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StevenStanleyBayes

Guitar Pick Materials

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I have been trying to find the fastest guitar pick materials ( not design ) of picks made of other than metal material. I have spent more than a half of an year for this research. 
 
The guitar pick material must be able to perform excellently when ultra fast tremolo is played with the picking hand ( right hand for right handed players ). 
 
I have decided to publish the research here. The research can easily be updated with new discoveries as well as can easily be corrected in case of any mistakes. 
 
An excellent idea would be for everyone who has some information on ultra fast guitar pick materials to write a comment with some information on the picks such as the name of the picks, a link to the manufacturer's page of the pick, availability, legality, price, etcetera. 
 
PLEASE, NOTE : THIS TOPIC IS : GUITAR PICK MATERIALS. ONLY COMMENTS ON FAST GUITAR PICK MATERIALS WILL BE ACCEPTED! 
 
Thanks! 
 
Here is a link to the research document Guitar Pick Materials : https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1FLh7XfbG9ONqgK5OdC7ps5NLUN5kIibD?usp=sharing
 

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A List of New Ideas : 
 
1. Gravity Picks Acrylics : https://www.gravitypicks.com/product/acrylic-picks/ 
2. Stone picks https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Tooyful-3-Pieces-Guitar-Finger-Picks-Pendant-Plectrums-Malachite-Stone-2mm-for-Guitar-Bass-Banjo-Ukulele/32841803542.html ( There are other stone picks at AliExpress and elsewhere. ) 
3. Winspear Picks : https://www.winspearinstrumental.com/collections/plectrums 
4. Teflon Picks 
 

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A List of New Ideas : 
 
1. Acrylic Picks : Gravity Picks Acrylics : https://www.gravitypicks.com/product/acrylic-picks/ and V Picks : https://v-picks.com/ 

 
2. Stone picks https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Tooyful-3-Pieces-Guitar-Finger-Picks-Pendant-Plectrums-Malachite-Stone-2mm-for-Guitar-Bass-Banjo-Ukulele/32841803542.html ( There are other stone picks at AliExpress and elsewhere. ) 

 
3. Winspear Picks : https://www.winspearinstrumental.com/collections/plectrums 

 
4. Teflon Picks 
 

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PLEASE, NOTE : THIS TOPIC IS VERY COMPLEX. PLEASE, MAKE COMMENTS ON THE TOPIC ONLY AND NOT ON OTHER THINGS BECAUSE THE TOPIC IS COMPLICATED ENOUGH AND CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD VERY WELL WHEN OTHER THINGS ARE CONCERNED TOO. 

 

AGAIN : ONLY FAST GUITAR PICK MATERIALS, PLEASE! 

 

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I acquired new picks ( and some old picks ignored in the research by mistake ) yesterday

 

1. Fred Kelly Fat Flat Large Delrin 085 Blue : http://fredkellypicks.com/product/delrin-fat-flat-large/ 

2. Fred Kelly Nylon Flat Heavy White : http://fredkellypicks.com/product/nylon-flat/ 

3.  Fred Kelly Polycarbonate Flat Heavy Red : http://fredkellypicks.com/product/poly-flat/ 

4. Janicek Picks Jazz A, D Grip, A 1.18mm, Blue, Original : Made in Czech Republic : http://www.janicekpicks.com/en/produkty 

5. Dunlop Jazz III XL Series Black ( Most Likely Nylon ) 

6. Dunlop Ultex Sharp 1.40mm : https://www.jimdunlop.com/product/433p-7-10137-04254-4.do 

 

I have been able to evaluate them for a few minutes only and here are the first impression. 

 

1. Unmodified : Even unmodified, all of them perform well except the Jazz A. Dunlop Ultex Sharp 1.40mm performs the same as every Dunlop Ultex. 

2. Slightly Modified : Jazz A performs excellently, yet, not as good as Janicek Nylon Brain picks. Needs more modifications to be able to say. Fred Kelly's perform excellently. The Blue one has never been modified and still performs excellently. Additionally, Jaz A is extremely sturdy for the thickness of 1.18mm and does not flex. Dunlop Jazz III XL has not been modified yet and performs better than the rest and even better than the tiny Jazz III Nylon Stiffo. I have definitely made a mistake to ignore this pick. 

 

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Please, also note : I will NOT reply to comments which are NOT extremely directly on the topic. I may reply to comments on the topic but this may take a very long while as I may not be available. 

 

I also do NOT receive emails when a comment is posted. 

