There’s no denying that fast guitar playing comes from practice and coordination. However, there is a fair chance that you may be holding yourself back with the guitar pick that you’ve been using up to this point. The type of pick you are using does make a difference when attempting to shred, and this article will tell you why.
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What Makes A Pick Good For Shredding?
If you’ve been using thin to medium guitar picks, sorry to say it, but it may be time to let those ones go, or save them for acoustic guitar strumming.
These flimsy guitar picks are not optimal for fast guitar playing because when you strike a string, it will bend and move, which compromises accuracy.
Precision and producing less effort to travel to the following note or string are significant when trying to maximize your guitar speed. It doesn’t matter how big in diameter the pick is, it just needs to be thick and durable enough to make movements effortless and precise.
In addition to being sturdy, you’ll also want to have a pick that has a nice pointed tip, ideally with beveled edges. Having these will make it easier to glide across each string seamlessly!
In regards to the type of material, it’s all a matter of comfort and personal preference, and when you’re feeling relaxed and not fighting with your pick, you should definitely be able to perform better.
Do you normally like tortex or nylon picks? How about ultex or delrin ones? You can find a good shred pick in virtually any material. I happen to really like nylon, carbon fiber, and derlin, so if you’re unsure of which one to try, I highly recommend those!
While there are many options to choose from, if you’re looking for guitar picks for speed, you’re mainly looking for thickness. The following section will discuss this further in-depth for you.
What Thickness Of Guitar Picks Is Best For Shredding?
When looking for guitar picks for sale, pay attention to the thickness of the pick. It will be listed in millimeters on the package. Sometimes they will also be labeled as “thin, medium, or heavy” as well.
In my opinion, you should strive for your pick to be a bare minimum of 0.85mm, but I’ve seen some go all the way up to 4mm. Personally, I think 4mm is a bit excessive, and I think anything over 2mm feels like you’re holding onto a flat rock, but to each their own. Some people like them, but I don’t, and I can almost guarantee you probably won’t either.
Just don’t go under 0.85; otherwise, you may be going into “medium” territory, which may be just a little too floppy for what you need here.
My favorite guitar picks mm gauge range from about 1.1 to 1.5mm. For me, this is the perfect guitar pick thickness. Who makes these picks? Dunlop – and one of their most famous ones (possibly rivaling their own Tortexes) is the Jazz III is one of the best guitar picks for metal and my personal favorite for shredding in general.
- This is a Nylon Pick with carbon addictive.
- Combines Max-Grip technology and Jazz III pick shape for extreme precision and durability
- Available in red nylon, black stiffo, and carbon fiber
- 24 picks per bag
- Made in the USA
Why The Jazz IIIs Are The Best Guitar Picks For Shredding
The Jazz III is amazing not only because of its stiffness but also because of its sharper, pointed tip, which facilitates precision and control – things that contribute to optimal speed.
Some of the most world-renowned guitarists have been using Jazz III’s for many years, and some even have their own signature ones, such as John Petrucci, Eric Johnson, and Kirk Hammett.
Nowadays, in addition to signature models, there are a wide array of different types of Jazz III guitar picks for sale. They all have the same core features, like similar thickness and pointy tips, but they offer the Jazz III in different materials and sizes. Here are some of the different types that are out there:
- Classic Nylon Reds
- Max-Grip Nylon Reds & Carbon Fiber (My All-Time Favorite)
- Tortex Jazz IIIs
- Ultex Jazz IIIs
- Jazz III XL (Available In Various Materials)
This list isn’t exhaustive, but these are by far the most favorable ones out there. Back when I first started using Jazz IIIs, there wasn’t this much variety; if I recall right, there were only the small red and black ones, and I never looked back once I started using those.
- Gauges (mm): 1.10, 1.18, 1.38mm
- High quality material
- Molded tactile gripping surface
- Country of Origin: United States
- Model Number: 47R3N
I think it’s awesome that Dunlop has expanded on their Jazz III design by providing them in different materials, sizes, and slightly varying thicknesses. I think this makes them accessible to players who may be used to using a particular size or material but are looking for some new guitar picks for speed.
For example, the standard Dunlop Tortex picks are easily some of the most popular guitar picks of all time. Despite being accessible to basically anyone and feeling pretty nice, in my opinion, the rounded tip on them isn’t as optimal for speed compared to the Jazz III.
That’s not saying you can’t play fast with them. You can, but you have more potential elsewhere.
