I reviewed a bunch of picks in parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series. Compared to the variety of pick styles available it seems as if I’ve reviewed almost nothing. My reviews also are oriented towards what works for me as opposed to your own preferences. In other words, my reviews might not be very helpful because you are looking for something very different than I am. So, with those caveats, here is a summary of what I liked best and least.
When I’ve used a pick over the past sixty years, I’ve used teardrop shaped picks, approximating the classic 351 design. Now, after trying more shapes than ever before, I believe I prefer triangular picks. Not by much. The teardrops are still fine, but I like the feel of the triangles in my hand. I didn’t know until now.
I sampled picks from 1.5 mm to 6 mm in thickness. My favorite pick until I did this survey was a 2 mm Dunlop Jazztone 207. After trying everything I own my feeling is my optimal thickness is 2 to 4 mm. The 1.5 mm are OK while thicker than 4 mm might be alright if the overall pick size is large enough. But my Jazztone is still one of my favorites.
Bigger picks are better for me. The largest pick I own, the Dunlop Tri-Stubby, is also one of the most comfortable. Although the 1.5 mm thicknesses of the 385 mandolin picks is thinner than I prefer, the height and width are great, making the picks comfortable to hold.
I’ve tried celluloid picks, the only material I could find for picks for thirty years or more. Then there is acetate which is what most of the newest picks I tried are made from. Delrin or related compounds is the third common material. Lastly is casein. In terms of tone, I don’t detect a lot of difference. Some. But, in my opinion most of the tone comes from thickness and shape, mostly from tip shape and edge finish. If any of the materials stood out it was casein. I repeat, the Dunlop Jazztone, made a Delrin derivative, is still one of my favorite picks.
Although I don’t think material is critical to tone, celluloid picks, even extra-heavy are thin compared to what I like. Consequently, celluloid is my least favorite material for a pick.
Favorite picks tried or wish I had tried.
This is not ranked, just judged as to whether I like it enough to call it a favorite. If so, it means I probably have played with it most days since I got it.
Dunlop Jazztone 207. It’s not the classic 351 shape but still close to being a teardrop. I might have played this pick less the past few weeks because of the novelty of the new picks, but it is still a favorite. It’s fast, has enough articulation to sound clear notes but the rounded tip isn’t annoying.
Wegen Gypsy Jazz Pick. I’ve owned this for years but only started using it for this comparison. I’ve decided it is a great pick. It is thick and easy to hold. The tip is sharper and more aggressive than most of the ones I prefer but it has a place.
V-Pick Hole-in-One. A thick triangle with rounded edges, close to the 346 mandolin design. It’s one of my new favorites.
Gravity picks. The closest to a favorite is the Axis standard (triangle) at 4 mm with multiple holes for gripping. But all of the Gravity picks I liked I would have liked more if they had been the next size large. I also preferred single holes, particularly the elliptical hole for a grip. The 6 mm thick Axis classic teardrop might have been OK if it had been the XL size. I wish I had tried the 3, 4, and 6 mm Axis designs with a single hole in the XL size. All that said, none of the Gravity picks I purchased are among my favorites.
Dunlop Tri-Stubby. I’ve mentioned the Dunlop triangle Stubby which I own in a 3 mm thickness. The only reason this has become a favorite is that I rounded the tips and polished the edges. Nail care files are great for sanding and polishing picks. As purchased, the Tri-Stubby is too pointed and the edges too sharp.