Let’s Talk About Pick (plectrum) Material

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by LGOberean, May 9, 2019.

  1. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    My first title for this post was “Are you stoned, or have you got wood?” But I thought better of it. :oops::twisted:

    I’ve never tried guitar picks made either of stone or wood, and I’m curious. Anybody here tried either one? What’s your take on them? Bonus points for having tried both and A/B-ing them…
     
  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I’ve tried both, and other exotic materials, too.
    My playing style does not work with them.
    I play a lot of rhythm.
    I like a heavier pick, but I like it to have a slightly “muted” attack.
    I used Dunlop EJs (Jazz III) for years, for their lighter
    weight and attack.
    Now I use either Dunlop Ultex Jazz III’s or slightly larger Ultex 1.4.
    They have a similar attack, but I drop them less.
    Wood picks have a hard, bright attack, IMO.
    Stone picks, even more so.
    They look cool, but ......
     
  3. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Tried a few exotic wood picks....didn't like them. They were comfortable enough, but actually wore down far faster than expected...split pretty easily
    I used to not care what I used for a pick and had a jar full of Fender mediums as that was what I started out with. Then I tried the Jazz lll picks and noticed immediately how much cleaner and precise I played. Not a commercial, just telling the truth, my playing improved noticeably just from using that pick. Now I have graduated to the Dunlop John Petrucci signature pick which is just slightly larger than the Jazz lll picks and have a nice beveled tip. A really great pick.
     
  4. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My picks are so wimpy you can see them bend in the wind.
     
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  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm fine with my Dunlop standards in three different thicknesses depending on the type of guitar and music that I'm playing. Although, I have become more of a finger picking player over the last few years. Three different picks in my wallet at all times.
     
  6. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

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    Whatever material Dragon heart picks use, I like!
     
  7. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Holic

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    I've tried both. As others have said, I like a heavy pick. But both were just too thick to feel comfortable.

    The stone pick was advertised as a speed pick and I can understand why, it was real slippery on the strings. But it always sounded muted compared to a conventional pick.

    The wood pick had a little better attack but the thickness made it feel odd in my hand and was easy to miss strings I'm used to hitting.

    I'm sure I could adjust to both but it would change my style and the sound wasn't what I am used to. I've settled for Clayton jazz picks at 1.14 mm for both electric and acoustic. It feels good, has the attack I like and I can pinch strings with it well. They are reasonably priced too.
     
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  8. Ducerro

    Ducerro Tele-Meister

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    I was in a high end boutique guitar shop in Austin last week and they had a small closed case (clear top) of fancy V-Picks. And they were pricey! I decided why not - so I picked (pun intended) a Euro and a Nashville. The Euro has several holes drilled in it and it's clear. The Nashville is brownish and just looked cool. If I recall the Euro was $5 and the Nashville was $4. I haven't tried the Nashville yet - but only because the Euro is AWESOME. Love that pick.
     
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  9. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm noticing a very interesting and unexpected pattern emerge here: Jazz III picks! :eek:o_O
     
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  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like jazz3 picks and that softer feeling material they are made of but am fine with Dunlop tortex green or black too. I tried a silver dollar pick once but lost it before I could form any real opinion on it. It was ok for the short time I used it. The red jazz 3's calm down a brighter guitar or new strings.

    Acoustics is a different matter. I'm much more fussy with picks for my acoustics. I haven't ever tried wood though. I imagine they would wear too fast. I like Martin .73 for acoustics.

    Most comfortable on both is fingers only. Skin picks.:)
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  11. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I like the sound and feel of wood picks, and I rotate them in occasionally. Stone, not so much.

    I've had picks of several brands made of ebony, rosewood, and I forget what else. Those wore down pretty quickly. But SurfPicks--I think the guy has stopped making them, he's been saying he's going to--are made of lignum vitae, a very hard wood. I have a few of those, and they last quite a lot longer.

    @LGOberean, when it comes to picks, as the song says, "I've Been Everywhere". In your exploration of different materials I would strongly urge you to at least order one Red Bear, made of Galalith, a very tortoise-like material (Pearse "Fast Turtles", similar stuff I think). And finally, I'd urge you to treat yourself to at least one Blue Chip of your favorite shape and thickness. The price of a Blue Chip is scary I'll admit, but if you keep track of it you'll never wear it out, and it's the pick equivalent of driving a fine sports car (not that I've ever done that).

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    Last edited: May 10, 2019
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  12. oceanblue

    oceanblue Tele-Meister

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    So many seem to use thicker picks, i usually use much thinner, a rhythm player, .60mm or .73mm range. Thick picks seem to always want to jump out of my hand.
     
