RED BEAR TORTIS
I have the very first beta Tortis thumbpick mounted on the Propick
frame. I'm currently working with Red Bear to develop a signature model
and a production version. You know I was rather skeptical about this
whole idea but after playing this first one for a week I am convinced
this will be dynamite product for many players. I'm waiting on the next
version to arrive for more testing. The blade shape, length, tip size,
bevel and other factors are all fine tuned on the computer drawings then
submitted to the laser cutter and finally hand beveled with extremely
skilled hands and tools. The result is a pick that is almost impossible
to fall off, doesn't make your thumb hurt or sweat, lasts forever and
can even be filed and customized to your own shape and size. This is hot
news off the press and I will update it often.
MORE NEWS IN COMING WEEKS (last update
FRED KELLY SLICK
This is a pick that makes many players very happy. It's got the feel of
a traditional thumbpick but a much smaller profile, shorter blade and a
close up to the thumb feel. These are not very big so large hands may
have a problem. The blade is tapered as well as beveled so you get a
quick stiff attack with medium power. Comes in several materials that
slightly alter the brightness or warmth of the tone.
Comes in Delrin or Polycarb materials for brighter or warmer tone. Has a
blade that points a little more toward the sound hole. I'm not sure I
like that since tone definition is toward the bridge and the human hand
tends to make the thumb too far forward in the first place. This is a
very comfortable pick and the more narrow blade is about 1mm longer than
the slick pick.
This is my favorite Kelly pick but the light (yellow) model is very thin
and clicky sounding. The medium (orange) is a nice pick for light
fingerstyle work and the heavy (white) model has a substantial stiffness
and bounce to the blade that can produce some serious volume and thump
with any guitar. I even use them on a resonator but on the super
demanding loud gigs these picks just can't produce the volume of a
larger standard Dunlop or National pick. Never the less this is a
fantastic pick and people usually get the wrong impression by not trying
the heavier gauge. If your guitar has overpowering bass response this
pick might help you calm down the bass and allow the trebles to be
heard. The flexible design gives a snappy bouncy feel and tone. They
also come in a larger version with a slightly longer blade. These can
get tight on larger thumbs. They wear really well too but eventually the
blade gets shorter and you have to toss it. .
SPEEDPICK LARGE FIT
This is a new offering by Kelly that's larger than the normal
speedpicks and may fit you better with a large thumb. In my opinion they
are not much bigger and I dont like how the blade has also been
extended. The body of the pick is not really taller. It's just a
stretched longer version of the white heavy model. A great pick but
don't order it thinking it's much larger and you might not like the
slighty longer blade. Personally the batch I got of them also had some
sharp little edges from the molding process I had to file off to make
them comfortable. Plus I had to accept blue, red colors because you
can't choose what color you want.
Well this one is probably going to make some pickers very happy and it's
a wonderful conversation piece but in my personal opinion makes neither
an outstanding flatpick, strummer nor thumbpick. It's made very well and
the blade rotates but I find that as much an irritation as a benefit.
Overall this is a cool pick but I dont see myself playing any sort of
blues. It might be a really good pick for electric where you aren't
playing as aggressively. It does work as advertised though and a quality
product. Just not my cup of tea.
JIM DUNLOP HEAVIES
These are heavy duty and have a long blade but they are very
comfortable, well made and produce bass and tone that you need on most
National, Dobro or other resonator guitars. The blade can be a little
long for guitar and strike the top or pickups making a tapping noise
while you play but if you are playing a tricone, dobro or other
instrument with a cover plate or crossbar cover you might need this
extra reach. They also feel more in their place when using fingerpicks
along with them. The ivoroid color seems to have a little more
brightness than the warmer calico model but they are virtually
interchangeable. They do not fly off and feel comfortable for long
periods. This is an excellent alternative for the Golden Gates pick
which has a lip on it that catches the strings often. These dont have
that lip and are still comfortable just the same.
JIM DUNLOP CLEAR D
I love how these look because the audience can't really tell if you are
wearing picks or not but the design of this thumbpick is different than
the others and not only squeezes my thumb tighter but has a sharper
slightly smaller blade. I think there are better versions of a clear
pick on the market. The fingerpick in this set is nice though. I would
always order large sizes since they are so tight.
