5 Reasons to Use Boutique Guitar Picks WiredGuitarist May 9, 2016 Articles, Uncategorized “Oh my god, why would you spend $10 for a guitar pick, I can get like 10 of them for that much!” “You’re a prick, only a moron would pay that much for a guitar pick!” That’s typically what I hear from people when I tell them what the “weird” pick I’m using costs. Jokes on them though, good boutique guitar picks are actually cheaper than buying cheap flimsy regular plastic picks over and over, and over. Other than the cost savings, here are 5 reasons you should consider using boutique guitar plectrums instead of grabbing the coolest looking pick at your local store… Reason One: Superior ergonomics. The massive picks you see a lot of boutique plectrum companies produce look extremely uncomfortable. They look way too big to be held by anyone with normal size hands. I mean, take a look at this: Pictured: Custom Winspear Picks Stealth Let me ask you something, does that look like something anyone with hands smaller than Buckethead’s should be able to grip? Surprisingly, these large designs are comfortable. They’re rapidly gaining popularity among guitarists… The reason is that boutique picks let you exert less energy when picking because of their added mass. This means that there is less tension in your hand and wrist when playing, which is always a good thing. Ever notice how relaxed technically proficient players look while playing? These picks help you get to that point faster. With guitarists prone to career-ending health issues like tendonitis and carpal tunnel, large picks are a good way to help mitigate health issues from appearing. They will even help to reduce symptoms in guitarists already suffering from serious discomfort, allowing them to enjoy playing again. Reason Two: They Increase Attack & Consistency Before you start thinking that we are just making this one up, let’s talk about why more attack is generally a good thing… Most of us are familiar with the tonal benefits of picking harder. It just sounds better, and is the main reason players like Paul Gilbert or Rick Graham sound so much better than most guitarists when playing fast alternate picked passages. They are picking hard and consistently. You don’t hear much difference in volume from each note they play, unless they are doing it on purpose and this makes fast playing sound much better. Using boutique picks can yield massive increases in attack depending on the manufacturer and model. With larger thick picks especially, this means that your playing sounds much clearer because you are picking harder without exerting more energy. Makes sense right? This leads us to the next point… Reason Three: Your Tone Sounds Better We spend so much time choosing the right guitar, pickups, amp, tweaking settings… But often, the pick is given far too little attention. Tone begins with the fingers, strings, and your pick! Using the right boutique picks means your tone will sound clearer, and more transparent. That’s a big claim right? Maybe even a little dubious? Well, let’s dive into it, and let us show you why this is true. The biggest reason your tone sounds clearer when using boutique picks is because you don’t need to play with as much gain. The organic increase in attack and picking consistency discussed above means that you are typically louder than you would be if using a super thin pick and as a result you no longer need to play with as much gain to compensate for your inconsistent picking. Less gain means chords and notes in general sound clearer. This is great if you like playing fast because people can actually tell what you’re playing. Personally, this is my favorite reason to use boutique picks. But hey, don’t take our word for it. Watch this video and decide for yourself. The differences between the popular Jazz III, which is a thick regular plastic and Winspears is quite apparent! The differences are even more obvious when comparing thin picks and Winspears. Reason Four: They Last Forever (OK, sort of) If the guy crafting your plectrum knows what he’s doing and is delivering a high quality product, then there’s a good chance he spent a lot of time experimenting with unusual materials you would never think would work with picks. This is time intensive, expensive, and a tricky process, but the results can be incredible and means your pick can last for a very long time. For example, I’ve had my Winspear IceGrip for 2 years now, and it’s still surprisingly useable. I can’t remember the last time any pick lasted longer than a few weeks for me, including thicker picks like the Petrucci Jazz signature model. The Winspear Stealth I usually use is made of a self lubricating composite blend, impregnated with carbon fiber and graphite. The words “self lubricating composite blend” are probably not something you expect to hear when thinking of picks. The unique properties of the Stealth means it lasts a long time and sounds great. Based on my conversations with Tom, it look him a lot of time to find a self-lubricating material he was happy with tonally, but it seems to have paid off well. Other advanced plastics and alternative materials used by boutique plectrum manufacturers often provide a lot more wear resistance than a normal plastic pick. One of the most durable of these advanced plastics that still managed to sound great is ultra-high-molecular-weight-polyethylene (UHMWPE). It can keep a well formed tip throughout months of hard playing by even the most demanding guitarist. No more throwing away cheap picks after a gig or two because the tip has been annihilated! Reason Five: They Can Be Customized. More often than not, any boutique manufacturer worth his salt will be able to offer custom solutions tailored to you. “But WG, WTF do you need custom guitar picks for!?” Well, we all have hands that are different sizes, as well slightly (or very) different ways of holding a pick. This affects how your pick should be shaped. I had Tom Winspear build me a custom set of Sandstorm and Stealth picks that were slightly longer because I have larger hands. Was it cheap? No, definitely not. Was it worth it? Yes. It is something I’ll likely be using for a few years. I’m not one of the guys that sits at his workshop crafting these for 12 hours a day though, so unfortunately we can’t speak to exactly what would work for each person. I recommend talking to your favorite boutique plectrum maker and asking him what they would recommend. Thanks for reading our article! If you liked it, then why not have a gander at some more articles here?