Whether you’re new at playing guitar or just experiencing trouble with your picks, you may wonder if it’s just you. Picks are great for playing guitar expertly, but they don’t always work the way we want them to. So, many guitar players are left wondering if it’s just them or if picks tend to break easily.
Guitar picks don’t break easily, but that doesn’t mean they can’t break. If your pick is too thin for your strumming technique, worn out from excessive use, or used during intense strumming, it can break even if it’s relatively structurally sound.
Let’s go into more details about breaking guitar picks and how you can prevent it from happening.
Why Do My Guitar Picks Break?
Your guitar picks tend to break because they’re worn out, they’re too thin for your strumming technique, or you may be playing too hard. The best way to figure out which reason will help you is by trial and error.
Breaking Down Over Time
Just like other plastic items, guitar picks can wear out over time as we use them. Depending on your technique and how hard you strum, picks can wear out pretty quickly. So, let’s look at some of the ways that picks tend to break down over time.
As we use guitar picks, they’ll wear down and begin to lose their original shape. You may notice that the pick you’ve been using for a while looks a lot more rounded than it did the first time you held it. This is a natural part of wear and tear for guitar picks, but it shows that over time, picks break down.
Because we begin breaking down the material of the picks the more we use them, they tend to lose thickness and even catch too firmly on strings. The catching and overall breaking down is what causes some picks to break over time.
It isn’t just the tip of the pick that is affected. The sides of a pick can wear out just as fast as the tip, if not faster, depending on your technique. When the sides begin to wear down, they can cause cracks and chips in the edge that lead to complete breakage over time. Even the smallest chips in the side of a pick can make it more difficult to use as it may get caught on strings.
The best way to avoid this is to replace your picks regularly as you notice you’re using them often. For average guitar players, this means that every few weeks to a month, you should switch to a new pick to preserve your sound and prevent them from snapping in the middle of a session.
Using Picks That Are Too Thin
Using variations of thickness in picks can help you build a unique sound when playing guitar. In fact, it’s often fun to experiment with different pick thicknesses. However, your chosen thickness could be why your guitar picks break so easily. Not every thickness will be useful for every player, and it’s important to find the right range for you.
Thin picks are useful for light strumming and creating softer sounds as you hear, especially in country and pop music. Their flexibility allows for a loose grip, and the give of the pick allows for the strings to really ring out while playing. So, thin picks are a favorite for many players.
The problem is that not everyone can properly use thin strings to their advantage and can sometimes break them. If this is happening to you, it means that you’d benefit from a thicker pick or learning a gentler technique. So, next time you play, try to consider ways that you can adjust your technique or just invest in thicker picks to support your technique.
Playing Too Hard
While thin picks are a common reason that they break, sometimes it’s more about the player than the pick. Even thicker picks will break when put under enough pressure, and it’s possible to be playing your guitar too hard and breaking your picks because of that.
The art of guitar playing is precise yet personal. So, no one will have your exact technique for playing as it varies based on how we learn and what sound we want to produce. But it’s still possible that you’re playing too hard. If your picks are constantly breaking on you, then it may be time to rethink your technique.
As we learn to play guitar (Question: can you learn fingerstyle first) and grow in confidence with our technique, it can be easy to let that confidence manifest in hitting those strings really hard. So, try to focus on how hard you strum and see if that helps with your pick-breaking issues. Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking a deep breath and remembering that playing harder doesn’t mean playing better.
How Do I Find the Right Guitar Pick?
You can find the right guitar pick by deciding how you’ll play guitar and choosing the right pick based on your individual needs. Rounded picks are great for strumming, while more angular picks are best for picking. Thickness also makes a big difference with guitar picks.
With so much variety in the guitar pick world, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you. Thankfully, we’re here to help you out. If you find that your picks keep breaking, then chances are you need to use a different type. So, let’s find the right one for you.
Trial and Error
First, it’s worth noting that finding the best pick will involve some trial and error when it comes to guitar playing (Question: why do guitarists tape their fingers). Most of the time, a guitar player doesn’t just know which pick to use when they first start playing (Related: why do bassists hate picks). They do what we all do and try some different ones before they figure out what works. So, don’t be afraid to try them out first.
Consider the Pick’s Shape
It’s important to consider the shape of the pick that you want to use. Sure, some shapes look cooler than others, but it’s all about what the different shapes are good for. For example, round-shaped picks are great for strumming as they’ll more clearly play multiple strings at a time.
Choose a Pick Based on Your Playing Technique
If you’re looking for more detail-oriented guitar playing, then you should try to find guitar picks that have a sharper edge. This allows you to pick individual strings more easily than rounder picks. So, choose your pick depending on what techniques you plan on executing. Remember that having more than one type of pick is never a bad idea.
Consider the Pick’s Thickness
We already talked about thickness above, but thickness is the biggest determination of whether or not your pick is going to break when you use it. The shape can have some effect, but it’s not nearly as important as its thickness.
Picks will break down over time. Unfortunately, this is part of their composition and can’t really be avoided. If you want the quality sound that you expect from guitar picks, then you need to expect them to wear down. This is a lot more impactful for people who prefer thin picks as they’ll wear down and break faster because there’s less material.
Consider the Brand
After choosing the thickness and shape of your guitar pick, it’s time to decide finer details. For example, you want to choose a pick from a reputable brand. Not just any brand will do when it comes to quality. So, it’s important to know what you’re getting. You can’t go wrong with Fender or Dunlop, but there are other brands out there worth your time.
Make sure if you’re trying a new brand that you read up on the quality you can expect. Not every guitar pick that looks cool is going to work well and last like reputable brands. So, make sure the company is established and has a good reputation.
Consider the Grip
Another important factor to consider is grip. The material that you choose will play a major role in how easy or difficult it’s to securely grip your pick. Slicker materials will be more difficult to use because they’ll slip out of your fingers easier than other materials. You can also find picks that come with extra grip for those who may struggle to hold them.
Whatever brand or material that you choose is up to you and what’s comfortable, but each of these factors should be weighed heavily when choosing your picks. So, try out some different kinds before you make the final decision. You never know what you’ll like most until you try it.
Guitar picks aren’t meant to break easily. In fact, most thick picks are difficult to break without wearing them down. So, if you’re having issues with your picks breaking, make sure to consider the thickness, material, method, and how long you’re using them. It happens to all guitar players at some point (Relevant Question: How many guitars do you need?). So, make sure you fix the issue before breaking too many.