 

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A List of New Ideas : 
 
1. Acrylic Picks : Gravity Picks Acrylics : https://www.gravitypicks.com/product/acrylic-picks/ and V Picks : https://v-picks.com/  
 
2. Stone picks : https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Tooyful-3-Pieces-Guitar-Finger-Picks-Pendant-Plectrums-Malachite-Stone-2mm-for-Guitar-Bass-Banjo-Ukulele/32841803542.html ( There are other stone picks at AliExpress and elsewhere. )  Please, note : Stone and bone picks may not be faster than metal and may generate just as much ( or more ) noise, thus, to test stone picks may be just for entertainment purposes. 
 
3. Winspear Picks : https://www.winspearinstrumental.com/collections/plectrums  
 
4. Teflon Picks 

5. Dunlop Gator Picks 

 
 

Edited by StevenStanleyBayes

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Please, be informed : There is an alternative, commercial article on the topic :

https://www.musicradar.com/news/the-10-best-guitar-picks-our-pick-of-the-best-plectrums

 

Please, note : This reply is to convey a piece of information. I do NOT  necessarily agree with the context piece of information. 

 

 

Edited by StevenStanleyBayes

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Welcome to the forum.

You've taken on an interesting topic to write about; one I would think many people wouldn't give as much thought about as you have.

I have given your paper a cursory read-through. I have a few ideas that you may like to consider for your work:

  • Your paper is written as a research article, but a good portion of the arguments presented rely on personal opinion. Consider presenting the document more objectively.
  • There is frequent mention of altering the tip geometry of the pick - can you elaborate what these modifications are for and how they are implemented? What is the reasoning behind modification if the stock pick shape is less than optimal? Is this a universal improvement that can be adopted by any player or is it a technique that needs to be adapted to suit an individual's needs?
  • Your choice of strings for the electric guitar tests is unusual (flatwound 6th and 5th, plain 4th. Is there a particular reason you chose such an odd set of strings instead of the more 'standard' round wound set (round wound 6th/5th/4th, plain 3rd/2nd/1st)?
  • How are you determining the relative slickness (friction) and speed of each pick material? Is there some kind of measurement you perform on each pick (objective) or is it down to feel (subjective)?

 

On 10/20/2018 at 12:31 PM, StevenStanleyBayes said:

PLEASE, NOTE : THIS TOPIC IS : GUITAR PICK MATERIALS. ONLY COMMENTS ON FAST GUITAR PICK MATERIALS WILL BE ACCEPTED!

Given the paper makes mention of pick geometry and thickness as being important to improving speed and reducing friction, are you sure you shouldn't also be opening up the discussion to include pick shape?

 

On 10/20/2018 at 1:18 PM, StevenStanleyBayes said:

I also do NOT receive emails when a comment is posted.

You can click on the 'Follow' button at the top-right of this thread and receive email notifications when a reply is posted in your thread.

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Thank you very much for your wonderful reply. 

 

Pick 3D geometry is immensely important. This is why I modify the picks I purchase ( 99% of the cases ). I just wanted to have a separate publication, called Guitar Pick Mechanics, dedicated only to the pick geometry. 

 

However, because the two topics are very close to each other ( material does not play without some kind of a shape and shape does not play without some kind of a material ) and also because shape is important for evaluation as shape and material may depend on each other in some cases, yes, by all means, comments on pick shape and 3D geometry ( stereometry ) are very welcome. Just, please, try to keep the main topic as guitar pick materials and pick mechanics and shape as a secondary topic. 

 

In regards to emails, I do not want to receive them. I have disallowed them. Theoretically, I can reallow them but I do not want to have the inbox full of something which I can get when I check the topic. 

 

In regards to the point you make, you are the only person in the world who have, so far, demonstrated an unbelievable amount of scientific knowledge on the topic. I will try to address each of the questions in separate replies. Thank you very much. Please, do continue with your ideas and concerns! 

 

Edited by StevenStanleyBayes

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Please, note : I have just had an idea for guitar picks made of Cubic Zirconia. Cubic Zirconia ( artificial diamond ) has hardness of 8 to 8.5 on Mohs' scale ( diamond is 10 ) and is harder than most of the artificial and real gems and stones. Cubic Zirconia is inexpensive because the Cubic Zirconia used for guitar picks does not need to have the clarity of this used for jewellery. 

 

However, most likely, Cubic Zirconia would bring the same problems as with metals : zing. Thin picks in a pointed shape with 90 degrees side walls of the tip and the very tip vertically sharpened may have a lower zing, yet, most likely, there would be some. 

 

I tried to search for Cubic Zirconia guitar picks and I only found guitar picks made of Cubic Zirconia into jewellery https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/344525440219283520/ 

 

There are some picks made of Agate at AliExpress.com 

 

In regards to the picks I have been recently evaluating, Fred Kelly's nylon is OK as most Nylons. However, Fred Kelly's Polycarbonate picks, a. k. a. Poly, are fast ( modified and with original shape ). Fred Kelly's Polies are very similar to Alice clear plastics and the one I have made of a picture frame clear plastics ( and polished well to make work ). 

