How to Choose the Best Guitar Pick Thickness

A guitar pick can make or break your entire guitar tone and can improve or ruin your technique.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced guitarist: Rethinking your choice of guitar pick thickness will pay off!

I’ll start by going over the different guitar pick thickness categories. To make them comparable over many brands, I conducted the “guitar pick thickness study”!

Based on the study, I made a guitar pick thickness chart. This chart lets you compare the guitar pick thicknesses of different brands.

In the last chapter of this post, I’ll give you some guidelines to choose the right guitar pick thickness.

What are the guitar picks’ actual sizes?

The actual sizes and thicknesses of guitar picks seem to be one of the best-kept secrets in the world.

Researching the actual thickness of the standard guitar pick sizes was frustrating… There are countless different categorizations by countless brands.

Yet, most of the well-known guitar pick brands use the same standard size categories:

  • Thin
  • Medium
  • Heavy
  • Thick / Extra Heavy

But the only (sort-of) official statement on the actual measurements of these sizes can be found on the Fender blog:

  • Thin: .44 millimeters (.017 in)
  • Medium: From .45 to .69 millimeters (.018 – .027 in)
  • Heavy: From .85 to 1.20 millimeters (.033 – .047 in)
  • Thick: 1.5 millimeters or more (>= .059 in)

However, with lots of frustration, I observed that not even all Fender guitar picks fall under these categories…

That’s why I started my quest to research the actual size of the most famous guitar picks!

Guitar pick thickness study

To empower you to make the best guitar pick thickness choice for you, I conducted the guitar pick thickness study!

To have a meaningful guitar pick sample, I analyzed the catalogs of three big guitar pick brands: DunlopFender, and D’Addario.

Below you can see the results of my analysis of the thickness of 142 Dunlop guitar picks:

Guitar pick thickness study findings. The thickness of 142 Dunlop guitar picks compiled in a histogram.

What is the thinnest guitar pick?

The thinnest guitar pick that I found in my sample is the Jim Dunlop Nylon Standard with a thickness of .38mm (.015in). Here you can take a look at the Nylon Standard on Amazon.

What is the thickest guitar pick?

I also found some really thick guitar picks in my sample! The thickest of them is the Jim Dunlop Flow Jumbo Grip, with a thickness of 4.20mm (.165in). 

A big pro about it: It’s got a 420 stamp on it, and it’s green! 😉

Here you can take a look at the Flow Jumbo Grip on Amazon!

Guitar pick thickness chart

Many brands (such as Dunlop and D’Addario) give you the actual thickness for most of their picks. But other brands make it more difficult to access the actual thickness of their guitar picks.

That’s the reason I took a deep dive into their catalogs to research the actual size of their guitar picks.

Based on my findings in the “guitar pick thickness study,” I compiled this guitar pick thickness chart:

The guitar pick thickness chart shows the guitar pick sizes and their thickness from 3 different guitar pick brands.

Fender commented on their thickness categories here. I had to categorize the guitar pick thickness categories of Dunlop and D’Addario myself by taking a sample of their available pick sizes.

Now, the guitar pick’s actual sizes are no longer a mystery for you. So let’s follow up with a guide to what guitar pick thickness is the right for you!

What thickness guitar pick should I use?

Are you unsure about what guitar pick thickness to choose? Consider your technical abilities, instrument, and preferred style of playing. I’ll go over every single one of these variables in detail!

Thin and thick guitar picks can make significant differences in the sound they create and the feeling you get when playing them.

If you’ve never used a guitar pick before, I recommend starting with a medium guitar pick (~ 1 mm).

Let’s go over their unique properties first!

What is the difference between thick and thin guitar picks?

The differences between thick and thin guitar picks. This comparison of thin vs. thick guitar picks shows you how guitar pick thickness affects your guitar tone.

Thin guitar picks…

  • … make a softer, thin tone.
  • … are suitable for a flappy strumming sound.
  • … make more pick noise.
  • … offer a bright and sharp tone.
  • … give you a more treble-heavy tone.
  • … give you less precise control over your guitar pick.

Thick guitar picks…

  • … make a harder, full tone.
  • … are suitable for a defined lead sound.
  • … make less pick noise.
  • … offer a dark and mellow tone.
  • … give you a more bass- and middle-heavy tone.
  • … give you more precise control over your guitar pick.

But, these differences between thick and thin guitar picks can’t be trusted with every pick!

Apart from the guitar pick’s thickness, its shape and material also contribute to its tonal properties. Keep that in mind when choosing your next guitar pick!

But what is the best guitar pick thickness for you?

To find the right guitar pick thickness for you, you have to consider these questions:

  • How long have you been playing the guitar?
  • Are you playing an acoustic or electric guitar?
  • What style of music are you usually playing?

Here’s an overview of these situations and what guitar pick thickness is usually best for them:

This infographic shows the best guitar pick thickness for different situations.

What is the best guitar pick thickness for beginners on acoustic and electric guitar?

The short answer: If you’re still a beginner, thinner guitar picks will be easier to use than thicker guitar picks. Thinner guitar picks are more forgiving with technical mistakes and easier to handle. That’s why I recommend thinner guitar picks for beginners.

The long answer: 

  • On an acoustic guitar, you’ll get away with thinner guitar picks. But you need thicker guitar picks on an electric guitar. (More info here.)
  • If you play strumming rhythm songs, then you’ll get away with thinner guitar picks. But if you want to learn fast shredding lead solos, then you’ll need thicker guitar picks. (More info here.)

What is the best guitar pick thickness for acoustic or electric guitar?

On an acoustic guitar, you can usually use thinner guitar picks than on an electric guitar. This has multiple reasons:

1. Your guitar’s strings

Acoustic guitar strings are usually lighter and softer than electric guitar strings. That’s why a thin guitar pick will wear off faster on an electric guitar than on an acoustic guitar.

If you don’t want to buy new guitar picks every week, you’ll need to use thicker guitar picks on an electric guitar.

Read more about how long guitar picks last in this post!

2. Your guitar’s tone

Thin guitar picks make more pick noise than thick guitar picks. Pick noise fits acoustic songs well but can sound irritating on an electric guitar.

So if you want to minimize pick noise on an electric guitar, you’ll need a thicker guitar pick.

But if you’re after that soothing acoustic strumming sound, then you’ll need a thinner guitar pick.

3. Your style of playing

Thin guitar picks are great for strumming but lack the controllability you need for soloing.

So, depending on what style of music you want to play, you may need the controllability of a thick guitar pick or the flexibility of a thin guitar pick.

Below you can read my tips on the best guitar pick thickness for strumming and shredding. If you play other genres like Jazz guitar or acoustic blues, you’ll have to carefully consider the pros and cons of thin and thick guitar picks before making your choice!

What is the best guitar pick thickness for strumming?

For strumming, a thin guitar pick is better suited than a thick guitar pick.

That’s because a thin guitar pick gives you the needed flexibility to play strumming rhythm parts. Thin guitar picks lack controllability and precision. But these characteristics are not required when strumming.

In addition, the treble-heavy frequencies of thin guitar picks fit strumming parts better than the bass- and mid-heavy frequencies of thick guitar picks.

So you want to play relaxing campfire songs on your acoustic guitar, a thin guitar pick is the best choice.

What is the best guitar pick thickness for shredding?

For “shredding” and fast lead melodies, a thick pick is better suited than a thin guitar pick.

That’s because you need lots of control and well accentuated single notes to play shredding lead parts.

In addition, the fuller bass- and mid-heavy frequencies of thick guitar picks fit most shredding parts better than the treble-heavy frequencies of thin guitar picks.

So if you want to play fast lead melodies on your electric guitar, you’ll need a thicker guitar pick.


I hope this post answered all your questions about guitar pick thickness! If there’s anything else you’d like me to write about, feel free to contact me!

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