Guitar Plectrums Part 4: Alternative Picks

by Alec Plowman, May 23, 2018 . 5 min read

Guitar Plectrums Part 4: Alternative Picks

When you learn to play guitar, there’s a considerable amount of guitar equipment you need to get started. You’ve got the instrument itself, your practice amp, your lead, your tuner, your gig bag and any other music equipment that you’ve bought.

With so much stuff to remember, it’s easy to overlook the humble guitar plectrum. To that we say, overlook at your peril! It might look like a small bit of triangular plastic, but what you have in your hands can make all the difference if you’re trying to learn and master guitar. Pick up the right plectrum, and it’s an aid to your playing. Pick up the wrong one, however, and it can work to your detriment.

How do you know which plectrum is right for you? Well that’s what we wrote this series for. And, in this final edition, we’re delving into the weird and wonderful world of alternative plectrums.

These are the strange looking picks you might have seen on the counter of your local guitar store. If you ever wondered what they were for, then wonder no more!

Oh, and if you’ve not yet checked out the first three parts to this guide, or need a refresher, here they are:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Thumb picks:

As the name suggests, these are guitar plectrums that wrap around the thumb. Primarily designed for finger-pickers, the advantage to using a thumb pick is that it gives you the use of your finger picking digits, while allowing the clarity and attack of a plectrum on your bass notes.

Thumb picks have long been the choice of famous country stars like Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel and Merle Travis. In no small part, this is because they retain the clarity of the bottom end that comes from the E and A strings (which can very easily be muddied when played with a thumb) and allows for players to move easily between fingerpicking and lead playing or strumming.

Famous examples include the Dunlop Medium (Tommy Emmanuel’s pick of choice), the Zookies L-20 and the Herco Flat.

Jellifish Plectrum Effect:

So-called because it looks like a Jellyfish, it’s debatable whether the Jellifish Plectrum effect is really a pick at all. Rather than a traditional plectrum tip, the Jellifish incorporates 18 small pieces of guitar string like wire arranged on a grade, held together by what looks like the body of a plectrum.

What’s the point of this? Well, the by grazing over the strings with it, you create a sound not unlike a chorus effect pedal, and can simulate the sounds of a 12-string on a 6 string guitar. This comes in handy if:

  1. You’re playing completely unplugged and want a chorus effect.
  2. Don’t have the budget for both six and 12 string instruments.

There’s fun to be had for sonic experimenters as well. Arc the Jellifish back and forth over the strings, and you’ll get a sound out of your guitar that approximates a cello or viola.

One thing to note – it doesn’t look like these are currently in production at the moment. However, there are still some third party retailers out there stocking them. You can find them, but you might have to do a bit of searching.

The Wirething Guitar Pick:

“Wirething, you make my heart sing.”

Ahem. Terrible puns aside, the Wirething is fun oddity of a pick, featuring a body made of either injection molded plastic, nylon or acrylic but with a tip that is a small metal wire made of steel copper alloy.

Why?

Well, according to Wirething’s website, it offers: “the clean precise tone of a metal pick… but with the light weight and sure grip of a plastic pick. It defines a whole new category of guitar picks.”

Offering a cleaner attack than heavy gauge plastic picks and easier on the strings than flat metal picks, this one is an interesting hybrid that might be worth trying out.

The SnakePick:

According to Guitar World, The SnakePick was created to “shift guitarists’ focus from the pick to their playing.” You hold it like a standard guitar plectrum, but it grips you as well, coiling around your finger like a snake (hence the name).

Supposedly, this allows you more playing possibilities – picking with multiple fingers for example, and to play with more precise articulation.

So that’s it for the Guide to Guitar Plectrums series. We hope you got a kick out of choosing your pick.

Got another suggestion of a series of articles you want Roadie to write? No problem!

Sound off in the comments, or hit us up on Twitter with your ideas.

 



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit
Get Roadie Tuner

Check out some other similar articles

You want to get better at guitar, right?

Who doesn’t? If you’re serious about your instrument, you’ll do anything and everything to build up your chops.

Alec Plowman
Sep 30, 2019 . 4 min read

When it comes to learning guitar, everybody has a goal piece. It’s that one song they’ve wanted to master since they first picked up the instrument

Alec Plowman
Sep 23, 2019 . 3 min read

The voice of Hawaii, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, blessed us with his cover mashup of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What A Wonderful World.

Frederik Nielsen
Sep 16, 2019 . 3 min read

Teaching yourself to play ukulele is great!  Whether you’re learning to play ukulele online or with a book, it’s an awesome skill.

Alec Plowman
Jun 25, 2019 . 4 min read

So you want to learn to play ukuleleAwesome. But, what’s the best ukulele for beginners? Which cheap ukuleles won’t leave you buyer’s remorse?

Alec Plowman
Jun 6, 2019 . 4 min read

Whether you are a beginner or have some experience with guitars, you still may be wondering how to tune a guitar perfectly.

Alain Abou Atmeh
May 2, 2019 . 4 min read

Alternate tunings make life as a guitarist a bit more interesting, as it’s easy to get tired of just being famous all the time. That’s why we cover alternate tuning

Frederik Nielsen
May 1, 2019 . 5 min read

Drummers are loud people — let’s talk about it. I have to deal with a drummer who never calls in sick for rehearsals. He always shows up,

Federik Nielsen
Apr 29, 2019 . 3 min read

It’s a well-established fact: having a routine makes your more productive. Chances are you already put this into practice when it comes to

Alec Plowman
Apr 5, 2019 . 3 min read

What’s the best acoustic guitar for a beginner? If you’ve ever worked in a guitar store, you’ve probably been asked that question. A LOT.

Alec Plowman
Mar 31, 2019 . 3 min read

The guitar world has lost a legend. Jim Dunlop – guitar plectrum and guitar pedals pioneer – has died. A cause

Alec Plowman
Feb 13, 2019 . 3 min read

We’ve talked before in this blog about how jamming with other musicians is an amazing way to fast-track learning the guitar.

Alec Plowman
Oct 11, 2018 . 3 min read

What sets apart a great lead guitar solo from a mediocre one? Is it technique? Finger dexterity? Scale mastery?

Alec Plowman
Jul 23, 2018 . 4 min read

Beginner guitarists and tuning stability have a turbulent relationship. In this day and age, getting your guitar

Alec Plowman
Jul 9, 2018 . 4 min read

So you’ve decided you want to play electric guitar. Awesome. You’ve just taken your first step into a wider world

Alec Plowman
Jun 28, 2018 . 4 min read

You are all in for treat! One can never be awesome enough with the axe, so take a look below for the tricks

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 13, 2018 . 4 min read

Embedded in every guitar player’s DNA is an incredibly huge ego (not my opinion, Google it) that needs to be fed on a regular basis.

Frederik Nielsen
May 28, 2018 . 4 min read

A few days ago, I went to a local show to watch a couple of up-and-coming bands I’d heard some good things about.

Alec Plowman
May 25, 2018 . 3 min read

What’s the best way to learn guitar? You can take guitar lessons, you can look up guitar tabs,

Alec Plowman
May 24, 2018 . 4 min read

Welcome back to Roadie’s guitar plectrums series! If picking the right pick has you lost in a world of confusion, then this is the series for you!

Alec Plowman
May 16, 2018 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!