Picks and Abrasion


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Here’s a quick excerpt from the abrasion chapter in the upcoming Primer update on pick function:

I like this example because the A/B is super easy to hear. It’s all treble, >5kHz, so you’ll probably need headphones. It looks like continuous playing, but these are indeed separate takes with different picks. You really have to get the hand position, picking location, amount of edge picking, force of attack, and so on — all these variables — as similar as possible on all the takes. Otherwise, you may not be measuring what you think you’re measuring.


So an abraded pick gives a db boost in certain frequency range as well!?


So the fresh (smooth) pick gets dents, and these dents are scraped across the strings, creating extra treble?

Or the (smooth) new pick with sharp edges gets rounded out, but remains smooth?

The word “abrasion” suggests that the edge becomes rough, and if one just scrapes it, one can hear a difference?


Cool stuff’! Quick blast on a nail file gives that awesome mini cello,swishy sound on the wound strings and super grip on the high strings!


Yes, if you take a sanding block and abrade a new Jazz III you will get the rough edge and the treble boost.

Keep in mind though tha nylon picks like the Jazz III often have a fringe of extra material at the bevel left over from the molding process. You can see this clearly if you hold it up to a light. This very thin fringe of material functions like edge abrasion and creates treble boost. But it wears away after a couple minutes of playing, leaving you with the non-abraded Jazz III.

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Right - it’s a treble effect, >5khz

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The Red Bear Guthrie Govan signature pick is coming out May 9th at 7am!

It’s $35 I think, but it has speed bevels is extra thick and a unique notched blunt edge used for weird Guthrie Govan sounds. And of course has the Red Bear signature grip holes too.

From what I’ve heard it’s the closest thing to real tortoise shell. I wonder how chirpy it is? :thinking:

I’d be interested to see test results on this and other boutique picks. :blush:


Blue Chip picks essentially don’t wear out. They also provide the smoothest surface, with the least scratchy tones. I also have experimented with light polishing or sanding with very fine grit of regular picks when the edge gets sharp and the tone thins out. It works, if you can be bothered!


It would be interesting to see if the videos can capture different tone production. There is a huge difference in sounds you can get by the way you hold the pick and the motion mechanic, especially on acoustic guitar. With all this technology going toward improving speed and accuracy, how about a “look” at tone?


That is indeed what this section is about. It’s the “how” of how picks work. We do lots of comparisons, with frequency analysis, to understand how picks succeed in playing notes at all, and what does and does not make them sound the way they do. It isn’t even so much discovery of unknown stuff but more like an attempt to take what experienced players already know, put some numbers behind it, and present it in a way that is at least entertaining for beginners and experienced players alike.

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Incidentally, is there any plan to do a similar analysis for string gauges? Seems to be a pretty big part of the proverbial equation.

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Thanks Troy, I look forward to this series!