4 Simple Ways to Reduce Guitar Pick Noise

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By Guitar Pick Reviews

Guitar pick noise (or pick click) is something most players had no other option but to learn to live with. Unlike pick chirp, pick noise is very audible on acoustics, even when unplugged, but not on electrics. This is because this sound comes from the pick rather than from the string.

Whether you like it or not, pick click is something you should at least be aware of. it significantly affects the attack, and sometimes you just don’t want it.

Today, we’ll learn what causes it and how to reduce (and maybe even eliminate) pick noise. No matter whether you’re recording, performing, or playing guitar next to a campfire.

What’s Pick Noise and What Causes it?

Pick noise is an inharmonic noise that occurs when the pick is releasing the string. It is, in fact, the sound of the pick straightening after being bent by the string.

A yellow Herdim pick being bent
A yellow Herdim pick being bent

What Affects Pick Noise

Several things affect pick noise. Some contribute to its velocity or intensity, and others to its characteristics.

The Material of the Pick

The material of the pick determines the “tone” of the noise. Delrin produces a dark noise, Celluloid, Ultem, and Acrylic a brighter one.

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Pick Gauge

Because the click results from the pick returning to its own shape, thinner picks tend to have a louder and brighter pick noise because they’re easily bent by the strings.

Guitar picks of different gauges
Guitar picks of different gauges. Can you find the missing pick

Pick Bevel

The bevel controls the pick’s release from the string (or the other way around…). Depending on the way you hold your pick, different bevels might produce different types of clicks.

Picking Angle

The greater the angle, the less the pick would bend and the less pick noise you’ll get.

Holding the pick in 45 degree angle reduces pick noise because that way the pick resists the string with its entire width
Holding the pick in 45 degree angle reduces pick noise because that way the pick resists the string with its entire width

String Gauge

Thicker strings will resist the pick more than thinner ones, in the same way that a thicker pick will produce louder strums because it will vibrate the strings harder rather than be bent by the string. For this reason, the thinner the strings, the less pick noise you’ll have.

How Hard You Hold Your Pick

By holding the pick very firmly, you force it to bend, increasing the click.

4 Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Pick Noise

Each method below will help you reduce or eliminate pick noise, but you don’t have to go “all in” on one of them. You can take concepts from each idea and incorporate them together in a way that doesn’t feel much different than the way you used to play but has a radical impact on the amount of pick click you’ll have.

Use a Different Pick

The first thing that you should try is using a thicker pick, but not everyone likes thick picks. It doesn’t have to be super thick, a gauge of 1.5mm and up will most likely reduce the amount of pick noise to a level you’ll be comfortable with.

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If you find thicker picks uncomfortable, try using picks made of different materials. Nylon, for example, is flexible enough to have a very soft click, which is almost silent. Look into picks with rounder tips rather than sharp ones, as their release from the string tends to be softer.

Try Picking at an Angle

Picking at an angle makes the pick more resistant to bending and as a result, less likely to have pick noise.

You don’t need to go too extreme with it or hold the pick at a 90-degree angle. In any way, don’t play in an uncomfortable way. The thicker you pick, the less of an angle you’ll need to have an audible impact on the click.

There are pick designs that emulate picking at an angle when you’re picking straight, made by companies such as Plick the Pick.

Relax Your Grip

When you relax your grip, you allow your hand to absorb some of the energy that otherwise would have bent your pick by the strings. This lowers the click dramatically.

You can also reduce pick click by relaxing your grip over the pick
You can also reduce pick click by relaxing your grip over the pick

Use Thinner Strings

If you like your pick the way it is and don’t want to alter your picking technique, you should consider trying thinner strings. They will have less of an impact on your pick, allowing it to bend a lot less.

If you change the gauge of your strings, you will need to set up your guitar accordingly, so bear that in mind.

Finishing Thoughts

Today, we learned how to eliminate pick click. Even though in some cases you might want to keep it, you learned how to control it.

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I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you have other cool tricks for altering to eliminating pick clicks, let me know in the comments below!

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