Different Guitar Pick Shapes Explained

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By Guitar Pick Reviews

The shape is the first thing you’ll notice when you look at a guitar pick. Different guitar pick shapes sound and behave differently and will affect the tone of your guitar in different ways. Sharp tips, for example, often produce a sharp and bright attack. In comparison, rounder tips are used to mellow the attack down.

I’ve covered some basic guitar pick shapes in my article about different types of guitar picks. That being said, I think that being one of the most important aspects of a guitar pick design, it deserves an article of its own.

Guitar Picks Of All shapes and Sizes
Guitar Picks Of All shapes and Sizes

Guitar Picks Shapes

There are literally thousands of different guitar pick shapes, and every day pick makers come up with even more. For that reason, I divided the shapes into four subcategories: Common, Uncommon, Vintage, and Unique.

You’ll notice that some shapes have a number associated with them. This is because most pick shapes we use today have been made up by a company called D’Andrea in the 1930s. They had two series of shapes: series 300 and 500. And the same shapes they came up with back then are still used today (which is pretty amazing).

Common Guitar Pick Shapes

Here’s a short description of four of the most common guitar pick shapes: Standard, Jazz III, Flow, and Triangle (which have three variations).

Standard 351

Close your eyes for a second and imagine a guitar pick. This is the Standard 351.

This is the most famous and recognized guitar pick shape and probably what most people think about when they think about a guitar pick. First designed by Luigi D’Andrea as part of D’Andrea Series 300, it quickly became a hit among guitar players. The shape was so successful that it got the name ‘Standard’.

Today, picks of this shape are produced by every single pick manufacturer in the world, including D’Andrea, Dunlop, Fender, D’Addario, Ernie Ball, and many others.

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Standard Guitar Pick Shape
Standard 351 shaped guitar picks by D’Addario, Dunlop, Hawk Picks, and TerraTone Picks

Jazz III

Jim Dunlop came up with the Jazz III shape in 1976. He was inspired by jazz players and tried to come up with a pick that would suit their style. Unfortunately, back then, and even today, not many jazz players chose to use this pick. Little did he know that the Nylon red Jazz III would later become one of the most famous guitar picks in history, appreciated by guitar players of almost all genres and styles – except jazz.

Today, there are many alternatives to the original Jazz III, made of different materials and by many pick manufacturers, including Dunlop, D’Andrea, Fender, Ernie Ball, D’Addario, and more, and by boutique high-end makers.

Jazz III Surrounded By Other Jazz III Shaped Guitar Picks
Jazz III Surrounded By Other Jazz III Shaped Guitar Picks

Flow

Unlike the first two pick shapes mentioned in this article, the Flow shape is relatively modern. Originally made of Ultex by Dunlop, and still manufactured mainly by them, but of many materials. The Flow shape resembles the Jazz XL but is more curved, resulting in a wider tip.

Flow picks are widely appreciated by guitar picks of most genres for their clarity and comfort.

Flow Shaped Guitar Picks
Flow Shaped Guitar Picks

Triangle

The triangle has three sub-shapes: Small Triangle, Large Triangle (346), and Straight Edge Triangle (355). I have a complicated relationship with triangle picks. I used to hate them but recently started to really like them, mainly thanks to great triangle picks I got from makers such as Bog Street, Iron Age, Howling Monkey, and Northern Ghost.

The best advantage triangle picks have over other pick shapes is their durability. They have three identical tips, making them last three times longer.

A Variety of Triangle Guitar Shaped Picks
A Variety of Triangle Guitar Shaped Picks
Small Triangle

Small Triangle picks are usually slightly curved, but not exclusively. Their curvature makes their tip relatively wide, making them very fast compared to picks with sharper angle tips. The fact that they are also small makes them very easy to control and maneuver.

Large Triangle 346

This classic guitar pick shape has been around for almost 100 years, originally made by D’Andrea for guitar players in the 30s. Favored especially by bass players due to their size and round tip, they are made of a wide selection of materials and gauges and by many companies, including Dunlop, D’Andrea, D’Addario, Fender, and more.

Straight Edge Triangle 355

The straight edge triangle has three 60-degree tips, traditionally with a small tip diameter to provide a sharper attack. They are among the biggest pick shapes, making them hard to shred with, but with a lot of velocity compared to other shapes in the same gauge.

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Uncommon Guitar Pick Shapes

Here, I included widely available shapes that are not so widely used.

Jazz I and Jazz II

Released together with the original Jazz III, Jazz I and II have wider tips, yet, they are still small. I can understand why such round and small picks are not a huge hit, but if you gave them a try, you’d be surprised by how useful they can be.

Unlike Jazz III, Jazz I and Jazz II are produced almost exclusively by Dunlop.

Standard Sharp

This is a variation of Standard 351, just with a shaper tip. It makes it more accurate and bright. Favors lead over strumming. A really fast way you can give this shape a try is to file one on your Standard picks.

Standard Sharp Guitar Picks
Standard Sharp Guitar Picks

Pointy

One of the sharpest and most aggressive pick shapes. Playing with such a sharp tip requires a lot of control. Otherwise, the pick gets stuck in the strings.

Pointy Shaped Guitar Picks
Pointy Shaped Guitar Picks

Asymmetrical

The Asymmetrical shape looks like something between a Standard and Triangle pick, except that one of its shoulders is also used as a sharp playing tip.

Asymmetrical Guitar Picks
Asymmetrical Guitar Picks by (left to right) Osiris Accessories, Northern Ghost Plectrums, and Purple Plectrums.