Edited by StevenStanleyBayes

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A List of New Ideas : 
 
1. Acrylic Picks : Gravity Picks Acrylics : https://www.gravitypicks.com/product/acrylic-picks/ and V Picks : https://v-picks.com/  
 
2. Stone picks : https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Tooyful-3-Pieces-Guitar-Finger-Picks-Pendant-Plectrums-Malachite-Stone-2mm-for-Guitar-Bass-Banjo-Ukulele/32841803542.html ( There are other stone picks at AliExpress and elsewhere. )  Please, note : Stone and bone picks may not be faster than metal and may generate just as much ( or more ) noise, thus, to test stone picks may be just for entertainment purposes. Please, note : there are Agate picks at AliExpress.com 
 
3. Winspear Picks : https://www.winspearinstrumental.com/collections/plectrums  
 
4. Teflon Picks 

5. Dunlop Gator Picks 

6. Cubic Zirconia Picks ( may not be available ). 

 

 

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How do I determine the relative slickness ( friction ) and speed of each pick material? Is there some kind of measurement I perform on each pick ( objective ) or is it down to feel ( subjective )?

 

I would like to answer this first, so, people are not mislead : No, I do NOT have any machines and instruments to test the picks objectively. However, I do know such machines exist. They are general machines ( instruments ) and can be applied for anything and, therefore, for guitar picks slickness ( friction ). These instruments are not for commercial use, as far as I know, and are, therefore, expensive and not easily available. 

 

The correct way, the ONLY way is to use such machines and instruments. Some would call them robots, I call them computer controlled machines. The machine can " hold " the pick and move the pick over strings with various thicknesses and designs and measure mechanical resistance. In case anyone has access to such a machine, they are the people who can really tell. 

 

How do I test the picks? I would call this an objective and subjective approach. The objectivity comes from simple logic. The subjectivity is because I decide on a pick by what I have performed, although I try to reduce the error statistically by playing for a long while and with different hand positions, angles of attack, etcetera. Yet, I agree, this is subjective. I hate this approach as well as I hate the trials and errors approach, yet, I do not have a choice. 

 

I have mentioned the simple logic effect ( which gets improved with practice because thing which I have not considered may come with practice ). Mistakes with simple logic are 100% possible and I DO make a lot of them. 

 

The simple logic I use is : the material must be scientifically proven to be slick and non abrasive and not brittle even at low thicknesses ( <= 1mm ). The closer the better. Metals, Carbon Fibre, Nylon, Some Ceramics ( I do not have access to such ), gemstones, artificial gemstones have been proven to have such qualities and the results have been published elsewhere. One of the sources is the Mohs' scale. There are other scales of hardness too. The problems with these is they usually generate zing, not all to the same level. Metals do. I have even made a childish rhyme : " When metal hits metal well, they make a sound like a bell! " 

 

Another simple logic ( SUBJECTIVELY proven in practice ) is the logic of the pick shape ( 3D geometry ). The shape may reduce zing and improve performance significantly as well as the way of playing ( style ). Here is what I have found out ( again subjectively, without any instrumentation ) : thick picks may be shaped in such a way so they can help achieve very fast speeds ( in some cases, even, ultra fast ). However, the thicker the pick, the larger the contact area between the pick and the strings ( can be reduced in some shapes, still ), the bigger the friction and the louder the zing. I have made a 6mm Nickel pick. Nickel has a very low friction. However, the thick pick did have a lot of zing. May be OK for high amplitude tremolo around the strings ( as in mandolin, tambourine, etcetera ). I decided not to use this pick too much because Nickel is slightly ( very slightly, still ) ferrous. I am superstitiously afraid I may demagnetise the coils. Again, this may prove to be practically impossible. 

 

I have, therefore, decided to use a different shape : I use thin, yet, strong material and I sharpen the pick horizontally to be sharp, yet, may not be very pointed : 90 to 120 degrees of horizontal angle may be OK : the more pointed the better to a point where the pointed picks may drag the string when not twisted a lot to play with the sides. The walls of the so sharpened pick must be at 90 degrees. This means the file must be at 90 degrees towards the pick surface when horizontally shaped. I also sharpen the very tip vertically. This may not be possible, nor, necessary with extremely thin picks. I pay attention ( or reshape ) to ensure the walls remain at 90 degrees after the tip is sharpened vertically. 

 

Thus, when the hand is slightly twisted down, the pick glides the 90 degrees edge of the walls on the string and the sharp very tip engages the string without too much mechanical energy. ( Obviously, when loud volume is necessary, the engagement must be stronger ). I have, SUBJECTICALLY, proven this by playing with the tip before and after every stage of modification as well as after the full reshape. 

