When to move to a thicker plectrum

Hi all,

I am currently at the grade one consolidation stage and have a question about when to move to a slightly thicker plectrum. So far I have been using a Jim Dunlop 0.38mm nylon, but I’m becoming more aware as my strumming improves and I’m trying new patterns that this plectrum gives little ‘feedback’, if that’s the right word. I feel like I’m flopping over the strings rather than connecting with them, if that makes sense. I’ve tried the next thickest plectrum I have which is a Jim Dunlop 0.5mm tortex but it feels a bit too thick at this stage and tends to rotate while I’m playing so I end up playing on the side on the plectrum half way through the song. Am I better sticking with the floppy 0.38mm as I consider moving into grade two or should I focus on improving technique with the 0.5mm before moving on. I know Justin is still saying at the end of grade one that thinner plectrums are better, but how thin at this stage?

Whatever you feel comfortable with, and whenever you feel like it.

Practicing with that 0.5mm tortex is a good idea if you feel like you’re fully under control with the 0.38mm. There is a balance with gripping lightly, but not too lightly, and keeping it in the right spot. Once you’ve mastered that 0.5mm then you could move up to something thicker.

You’ll find if you stick with the ones that are too thin for too long, it becomes challenging to pick individual notes.

As one point of reference, the thinnest I use when strumming is orange tortex (0.6mm). I also use yellow (0.73) when mixing picked notes with strumming, and at the moment purple (1.14mm) when doing lead.


Thanks @jkahn

I thought I’d be brave and post a video, though I don’t know that it’s very clear the issue I have with the thicker one where it moves onto it’s side and I end up stopping and readjusting it. The video starts with 30 seconds using the white 0.38mm nylon and then moves onto the 0.5mm tortex.

I plan on posting a proper video of a whole song in a few weeks time as part of grade one consolidaton.

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Matt @aliomenti
When I started out in a Grade 1 I used JD 0.38 as Justin suggested but quickly moved onto JD 0.46. I think I moved onto 0.6 when I started grade 2 which for me was too soon I didn’t really have enough control of the pick, it kept moving around too much. When I did the Grade 1 of the Strumming SOS course I moved back to the 0.46 for a while but now back to the 0.6.

I agree with JK you can stay on the thinner picks too long, but you can also move on too quickly but if that is the case don’t be afraid to go back for a while until you get that control especially when you hold it very lightly.

The other thing I would say not all picks of the same thickness are the same stiffness/flexibility. The 0.6 JD maxi grip is stiffer than the plain nylon and the Tortex is stiffer again.



Ah that’s interesting. I got a bunch of JD tortex as that is what Justin said he used, along with the 0.38 nylon. I will have a look for 0.46 nylon and give that a go.

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Is there anything else, technique wise I should try and correct during this consolidation? I notice in the video I’m bending the B string when playing the D chord I’ll work on that. Anything else?

I will do a proper song video in a few weeks time before moving to grade 2.

Hi Matt,
Neat finger placement, quiet and relaxed strumming, good job, that pick is and remains a hassle for me after all this time…I play with a 1mm, but every day it gets a little bit better,
keep calm and practice and you will be 100% fine, promised :sunglasses:
And when in doubt, ask :smiley:

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Matt @aliomenti
I am working towards the 0.6 tortex but I am not there yet. It is smooth, unlike the other two which have some texture, which meant I gripped it harder to stop it moving and that affected the quality of the strumming. When I have tried the Tortex recently my control is better now and also pick manipulation has improved. But based on past experience don’t want to move on too soon.

From what you say it seems that the pick is moving round have you seen this lesson in How to Use a Pick When Strumming - My Own Experience! - YouTube grade 2.

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I went to a stiffer pick more quickly than you. It took some getting used to, but I liked the feel and sound of it better than the soft nylon. My pick grip just sort of started to work well kind of “over night”. I had trouble and then I didn’t a few days later.

There are subtleties in your wrist rotation and string attack that I don’t seem to have earned by conscious thought, but more from playing. Once your string attack gets a little more ironed out in your mind, the pick won’t spin so easily and you find you lighten up on the grip or squeeze harder to change the force applied to the pluck/strum. Initially, I was digging in deeper with the pick and that isn’t necessary for me too often, I just need to grip tighter or looser. Your strumming looks pretty good now and sounds nice. I don’t see much wrist rotation, but it is not much, so hard to tell in a video. It probably won’t take you long to get used to the stiffer pick.

I find I tend to go for the Dunlop orange (0.6? paint worn off!) for general purpose playing and something thicker/stiffer for individual note picking. You will start to see some of the individual note picking in grade 2 and more in grade 3. for super stiff look at the Dunlop Glide. It has a really nice feel across strings and keeps the hard edge to the release that makes notes stand out. Watch for a sale - they are expensive for some reason. I can strum with the 2mm Glide but it certainly is not as comfortable as the orange.

If you haven’t yet, get a couple sets of variety packs. I found I did not like the sound of the nylon, no matter the thickness, so trying out a bunch of picks was handy.


Some good suggestions but take your time increasing thickness in the early days (ie first year!). If you are finding 0.5 a little too thick now, try .46 and stay with that for a good few weeks. Then go back to the 0.5 if that feels better, wash rinse repeat. .5 to .6, .6 to .73, .73 to .88, .88 to 1.0. Depending on what I am playing I grab either .6, .73 or .88 for rhythm but much thicker of lead. If its a mix I’ll use .88 to 1.2 and try to be soft on the strumming.
Just keep experimenting until you find your own personal sweet spot/thickness, as we are all different.



Also note it depends what you are playing, sometimes a thinner pick is better.

For lead I find a very thick pick (I use a wooden one) easier.