V-Picks Euro and Euro II

V-Picks Euro and Euro II Review Coming Soon!

I picked up a couple of V-Picks today from one of their dealers I happened to be near today. They don’t have many dealers in this area yet. The models I decided to give a thorough work through after trying several of their models in the shop are the Euro and the Euro II. They are the same pick material just different sizes, which does affect how you use them. After a couple weeks of testing I will write a full review. Stay tuned!

Update: The V-Picks Euro and Euro II review has been published! Euro and Euro II Review

Fender Celluloid Pick Review

This is the pick that started it all… It is the pick I first used when I started playing guitar. Actually, it was more like trying to play the guitar and making plenty of noise. I know I drove my Mom crazy.

Pick Specs:

  • Gauges: Thin, Medium, Heavy, and Extra Heavy
  • Material: Celluloid
  • Shape: Regular/351
  • Tip: Rounded
  • Price: About .50¢ a piece or $6.00 for a 12 pack

I think it is safe to say every music store that sells guitars sells Fender picks, so you can get these quite easily at any music/guitar store. They are inexpensive, and the celluloid material is quite soft. These picks wear down quickly and the thin and medium gauges tear quite easily. I used these picks because everyone else was using them at the time. Hey, I didn’t know any better, and Randy Rhoads used a Fender Medium. That was good enough for me! Nor was there the huge selection of picks in the late ’70’s early 80’s like there is available to us today.

I used the medium gauge for several years. When I went away to college a friend of mine who lived in the dorm room next door, who was a very good guitar player, suggested I switch to the Fender Heavy instead of the Fender medium. He said I would be able to play faster and more accurately with the Fender Heavy, since it did not bend as much while playing. I considered this and split my time between the medium gauge and the heavy gauge to see what worked best for me. I ended up moving to the Fender Heavy gauge exclusively until somewhere in the early 2000’s.

Fender Heavy

The celluloid material these picks are made from is very smooth, which allows these picks like to move around when you are playing. They are also fairly easy to drop when your hands start to get sweaty. Some people would glue cork or sandpaper to their picks to make them easier to hang onto while playing live. I always had plenty around, so I would just grab another one if the pick happened to fly uncontrollably out of my finger’s grasp while playing live.

Fender celluloid guitar picks are available in four colors.

• White
• Black
• Confetti
• Tortoise shell

How do they sound? The Fender celluloid picks produce a nice warm, rounded tone, and create plenty of pick flap against the strings while playing, especially when using the thinner gauges. This gives you the classic celluloid pick sound. Celluloid picks have a sharper attack against the strings than the Gator Grip picks do, and sound a tad brighter too. With a distorted amp tone playing some first position cowboy chords it almost sounds like a motor is running with the chord. Kind of like when you clothes pinned playing cards into the spokes of your bicycle wheels when you were a kid, but not exactly.

The lighter gauges are great for rhythm work and the heavier gauges are better for lead work and super fast thrash metal type and/or high speed rhythm playing.

If you are on a tight budget Fender celluloid picks are great to start out with, and do produce a very nice tone.

Acoustic/Electric – L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I. Review

We are going to switch gears here and talk about a D.I. box I use quite frequently when routing acoustic guitar tones to the P.A. The L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I. (D.I. stands for direct injection). What led me to this D.I. box was that I had  purchased a Godin Solidac guitar. I have the older version of the Solidac with a creme colored pickguard. This guitar is a dual voiced electric guitar with one output for the magnetic pickups and one for the piezo pickups in the Strat style bridge, which was also made by L.R. Baggs. The guitar has a built-in preamp for the piezo bridge pickups, but it didn’t have any control over EQ, and I didn’t like the tone I was getting. I went to a music store with the Godin Solidac in hand, and demoed several acoustic D.I. devices. I decided that the L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I. gave me the best control over my acoustic/electric tones. The price I paid for the unit at the time was $150.00 plus tax. It was more than I wanted to spend, but in retrospect it was money well spent.


  • Adjustable gain for both passive and active pickups
  • 5 band EQ with tunable notch and midrange bands
  • Phase inversion for best sound and feedback control
  • XLR and 1/4″ outputs
  • Works with 9V battery or 48V phantom power

Let’s talk about the controls and features of the Para Acoustic D.I. It has an input and two outputs. One output is a 1/4 inch unbalanced output the other is called D.I. out and is a balanced, low impedance microphone cable type output that supports 48 volt phantom power for powering the unit instead of the 9 volt battery, which I try use instead of the battery whenever I can. The D.I. out can go directly to a snake or soundboard without introducing any appreciable noise or signal loss.