JIM DUNLOP WHITE PLASTIC
This is a very nice set that wears
well, very comfortable and sounds very solid. This is an outstanding
choice for making a resonator or dobro really bark. Anything but the
large fingerpick hurts my finger. The medium and large thumbpicks are
both very comfortable. These are used by Bob Brozman, Tommy Emmanuel and
many pros. Tommy uses a medium thumb and files the blade down a little.
I think the stock blade length is perfect and it's a little shorter than
the Dunlop Heavies shown above.
JIM DUNLOP SHELL PICKS
Simulated turtle shell plastic looks good, feels great but identical in
almost every way to the white plastic version but ever so slightly
warmer in tone and softer. These wear noticably after heavy use but they
remain one of my favorite picks of all time and produce a big fat tone.
And like the white plastic version have blades that are nice medium
length and not longer like the HEAVIES version shown above. These break
easier at the bend than the others.
JIM DUNLOP ZOOKIES
Featuring tips that are angled at 10,20 or 30 degrees this is a
fantastic idea. Great pick too. The tip is narrowed a little and I like
the 10 or 20. The 30 might be too radical for some but this certainly
allows for some angle correction on how the pick meets the string. Just
another option for you to test and they only cost a few bucks so go try
JIM DUNLOP DELRIN
Basically an exact clone copy of the Fred Kelly regular. Blade leans
toward the sound hole. Decent pick and comfortable. See my review of the
JIM DUNLOP BRASS FINGERPICK
These are great once you get used to them but I like the sound of
plastic fingerpicks better since they have no metallic click sound. The
brass does have a warm sound though. You get better at these over time
and the extra weight and reach on the ends of your fingers is cool but I
think it changes how I play and my style a little. You also loose the
ability to mute with bare fingertips but the power these give makes a
cone in a resonator scream and also helps the trebles match the bass
volume a thumbpick produces. I don't like the thinner gauge .015 so I
usually use the .0225 shown here.
JIM DUNLOP NICKEL/SILVER FINGERPICK
Same as the
brass but slightly brighter tone. My ear can't really hear the
difference to be honest. I think these feel more stiff though and might
be more durable.
JIM DUNLOP SILVER THUMBPICK
Never would have thought this
would sound as warm as it does but it's a really good pick and that
turned up metal on the tip is smooth and warm sounding when picking the
string. These are for people wanting serious volume and aggressive
playing. The holes in the bottom help grip and this pick is very stiff
yet comfortable. I imagine mostly dobro players use these. They win the
award for robust construction.
||NATIONAL SHELL THUMBPICK
This is an excellent alternative to the shell Dunlop pick but I'm
not convinced these are as comfortable and they have more of a curled
around shape and feel. Not as flat on the bottom and perhaps squeeze and
aggravate a little more than the Dunlop but if you have smaller or
medium hands these might be great for you. I use them as a backup
whenever the stores are out of the others. They are an excellent option
and depending on your thumb size and shape these could be perfect for
you. Nice fat warm tone too.
|NATIONAL WHITE PLASTIC
These don't always feel exactly the same as the shell model and the tone
is just about the same or maybe a hair brighter. They are slightly
harder and wear a little slower than the brown.
||NATIONAL BROWN PLASTIC
I'm not sure why they sell these two different kinds of brown picks but
this specific model is softer, more flexible and pretty cheapo. When you
buy the S, M and Large sizes they seem to use the same exact total size.
So when you get a small the blade is nice but by the time you get to the
large the blade is very short. Just be aware these are not the same as
the SHELL version just above this one. This along with the Fender brand
just don't last and I stopped using them. They also fly off your thumb
easier but they are more comfortable than the two National picks above.
ERNIE BALL THUMB PICK
Comes in a variety of colors. The pearloid one is a little harder than
the others and might last longer and sound slightly brighter but these
are basically equivalent. They make another good alternative to the
Dunlop or National because of the substantial beef. They have a longer
shaper blade with narrow tip. They are not molded to be as comfortable
for a large thumb and very much like the National pick. This is a good
one to try but doesn't beat the Dunlop. I love Ernie Ball though. They
are the only company in the modern age to really stick it to Microsoft
after being prosecuted for a bunch of bogus software charges. One of the
coolest stories I've seen in years. I like these folks. They have some
spirit at every NAMM show.
CROSSOVER HYBRID PICK
This is an interesting invention with the ability to pick, strum or
thumbpick. Other players might give some funny looks when they see it
but this is a creative product some people have made good comments on.
