Six Ways To Make A DIY Guitar Pick

Making your own DIY guitar pick can be a fun way to get creative – Let’s discuss how!

DIY-guitar-pick

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • The 6 best ways to make your own pick!
  • Why these 6 alternatives are great in a pinch
  • Why your fingers make great picks!
  • Why SD cards make great guitar picks

A DIY Guitar Pick Can Be Made From A Variety Of Things

It’s a known fact that most guitarists have a box full of picks somewhere in their home.

  • It’s also a known fact that guitarists lose their picks at an abnormally frequent rate.
  • So what happens when we’ve successfully lost all of our picks and we’re in a pinch?
  • The answer is simple: make a DIY guitar pick.

In this guide, we’re going to show you the different items and materials that can be substituted for a guitar pick when you’re in a bind!

We’ve organized our suggestions in order of practicality – with the most practical guitar pick alternatives at the top of the page and the least practical toward the bottom.

Leave your regular picks in the box for this one, we’re going to get creative.

Let’s dive in!

diy-guitar-pick

These DIY Guitar Pick Ideas Are Great In A Pinch

So you don’t have a guitar pick on hand but you need something to play with.

  • The solution is to get creative and make a pick of your own.
  • We can use a variety of different objects and materials such as coins, credit cards, old CDs, and even old SD cards if you have nothing else.
  • Although we always recommend that you use a real guitar pick when possible, we understand that sometimes there just isn’t one kicking around.

For these circumstances, we recommend picking up a DIY pick puncher! Let’s find out more about that below.

diy-guitar-pick

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DIY Guitar Pick Puncher

We’ve all used a hole-puncher or 3-hole punch in school to make holes in our paper, but have you ever used one to make a guitar pick?

  • Well, they exist and they’re super practical!
  • A DIY guitar pick puncher is a great way to make yourself a bunch of guitar picks quickly out of anything you’ve got lying around.

We’ll talk more about materials below, but DIY guitar pick punchers are ideal for using with old gift cards or credit cards because of the plastic they use.

diy-guitar-pick

Pro Tip: If you consider yourself an environmentally-conscious person, then this DIY guitar pick puncher is especially for you.

This unique little device allows us to repurpose plenty of plastic that would otherwise end up in the trash.

Not only do these handy little gems give us a guitar pick to shred with in a pinch, they also help us lower the amount of plastic we end up throwing out by just a little bit.

Imagine if we all made our own DIY guitar pick?

Pick up a pick puncher of your own here.

diy-guitar-pick

DIY Guitar Pick – Credit Cards & Gift Cards

If you don’t have a DIY guitar pick puncher on hand, you can use your scissors to cut a triangular shape in an old credit card or plastic gift card.

  • These materials have a similar flexibility to that of a real guitar pick, helping us get close to the feel of the ‘real thing’.
  • If you need a DIY guitar pick, this is the route we suggest you to go whenever possible.
  • Make sure to cut round edges instead of pointy ones so that you can avoid poking yourself in the finger.

This is an important step to look out for, as we can also cut ourselves if we aren’t careful.

Be mindful and safe!

diy-guitar-pick

Pro Tip: Many credit cards and gift cards have rounded edges, so it helps to cut from the corner and incorporate that edge into the triangle shape you are trying to make.

  • Making a DIY guitar pick from cards like these give us a good amount of surface area to cut with, so try making guitar picks in different sizes to see what fits best!
  • If your card has a raised card number on the front of it, try to incorporate a couple of those digits into your DIY guitar pick.

These raised numbers serve as a great grip and help us hold on to our pick more easily!

diy-guitar-pick

DIY Guitar Pick – Coins

When you’re in a bind, what’s the most common thing you’d have on hand that you can think of?

Hint: Check your wallet or change purse.

Unless you strictly carry cards, you’ll probably have some change on you. A coin is a great alternative to a guitar pick when we don’t have one on us.

  • Coins like quarters and nickels fit well between our fingers and have a good amount of attack to them when they strike the strings. This makes them an ideal choice for a DIY guitar pick.
  • Try and use a mid-sized coin wherever possible. Larger coins feel chunky in between the fingers, and you can drop smaller coins quite easily once they start bouncing off the strings.

diy-guitar-pick

Pro Tip: Coins are great as a short-term DIY guitar pick, but they tend to wear our strings out rather quickly.

We may notice our strings beginning to sound dull after a while, and we may even see them begin to fray and wear around our regular picking zone.

  • Players who are used to playing with a metal pick may not mind the string stress as much, but the rest of us might find our strings beginning to weaken if we play too much with a coin.
  • Use this DIY guitar pick in a pinch, but try not to get too used to playing with one.

diy-guitar-pick

DIY Guitar Pick – Old Business Cards (Card Stock)

Card stock is a bit flimsier that a credit card’s plastic, but that doesn’t mean we should rule it out as an effective DIY guitar pick!

  • Many business people favor thicker card stock for their business cards, making these cards ideal for use as a guitar pick alternative.
  • Though they may bend a bit more, card stock is great for strumming short-term.

