Guitar Picks – A New Obsession

Guitar Picks – A New Obsession

So after my last post, I couldn’t stop thinking about the perfect guitar pick. So I decided to venture further into the unknown and expand my experience with other brands and materials of guitar picks.

So after a bit of research and seeing what others are using, here’s what I ended up buying:

I quite liked the Gravity Razer Standard 1.1mm from my last post, but after spending more time with it I decided it wasn’t the right shape for me – even though the dimensions were pretty much the same as my beloved Black Fang, it felt too tall which made me hold it differently. So I bought the Gravity Classic Pointed Standard 1.5mm hoping the shape would be more to my liking – which is was. Also sounds brighter than the Black Fang. However, Gravity stopped offering the 1.1mm so I had to get 1.5mm which is still too heavy for my ideal pick. Looking at Gravity’s site though, it does seem that they are planning on launching a Thin Pick range starting at .60mm up to 1.1mm. Sadly they’re not listing the Classic Pointed in Thin Picks, but I guess using their custom service I could probably get something I wanted. As a side note, I like the Polished style as apposed to the unpolished Master Finish – since I use Elixir Nanoweb strings I would worry about destroying the string coating with rough picks. So jury is out on Gravity for now.

I don’t remember where I heard about Winspear – probably a forum during a Google tornado. I got the Winspear Sandstorm Shiv XL Slimline which is made from a 3mm blank but tapers toward the tip which is incredibly thin and sharp. Its a really interesting design but still not enough flex for me and it seemed a bit grabby on the strings as it doesn’t have an uber smooth surface like most picks do. But then again, there are no other grip mechanisms so being really smooth might make it slippery which is also bad. Its quite a bright sounding pick but a little harsh for my ears.

It wouldn’t be a fair comparison if I didn’t include V-Pick of which I bought the SwitchBlade 1.5mm. Similar issue to the Gravity, its too heavy for me, but unlike Gravity they don’t seem to offer other gauges or a custom service. Apparently the clear finish picks are more grippy than the coloured ones due to adding the dye. The SwitchBlade sounded more dull (warm?) than the others when played softly, but just as bright as the others when played with more attack.

I’ve never tried a metal pick, so I grabbed the  Clayton ZZ-Zinc 1.0mm on a whim. Now it does look damn cool and I like things that feel like they will last. But the metal is too grabby on the strings and almost no flex (duh). I’m not sure what I expected from a metal pick, but its bright and harsh sounding. Not my cup of tea at all.

Lastly I tried the Hawk Tonebird 1 M 1.2mm. Hawk Picks boast to be very similar to real turtle shell. Manufactured from a man made material called Casein, which is an old world plastic invented to replace tortoise shell. It has the same warm organic tone, combined with low string friction, allowing the pick to literally glide over the strings. Although they do warn you not to carry it in your pocket or get it wet. Gremilns? Nope, apparently no animals are harmed or endangered in any process that creates the pick material (I believe Casein plastic is made from the protein found in cows milk). Looking at the picture online it looked like the standard pick shape, but when it arrived, the tip was actually slightly more pointy than my Black Fang. Sound wise its quite bright but still pleasantly warm. I really, really like this pick, in fact it became my #1 pick choice, bumping the Black Fang to #2.

Since tone is subjective and everyone plays different styles, I’d figured I’d rank them in my order of preference for rhythm and lead to try and illustrate materials in application – as I play more rhythm than lead usually.

Clean Rhythm:

  1. Hawk Tonebird 1
  2. Gravity Classic Pointed Standard 1.5mm
  3. V-Pick SwitchBlade 1.5mm
  4. Winspear Sandstorm Shiv XL Slimline
  5. Clayton ZZ-Zinc 1.0mm

Fuzz Delay Lead:

  1. Clayton ZZ-Zinc 1.0mm
  2. Hawk Tonebird 1
  3. Winspear Sandstorm Shiv XL Slimline
  4. Gravity Classic Pointed Standard 1.5mm
  5. V-Pick SwitchBlade 1.5mm

So what have I learnt so far? I’ve spent a lot of money comparing boutique picks to Jim Dunlop’s Black Fang. There are picks that sound better, but they also come with compromises and hefty price tags. Of the picks listed here, the Hawk Tonebird 1 M 1.2mm has definitely won my affections away from the Black Fang with the Gravity Classic Pointed Standard coming a close third, as I have high hopes for a thinner gauge.

So will I stop looking? Hell no. More than likely I’ll bore you with a third article in future. For now though, the bar has certainly been raised.

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