 

Because the thin picks are very difficult to take a picture of, one can easily see the shape of the thick picks in the document. Similar is the shape of the thin picks. I have applied this shape to most any pick I got hold of and I am able to play faster with a reshaped pick than with the original shape. I am not sure whether the others would, because, the way the pick is used may be related to the shape. I, personally, can only think ( and thinking may be wrong ) everyone would profit from this shape. 

 

I play with ( modified ) : Dunlop Carbon Fibre Max Grip, 1.6mm Brain, 1mm, 2mm, 3mm Dunlop Nylon Big Stubby, Fender Delrin Touring 1mm ( I have ordered 1.14mm too ). I have also ordered Fender Tru Shell 346 Triangular, Extra Heavy ( Pink ). This pick is made of proteins and has self oiling. The pick may arrive at around November, 15, 2018. 

 

The only picks which are almost unmodified ( only extremely, very slightly sharpened ) are Dunlop Nylon Big Stubby 1mm and 3mm. I use Dunlop Nylon Big Stubby 1mm for acoustic 12 52 wound strings which I am supposed to change but I do not, so I can practice on what I call bad strings to be faster then on the good ones ). 

 

In summary : the logic of the material is : hardness, non abrasiveness, non brittleness at low thicknesses to avoid string hooking, catching and, therefore, dragging. The logic of the shape is : reduce the contact between string and pick as much as possible. Hope I am right because I may be wrong! 

 

How do I determine the relative slickness ( friction ) and speed of each pick material? Is there some kind of measurement I perform on each pick ( objective ) or is it down to feel ( subjective )?

 

I would like to answer this first, so, people are not mislead : No, I do NOT have any machines and instruments to test the picks objectively. However, I do know such machines exist. They are general machines ( instruments ) and can be applied for anything and, therefore, for guitar picks slickness ( friction ). These instruments are not for commercial use, as far as I know, and are, therefore, expensive and not easily available. 

 

The correct way, the ONLY way is to use such machines and instruments. Some would call them robots, I call them computer controlled machines. The machine can " hold " the pick and move the pick over strings with various thicknesses and designs and measure mechanical resistance. In case anyone has access to such a machine, they are the people who can really tell. 

 

How do I test the picks? I would call this an objective and subjective approach. The objectivity comes from simple logic. The subjectivity is because I decide on a pick by what I have performed, although I try to reduce the error statistically by playing for a long while and with different hand positions, angles of attack, etcetera. Yet, I agree, this is subjective. I hate this approach as well as I hate the trials and errors approach, yet, I do not have a choice. 

 

I have mentioned the simple logic effect ( which gets improved with practice because thing which I have not considered may come with practice ). Mistakes with simple logic are 100% possible and I DO make a lot of them. 

 

The simple logic I use is : the material must be scientifically proven to be slick and non abrasive and not brittle even at low thicknesses ( <= 1mm ). The closer the better. Metals, Carbon Fibre, Nylon, Some Ceramics ( I do not have access to such ), gemstones, artificial gemstones have been proven to have such qualities and the results have been published elsewhere. One of the sources is the Mohs' scale. There are other scales of hardness too. The problems with these is they usually generate zing, not all to the same level. Metals do. I have even made a childish rhyme : " When metal hits metal well, they make a sound like a bell! " 

 

Another simple logic ( SUBJECTIVELY proven in practice ) is the logic of the pick shape ( 3D geometry ). The shape may reduce zing and improve performance significantly as well as the way of playing ( style ). Here is what I have found out ( again subjectively, without any instrumentation ) : thick picks may be shaped in such a way so they can help achieve very fast speeds ( in some cases, even, ultra fast ). However, the thicker the pick, the larger the contact area between the pick and the strings ( can be reduced in some shapes, still ), the bigger the friction and the louder the zing. I have made a 6mm Nickel pick. Nickel has a very low friction. However, the thick pick did have a lot of zing. May be OK for high amplitude tremolo around the strings ( as in mandolin, tambourine, etcetera ). I decided not to use this pick too much because Nickel is slightly ( very slightly, still ) ferrous. I am superstitiously afraid I may demagnetise the coils. Again, this may prove to be practically impossible. 

 

I have, therefore, decided to use a different shape : I use thin, yet, strong material and I sharpen the pick horizontally to be sharp, yet, may not be very pointed : 90 to 120 degrees of horizontal angle may be OK : the more pointed the better to a point where the pointed picks may drag the string when not twisted a lot to play with the sides. The walls of the so sharpened pick must be at 90 degrees. This means the file must be at 90 degrees towards the pick surface when horizontally shaped. I also sharpen the very tip vertically. This may not be possible, nor, necessary with extremely thin picks. I pay attention ( or reshape ) to ensure the walls remain at 90 degrees after the tip is sharpened vertically. 