Shield

The shield shape is pretty popular with very thick guitar picks. It resembles a larger version of Flow, but with sharper shoulders.

Shield Shaped Guitar Picks
Shield Shaped Guitar Picks

Shark Fin 390

Sometimes, it seems as if the Sharkfin is the pick shape every player knows, but not too many have tried. It features three playing tips: Asymmetrical sharp, Symmetrical wide, and Jagged tip.

It’s made by many companies, including Dunlop, D’Andrea,

Shark Fin Guitar Picks
Shark Fin Guitar Picks

Teardrop

There are many variations of the teardrop shape, but most of them are no longer in production today. These two, though, stood the test of time and are still in production to this day.

Guitar Picks In A Variety of Teardrop Shapes
Guitar Picks In A Variety of Teardrop Shapes
Thin Teardrop 354

The thin Teardrop is one of my favorite guitar pick shapes. In a way, it’s a thinner version of Jazz III.

Wide Teardrop 347 3/4

Naturally, this shape is very similar to the This Teardrop shape in appearance, but its wide tip and body makes it play softer and faster, and have a lot more body to grip to.

Vintage Guitar Pick Shapes

Homeplate / Pentagon 330

This shape has 3 90 degree playing tips and two 135 degree tips. This is a very interesting pick to play and experiment with, as 90 degree tips are quite rare these days.

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Homeplate Shaped Guitar Picks
Homeplate Shaped Guitar Picks

Heart 323

Many consider them valentine’s day gifts, but in fact, the Heart Shape has existed as a guitar pick shape for about 100 years now.

323 Heart Shaped Guitar Picks by D'Andrea
323 Heart Shaped Guitar Picks by D’Andrea

Trapezoid 361

This vintage guitar pick shape inspired one of my favorite picks: Northern Ghost Uno. It features two identical and asymmetrical sharp playing tips.

Vintage 361 Pick by Jurg Itten
Vintage 361 Pick. Image Credit: Jürg Itten

Unique Guitar Pick Shapes

Many boutique pick makers are known to create variations of traditional guitar pick shapes or come up with completely new ones.

Northern Ghost Plectrtum’s Uno

The Uno Shape is a modernized version of the vintage 361 guitar pick by Northern Ghost Plectrums. It featured two 90 degree tips and two round tips.

Northern Ghost Uno Guitar Pick Shape
Northern Ghost Uno Guitar Pick Shape

Dragon’s Heart Pick Shape

The Dragon’s Heart shape is one of the most recognizable and recognized unique guitar pick shapes. It features two sharp tips at different diameters and another round tip.

Dragon's Heart Shaped Pick
Dragon’s Heart Shaped Pick

Pick of Destiny

From the movie, straight to your pick box, made by makes as tributes to the film. This pick, made by Dasotomic Picks, is 4mm thick, but many makers make Pick of Destiny replicas in different gauges.

Pick of Destiny Replica by Dasotomic Guitar Picks
Pick of Destiny Replica by Dasotomic Guitar Picks

Hippie Picks’ Arrowhead Shape

Based on the standard guitar pick shape, Hippie Picks‘ Arrowhead picks also have two holes in their shoulders, providing extra grip.

Hippie Picks Arrowhead Shaped Guitar Picks
Hippie Picks Arrowhead Shaped Guitar Picks

GT Plectrums’ Africa

This is a very hard-to-describe shape. GT Plectrums based it on Jazz III, with offset “holes” carved on either side, helping with grip and providing more playing tips to choose from.

GT Plectrums Africa
GT Plectrums Africa

Rombo Picks Origami

From the top, Rombo Picks’ Origami might look like an ordinary Standard shape, but upon a closer look, you can see that this pick has many angles, resembling a folded paper. These angles allow the player to control the stiffness of the pick.

Rombo Picks Origami Pick Shape
Rombo Picks Origami Pick Shape

Bog Street Leap Shape

The Leap is made by a company called Bog Street. It’s essentially a Triangle shaped pick with raised grips for an ergonomic hold. Each tip is of a different gauge for an easier switch between rhythm and lead mid-song.

Bog Street Leap Guitar Pick Shapes
Bog Street Leap Guitar Pick Shapes

Six Stringers’ Pick Shape

The Wild Plectrum shape by SixStringers features four different playing tips, each optimized for a different purpose. The tips are called lead, rhythm, bass, and grit, each represents its strength.

SixStringers Wild Plectrum Guitar Pick Shape
SixStringers Wild Plectrum Guitar Pick Shape

Honey Picks Hornet

Hornet is my personal favorite shape of Honey Picks. It has two asymmetrical tips and another round part that can be used for strumming.

Honey Picks Hornet Guitar Pick Shape
Honey Picks Hornet Guitar Pick Shape

Arcanum Plectra Cleric

The Cleric shape by Acranum Plectra resembles something between a Standard to a Sharp Standard pick. What makes it special is the “wave” on the top that helps with the grip.

Cleric Guitar Pick Shape By Arcanum Plectra
Cleric Guitar Pick Shape By Arcanum Plectra

Finishing Thoughts

There are many different guitar pick shapes, and today we went over the ones you really need to know. Boutique pick makers often experiment with more pick shapes, so if you’re interested in learning about more innovative guitar pick designs, go over a few of the guitar pick reviews I wrote.

I’ll keep updating this article with more exciting guitar pick shapes. See you soon!

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