Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar

Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar –> There are a lot of factors that impact the tone and sounds produced when playing bass guitar. Bassists typically think of things like the type of strings, amplifier, or effects as factors that have the biggest impact. These are of course important and can definitely effect the sounds you produce. But the factor that has the biggest impact on your tone and sound is how you strike and fret the bass strings.

Bassists most often play by plucking the strings with their fingers. Some bassists claim they never use picks. They stand by the adage that bass players should be able to produce any sound needed…by plucking the strings. But the reality is that picks have been used extensively by bassists since the bass guitar was invented several decades ago. Today more than ever, bassists are called on to play a large variety of styles and genres of music – many of which require the use of a pick.

Bassist may not give much thought as to which type of pick is the best to use. However, there are differences among picks that can have a major impact on the type of sound and tone produced. It’s important that bassist understand these differences!

What Are the Differences Among Bass Guitar Picks?

There are a lot of variables that shape the differences among bass guitar picks. When choosing the pick that’s right for you, consider each of these 4 main factors:

  1. Personal Preference
  2. Thickness & Flexibility
  3. Pick Material
  4. Shape & Size

~ Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar ~

Personal Preference

We list personal preference first because it’s the most important factor when choosing bass picks. Nothing is more important than choosing a pick that allows you to produce your desired tone and sound. The pick you use should also be comfortable and playable. Every bassists has his or her unique physique and playing style. A certain pick that is perfect for one bassists, may not work for another. It’s a good idea to try a variety of picks to help determine which one works best for you. In fact, most bassists find they need several different types of picks to play different styles of music in various playing situations. Whatever picks you settle on using, make sure that your personal preference is the most important deciding factor.

Thickness & Flexibility

The density or thickness of picks are measured in millimeters. Measurements represent densities that range from “Thin” to “Extra Heavy”. Here’s a list showing how picks are typically categorized based on the gauge of their thickness and flexibility:

  • Thin – .40mm to .60mm or less
  • Medium –  .60mm to .80mm
  • Heavy – .80mm to 1.20mm or more

A bass guitar string responds differently to picks of various thickness and levels of flexibility (pliability). This has a big impact on the tone produced and the playability of a pick. Here is a description of the types of tones produced, and playability of plectrums based on their thickness.

Thin Picks

Delrin 500 thin guitar pick
  • Thinner picks produce lighter, brighter tones that are higher in frequency and lower in volume
  • They are the most flexible and tend to produce sounds with less bass and mid-range
  • Guitar players like to use thinner picks for strumming and playing chords – which are played less frequently by bassists
  • Their size and flexibility limit the range of “attack” that can be applied when striking a bass string – limiting the range of volume levels that can be controlled

Medium to Heavy Picks

Thick Heavy 4.20mm Bass Guitar Pick
  • Medium and heavier gauge picks produce fuller, rounder tones with more midrange & bass – and less treble
  • They provide more control and range of bass string attack. This translates into bassists having more control over volume levels
  • Thicker picks allow for a more accurate separation of notes – which is what bassists are most often striving for
  • Guitar players use heavier picks when playing lead parts – versus thinner picks that are better for strumming and rhythm parts
  • Heavier picks may require more finger strength & dexterity to control

~ Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar ~

How Thick Should My Bass Pick Be?

Again, personal preference trumps everything here. So much will depend on what type of music you’re playing, the sound you are trying to produce, and your unique physical attributes. With that said, bassists typically use thicker picks with densities in the medium to heavy range. While lighter plectrums can be used, they are often less capable of producing sounds with the bass and midrange tones that bassists desire. Thicker picks also allow for better volume control and separation between notes. They are aligned more to the needs of bassists versus thin picks that are the choice of guitar players that need to strum and play chords.

