Often guitarists choose a guitar pick with the criteria of comfort, speed. Grip, color or sometimes <gulp> a graphic… But rarely is tone a topic. Different materials, size and shape greatly affect the tone your guitar will resonate. For many applications the small variables aren’t that important. By the time you’re plugged into your tuner, into a DI then to the front of the house you’re not going to wonder how a medium Tortex pick might sound better than the Delrin. Mostly you’ll be wondering if the soundman is checking his texts while your playing and can they please put some reverb in the monitors. Seriously, we’re an evolving species this should be possible by now!!
A studio situation can be entirely different tho. In this environment the smallest of changes can yield big results. Before I even set up a mic I spend some time making sure the instrument has the right sound. Picks are essentially the first stage of EQ. There have been times where I just couldn’t figure out why there was something funky in the high end… until I switched picks. For instance I was recently recording a song called “Good Woman Down” by Jenna Torres. My signal chain was a Martin HD-28 guitar, Geffell UM92 mic, Pendulum MDP preamp into Burl B2 converters. There was something in the 10-12k range that was bugging me. I moved the mic around, changed settings on the pre but no go. Then I looked at what pick I was using. A Dunlop Ultex .73 It’s what I use in live settings because I like the “feel” of it. I proceeded to get a bunch of picks out from my collection and started swapping them. I finally decided on a Dunlop Tortex 1.0mm. Sometimes heavy picks sound really good in front of mics.
This brings up some ideas. What about using picks for different effects? There are plenty of different materials they make picks from. Celluloid, Nylon and Delrin are a few examples of some popular materials. There are also varieties of wood, stone, metal and felt. Each one of these breeds has very usable tones. I might even say dig-able tones. There are a lot of different flavors. You can even use household items. What about cardboard or wrapped up paper?
One afternoon make a pick trip to your local music store where the employees are way too cool and know too much to really talk to you. Start by grabbing one of every pick they have. They will no doubt give you a look of wonder and snobbery, but you know something they prob. don’t aside from being a hipster is a fad. It may take you two years to use that Dunlop Tri Stubby, but someday it may be the perfect tone.