Posts Tagged ‘wegen’

When being fat is good…

Okay, not for a human, but for a pick, at least for me, it’s what I prefer. I use a Wegen Picks Fatone (fat-tone) pick, and at 5mm thick, it’s one fat pick. I’ve sung the praises of fat picks I’ve used in the past, but this one is special in that I use it for both acoustic and electric guitar; something I couldn’t do with other picks.

In any case, last night I got a renewed appreciation for a fat pick because I actually left my Fatone at home. And not having enough time to set up for my gig and fetch it, I had to use the spare emergency pick I keep hidden in the piano at the restaurant. This is a medium Dunlop Tortex. Not a bad pick, as I used that very same pick for years until I discovered fat picks.

Tonally, it didn’t sound bad, but I had gotten so used to playing with a fat pick that I couldn’t get comfortable with the Tortex. The main issue was holding on to the pick. With fat picks, contrary to what you initially might think, you actually hold the pick much lighter, and let the pick tip do the work. Also, fat picks just glide over the strings effortlessly. In contrast, I felt like the Tortex was getting “stuck” on the strings when I played.

I eventually got used to it, but it was a huge adjustment for me. I was really missing my Fatone. I won’t be forgetting again!

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I’ve literally spent hundreds of dollars on picks over the years; well most of that was spent in the last few years as I transitioned from standard Dunlop nylon picks to high-end, thick, rigid picks. Until recently, I used different picks for different guitars and even styles. For instance, for electric guitar, I used a V-Picks Snake (pointed) or a V-Picks B-flat for general rock, and I’d use a Red Bear B-Style Gypsy Jazz pick for when I knew I’d be doing a lot of leads or fills in a song. For acoustic, I also used the Red Bear, but mostly used a Wegen GP 250. But when I lost the GP 250, I wanted to get a new Wegen, so I found the “Fatone.”

When I first held it, I knew I was holding something special. It just felt “right.” Then trying it out on a couple of different guitars (at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, CA), I immediately fell in love with the pick. It was so comfortable in my hand, and the bevel was absolutely perfect! Even within the first couple of minutes, I figured out that slight angle changes my attack angle could produce different tones. With the pick attack angle more perpendicular to the strings, I could get a warmer tone. Flattening out the angle put the bevel more into play, and would produce more highs. I was really blown away! So of course, I bought the pick.

Now, almost a month into owning it, I’ve used it in over 10 gigs, for both acoustic and electric, and I can confidently say that this is it! I’ve found my all-in-one pick.

Soon after I got the pick, I contact Michel Wegen via email (he’s in Holland). On his site, he has a particular emphasis of using his picks on acoustic guitar. I asked him about that considering I’ve been using his picks for both acoustic and electric, and why he doesn’t mention anything about using his picks with electric guitar. Here’s his response verbatim:

Hi Brendan, It’s like the microwave and the small dog story. I’m sure you have heard of this. So, to be on the safe side, I only recommend my picks for acoustics. I have some customers having great fun making big electric guitar noise, using distortion and all, and they complaint to get free picks.

Kind of a bizarre response, but I get the picture. 🙂 I suppose from the response that several electric guitar players have used the picks and were breaking strings because they’re wailing on the strings so hard. But they love the sound, so they try to needle Michel into giving them free picks as compensation for their string loss.

But that brings up an important point about playing with thick picks. You have to un-train yourself from attacking hard. With traditional thin, flexible picks, to get more volume, you attacked harder. The same principle applies with thick picks, but because of their mass, you needn’t attack nearly as hard as with a traditional pick. Where with a traditional pick, your picking hand does most of the work to produce volume, with a thick pick, that work is transferred to the pick. You also hold a thick pick must lighter than a traditional pick. The net result is that your hand is very relaxed, and allows you to be much more fluid with your playing.

Django Reinhardt used super thick picks back in the day. If you see videos of him playing (there are only a few), look at his right hand, and see how fluidly his hand moves across the strings. Of course, a lot of that can be attributed to his incredible technique, but I can assure you his pick was never an impediment.

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5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

Wegen "The Fatone"

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Wegen’s Picks – The Fatone (Fat Tone)

Summary: This is now my new favorite pick! I had misplaced my Wegen GP 250 and wanted to get another GP 250. The store that I bought the last one at was out of GP 250’s so I dug in the Wegen pick box and found this beauty! The grip is awesome!

Pros: Beefy (5mm) pick that is amazingly accurate despite its thickness. Despite its thickness, this is tonally versatile pick!

Cons: Though it doesn’t take anything away from the rating, my only nit about my pick is that it’s black. Black gets lost easily on a dark stage. But Wegen makes them in white, so I’ll probably order a few of the white ones.

Price: $15.00 ea


  • 5 millimeters thick
  • Hand-made
  • Perfect bevel that makes your strings really ring!
  • Don’t know the material, but it’s a VERY hard plastic that does not scratch. You will never need to buff or resharpen Wegen picks!

Tone Bone Rating: 5.0 ~ Though I still love my V-Picks Snake (pointed), this pick is now my primary. It’s the perfect pick!

I’ve been searching for the perfect fat pick for a long time; or perhaps I should say that I’ve been looking for a pick that I could use for both acoustic and electric, but I never could. So I used a V-Picks Snake for electric and a Wegen GP 250 and a Red Bear Gypsy Jazz for acoustic. But all that changed when I got the Wegen “The Fatone.”

