Of picks and articulation

  • 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.

  • As Al from Happy Days used to say, "Yup, yup, yup, yup yup".


    I've banged on here about what I called the "responsiveness" of the KPA's Profiles and the "sense of immediacy" I instantly felt when switching from my last modeller (same as for you - the L6 HD series, and probably like you, I've owned every POD, including the bass ones, since the 1.0 bean back in the '90s).


    Nothing out there digital-wise ever came even remotely close to delivering this organic, immediate, "tactile" response and the impression that the thing's "alive".


    I ran out of superlatives and descriptors years ago when trying to convey this accurately, which is quite an achievement for the KPA 'cause I'm never (again, probably like you, Chris), short-of-a-word. :D:/


    In case you didn't know, Chris:

    Any mention of commercial Profilers will likely see a thread moved to the Third party Rigs discussion subforum, so don't fret(!) if your baby gets relocated.

  • In case you didn't know, Chris:

    Any mention of commercial Profilers will likely see a thread moved to the Third party Rigs discussion subforum, so don't fret(!) if your baby gets relocated.

    Oops. Still learning the ropes around here.


    Removed profile brand names from above post to stay compliant with guidelines.

  • I used Fender Thins by the gross, too. They broke so easily I had to have that many of them, even with the .008 strings that I was using back then. (I started with .007 sets LOL!) I was so picky back then that I preferred the sound of the white ones over the tortoise.


    Fast forward: I moved up to .009, and then .010 strings for better guitar synth tracking, and got wider dynamic range, fatter low end, and more sustain as bonuses. My picks got thicker, too. I used Fender Mediums until the Tortex/Delrin picks came along, and finally had picks that didn’t break. Eventually the point wears down to look like the other two corners, but, I usually lose them before that happens.


    After thousands of gigs, I’m comfortable with pretty much any gauge or pick material (even thin metal), as long as they are “351” shaped. It is fun to experiment with the picks I find onstage.


    I agree with what you are saying; The response and dynamics of the KPA is why I have one. It sounded great in the demos, but, the feel is what sold me.

  • I was so picky back then that I preferred the sound of the white ones over the tortoise.

    I preferred whites for exactly the same reason. Some of my guitar playing friends thought I was delusional (quite possible) and that there was no difference (I swore that there was). Glad to see I'm not entirely psychotic. Or that I at least have company in the funny farm. :)


    While they don't give me the feel and articulation I'm looking for, I love everything else about the medium Tortex picks - the quality, the grip, and the fact that they freakin' last forever. It's not a deficiency of Dunlop that Tortex isn't the characteristic I'm looking for. These guys make great stuff.

  • Thin picks are too floppy for me. If playing very fast, they don't work well. Kinda thin I use for acoustic, the jazz 3 pics for electric that are thicker but not super thick, or I just use my fingernail which really does just as well as a pick. I couldn't imagine using .007, man, how would you keep the stings in tune? haha.. I like .10's.

    In case you didn't know, Chris:

    Any mention of commercial Profilers will likely see a thread moved to the Third party Rigs discussion subforum, so don't fret(!) if your baby gets relocated.

    That would be beyond silly since the topic is not about 3 party rigs. Mentioning something in passing to enhance your story is not focusing specifically to warrant that. A company would have to be really spooked or worried about something to be that micromanaged.

  • Please don't shoot the messenger, NemBro'. ;) Chris wasn't aware of the situation, so I was letting him know how it is and he's since removed the references from the OP.


    Anyone who hasn't seen "Thread moved" suddenly appear in such circumstances couldn't have been here long. I've never questioned or criticised the policy; it's not my call to make, but I can understand the desire to keep endorsements, no matter how-subtle, seperate from the Kemper side of things and confined to the 3rd-party discussion subforum.

  • @Nemo13, @Monkey_Man - I actually appreciate the perspectives and help from you both.


    Yeah, it wasn't about someone's products and the mods didn't move it, but I thought it best to remove the reference just the same out of respect.


    While the community here is unusually positive for the Internet, most forums have a lot of nonsense going on and the moderators are constantly having to do things all because of an ill behaved minority. It's a thankless tasks and instead of appreciation for trying to keep a forum civil and on topic, they usually just get grief and complaints.


    It's true, sometimes policies can seem overly heavy handed, but a friend of mine once put it very succinctly: "For every rule, there was an incident."


    Me, I'm just a guy trying to do the right thing. Life's a lot simpler that way. :)

  • I'm a fan of Tortex Delrin 1.14s myself, has to the the delrin's though not the other ones. Not too chunky, but plenty rigid enough to dig in, and the edge wears nicely to create some good scratchiness.

  • Nemo13 , Monkey_Man - I actually appreciate the perspectives and help from you both.


    Yeah, it wasn't about someone's products and the mods didn't move it, but I thought it best to remove the reference just the same out of respect.

    Normally it would have been instantly-moved, Chris, but there's been a bit of a lull in policing the past few weeks. This happens from time to time.


    By "subtle endorsements" I meant that there's almost always a descriptor involved. "I've been running the KPA through its paces using the excellent [brand x] Profiles, and blah blah blah...", for example. That said, historically there's been no need for a descriptor; the threads concerned have been moved pronto.


    Even 'though your OP seemed to me to be focussed as much on the KPA's responsiveness and quality thereof as on the actual pick type, the thread seems to have morphed into a discussion about picks. I wonder if a mod might see his way fit to merge it with the existing "active" pick thread (there've been others over the years but they've long-since died), here:


    Guitar picks. Which one do you use ?

  • That would be beyond silly since the topic is not about 3 party rigs. Mentioning something in passing to enhance your story is not focusing specifically to warrant that. A company would have to be really spooked or worried about something to be that micromanaged.


    I agree, it's silly, but Nicky was just informing him of policy. I've seen many threads moved for much less specific 3rd party discussion. This one would almost certainly have been moved in short order had Chris not edited it...unless they spontaneously decided to lighten up...hahaha, I crack myself up sometimes. :D


    Kind ofdumb imo, but it is what it is, there's no "would be" hypothetical about it. :)

    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • Exactly the same deal here, Alan!


    I used the grey .88s for years and "tried" to use the black 1mm, but they definietly lack attack precision IMHO.


    Switched to the Jazz III (standards, black) and articulation and note-picking was instantly so-much-easier.


    The only downside is the knuckle-grazing affair rhythm playing (apart from chugging 5ths for rock) became. RiF , in the other pick thread, suggested an in-between pick that meets the regular size and the Jazz III halfway, the Jazz III XL. Definitely gonna try it...