We can even fold up a thinner business card into a small triangle to make a DIY guitar pick that fits our fingers and isn’t as flimsy!

diy-guitar-pick

Pro Tip: If you have some glue lying around, glue the insides of your folded pick together to reinforce it and make it sturdier.

If you have a thicker card stock, you can stack two on top of each other and cut out the shape of a pick.

  • Glue these two shapes together and voila! DIY guitar pick!
  • Just make sure you let the glue dry before you start playing.

Now, what about all those old compact discs you’ve got lying around?

make-a-plectrum

DIY Guitar Pick – Old CD’s

Let’s face it, most computers don’t even come standard with CD readers anymore.

The world has switched over to streaming and playing vinyl, and cars are hooked up with Bluetooth meaning that you don’t even need a CD player in your car anymore.

  • What are you really using all those CDs for nowadays, anyway?
  • Well, you could be using them to make a shiny DIY guitar pick.
  • CDs are relatively thick, yet flexible. It’s important to cut these carefully so you don’t poke yourself while playing.

Make sure to cut away from your face as well so nothing accidentally flies back at you in the process.

diy-plectrum

Once again, this type of DIY guitar pick is a great alternative in a pinch, but we don’t recommend using them for very long.

  • The flexibility of CDs make them great for strumming chords, but not so ideal for playing scales and shredding.
  • After a short while, you’re probably going to want to be playing with the real thing.
  • Be mindful not to cut sharp edges on this type of DIY guitar pick – keep them round so it fits into your hand more easily.

For a guide on how to make your own guitar picks out of an old CD, click here!

how-to-make-a-plectrum

DIY Guitar Pick – Old SD Cards

Got a corrupted SD card that you’re not using anymore?

  • Don’t bother throwing it in the trash, that’s a last-minute guitar pick waiting to be used!
  • SD cards have hard and flat edges, making them the least ideal DIY guitar pick. However, in a pinch they will certainly get the job done!
  • These items are great for strumming but once again, less than ideal for playing anything complex.

They do, however pack quite a punch on chords, giving them song string definition in the process.

You could definitely do a lot worse than using an old SD card to play guitar when you don’t have any other alternatives!

how-to-make-a-guitar-pick

One thing that an SD card will actually do well is play arpeggios in a chord.

Due to its hard edges, an SD card will grip the strings lightly as it hits them, creating some good definition in the sound. SD cards are also made from plastic, much like many guitar picks are.

This means you will get a ‘pick-like’ sound from using them, whereas as CD or business card may give you a different tone altogether.

guitar-plectrum

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Use Your Fingers!

This is probably one of our favourite approaches to a DIY guitar pick, and the best part is you don’t even need a pick at all!

That’s right kids, your fingers are your very own built-in guitar pick, and they work quite well!

  • Pinch your thumb and index finger together like you’re holding an invisible guitar pick, and lead into the guitar with the front of your index finger’s nail.
  • We’ve put this option at the bottom of our list because it’s not ideal for everyone.
  • If you keep slightly longer fingernails than most guitarists then this may not work as well for you.

If your nails are short on your picking hand however, you can certainly pull this off.

home-made-guitar-pick

Playing this way also encourages us to explore fingerpicking, which is never a bad thing to pursue.

  • Fingerpicking opens us up to all sorts of new sounds that we might not have considered before; and eventually we can even dive into exploring the fingerstyle guitar approach!
  • It’s never a bad idea to start doing something that can lead you in a new musical direction, so pinch those fingers and get inspired!
  • If you’re really interested in learning more about fingerstyle guitar and how to use all of your fingers to play guitar, check out our fingerstyle guitar lesson here.

All of these methods are great when we need a DIY guitar pick in a bind, however there’s one thing that always gets the job done better:

A real guitar pick.

making-a-guitar-pick

Why You Should Always Use A Real Pick Whenever Possible

Many of the methods listed above are great to use when we have absolutely nothing else lying around, however we always suggest that you keep a good stock of guitar picks around.

  • If you’re prone to losing your picks, keep them in different places!
  • Put a few in your guitar cases, invest in a keychain pouch to hold another few on your belt, and even make use of that mini-pocket that a lot of jeans are made with.
  • It’s the perfect size for holding your picks!

Real guitar picks are designed to complement guitar strings, instead of fighting against them like many of the DIY picks in this guide will.

You may find that your DIY guitar pick will deteriorate quickly, or that it may harm your guitar strings after prolonged usage.

Glue may shed onto the strings, and coins will begin to damage your strings after some time, causing them to sound dull instead of fresh.

If you have to make use of one of these for a while, make sure you grab yourself a new set of strings when you buy your next set of picks!

Where Do I Go From Here?

If you’re looking for more DIY guitar pick ideas, we’ve found some resources that you might find useful! Check them out below:

Recommended Resources

If you enjoyed this free guide from the National Guitar Academy, you’ll love the other free resources we have laid out for you below!

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