Picks

My first pick was a thin metal pick from a sports-slash-music store, the ones you often find in large malls. It was a birthday gift from my dad, since I didn’t have any at the time (or maybe I lost Dad’s). I used it on our classical guitar, a guitar which for some reason is strung with metal strings. I still believe that the salesman, wanting to make a commission, went to the backroom of Lyric, removed the nylon strings, and slapped on metal ones. Maybe that’s the reason the action was so high and the guitar quite unplayable as a result.

I got another metal pick from a friend as a Christmas gift.

The metal pick gave me a really bright tone. It was metal hitting metal after all. Soon enough, I found that it wasn’t just metal hitting metal. After months of use, I noticed that my strumming has worn off the art on the guitar’s pickguard (which also made me realize why a pickguard was called a pickguard – it stopped the pick from ruining the wood). Oh, this is why most guitarists prefer using plastic picks. I get it now. I quit using the picks and kept them in my wallet for sentimental reasons.

I eventually bought an acoustic guitar, one that was way better than what I had (I still use it now). The guitar came with a few free picks which allowed me to experiment with picks of different thicknesses. I particularly grew fond of one Alice pick that was .3mm thick. It did not hinder my strumming as much as other picks used to do, since it bent as I moved my hand across the strings. The other picks were alright, and saw semi-regular use when I wanted to try something else.

Months later, if my memory is to be trusted, I bought a yellow .78mm Tortex pick and a red Jazz III. This purchase was supported by hours of online research about the best picks… and impulse. I had the money, and I was itching to spend a few bucks, so I said goodbye to a hundred pesos and hello to two new picks. Yay.

At first, the Tortex, which was much thicker than the picks I had, seemed too stiff. It used to mess up my strumming. The Jazz III was the smallest (and thickest pick) I had. I was afraid that it would fall off whenever I’d play.

These were temporary, however. I got used to both picks and would use both on a regular basis, the Tortex for strumming and the Jazz III for lead work. I eventually gravitated to the Jazz III for all-around use once I got the hang of using it for strumming. The Tortex saw use during choir practice and Mass services.

Eventually, I would lose the Tortex after lending it to a friend, who was nice enough to replace it with a translucent Ultex pick and a thicker black Tortex pick. I took a liking to the Ultex, and the Tortex now serves as a back-up pick in my bedroom.

I also lost the original Jazz III during practice, I think, but several have replaced it. I bought red and black ones (apparently, there’s a subtle difference between the two). I bought what I think are bootleg copies in Cubao. There’s something about the shape and the size that makes it ideal for lead and rhythm guitar. It does not bend too much, allowing me to play faster passages. Pinch harmonics are easier with the thumb closer to the strings (though admittedly I haven’t nailed the technique down).

I have five or more picks in my wallet at any given time, though I only use one or two picks (the bootleg Jazz III and the Ultex). I’ll probably be buying more and trying out different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. There’s always room for more.

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