Being new to guitar I need to figure out my likes and dislikes. So far when making decisions on things like strings, picks, guitar setup, and just about any other decision that need to be made (outside of which guitar and amp to buy), I’ve always asked “what do you recommend” since I couldn’t really make an informed decision. But that’s a bad way to go about things. I need to figure out what **I** like. That’s why I like to do A/B comparrisons like this one and the one I did on my recent string comparison post.
Last week I received a box of picks from Dunlop. It contained just about every pick they make. Before these picks arrived, I had only purchased whatever pick they had in a jar at the checkout line of the guitar shop I was at. To be honest, I think I’ve only bought about 5 picks since I started playing. I’ve accumulated more by (unintentionally) pocketing picks at stores when trying out gear. I really didn’t think the pick was that big of a deal and I alway used the “normal” size and shaped pick.
With so many picks in the box from Dunlop, I had to narrow the selection down. The two that I was most interested in trying were the Jazz III and the Ultex picks because I had recently read about both of them over at Guitar Noize and The Guitar Column respectively. I tried out the other picks in the box and quickly eliminated picks I didn’t like for one reason or another (too thin, too thick, shape, size, etc). It didn’t take long to realize I don’t like thinner picks or picks that were too thick. I like picks that are 1mm. And much to my surprise, I preferred the smaller Jazz III shape. So, to round out the test picks I included the Eric Johnson Jazz III, the Ultex Jazz III, the Tortex Jazz, and the pick I had been using, the Dunlop Celluloid Classic in medium.
Here are my thoughts on the different picks:
- Thick, Darker/Warmer sound
- Flatter sounding, almost like going from reverb to no-reverb
- All the Jazz III’s have protruding text on them which really helps with grip
- Has a different tactile feel than the Jazz III… more plasticy and thin feeling
- Can’t tell a significant difference in sound from the standard Jazz III… just a bit brighter.
- Satin like texture, almost like tortex picks but creamier
- Grips well, has an almost tacky feel
- Even warmer/darker than standard Jazz III
- Feels good against the strings
- Does not have the protruding text and doesn’t grip as well as other the other Jazz picks
- Brightest sound of all the Jazz sized picks
- Smooth silky texture without the tackiness of the Ultex
- Doesn’t have protruding text, but still has good grip
- Silky and creamy texture. Gets tackier as your fingers warm up.
- More open and brighter sounding than the Jazz III variations
- Has a slight hollow sound, almost like minimal reverb is turned on
- Feels cheap compared to the others
- Doesn’t grip as well
- Brightest sounding of all the picks
So, my final conclusion as to which pick I’m going to use from now on: The Ultex Jazz III. I like the warmer tone I get with it and I like the fact that it gets a bit sticky as your fingers warm up. I generally hold the pick pretty loose and with the picks I had been using, they would end up moving around in my fingers quite a bit. I’d often end up playing with the back or side of the pick. With the Ultex Jazz III, the pick pretty much stayed put. Also much to my surprise, I liked the smaller Jazz III shape. It just seems to have a better feel to me. Now when I pick up a normal sized pick, it seems quite large.
If you’re looking for a more open and brighter sound, I’d highly recommend the Ultex regular shaped picks.
Here’s a video so you can hear the difference between the picks. The picks in the video are in the following order: Ultex 1mm, Eric Johnson Jazz III, Ultex Jazz III, Jazz III, Dunlop Celluloid Classic Medium and a Tortex Jazz 1mm. You’re not going to hear a huge difference on computer speakers, but if you’re listening through a decent set of speakers you should hear the differences. Head over to the new Dunlop online store to see their whole pick selection.