Review – Dunlop Primetone 1.4mm

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a pick that you can buy in a shop, potentially in your local shop.

No, there’s nothing wrong with me – but there’s no such thing as a plectrum that you shouldn’t try. The PrimeTone Series is the precursor and cousin to the current Flow Series, and is a great way to ease yourself into the world of higher-end plectra. While Dunlop itself needs no introduction, most players will associate them with their brightly colour-coded 3-for-a-pound efforts that you keep finding in old jackets, but there’s a reason why they’re the most widely-known picks on earth. Dunlop know how to make a plectrum, and it’s the details on this number that make it such a joy.

The PrimeTone Series are made from Ultex, which is a material that most of you will recognise from the unthinkably hard Jazz III XL. Ultex is like brick, with a totally unforgiving hardness to its sound that makes it tremendous for heavy bass work and defiant, insensitive guitar lines. These, however, have an oddly gentle quality to them, albeit in the same way as a boxer punching you with their gloves on rather than bare-fisted. This fundamental change in tone is down to the sloped bevels on either side of the tip, which are present to give the pick a ‘forward facing’ edge, increase contact with the string, and soften the attack. The result is less stiffness, greater depth, and pronounced midrange, making them excellent for fast chord and single notes, especially in the rockier areas of whatever genre you’re in.

The grip is insane. Those raised bumps drill into your fingertips like few picks I’ve tried, and if you’re not getting on with them Dunlop have had the wherewithall to do a run without the grips (though they do paint them on in a gold that rubs off immediately). This particular model, the complete-arse-to-photograph that is the 1.4mm, is really where you start to get the benefits of this uncomprimising material, and although there’s a slight hooding of the top end, the extra bonk in the mids should draw in a number of harder players.

Downsides? Well, compared to picks a little further up the quality chain the PrimeTones don’t breathe as much, and there’s a boxy quality to the sound, especially on acoustic. Think of the difference between a TS-9 and an OCD (any version you like but mostly the III) – the Fulltone is a bit more open. That doesn’t mean that either one is wrong, they’re just different. If you’re flirting with more expensive, thicker or harder picks, then these are more adaptable than their less-beveled forebears, but bear in mind that it’s definitely a pick – in my opinion at least – for electric rather than acoustic work. Good stuff though, no question.

Vitals:

  • 1.4mm thick
  • Ultex with bevels
  • Sculpted by hand like a Roman statue or something
  • A 7/10 for definite
  • Cost per pack of 3 – around £8 though this does seem to vary
  • Boxy brilliance and pretty fast

https://www.jimdunlop.com/

Instagram: @jimdunlopusa

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