Guitar picks. Ubiquitous little pieces of celluloid or plastic, or sometimes other materials like nylon, bone or metal, that many guitarists use but that don’t seem to get talked about very often. For more than 40 years I was perfectly happy with my choice of pick, the “standard” Fender 341 pick, although I used the rounded shoulder rather than the point.
Then several years ago I met a guitarist who would completely change my attitude toward the guitar, including my choice of pick. This guitarist goes by the name of “Spider” and he introduced me to swing blues and jazz guitar which resulted in my buying some nice archtop guitars, devoting myself to relearning the guitar and, among other things, changing to a new pick!
The pick that Spider uses is a big, green thing with 3 pointy ends. I tried that one but it was too thin for me, and too pointy, so I tried a thicker pick from the same company, I think it was purple. Better, but still too pointy. That’s when I discovered the big Fender 3-corner pick and adopted the extra heavy version as my new pick of choice.
I used this pick for some years, although I was never completely satisfied with it. I subsequently bought a lot of different kinds of picks to try, but was never able to find quite what I wanted. I tried everything from tiny little jazz picks to gypsy jazz Wegen picks, but nothing really worked. The closest I got was a pick from V-Picks that I bought when they first went into business. I liked it enough that I bought just about every pick they made, but even then it was close but no cigar.
It was at this point where I was waffling back and forth between the Fender extra Heavy pick and a few different V-Picks that I kinda liked, when I decided to take another look at the V-Picks website and see if they had anything new to offer that might work for me. I ended up ordering a half dozen or so different picks to try and in that batch of new picks I found my perfect pick! It’s called the “Bb” and it looks like this:
I like the shape, I like the size, I like the thickness, and I like the way it sounds. What else is there! And one cool thing about these picks is that they seem to be made out of some kind of material that as it warms up with use it tends to cling to your fingers, making it harder to drop. I don’t know how or why it works but it’s cool. I haven’t dropped my pick since I started using these. I’m a happy picker.
I just ordered a few more of these since I have been known to lose my picks on occasion, and while I was ordering I also ordered the fattest pick they make, the Insanity. Not sure why I did that, but it’s an interesting pick and I’m glad I got it. The original design is rather pointy so I asked Vinni to make me a less-pointy one and he did a great job of it. I’m not sure that I would use this on a gig, not yet anyway, but I do like it and it is surprisingly easy to play with. But one thing I have noticed about this pick, and it applies to the Bb as well, is that each point sounds different. It’s not a huge difference, but definitely noticeable. I have also found messing around with some of Vinni’s other picks using my fingernail files, that slight changes in the shape of the tip have an effect on the tone. I don’t know if this would apply to other picks from other companies or made out of other materials, but it does apply here.
So here is a group shot of my “old” extra heavy Fender pick, my new standard Bb V-Pick and the Insanity, side by side. As you can see, they all have roughly the same shape, with the Bb being slightly smaller in diameter and the Insanity being slightly larger. The size of the Bb turns out to be just right for my fingers. Obviously other fingers may disagree.
And here is an edge shot so that you can see the difference in thickness of the 3 picks. That Insanity is, well, insane! But it is a blast to play with. If you want to know the specs on the V-Picks just take a look at the website.
So that’s it. I have a found a pick that fits my fingers, is comfortable to play with and sounds great. Now I have no excuse for not getting back to practicing! Incidentally, I should add here that I have no affiliation with V-Picks other than as a satisfied user. I paid for all my picks just like everybody else, and I’ll gladly buy more when I lose the ones I have now. Thanks Vinni, for making these great picks.