Can You Use A Coin For A Guitar Pick?

When it comes to playing the guitar, finding the right pick is essential for achieving the desired sound and tone. However, many guitarists may find themselves in a situation where they don’t have a pick readily available and wonder if they can use a coin as a substitute. 

In this article, we will discuss whether using a coin as a guitar pick is a good idea, the potential damage it can cause to your guitar, and some solutions if you often find yourself pick-less when an opportunity to play guitar comes up.

Why Using a Coin As A Guitar Pick Isn’t Ideal

While using a coin to play guitar may seem like a convenient solution if you don’t have an actual plectrum, and you can technically use one if you want, it is not a good idea for several reasons. 

Firstly, coins are not designed for playing musical instruments and lack the flexibility and shape required for proper strumming and picking. Unlike guitar picks, coins are not molded to produce the desired sound you need, as the tip is round and blunted.

While metal guitar picks do exist, and these can sound good, the inconsistency in the coin’s hardness can also affect how it interacts with the guitar strings, leading to inconsistent sound quality and potential damage to the strings themselves.

In addition to the strings, using a coin as a guitar pick has the potential to cause damage to the instrument itself. The metal edges of a coin can be abrasive and cause excessive wear and tear on the strings, leading to a shorter lifespan and decreased playability. 

Also, the hardness of the coin material can result in scratches or dents on the guitar’s body, especially if you don’t have a pickguard.

Lastly, coins are not ergonomically designed for playing the guitar. Guitar picks are specifically shaped to fit comfortably between the fingers and accurately strike the strings, allowing for precise control and ease of playing. Coins, on the other hand, are flat and can be difficult to hold securely, leading to a less enjoyable playing experience.

What Are The Alternatives To Coins?

If you are in a pinch and don’t have picks on you, you can use your fingertips to strum or pluck the guitar strings. While this may require some adjustment to your playing technique, it can be a viable option when no other alternatives are available. You will develop an entirely new and useful skill this way!

Now, if you’re specifically looking for a bright, metallic tone that can come with using a coin to play guitar, consider looking into metal guitar picks. These are made with materials such as brass, aluminum, and stainless steel and are shaped like ordinary plectrums and, therefore, are suitable for guitar playing. 

  • Available in colored Aluminum and Brass
  • Dual-texture finish for combined gripping and playing comfort
  • Provides sharp, brilliant tones

However, if you’re not actively looking for this tone, I recommend looking around at the other types of picks available to you, especially since they’re much more affordable than picks made from metal.

Picks come in a variety of materials and thicknesses, each offering a unique sound and playing experience. Experimenting with different picks can help you find the one that best suits your playing style and preferences, and below, I have some great resources here to help you look around:

Furthermore, regular guitar picks are relatively inexpensive and readily available online and in most music stores. Keeping a few spare picks in your guitar case or gig bag can also save you from the hassle of searching for alternatives when you’re in a rush or have misplaced your pick.

If you frequently find yourself without a guitar pick or you lose them often, it may be worth investing in a portable pick holder, too. These small accessories can be attached to your guitar strap or keychain, ensuring that you always have a pick within reach. They also come in various designs and allow you to carry multiple picks with you.

Jim Dunlop Picker’s Pouch Keychain Square D Logo
  • Conveniently holds picks on a keychain
  • Always have your picks with you
  • Made from genuine leather
  • Holds picks in a variety of sizes and shapes

Conclusion: Should You Use a Coin as a Guitar Pick?

Although using a coin as a guitar pick might seem like a good idea, especially if it’s the only thing on you at the moment, you should think twice before deciding to play with it.

Coins lack the flexibility, shape, and ergonomic design required for proper guitar playing and can cause damage to the guitar strings, body, and pickguard, and it will result in an inferior sound quality. 

Using the right pick, including metal ones, will ensure that you play and sound your best while also preserving your instrument. So check out your options, including finding a pick holder and developing your fingerstyle technique, and you’ll always be prepared!