 

Thus, when the hand is slightly twisted down, the pick glides the 90 degrees edge of the walls on the string and the sharp very tip engages the string without too much mechanical energy. ( Obviously, when loud volume is necessary, the engagement must be stronger ). I have, SUBJECTICALLY, proven this by playing with the tip before and after every stage of modification as well as after the full reshape. 

 

Because the thin picks are very difficult to take a picture of, one can easily see the shape of the thick picks in the document. Similar is the shape of the thin picks. I have applied this shape to most any pick I got hold of and I am able to play faster with a reshaped pick than with the original shape. I am not sure whether the others would, because, the way the pick is used may be related to the shape. I, personally, can only think ( and thinking may be wrong ) everyone would profit from this shape. 

 

I play with ( modified ) : Dunlop Carbon Fibre Max Grip, 1.6mm Brain, 1mm, 2mm, 3mm Dunlop Nylon Big Stubby, Fender Delrin Touring 1mm ( I have ordered 1.14mm too ). I have also ordered Fender Tru Shell 346 Triangular, Extra Heavy ( Pink ). This pick is made of proteins and has self oiling. The pick may arrive at around November, 15, 2018. 

 

The only picks which are almost unmodified ( only extremely, very slightly sharpened ) are Dunlop Nylon Big Stubby 1mm and 3mm. I use Dunlop Nylon Big Stubby 1mm for acoustic 12 52 wound strings which I am supposed to change but I do not, so I can practice on what I call bad strings to be faster then on the good ones ). 

 

In summary : the logic of the material is : hardness, non abrasiveness, non brittleness at low thicknesses to avoid string hooking, catching and, therefore, dragging. The logic of the shape is : reduce the contact between string and pick as much as possible. Hope I am right because I may be wrong! 

 

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The choice of strings for the electric guitar tests is unusual ( flatwound 6th and 5th, plain 4th ). Is there a particular reason I chose such an odd set of strings instead of the more “ standard “ round wound set (round wound 6th/5th/4th, plain 3rd/2nd/1st)?

 

Plain strings generate a lower amount of friction than wounds. Also, plain strings do neither have friction nor noise when the pick moves sideways on the string wounds. The wounds are like a comb : when the pick moves sideways on the comb, there is friction and noise.

 

Therefore, plain strings are faster than wounds. Because the 5th and the 6th string are very thick, the manufacturers do not make them plain. They come either as wounds ( considered standard in North America but NOT in Europe, although, Britain may be influenced by the US in this ) or flat wounds ( considered standard in Europe, unknown for Britain ).

 

Flat wounds are not only faster but make a stronger electromagnetic field and a higher volume of sound.

 

I do not like to talk of sound, yet, the sound of the flat wounds is considered better by many because of the bassy tone. Wounds would give more higher frequency harmonics ( overtones ).

 

However, who likes what sound is not a subject to this question.

 

Now there is another problem : which strings are faster? Thin or thick? This is a very difficult question. Thick strings are at high tension and can be easily “ tested “ when one plays the pick near the lower bridge. Because of the super high tension, the pick cannot drag the strings and glides nicely, mainly with twisted hand. Yet, the tension must be very high. Thin strings ( such as 9.5 ) have low tension. Low tension may mean something else than drag : the pick will get out of the string anyway : the string cannot be dragged because the pick will bend the low tension string and move away. When a car hits concrete is bad. When a car hits snow is also bad, yet, not as much : the car just plows through the snow, bending and moving the snow away.

 

Now, here is what I think : to make strings so high tension as not to be draggable is difficult. The tension needs to be rather high. To make strings so low tension so the pick pushes them away and does not drag them is easier : the commercially available 9.5 gauge would probably do. The thinnest string I have seen is gauge 6. ( Very thin strings may generate lower volume of coil picked sound, but they are OK ).

 

I have also applied a rule which I prefer : I use equal tension strings. All strings have the same ( or as close as possible ) tension. So, I have looked at the D'Addario string chart ( available online ) and found the thinnest string set available ( without wounds ). This is the set in the document. As far as I remember, this is : 9.5 plain, 13 plain, 17 plain, 22 plain, 32 wound ( no plain available ), 42 wound ( no plain available ).

 

This are the thinnest strings at a similar tension which exclude wounds I have found. Anyone finds other sets, please, inform.

 

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There is frequent mention of altering the tip geometry of the pick. Can I elaborate what these modifications are for and how they are implemented? What is the reasoning behind modification if the stock pick shape is less than optimal? Is this a universal improvement that can be adopted by any player or is this a technique that needs to be adapted to suit an individual's needs?

 

1. Can I elaborate what these modifications are for and how they are implemented?

 

These modifications are only for speed with an idea to achieve lower friction and lower contact area which lower contact area would introduce even lower friction.

