How Big of a Sound Difference Can a Pick Make

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Cysquatch, Feb 9, 2020.

  1. Cysquatch

    Cysquatch Tele-Holic

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    This may be more of a sanity check than anything, honestly. Picked up a variety pack of Jazz IIIs today since falling in love with a standard nylon max grip one a friend left at my place a while back. It came with varying thicknesses of tortex, ultex, nylon, and a single "carbon fiber" pick. While I was fooling around with the picks to try out the different feels and grips, I seemed to notice even larger differences in sound. Mayhaps my ears are fooling with me but this is about how it seems to shake out*:

    Tortex - harmonically richest sound and fairly balanced. Neutral or slightly subdued attack. Probably my favorite sound wise.
    Nylon - brighter sound with a very aggressive attack. The black stiffo is definitely the brightest of the bunch it seems.
    Ultex - roundest of the bunch with a very warm sound and lax attack.
    Carbon fiber - somewhere between the tortex and nylon. Richer sound than the nylons but with a more aggressive attack than the tortex. Seems like it may be the best all-arounder of the group.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one to hear these differences, but curious if anyone else finds them as distinct or containing different qualities than I hear.

    *All played through same tele bridge pickup, through same Mesa head with same settings, into same cab at same distance from playing position. Demo tune was Good Times, Bad Times for the most part.
     
  2. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think picks make a big difference, especially on acoustics but also on electrics. I swap picks around depending on what song i'm playing or just use fingers for a darker tone.

    I find nylon to have a darker tone than ultex, tortex etc.
    The red jazz 111's are darker more mellow sounding than all my others. Ultex, Tortex, John Petrucci?, some other weird materials that came in a mixed pack I bought.

    The black John Petrucci? ones play the fastest and cleanest for me. Followed by the trans yellow Ultex, I like them all but mostly use the red max grip jazz 111's.

    On acoustic or when I need to hybrid pick I use larger picks with a longer reach so there's more room for my fingers to pick the strings cleanly. Sometimes the shorter jazz 3's make it slightly harder to hybrid pick.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  3. Cysquatch

    Cysquatch Tele-Holic

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    Huh, funny that we're hearing practically opposites. I almost want to do a recording of each and compare them that way, just out of curiosity. Are the Petruccis actually that different? I was considering them, but they just looked like normal Jazz iiis with a higher price tag and a little emblem on them. The point about the hybrid picking is true, though. I've definitely had to slightly adjust my approach for the stubbiness of the pick.
     
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  4. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think I got the Petrucci's in a six pack for the same lowest price I could get any jazz 111's for in a pack of 6. They are slightly longer, pointier and smoother on the tip. They just seem to be finished slightly better and the matt section still grips decently. They glide through the strings a little better but the differences between them and Ultex are minute. I had to google who Petrucci is as I didn't know so I didn't buy or prefer them due to being a fan boy.:)
    I just liked the look of them and the reviews were good, I bought them and the mixed pack you got so I could try them all. I had already been using the red maxgrip jazz 111's for a few years.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
  5. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    Of course picks make a difference as Mark knopfler says “it’s the biggest amplifier there is”
    So therefore the material they are made of should have something to do with it

    I think not only material but thickness comes into play also
    For example I find with a thinner tortex I get more bounce and sustain rather than a deader sound when a thick pick takes all the impact and absorbs useful energy(?)
     
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  6. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I get more volume out of 1mm plus picks on acoustic if they have that extra pointy tip. Probably because you can pick strings out more accurately when playing fast rhythm mixed with single notes. For me it really depends on what song i'm playing. I don't like 1mm picks when playing straight rhythm, then I prefer .88 or .73mm tort.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  7. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

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  8. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    Picks are actually another form of tone control. You should try as many as possible to see if you're getting the tone you prefer, or tones as it may be.
     
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  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Use a Lincoln Penny. Zinc is softer than your strings. If you try a nickel it may wear the strings away.

    Try a plastic bread wrapper clip-tie


    .
     
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  10. CV Jee Beez

    CV Jee Beez Tele-Holic

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    I had an amp that I thought was too bright. Changed the pick and problem solved.
     
  11. scooteraz

    scooteraz Tele-Afflicted

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    I’ve used all of the above. I have gone to heavy Ultex. Currently use Clayton 1.2 mm large triangle picks (they call the material Ultem).
     
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  12. Steerforth

    Steerforth Tele-Afflicted

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    Big difference. And a couple of years ago, I set out to find the world’s best pick. Having now tried every type of pick ever made, there’s only one kind I’ll buy.

    Thankfully, they’re cheap and common, and not some sort of $50 boutique wonderpick made of Sasquatch sinew plated with gold.
     
  13. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like the Ultex and Ultem ones, too.
     
  14. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    it boils down to technique, there are alot of styles of pick control and what works for you as an individual, let alone styles of hybrid finger picking and a pick at the same time. and also pick thickness plus pick composition. there is no wrong way to do this , but what ever you decide to use make it your own, and fully original.

    I use these exclusively

    s-l300.jpg
     
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  15. Crobbins

    Crobbins Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Thanasis

    Thanasis TDPRI Member

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    Wow. I've never compared material only thickness. I've found thinner picks have less attack but are useful for strumming with a warmer tone. Anytime i need to pick out notes or hybrid/finger pick, which is most of the time, then a thicker pick is preferred. Although im not digging in as much on my telecaster. Sometimes the attack can be too much especially on the bridge pickup.
     
  17. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Even though I have my preferred picks if I am learning a new song and not hitting 95 to 100% accuracy on the strings i'm targeting when playing mixed rhythm lead I try a different pick and often times it makes all the difference. Could be I am just missing those strings by a hair and a slightly longer pick was all I needed to hit them every time. This happens more so with hybrid picking because its not so easy to just adjust your picking technique as you are trying to work the song into your muscle memory or you may have trimmed those funky looking long nails so as not to gross the ladies out on a date etc.:D
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
  18. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    Unless you play with a lot of sound modification (esp. distortion), I find that it makes a significant difference, particularly on acoustic. Some will disagree, or describe this as fussbudget overthinking, but my ears say otherwise. Of course your signal chain can minimize this depending on how you have things set, but with a clean rig, you hear it.
     
  19. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    ever wonder what the stars use? (Used in the concerts)

    Billy G

    P1011632.JPG

    Toby Keith

    P1011633.JPG

    collective soul

    P1011634.JPG

    Kiss

    P1011627.JPG

    David Gilmour ( the middle one is his)

    P1011630.JPG

    I also Have Headley's , Nickleback and a few others
     
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  20. speranza

    speranza TDPRI Member

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    It matters a lot. I fell down a rabbit hole last year changing my picks over and over and over. I ended up settling on an extra-thick Blue Chip pick which I think is absolutely perfect for me in terms of feel and playability and even tone, except for one infuriating thing which I hesitate to even mention in case I give anyone else the brain virus:

    PICK CHIRP.

    Imagine the sound a slide or a bottle or a mic stand makes when you lightly tap it against an unmuted string — the length between the slide and the bridge rings as long as the slide is in contact with the string.

    Strike a string with a pick that's reasonably hard and heavy and the same thing happens, just a bit more muffled. If the pickup is between your pick and the bridge — i.e. the Tele bridge pickup — you'll get a momentary ringing of the three or four inches of string, which results in an uncontrolled high note. So the ordinary "click" of your pick attack now contains a momentary "beep" or "chirp" sound. Add gain and you're in trouble.

    This issue has driven many a guitarist to distraction. Some days I can ignore it and just imagine it gets lost in the mix, but other days I can't unhear it....
     
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