Best Finger Picks and A Guitar Pick Guide
Guitar picks are used to play guitar and other stringed instruments on virtually any musical genre, and most guitarists usually have more than one in their toolkit (they tend to vanish mysteriously, as you probably know if you’re reading this). But there is also a rather unknown kind of pick that is used to play in a specific style called fingerpicking, and it’s called-you guessed it- a finger pick. Today, we will dive into the mystic world of guitar finger picks and also give you a 101 beginner's guide about guitar picks in general.
First here is a quick list of our top "4" guitar finger picks...
- Dunlop 37R.018 Brass Fingerpicks.018, 20/Tube - Check Current Price
- Dunlop 9023P Shell Plastic Thumb Picks, Large, 4/Player's Pack- Check Current Price
- National NP1-8B Thumb & Finger Pick Pack - Stainless Steel/Black – Large- Check Current Price
- Dunlop 33P.018 Nickel Silver Finger & Thumbpicks.018", 5/Player's Pack- Check Current Price
Finger picks are different in many ways to the regular guitar pick, both in design, construction and sound, and they are mostly used to play acoustic instruments such as guitar, banjo, pedal steel and resonator. Thumb picks allow you to easily attack the bass strings when using your thumb to play fingerpicking style.
Top Guitar Finger Picks
Fingerpicking styles is usually played on acoustic guitar and other stringed instruments, very popular in genres like folk, country, classical, bluegrass, pop/ rock, and more. Some of the most famous fingerpicking style guitarists include Don Alder, Donovan, Nick Drake, Lindsey Buckingham, Mark Knopfler, and many more. Classical guitarists and some of the guitarists mentioned above use only their fingers to play acoustic guitar, but most of them (especially blues and bluegrass players) use finger picks. Fingerpicking technique can be hard to master at first, but it is certainly worth exploring- you can come up with interesting arrangements and spice up your playing by learning this style.
The first pick we will be reviewing is the Dunlop 37R.018 Brass Finger pick. You have probably heard of Dunlop before, since it is one of the most popular brands among all kinds of players, well known for manufacturing quality guitar accessories since 1965, and their finger and thumb picks are certainly not an exception. The Dunlop 37R.018 Fingerpicks provide a bright sound and a great tonal response, which makes them perfect for guitar, banjo, pedal steel and resonator. You can find them in many gauges, but if you’re just starting out the 0.18 will probably feel more comfortable and give the best results. Once you have acquired the proper fingerpicking technique you can try out other gauges and choose the one you like the most in terms of comfort and sound.
The Dunlop 37R.018 Brass Fingerpicks are quite durable and can withstand frequent use without bending out of shape or losing sound quality, and the brass construction allows them to last longer than picks made from other materials. Banjo and acoustic players are the ones who will love the crisp brass sound and the light/ medium attack, compared to the nickel finger picks that deliver a sharper attack. Players who have reviewed the Dunlop 37R.018 Brass Fingerpicks praise the light weight, bright sound and solid construction they provide, plus the comfort and easy adjustment they provide.
When you buy the Dunlop 37R Brass Fingerpick 20/tube you get 20 brass finger picks at quite affordable price (around 20 USD), which is a great deal for what you’re getting- high quality, durability and the classic Dunlop tone. It makes a lot of sense to buy the 20/tube brass fingerpicks because if you happen to lose a few picks you still have a lot of spare ones to use, so the package should last you at least a few years. However, you must be aware that you won’t find any thumb picks in this package and you must buy them separately. Fortunately, Dunlop sells individual plastic Thumb picks at a really low price, in fact, they are the next item in our list, so keep reading to learn more!
If you’re just starting to play fingerpicking style, the Dunlop 9023P Shell Plastic Thumb picks are definitely a great choice; they are comfortable and a lot of players claim that they feel more natural than metal fingerpicks. Plastic thumb picks deliver a softer response and feel more comfortable than their metal counterparts, so if you’re just starting to get into fingerpicking style, the Dunlop 9032P are probably the best choice. They are not adjustable like metal picks, but you can find them in a variety of sizes.A warm tonal response and great control make them great picks for guitarists who are transitioning from regular picks to fingerpicking style thumb picks and may find nickel or brass harder to control. Traditionally, thumb picks are designed to attack the bass downwards while finger picks are placed on the remaining fingers (except the pinky finger) and attack upwards. This is the tricky part of mastering the fingerpicking technique, since each finger has to move individually in a seemingly unnatural way, but it’s not uncommon for acoustic guitar players to attack all strings with just a thumb pick too.In fact, the Dunlop 9023P thumb picks are frequently used as a substitution for a regular pick; they provide more grip so it’s almost impossible for the thumb pick to accidentally fall off. This is why many guitarists prefer using plastic thumb picks instead of the traditional triangle shaped picks. Even some bass players prefer to use Dunlop plastic thumb picks instead of regular picks, mainly because they are easy to hold when attacking thick strings and much less likely to fall off, no matter if you’re playing in an aggressive style. This should give you an idea of the quality and durability of these thumb picks; the construction is indeed quite solid so you don’t have to worry about the pick breaking or bending. Reviewers of the Dunlop 9032P thumb picks like the stylish shell colored look (although you can also find them in white) and the affordable price.
