How Are Guitar Picks Made? Guitar picks, known as plectrums in Britain, are used in picking out individual notes and in strumming chords on guitars. While these aren’t crucial in playing, these are useful in protecting the fingers and nails from injury as well as in creating special effects.

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These can be made either as a do-it-yourself project or as a mass production product. If you have the time and tools, you can make your picks from materials like credit cards and coins. You can also buy ready-to-use picks from online sites, a more convenient method.

The DIY Method For Making Picks

You should ideally have a pick punch, a tool for mass-producing custom picks. It’s equipped with a hole puncher, a pick-shaped template, and handle, and it looks like a large stapler. It’s easy on the pocket and easy to use, too, not to mention that you can use it numerous times. (The Pick-a-Palooza DIY Guitar Pick Punch comes highly recommended).

How Are Guitar Picks Made?

As for the materials, thin plastic and metal materials are recommended since these don’t require thinning out. Great examples of plastic material include rulers, gift cards, and credit cards, among other hard plastics. Even old CDs and plastic sheets will do, and it’s a good thing, too, since you’re recycling them.

Remember that the thickness of the plastic material will determine its best use as a pick. Thicker plastics are best for plucking and picking strings while thinner plastics are suitable for strumming. But it is also a matter of personal preference and comfort since a pick is just a tool.

Turning hard plastics into picks is easy with a pick punch:

  • Slide the material into the slot and push it all the way through.
  • Adjust the image on the pick, if you want, by looking through the viewfinder.
  • Squeeze the handles until you hear a click. The pick should pop out of the punch.

You can then use sandpaper, nail file or a sanding brick to smooth out the edges, if necessary. You don’t want sharp edges, and loose shards since these can cause injury to your fingers and change the sound of your guitar.

You can also use a thin coin as a DIY pick. A quarter is an excellent material since it’s at least an inch in size. Be sure to wash it first with mild soap and water to remove the buildup of dirt on it.

The Buy Your Picks Method

We can surmise that manufacturers of picks use the same basic principles in their mass production. You may want to buy your picks instead since there’s more variety in materials, colors, and shapes than with DIY picks.

Your choices in materials include:

How Are Guitar Picks Made?
  1. Plastics are the most common materials used. Examples include the D’Addario Accessories Pearl Celluloid Guitar Picks and the Dunlop 44P73 .73mm Nylon Standard Guitar Picks.
  2. Metal picks, such as the ammoon Alice AP-12S, are said to produce a richer sound on both acoustic and electric guitars.
How Are Guitar Picks Made?

Other manufacturers also use animal horns, bone, and leather as well as glass and wood in their picks. These are durable and beautiful, too, with their unique look.


Guitar picks are easy to make and easy to buy. The difference between homemade and mass-produced picks lies in the time, effort, and money you poured into them. Otherwise, both will make playing the guitar more enjoyable.

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