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Plectrum

Main article: Guitar pick

A "guitar pick" or "plectrum" is a small piece of hard material generally held between the thumb and first finger of the picking hand and is used to "pick" the strings. Though most classical players pick with a combination of fingernails and fleshy fingertips, the pick is most often used for electric and steel-string acoustic guitars. Though today they are mainly plastic, variations do exist, such as bone, wood, steel or tortoise shell. Tortoise shell was the most commonly used material in the early days of pick-making, but as tortoises and turtles became endangered, the practice of using their shells for picks or anything else was banned. Tortoise-shell picks made before the ban are often coveted for a supposedly superior tone and ease of use, and their scarcity has made them valuable.

Picks come in many shapes and sizes. Picks vary from the small jazz pick to the large bass pick. The thickness of the pick often determines its use. A thinner pick (between 0.2 and 0.5 mm) is usually used for strumming or rhythm playing, whereas thicker picks (between 0.7 and 1.5+ mm) are usually used for single-note lines or lead playing. The distinctive guitar sound of Billy Gibbons is attributed to using a quarter or peso as a pick. Similarly, Brian May is known to use a sixpence coin as a pick. David Persons is known for using old credit cards, cut to the correct size, as plectrums.

Thumb picks and finger picks that attach to the finger tips are sometimes employed in finger-picking styles on steel strings. These allow the fingers and thumb to operate independently, whereas a flat pick requires the thumb and one or two fingers to manipulate.

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Other articles related to "plectrum, plectrums":

Plectrum - Etymology and Usage
... First attested in English 15th century, the word "plectrum" comes from Latin plectrum, itself derived from Greek "πλῆκτρον" (plēktron), "anything to strike with, an instrument for striking the lyre, a ... "Plectrum" has both a Latin-based plural, plectra and a native English plural, plectrums ... However, plectrums is more common in ordinary speech ...
Eddie Peabody - Later Accomplishments
... with the Vega Banjo Company of Boston, Peabody developed a new type of plectrum banjo, called the Vegavox, which featured a resonator that rose the full ... The Vegavox was produced primarily in four-stringed plectrum (22-fret) and tenor (19-fret) versions however, some five-string models were made as special orders ... It was tuned as a plectrum banjo but with the 3rd and 4th strings doubled in octaves, similar to the tuning of a 12-string guitar ...
Fingerstyle Guitar - Advantages and Disadvantages
... Players do not have to carry a plectrum but fingernails may have to be maintained at the right length and in good condition ... string independently however, that does not equate to four plectrums, since plectrums can strike strings on both an up and a downstroke, which fingers generally cannot ... melody playing are more complex than with plectrum playing ...
Guitar Picking
... Picking can be done- With a plectrum held in the hand With natural or artificial fingernails, fingertips or finger-mounted plectra known as fingerpicks ... With a plectrum is held between thumb and one finger, supplemented by the free fingers ... Another mixed technique is to play different passages with a plectrum or fingerstyle, "palming" the plectrum when it is not in use ...