Personally I do not use these but can see a specialized market for them.
They work really well for students we teach in the Childrens hospital
because they don't fall off and velcro on.. This seems to be an
excellent product with a completely different hybrid approach. Not too
unlike the Kelly Bumblebee but attached to your thumb. Please use
your own judgement and investigate this option. There are more videos
and demos on their website above.
THE UN-THUMB PICK
Here you can see the Shark tooth along with
the other offerings. They are a different breed of picks that might meet
special needs or just offer a totally new approach to how you pick
multiple styles with one tool. Their site has more info and video demos.
JOHN PEARSE BREEZY RIDGE PICKS
John Pearse just doesn't make a product that's not good and these
vintage style thumbpicks are great quality and offer a very short quick
blade. Not exactly my cup of tea but for guitar these can be very nice
when playing everything from Chet or Travis style down to hard core
blues. A very nice all around pick and a great alternative for those
that like the Kelly speed picks but want more comfort on the thumb. The
fingerpicks he offers are also very comfortable and a great alternative
to Dunlop's offerings. Please tell Breezy Ridge we sent you because they have unselfishly
helped us so many times with huge donations to jams and other events.
These are the best people on earth and deserve our
support. Great strings too!
|GOLDEN GATE THUMBPICK
One of the most comfortable I've ever played and a very heavy duty stiff
pick that lasts forever but the little lip that makes it comfortable and
helps it hold on also catches my strings once or twice during tunes with
aggressive picking. This is a very popular pick but I went back to the
Dunlops after having that issue. You may love these. Famous players like
Jerry Douglas swear by these.
|GOLDEN GATES THUMBPICK
A model without the lip and a very awesome pick indeed. They are not as
soft as some picks and that helps them wear a little better and sound a
little more bright than some of the warmest. This pick does produce a
substantial tone but not as widely available at local stores. I usually
order these online.
PROPICK DELRIN BLADE THUMBPICK
One of the best picks I've ever owned and lasts for years. You'll loose
this pick before you wear it out. It's got a pretty short and thick
blade and tucks up close to your thumb when picking. Another great
alternative if you love the Kelly speedpick but want a bigger frame. The
frame is bendable and very comfortable without cutting into my skin but
the real show winner for this pick is the way the metal clip comes over
your thumb and that end loop can be bent to grab the side of your thumb
closest to the guitar. So instead of this pick flying off when you sweat
and pick too hard that little lip just grips and cinches the pick
tighter on your thumb. It works amazingly well for hours and ours of
playing. I just dont like the stiff short tip. Many other players love
it. I think the Red Bear Tortis pick being developed on this frame is
going to completely solve my problem. This pick is certainly one you
should buy and try. It's indestructable!
PROPICK CONTOURED NICKEL THUMB PICK
They say it's contoured for more volume with less work. That's because
it's picking closer to the sound hole but that also robs clarity, power
and definition. Great quality pick with a feature you either love or
hate. One pick lasts a whole career. And a spoon shaped plate that fits
the thumb. Not as rigid as the Dunlop metal pick and has a fatter area
underneath your thumb pad. The air holes are smart because it not only
grips but decreases sweating and slippage.
Single or double wrap
PROPICK FAST PICK
These are designed with an angle to increase speed
and efficiency and also have a single or double wrap. These are
professional quality and one set lasts for years. They have two models
with this feature that look the same to me. The Fast pick and the Reso
pick. See their site for more specs.
This is a unique and useful design if fingerpicks throw off your senses
and you need more sensory feedback from your finger tips while playing
or used to playing with fingernails and want an alternative. The tone
and attack is slightly warmer that the regular fingerpicks. Also don't
assume this pick will prevent blisters. It also comes in single and
split wrap. The one shown is split. I've owned a set of these for years.
Excellent Dunlop clone in
brass or nickel-silver. Super high quality. Also models available in
small sizes for women in children. So please inquire on their site for
all the additional options.
Brighter tone with sharper tip
Another take on the
hybrid dual use strumming and thumbpick design.
|HERCO EXTRA-HEAVY FLATPICK/THUMBPICK
These may say heavy but in my opinion are rather flimsy and hard to keep
on your thumb. I know some players will fall in love with these but
don't expect to have a really robust thumbpick sound and you probably
won't like them for resonator use. Just like the Kelley Bumblebee but
with less features. It does everything okay but nothing really well.