 

They are implemented by two sets of manual files ( rough and fine ) and three sets of sound paper with grids 1000, 2000 and 3000. 3000 is not sufficient although the string will sand the pick even higher. Yet, real wool with high “ scratchiness “ must be used. I do not possess such. In case I find any I would use. A real wool wheel for a grinder would be nice.

 

I do own a grinder which I also use mainly for metal, stone, bone and wood. ( I have never even touched stone and bone picks, but, I am sure a grinder can be used for them. )

 

I have explained the shape in another post. I will copy and paste the explanation here :

 

I use thin, yet, strong material and I sharpen the pick horizontally to be sharp, yet, may not be very pointed : 90 to 120 degrees of horizontal angle may be OK : the more pointed the better to a point where the pointed picks may drag the string when not twisted a lot to play with the sides. The walls of the so sharpened pick must be at 90 degrees. This means the file must be at 90 degrees towards the pick surface when horizontally shaped. I also sharpen the very tip vertically. This may not be possible, nor, necessary with extremely thin picks. I pay attention ( or reshape ) to ensure the walls remain at 90 degrees after the tip is sharpened vertically.

 

Thus, when the hand is slightly twisted down, the pick glides the 90 degrees edge of the walls on the string and the sharp very tip engages the string without too much mechanical energy. ( Obviously, when loud volume is necessary, the engagement must be stronger ). I have, SUBJECTICALLY, proven this by playing with the tip before and after every stage of modification as well as after the full reshape.

 

Because the thin picks are very difficult to take a picture of, one can easily see the shape of the thick picks in the document. Similar is the shape of the thin picks. I have applied this shape to most any pick I got hold of and I am able to play faster with a reshaped pick than with the original shape. I am not sure whether the others would, because, the way the pick is used may be related to the shape. I, personally, can only think ( and thinking may be wrong ) everyone would profit from this shape.

 

2. What is the reasoning behind modification if the stock pick shape is less than optimal?

 

When I purchase a pick I seldom purchase a pick per se. I purchase material. Then, I shape this material to make a pick.

 

I think I have a faster shape than the original. ( In some cases, the original is fast enough. ) Therefore, the reason is, again, speed by reduction of friction and contact area. I try to engage the string with the very top of the pic, just a millimetre or two of the tip best be used. Razor sharp tips have to, therefore, be faster.

 

The only shape, somewhat close to what I use, is the shape of Gravity picks. I published the shape I had made up long back, many years back. I first learned of such a company called Gravity Picks a week back. I first saw a Gravity pick ( Sunrise, 3mm ) on Friday. Thus, I have, therefore, not copied the shape of Gravity Picks Sunrise 3mm. I apply similar shape for all thicknesses.

 

3. Is this a universal improvement that can be adopted by any player or is this a technique that needs to be adapted to suit an individual's needs?

 

I would answer “ Yes “. Many people would answer “ No “. I do not know who is right and who is wrong.

 

The only think I can say is this shape does NOT hurt. In other words, I do not think any player who thinks the shape I use is good would suffer when they play with such a pick. However, I do think a fast or ultra fast player may suffer from a shape which is incorrect.

 

However, most players do not play tremolo pick techniques. They do NOT move the pick very quickly. They hit only once in a very while with the pick and they achieve speed by pulling and hammering the strings in between picks. Most any pick would do then. But, again, the picks I use would not make such a player suffer. I consider the shape I use to either help or do nothing.

 

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The paper is written as a research article, but, a good portion of the arguments presented rely on personal opinion.

 

I have tried to write a research article as everyone who writes something on guitars or accessories should. Guitars and accessories are engineering and technology and are not art and music. Ergonomy ( the mechanics used by human parts ( hands, fingers, etcetera ) should play a great deal.

 

However, in order to present everything objectively, I must have machines and instruments. Even super rich companies do not want to spend money on machines, not even basic ones.

 

In case I had a few million dollars, yes, everything was to be made with femtometre precise machines and tested by such.

 

Here is a point, which is logically correct : better to have research on anything made and tested manually, then not to have any research at all. Without a few million dollars a real research cannot be done. Thus, better have a manually made one.

 

I used simple mathematics to reduce the human error. I take many measurements and average them. I play in a few different ways form months and weeks with some picks and years with others.

 

I also assess the difference : when I improve with a given pick over another AFTER I PLAY THE SAME WAY, because the way is the same, most likely, but, not 100% the pick is objectively faster. Again, mistakes have been made. Big mistakes.

 

There may be some method dependency : the best material and the best shape may depend on the style. I think this dependence is low. Others think such a dependence is high. I do not know who is right and who is wrong.

 

I can say how to find out ( to some extend ) more objectively whether I am right or wrong and spend only around $2.