Plastic thumb picks that can be used on almost any stringed instrument
Gives the player a warm tonal response and increased control
Molded in shell or classic white with the Dunlop logo
The next pick in our list is the National NP1-88 Thumb and Finger Pick Pack, great for guitar, resonators, banjos and other stringed instruments. The package comes with 4 NP-1 long-wearing stainless finger picks and 2 black NP-8B ABS plastic thumb picks. National is another well-known brand among guitar players and has been a prominent band in the business for decades, famous for manufacturing quality products that offer great value at an affordable price.
The National NP1-8B stainless steel finger picks feature an ergonomic construction which make them quite comfortable even for players who are just getting into fingerpicking. They can easily be adjusted to better fit the shape of your finger. The thumb picks are made of ABS plastic, which is a resistant yet flexible thermoplastic polymer that guarantees great durability and comfort. Although you can order the thumb and finger picks in small, medium, and large sizes, most players find the large sized thumb picks comfortable, and many users recommend getting one size larger than the one you would consider firsthand. Some reviewers also recommend placing the thumb picks in hot water for a few minutes in order to soften the plastic and get a better fit in case they feel too tight. With a stylish, vintage design both finger and thumb picks look great and also deliver a rich sound, with great warmth and ring. You can play for hours with the finger and thumb picks on and they won’t feel uncomfortable or fall off.
The gauge is somewhat heavier compared to the one of the Dunlop, but the finger and thumb picks are comfortable anyway even if you don’t have any prior experience of playing fingerpicking style. The National NP1-8B Thumb & Finger Pick Pack - Stainless Steel/Black set offers great value for the price- you get comfort, durability, and a great sound with clarity of attack and brightness, plus a nice design that mixes classic vintage elements with a modern look.
4 long-wearing NP-1 stainless steel finger picks
2 black NP-8B large sized thumb picks
Ergonomically designed for player comfort
Suitable for guitars, resos, banjos, and other instruments
The last finger picks we will be reviewing in this article are the Dunlop 33P-018 Nickel Silver Finger and Thumb Picks -018, 5 Players’ Pack. Perfect for both beginners and more seasoned players, the Dunlop 33.018 Nickel Silver Finger and Thumb Picks are great for genres like bluegrass, country and folk, so it is no surprise that this finger pick model is the one that both professional and amateur banjo players like the most. They sound great on acoustic and pedal steel guitar as well, mainly due to the sharp attack and bright tone they provide. This has a lot to do with the nickel construction of the finger picks; in terms of sound, nickel delivers a more aggressive, sharper tone than brass. They are quite comfortable even if you intend to wear them for long periods of time, and they can be easily bent to fit your finger. This is a great plus, since you won’t have to worry about ordering the right size like some of the other finger picks reviewed in this article-you can simply adjust them to fit virtually any finger size.
They are available in several gauges though, and which gauge is right for you is based entirely on personal preference. Just remember that thick gauges are heavier and harder, while thinner gauges are softer and more flexible. If you are still unsure about what gauge to get, the 0.18 gauge is the standard recommended starting point.
In terms of price, these are perhaps one of the most affordable finger picks in the market, so that’s a benefit for players that are curious about starting to play fingerpicking style in guitar or banjo and don’t want to invest a lot of money in buying picks. If you have never played finger picking style before these are great intro finger picks. Besides being marketed at quite a low price for the quality you’re getting, they provide excellent comfort and sound quality no matter the instrument.
Gauges (in.): .013, .015, .018, .020., .0225, .025in.
Deliver a bright and classic sound
Great for banjo, pedal steel, resonator or acoustic guitar
Now, since we dived into details of various products which we consider to be the best finger picks on the market, let’s take a look at some questions you might have regarding good guitar picks:
Why Should I Get A Fingerpick?