  13. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    I use to put either copper Cents or nickle Nickles on the tracks, then put them in a vice w a Fender pick as a shaping guide. Nice sparley tone, but it asserts itself a little to much. I now use the thick hard Nylon types. A Luthier friend use to use Ebony picks he d make, but, oddly, I found them dull sounding. Same w beach stones I ve found. I think the lack of bending keeps the string from leaving the pick as fast, so it has a more muted less sparkley tone.
     
  14. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Picks are cheap ... Try em all ... That's my philosophy ... Same for strings ... If they aren't your cup of tea, just move on...
     
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  15. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    I tried (once) a stone pick.....just didn't like it.
    Years ago, I decided on the Clayton (white) pick in 1.0mm to 1.26mm. Pretty stiff. Plus, they have a little texture on them. From my neon glass-blowing days I have a bit of nerve damage in my right thumb, and I have to concentrate to hold a pick well. The texture helps a little. I've experimented with gluing on cork or other materials to assist in gripping, but that doesn't seem to do much.
     
  16. basher

    basher Tele-Afflicted

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    Medium pointy or "Screamer" V-Picks for me, or else black (2 mm) Gator Grips. All the stone picks I've seen are a rounded shape that just wouldn't work for me, but I'd be interested in trying one with a sharp point and steep bevel like the Screamer.
     
  17. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    My ventures in the acoustic guitar world had led me down the boutique pick rabbit hole. I thought it was all BS until I tried a couple. I tried a Blue Chip and liked it a lot - they use stuff called "Vespel", some industrial plastic that'll outlive the planet. Good tone too and never wears out. A bad investment if you lose picks a lot, but if you don't you'll have it forever.

    Then I tried a couple of casein picks, which is about as close as humans have come to imitating real tortoise shell, which was every acoustic player's pick of choice until they were made illegal many years back - it seems the turtle's had even more important uses for those things than making guitar picks out of 'em and didn't much like being slaughtered for their shells. And I basically fell in love with casein, to where that's all I play now. I have a couple of thin ones (.9 - 1.10 mm) that I use for electric guitars and for light strumming and I have a couple of heavier ones (1.25) for more percussive acoustic playing and picking. I even have a thumb pick with a blade made of casein. There are a number of boutique pick makers that work with casein, but my favorite for relatively thin picks are made by Charmed Life Picks and my favorite thicker (and larger) ones, and thumb picks, are made by Red Bear.

    I don't think picks make AS big a difference for electric as acoustic, but they still matter some for tone and a lot for feel and I like what I like. I have what I would have considered an absurd amount of money in guitar picks, but I have north of $5000 worth of guitars and amps (and I'm not a particularly big spender by relative standards around here) and I figure having a couple hundred dollars worth of picks isn't that big a deal in the long run.

    Ray
     
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  18. ddewerd

    ddewerd Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I used to use really thin picks, but I kept breaking the plastic ones.

    Then I switched to the Dunlop nylon ones. I didn't like the thin ones, and I've settled on the fairly thick 1 mm ones.

    I've tried metal and stone picks, but they were too heavy for me, and I like my picks to have at least a little bit of flex. I tried playing using one of my old thin picks the other day, and it felt like I was strumming with a sheet of paper!

    Cheers,
    Doug
     
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  19. joealso

    joealso Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I like the Dunlop nylon .88 - probably just because I've been using them for so long that they feel really comfortable to me.
     
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  20. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    We had some weather roll through last night, and our power was out for a while. Just getting back on and seeing all these responses.

    There were a couple of things that happened within a day of each other that gave me the idea for this thread. One was an experience with a pick I made. Wednesday at the start of a gig I reached in my "pick pocket" (that small pocket on the right side of my blue jeans that was originally intended for a pocket watch) and I pulled out several, including one I made some time ago out of laminate counter top material. It's relatively thin (if I were to guess, I'd say .88 to 1 mm) but incredibly stiff. That gives a really bright sound. I played around with this some when I first made them, but haven't played them in a while, and I don't know if I ever used one at a gig before. So I tried it at this gig. I switched from that pick to a plastic one for two reasons: it made for a really bright, ringing tone, which on the guitar I was playing didn't work so well; it was too smooth, and while I didn't drop it while playing, it kept shifting its position between my thumb and forefinger.

    The next day, an ad on my Facebook news feed popped up about Thalia picks. Those two things together got me to thinking about maybe trying wood or even stone. And so I started this thread.

    Another observation about the comments thus far, it seems a number of you have experienced wood picks wearing down quickly. That surprised me a little, maybe it shouldn't have, but it did. I guess the reason it took me aback is because of the expense of such picks. A dozen of those Thalia picks in rosewood would cost a little over $2 apiece. At that price, if they don't last at least five times longer than plastic (which for my use would be like six months), then I don't see the point. Unless they just sound so amazing it's worth the extra coin.
     
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