I hadn’t foreseen a multipart series when I started writing Part 1, certainly not a 3-part series. Yet, here I am to review boutique picks. Part 2 had tacked on a mention of boutique pick makers even though I had not tried any of their products. Then I realized, this was an excuse to both try and write about some of the unique picks available.
Most of the picks reviewed in the previous posts were made by large manufacturers such as Fender, Dunlop, D’Andrea, and D’Addario. Boutique makers are often small operations or at least start that way. They offer unique shapes and features and some are made from unusual materials. They tend to have a larger variety of sizes, shapes, grips, and finishes.
I haven’t sampled products from all the boutique pick makers, nor scratched the surface in terms of the variety available. I did not pay for the expensive picks that sell for more than $25 apiece. But I did buy four picks from each of two companies for a total of eight additional picks. The prices range from $5 each to just over $10.
The two pick makers I tried for the first time are V-Picks and Gravity Picks. I skipped BlueChip picks and RedBear Trading Company because their prices are over $25 a pick. Gravity also makes a Gold Series of pick for $40 but has a good choice of acrylic picks for under $15 each.
The Gravity product offerings are organized very logically. There are ten shapes. Each shape comes in four sizes (Mini, Big Mini, Standard, and XL). Each combination of shape and size comes in different thicknesses up to 6 mm. You can further choose a single hole, multi-hole, elliptical hole, or no hole for the grip as well as choose polished edges or unpolished. That’s a lot of combinations. I only purchased four picks which means I’ve only scratched the surface of what Gravity picks sells. Also, everything I bought is made from acrylic sheets but they make a more expensive line of picks from a different thermoplastic.
Two of the picks I bought are of the classic shape, which is essentially the teardrop 351 shape. The other two picks I purchased are triangles. All have polished edges. Individual comments on the picks are below but overall I wish I had tried the XL-sized picks in the 3 and 4 mm thicknesses.
Classic Big Mini
The Gravity Classic Big Mini 2 mm pick is the classic teardrop shape. It is 1.06 x 1.02 inches. There’s nothing wrong with it, but nothing special. I think I would have liked the Standard size better because it seems too small. But if you like smaller picks you can get a Mini, even smaller than this one. All variations of the classic shape can be found here.
Classic Standard is 1.22 x 1.11 inches which is slightly larger than most 351 shaped teardrop picks. It is the thickest pick I have tried at 6 mm. But, although larger than the Big Mini, it seems as though the height and width dimensions could still be larger for my comfort. This, in spite of thinking the Gravity standard size in the 2 mm thick pick would have been better. The reason is the curved, polished edges eats up some of the surface that could be used for gripping the pick. With regards to grips, this one has an oval shaped hole to assist in the grip. Haven’t decide how much I like this pick yet, but I prefer it to the Classic Big Mini.
Axis Big Mini
A triangular pick larger than the Big Mini but not as large as the XL, this one is 4 mm thick and has multiple small holes to aid in gripping the pick. The dimensions are 1.16 x 1.12 inches. I prefer the single elliptical or circular hold for gripping to the multiple holes on this pick. The larger the pick, the more surface is given to rounding the edges so thicker picks do not have as much flat surface as you expect.
Unlike the logic of Gravity picks where you choose shape, size, thickness and so on, V-Picks are each designed to achieve something different. I liked the names, descriptions, and picks. Maybe not better than Gravity Picks, but differently. Vinnie, the founder of V-Picks, seems to have fun designing, naming, and playing the picks he sells.
I bought this for the novelty of it. If you are a fan of Gypsy Jazz you may know the story that Django Reinhardt used a button from his trousers as a guitar pick. The Gypsy is a 1.5 mm, 1-inch diameter button-shaped pick. It feels much like the 385 mandolin picks I’ve tried.
2.75mm x 1.125 x 1 inches. This is a fairly standard teardrop size and shaped pick. It is a bit more pointy than I like. As with Gravity picks, I felt the rounded edges reduced the flat gripped surface enough that a slightly larger pick would feel more comfortable.
The website description for this pick explains it is based on something the great jazz guitarist, Johnny Smith, gave to Dean Farley. It isn’t clear if Johnny Smith actually used a pick like this. He owned a music store so might have just been giving away picks to customers.
1 x 1 inch. Mine says medium on it but I can only find large on the website now. It’s a triangle and could be used as a mandolin pick.
Hole in One 2.75mm x 1.1875 inches between points.Another triangular pick with a center hole. I like this one.