Picks have a huge effect on tone, but are often overlooked. When we go hunting for the next that will make us sound great we look elsewhere. But is this right? Lets give the pick a voice and talk about what you can gain from changing it!
To start with, a basic signal path:
Person-->Pick -->String -->Pickup-->Guitar-->Lead-->Pedals-->Amp-->Speaker-->Cab
Each category contains huge variety and influences tone, A few examples: high gain / low gain, muted /un-muted, Compression/no-compression, Regular/oversized etc. If you want to make a big difference you can change any of these. But it comes often at a price and weight!
With picks, for a start, they're first in the chain next to you. Then, they're very small, require no leads and cost little. Despite their diminutive stature, they effect tone in a big way by no less than two means:.
They connect you. How your finger, thumb and string touch when holding one determines harmonics and bass. The angle you hold the pick varies the scratch in the pick attack. How close you hold it, and how hard you pick - volume.
The design. The gauge or hardness will change attack volume,. The edge effects treble. A sharper tip increases prominence of pick attack. The material changes the attack
If you need to change your sound, think about what can be changed first. Do you just need a mild boost? Use a pick. Want more attack? Use a pick. Price? Often less than £1, although granted there are some masterpieces for considerably more.
So next time you've got a tight budget and need to tweak your tone, think about the what type of pick you want.
Let us know!