the same tone as the 1.0. My jam buddies say they sound the same though.

The Golden Gates are slippery in my fingers but I love the sound I get with them.

-Stephen

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I’m new to flat picking this year. I had been playing with a Tortex orange pick, 0.60mm. I stopped at a guitar center and tried pretty much every pick they had and bought quite a few contenders. I also bought some online. I know I could have gone to BB’s general store and dropped $30 on a pick, but I wanted to try a wide variety of picks for myself. The pick I ended up choosing to play with for now is the Dunlop Primetone Sculpted Plectra 1.5mm. It was reasonably price at 7.50 for a 3 pack. I like that the edges are beveled to simulate having been “broken in” and allow the pick to move through the string nicely. I find its thickness gives plenty of backbone for speed and the bevel allows for smoothness getting on/off the strings. I’m not sure that I love the tone, but that’s a nuance that is lower down the triage list for me right now. I’m looking forward to October camp where I hope to try a variety of picks from Ben’s general store and perhaps choose a new go-to pick there.

As far as speed, an interesting thing happened this weekend. I was at a function that had a small band and they had a couple interesting custom acoustic guitars. Of course I visited with them and they let me play their guitars. The thing was that their picks were similar to what I used to play, about 0.60mm - 0.70mm or so. As I played a few songs like black mountain rag, Bill Cheatham, red haired boy, wayfaring stranger (can you tell I’m working on the playlist for camp, LOL?) I could really feel the pick slowing me down because it was so slow to respond off of the string. It just flexed so much that it took extra time to return. The additional flex also caused me to have to move the pick further through the string in order to get through it. Between the extra travel needed to get through the string, and the extra time to return from maximum flexion to straight for the next strike, I think that the basic physics of picking dictates that a thicker pick will play faster than a thinner pick.

Once you get a range of thickness that you feel can keep up with your playing, then I think shape, size, and the bevel of the leading edge are the next physical characteristics to evaluate. Finally, all of these have an impact on tone which will vary infinitely based on your guitar, strings, attack angle, etc.

I think that a pick has to be thick enough to keep up with your playing, not the other way around. In other words, a pick too thin can slow you down for sure. A thicker pick can allow you to play faster, but it won’t cause you to play faster. If you’re hitting a plateau on speed, maybe experimenting with a thicker pick will help open the door to faster play. Just one man’s observations/opinions, YMMV!

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Those are some great observations! Have a great time at camp!

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