Any guitar player reading this article will admit to a period of utter gear-carelessness in their earliest days of playing. I know that when I started playing, the specs on the gear I was using meant nothing to me. “String gauge? Pickup type? Neck profile?” These things would later come to mean a lot to me in my quest for gear that suits my taste, but had no impact on me as a beginner, which is likely the case for most beginners. But as time passes, if you have kept up with playing, and advanced beyond beginner status, you’ve likely developed a taste for specifications that you like or dislike. Much of this is through trial and error. I can remember the first time I picked up a Classic Player ’72 Telecaster Deluxe, the 12” fingerboard radius felt immediately different from the 9.5” models I was accustomed to. I learned the hard way that I don’t like .11 strings after going to a local shop and asking for “whatever gauge they recommended” to restring my Nashville Tele with (I play .09’s). Given that in one’s early stages of guitar playing that string gauge might not even matter, picks would likely be one of the last things a beginner would get finicky about. When I was learning to play guitar, almost anything would have sufficed if I couldn’t find a pick. You name it – a debit card, a dime, a soda can tab.
Over time, I found a taste for Fender medium picks, and why not? They’re utterly ubiquitous and come in a size and thickness that suits the needs of most applications. Consider however that something so universal might not appeal to you as an individual. Some years ago, after I had drilled down from upgrading my guitars, amps, and pedals to my personal tastes, I started to look to my accessories for what I can upgrade from sufficient to spectacular. The Fender mediums were suiting me just fine, but they didn’t inspire me. Can picks inspire you? Should they? I would not have thought so until picking up a V Pick.
We’ll address the elephant in the room right now: yes, your average V Pick costs slightly more than a 12-pack of Fender mediums. While that may seem drastic, let’s remember that this is still a low-cost, low-risk investment, i.e. $6+ for a single V Pick. This is not even close to shelling out two grand on a Klon Centaur and hoping that it’ll sound as good in your rig as it did in that YouTube video you watched. Besides, the cost to benefit ratio on a V Pick works in your favor big time, as your guitar-playing experience will benefit in a way that should cost more money.
So what is a V Pick then? V Picks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they’re unified in their base material, which is a type of acrylic. An initial feel of a V Pick will showcase durability and usually a thickness much greater than a regular pick. Admittedly, my first instinct was somewhat incredulous, given that V Picks can come off as somewhat radical upon first sight and touch. I took a gamble on a V Pick Tradition, which seemed like a good starting point, as it is similar in shape to a classic guitar pick. On both acoustic and electric applications, the Tradition model drastically changed the tonal properties of the guitar, and always for the better, by accentuating all a guitar’s positive sonic attributes. I tried it on an acoustic that I felt had a somewhat darker and subdued tone and immediately noticed that the highs starting singing. By using it on an electric guitar, a huge amount of presence and pick attack was added. This was a huge benefit for me, as using a V Pick added a similar benefit as a presence knob on an amp might add. After trying some of the many models that V Picks offers, I found that I enjoy the Mummy the best. The Mummy features the “Ghost Rim” along the edges of the pick, which feels something akin to frosted glass. This adds a nice additional touch to your pick attack. Additionally, the Mummy features bench grinding in the middle of the pick, which afford the player superior gripping. The Ghost Rim will soften with play, but a touch-up tool is available to restore the luster of this fabulous feature.
Just like any good chicken wing joint, V Picks have models that range from mild to wild. The aforementioned Tradition, and especially the Tradition Lite, will serve the timid or newcomers well. These picks offer the V Picks experience, but as their tamest models, they will still feel somewhat familiar. For those who want something completely wild, the Insanity, which looks like a diamond you’d normally find in a king’s crown, or the Psycho Shredder, which probably doubles as a steak knife, will more than satisfy your curiosities.
If you have been in search of that perfect accessory to bring even more joy to your playing, a V Pick very well may be what you have been looking for. Stop by Martel Music Store and try one out – there is always a large selection in stock. You may be surprised by what a change in pick can do to your tone.
-David Elliott, writing for Martel Music Store