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On picks and bevels

 

Additional Material:

Photo album of all picks used in trial, including a series highlighting bevels

https://goo.gl/photos/cR7hP3kuf6HXu23v6

I would embed the photos, but this article is already quite long.  I can embed on request.

 

Picks in this trial:

.88mm Tortex

.88mm Tortex Wedge

1.38mm Jazz III stiffo and carbon fiber

1.4mm Ultex Sharp

1.5mm Tortex TIII (no bevel)

1.5mm Tortex TIII long bevel “sharktoothâ€

1.5mm Tortex TIII short bevel “JIIIâ€

 

Personal experience:

Picks up to about 1.0mm with no bevel

Used only for comparison.  I feel like most players are familiar with these picks.  See other articles for more information.

.88mm Tortex and Wedge

 

Picks >1.0mm with no bevel

Only useable when played perfectly parallel to string.  They sound slightly darker than thinner picks.  Noticeable increase in fatigue (possibly due to increased drag?).  

When angling the pick, string noise becomes louder than actual note.  Completely unusable.

Stock 1.5mm Tortex TIII

 

Picks >1.0mm with long bevel (“sharktoothâ€)

My instinct is that these picks would have the shortest time in contact with the string (that is, the string would glide off the string the easiest and fastest).  

They sound darker than thick picks with no bevel (again, noticeable only when A/Bing).

Ultex Sharp and TIII “sharktoothâ€

 

Picks >1.0mm with short bevel (e.g., Jazz III)

Repeated testing shows that it is in fact this bevel that has the shortest string contact.

Tone, regardless of material, is the darkest of all - a hair’s breadth darker than the “sharktooth†beveled picks.  

Jazz IIIs and TIII “short bevelâ€

 

Reason for this writeup:

In searching for a new pick, I found it very difficult to tell if certain picks had a bevel or not from online photos.  Sometimes it was very easy to tell, but not always.  This wouldn’t be a problem if there were a large guitar shop in driving distance, I could just go try some out for myself.  But as many of you know, large guitar shops are increasingly hard to find.  There are only “mom and pops†within 50 miles of me.  

 

Reason for trial:

I have used Jazz IIIs exclusively for many years.  I few years ago I discovered the Carbon Fiber Jazz IIIs and have been using them for both live and studio use.  Once accustomed to Jazz IIIs, I find them useful them for everything, even acoustic strumming.  

However, of late I’ve been exploring more fingerstyle playing, and I settled on using a thumbpick but wasn’t happy with any I could find in local stores.  So, I bought the Chris Broderick pick clip - however, my beloved Jazz IIIs are too short.  So the hunt began for another pick.  

I knew I liked picks with bevels, but I had no idea how important it was until I ordered some Tortex TIII 1.5mm picks, and to my dismay discovered that they do not have the Jazz III’s bevel (the “TIII†refers only to the angle of the tip - it is otherwise a typical, stamped tortex pick).  Trying to use a pick this thick with no bevel proved useless and painful.  

I generally try to avoid modding my gear - I prefer to find something that comes stock the way I want it (for me this is about being able to duplicate the results - never being dependant on something I did and can’t replicate).  However, I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, and with a pile of useless picks sitting around, I grabbed a nail file and got busy.  A few minutes later I had the “sharktooth†TIII.

I was initially pleased with this result.  It sounded and felt very similar to the ultex sharps, both in and out of the pick clip.  (it is now my go-to when asked to use a pick on bass by a client)

Further use left me feeling it “wasn’t quite right,†and that’s when I took a closer look at the jazz III bevel, and found it much shorter and sharper that I thought.  Out came the file again, and the result is now my #1 pick.  I’ve made a few more, and I can always just grab a ultex sharp (which sounds and feels VERY close) in a pinch.  It feels almost exactly like a jazz III, that happens to be compatible with the pick clip.  It’s also a little easier to control when strumming (though strumming is a little tricky with the pick clip, because I have so much of the pick in the strings that the bottom of the clip tends to snag the strings, so when I have a whole gig of strumming I take it out of the clip).  

 
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@Palico

I have a few of the Dunlop white thumbpicks (you can see one in the photo album) that I've hand beveled.  If I play an entire gig of fingerstyle (which is pretty rare), that's what I use.  Otherwise I like being able to switch between playing "normally" and with a thumbpick at will, which the Chris Broderick Pick Clip allows me.  If for some reason I know I won't use that for an entire gig, then I just use my trusty jazz IIIs.  

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Dude I love this! I sit with a pile of picks on my desk about once a month deciding what I like most.  At NAMM a few years back, I was most excited to see Dunlop's new JP Jazz III.  IF you want a couple other one to check out, I can recommend these from another Jazz III fan (mainly J3 ultex and carbon fibers).

 

Recently I've settled on a company called In tune Gp.  They make JazzIII pics from a material called delrin, It feels little stiffer than the Tortex material of the same gauge.  They also make XL sizes of that material.

 

I still love the Ultex Jazz III (similar thickness to your carbon fiber ones, but the tip is a little more rounded so it slides by the string a little more than grabbing it the way the carbon fiber point does).  They now make an XL version of it that might work with the pick clip.

 

Another one to check out is the redder Big Jazzer.  Really nice picks as far as material and tip, and it might work well with the pick clip.  Probably not worth almost $30 a pick, but they are pretty cool.

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Did the same thing, tons of picks..,,

Then I started sharpening to a point my regular medium gauge picks due to my year of usage playing small medium Jazz picks because I had to have the tip of my first finger on my right hand clipped off by a pair of gas powered hedge trimmers.... 9 stitches....

 

Then Dunlop came out with Yellow, medium gauge regular style sharp tip picks...

 

It's all I use...

 

Better control, more articulate picking and easier to get that "wah" sound/harmonics when playing rhythm..

And much easier to make her scream

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Did the same thing, tons of picks..,,

Then I started sharpening to a point my regular medium gauge picks due to my year of usage playing small medium Jazz picks because I had to have the tip of my first finger on my right hand clipped off by a pair of gas powered hedge trimmers.... 9 stitches....

 

Then Dunlop came out with Yellow, medium gauge regular style sharp tip picks...

 

It's all I use...

 

Better control, more articulate picking and easier to get that "wah" sound/harmonics when playing rhythm..

And much easier to make her scream

 

Injuries to the fingers/hands for a guitar player has to be one of the worst things imaginable. Maybe not as bad a suddenly going blind, but close.

 

Since I found Dunlop Ultex Sharp 1.14s (1.40 sharp for bass), never had any desire to change to something else. Perfect! Before that, I only ever used the blue 1mm tortex ones.

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http://stoneworkspicks.com/

 

Experimented with these on a whim 6 or 8 months ago after having used Jazz IIIs exclusively for years. Tried a few from other online sources too, just to see what differences there were, if any. Kept coming back to these. This guy makes traditional teardrop picks, and a jazz size, very very close to the Jazz III dimensions. Thicknesses vary. I have about 6 of them now in varying thicknesses...love them to death. Not going back to a plastic pick. They glide across the strings, they'll last for years before you'll notice any change in the bevel. Jazz IIIs, at nearly a buck apiece, will last what? A few days to a week? Since I have no patience to file or sand then back into usable shape, theses things are a bargain.

 

Doesn't hurt that they're just pretty things to look at, too.

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I use picks for playability. Not for tone. 

Like Goldie Locks, too thick, too thin, just right. 

 

If I hate how it feels in my hand and it makes me cramp up, do I really care if it brings out a better tone? 

 

 

**exceptions can be made for studio work, where you are trying to create the ultimate tone and can do it one section at a time. 

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