If you want to save money, exercise your creativity, and personalize your playing experience, you should learn how to make homemade guitar picks. These picks can be made out of everyday items like plastic sheets, old credit cards, and other household items. Not only will you gain new playing tools, but you can learn some new skills along the way & maybe even turn it into a hobby.
Overall, there are several benefits to making homemade guitar picks, including:
- Cost-effectiveness: Making your own guitar picks can save you a few bucks rather than buying them from a store, especially if you make them in bulk. You can use materials that are readily available and inexpensive, such as plastic sheets, old credit cards, wood laminates, or other household items.
- Customization: By making your own guitar picks, you can create picks that are unique to your playing style and preferences. You can customize the thickness, shape, beveling, and texture of the pick to suit your needs.
- Sustainability: Making your own guitar picks can be a more sustainable option than buying plastic picks from a store. You can use materials that are recycled or repurposed, reducing your environmental impact.
- Creativity: Making your own guitar picks can be a fun and creative activity. You can experiment with different materials and designs to create picks that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
- Learning opportunity: Making your own guitar picks can be a great opportunity to learn new skills, such as cutting and shaping materials. It can also be a way to deepen your understanding of how guitar picks work and how they can affect your playing.
Shown: x3 homemade picks made by what is now Iron Age Guitar Accessories circa 2016
Ways To Make Homemade Guitar Picks
Here’s a cool video we found that shows you exactly how to make picks from several household materials such as a CD, a ruler, a credit card, a sim card, and even a coin:
You can also get yourself a “pick punch” and easily create Fender “351” style picks out of almost any thin plastic as shown:
If you want to kick it up a notch, you can buy nicer materials & really get crafty. Here’s a video by Crimson Guitars making a pick out of Kirinite which is a premium cast acrylic material:
Finally, you can actually turn this into a side hustle or full-on business as I did with Iron Age Guitar Accessories. Here I make a batch of wooden guitar picks using a CNC & finish them using hand tools:
What Material Can I Use To Make Guitar Picks?
The only limit is your imagination. With the right tools, you can make a guitar pick from just about anything! As far as household items though, here’s a list of materials we’ve seen used so far:
- Old CDs
- Old Vinyls
- Plastic sheets (such as with the ruler in video #1)
- Old Credit Cards
- Old Sim Card
- Old Coins
- KFC Buckets! (Any buckethead fans?)
- Wood Veneers & Laminates
- Anything that is flat & can be sanded down can be turned into a guitar pick!
Here’s 2 that were asked about in particular:
How Do You Make A Guitar Pick Out Of Paper?
You can get craft with some origami & even make picks out of paper. From card stocks to even regular line paper. All it takes is some folding to make some sharp angled picks. You can also fold the paper several times & cut it to get an exact shape like a more rounded tip. The thickness can even be modified depending on the paper thickness & the amount of folds you give it.
How To Make A Guitar Pick Out Of Cardboard?
This is similar to the paper picks above. We’ve all got Amazon boxes laying around, just cut them up & give them some shape. They might not last as long as plastic picks but the material is plentiful. You can also flatten it & treat it like the paper picks where you fold it up to make really thick picks. With either of these, you’re sure to get some interesting sounds though – Be sure to experiment!
How To Make A Guitar Pick Out Of Wood
Here’s how I started making wooden guitar picks. The only tools I used where a scroll saw, belt sander, some 320 grit sandpaper, a marker, & a spare pick I wanted to replicate.
The scroll saw was needed to cut the wood block. If you have a sheet like a wood veneer, it would also be helpful but not required. You can simply cut out small blocks & sand the edges off to attain your desired shape.
So aside from cutting the block to get the wood square, all I did was to mark the shape of the pick I wanted to produce, and then sand off all the excess material around it. The electric sander really helped to speed up the process. You can do without these tools but any power tool helps tremendously, even something like a dremel will work wonders.
What was left was a “pick blank” which I then beveled to give it a more finished look & to make it playable. It’s really that easy & you can use the same method for just about any other material you might encounter.
Some things to watch out for are the direction that you cut the pick. In this video, I cut the pick with the grain crossing which isn’t ideal for a couple of reasons. In the newer video using the CNC you can notice the grain goes along lengthwise towards the playing point.
Finally, if you are going to undertake something like this, be mindful of safety. Be sure to protect your eyes with glasses/goggles, and wear a dust mask or respirator to protect your lungs. Might be a good idea to wear some hearing protection if you are around power tools as well. Best of luck on your crafts!
What Type Of Wood Is Best For Guitar Picks?
Hardwood is best if you want the most longevity. What you want to look out for in this case, is the Janka hardness which you can learn more about here at the Wood Database.
Here’s a few of the most common woods in the US & their corresponding Janka hardness levels. For reference, the wood used in the video above (with the CNC) was Macassar Ebony with a hardness of 3220. Desert (Arizona) Iron Wood has a hardness of 3260.
- Hard Maple 1450
- Birch 1260
- Red Oak 1220
- Black Walnut 1010
- Cherry Wood 950
- Poplar 540
Solid wood will be better for durability as mentioned but you can sometimes find thicker veneers that can be easier to work with. These might range from .5mm up to 1mm or more but are great if you prefer using thinner picks.
What Can You Use Instead Of A Guitar Pick?
As mentioned previously, you can make guitar picks out of all sorts of stuff ranging from coins, cards, paper, vinyls, and even leather clothing tags.
If you really want to get away from guitar picks though, there are finger picks available which are popular with certain styles of music. Most obvious though, is to simply play with your hands & use a combination of your fingers + nails to strum and pluck at the strings.
Related: What are the letters for the guitar strings?
I hope you learned a a few tips & tricks on how to make homemade guitar picks. They’re a fun craft project to undertake, can save you money versus buying more picks, and allow you to customize your playing experience.
Give it a try & let us know how it goes!