Mandolin picks can have as big an effect on sound and playability of your mandolin as a bow does for a violin – on the other hand if you do not know how to play violin this argument may sound irrelevant to you!

The good thing is that a good violin bow will cost from a couple thousand dollars, to over ten grand for a truly top of the line bow. The mandolin picks will climb up to 50 USD, tops. But is the pick so important, for you to spend money? Here is a summary (but keep reading for details)

  • A good pick can boost your sound, speed and volume
  • Pick material is really important
  • You should try a lot of picks to find the ones you prefer
  • Harder picks (0,70mm or thicker) tend to sound better
  • Picks are easily misplaced and lost. So always have a bunch available!

[Article last update: 12 Sep 2021]

What a good pick can do

The right pick (at whatever price–high or low) can really boost your sound, speed and volume.

Good mandolin picks are important for moderate or advanced mandolin players, which are concerned about their sound and how a pick reacts and interacts with the approach as they attack the strings for maximum playability and tone.

Getting a good pick is the cheapest way to make that much difference in tone. You can try changing your mandolin, but this will certainly prove expensive!

Is the pick material important?

Pick material is really important, as it affects tone and also durability.

For example, Blue Chip Mandolin Picks are said to be made of Meldin, an industrial grade plastic that is extremely hard and very expensive. A small sheet of it cost about $1300. Some players report that with this pick they  can play all night with almost no wear on the edges of the pick. Some even report they have had the same pick for 3 years of tough playing with no wear!.

How to select your pick

Maybe the best advise is to both:

  • Try a whole bunch of mandolin picks, to see which one you prefer. You can easily do that at music shops
  • If you’re taking lessons ask your teacher what he or she recommends.

But, the bottom line remains, you don’t know if a pick is good for you, until you try it.

Picks for Beginners

As a beginner there’s no point on buying a really nice pick yet, especially if you have a habit of losing things. A good pick may not make a great difference  if you’re a newbie.

You should wait till you develop more technique in their right hand, because then, subtle differences like picks can make a big difference.

For beginners, the only thing to remember it to get a  hard pick, i.e. 0.75mm or thicker.

Handling Mandolin Picks

Mandolin picks are small and there is a chance you will lose yours, no matter how careful you are. So, a good advise is to always have a bunch of picks in your mandolin case so they are always good when you  grab one.

Picks Resources

Pickboy Mandolin Pick

  • 0.75mm
  • Celluloid
  • 10 pc pack
  • Mandolin

Celluloid is the material that many players prefer and most sounds like real tortoise shell. Picks made from this material have warm tone and respond well. We think it is one of the best sounding materials.

D’Andrea Pro Plec Rounded Triangle Picks

  • 1.5mm
  • 12 piece Bulk Bag
  • Pro choice for tone and articulation
  • D’Andrea Pro Pluck 346 Rounded Triangle  

D’Andrea Pro Plucks are manufactured in the US utilizing industrial strength thermoplastic. Available in 1.5mm gauge and beautiful shell finish, the 6 distinctive shapes offer demanding guitarists a variety of options to achieve their desired tone, and articulation.

D’Addario Chris Thile Signature Casein 1.4mm Mandolin Pick

  • Designed in partnership with famed mandolinist, Chris thile
  • Texture and warm, balanced tone previously found only in natural tortoiseshell picks
  • 1.4mm thickness
  • Right Handed bevel in all 3 corners
  • A portion of the proceeds are donated to the D’Addario foundation

Clayton Spike Ultem Gold Sharp Triangle Guitar Picks

  • 0,72mm
  • Produce clean crisp tone with limited flex
  • Unlike real tortoise shell this material will not fracture
  • Pointed tip is unique to the Spike picks

Spike will have you licking your chops on how satisfying this new pick is. Its sharp edges will allow you to get that killer attack with all of your speed riffs. Made of Ultem for ultimate strength.

Fender 351 Premium Celluloid Guitar Picks

  • Classic shape
  • Medium weight
  • Combine the traditional tone and feel of celluloid

You cannot go wrong with the classics. In this case, we are talking about the Fender 351 Premium Celluloid Guitar Pick. Classic shape, heavy weight, these picks combine the traditional tone and feel of celluloid, with beautiful and unique colors. Celluloid is one of the best pick materials, as it gives you traditional feel, a smooth striking surface and a warm tone.

Dunlop 513P1.5 Primetone® Triangle Sculpted Plectra

  • Hand-burnished sculpted edges
  • Made from Ultex
  • Prime tone Triangle Sculpted Plectra Guitar Picks
  • Gauge: 1.5mm

Primetone Sculpted Plectra will glide off your strings and bring out the true voice and clarity of your instrument. With hand-burnished sculpted edges, these picks allow for fast, articulate runs and effortless strumming. Made from Ultex for maximum durability and superior tonal definition. Available in three different shapes with a low-profile grip or a smooth traditional surface.


It takes more than an expensive pick to be a good musician, it’s more about knowing what you want to get out of the instrument. The balance of the instrument, strings, set up, pick and attitude is what makes it work. The player’s skill is the most important ingredient, as a good pick may improve your tone, but it probably won’t improve your playing.

Without practicing, not even the best pick in the world will make you a good musician. So, grab your mandolin, play and have fun!


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