Because there is a Tortex Jazz III XL, transitioning to that pick from a standard tortex should be effortless because of the same material and very slight size difference overall.
Size, material, and even having guitar picks with grip are all personal preferences, but the most important thing here is that you will be using one with a sharper tip while also benefitting from an increased thickness.
Dunlop’s Jazz III has these key characteristics, but they also have diversity between their picks, making them unparalleled. If you are unsure which one is exactly right for you and can’t decide, why not check out this Jazz III variety pack? It has basically all of the different ones that were listed out earlier in one small 6-pack assortment.
- 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.
Top Jazz III Pick Alternatives
Although the Dunlop Jazz IIIs are a fan favorite, they’re not the only pick out there that’s excellent for playing lightning-fast runs. Here are some great alternatives that have a lot in common with the Jazz III.
D’Addario Duralin Precision
The D’Addario Precision picks are great for those who want a sharper tip out of their pick at a great price!
These are typically cheaper than Jazz IIIs, but they don’t feel like cheap picks due to being made of duralin (also known as delrin), which is inherently durable, stable, and feels nice in the hand. If you’ve ever played any of the Dunlop Tortexes, these feel kind of similar to those.
Overall, despite being affordable, the D’Addario Duralin Precisions are very consistent picks that can last you a while. However, they lack beveled edges, which you can find with the next ones.
- 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
- Planet Waves branded pick packaging is designed for minimal waste and environmental impact
Ernie Ball Prodigy
Like the D’Addario Precision, these Prodigies are amazing picks that are also made of delrin, and feature a matte finish and a slightly sharper edge than the Jazz III, while still retaining the beveled edges.
One downside to these is that they are pricier than your standard Jazz IIIs, but I find them to be more durable and wear out less quickly than others. So, you’ll get your money’s worth by not having to replace them as often.
You can also find them in a few different shapes which can give you more surface area to grip onto. Their standard and sharp-shaped ones are a bit larger than most Jazz III picks, so that could be more favorable for you.
- Matte black Delrin finish
- Sharp point for precise articulation
- Beveled edge for speed and control
- Non-slip grip
- Strong, durable contruction
Dunlop Jeff Loomis
In addition to their Jazz IIIs, another sweet option from Dunlop are their Jeff Loomis picks. It’s not too often I try out signature guitar guitar picks, especially since there are so many of them and they tend to be expensive, but these Jeff Loomis ones definitely got my attention.
Jeff is known for his time in the bands Nevermore and Arch Enemy, and of course, his solo works, and is one of the greatest shredders of all time and plays with some of the best feel and articulation I’ve ever heard.
With their sharp design, nice edges, superior grip, and durable ultex material, these are a fantastic contender to the Jazz III and offer something a bit different than the countless Jazz III signature picks out there.
- 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
- 6 picks per pack
Summary & Conclusion
There are a lot of different picks out there, but if you want to become a faster player, there are two things you need to do – practice your technique and use a pick that is designed for speed.
If you’re wondering what guitar picks are best for metal and shredding, the Jazz III is your best bet. Of course, they’re useful for other genres, too, that use plenty of fast leads, like Jazz and Blues. Jazz is in the pick’s name, after all!
You have plenty of choices as to what your Jazz III is made out of and what it looks like, which I think is great for anyone who is interested in giving it a try. I can do just fine with most of these, but like the guy in the previous video, my absolute favorite ones are the Max-Grip Carbon Fibers.
I like this one the most because I tend to get sweaty, slippery fingers when I play the guitar, and I think the grip on these is fantastic for that reason. I like having a smaller pick like this one because it seems to allow me to pull off pinch harmonics way more effortlessly.
I still like the red ones and will play them if given the opportunity; in fact, they were the first Jazz IIIs that I’ve tried. Somewhere down the line, I came across the Carbon Fibers with the grips, stuck with those, and didn’t look back.
Although some will swear by it, I have never noticed a real tone difference between the nylon and carbon fiber picks, and since the nylon ones come with grips now, it’s possible that I will use them interchangeably in the future.
When I first found the Jazz III almost 15 years ago, it was a match made in heaven, and I honestly believe you will be doing you and your guitar playing a favor by snagging up a pack of these.
If you’ve been on a hunt for the greatest guitar picks for shredding, the Jazz III and its many variants have been presented to you on a silver platter here. Don’t forget to keep practicing, though – while these have been miraculous for thousands, if not millions of guitarists, they won’t fix poor technique.
If you need more advice on what you can do to improve your technique and guitar speed, be sure to check out this guide!