When not using a pick, the fingerpicking technique can be played with either your fingernails or the tip of your fingers, depending on the kind of tone you’re after. Nail fingerpicking provides more attack and brightness while fingerpicking with the fingertips results in a smooth, warmer sound.
The most obvious downside of nail fingerpicking is that you need to let your fingernails grow quite long in order to obtain a bright sound and a decent attack. This may be uncomfortable and inconvenient for some players, especially hobbyist guitar players and players who have a job that requires them to have short nails.
This is where fingerpicks come in handy- they can emulate the sound of nail fingerpicking while providing a better tonal response and a brighter sound, especially when the picks are made of metal such as brass or nickel. Besides delivering a brighter sound and a sharper attack than fingernails, they are comfortable to use and easy to take off; you can simply remove a finger pick when done practicing or playing a gig. Quality fingerpicks are usually very durable, so if you don’t happen to lose them they should last hundreds of hours of playing.
What Are the Different Types of Finger Picks?
Another advantage of using fingerpicks is their versatility; you can find them in several gauges, designs and materials, each of them manufactured for a specific purpose and designed to provide a unique tonal response, for example, the Dunlop 37R.018 Brass fingerpicks featured on this list provide a sharp attack and a bright sound, while their nickel made counterparts, the Dunlop 33P.018 Nickel Silver picks give more resonance and more tonal control. Your choice of fingerpicks will be greatly influenced by the kind of timbre you’re after- nickel and brass fingerpicks deliver a sharp, bright sound, while plastic or acrylic picks result in a softer tone and a controlled sound. Some finger picks are sold separately and packs usually come in sets of 5, 200 or 50. Brass and nickel fingerpicks are more adjustable than acrylic fingerpicks, but comfort-wise plastic fingerpicks are preferred by many players thanks to their softer construction and lower price.Your playing style has also a lot to do with the kind of pick you should choose as well. Players who have a more aggressive style usually prefer brass fingerpicks due to their sturdy construction and added durability, while acrylic and plastic fingerpicks are best suited to styles that don’t need a lot of attack and require a softer sound.Fingerpicks come in a wide range of gauges, thicker gauges are hard and heavy while thinner gauges are softer and more flexible. If you’re not sure what kind of finger pick best suits your needs, don’t worry we’ve got you covered! For this article, we picked (pun intended) some of the best finger picks available in the market. Qualities such as construction, durability, price, tone and comfort where taken into account when choosing the fingerpicks on this list.
Guitar Picks - A Buyer's Guide
A guitar pick is a necessity for most guitar players. It’s small, affordable, yet it hugely affects the tone and technique of the guitarist. Which is why it’s important to pick out the best guitar picks you can get for your style of playing. But there is also a rather unknown kind of pick that is used to play in a specific style called fingerpicking, and it’s called-you guessed it- a finger pick.
While a guitar pick will not dramatically effect your tone like say, plugging in a fuzz pedal or a tremolo pedal, it will effect the tone enough for you to be concerned about the type of pick you are using!
Not all picks are created equal and each one has its own musical purpose that will make your music come off different each time. If you’re looking for the type of pick to use during your next jam, we’re here to help you decide the best fit. In this article we’ll discuss the types of guitar picks in the market including the materials they are made of, as well as the shape and thickness of picks and how they influence the sound that is created.
Guitar Pick Types and Materials
It is no question that guitar picks span far back in guitar history. Some of the earliest picks were made out of some cool materials to say the least. If you are able to find some of these kinds old school picks, consider yourself lucky!
1. Tortoise Shell
These picks are considered old school and not all guitarists have had the pleasure to get the feel of it. The reproduction of these picks were subjected to a ban in the 1970’s so their very hard to find.
According to those who have had the privilege to experience their natural feel, these produce warm tones and could last for years and years due durability. They can also be reshaped easily through filing or sanding.
These picks have small yet strong following due to their unique resonant qualities. They provide easy grip and produce mid to upper range harmonics with little to no effort. Stone picks help players achieve potentially richer sounds as they don't absorb as many harmonics during the initial string attack but these babies can be quite pricey. They are also pretty rare, so you won’t be finding them at your local guitar shop unless it’s a really unique shop.
These picks feel similar to original tortoise shell and also produce a slightly similar tone. These picks are characterized by good attack, well-rounded tone, and generally a nice feel. The material fades with time making it harder to grip or hold on to. Dunlop develops these picks and they are very easy to find.
