War. Huh. What it is good for? Plectrum inspiration, say it again ya’ll.
When I’d been down the boutique pick rabbit hole for a while, one name in particular kept coming up over and over again – Iron Age Accessories. Based out of Austin, Texas and founded by Alexis Rodea, Iron Age are the only pick company I’ve come across who mention Caesar, Norse mythology and the US Military in their back story. Alexis is a one-man operation who wants to make fine plectra, using acrylic, wood, brass, copper, and in the case of our test subject, substitute Ivory.
This isn’t the same as the Tagua used by Howling Monkey, but another material whose makeup I’m not yet privy to. It’s got a bone-y quality to it for sure, and after much slashing away on my electric I’ll confirm that it doesn’t chip. Measuring approximately 29 by 28mm, the XL is the same length as a Dunlop Jazz XL, but with the thickness of three stacked together (just shy of three if I’m honest).
You might be looking at this example of the brilliantly named ‘Parthenon Ivory Series’ and thinking ace, another Kemper-pumping shredders tool, but no – the XL has a slightly reserved quality, making it a fabulous pick for jazz players. Clocking in at a hearty 4mm, it’s not the first thing a lot of players might look to for strumming, but for single note work it’s the plums. The notes sound like they’ve got their chests pushed forward, with a knowing, controlled edge. More of a broadsword than a rapier, I’d say – or a bastard sword to be more precise.
On electric, the temptation is to slow down and toss in the odd flurry – not because there’s drag, but because the bloom is proper, allowing each note time to blossom. The mass did encourage me to hybrid pick more, and the amount of physical effort required to produce healthy notes is very, very minimal, making for a very relaxing ride.
Switching to acoustic however really brings out the best in the XL. Utterly massive to the point of being silly, the sheer depth on tap was a bit weird at first, and that stern, furrowed brow that comes from digging in made itself powerfully evident. Single notes seemed like a bit of a waste of time when mining gigantic open-string chords made me feel like the shepherd of storms, and the XL’s mass made playing quietly -while preserving gravity and menace – a breeze.
It took a while to get used to the grip – my fingers don’t do well with a matt surface – but time let me understand that my traditionally slightly-too-aggressive style wasn’t required, and that if I let the pick do the work, it wasn’t going anywhere. That sword/wreath combo on the front side is pretty deep, and the far side being like a bar of soap did take a bit of getting used to, but most players likely won’t have a problem with this, and Alexis has told me that he’ll happily engrave the other side for a couple of dollars.
If you play slow, grand electric or like your acoustic chords to be deeper than Atlantis, this is a pick you need – fact. Those of you who live for speed might want to check out other models in the range – especially as the top end on these is dialled back a bit – but if you’re a single player or a rhythm guitarist, the Parthenon Ivory XL is a bona fide monster. Imperial.
- 4mm thick, though you can go down to 2.5mm
- Substitute Ivory
- A brutal 8.5/10
- Cost per unit: $19, an extra $5 for engraving
- Is to acoustic work what Talos is to bronze
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