There is a gain control for adjusting for pickup sensitivity between various acoustic/electric pickup systems (the PDF manual available from the L.R. Baggs web site explains how to use the gain control in detail with diagrams).

The Para Acoustic D.I. has has a TRS style effects loop where you can plug in a stereo Y-cable into the jack with two mono plugs to split out the send and return of the effects loop. The tip of the stereo plug is the “send” and goes to the input of your outboard effect. The ring is the “return” and connects to the output of your effect. The sleeve is the ground. The send taps the signal right after the input gain control, so it bypasses all of the E.Q. and volume controls of the device. The manual for the device says that the effects send can be used for pristine unbalanced output from the discrete class A circuitry used in the preamp. I personally have not used the effects loop, so I cannot vouch for how well it works.

Next is the invert switch which controls the polarity/phase of the signal. When the switch is out the signal is in phase. When the switch is pushed in it is out of phase with the P.A. loudspeakers which can help with defeating low end feedback.

Moving on to the E.Q. section of the pedal. This section is quite powerful and is what sold me on purchasing this D.I. box. There are five basic controls in the E.Q. section; Low, Notch, Mid, Presence, and Treble. These controls start at “0” in the middle of the sweep, turn left to cut and right to boost the signal for each control. There are also two specialty controls for the Notch and Mid controls. For the Notch control there is a Tune control that sweeps over the A, D, G, and B notes to notch out a certain feedback frequency or to accent a certain frequency in a positive way. The Mid control has a frequency control that sweeps from .4kHz to 1.6kHz.

We will now look at each E.Q. control individually.

Low: Affects the signal in the 85Hz range. I turn this way down to cut the mud and boominess from my acoustic guitar plugged in sound.

Notch and Tune Knob: This control affects the 98 – 247Hz range. This control was designed to help specifically with feedback problems. You can find the frequency where your guitar is feeding back, and cut that frequency until the feedback goes away. I find in my playing situations that I don’t have  a lot of feedback issues, so I use this control to add body to my signal, which works quite well.

Mid and Frequency Tune Knob: Is the midrange control, which controls the 400Hz – 1.6kHz range. Here you can sweep through the frequency range with the frequency tune knob, and boost or cut the frequency to match your sound requirements for the particular instrument you are using at the time.

Pres: This is a presence control. This operates in the 5kHz frequency, and this control is used to add or remove sizzle from your sound. I usually keep this control set fairly low. I don’t like too much sizzle in my sound.

Treb: Is the treble control functioning in the 10kHz frequency. You can boost or cut your treble response here. I like a rounder, warmer acoustic sound, so I set this control rather low for the guitars that I own. This control can go quite bright if you like a brighter, sharper sound.

Vol: This is not part of E.Q. section but controls the overall volume of the signal that leaves the box through the output. I set this control on the “0”, which is high Noon on the dial or to about + 3/4 or 3:00 PM on the dial depending on the guitar I am using.

As I mentioned earlier this D.I. box has two ways to power the device. You can use either a 9 volt battery or 48 volt phantom power from the soundboard if you are connected to the D.I. Out with a microphone cable. The unit switches on when a cable is inserted into the Input jack (if you leave a cable plugged into the input of this box for a prolonged period of time your battery will run down to nothing). I prefer to use the phantom power whenever I can to save on batteries. It is a good idea to always have a battery in the Para Acoustic D.I., however, in case the 48 volt phantom power is disconnected or turned off, the power will automatically switch over to the 9 volt battery and keep the D.I. working without skipping a beat in a live performance situation.

The case that houses the circuitry is a nice, heavy folded metal case. I have carried this unit around with me for years and have not had any reliability issues at all.

I hope you found this review to be helpful. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in comments section.

Electric/Acoustic Guitar – Dunlop Gator Grip® Review

The next pick we are going to talk about is the Dunlop Gator Grip pick.

Pick Specs:

  • Gauges: .58, .71, .96, 1.14, 1.5, 2.0 mm
  • Material: Delrex
  • Shape: Regular
  • Tip: Rounded
  • Price: About .60¢ a piece or $4.00 – $6.00 for a 12 pack

I use these picks for both electric and acoustic guitar playing. The gauge I use the most is the .71 mm pick. They are an opaque purple color. Each gauge is a different color. This pick is an excellent pick for rhythm playing and some lead playing.

These picks are made out of a plastic called Delrex, which is similar to Tortex. When the picks are new they are chalky looking as you can see in the picture, and are very grippy. If you sweat a lot you may want to use Gator Grips picks as your main guitar pick. You will be hard pressed to drop one in the heat of battle. The edges are beveled for quick string release and smooth playing.