Bass Guitar Pick Material

Picks are made out of a lot of different materials. Each type of material can have an impact on a pick’s playability, comfort level, durability, and the tone it produces. The most common types of plectrums are constructed of man-made, synthetic materials. These are also the most popular and readily available types of bass picks. Below is a list with descriptions of picks made of the most commonly-used types of synthetic materials…

Nylon Picks

  • A “standard” type pick that bassists will find to be a practical choice
  • Widely used picks that come in a large range of gauges (thickness)
  • Bassists will want to use a thicker gauge of nylon pick – thinner picks may be too flexible
  • Can get slippery – so look for nylon picks that are coated in textures that make them easier to grip
  • Relatively inexpensive picks

Celluloid Picks

Fender Celluloid Bass Pick
  • Vintage style picks that were made to replace the (now illegal) tortoise shell plectrums
  • Designed to produce warmer, rounder, fatter tones
  • Known for being a comfortable pick with a natural feel
  • Thinner gauge celluloid picks are relatively more flexible
  • Can be less durable and wear down more easily

Delrin & Acetal Picks

Acetal Bass Guitar Pick
  • Delrin and Acetal are essentially the same materials with acetal picks being slightly more stiff
  • Both are ultra-hard plastics that provide a slick yet stiff playing surface
  • Have a no-slip, matte finish for improved grip
  • Allow for more precise string attack
  • Produce warmer tones
  • Known for being durable and long-lasting

Tortex Picks

Tortex Bass Guitar Picks
  • Very popular general purpose pick manufactured by Dunlop
  • Similar to Delrin picks
  • Capable of producing brighter, crisper tones
  • Thin picks can be more flexible than what bass players may need
  • Thicker picks can provide attack for good separation of notes
  • May wear out more easily than other similar types of plectrums

Ultex Picks

Ultex Bass Pick
  • A newer type of pick material that has become a popular choice of many bassists and guitarists
  • Very durable, long-lasting picks
  • Hard picks that allow for maximum attack
  • Produce a full-bodied warm tone
  • Ultex material provides a natural binding grip to fingers
  • Sturdy picks that are less flexible

Delrex Picks

Delrex Bass Guitar Pick
  • Made of Delrin material but with more of a matte finish
  • Provides maximum grip and preferred by bass players that tend to sweat more
  • Can produce a more “beefy” sound
  • Have a smooth attack with softer release
  • Chalky feel that may feel “dry” to some bassists

Acrylic Picks

Acrylic Bass Guitar Picks
  • Have a translucent, glass-like appearance with a slick feel
  • Produce a brighter, punchy tone
  • Acrylic material can bond to sweaty fingertips for better grip 
  • Durable long lasting material – many are made with sharper tips that don’t easily wear down
  • A comfortable plectrum, but can get slippery at times – consider acrylic picks that include grip holes
~ Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar ~

BTW – If you are interested in taking online bass lessons we also highly recommend JamPlay Bass Lessons. Bass Player Center provided a review of their site and services – click here to check it out!

Pick Shapes & Sizes

Picks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The size will have more of an impact on its playability and level of comfort. The shape of a pick will have more of an effect on the tones it produces. We’re not going to cover all of the vast number of pick shapes and sizes. There are however several types of picks that are the most common and widely-used by bass players. These are described below:

Standard

Standard Sized Bass Guitar Pick
  • The classic, heart-shaped pick
  • Also called “351” picks
  • Some have a sharpened tip for more accurate separation of notes
  • Multi-purpose pick that is made of many types of material

Jazz III

Dunlop Tortex Jazz III 1.0mm Bass Guitar Pick
  • Similar to standard sized picks with a sharper tip
  • Used for those wanting increased speed and accuracy
  • Most often used as a thicker gauge pick
  • Very popular plectrum for bass players

Teardrop

Teardrop Shaped Pick
  • Similar to a Jazz III pick but more narrow
  • Have sharper points for precise articulation
  • Beveled edge for more speed
  • Narrow size can make it more challenging to control

Triangular

  • Triangular in shape
  • Edges can be pointed or rounded
  • Many triangular picks are larger sized picks
  • Identical edges – you can switch to a different edge if one becomes too worn down

Which Picks Are the Best for Bass Guitar Players?

