This guitar thing got a hold of me in 72. Back then there were much fewer choices. Fender mediums were ubiquitous and after a brief dalliance with thins, that's what I settled on. Before I quit gigging a while back, I used to buy them by the gross. A few years ago I was running low, so I ordered more. Imagine my surprise to find that the alleged celluloid material was now nothing of the sort. It's some kind of funky plastic like substance that doesn't have the snap or feel and wears out in a heartbeat. After looking at lots of brands, it turns out that everyone is now using this material for the celluloid picks. It may seem like a small thing, but a guitarist knows that something like this is akin to losing a limb.
These days metal guys and lots of other incredible players tend to go the heavy pick route. I've never been able to roll with that, so I tried some medium-ish variations, settling on the Dunlop Tortex mediums as an electric guitar compromise. I kept using the pseudo-celluloid on acoustic because the Tortex doesn't have much bite. Then, this year, by sheer chance I ordered a D&M Drive pedal made by Keeley. They included a medium celluloid pick with their logo. The moment I touched it I knew it was the closest thing I'd found to the old stuff. I called, found out who they bought them from (InTuneGP.com) and immediately ordered them (the dragon on my profile is the artwork I bought for the pick). They're still not the same material but it's the closest thing out there. To say I was happy would be an exercise in understatement.
And I swear this has something to do with the Kemper.
One of the reasons this type of pick is such a big deal to me is the bend, snap and transients it generates when playing single or multi note lines. There's a kind of sizzle on the attack that I couldn't get with heavy picks or the Dunlop material, and certainly not with what passes for a Fender medium these days. It's an integral part of how I express myself when playing, even if I'm the only one who notices it (as may well be).
Admittedly, my last go round with modelers (Line 6 HD) was a rev or two behind state of the art. Nonetheless, I've never found a modeler that would reproduce what I get out of a proper celluloid medium and a tube amp. It sounds good, and with very high gain stuff you can get away with a lot more, but the lower the gain, the more apparent it becomes that you're just not getting that subtle snap, scrape and sizzle that a real amp gives you when you dig in with your pick.
The past week has been setting up the KPA, getting configured, and buying some packs. And lots of auditioning of sounds. I just spent the past hour and a half going through stuff from small and funky combos to Fenders to Bogners, Friedmans, Marshalls, etc. High gain stuff. Fat clean stuff. Lots and lots of variations of crunch in between. Using, of course, a pick that feels like the real thing again.
Every little snap or twitch I get out of a pick just leaps out at me. Use even a mildly crunchy tone and the sizzle is there every time. If I didn't know what I was plugged into, I'd swear that there was a tube amp miked up in the other room. I've never heard these kinds of transients and this responsiveness to attack on a modeler. I haven't enjoyed playing guitar this much in ages.