The Unsung Hero: Taking Care of Your Axe's Trusted Ally - Your Guitar Pick

The Unsung Hero: Taking Care of Your Axe's Trusted Ally - Your Guitar Pick

Musicians spend hours and hours caring for their instruments. They clean their fretboards, regularly change strings, and make sure their precious axes are always ready to give the best performance. But even with all this pampering, there's one very important element that often gets sidelined: the humble guitar pick.

That feeling is known by many of us. You're mid-song, rocking it up, fingers flying across the fretboard, when suddenly... click. Your pick snaps, taking your solo dreams down with it. Or maybe you reach for your pick case to retrieve a new one, only to find a worn-out, chipped, and forgotten collection of picks. 

But fear no more, my guitarist friends! It's time to give your pick the attention it deserves for being your little yet vital partner in your music journey. 

A Story of Wear and Tear

Picks live a difficult life. Having to endure the relentless strumming of rhythm sections, the biting attacks of aggressive leads, and the constant friction against strings is not an easy job. Over time, our picks start to give up (and rightfully so!). Celluloid picks become brittle and vulnerable to snapping. Tortex picks lose the texture that makes them grippy. Metal picks, while seemingly indestructible, can develop burrs that snag on strings.

This wear and tear brings down your playing experience while simultaneously affecting your tone as well.  A worn pick can sound dull and lifeless compared to a fresh one. Additionally, a pick with a chipped edge or uneven surface can introduce unwanted string noise.

Giving Your Pick a Fighting Chance: Maintenance Matters

Just like your guitar, your picks deserve some care too. Here are some simple ways that are effective to extend their lifespan:

  • Cleaning is Key: Picks accumulate grime, sweat, and dead skin cells, which can impact the grip and tone. But this can be prevented with regular wiping with a clean, dry cloth. You can also use a mild soap solution to get rid of stubborn dirt and let them air dry completely.
  • Store Them Wisely: be kind with your picks. don't just toss your picks into a gig bag pocket. It will get worn out from all the friction it faces with the cloth. Instead, invest in a sturdy pick holder or case. This way your picks will stay protected from getting crushed or warped under the weight of other gear.
  • Rotate Your Picks: Don't just stick to a single pick and keep on using it till it completely wears out and crumbles into dust. As a guitarist you should have a pack of your favourite picks with which you can develop a pick rotation system. In that, you can use different picks for different playing styles and even for different songs. This will distribute the wear and tear more evenly and your picks will last much longer.

Rejuvenating Your Picks: Second Chances for Battered Soldiers

No need to throw away your worn-out picks! They really aren't just disposable little pieces of plastic like we all thought. Even your well-worn picks can be revived and here are some ways to breathe new life into them:

  • Sanding Down the Rough Edges: If your pick has gotten all rough with nicks and burrs, lightly sand it with a fine-grit sandpaper. This smoothes out the pick, making it more comfortable to play and reducing string noise.
  • Polishing for Grip: with time, some picks’ texture flattens and they lose their grip. Try buffing them with a soft cloth as it can help restore some of that grip.

Upcycling Your Picks: Creativity from the Fray

When you are a creative who has an idea for everything, even broken picks seem attractive to you. So here are some upcycling ideas you should try:

    • Craft Practice Picks: Slightly chipped picks might be of no use to you if you are a professional-level guitarist, but don't throw them away just yet. They can be used as practice tools for beginners who are still getting comfortable with picks and mastering their picking technique.
    • DIY Crafts: Get creative! If you are a DIY freak like me, you must know that broken picks can be repurposed for jewelry making, mosaic-like art, guitar pickguards, or even tiny guitar model parts for miniature displays.
    • Collect Em All: Another way to make use of your broken picks is to turn them into a collection of fallen soldiers. You can display them with dates of final performance and occasionally go through your music journey by having a look at all the picks that have been through it all with you.

A little care goes a long way. By taking care of your picks, you're not only saving money but also ensuring a consistent playing experience and premium tone. Remember, your pick may seem like a small insignificant element, but it's a crucial link between you and your music. Treat it with respect, and it will reward you with years of faithful service.