By now you’ve probably picked up on our suggestion that the best bass picks for you are those that best match your personal preferences. To help determine which picks are best, you may need to try out several before settling on the ones you like. Picks are relatively inexpensive. You can buy and try several without breaking the bank. With that said, there are a few picks that are the most popular among bass players. We’ve listed these below. We recommend all of these picks as the best for playing bass guitar…

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The Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar

Dunlop Ultex 421 1.0mm Standard Bass Pick

Ultex 1.0 Standard Pick for Bass Guitar
  • Standard shape & sized pick
  • 1.00mm pick that is relatively flexible for a thicker gauged pick
  • Material naturally grips to fingers
  • Has a molded edge for sharp attack and quick release
  • Can produce a wide range of tones – from warmer tones to those that are more bright and clear
  • Ultex is a sturdy material that provides superior durability

Dunlop Gator Grip 1.14mm Standard Bass Pick

Dunlop Gator Grip 1.14 Delrex Bass Guitar Pick new
  • Made of Delrex material with more of a matte finish
  • Standard sized pick in a heavier gauge
  • Made to grip with a non-slip surface that’s comfortable and easy to control
  • Preferred by bass players that tend to sweat more
  • Produce a more “beefy” sound
  • Smooth attack and softer release

Clayton Acetal Rounded Triangle 1.00mm Bass Picks

Clayton Acetal Rounded Triangle 1.00mm Bass Picks
  • Top selling Clayton brand pick
  • Known for being able to produce warmer tones
  • Made of durable acetal material with a matte finish for good grip
  • Provides a good balance of stiffness and flexibility
  • Triangular design is the preference of bassists who want a larger size pick with maximum control

Dunlop Tortex Jazz III 1.0mm XL Bass Guitar Pick

Dunlop Tortex Jazz III 1.0mm XL Bass Guitar Pick
  • Best-selling Tortex material in a Jazz III XL shape
  • Large size and shape is good for improving speed and articulation
  • Made of a grip-enhancing matte surface
  • Provides superior control
  • Shaped for enhanced attack
  • Known for being able to produce bright tones on bass

Dava Rock Control Grip Tip Bass Picks

Dava Rock Control Grip Tip Bass Guitar Picks
  • Uniquely designed “multi-gauge” pick
  • Gives you the dynamics of multiple pick gauges on the fly – choke up on the tip for a hard gauge, or release the flexible center section for a soft gauge
  • Medium sized pick made of smooth Delrin material
  • A fast action pick that can be used to play a wide range of music styles and genres
  • Newer type of pick that has gained quickly in popularity

Having A Hard Time Deciding? Try these variety packs:

Variety packs are great because they let you try out a number of different types of picks. They include plectrums of various shapes, materials, and gauges. They can help you discover which bass pick is best for you. You might even find some that you like that you never considered trying! Check these out…

Jim Dunlop Guitar Picks Variety Pack – Medium to Heavy Gauge

Jim Dunlop Electric Bass Picks Variety Pack Medium to Heavy Gauge
  • Contains 12 picks
  • Medium to Heavy gauge sized picks best suited for bass players
  • Sample several different types of materials including Ultex, Tortex, celluloid, nylon, and Gator Grip
  • Includes several different shapes of picks
  • Jim Dunlop is the world’s best-selling guitar pick brand

Fender Celluloid Guitar Picks Variety Pack – Medium Gauge

Fender All Shapes Medley – Celluloid Guitar Picks – Medium Gauge – 8 Pack
  • 8 pack of Fender celluloid medium gauge picks
  • Comes in a variety shapes including standard, triangular, large triangular, oval, narrow, jazz, teardrop, and standard sharp
  • Each pick variation produces different sounds and tones
  • Classic Tortoiseshell design

Thanks for checking out our “Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar” article. Hopefully we’ve given you some insight and guidance to help you understand and choose the picks that are best for you. We have a lot of other articles, gear recommendations, lessons, and music published for bass players – be sure to check those out. And as always, thanks for visiting Bass Player Center!

BTW – If you are interested in taking online bass lessons we also highly recommend JamPlay Bass Lessons. Bass Player Center provided a review of their site and services – click here to check it out!

The Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar

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Recommended Best Picks for Bass Guitar