Do Thicker Guitar Picks Break Strings Easier?

Thicker picks, generally stiffer by design, sway your picking dynamics. They offer a firmer attack and can create more sustain, allowing notes to ring out longer with a warmer sound that boosts low and mid-range frequencies. But how does this translate to string durability? Do stronger picks and increased tension mean a greater risk of snapping a string?

While a thicker pick might transfer more energy to the string due to its rigidity, breaking a string mainly results from the technique, strings, or guitar condition. With a thicker pick, you’re less likely to exert excessive force, which can actually reduce the overall stress on your strings. Therefore, your strings might be less prone to breakage, contrary to the assumption that heavier picks are tougher on strings.

On the other hand, thinner picks flex more and can sometimes lead to more aggressive playing to achieve a similar volume and impact as a thicker pick, ironically increasing the chance of wearing down your strings. Plus, they produce more string noise, which may compel you to play even harder. 

So, picking thickness and breaking strings is a balancing act; your technique and pick preference to play crucial roles in the health of your strings.

Let’s dive deeper into the topic!

Understanding Guitar Pick Thickness

When you’re picking out your guitar pick, thickness is an essential factor. This affects how your music feels and sounds, so let’s dive into the meat of it.

Pick Thickness Scale

Guitar pick thickness is measured in millimeters (mm). Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Thin Picks: Generally around 0.4 to 0.6 mm.
  • Medium Picks: Fall between 0.6 and 0.8 mm.
  • Heavy Picks: These picks are usually 0.8 to 1.2 mm.
  • Extra Heavy Picks: Anything thicker than 1.2 mm.

Each thickness has its own vibe, with thinner picks giving you a lighter sound and thicker ones dishing out more punch and volume.

Impact on Playability

Stepping into playability, the thickness of your pick can totally change your playing style.

  • Thin Picks: They’re super flexible and make strumming chords a breeze. Perfect for those fast-paced strumming sessions.
  • Thick Picks: You’ll get less give, which might feel odd initially, but you’ll find they’re stellar for those solos and provide rich tones.

Guitar String Durability

When you’re jamming on your guitar, having a string snap mid-song is a bummer. Let’s peek at what contributes to the durability of your strings and how they may break.

String Gauge and Material

The thickness and makeup of your guitar strings, known as the string gauge and material, play a big role in how long they last. Lighter gauge strings can break easier because they’re thinner, but they’re also gentler on your fingers. Heavier gauge strings, meanwhile, are tougher and tend to last longer, but they require more finger pressure.

Guitar strings are made from various materials:

  • Nickel-plated steel gives you a balance of tone and durability.
  • Pure nickel strings have that classic, warm vibe.
  • Stainless steel strings stand up well to sweat and corrosion.
  • Phosphor bronze acoustics are known for their bright, warm sound.

Common Causes of String Breakage

Several factors can cause your guitar strings to break. Here’s a quick list of some of the most common culprits:

  • Improper Stringing: If you’ve not wound the strings correctly, they’re more likely to snap.
  • Guitar’s Hardware: Saddle or nut edges that are too sharp can be string-killers.
  • Playing Style: Aggressive strumming or picking can undoubtedly do the trick.
  • Old Strings: Just like people, strings wear out over time, becoming brittle and break-prone.
  • Environmental Factors: Humidity and temperature swings can affect string life.
  • Poor Technique: Poor playing technique can break the strings, especially with bends or tremolo arm actions.

By understanding the specific gauge and material suitable for your playing style and regularly checking your guitar’s hardware for any sharp edges, you can prolong the life of your strings and spend more time playing and less time fixing.


Regarding the relationship between guitar pick thickness and string durability, it’s not so much that thicker picks are a direct cause of string breakage—instead, how you use them can be a factor. 

Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Thicker Picks: Greater control and durability with potential for higher impact on strings.
  • Thinner Picks: More flexibility and less forceful on strings, albeit with possible added string noise.

Remember, the sharpness and technique can also contribute to string wear and tear. It’s always a balance between finding the right pick for your playing style and ensuring your technique isn’t inadvertently shortening the life of your strings.

Ultimately, it’s best to experiment with different pick thicknesses to find what works best for you. After all, your playing comfort and the sound you’re aiming for should be the top priorities. Keep a close eye on how different picks affect your strings over time and adjust accordingly!

If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.


I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts