The question of how much a pick is broken in is one I get asked a lot. The answer may surprise you. Not at all!
I’d like to take this opportunity to dispel the myth of broken in once and for all. Its a relic from the days when picks were made by hand, often from cow horn or shell. My understanding is that these materials were fairly rigid as new, but with use became more flexible, and thus better sounding. I’m not sure how true this is, but it seems likely (and I’d be happy to hear from anyone who can add to this). At any rate, its not relevant here. Modern picks are made of plastics that have been engineered to have the flexibility they need right off the bat. And while there will be slight variation between different picks, it won’t be significant enough for you to notice in real world playing situations (if you’ve noticed a change after owning your pick for a long time, it was probably your playing that changed).
So does this mean you can stop worrying about picking style? Not exactly. One result of this myth is that many guitarists think its their job to break in the pick by playing with it for a long time. In fact, there are many pick manufacturers who advocate breaking
I was talking to my friend, who is a guitar player, and he mentioned something about a “broken in” guitar pick.
He said that people believe that the pick needs to be broken in or else the tone will be inconsistent.
I could find no evidence of this online. It just seems to be one of those urban myths that people have passed on from person to person.
But I was hoping you guys could tell me if there was any truth to this.
If it does make a difference, how can you break in an pick? Does it take time? Or do you have to do something special?
There is a myth surrounding guitar picks. You might have heard that the pick becomes “broken in” after you have used it for a while. This idea has been around for ages and people have even created “breaking-in” tools to help them bend their picks back into shape. The idea is the pick will get so worn that it will feel like an old friend and more of a part of you.
However, this is not true. A worn pick is a bad pick.
The way you hold the pick has nothing to do with how it feels or plays. It has everything to do with how you play. If you like how your pick sounds, then keep using it! If not, get a new one.
Guitar picks are not made of wood or other organic material so they cannot absorb oils from your hands and become softer over time. They are made of plastic so they can’t wear out and become smoother over time either. If you don’t believe me, try this experiment: Get two identical picks (same brand and thickness). Use one until it’s wearing thin at the edges and then put both in the freezer overnight. When they come out, they will be exactly the same!
The broken in pick is a myth. The pick, when new, is stiff and hard to use but becomes much more flexible and easier to use after use. If a pick is broken in, it must mean that the fibers of the plastic have become looser and can move around more easily.
This is not true.
The reason picks break in is because the user becomes more familiar with them. If you give someone a new pick, they will have trouble using it at first because it feels awkward. After use it feels much better because the user has gotten used to it.
If you give someone another type of pick or have them switch to another one, they will experience the same effect again. This is just because they are getting used to the new pick, not because the material has changed at all.
I’m a guitar player and I’ve always been taught that a new pick needs to be broken in. Why? No one ever told me why, but it just seems like the right thing to do. Almost like saying “Gee, my new shoes are tight, so I better break them in.” or “I’m not sure if this new shirt fits, let me wear it for a few hours and stretch it out.”
The problem with all of this is that after you’ve worn in your shoes or your shirt, then what? You’ve ruined it for everyone else. Maybe the next person who buys those shoes will want a tight fit and be frustrated by the fact that your shoes are stretched out. Maybe the next person to buy that shirt would like it to fit tighter and not loose.
Why should picks be any different? Let’s say, for example you’re looking at a pair of Dunlop Tortex Standard 0.73mm picks. You grab one from the package and try it out. You notice that its pretty hard to play with since its so stiff. “Well,” you think, “there’s no way I could play with something this stiff!” So you put it down and grab another one…and another…finally you find one
The ubiquitous guitar pick has always held a certain fascination for me. A small piece of plastic with an enormous effect on the tone of your guitar. It’s an easy way to find the right tone, but also a difficult one because there’s so many different types available. Gutar picks come in various shapes and sizes, thicknesses, textures and materials.
In my search for the right pick I tried all kinds of different ones: plastic, cork, metal, wood and even stones! I think it was around 2004 when I found my favourite pick: the Fender 351 Classic Celluloid Medium. It’s made from celluloid which is a material that has been used since the 1920’s for different purposes like film, clothing and picks. Its characteristics give it a smooth surface combined with great flexibility. It comes in different sizes but I always use the medium size because it feels good to me.
The most important thing about your pick is how you hold it. You can experiment with this by holding your pick between your thumb and index finger and wiggle it back and forth until you find a comfortable position. Then adjust the angle of the pick until you feel comfortable holding it like that against your strings. Adjusting this angle will affect your tone tremendously! When you play
For a long time, I have been using Jim Dunlop Tortex picks. I like the fact that they come in different shapes and sizes, and that they are easy to get in any big music store. The problem with my picks, though, is that they break very easily.
I have tried other makes of picks, as well as other Tortex models, but I always come back to the orange standard shape ones (0.88mm). For some reason, this is the only pick that feels right when playing.
My problem is that these picks break within a few weeks of use. Some of them even during the first session! This happens much with less frequency with other brands or models (for instance, my Jazz III’s last for months!).
I am pretty sure that this has nothing to do with how hard I play (I do tend to hit strings harder than most people, but not so hard as to damage the pick). On the other hand, I suspect it may have something to do with sweat and friction on the plastic.
Is there anything else I can do about this? Anything else I should try?