What does this pick sound like? It sounds totally different than Ultex picks that’s for sure. The Gator Grip pick produces a warmer, darker, fatter tone than Ultex. The .71 mm gauge kind of flaps against the strings while you play, so you get added vibe from the pick while playing rhythm and lead. When playing lead I really choke up on the pick to stiffen it up a bit for quicker pick response. This pick gives the notes an added whirr and blur that most other picks just don’t add to the sound. Single line passages just flow and blend together in a very musical way when using this pick. I played with another guitarist a while back, who borrowed one these picks from me. He just smoked with this pick and his tone was glorious. For a while I was hooked on this pick for electric guitar playing, before Ultex® won me over for most styles of music I play (please see my Ultex® Jazz III review). When I want more drive and projection out of my acoustic guitar I switch to this pick or the blue .96 mm Gator Grip pick, and hit the strings hard with downstrokes. I have tried all of the gauges except for the red .58 mm gauge. The purple .71 mm is by far my favorite gauge of the Gator Grips. The lighter gauges of these picks tend to wear down faster than Ultex, but if you like a smooth, fat tone Gator Grips are the way go. Highly recommended.

Electric Guitar – Ultex® Jazz III

Let’s start off with the guitar pick I use the most recently when playing electric guitar, the Jim Dunlop Ultex® Jazz III.

Pick Specs:

  • Gauge: 1.38 mm
  • Material: Ultex®
  • Shape: Jazz III
  • Tip: Pointy
  • Price: About 75¢ a piece (I bought a bag of 24 for about $8.00)

What is Ultex®? Ultex® is Jim Dunlop’s brand name for Ultem™ resin.

What is Ultem™? It is amorphous thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI) resin. Ultem™ is used in the Aerospace industry, Healthcare, guitar picks plus other things. It has good strength and stiffness, and outstanding dimensional stability (Ultem™ is tough stuff). Ultem™ is available in several transparent and opaque colors. If you want to learn more you can view the full lowdown on Ultem™ here.

I have several Altoids tins full of various guitar picks I have purchased on my quest for the holy grail of guitar picks. I can honestly say every pick material I have tried has given me a different sound from my guitar. This is where it really pays to use the right pick for the right job if you have to go for a certain sound on a given song. I have found for lead guitar work and a good amount of rhythm guitar work that I have been doing, the Ultex® Jazz III has been my go to pick over the last couple of years. It took me a while to get used to the Jazz III size, but once I did I have found this pick to be quite useful. The pick is a transparent amber color an has molded raised lettering on it, which gives you a good grip on the pick. I notice very little slippage while using this pick. The pick has a pointed tip with rounded edges that help the pick to glide over the strings. The pick is quite stiff for a 1.38 mm pick, more like the stiffness of a 1.5 mm – 2.0 mm pick. The stiffness allows for fast articulate playing. I have found over time the picks do wear down after quite a bit of use. They wear down far slower than many other guitar pick materials, however. Below are a couple pictures of Ultex® Jazz III picks I have used to show how they wear.

Ultex Jazz III 1

The pick above is a relatively new pick with some roughness on the side edge from doing pick scrapes. The tip is still in good shape. The pick below is a pick I have been using for many months for my daily practice sessions. The tip has rounded off, and the edges have beveled. I have since switched to a newer pick of the same type, and this one sits on my desk as a backup.

Ultex Jazz III 2

How do they sound? I would describe the sound as clear, bright and plinky sounding, for lack of a better term, when playing single note lines. Pinch harmonics are fairly easy to conjure with this pick. When playing chords you get a really smooth sound with good articulation. I read on the Premier Guitar web site in the article called The Spectrum of Plectrum, where they were interviewing Jim Dunlop, he likened the sound you get from Ultex® is very similar to Tortoise shell (Tortoise shell was a highly regarded, sought after guitar pick material. Due to some of the large turtles and tortoises becoming an endangered species. It is no longer legal to manufacture Tortoise shelI guitar picks). I keep trying different picks, but for a large portion of the material I play, which revolves around mostly Rock, Pop, Punk, Classic Rock, Contemporary Christian, and 80’s Metal. I keep coming back to the Ultex® Jazz III.

Update: I recently pulled out my nylon string acoustic guitar which is patterned after a classical guitar. I purchased this guitar many years ago when I was a teenager at a record store. I was trying various picks I had on my desk. The Ultex® Jazz III pick was by far the best sounding pick with this guitar. The sound was clear and natural. It pays to experiment until you find the sound you are looking for.