In the world of playing metal guitar, the choice of a guitar pick can significantly affect your overall sound, speed, and precision. With a wide variety of selections on the market, finding the perfect one for your playing style can be overwhelming.
But fear not; I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you find the best guitar picks for metal that can give you the accuracy and tone you’re looking for.
Table of Contents
- How To Choose The Right Pick for Metal
- What Are The Best Picks For Metal?
- Dunlop Jazz III
- Pickboy Edge
- D’Addario Duralin Precision
- Ernie Ball Prodigy
- Dunlop Jeff Loomis Signature Picks
- Choosing the Perfect Pick: Personal Preference Matters
- Additional Tips for Metal Guitarists
How To Choose The Right Pick for Metal
Before diving into the top picks for metal, let’s first understand why choosing the right pick is crucial for your playing. The right plectrum can enhance your technique, improve your control, and allow you to achieve the desired tone for your metal riffs and solos.
The gauge of a pick plays a significant role in metal playing. Compared to light ones, heavier picks tend to offer a solid and powerful attack, allowing you to achieve a full-bodied tone and precise articulation. I recommend picks of around 0.8mm to 1.5mm for this reason.
Your pick’s shape is another crucial factor to consider. Many metal players prefer a pointed tip for precise string attacks. This combination allows for both aggressive and melodic playing, giving you versatility in your performance. While standard shapes can still be great for metal, something with a pointier tip is typically ideal for the abovementioned reasons.
The size of a pick can greatly impact your playing comfort and technique. Ones with a larger grip area can offer a sense of stability and control, allowing you to dig into the strings with confidence, whereas smaller picks can provide faster picking speed and agility without compromising on sturdiness, making them suitable for intricate metal shredding. A lot of people also have an easier time nailing pinch harmonics with a smaller pick too.
Guitar picks are made of various materials, such as, but not limited to, nylon, carbon fiber, delrin, and ultex. Experimenting with different picks can help you find the perfect balance between brightness, attack, and longevity. Most of the best plectrums for metal guitar playing will be made from the aforementioned materials.
What Are The Best Picks For Metal?
Now that you understand the importance of choosing the right pick for metal guitar let’s take a look at some of the best plectrums that are highly recommended for the genre.
Dunlop Jazz III
Don’t let the name fool you – Jazz III picks are not just for jazz. In fact, these are considered the quintessential guitar pick for metal guitarists. The Jazz III shape is easily one of my favorites, and millions of other guitarists will praise their effectiveness as well.
The pointed tip and compact size help lots of people achieve the control and aggressive tone needed for any type of lead or rhythm guitar part in a metal tune. Plus, they’re great for pinch harmonics too!
While the red nylon Jazz IIIs are the original ones and super popular, the Jazz III can come in many different materials and customized versions for different guitarists. I personally prefer any of the Max Grip ones due to the gripped texture and beveled edges, but you might like one of the many others, like the Tortex, Primetone, and Ultex, to name a few.
- INCLUDES MOST POPULAR: This variety pack includes the most popular of the Jazz III picks, so you’re bound to find your favorite within them. It has Nylon Jazz III (Red), Nylon Max Grip Jazz III, Carbon Fiber Nylon Jazz III XL, Black Tortex Jazz M3, Ultex Jazz III, and Ultex Jazz III XL.
- GIVE THEM A TRY: If you’re not settled on the exact Jazz III pick you’re feeling, this variety pack is the perfect way to test them all and decide. Or, if you like to spice up you’re playing, it’s perfect for bringing a little bit of variety to your form and sound.
Pickboy, as you can tell by their name, is primarily centered around making guitar picks, and that’s what they do best. For metal, I really like their Edge picks, which I’ve also recommended in my guide to the best picks for bass guitar.
This is because the Pickboy Edge is a very sturdy and durable pick due to its carbon fiber and nylon blend. Plus, it has a larger surface area to hold onto and excellent gripping material. Despite having a similar shape, these are just a bit larger than Jazz III picks but smaller than your standard-sized plectrum.
While there is an XL version of the Jazz III, it doesn’t have as much grip as the Pickboy Edge, so it might be right up your alley if you think a regular Jazz III may be a tad too small. Overall, this pick has a ton to offer any metal guitarist due to its great features.
