So for a while now I have been experimenting a lot with different plectrums, trying everything from high-end boutique picks through to your run of the mill guitar store picks.
I’ve been doing this mostly out of curiosity more than anything, to see what the difference is and how that translates to the guitar. Trying to work out if some of the more expensive boutique picks are better or just different.
Overall I found the 3 “upgrade” picks to have all have pro’s over what I was using. They did all feel like they enhanced my playing in some way. Even if it was just a pervceived difference that had some kind of placebo effect that just made me play slightly differently. The Winspear picks are currently what I am using the most, but I can’t say one is significantly better the others, they are all different and all have plus points. The primetone and the Bluechip are close the most similair.
I basically ended up with 4 picks left standing. 1 from each price bracket. Out of the plectrums I have been experimenting with, these were the standouts. These weren’t the only picks I tried but the ones that stood out to me. I did try other materials such as Ultex and a few other boutique brands.
- Dunlop Jazz 3 XL Tortex .73mm
- Dunlop Primetone Jazz 3 XL .88mm
- Winspear Instrumental Company Amber Shiv
- Blue Chip Picks Jazz
The Jazz 3 Tortex was the pick I was using all the time up until this point. Dunlop picks are the standard every guitar player ever has used Dunlop picks at sometime in their life. So I used this as my reference point as it was the pick I knew the best.
Pick number 2 is the closest thing to number 1. Primetone picks are Dunlops premium range of plectrums. They are made of ultex which is a different material to most plectrums you buy from that black box on the counter of your local guitar shop. They are also hand finished to give them the sculpted edges. This is designed to give you as little resistance as possible when you make contact with the string and help with articulation and speed. Tonally there was not a great difference between this and pick 1, this was slightly less snappy but that could be to do with the fact I ended up settling on .88 because the .73 felt to flimsy compared to the standard tortex pick.
These picks felt great and pretty much became the picks to beat. They come in packs of 3 and are priced at around £8. They are also readily available making them the ideal pick to upgrade to.
Winspear picks are hand-made in the UK by Tom Winspear. They come in varying materials which affects the tone of the pick a fair bit. I ordered several different materials and shapes to try, I settled on the shiv shape as it the closest to a Jazz 3. As for material I ordered Bloodline, Stealth and Amber. They all had merits and to my surprise the tone did change quite a lot when switching from pick to pick, I didn’t expect their to be such a noticeable difference I expected it to be subtler. They also come in some great packaging which if you can see either on my instagram or by visting winspear instrumental on social media.
The principal behind these picks is that the size and tapered shape allow for a more relaxed grip. Once I got used to the shape (at first the pick felt a bit bulky) it was very comfortable to play with. My favourite was the Amber, it sounded nice and bright and had a good amount of attack and were very articulate. These plectrums come in at about £6 each which is quiet expensive but they are extremely durable and I can see them lasting a very long time.
Finally we have the Bluechip picks, these picks come in at about $35 making them by far the most expensive of the ones I have tried. I have had one of these picks for over a year and it is still in excellent condition, incredibly durable. They do feel like they have less resistance when they glide over the string and there was some extra clarity to the sound. The downside is the cost, loosing 1 or 2 of these would expensive fast and as I am in the UK I had to have them shipped from USA.
Hopefully this has been informative and not too long. With the new wave of more boutique plectrums that have been coming out recently, I think this is something worth talking about. As with most things guitar related these are just tools, and its all part of the never ending gear quest for me, its just more stuff to play with.
PrimeTone picks – https://amzn.to/2Hg5YrM
Tortex Picks – https://amzn.to/2qeVil0