Admittedly, I discovered this pick not because I was looking to add to my collection of picks, but because I lost my GP 250, which had served me well for the last couple of years. I simply wanted to replace it. Unfortunately – or fortunately – the shop that I bought my GP 250 at was all out of them. So I looked through the case to see if I could find an alternate. That alternate was the Fatone. I knew from the first moment I held it that I was onto something with that pick. Then when I strummed it on a guitar in the shop, I was completely sold! Playing it at my solo acoustic gig an hour after that sealed the deal for me. I’ll be hard-pressed to use another pick.

This is a FAT pick at 5mm. But the inset, thumb-side grip, combined with the beveled tip make this pick feel so much thinner. It’s truly a joy to play.

What is it about fat picks for me? Well, having used them for a few years now, the most significant effect they’ve had on my playing besides tone is how they make my right hand relax. The way that works is that in order to make the pick glide over the strings effectively you have to hold the pick a lot looser in your fingers. That looser grip affects the whole hand. Granted, it took a little while to get used to, but once I was comfortable with a fat pick, going back to my old nylon picks seemed absolutely foreign to me. But relaxation made my playing much more fluid, and I was actually able to play a lot faster because my hand was so relaxed. In any case, I’m hooked on fat picks, and I’ll never go back to conventional picks.

Now I know that I normally do a “How It Sounds” section, but I’m actually on the road right now, writing while my son is driving the car (I’m taking him to college). But also, I don’t know how useful that section would be in this case. All I can say is that the fat pick produces a big sound, but in the case of the Fatone, because of the nice pointy bevel, it produces a nice, bright ring in addition to the deeper tone. It’s a bit hard to describe. It “feels” so much more full than other picks. For instance, though I love the sound my V-Picks Snake makes, it’s definitely a lot more mid-rangy than the Fatone.

One thing that is significant about the Wegen pick material is that it has a texture that feels softer than tortoise, but it’s actually a VERY hard material. The cool thing is that it’s a lot more damp on the strings than either acrylic or tortoise (or natural material). But it doesn’t produce a damper sound. It’s a feel thing. 🙂 In any case, I’m hooked on this pick. Also, tonally, this is a VERY versatile pick. By simply changing the angle and depth of attack, I can get thick, warm tones to nice bright tones. That’s extremely cool!

Overall Impression

As I mentioned above, I now have a new favorite pick. Not sure what else I can say about it. I won’t be getting rid of this one any time soon!

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Well you know me, I LOVE thick picks (2mm and above), and you probably also know that it’s dangerous for me to go to a guitar store because more likely than not, I’m going to walk out with something. 🙂 Today was no different…

My good buddy, Jeff Aragaki, of Aracom Amplifiers came over to the house to drop off some gear for me to evaluate: a ’59 Les Paul replica (I’ll have a review of that guitar in a few days after I’ve played it a bit) and a new Jensen 1 X 12 speaker. In turn, I was going to give him a pair of Groove Tubes Gold Series 6L6’s (GREAT f-in’ tubes). After that, we’d go get some lunch and catch up as we haven’t hung out in awhile.

We ended up going to a great Japanese curry place in downtown Los Altos. After lunch, we got in my car and Jeff said, “It’s too bad there’s not a guitar shop around here.” I of course know where all the shops are and replied, “You know, there’s one that’s about 10 minutes away. Let’s go there.” So I took him to Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto. It’s a high-end acoustic guitar shop that has been around for years, and in addition to having a great stock of Martin, Collings and other high-end acoustics, plus a limited selection of electric guitars and some VERY nice vintage stuff including a 1960 Telecaster for $17,500,  they have high-end picks. It’s the place where I discovered Red Bear Trading pics.

I did have a motive for going there as I needed a good stage stand for my guitar, and Gryphon carries the very awesome Hamilton guitar stands. After my guitar almost got knocked over by a gust of wind at my gig yesterday, I knew I needed to get a good stand, and it was a good excuse to go there with Jeff so we could jam for a bit as well.

So the sales guy rang up my stand, and then I made the mistake of looking into the case to see what picks they had. Mistake. I didn’t know they carried Wegen picks, and there they were: Three cases full of ’em. I couldn’t resist. I had to try them out. Now I had learned of Wegen picks from various forums, but never had the occasion to play one until today. So the verdict?

Well, I liked the material enough as I ended up getting the Trimus 350, which is 3.5mm thick. That’s just a bit thinner than my V-Picks Snake. So what’s so special about this pick that I was willing to drop $20 on it?

First of all, it has a different feel than V-Picks or the Red Bear picks. The material feels softer than either the Red Bear Tortis and the V-Picks acrylic, which makes for a nice, smooth tone. The points are beveled, so you do get a snap that brings out the highs.

Now Wegen claims that the material feels a lot like real tortoise shell. I’ve felt real tortoise shell, and this feels nothing like it. But that’s not a bad thing. What really turned me on about this pick is really the feel. It’s not as smooth in feel as either the V-Picks or the Red Bear, which have glass-like finishes. In contrast, the Wegen pick has a bit of a texture. But amazingly enough, that doesn’t translate to stickiness on the strings. Whatever Wegen I tested, it just glided over the strings.

Another nice feature of the Wegen picks I tested were the grooves cut into the body of the pick. Add to that a depression in the body, and what you’ve got is a pick that you can really hold onto!

I chose the Trimus 350 because I like the shape – it is very similar to my V-Picks Snake and my Red Bear B-Style Gypsy Jazz. It’s also thinner than both – not by much – but still just a bit thinner. But Wegen has a lot of different picks. If you get a chance, check one out!

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