How to Pick the Right Thumbpick for Acoustic Guitar • Acoustic Tuesday 262

Blade angles. Metal or plastic. Weight. Thumbpicks come in a variety of specifications, which makes choosing the right one important. See which thumbpick is fit for you in my top 10 countdown of the best thumbpicks to use!

Using a thumbpick is an easy way to change up the tone on your guitar. If you enjoy fingerpicking, this will give you a brighter attack. However, you can also use a thumbpick like a flatpick—it’s just attached to your thumb!

Because the thumbpick has a sharper attack, you can use it to bring out the treble and lower the dull attack of your thumb. However, if you like that percussive effect of the thumb, a thumbpick might not be for you.

But when it comes to choosing thumbpicks, there are many considerations to make. From the blade angles to the materials the thumbpick is made out of, you want to make sure the thumbpick is built for the kind of music you want to play.

Featured in this episode…

  • Grit Laskin
  • Charlie Parr
  • Spider John Koerner
  • Greg Koch
  • Songbirds Foundation

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  1. Another fantastic episode Tony, with lots of useful and inspirational material. But I have a gripe, why oh why can we, your devoted fans and fellow Guitar Geeks, not buy and TAC hockey shirt like the one you are wearing this week? Surely I can’t be the only one with a hankering for one, and I live in the UK!!

  2. I got a few some pics I like them I also like using without them text off and just my thumb and my fingertips but what I’m really trying to find out is how I can go back to let’s say text deduction scavenger hunt and open up the challenge I missed it during my accident and I would really like to work on it can you help people appreciate it your friend RD’s Guitar that’s acoustic challenge 236

  3. Hi Tony,
    Great show. I gave up on thumb picks but looks like I’ll need to give them another try. I will likely need to visit Elderly or another online dealer as my local shops don’t carry many varieties.
    I like the count down style and I am sure I’ll find one I like. I did find my new favorite flat pick following the flat pick count downs you did. The winner for me is the Wegenpick “Bluegrasspick”. I did put a dot of fluorescent pink paint on each side as the hide when dropped.
    Thanks for a great show.

  4. Very helpful episode. Can you (or someone else on this thread) help with the following question?: Any time I’ve tried to use a thumbpick (mostly for blues music), I’ve given up because I don’t use finger picks and the sound created by my thumb is so much louder than the sound created by the other fingers. And I’m not keen to start using finger picks. Do you or anyone else have a suggestion? Bob

    1. HI Bob,
      I run into the same trouble and also am not keen on go to finger picks. This issue is why I stopped trying thumb picks.
      I am going to give them another try and see if I can train my thumb to back off.
      If not, I plan to try the ping-pong ball trick. This is where you cut crescent moon pieces of ping-pong ball and glue it under your finger nails.
      Depending on what and how you play you can try frailing (fingernail downstrokes) like old time banjo. It’s what I do on banjo when I get together with friends and they put me on banjo duty.

  5. Thank you for doing this segment, Tony. My “go to” thumb pick has been the Fred Kelly Slick Pic (graciously gifted by another TAC member – David M). I am excited to try the Dunlop Zookies (maybe the Golden Gate Perloid, too). Also, what a revelation the Elderly has such a broad selection on their website!
    Thanks again.

  6. I love the Golden Gate Ivoroid thumbpicks. They are my #1. I have a couple Zookies hanging around but I must have different thumb mechanics than you, Tony. It is the Zookies that feel like they are striking at an odd angle where the GG is smooth as silk and with a sweet sound. Thanks for the comparison. I may try Black Mtn again. Checked them out in a store once and the spring wasn’t tight enough to stay on my thumb with my heavy style. They look like an excellent alternative to hybrid picking.

  7. I have used a Dunlap thumb pick but found my thumb going numb. I’ve tried heating it in boiling water to resize it with no luck. Are there various size options?

    1. Colin, most thumbpicks come in sizes. Be sure you have the largest available. A good one needs to fit tight in order to remain stable during playing. It took me some trial and error to find picks that are tight enough to be stable but not cut off all circulation to my thumb. Good news is that a $10-20 investment will give you a wide variety of sizes and styles to try out.

  8. I bought a a 4 pack of Black Mountain picks About $19 tax & shipping, enjoy the spring loaded clip. Work well with my banjo and guitar picken.

  9. I have never thought I’d want to use a thumb pick or fingerpicks of any kind but this episode did make me think about it. I play at my church sometimes and I often switch between finger picking and strumming and usually have to tuck the pick in my palm while finger picking but I could see using a thumb pick to be able to switch and hold the pick when finger picking. I think I’ll try it. The one that has a spring loaded clip may work for that.

  10. This is great information, and I appreciate you talking about thumb picks. I wanted to try one, but never knew what direction to go. Thank you, Tony. Steve