Sweep’n Maniac!

Dear Dude,

I have been working on my sweep picking for a long time now. What pick gauge thickness is better for sweep picking? 3.0 or 1.0?


Sweep’n Maniac!

Dear Sweep’n Maniac,

Sweep picking is the new black, but if your not just running up and down the neck as fast you can (and actually doing something musical), it can be a really cool and useful technique. Many people don’t realize how much pick density, hardness, and size can affect your playing. So, to answer this question I just had to ask a few shredders I know.

First things first, I use the Jim Dunlop 1.14 (although mine are provided by In Tune guitar picks) If you’re not into numbers it’s the dark purple pick Dunlop makes. I have used this hardness pretty much since 1996 and really cannot play with any other gauge. I would rather play live with a penny as a pick than use a thin pick. I just don’t get the control I want, I just can’t rock with a limp pick.

But, don’t just take my word for it. One quick phone call to my main man, (and co-guitarist of Darkest Hour) Kris “Weenie” Norris, reveals a slightly different outlook. Surprisingly, Kris uses a very thin .66 gauge pick. To a dude like me that feels like a piece of paper, but believe it or not I have seen Kris melt some frets with that little flimsy thing. However, Kris still suggests a heavy pick for sweeping even though he uses such a thin gauge. He attributes his wrist problems and chronic pain to his decisions to go against his own advice and still use a thin pick.

Kris and I agree that the harder the pick the better the control, even though we both actually use two different gauges. To settle this I had to call the only other dude I knew who could put this question to rest. And that’s no other then Mr. Devin “Fucking” Townsend. Now if you don’t know who Devin is, well he’s a sick ass producer, shredder extraordinaire, and (even Kris would agree) a badass motherfucker on the guitar. Devin’s advice is to go the middle road. Too thin and you don’t have enough control. Too thick and there’s not enough give. He suggests the Dunlop Green .88 picks. He likes the real big kind, not the old standard size picks. Dunlop calls it the “triangle pick.” Now I tried to jam with this pick once but it felt to me like I was playing with the top of plastic coffee lid.

Now, even though we all actually use different gauges, we still agree on two main points. One, the harder the gauge pick the better the control. Two, don’t use too hard of a pick gauge or the pick will have no “give.” If you’re not sure where to start, go with the standard size Green .88 picks. It’s a good middle road. Now you can play around with hardness after you get used to that (If you want more give go a bit thinner, if you want more control go harder). My personal feeling is stay away from anything harder then 2.0 unless you really feel it. In the end you need to feel what’s right for your playing and try every size and thickness. Once you feel the pick that’s the right thickness, you’ll know it right away. It just will feel, right

The Dude


3 Responses to Sweep’n Maniac!

  1. The Stone Dude! - VA says:

    Pick material and density affects tone as well. Generally speaking, thinner picks are brighter and thicker picks are darker. Different material bends and wears differently and also contributes slightly to the tone. I know jazz dudes used to search out and pay a lot of money for little, thick picks made of real tortoiseshell, which is illegal now i believe. Being at guitar center gave me access to lots of picks, and i tried lots of different ones. Another thing i thought of along this search was: if i find the perfect pick for me and get really used to it, but
    then can’t find them anywhere when i need them, that would really suck! So keep in mind that picks wear out and you will need more, so something easily available is exactly that, easily available. I like the dunlop tortex the best as well. my personal favorite is the yellow ones (0.73 thickness) and step it up to the green ones (0.88 thickness) if i have to play faster.

  2. Will says:

    I use the Dunlop .60 gauge. I fell in love with this pick size because my other guitar player recommended them to me. I think it has just the right amount of “give” and strong enough to give me control with sweeps and tremolo picking. Check it out if you still haven’t found what you are looking for just yet.

  3. Mislav says:

    I use dunlop jazz III (very thick pick) and sweeping works just fine for me. i think that there’s no specific pick thickness for sweeping, it’s just what you’re used to.

    Greets from Croatia

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