 

I say Clayton Ultem picks are faster than Dunlop Ultex as far as the MATERIAL ( or only the cover material ) is concerned ( there may be some difference when Ultex is polished to glass ). Everyone who wants to know can purchase one Dunlop Ultex and one Clayton Ultem with the same shape and thickness or as close as possible. ( Best be non flexible, >= 0.8mm. People who like thin picks should disregard this and get thin picks. ). Play for a week alternating between Dunlop Ultem and the same ( or similar ) Clayton Ultex.

 

In case the verdict is Clayton Ultem is faster, I may be proven right in this case. In case the verdict is they are the same or Dunlop Ultex is faster, I may be proven wrong in all or most cases.

 

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Again, very important : 

 

Regardless of what the person known as the Forum Manager says, this person is the most intelligent guitar person in the world. I have never been asked such intelligent questions. I have never been told such intelligent things. 

 

I have never seen a person who puts guitar and accessories as scientific products. And they are. As everything else, guitars, accessories, musical instruments, etcetera as SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING and NOT art. 

 

People who have never played guitar and do not even know what music is can make much better guitar and accessories than those who can as long as they are scientifically and engineeringly inclined. The lack of knowledge of playing is compensated by their ability to apply ERGONOMY. Ergonomy is an engineering subject which deals with HUMAN mechanics or the mechanics of a human parts, such as hands and fingers. Specialists in this science know what a player would do even better than the player who would do this. 

 

Ergonomy has mostly been applied for tools for people to use, manual tools and power tools for manual ( not fully automatic use ). Because musical instruments and accessories are not considered to be important, such science has never been used there. 

 

These are simple scientific facts. Another fact, proven by averaging of opinions, is the fact the musicians are very conservative. Even when a better quality instrument ( in terms of playing ) is made, the musicians would never use this instrument because they are used to and because they only want to use what is considered to be the classical ( in terms of historically standard ) version of the instrument, even though such may be inferior to the new one. 

 

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Another manual, yet accurate to some extent, method which I and anyone who wants, can use is to play a fast tremolo with the pick at large amplitudes as well as at tiny amplitudes of every fret of every string of the guitar. 

 

Large amplitude tremolo can be applied with the pick going over the string, perpendicular to the string. Even larger amplitudes can be made when the pick moves sidewise as well as up and down over the string, i. e. at an angle. The sidewise movement will generate noise with wound strings. 

 

Different pick materials with the same shape will perform differently. Everyone can try and say what happened. 

 

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Just another clarification : I do NOT have a test set of strings. I have only one set with which I play : 9.5 plain, 13 plain, 17 plain, 22 plain, 32 wound ( no plain available ), 42 wound ( no plain available ). 

 

On acoustic, I prefer Nylon strings or flat wounds for acoustics ( there are such ) or a combination : All non wound Nylon strings are used as well as all other strings are flat wounds. The point is : THERE MUST NOT BE ANY WOUND STRING ANYWHERE. 

 

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8 hours ago, curtisa said:

Welcome to the forum.

You've taken on an interesting topic to write about; one I would think many people wouldn't give as much thought about as you have.

I have given your paper a cursory read-through. I have a few ideas that you may like to consider for your work:

  • Your paper is written as a research article, but a good portion of the arguments presented rely on personal opinion. Consider presenting the document more objectively.
  • There is frequent mention of altering the tip geometry of the pick - can you elaborate what these modifications are for and how they are implemented? What is the reasoning behind modification if the stock pick shape is less than optimal? Is this a universal improvement that can be adopted by any player or is it a technique that needs to be adapted to suit an individual's needs?
  • Your choice of strings for the electric guitar tests is unusual (flatwound 6th and 5th, plain 4th. Is there a particular reason you chose such an odd set of strings instead of the more 'standard' round wound set (round wound 6th/5th/4th, plain 3rd/2nd/1st)?
  • How are you determining the relative slickness (friction) and speed of each pick material? Is there some kind of measurement you perform on each pick (objective) or is it down to feel (subjective)?

 

Given the paper makes mention of pick geometry and thickness as being important to improving speed and reducing friction, are you sure you shouldn't also be opening up the discussion to include pick shape?

 

You can click on the 'Follow' button at the top-right of this thread and receive email notifications when a reply is posted in your thread.

I have tried to answer all of your questions in the previously posted answers. Please, be kind to review all answers and, please, ask more questions or make more comments. Please, inform whether the answers have been made well or not. 

 

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I want to also clarify objectivity can be achieved with logic and with manual tests by anyone too to a great deal of extend. 

