It's A Small, Small World - Picks, Part Deux


Too Many Notes
Apr 26, 2012
This afternoon and evening, I was playing one of my guitars, and something sounded I couldn't seem to get the same subtlety out of the notes I'd been getting. I fiddled with everything on the guitar and amp, and still...a little strange.

Strings were only a few days old. Still nice and crisp sounding. So I looked at my pick. I'm well aware that pick wear makes a difference. Hmmm...It looked ok...

I'd switched from standard teardrop celluloid mediums to Tortex Jazz IIIs a couple of months back. I switched because I really liked how the sound changed and the picking was a little faster. With celluloids, it's easy to see and feel when they're worn.

But this Tortex one still looked good. Still, I got a fresh one out of the pick bag,

There it was!

My usual tone and picking attack were back. I wondered how much wear was on the old pick I'd been using. So I looked at them both under a magnifying glass (I don't own a microscope). I could see a tiny difference, wasn't much. Probably not enough to notice without magnification. I wasn't sure I could feel it with my fingertip, though I thought maybe I did. But it was evidently enough to make all the difference in the playing!

I suppose a dull knife would look similar to a sharp knife under a simple magnifying glass.

It made me realize how little, tiny things can really affect how we play, what we hear, and how no matter how small, everything affects everything!

I knew it was a small world. But it now feels smaller still. ;)

Edit: Before dinner I happened to drop a toothpick on the counter. And it made a ringing sound. It reminded me of Paul Smith dropping guitar nut materials in his video, and how they had a sound depending on the material. So I got a few more toothpicks and dropped them on the counter to hear how they sounded. Then my wife came in and looked at me with a quizzical expression.

"I'm listening to the tone of these toothpicks," I explained.

"Oh I see. You're listening to toothpicks. Of course." she said, matter of factly. Like she'd seen men listening to toothpicks all her life. Didn't miss a beat.

She's used to me now. I blame Paul. ;)
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This is one of the reason that Tortex doesn't work for me. It wears very well, but you can't tell when the tip is deformed. A typical celluloid pick usually doesn't last more than a set for me, but I can tell instantly when I've worn it down to a knife edge. Time to throw it to the crowd. ;)
This is one of the reason that Tortex doesn't work for me. It wears very well, but you can't tell when the tip is deformed.

I guess I just have to listen for it. I did get a lot of use from one pick, so there's that.

For whatever reason, I like the sound I get with it; it's different from the red and black nylon Jazz IIIs, and I like the way it feels against the strings.