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How Long Do Guitar Picks Last? (Answered)

Guitar picks are essential. But with constant use, they tend to wear out fast. So how long do they tend to last? Here's a guide on guitar pick lifespan.

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Guitar picks are necessary for acoustic and electric guitars. However, like anything else, guitar picks can wear out over time, potentially affecting their performance. And some picking techniques and habits can also lead to wear and tear. So how long do guitar picks last? And which picks are the most durable?

In this article, we will discuss the lifespan of guitar picks. So whether you are a seasoned guitarist or just starting, this post is for you.

Image of an electric guitar with two pink colored guitar pick on top of it. Source: rombo, pexels
Image of an electric guitar with two pink colored guitar pick on top of it. Source: Rombo, Pexels

How long do guitar picks last? Most standard plastic picks have a lifespan of around two months, give or take, depending on how often you play. Not all picks have the same durability, but some may be used repeatedly over a period of years with no noticeable wear.

What is a guitar pic?

So what exactly is a guitar pick, and why should you bother learning to play with one? A guitar pick (also known as a plectrum) is most often a triangular tool used to ‘pick’ the strings of the guitar – hence the name.

Do guitar picks wear out?

Yes. Guitar picks wear out. This might happen through general wear and tear or spontaneously after an unusual or uncomfortable strum. A guitar pick’s lifespan might vary greatly. How frequently you put it to use matters more than how long you have had it. The typical guitarist will get a couple of weeks to a month out of a pick if they play for an hour or so every day. It will begin to fall apart shortly afterward. It will become less pleasant to use and less functional as time goes on.

How long does a guitar pick last?

How long does a guitar pick typically last? Picks will wear out fast for pros who play in the studio all day and/or practice constantly. Certain plectrum-damaging practices might cause guitarists to use a new pick every day. If you play guitar often enough to worry about this, invest in high-quality, long-lasting picks and get plenty of extras. The typical guitarist will get a couple of weeks to a month out of a pick if they play for an hour or so every day.

Are some picks more durable than others?

Yes. Some picks are more durable than others. Not all musical instruments are created equal. As a result, certain picks will wear out and shatter more quickly than others. However, it’s only sometimes the case that players with more longevity are the best options. Thinner picks provide a different tone and feel, which is why some guitarists choose them. Plectrums come in various shapes and sizes, each with advantages. The way it sounds and feels is more important than how long it will last you.

However, if you’re lucky enough to get a sturdy pick, you won’t have to make as many repeat purchases.

If you’re looking for the best, long-lasting, high-rated picks, here are my picks, for the best picks (pun intended).

What are guitar picks made of?

The tone and life expectancy of a guitar pick are both affected by its construction. Both natural and synthetic materials are used, resulting in two distinct groups of picks. They will all have benefits and drawbacks throughout their lifetimes, however.

Naturla pick materials

Some examples of natural substances used for guitar picks are shown below:

  • Buffalo Horn
  • Stone
  • Bone
  • Metal
  • Abalone Shell
  • Coconut Shell
  • Surfpick Wood
  • Tortoiseshell
  • Farmed Turtle Shell

They are fantastic for really stylish sounds, but they come at a hefty price, as with most natural materials. Buffalo, tortoise, and stone are examples of materials more expensive than others. Not only are they expensive, but only a few guitarists can get a hold of them.

Synthetic pick materials

Most picks produced nowadays are constructed from synthetic materials like:

  • Celluloid
  • Nylon
  • Thermoplastic
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Delrin, Delrex, and Acetal
  • Acrylic
  • Tortex (Acetal)
  • Ultem and Ultex
  • Wegen Picks (Acetal)
  • Artificial Ivory (Tuscq)
Image of a man playing an electric guitar using a guitar pick. Source: pixabay
Image of a man playing an electric guitar using a guitar pick. Source: Pixabay

What things affect pick durability?

What sorts of picks have the longest lifespans? This will depend on a variety of circumstances. Below are some of the factors that will affect how long your picks last.

Thickness

This is a major aspect in determining the plectrum’s durability over time. More robust materials are less likely to wear out rapidly. In addition, they will be more difficult to crack open, making them more durable. If durability is a priority, thick picks are a great option.

