For several months last year I was deeply submerged in the process of discovering the perfect guitar pick / plectrum for my needs. In my first report ’Choosing the Right Guitar Pick’ I detailed how I tried a vast array of different materials, textures, thicknesses and sizes (mostly Jim Dunlop varieties) - before concluding that the smaller ’Jazz III’ style picks were the ones that seemed to suit me the best.
Next I went deeper - very specifically within the Jazz III genre to identify exactly which of the available smaller picks allowed me to play without thinking about what I had in my hand. The results of those experiments were set out in the ’Zeroing in on the Pick of Destiny’ post. The conclusions were that for regular day-to-day use, there were 4 key picks which worked wonderfully:
In completing that study I latterly tried out and started to use Graphtech Tusq Teardrops (1.4mm) in both warm and deep varieties - within the general daily rotation - eventually leaning more towards the ivory coloured vintage warms. Finally I checked out Rabea Massaad’s pick maker of choice - UK maker Hawk - who hand-make their picks from some undisclosed mystery fibrous material - with a warning to not leave said picks in you jean / trouser pockets and never to get them wet - somewhat Gremlin-like instructions. Yet there was something about those Hawk picks that made me reach for them more than any other - to the extent that I know pretty much use the Hawks all the time.
The Jazz III variety of the Hawk is known as the ToneBird 7 (1.4mm), and while it initially feels pretty smooth in the hand, it seems to get grippier as you warm up - there is some undefined, not really visible, but undeniable texture to these picks. And, as desired, the more you play with them, the less you become aware of what you are holding between your fingers - you are able to concentrate more on the style of picking - hitting the right notes with the right accentuation - plucking the individual strings just blurs into a second nature activity. This is all entirely as it should be - the very best instruments and tools are conduits of the craft - and capable craftsmen will always perform better when the tools are of such good quality that they (craftsmen) can wholly focus on the task in progress rather than having to consider anything in the slightest about the prerequisite function of that tool - it is the blunted knives for instance which cause most of the injuries in professional kitchens, the sharp knives of course just work without question or consideration.
And so it is with the ToneBird 7 pick - it somehow just works, without any pomp or circumstance - it just gets on with the job and produces a lovely consistent, clean and even tone - not too smooth or hard - the action and the output just works and sounds right. Notably these picks are pricey at £12 a piece, but for me they’re just about worth it.