The idea of using stone guitar picks might seem a bit impractical, but the truth is these picks can produce great sound and last nearly forever. Learn more about them, and then decide if you want to give one a try.
Reasons to Use Stone Guitar Picks
More than anything, players choose their picks based on the sound and volume that results from their use. Since plastic picks are softer than steel strings, they absorb a little sound each time they strike the string. This mutes the tone slightly, so you never hear the full resonance of the note. Pair a plastic pick with nylon strings and you get a little more muting.Since stone picks are harder than the strings they strike, they don't absorb any of the sound so you hear the true tones created.
On average, stone picks are more durable than their plastic counterparts. The average plastic pick begins to wear with repeated use, and a trained ear can pick up when the tones loose clarity. Stone picks do not fray at the edges, so the quality of the sound remains consistent.That said, durable does not mean unbreakable, and it is possible to damage a stone pick if you drop it or manage to snap a thinner gauge pick in half. The material is stronger than glass, but most manufacturers advise you treat a stone pick with the same kind of care. If you do, it can last for generations.
- Always store the pick in a protective case. The thinnest gauge picks can snap, so don't tuck one in your back pocket where you're likely to sit on it.
- Be careful not to drop the pick on a hard surface because it is possible to chip or crack it.
How They're Made
These picks are carefully cut from a variety of stones/gemstones, including agate, jade, tiger's eye and more. Each pick is cut to the desired shape and thickness, and then polished to a smooth finish. The edges are beveled and polished to produce a superior playing edge. Many stone picks also have grips etched into them so they're less apt to slip from your fingers.
Stone picks come in different gauges, just like plastic picks, and typically range from one to five millimeters thick. A thinner pick produces great tone but less volume and is usually better suited to an electric guitar. On the other hand, a thicker pick produces more volume from an acoustic instrument. It's interesting to note that the edge of a thicker pick can still be beveled to produce the tone of a smaller gauge pick if that's what you prefer. In the end, you should consider what feels most comfortable between your fingers when you're playing. Most manufacturers are willing to work with you to create a custom pick that fits your needs. For the versatile player, there are even combination picks that combine various edges on a single pick for different playing styles.
Price and Value
As you might already suspect, stone guitar picks are not cheap, but you do get great value for your dollar. Depending on the type of gemstone a pick is made from, it can cost anywhere from $5.00 to $65.00; that's for one, not a dozen. If that seems expensive, consider the cost of replacing plastic picks as they are worn out year after year, given away or simply lost. A single stone pick can last a player's lifetime. However, you should still treat it with care.
Listen for Yourself
PicksandStones.com offers a number of sample recordings you can listen to from artists using stone picks. Judge for yourself if this is the kind of sound you're looking for.
Where to Find Stone Picks
It's possible you might find a small collection of stone guitar picks at specialty guitar stores, but many pick craftsman sell their products online. Check out a few of the retailers listed below to see what they have to offer.
See a wide variety of picks in LTK's Cool Guitar Picks Gallery.