Material

Different types of picks use different materials. However, the durability of your plectrum (pick) depends greatly on the material it is constructed from. Harder materials, as one would expect, degrade at a slower rate. Many picks are made of plastic, but the tougher the plastic, the longer it will endure.

Size

Picks come in various shapes and sizes. However, the material your plectrum is made from will significantly impact how long it lasts. More reasonable expectations suggest that the degradation rate is lower for harder materials.

Shape

A sharper pick tip results in a louder sound, but it may easily break off. As a result of the reduced hitting area, they might wear out quite fast. In contrast, spherical picks are safer since they are less prone to crack.

Playing style

Your playing style is a key contributor to how long your guitar pick lasts. Your instrument will survive longer if you stick to simple strumming and picking techniques. However, methods like rapid picking, tremolo, or slides may cause it to wear down more quickly than usual. Doing these methods can cause more wear and tear on your plectrums.

When should you replace a guitar pick?

So, how often should a guitar pick be changed? The edges are rounding off, so that’s a good indicator. Additionally, you will know your guitar pick has worn out when it has:

  • Grooves
  • Rounded tips
  • Frayed edges and loose material
  • Cracks
  • Stress marks

Unfortunately, in smoothing out the rough spots, you may lose some of the characters that give your tone its unique identity. A pick with a rounded edge is only partially worthless, however. They have a place in more subdued settings, so keeping them around may be smart.

If you want to play more aggressively, check the edges of the plectrum for chips and cracks. These are undeniable proof that your choice should be revised. Picks with a thickness of 0.7 mm or less are more likely to break easily and need more frequent replacement. Inspect your pick for wear and tear regularly and always before beginning a new recording or song.

If you notice any wear and tear, you should get a new one to ensure the highest quality sound. Don’t risk playing the rest of the set with a broken pick by not bringing enough spares to the show.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Gravity Guitar Picks – How long do they last” from the Larry Riker YouTube channel.

A video called “Gravity Guitar Picks – How long do they last” from the Larry Riker YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about how long a guitar pick lasts.

When should you throw a guitar pick?

If a guitar pick is broken or showing substantial wear, you should replace it. Picks with a thickness of 0.7 mm or less are more likely to break easily and need more frequent replacement. Inspect your pick for wear and tear regularly and always before beginning a new recording or song.

Do picks get worn out?

Yes. Yes. Guitar picks wear out. This might happen through general wear and tear or spontaneously after an unusual or uncomfortable strum. A guitar pick’s lifespan might vary greatly. How frequently you put it to use matters more than how long you have had it.

Do picks get dull?

Yes. Standard guitar picks may wear out after some time. While playing, “pick slides” may wear away the edges, sharpening them and causing the strings to snag. Also, the point of the plectrum may become more rounded over time, making it harder to pick accurately.

What is a plectrum

You can pluck or strum a stringed instrument with a plectrum, which is a little flat tool. A plectrum is a distinct tool carried in the player’s hand for stringed instruments like the guitar and mandolin. The plectra of a harpsichord are fastened to the jack. Wikipedia

Conclusion

With so many factors that can affect the lifespan of a guitar pick, it is important to know how you want to handle your picks. For most musicians, having fresh and clean guitar picks is like having a spa session every time they play. While some may choose to buy new ones on a regular basis, others might keep their old gloves in storage with no issues whatsoever! Based on your needs and style, make sure to purchase the right guitar picks for you so your performance doesn’t suffer.

This article covered whether guitar picks wear out, how long they last, and whether some picks are more durable than others. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • A guitar pick’s lifespan might vary greatly based on several factors.
  • Given enough time, all guitar picks will wear out no matter how sturdy the material is.
  • Using your pick more often will wear out and break sooner than the average player’s.
  • Not all pics are created equal.
  • You may expect a longer lifespan from a guitar pick made from a more durable material, so pay attention to its tip’s thickness, shape, and feel.
  • It is generally agreed that the selections from Dunlop’s tortex are some of the best picks.
  • The electric guitar soloist should go up in gauge to have a thicker pick with more durability.

So, how many months does your guitar pick last? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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