How to Eliminate (or Use) Guitar Pick Chirp

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By Guitar Pick Reviews

Whether you like it or not, pick chirp (not to be confused with guitar pick noise) is something most guitar players deal with. It mostly felt with high gain, but can be quite annoying even when playing clean.

What causes it, how to prevent it, and maybe even use it? Let’s find out.

What is Pick Chirp?

Guitar pick chirp (or pick chirp) is the high-pitched sound we get when the pick hits the string. Its source is the vibration between the position of the pick to the nut rather than the bridge, which is the reson it is so high pitched.

What Affects It?

Pick chirp is affected by many things:

The Type of Guitar Pick You Use

As the exciter of this sound, the pick itself has much to do with the chirp’s velocity and quality.

Pick Material

Some materials are known for having little to no chirp. Other materials, such as stone and metals, have an extremely sharp one.

Some proprietary blends are designed to have no pick chirp at all.

Here you can read about many different types of guitar picks.

Metal Picks (TeckPick, Ohm Picks), Stone Pick (Third Stone Picks), and a chirp-less pick by SixStringers
Metal picks (TeckPick, Ohm Picks), stone pick (Third Stone Picks), and a chirp-less pick by SixStringers

Pick Bevel

A round bevel will produce a very different chirp than a pick with a sharp bevel.

From left to right: A round beveled pick by Ohm Picks, a sharp beveled pick by Northern Ghost Plectrums, and a non beveled pick by Dasotomic Picks
From left to right: A round beveled pick by Ohm Picks, a sharp beveled pick by Northern Ghost Plectrums, and a non beveled pick by Dasotomic Picks

Tip Angle

The wider the tip of your pick, the less likely it is to chirp because the pick hits to the string at a lower velocity, and as a result creates less unwanted vibration.

Four picks that have both narrow and wide tips: Acoustic Attak's Stealth, a Mako pick, SixStringers' Wild Plectrum, and Smaug by Osiris Accessories
Four picks that have both narrow and wide tips: Acoustic Attak’s Stealth, a Mako pick, SixStringers’ Wild Plectrum, and Smaug by Osiris Accessories

Pick Gauge

A rule of thumb is that the heavier the pick is, the louder its chirp will be. The higher the gauge, the heavier the pick.

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The impact on the pick’s weight is important, but not as important as the material, bevel or tip angle.

Your Picking Technique

Picking Angle

Angling your pick reduces the pick’s impact on the string when it hits it but not when it releases it. So, just by angling your pick, you can get rid of a lot of the unwanted chirp.

Picking Strength

This one goes without saying. The harder you pick, the harder the chirp, but remember that you can play fast without picking hard.

Picking Accuracy

Unlike when you just learn to play the guitar, where pick accuracy means to hit the right string, in this context it means something else.

The distance the pick makes on the string after it hits it determines the length of the chirp.

Try to hit the string as clode to the tip as you can to shorten the length of the chirp
Try to hit the string as clode to the tip as you can to shorten the length of the chirp

The Point On The String You Pick

Since the chirp is the result of the vibration of the string between the pick and the bridge, the position on the string you hit the string with sets its frequency.

How to Eliminate Pick Chirp?

Use a Different Pick

As mentioned earlier, the shape and material of the pick have a lot to do with the characteristics and the intensity of the pick chirp.

Guitar picks made from UHMW-PE (made by makers such as Purple Plectrums and SixStringer), for example, usually have little to no chirp.

Another pick known for having no chirp is made by Hippie Picks. This is thanks to the proprietary blend they use, which eliminates it.

Hippie Picks (left), Purple Plectrums (middle) and SixStringers (right)
Hippie Picks (left), Purple Plectrums (middle) and SixStringers (right)

If you want to use a pick closer to what you’re used to, try finding one with a wide tip angle.

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Improve your Picking Accuracy

Try to hit the string as close as you can to the tip of the pick so the contact between them will be as short as possible. This won’t eliminate the chirp, but will significantly shorten it, making it almost inaudible.

A guitar pick that can help you develop this technique is the Stylus Pick.

Stylus Pick is known to help with pick dexterity thanks to its wide, round and short tip
Stylus Pick is known to help with pick dexterity thanks to its wide, round and short tip

Pick Closer to the Bridge

It doesn’t even have to be very close to the bridge, as long as it is closer to the bridge than the pickup you’re using. Doing that will completely eliminate it because the pickup won’t be able to capture the vibration.

How to Use Pick Chirp

As a musician, you know that every sound that has a distinct pitch can be useful, and this includes pick chirp.

It’s not easy, but you can practice the location of a few notes that are useful for a certain solo. Be creative, you don’t need to repeat the notes you play. You can play thirds, fifths, or any other intervals.

Finishing Thoughts

Today we learned what causes pick chirp, how to get rid of it with different methods, and even of a neat way to musically use it.

If you have used the chirp in your music in an interesting way, or eliminated it in a way thet is not shared here, please share them in the comments below!

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