I’ve had several offers for reviews from manufacturers over the past year or so, but since I wasn’t in a band at the time and only doing solo gigs, I’d turn them down. You see, from the outset of writing this blog, I didn’t want to be a “me too” review site and review everything under the sun. The main reason was that since this blog is essentially a labor of love and done when I had available time, I had to be very choosy about what I’d review. To narrow down the list, I decided I’d only write about gear that I would personally use, or had real potential of being used in the studio or playing out. And that usage mainly revolved around gigging with my band.
But since I’ve joined a new band, my GAS has been ignited, so to say, so that I’m now much more inclined to look at gear and write about it. And it’s funny how energy works… As soon as I started thinking about getting and writing about gear, I started getting contacted by gear makers. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. But regardless of that, a recent contact I got was from a company called “Iron Age Guitar Accessories,” asking me if I’d take a look at their bone and horn picks.
I have to admit that I’m a bit of a sucker for picks made with natural material. I still use my Red Bear Trading picks regularly, and the fact that the Iron Age picks are made from actual bone and horn – materials I’ve never played with before – intrigued me enough to accept the offer.
I asked to review the Spearhead (shown above on the left) and the Jazz RT picks (shown to the right). They have two other sets: Jazz XL and Jazz3, but I only asked for the picks that I thought would fit my usage. Let me share my first impressions. I’ll go over my general impressions then talk about each individually.
Before I received the picks, I was a little concerned that because they’re a natural material, they might not be very durable or have that much longevity. But once I got them, it’s hard to believe they’re made of a natural material. They’re absolutely solid.
As for how they feel while holding them, they feel awesome! There’s nothing like the feel of a natural material; they feel “grippier” to me. For my solo acoustic work, I’ve been using Wegen picks “Twins.” These are great-feeling guitar picks, but my only beef with them is that despite the grip ridges etched into the picks, they slip. I don’t have that problem with my Red Bear Trading picks even though they don’t have any grip etchings. The Iron Age picks, on the other hand, are etched with cool designs that doubly serve as grip ridges. But the material itself is more grippy to me as compared to my Wegen picks, and that bore itself out on my Saturday-night gig where I used the Jazz RT.
All in all, I’m very excited about these picks! So now, onto my impression of the individual picks…
Iron Age states on their site that this is a shredder’s pick. I can see that. It’s smaller than a standard pick (though bigger than a Jazz 3). It’s sharp and pointy for pinpoint accuracy while picking out notes and it’s a dream for pinch harmonics. It’s nice and thick without being too beefy, so movement over the strings is nice. But having said all that, this is just a great pick for playing electric guitar. The point brings out the highs, while the bevel makes it easy to move over the strings. The notches are actually cool, and make a nice guide for sliding the length of the string for a dramatic slide move before a power chord. 🙂
But I’m not a shredder, and love this pick! For playing solos, I prefer a pointy end because I want the highs to help cut through the mix. Plus the pointy-end provides much better note clarity. So for even one who plays at a much slower pace, this is a great pick! I’ll be using it this week at band rehearsal. I can’t wait!
The Jazz RT
As I mentioned above, I played with the Jazz RT this past Saturday evening. For me, this is the perfect pick for acoustic guitar. Its slightly larger diameter and round, beveled point produce a nice, balanced tone, and for leads (I solo over looped phrases), I got this incredible hollow-body tone out of my Yamaha APX900. This pick has just become my go-to pick for my solo acoustic work. And that’s saying a lot because I do roughly 150 solo acoustic gigs a year, so this will be a true test of the pick’s durability. Luckily you get two in a set, so I think I’m set for at least the next several months, if not the next year. It will depend on the wear.
I also love the pick’s tapered bevel. The beveling starts at about the midway point (lengthwise), then tapers to a nice edge at the point. That’s not apparent in the pictures, but what it amounts to is making it VERY nice for strumming. I strum with the pick angled at about 30-45 degrees, and the beveling really helps in this. I have to say that Iron Age really thought through the design of the Jazz RT.
Would I use it for electric? I’m not really sure. Perhaps. I see this pick as a great strumming pick. The point certainly has a nice edge to it, but the notes will come off much more warm. I prefer my electric notes to sit in the higher frequencies.
In any case, these picks arrived at just the right time because my Wegen Twins are finally showing their age after two years of regular use. Thee Wegen’s are still great, but there’s a lot to be said about these Jazz RT picks!
I think Iron Age is onto something with this material. The feel and tone of these picks are perfectly suited to my style of play. I’m looking to be using these picks for a long time!