D’Addario Duralin Precision
D’Addario Duralin precision guitar picks are great for metal guitarists for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, these picks are known for their durability. Duralin is their brand of delrin, a material known for its strength and stability; these picks can withstand heavy picking without wearing down easily, making them a reliable choice for guitarists who play intensely.
As you’ve probably guessed by its name, these are also designed to help you play as precisely as possible. The tips are sharper than the previous two picks, and this will give you an even brighter tone and great articulation.
The only downside, in my opinion, is that they lack any sort of gripped texture, but this might not be an issue for you if you don’t get sweaty hands like me. In that case, the delrin surface may be able to give you adequate control over your pick on its own. Nonetheless, these are great value for the money if you can’t spend much on guitar picks.
- 10 picks per package
- Heavy gauge (Purple; 1.2mm) is ideal for both strumming and articulate picking
- Sharp shape for articulate playing styles
- Made from Duralin, a material known for its ideal combination of strength, grip, durability and abrasion resistance
Ernie Ball Prodigy
The Ernie Ball Prodigies is another excellent guitar pick that’s made from the highly-durable delrin material. These can come in different shapes, but for metal, naturally, I recommend their Sharps.
Despite some similarities to the D’Addario Duralins, these Ernie Ball ones are premium picks with beveled edges for better string release and even more control over your pick overall. You can also find these on some Jazz III picks too, but if you’re looking for a thicker, sharper pick, these are excellent and won’t break or get dull fast because of their material and 1.5mm thickness.
Admittedly, these can be pricey for the amount you get, but they are quality picks you won’t need to replace often. Just keep them safe so you don’t lose them!
- Matte black Delrin finish
- Sharp point for precise articulation
- Beveled edge for speed and control
- Non-slip grip
- Strong, durable contruction
Dunlop Jeff Loomis Signature Picks
Now, if you’re looking for an amazing guitar pick for metal, why not check out one that’s designed for one of the greatest guitarists in the genre? Jeff Loomis from Nevermore and Arch Enemy fame.
There are many really good signature guitar picks out there, for example, the John Petrucci Jazz III ones, but I like this one a bit more, although they’re both made from ultex, which is a pretty stiff material. Add to the fact that these are also 1.5mm like the Ernie Ball Prodigies; you have a tough pick that lets you glide across the strings easily with its sharp tip.
I also recommend these if you really need plenty of grip texture; the delrin matte finish on the Prodigies is sufficient for a lot of players, but I always appreciate having more on my picks, which is partially why I recommend these over the John Petrucci Jazz III picks.
- Brightness and durability of Ultex material
- Precision of a Tortex Sharp Pick
- Superior handling thanks to a custom grip
- Excellent for very fast passages and super articulate arpeggios
Choosing the Perfect Pick: Personal Preference Matters
While the picks mentioned above are highly recommended for metal playing and will suit you well, it’s essential to remember that choosing the ideal one ultimately comes down to preference. Every guitarist has a unique playing style, tone, goals, and comfort needs.
So feel free to experiment with different picks, shapes, and materials until you find some that work for you – you don’t necessarily need to be confined to one kind. I, for one, enjoy many plectrums. If you don’t already have a shape or size you like, it’s a good idea to try out some of these brands’ variety packs, as these are meant to test out.
Additional Tips for Metal Guitarists
Beyond choosing the right pick, there are a few additional tips that can help you excel in your metal guitar playing:
- Experiment with different pick angles and attack techniques to achieve a wide range of tones and dynamics.
- Practice alternate picking to improve your speed, accuracy, and control.
- Incorporate palm muting to add heaviness and chugging power to your riffs.
- Explore advanced techniques such as sweep picking, tapping, and legato to add flair and complexity to your solos.
Remember, becoming a proficient metal guitarist takes time, dedication, and an insatiable hunger for improvement. So keep practicing (slowly with a metronome, of course), exploring new techniques, and pushing your limits to be the best player you can be.
While choosing the best guitar pick for metal is a personal journey that can require experimentation, the picks here are amongst the best for metal guitar, and I hope that one of these will be exactly what you need or, at the very least, narrow your search and lead you one step closer to finding the perfect pick in your hand.
Once you do, go forth and create the best riffs and solos that you can. Remember, the pick is not just a tool—it’s an extension of your musical expression. Embrace it, master it, and let your metal guitar technique soar to new heights.