 

As an example I want to give the automotive industry : when they design a given car, they think where to position various controls such as gear lever for manual cars to be faster for the driver to use. They do NOT have machines and they use simple, average people to test, just in cases, although such tests are not necessary because the design is OBVIOUS and everything even the best pilots do can be thought of by the designers. They do NOT use machines to test the controls. The research I have made mostly contains obvious things. Some people may NOT have thought of these things, though, the same way as I have not thought of the nuclear engines for locomotives. 

 

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Important :

 

In the explained method of reduction of friction and contact area, to sharp the tip vertically may seem contrary to the goal. True, thin picks do not have to be vertically sharpened.

 

Thick picks best also not be sharpened for the said purposes. However, this is only good for large pick amplitudes, when the pick moves a lot away from the string when consecutive hits on a given string are played.

 

When the amplitude between the pick and the string is tiny, <= 1mm, then, obviously, the thickness of the pick may not allow for such an amplitude. This is why I sharpen the pick vertically : to allow for a tiny amplitudes.

 

When the hand is twisted and the pick surface is NOT parallel to the string, the vertically sharpened pick does not hit the string with larger contact area and, thus, does not slow the pick. 

 

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A general point is : the guitar pick material is more important than the shape and the thickness because any shape and thickness can be made with $1 file, sand paper and super glue but the material cannot be changed with the exception of some cases where some material can be washed or polished with Acetone and other chemicals. Thus, the most important thing is to fine the correct material which is very difficult because there are a lot. 

 

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17 hours ago, StevenStanleyBayes said:

In regards to emails, I do not want to receive them.

Understood. I had assumed your statement meant that you didn't know how to subscribe to the thread, rather than you didn't want to.

 

16 hours ago, StevenStanleyBayes said:

However, most likely, Cubic Zirconia would bring the same problems as with metals : zing.

I would've thought that making a CZ pick thin enough would also make it too brittle to either be machined reliably or long lasting under playing conditions. It might be hard, but it's probably also prone to breakage at the thicknesses that make it usable as a pick, unless you're happy for it to be similar in shape and size to, say a Dunlop Stubby.

 

15 hours ago, StevenStanleyBayes said:

These modifications are only for speed with an idea to achieve lower friction and lower contact area which lower contact area would introduce even lower friction.

I guess what I meant was, is there a particular set of dimensions and angles you're working towards when refining the shape of your picks, and how did you arrive at those values? It's not clear (to me at least) what you mean when you use terms like horizontal/vertical angle, sharpening vertically etc in your paper. A diagram defining what these terms refer to would help.

You mention that refining the shape is leading you towards faster speed and lower contact area, but in the photos in your paper, many of the modified picks have quite a 'broad' tip with a large included angle. Isn't this increasing the contact area? To that end, wouldn't a tip with a smaller included angle with the smallest amount of contact area be better for speed, such as a stock teardrop shape or the smaller Dunlop Jazz III?

I personally find that the small red Jazz III works for me. I used to use the standard Dunlop Tortex picks exclusively, maybe 1 - 1.3mm thicknesses. Years ago a friend of mine gave me a teardrop pick to try and I immediately fell in love with the small shape, the rigidity and fine point. That eventually led on to the Jazz III, and I've never changed back since. Even now If I go back to the standard-sized pick it feels like I'm trying to pick the strings with a dinner plate; it just feel too big and clumsy in my hands. Weirdly I couldn't get along with the black Jazz IIIs, despite it being the same size and shape as the red ones. The surface finish was slightly different, which made it harder for me to hold on to. The red one is more glossy and easier for me to get a grip with.

Super-thick picks don't sit right with me (3mm Dunlop Stubby). Too chunky and clubby. 

I did try a couple of metal picks years ago. I may still have them somewhere. I had a copper one made from maybe 0.5mm sheet and a quite thick stainless steel (perhaps 1.3mm?); both were the standard shape. The thin copper one tended to snag on the strings a lot which I found irritating (could've been cheaply made with rough edges though). At the time I was heavily influenced by Joe Satriani, and would regularly incorporate pick scrapes on the lower strings while playing, but the copper pick being so stiff and having sharp-ish edges would destroy the wound strings when doing those kinds of effects.

The SS one wasn't actually too bad, but the main thing that turned me off metal picks of any variety was the fact that they would tarnish in my hands while using them. I'd end up with blackened finger tips after an hour of playing, and I'd inevitably end up with black smudges showing up all over the white scratchplate. I don't recall having an issue with the sound ('zing', as you say) of these picks though.

There was another pick I used to have. Might have been called the 'Dava Speed Pick' or something. It was essentially a more pointy teardrop shape, perhaps 1mm thickness, and the last 5-8mm of the tip was deliberately twisted a few degrees. I guess it was designed to make the pick tip strike the string squarely, rather than at a slight angle that most people's playing hands would naturally hold a pick at, but in my hands it felt like it was hindering more than helping.

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