First review of the year, and I thought I’d start with something unusual.
I’ve never backed a company on Kickstarter previously, but after being turned onto this by my chum and session ace Tom Williams, this product seemed like such a good idea that I decided to get into it. The videos I watched concerning Bog Street head Paul Holcomb looked very earnest, and I liked his idea of pushing the pick into new territory through design rather than simply changing materials.
After many, many email updates, these two finally arrived, and the three-in-one ergonomic creation that is the Leap was in my hands. The whole idea behind this thing was comfort, grip, and ease of use, and it’s being targeted primarily at beginners to give them a sure footing when learning the ropes.
So far, all very admirable. The packaging is good, the picks look swish, there’s a noble idea behind it – I’m in. With the Heavy Repping! Dunlop 73 in hand, I unfolded the glossy packets and jumped into the Leap.
There’s two picks here – the Lead (.73mm/.96mm/1.5mm) and the Rhythm (.45mm/.70mm/.80mm). I’m not sure what these are made from – it feels like somewhere between Delrin and Nylon – but whatever it is, the Rhythm example wasn’t finished properly, and had surplus material at the tips. This is a small matter that might well be part of the initial production run, but as it changed the behaviour of the plectrums – on acoustic particularly – it was unfortunate.
The .45mm thickness is pointless. I’m not being thick-ist either – there’s so much flex that it robs chords of any body, and makes single note work a laggy chore. I’m sure this was included for design reasons, but it’s too thin to have a meaningful inclusion here. Even the gap between the .45 and the next level up – the .70 – is a yawning chasm, which makes it even more confusing. After this initial experience, I decided to leave the Leap for a bit to prevent the remainder of the tips being judged too harshly in its context.
Returning after some swearing, I took back up with the .70, and was pleased to find it was a good balance. Not as bright or full-figured as the Dunlop, but appropriately thick and round-edged for its intended purpose. The grip in the middle started to make more sense as well, as I’d been thrashing it for an hour or so by this stage. Chords had reasonable firmness, and although a little bit more length could have been added to stop the edges of the grip digging into the strings, I acknowledged that was likely my personal approach and not the rule. The .80 was a bit hard-sounding, and was slightly inelegant when it came to chord work. Right on the cusp of being thick enough for a real bevel but not having one, this tip was the most irritating, as it should have worked, but didn’t.
The Lead was a better experience all-round, despite suffering from similar finishing issues. The .73 tip was alright for chords despite being a bit too blunt for single-notes, and although the .96 felt pretty robust, I felt that a sharper tip would have gone a long way. The hardest, sharpest, shortest edge, the 1.5, was good fun when it came to note runs and sharp chording, but its lessened length meant that I was quite aware of the grip and its incursion into the strings.
This is a confounding bit of gear. I’m treating it as a singular entity owing to the design, as both models share similar flaws, and even though the thicknesses are different, it was both a surprise and a disappointment. I’m completely on board with this idea – particularly when it comes to the grip – and the notion of having access to three different thicknesses in one pick is a sound one.
It is, however, $7, and while that’s not a lot in boutique terms, it would be better presented as a learning tool, especially if what you’re trying to do is to teach people the differences that plectrum thickness makes. If you’ve ever wondered ‘why does your pick matter?’, try one of these to find out. With a bit of refinement and more real-world testing, this could be an important learning device for beginners, but I can’t see gigging musicians the world over turning to it in its present form.
If this looks like your sort of thing though, I’d encourage you to try it. Heavy Repping! is only my opinions and experiences, and you might get one of these and never look back. If you want to find out more, check them out here: