Attacking the strings with a plectrum results in a sharper and more precise sound than with the fingers or fingernails, furthermore the damaging of the nails can be avoided. It can be used in different ways, for example for normal plucking of the strings, for scraping the coils of wire strings or also for performing a glissando between tuning pins and bridge pins. Of course also the material and the gauge play an important role in the resulting sound.

Gustav Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde (1912) © Universal Edition A.G., Wien