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The material used in the construction of the pick is going to have the biggest impact on how the pick affects your tone. Many people prefer the brighter tone and sharper articulation of metal picks, but there are other materials available that can give you softer or mellower tones closer to that of unadorned fingertips.
The 4 picks on the list below are some of the best finger picks for acoustic guitar that you could buy. Let’s check them out!
Dunlop 33P.018 Nickel Fingerpicks
Dunlop is one of the most popular and longest-running manufacturers of finger picks, trusted by string players the world over for decades. Their nickel silver fingerpicks give you the classic, bright tone Dunlop picks are known for, and are used by both banjo players and those who play pedal steel or acoustic guitar.
It’s available in an array of gauges, from .013 to .025; if you’re not sure where to start, a .018 gauge is a good starting point, giving most players the sound and feel they’re looking for. Buying the “Player’s Pack” of 5 gives you a complete set for your hand (4 fingerpicks and 1 thumbpick), all of which are fully-adjustable in width so they’ll stay securely and comfortably on your fingers.
Dunlop 37R.0225 Brass Fingerpicks
If nickel silver fingerpicks are a bit too bright for your tastes, consider these brass fingerpicks from Dunlop. Like the nickel models above, they come in a range of gauges (.013 to .025) and are one size fits all and fully adjustable. Unlike the nickel fingerpicks above, they’re not available in a player’s pack but only in packs of fingerpicks, though you can buy a thumbpick version of the same model separately if you so desire.
Brass fingerpicks tend to give you a more resonant tone than nickel silver models. They have the added benefit of being generally more durable and less likely to bend or warp. This makes brass fingerpicks great for more aggressive and harder-strumming players. If you keep these characteristics in mind, the are among the best finger picks for acoustic guitars around.
National NP2G Gold Fingerpicks
Dunlop certainly isn’t the only well-known name when it comes to fingerpicks. National has been around since the 1930s, and though best-known as the banjo player’s pick brand, the quality of construction and materials in these picks means they’re at least worth a look from guitarists.
Their NP2G fingerpicks are made of brass that’s been plated in gold. The brass construction means it’s durable and consistent, and the gold plating isn’t just for looks. Gold is a softer metal than brass and will in turn give you a softer attack, perfect if other fingerpicks make your tone too bright. Of course, gold is also pricier than nickel or brass, but players who prefer the sound find them well worth the extra cost.
Not all great guitar picks are made of metal. Alaska Piks are made of a clear acrylic that’s just as durable as metal picks but can be trimmed and adjusted to the perfect length. They feature a unique design that slides over your natural nails, letting you still touch the strings with the pads of your fingers when you want to, giving you full control of your musicality and dynamics.
Unlike metal picks, the acrylic makes Alaska Piks non-adjustable. They come in four sizes (small, medium, large, and extra large) designed to suit different hand sizes. Buy a single pick in the size you think you’ll need before purchasing a whole set; you may even find your middle and index finger use a larger size than your ring and pinkie. Still, these are among the best finger picks for acoustic guitars you can buy.
The Right Fingerpick for You
Most fingerpicks you’ll find on the market that are suitable for acoustic guitars are made of metal. Metal is more durable than plastic and most people find it has a more natural sound against the strings. Metal fingerpicks are also adjustable, which is convenient and can make them more comfortable to wear while you’re playing. Acrylic and plastic fingerpicks are flexible enough to slide on and off easily, but within a much narrower range than a metal fingerpick.
Most players are concerned with two things when they buy fingerpicks: the feel and the sound. If you want a feel that’s more similar to playing with your natural fingertips, a more open pick like the Alaska Pik (see full specs) will emulate that feel while still protecting your natural nail.
Heavier fingerpicks give you more power, but because they add more weight to your fingers they can also take some getting used to, making your fingers more tired and impeding your technique when you first switch. The thickness of the pick is measured by the gauge, and this will have the biggest influence over the total weight. The thickness of the pick will also affect the sound. Generally speaking, the thinner the metal, the lighter and brighter the overall tone.
Not all metal fingerpicks will sound the same, even if they’re the exact same weight and gauge. The material itself will also change the overall tone. Stainless steel picks have the brightest, most crisp sound. Nickel tends to be punchier and louder, though not quite so bright as steel. The softest core metal in common use is brass, which has a warmer tone than either steel or nickel. Some picks also use a coating, such as the gold on the National (see full specs) picks above, which can alter the tone further.
Dunlop and National are the most popular makers of the best finger picks for acoustic guitars. Both brands are well-known for their quality and reliability. It stands to reason that metal picks will be more durable overall than plastic picks, and though thinner gauges can bend with heavy use they don’t tend to chip or crack the way a plastic pick can. The material used in the Alaska Piks above is a different material than that used in the colorful guitar picks you find in the music store, and are more durable than they appear on first glance, though they’ll still wear out more quickly than a metal pick, especially for harder players.