Guitar players are very loyal to a brand they find works best for them, but over the years we can easily take for granted the little things which act as a foundation for our playing like strings and picks. They are easily ignored because we assume that once we find ones we like, there’s no reason to explore uncharted territory. The importance of these products comes to fruition more than ever while tracking parts in the studio where everything is isolated, and you can hear all the subtle nuances that build your sound. Aside from the studio, live shows will also test the ability of these products, and becomes yet another factor of consideration here.
Size Always Matters
When choosing a guitar string thats right for you, the first thing that needs to be addressed is your tuning. Standard guitar tuning makes things a lot easier, but often is not the case for metal players who love to tune down. If you want to tune down to drop A for example, and you’re using standard gauge strings, you’re going to end up with muddy rubber bands.
You also need to take into consideration what type of player you are, lead or rhythm. Rhythm players need not worry much about the size of higher strings, but players who love to shred solos need those high strings to bend with little effort. Thankfully we now have the best of both worlds with a string set that provides a heavy gauge for the low strings to maintain dropped tuning, and a light gauge for the higher strings so as to provide a smooth landscape for leads.
Its also important to take into consideration the longevity of your strings, and how often you plan on changing them. This comes down to time and budget for many casual players, but can be more critical for those touring and constantly playing every day. If you do change your strings often, endurance isn’t going to matter as much in comparison to someone who only changes their strings every couple of weeks or even months. If that is the case, and you don’t require constant upkeep on your strings, there are amazing options out there for strings that can stand the test of time without rotting away.
Planning Your Attack
Choosing the right pick can make or break your performance, and is one of the most often overlooked elements of guitar playing. Trial and error is always the best way to test out the pick options out there, but you can find a good starting point based on how you play. Players who have a more aggressive approach can use a size close to 1.14mm to give them a strong sturdy attack on the strings. Soloists often stick with a smaller size or even a jazz pick with a crafted grip so they can maintain their playing position and easily rake across the strings.
Just like strings, picks tend to wear out over time, and should never be in short supply. Since they are so inexpensive, its easy to buy in bulk and always make sure you have enough to spare. Ive spent years looking for the right pick to accommodate what I do in the studio, and have finally found one with the best of both worlds. The Ultex picks from Dunlop provide accuracy, strength, and endurance all in one, while providing a solid enough grip to where slippage is barely an issue. They come in a range of sizes, but I find personally that .73mm tends to be a happy medium for both solo and rhythm playing.
Its fairly obvious that Im partial to D’Addario and Dunlop products, but that doesn’t matter. Its just a personal choice, and you should always try out as many products you can before devoting yourself to one. Thankfully there are tons of options out there, and these companies are always introducing exciting new options for our playing experience.
Got a string or pick recommendation of your own? Share it in the comment section below!