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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Round or pointed side of the pick

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

menno - Posted - 09/15/2008:  02:42:16


I am curious about how many people are picking with the round or pointed side of the pick and why. I play with the round side because I had trouble with the up-strokes and it gives a warmer sound and with the point of the pick it gives a sharper sound.

I even heard people say for good bluegrass flatpicking you must play with the point. If that so, someone can explain me why? I don't play that long guitar and I don't want to learn it the wrong way.


TonyH - Posted - 09/15/2008:  05:11:51

howdy menno.. i would say that there is no wrong way. we all go for the sound that we like best. i like the warmer sound you speak of, so i play with the side of the pick. But i play with "dawg" picks anyway and they are pretty rounded all the way around. if you are happy with the sound you are getting, then it is the right way.

musekatcher - Posted - 09/15/2008:  06:29:57

If I only have a thinner pick, I use the round. If I have a thick pick, I like a dull point, bordering on a round. I agree, there is no right or wrong pick. You can learn to get volume and tone from either.

I've wondered about thin picks in the olden days. I'm not sure they had materials that could hold up very long at dimensions under 1.0 mm. An old picker who's gone now had a pick he made as a child out of yellow celluloid, that he robbed from some automobile courtesy light scrap.

I'm not positive, but the last time I saw Norman Blake picking, he was using a pink Dunlop, probably the 1.14 mm.

Jim Holland
Athens, AL

Chadtheguru - Posted - 09/15/2008:  07:58:25

I use the thinner. No particular reason, I guess. I've tried the rounded side before and didn't like it. This one probably falls under personal preference.

guitdawg - Posted - 09/15/2008:  09:14:23

For me, to pick with the point or shoulder is largely decided by the part I am playing at any given time. If I am playing mostly the lead line, I will use the point, if on the other hand, I am playing solo or doing more rhythmic playing I use the shoulder. The rounded edge seems to be better for me to cross pick with-

Personal preference as noted above. There is no wrong way once you learn it

Here to demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

Bird Dog - Posted - 09/15/2008:  09:19:09

I use point for guitar, round for mandolin. Round seems to work better with paired strings.


Laurence Diehl - Posted - 09/15/2008:  09:21:33

I do pretty much the same as guitdawg above - use both. I like the warmer sound playing with the butt of the pick, sometimes I want the sharper, cleaner sound of the point. I use a pick that has a more rounded point than fender anyway.



Bikewer - Posted - 09/15/2008:  09:37:59

Me too. With the Dunlop picks I use ( the .88mm) the point gives a bright, ringy sound that's fine for bluegrass-type stuff.
Going to the side softens the tone a bit and seems better for jazzy runs and chord work.

Flatpicker - Posted - 09/15/2008:  11:50:26

Point for fast stuff. Then I slightly play with the side of the pick for mellower songs.


dmiller - Posted - 09/15/2008:  14:34:11

Originally posted by Bikewer

Me too. With the Dunlop picks I use ( the .88mm) the point gives a bright, ringy sound that's fine for bluegrass-type stuff.
Going to the side softens the tone a bit and seems better for jazzy runs and chord work.

I agree with Bikewer. I also use the .88mm Dunlop's but I usually use the pointed end to flatpick the strings, but that 's just my preference since I have large hands, and fingers and that is what it comfortable for me.

I think that's the key to something like this. Do what is comfortable to you, since there is really no wrong or right way to hold a pick (imo). If you can hit the correct notes and chords one way better than another --- go for it!

dmiller - Posted - 09/15/2008:  14:35:56

Oh by the way --- Welcome to the hangout, Menno --- and also to the world of guitar!

knothead - Posted - 09/15/2008:  23:03:25

Rounded end for me, actually the corner of the rounded end.

menno - Posted - 09/16/2008:  02:47:35

So the best is, to learn it both ways. Depends on the song.


mrbook - Posted - 09/21/2008:  17:18:08

I use the pointed end when playing guitar, the rounded end when playing the mandolin, so I don't dig in too deep.


countrydirt - Posted - 09/21/2008:  17:30:25

Pointed for guitar, round or edge for mandolin - minimum 1mm. I have graduated up to a 1.04 Dunlop. I have been eyeing some antelope (pronghorn) hoof and my dremel tool and might see what happens.

Owner of several, master of none!

Bonnie - Posted - 09/21/2008:  20:17:54

Depends. I used to pick primarily with a Golden Gate pick so when I switched back to a regular pick it felt really odd to use the pointed end. Sometimes I sand off the ends of my regular pointed picks. When I'm playing something that requires a lot of light strumming, sometimes I'll use the back end.

trvlrtom - Posted - 09/22/2008:  17:24:11

There is no wrong way. Use whatever is comfortable and gives you the sound you want.

JonT - Posted - 09/24/2008:  14:30:13

Just as with heavy picks vs. light ones, it kind of depends on the tone you want, doesn't it? Try it both ways, see what I mean.

Best - JFT

timbi - Posted - 09/25/2008:  17:52:07

I use the ponted end and medium gauge triangle picks. I have problems with my grip. That seems to work best for me. Whatever works best for you and what you are most comfortable with is the best way to go.

illinoishillbilly - Posted - 09/28/2008:  04:00:06

Due to them being easier to kep a hold of with my fat fingers I use triangle Dunlop, tortex 1.0 and ultex 1.0 depending on the song, so I don't have the option. When I was using teardrop picks I tended towards the the rounded corners because they gave a little fuller tone. Since switching I have moved to heavier picks and I think that they have given me the fuller tone that I had with using the teardrops on the rounded corners. Really it is all about personal preference, there is no "right way".

brokenstrang - Posted - 10/02/2008:  07:54:38

I used to play with the pointed edge of a pick until a friend of mine gave me a pick to try that had rounded edges. Now that is all I use for guitar and mandolin. I prefer the Wegen picks myself, as thick as I can get em. One thing that has helped me tremendously is some videos that have been posted on YouTube by BanjoBen1. He plays banjo for Taylor Swift and is also one heck of a musician, period. His flatpicking video lessons have been invaluable to me. Check em out if your just starting out.

bluegrassgirl - Posted - 10/02/2008:  16:50:30

beginning of the song the point...then the round as the freaking thing slips around for a while....

stringfever - Posted - 10/05/2008:  05:45:39

I use mostly the point, but file the point down quite a bit with a fingernail file.


I can''t, I''m going to Winfield.

sweets pal - Posted - 10/05/2008:  10:18:49

Since I read this thread I've used the round side and I quite like the sound it gives for some songs. Used to happen when my pick would spin and I'd really lose it trying to stay with the song and get control of the slippery thing! Now that I see it's okay to use the pick that way, I can go ahead and hold it anydang where. Thanks all!

Regards, Jan

HD28 Player - Posted - 10/05/2008:  18:57:58

I used the pointed end for many years. Then a few years ago I attended a seminar with Dan Crary at my local Guitar Center. Dan suggested using the "shoulder" or round end of the that's they way he plays. I changed then, and liked the way it sounds and feels. I haven't changed back.

Brian T - Posted - 10/09/2008:  10:04:57

I bought some new bluegrass banjo picks (Propik). There were 3 different tip shapes to select from. The Propik guys claim that the rounder tips (#3)give a more mellow sound. The much more pointed-tip picks (#1) produce a much brighter sound. So, I bought some of each. Even my old ears can hear the difference. I'd bet a nickel that the tip shape generates a different mix of harmonics as the string slides off the contact surface, slowly/rounded or quickly/pointed. Guitar flatpicks could be no different.

"Keep Your Eyes On The Horizon" (K.T. Oslin)

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