Storytime: In Search of the Perfect Plectrum


picks1Last night I was at the White Crow Conservatory of Music up in Saginaw Michigan. I got there about 5pm, settled into a seat in the back, pulled out my guitar and played a bit. One of the “regulars”, Doug, woke up from a nap on the couch behind me and walked over to chat a bit.

After introductions, he proceeded to inquire about my music, guitar and other assorted conversation topics. I was very impressed with Doug’s knowledge about instruments. He managed to tell, just by looking at my guitar, what make and model it was, and even expounded on the type of wood it was made out of. He was dead on. Then he asked my what kind of pick I was using.

“Excuse me?”

“What kind of pick are you using, is that a Dunlop 73??

At this point, I realized he was inquiring in earnest and had to read the print on the pick to see if he was correct. He was. Then he asked me to try his pick. He handed me a pick that felt and looked a little bit like one I had on my desk at home. It turned out that he handed me a “Dunlop Ultex 1.0”.

*John is very pleased with himself right about now*

It felt heavier and stiffer than my pick. Plus, it wasn’t yellow. Not that I prefer yellow picks, it’s just… well, nevermind.

I played a bit with it and he mentioned the difference he was hearing in the sound of my playing and the guitar with the new pick. “Really?” So I continued to play a bit with the new plectrum and I did notice something else. The control was a bit more noticable with the new pick. I offered to give Doug his pick back, but he said to keep it and let him know how long it took me to wear it out. I agreed.

Later that evening I played up on stage and alternated between my regular pick and the new one. There is really a difference in these things. Maybe that’s why they make so many different types of them. So I’m adding “picks” to my list of things I need to learn about in terms of my musical craft.

Thanks Doug!


February 8, 2009