They are called “butterfly picks.” If I had to describe them to you, though, I’d say think about fake fingernails.
The good folks at Butterfly Finger Picks designed and make these and were kind enough to send me a test package containing an assortment of their picks.
At first glance, they do look unwieldy – almost like fake nails, as I mentioned before. But huge fake nails, the sort of thing that you might associate with a costume for Halloween. Each pick has a hard triangular wedge at the base which allows you to grip it with incredible ease and also provides you with great control of the pick.
One of the things I really like about them is, again like nails, the picks have a slight curve to them, so you can get decidedly different tones of attack on the strings depending upon which side you face downward. It is amazing that they are so easy to play.
As many of you who read my columns know, I play a lot of twelve string guitar and these picks are excellent for double stringed instruments, such as the twelve string or the mandolin or bouzouki. If your picking style is more geared to a “single-note arpeggio” style of playing, you will find that the butterfly pick will give your playing a lot of definition. You’ll be able to hear each tone pretty clearly.
And apparently they are a big hit with my students as well because I’ve hardly any left!