Normally guitar picks are just small pieces of plastic, some people like to call them plectrums depending where in the world you come from, but they can be made out of almost anything. A pick is normally used when guitarists need to play lots of notes fast and are highly popular when playing rock solos. They are also used to strum the strings especially when playing steel guitars.
There are many odd picks around, and some of the weirdest come from the far-flung places in the world. And they can be made of almost anything including horn, bone, and metal. We have put together some of the more interesting picks so that you can see just how different they really are.
The Oud is an interesting instrument that originated from the Middle-East, and it is traditionally played with an eagle’s feather. But as these are becoming a bit of a rarity other plectrums are now being used. The Oud is now played with something that is called a risha, and it is a piece of horn that has been soaked in oil to make it more pliable.
Another strange sounding instrument is the biwifrom Japan, and it is played with a long piece of wood that is called a bachi. The bachi has a very strange feature in that it can be doubled over on itself any actually be used to beat drums. Both these instruments look more like lutes than guitars and have a more basic design so they can be played with rudimentary picks.
This Chinese instrument is traditionally strummed with a plectrum made out of bone, however today these basic picks have been replaced by more modern plastic plectrums. The sanxiam is more akin to a guitar in that it can also be played with the fingers or nails.
Picks can come in all shapes and sizes, and in particular one of the oddest is the thumb pick which is commonly used to play the banjo. This type of plectrum attaches on to the finger or thumb and is not held, so it allows the player to add more force when playing.
There are some artists that are famous for using a particular type of plectrum. For instance, the famous guitar player of the rock band Queen is renowned for using an old sixpence coin, whereas Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine used an Allen wrench to play his guitar.
If you are considering an unusual pick to give your guitar playing a different style and sound, then just look around the house for varied items. It is a good idea to stay away from sharp objects as these may damage the strings, but almost anything can be used.
A custom-made pick will not only look different it can also alter the sound that comes from your guitar. So try and experiment with different materials and see what works for you, it may be the start of a completely new style of playing.