Back in 1994, I was a 13 going-on 14-year old with an insatiable appetite for music. I’d sung in choirs since the age of 5 or so, culminating in a stint at Paisley Abbey and two Bishop’s Chorister medals for sight-reading, but when my voice broke and I sTarTeD tO SouNd a BiT liKe tHis I found I didn’t know where to place myself.
I’d been playing the violin for some years, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like not knowing what I was doing, or the teacher that I had (a rather unkind lady called Miss Moffat). When I called her up to tell her that I didn’t want to play the violin any more she said “GOOD” and hung up on me, which wasn’t a great feeling, but it meant that I was free to start to playing the guitar.
After a good deal of posturing without one, I used the £40 I’d been given for my 16th birthday to buy a Lauren 3/4 size Classical, and to play it, I bought one of these .60mm Dunlop Tortex picks. Made from Delrin, a material about which you can read in later articles, this plectrum was very much like my spirit at the time – thin, tentative, and far too limp to stand up to anything. No matter how hard I play with one of these, it’s alarmingly easy to reach its’ upper limit, and although the grip is relatively universal, I always found I was thrashing as hard as I could without getting much out of it, a bit like screaming at a bus.
That’s because the .60 wasn’t meant to be used as a weapon – it’s for making music. The electric guitar is something that’s easily weaponized, but not just on a physical level. For me to feel like I was striking back against the world, I needed something with more power, more body, that made me consider more of what I was saying. These are pretty thin sounding picks, particularly on acoustic, where even aggressive strumming is manifested with that tickety-tickety sound I always associated with the acoustic guitar on record.
As a tool for the beginner, or for the long-standing player who doesn’t need to be aggressive, the .60 is fine. Trem pickers may find the floppiness unable to keep pace with their right hand, and strummers may find that there’s not enough gears in the gearbox. That being said, as always, if you love this pick, keep loving it – I am, after all, only one player amongst millions.