Adventures in Guitar with Ronny North: It's a Pick Thing! Print
Tuesday, 11 September 2007 19:26
Image By Ronny North - GJD Contributor
I thought I would talk about guitar picks in this column. Picks are so subjective to the player. These days there are so many types of picks made of different materials. Then there are all the different gauges or how thick the pick is.

Let's first look into the different materials that some of the picks are made of these days. Being a guitar player I'm always trying out different picks to see if it can improve my playing.

In my tests, I have found that different pick materials do make a difference in the tone of your guitar. Some of the materials I have tried are Metal; a great sound but the pick goes through strings pretty quickly and also tears up your guitar, but with great harmonics. Some pros that have used metal picks are Warren DeMartini, George Lynch, and Jeff Watson of Night Ranger.
Wood picks are also very interesting. A company recently sent me some very cool wood picks. They really didn't work for me with the electric guitar but they did work for playing acoustic guitar with a very natural sound.

Stone Picks are also quite unique. They have a bright sound but they also really tear up both the strings and the guitar.

Then there are the traditional plastic and nylon picks. These come in several varieties. I'm still partial to plastic picks and I use a white 121mm InTune plastic pick with my logo on them.
ronny sunglass guitar picks...jpg
For my tastes nylon picks just don't have the attack I need. That being said, lots of big players use nylon picks such as Jimmy Page and EVH to name a couple.

Then there's the whole subject of what thickness works the best for your style of playing. I myself use a thicker pick because I need the pick to be stiff for when I play fast. I also sharpen my picks with a nail file this actually makes it a little harder to play at first but after you get used to it you'll find that it's much easier to play fast and with much more precision.

I first learned about sharpening my guitar picks from Blues Saraceno when we did a show together in the early 90's. We were talking at sound check and I noticed his picks were sharp. He said that it allowed him to play faster. I tried doing it myself shortly after but I couldn't get used to it at first so I went back to standard picks. Eventually, I gave it a try again and have been doing it for the last 14 years. Another big player that has used sharpened picks is Paul Gilbert.

Another pick that I just have to mention is the Light Pick. This is a very unique pick that actually lights up while your playing and looks very cool on stage. The pick is a little thicker than a standard pick but the actual tip is the same and you can even change the tip to your preferred thickness. The picks come with several different tips that are replaceable.

On that note, I've also just signed on to endorse them and you will be seeing me using the picks at all my upcoming shows.

In the end you definitely owe it to yourself to try out a bunch of different picks to see if they can improve your playing. When I first started playing I used to use very thin light Fender picks and gradually worked my way up to mediums (Randy Rhodes used Fender medium picks). Then Dunlop picks came out and you had a bigger selection than just Light, Medium and Heavy. I then started using their green picks that were basically an extra heavy pick (Kirk Hammett uses them to this day) After seeing Jake E. Lee (when he was playing with Ozzy ) using the Dunlop Tortex purple picks I started using them (they're 1.00 mm). I used them for several years and actually started sharpening them.

These days I'm using a 121mm. This seems to be the perfect gauge for my playing technique. That being said in the studio I do switch it up a bit for backing tracks and strumming stuff. Solos are always done with a sharpened 121mm pick.

Experiment and you might be surprised how such a little thing can make a big difference in your playing...

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it plays his own signature brand of instrumental guitar rock and is fast becoming a So Cal guitar hero. He has appeared in several national and international music publications, including this one each week.