thick guitar pick playing metal

Choosing The Right Guitar Pick Thickness For Metal

There is a time and place for aggressive practice. But, if you need to choose the right guitar pick thickness for metal, it’s best to stick with a thicker pick.

What Is The Best Guitar Pick Thickness For Metal?

Typically, when playing metal, players go for a heavier gauge of string that will produce stronger tones that will help cut through the mix at live performances. To compensate for this thicker sound from the strings, heavier picks, like 1.5mm or above, are used which produces a sharper attack on the strings and provides better tonal quality.

Thicker picks also help you play more aggressively and speed through a song without losing any of that low end.

Other Things To Consider With Guitar Picks For Metal Music

Although heavier picks are best for metal, you will also want to make sure that the pick is comfortable in your hand. If it’s too thick, it will be uncomfortable to hold and you won’t be able to improvise if playing on stage. To get the right feel, you should always try a variety of different picks until you find one that will suit your musical needs.

How To Choose The Right Guitar Pick Thickness For Metal

When deciding on the right pick thickness for metal, you will be best off going to a professional player or guitar store that can help you pick out a custom-fit pick. Of course, there are also online shops where you can get the desired gauge from around the world with just a few clicks.

If you are buying a guitar pick for the first time, however, it is best that you try a variety of different picks until you find the one that will be able to suit all of your tonal needs.

What Thickness Picks Do Different Metal Players Use?

It is also helpful to do a bit of research to see what thicknesses different metal guitarists use. This will give you an idea of what sizes you should go for in the different brands.

James Hetfield

The picks that James Hetfield uses is a Dunlop Tortex 1.50mm and 2.00mm and Fender Heavy picks at the thickness of 1.50mm and 2.00mm which can be found on his personal website. He uses these picks to produce the growling sound in Metallica that fans have come to love over the years.

Zakk Wylde

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society is known for his heavy, distorted playing style and thick metal riffs. Zakk, as a result, uses picks that are typically 2.00mm and above, which brings the notes out even more clearly than with a lighter pick.

Avenged Sevenfold

This is another metal band with members known for their aggressive playing styles and speed. Their guitarists use 1.88mm Dunlop Tortex picks or 2.10mm Fender Jim Dunlop picks for their live shows to ensure that their sound is crisp, clean, and sharp all the way through.

Kerry King

Kerry King, who is the lead guitarist for Slayer, uses 0.88mm Tortex Triangle picks that he has found to be extremely durable for live shows and being thrown about on stage. He loves the feel of these picks in his hand and how they are able to withstand a lot of stress without breaking or wearing down.

Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist for the legendary band Metallica, uses 1.38mm picks, depending on the song and the need at hand. He finds that 1.38mm works best for most songs and he therefore sticks with these thicknesses for live performances, which is a pretty surprising thing when you consider how fast he is able to play.

Other Things To Consider

There are a lot of different things to consider when choosing the right thickness of guitar pick. Of course, if you are looking for a pick that will only be used for practice, it is fine to go with a thinner gauge.

However, the thicker picks are best for when you want to play on stage and want to ensure that your sound will cut through the mix and be heard just as clearly as other instruments. From experience, I have found that there is no way around using a thicker pick when playing metal.

The thicker picks seem to give you the best sound quality and help you play more aggressively, which is what metal is all about. If you are unsure which gauge to choose, it is best to start off with a 1.5mm or 2.0mm pick and go from there.

Do not think that your playing will suffer because of the pick thickness. You will have no problem using a thicker pick, they just need some getting used to if this is your first time using them consistently.

The thickness also depends on your playing style. It is important to realize that some people use lighter picks because they are playing styles that require more precise strokes and faster movement. Lighter picks will allow you to control the tone of the strings and produce a more even sounding string.

Conclusion

The thicker picks are best for metal when you need to control the sound of the strings and produce a better tone. They will also help you play more aggressively and speed through a song without missing any of that low end. Who needs fast though if you don’t have any lows.

There is also a time and place for aggressive practice. But, if you need to choose the right guitar pick thickness for metal, it’s best to stick with a thicker pick.