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When I started playing acoustic guitar about a year ago, I felt most comfortable with medium gauge picks.  Thins were clearly too flimsy and heavys just seemed too stiff.  But as time went by I started experimenting with various picks and began to get comfortable with heavy (and even extra heavy) picks.  

I'd finally settled on the big Fender triangular extra heavy picks when I saw an Ad for Red Bear picks and thought I might give them a try.  Just got three Red Bear picks in the mail today (a couple of C-Heavys and an Original).  They are incredibly stiff but I assume I'll get used to them if I keep at it.

I'm guessing that the stiff picks might be good for speed picking because I would think that less flex means you set the string in motion and move on more quickly?  I'm not doing anything too complex or fast yet, just trying to connect the chords with bass line runs and what have you.  

I'm sure asking about pick preferences is like asking what's your favorite flavor of ice cream, right?  Everybody's got their own individual preferences.  But am I right that the heavier picks, whatever the manufacture, will ultimately lend themselves to faster flatpicking?  

And what about tone from heavier gauge picks?  It seemed to me that my Red Bear picks sounded better on my Gibson J-50 than they did on my Martin 12-fret dreadnaught.  I've only been playing them for a few hours, so perhaps it's just my imagination, but seemed like the Gibson tone benefited more from the heavier pick than the Martin.  Perhaps because those big 12-frets have so many overtones?

All you experienced flatpickers please help me out here.  And I know Steve Blanchard, one of my favorite flatpickers from the Great Northwest, is on the FG network and I'd especially love to here what he has to say.

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William, if you like the shape and feel of your Fender, you might want to try a Blue Chip - better selection of shapes and thicknesses. People who use them absolutely swear by them - see the group here (me included, although I don't use them anymore for economic reasons - I keep loosing them)


As a precursor, try using Dunlop Ultex or Clayton Ultem - they come from the same class of polymer as the Blue Chips, but the BCs are slightly more flexible, softer, and have a significantly lower coefficient of friction. So, once you find an Ultex/Ultem that you like (usually $0.79 so you can try a whole bunch), get the BC ($35@, !) one step thicker: (I play with a 0.73 mm Ultex and find the flex very similar to a BC-35(0.80 mm)). Also I'm sure Matt Goins at BC will put what ever bevel you like on - including simple rounded - as long as you tell him what you want (he likes to talk with customers: 865-803-9442).

BTW: Thanks for Jimmy Brown - it learns/plays easy for something that sounds/looks so flashy - kind of like Under the Double Eagle.
I've been using Wegen picks for quite a while now, and I can't imagine using anything else. As you probably know Wegen started out by making very thick picks for gypsy jazz players, and now make a complete range, including bluegrass guitar and mandolin. I use the 1.2mm picks and find that they increase the response on the bass strings (I play a Taylor 510 - 1997 model). Their website is worth checking out. Most of the picks are available with holes drilled in to aid grip, and are available in triangular and teardrop shapes. They are also available for both right and left handed players. Bryan Sutton uses Wegen, and that can't be a bad endorsement.
Well, I'm still using the large triangular Fender picks (Extra Heavy) but also using the Wegen TF120. I find the Fender pick produces a slightly more muted tone than the Wegen, so depending upon which guitar and/or tune I'm playing I choose picks accordingly.

My teacher, the inestimable Steve Blanchard, prefers a much smaller pick than what I'm using. But for me, at least at this early stage of my guitar development, the large symetrical triangular picks seem to be my comfort zone. I don't mind the extra size, and I like the fact I can rotate the pick and play off of any side. As my playing ability continues develop, perhaps I'll move to a smaller pick like Steve.

I'm still experimenting with a couple of Red Bear picks I bought. Nice picks, but I haven't gotten comfortable with them so far.
I've got an entire box of picks. It's a nice one, too ... given to me by my wife, who thought I might appreciate a wooden jewelry box with compartments, so I could keep my favorite types of picks separated from the rest. A thoughtful gift, from a fine lady.

She was right, too ... the compartments have been a real help, as I like to have quite a few types and shapes of picks on hand, depending on the guitar and the type of music I am about to play.

However - more often than not, what I end up using, 99% of the time, is a 1.25mm custom-made TS pick, or if the strings are new, a 1.4mm TS. I may use other picks for effect, but for straight-up strumming and flatpicking, these picks just plain suit me. I rarely ever drop one, the bevels are just the way I like 'em, and there's sufficient surface area to make them easy to grip - but not too much extra. I prefer picks with two moderately sharp and one rounded corner, about the size and shape of a Red Bear Style "T II".

I use them at this thickness, because I think thicker picks, the vast majority of the time, produce the most sound with the least amount of effort, and get through the strings quicker. I choose to use TS, because the organic material sounds "right" to me, while other materials, no matter how advanced, still sound artificial. Eventually, I suspect that TS will be precisely duplicated, and the new material will be absolutely indistinguishable from the real thing, and that's when I'll put the TS picks up for good.

I feel the same way about steak.

,,, JT
Sorry to bring back an old thread, but I believe it is a good one. I have used the standard mediums 351 style pick for as many years as I can remember. This is when I was playing rock, blues, and folk. Just recently I started getting into flatpicking and noticed many players using the larger triangle picks, so I picked a few of them up (Fender 346), still in the medium guage. A little bit of playing time and I was getting used to the larger shape just fine. Then, the more I get into learning about players and what they use, I find that most players are using quite heavy picks. So to try this, I get some of the Fender triangle picks in heavy and I immediatley notice a huge difference in tone and volume. A difference that I really, really liked. Playing has become less effort related and let me focus more on clean, fast lines whithout the need to try to get more volume from the guitar - the pick gets it for me. Then, I start reading about the Red Bear and Blue Chip picks, how they come close to real TS, TS being a material that I never tried. So I obtained a Red Bear Style C Heavy from a friend which has a thickness of 1.35mm. This pick is taking alot of getting used to for me. The Fender heavies that I have been using are .95mm and the difference between these two picks are amazing. The Red Bear is so much louder and brighter than the Fender, though I am finding I have more trouble getting the tone I want from the Red Bear. I find that I need to keep the Red Bear more perpendicular to the strings than I do with the Fender (or any other pick that I have used). Is this something that is common with picks in this thickness (1.35mm +)? I really want to like the Red Bear but do I want to change my playing technique of 30+ years...??
Bryan, I had a very similar experience to yours. I started with Fender medium 351s, switched to the larger 346s in heavy/extra heavy and really saw a huge improvement in tone. I also tried a couple of different Red Bear picks, but couldn't get comfortable with them. Plus they are ultra expensive.

I tried a Wegen TF120 and that really seemed to click for me. It gives me more snap than the Fender extra-heavies, though I have a few guitars where I still prefer the Fenders. I would highly recommend the Wegen pick. Similar size and shape to the Fender. A really nice built in bevel. Produces a great tone, crisp and powerful. And at $7-8 each, they're not cheap, but not break-the-bank expensive.

I know a lot of great guitar players (like Kerry) swear by TS, but for me, the Wegen does everything I want. Maybe someday when my chops become more refined, I'll move to TS, but for now, I'm really happy where I'm at.
Thanks for the replies, Kerry and William. I would love to try a TS pick, Kerry. I have never been to a bluegrass festival, nor have I heard of any in my area. I will have to dig around a bit to try to find one going on somewhere kind of near. I would imagine that a real TS would probably be selling for quite a bit, eh?

I have been looking at the Wegen picks, William. I am interested in the TF's (as you suggested), and the Bluegrass model. IMO, they seem to be priced very well - quite a bit less than the Red Bear's and Blue Chip's. I contacted Michel to ask him about his material and he replied in a very prompt and friendly manner. I plan to try them. I was looking at the TF100 myself as I like the feel of the Fender 346 heavy (.95mm). If I like it, I will try the 120 and perhaps even the 140:) I also still want to get a Blue Chip as well as they just get so many rave reviews.

I've been playing the pick game a lot as I move between bluegrass and jazz. For a long time I've used a thick Grisman mandolin pick but have recently moved to V-picks on my D-28. I like their rigidity and the fact that they stay in my hand which sweats alot. Changing the point significantly changes the tone so I'll most often use a sharp point and move to a rounded point for a more soft, buttery, sound.

Hope this helps
I have enjoyed the Wegen TF 140 I've been playing, It's 1.4mm tri-pick, with great beveled edges on all corners. It has helped with my speed, and the tone is better than the thinner picks I had been using. I am about to order some of Wegens Trimus picks in the 250 version.
Here is the website: www.wegenpicks.com
I can relate to what you're saying about buying quality items and taking care with them. A good pick can last a long time and is worth spending more to get the one that works best for your style and approach. When I think about all the money we spend on our guitars, why would we skimp on what we pay for picks? The pick has a more to do with getting great tone than a $150 set of fossilized ivory bridge pins or a spendy set of strings.

I hear a lot of good things about Blue Chip picks, but I'm pretty happy with the Wegen TF picks I'm using now. Still, based on your recommendation, I may order a Blue Chip 50 and give it a whirl.
I agree. A pick is to the guitarist as a bow is to a violinist. In the violin world, it has been said to spend approx. 10% the price of the violin on the bow - i.e. if the violin cost $1000 the bow should be about $100 (and I've seen bows that go on up into the several hundreds of dollars). Now, I'm not saying that the pick should be 10% the cost of the guitar, that would be silly :). But, as stated above, why skimp on the price of a pick when playing such a nice beautiful high dollar guitar...
I´m using a Heavy C shape Red Bear pick with speed bevels. It´s the best pick I ever used. In my opinion It improved a lot my guitar´s tone.


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