These picks produce balanced tones with crisp, bright attacks. Their exceedingly typical in today's market despite the fact that celluloid is being produced less and less as the material is highly flammable and decomposes easily.
Ultex picks are the ultimate combination of flexibility and monstrous attack. These picks are lightweight and quite durable. They grant guitar players with the widest dynamic range out of all the picks in the market. Manufactured by Dunlop, they are also easy to find at most guitar shops.
Think, Gene Simmons and Jimmy Page. These picks are a crowd favorite played by legends. Nylon picks come in textured grip formats and produce very bright sounds. These also boast unparalleled flexibility that literally adds some springs when you play.
Metal picks have extremely crisp attacks. These include Bronze, Brass, Copper, and Stainless Steel picks. Brass are fairly soft with good grip and warm tones, Stainless Steel being the most durable, Copper is the softest while bronze picks are thicker and can sound more on the jazzy side.
Jimmy Hendrix was a big fan of metal picks. Dunlop actually makes a pick that is based off what he played with. I’ve had the chance to play with a metal pick and can honestly say I like it. It takes a bit of getting used to but overall is solid!
Made from natural material, these picks produce very warm tones and have a natural feel. Some people make their own wood picks out of African Blackwood, Rosewood, Cocobolo, Cherry, Maple, Mahogany, Zebrawood, Walnut, and more. If you’re not into DIY picks, you can purchase wood picks at most music stores for a fair price.
This is the most uncommon type of pick and material used by guitarists due to their weak attack. In some cases, these picks tend to add a unique feel that can bring focus to lower-range sounds. Bass and ukulele players are the most common people who use these picks.
Pick Shapes and Sizes
Most picks come in different triangular shapes – the wider portion allows a firmer grip while the narrow point is used for picking and strumming.
These are the most common shape. The point tends to slide off the string when used for picking, giving a mellow tone.
These picks are easy to hold as there is no right or wrong rim to grip. These picks tend to last longer as you can use each edge interchangeably so it doesn’t wear out quickly.
Teardrop and Jazz guitar picks
These tend to be firmer than Standard picks of the same thickness. Players love them for their fast response and bright tone, especially for picking. When strumming, or looking for more mellow tone, simply slide your fingers back slightly and relax your grip.
Shark Fin Guitar Picks
These picks can be used two ways – as a standard pick, or rotated to use the multi-point edge to create multiple contacts during each strum. Some like the multi-contact tone produced by the multi-point edge. Dunlop manufactures these mainly and I would say they are a bit of a novelty but can be cool.
Finger and Thumb Picks
These guitar picks are quite useful for picking individual strings. Some guitarists use artificial fingernails in place of picks. These are available in various shapes, sizes, materials, and thickness.
Thickness of Your Guitar Pick Matters
A pick’s thickness is also important when choosing one for yourself and you can take a look at the best fit for your playing style and needs here.
Extra Light (under 0.40 mm)
This tends to be floppy and produces audible clicks with each strum that tends to be undesirable for most guitarists. But it can help most acoustic guitarists subtly achieve “even” sounds when strumming. All in all, it is not the most popular thickness, well for me at least.
Light (0.40 mm - 0.63 mm)
This thickness is perfect for acoustic guitars and strummed parts. A lot of pro guitarists love them as they tend to be non-restrictive and produce fluttery sounds.
Medium (0.63 mm - 0.85 mm)
This thickness is the perfect place that beginners can start exploring. It’s great for acoustic guitar picking and strumming, as it’s a mix of control, warmth, and durability.
Heavy (0.85 mm - 1.22 mm)
Heavy picks provide extracontrol and volume to the sound produced by your guitar. They help improve your dynamic range due to the higher picking force to string vibration ratio (the flex of lighter-gauge picks spread out some of the force of your picking, resulting in less volume).
Not all guitarists find them ideal to use as they can feel blocky as well as these can produce dull sounding music compared to medium picks. But others like them because they provide unparalleled control.
Extra Heavy (1.22 mm and above)
This picks go as thick as 2.0 mm. These are great for bass and jazzy music. Their designed to give the ultimate transfer of picking force to volume and provide great precision and control over each note.
These picks might take some guitarist some time to get used to. Once comfort kicks in, these picks can greatly improve the kind of music that comes off those strings.
So there you have it, a crash course in guitar picks. As mentioned they are not the most interesting part of your gear bag but they are sure an important part of it. All and all they are a necessity for most guitarists and provide some interesting tones depending on the type of pick you use!