V-Picks: boutique pickin' 'n' grinnin'
(John Gorbe | Posted 2011-06-30)
When I first heard about V-Picks I didn’t think they had anything different to offer than other pick manufacturers. They obviously look nice and are available in a variety of gauges to aid in tone, but I just couldn’t subscribe to the theory that they could be something to “write” about.
Well, after playing with these V-Picks exclusively for a week, guess what happened? I have already recorded, played a job and reach for them any time I go near my guitar. That’s right, I subscribe to the V-Pick theory now.
I received a pack of V-Picks in the mail from the president of the company, Vinni Smith. He sent me a nice variety of picks to work with and I quickly found my favorites that I use all the time. I’ll discuss these later in more detail.
All of these picks are handmade with an acrylic material that gets sticky as it heats up between your thumb and fingers. This means that the pick will not spin around in your hand unless you want it to. This is definitely a welcomed feature for beginning and even intermediate students who don’t quite have the feel and sensitivity yet in their picking hand. Students tend to squeeze the pick much more than necessary creating tension and the pick slides around like crazy. For this reason I love these picks, especially the thicker ones, as a teaching aid.
I also like the idea of incorporating V-Picks into practice routines because the player needs to have clean technique to properly play with the thicker models. Repetitive sessions with these picks will build and maintain sensitivity, accuracy, dynamics, endurance and fluidity - all of which will produce speed as well!
A few picks caught my attention immediately: The Tradition, Medium Pointed Lite, Ruby Red Medium Rounded and Lite Medium Rounded. All of these picks provided me with a beefy tone and a sure grip.
The Tradition is 2.75mm and was the thickest of the picks I tested. I really appreciated how relaxed I was while playing and I attribute this not only to the gauge of the Tradition but also to the finely crafted beveled edges, which enabled me to smoothly pass through the string with very little friction. The attack is articulate but the notes have a full body due to this buttery smooth edge. It’s quite a beautiful thing!
When I play with a normal tear drop shape pick I always turn the pick around to the rounder edge because I like how the string responds to the pick. I always got a warmer tone and less of a percussive attack using this technique so I was happy to see that Vinni has a variety of 3-sided round edged picks.
The Lite Medium Rounded is such pick that I was immediately attracted to. It measures 1.5mm and has a great tone and silky feel while gliding over the strings. The familiar warm tone was present, but better! I heard a lot of tone from the string and less initial attack. This makes it great for smooth rhythm playing as well as efficient soloing.
The Ruby Red Medium Rounded is basically a Medium Rounded with a center indent for your thumb to rest. I found this pick to be really nice for hybrid picking. Sometimes to get the correct articulation from the bass strings one needs to turn the pick around a little and juggle while executing independent lines with their right hand! Not so with this pick. I noticed a clear difference from this pick on the lower strings - more tone, volume and definition. Without focusing so much on my picking, my fingers were able to play more efficiently as well using the hybrid technique. This versatile pick was a joy to work with!
I also liked the Lite Medium and Large Pointed. These are nice for digging into solos with some dirt on your sound, especially if you’re executing pinched harmonics. They have a nice tone as they’re 1.5mm and are complimented by a nice bite on the string. I used these picks in tandem with more overdriven tones and it responded nicely with a sharp articulate sound that allowed me to stay in control of the string.
Other picks I tried were the “Switchblade” and “Stiletto”, which are both 1.5mm and produce a sharp attack. The Switchblade is the size of a regular tear drop pick with a noticeable point while the Stiletto is its smaller cousin at roughly half the size. These picks also featured un-buffed edges for a different feel and more bite for pinching those harmonics! The popular “Screamer” was tested in its Pearly Gates variation as well. This was a very nice pick producing a very sharp, articulate attack with a nice beveled edge. If you like smaller picks it also came in a “mini” size.
I played with these picks on an acoustic steel string and a nylon string to see how they performed and my choice for the steel string were the same as the electric while the nylon string seemed to crave the rounded picks. The Lite Medium Rounded was a perfect match for the nylon string to my ears. I play a lot of acoustic guitar so I was very happy to learn that these picks work well on everything!
The Bottom Line
V-Picks are the most versatile picks you will find on the market. They have exceptional tone and their design offers numerous benefits to the player. Vinni is also great with customer service and will respond promptly regarding your questions or concerns. If you’re looking to perfect your picking technique and sculpt your tone and style - you owe it to yourself to try these V-Picks.
To browse the full product line of V-Picks visit them at: www.V-Picks.com