Posts Tagged ‘Blue Mountain Picks’

Summary: When I first saw ads about this, I thought: It’s just another thumb pick. But the spring-loaded “holster” changes the game, allowing you to move the pick to a comfortable position on your thumb – something traditional thumb picks can’t do. Plus, the pick is a regular guitar pick, so for flat pickers, it feels like you’re playing with a regular pick.

Pros: Nice, thick 1.5mm pick. For those that prefer thicker picks, you’ll feel right at home playing with this. As mentioned above, the spring-loaded “holster” allows you to move the pick to the most comfortable position on your thumb.

Cons: I can understand the design constraints in creating the hinge, but it would be nice to have the hinge be at a slight angle instead of perpendicular to the long side of the pick (see below).

That said, this is just a tiny issue and doesn’t take away from the pick’s usefulness. Perhaps in future versions, we’ll see righty and lefty thumb picks.

Price: 3 for $19.95, 7 for $49.95, and 12 for $74.95

Tone Bones:

Even with my little issue, this is a solid product. If you’ve avoided using a thumb pick in the past, this might be something worth checking out. I don’t give this rating lightly. I will be using this pick – a lot!

It shouldn’t work, but it does. I shouldn’t like it, but I do…

When I first saw a video of this pick on my Facebook news feed, I kind of rolled my eyes, thinking it was just some sort of gimmick. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me because like many players, I’ve avoided using thumb picks.

One thing that really intrigued me was that I often switch back and forth between flat picking and fingerstyle within a song. And though I’ve become fairly adept at tucking my pick and holding it with my index finger when I want to switch to playing fingerstyle (kind of like Brian Setzer), when I was first learning to do it, I hated the fact that I’d lose the use of my index finger because it was holding the pick! With the Black Mountain Pick, I can strum along or play a solo, then immediately transition to playing fingerstyle without losing the use of my index finger.

But I think the thing that really did it for me was that the Black Mountain pick is shaped like a standard plectrum. I’ve never liked the shape of a regular thumb pick. That the Black Mountain pick is a standard, familiar shape makes it feel much more natural to me.

I’ve been playing around with it for last few days, and I’ve taken to it rather quickly. But I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’ve been playing fingerstyle and clawhammer for so long. So it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to start using the pick effectively. But if someone is new to fingerstyle playing, like learning any new technique, it’ll take time to learn and practice to become proficient, and let’s be clear: That lack of proficiency will not be due to the pick.

Fit and Finish

The pick is very well-made. As you can see from the picture, the hinge is fairly hefty. I was a bit concerned about this when I first inspected it, but it doesn’t get in the way at all. And it helps that the spring is fairly tight – this won’t fall off while you’re playing!

The plastic doesn’t feel cheap at all. I’ve gotten some evaluation picks in the past that felt like they were made from the same plastic that’s used for toy soldiers. Needless to say, I didn’t write a review about them. But this pick’s materials are solid.

One thing I did do with one of the picks that was sent to me was to use some fine-grain sand paper to smooth out the sharp edge of the pick. Some players like a sharper edge, but I personally prefer a rounder edge to my picks.

How It Sounds

Just like with any heavier gauge pick, it’s going to bring out the mid-range a bit more. Sanding down the edge for me dampened the highs a bit and put even more emphasis on the mid-range which, again, I prefer.

Plastic picks are notorious for making squeaking sounds sometimes, but since I’ve been playing with this pick, I haven’t experienced that at all. But I also attack the strings at an angle, so the chance of making a squeak is minimal.

Why Would You Want to Use a Thumb Pick?

For me, the only answer to that question is one word: Tone. If I want to brighten up my bass notes when playing fingerstyle, there’s really no better option. It could be argued that I could get a brighter sound with my thumbnail. Absolutely. But a nail is much softer than a pick – well, at least this particular pick – and while I could get a brighter sound with my nail, it’s not nearly as bright as with a thumb pick.

Here’s a quick demo I put together that demonstrates the tonal differences between using my thumbnail vs using the Black Mountain pick:

The tonal difference is pretty stark. And at least for that particular song, Toulouse Street by the Doobie Brothers, the Black Mountain pick is totally appropriate. But that said, while I mentioned that I’ll be using it a lot, it will depend on what kind of tone I want out of a song, so I won’t be using it full-time when playing fingerstyle. But I like the fact that I have another tool in my tonal arsenal that I can use for fingerstyle playing!

Overall Impression

Other than my little nit with the angle, what’s not to like? I kind of solved that by cutting and sanding a notch in the holster so I could rotate the pick a few degrees. I have to admit that I kind of felt like Ian Roussel from Full Custom Garage, but on a much smaller scale when I did that. But the result was that I could rotate the point of the pick forward which also meant that I could lift my palm a little higher off the strings, which brings my fingernails more into play. My right hand position tends more to the classical position rather than a country style which has a flatter positioning. So being able to lift my palm is important.

But as far as the actual pick is concerned, I love it! And like I said above, I’m happy to have yet another tool in my tonal arsenal!

In closing, I’ll just say this: This is not a gimmick. This is a good, solid product that can do the work of a flat pick as well as a thumb pick. For songs such as Something in the Way She Moves by James Taylor where there’s both strumming and picking, this is a great tool to have!

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