In the land of gypsy guitar, the thickened pick is king. Few genres have such specific plectra as the style favoured by the likes of Django Reinhardt and Martin Taylor, and indeed, the plectrums of the jazz community are often the most oft-discussed in the realm of guitar.
Although I’m very much not a jazz player, the picks have always fascinated me, so when the opportunity came to get some spiffy numbers from Dugain Plectrums in France, I would have been fou not to take them up on it. Jean-Charles Dugain has been making picks since 1977, and made the very first ergonomic plectrum in 1982. That’s what I’m testing today, a Standug in Acetate, one of three plectrums I received from the French plectrier.
Firstly, let’s talk about the ergonomic aspect of this extremely handsome item. Sculpted for right-hand orientation, there’s a thumb recess on one side and a sloped carve on the rear. The tip itself is bevelled for striking the strings in a particular direction, and this is one of those rare occasions when trying to use the pick the other way round is less ‘difficult’, and more ‘impossible’. This is by design, and the ease with which you can grip this thing is superb. It’s worth remembering that for the intended market, which I’m pretty sure isn’t Marty Friedman, this is ideal, and despite my lack of chart-reading credentials, I took to it very quickly.
Acetate is a very warm, rounded material, tonally speaking. Compared to any other pick I have, this is the warmest, least treble-y plectrum I’ve ever played. For comping and muted chords, I have seldom experienced anything more correct. Because I play with round-wound strings, there’s a bit more chirp than one might expect because of the bevels and relatively high surface area, but I did try it on flats and this situation rectified itself. Just how muted and jazzy it sounded wasn’t fully apparent until I contrasted it with similar picks (like the Wegen Trimus 250), when I truly perceived its rounded attack.
The best part about this pick is the manner in which it passes across the strings. It’s not a cloud, more of a firm caress – you know it’s happening, and there’s enough resistance to make you feel pleasingly secure. It also made me want to attempt impossibly-voiced chords and do lots of sliding about, not to mention ignore my bridge pickup completely so that I could enjoy its velvety pour. The closest comparison I could make would be to the V-Picks Freakishly Large Round, which has much more top end and is nowhere near as civilised. This is a tux to the Round’s sports jacket, and though it’s extremely capable when it comes to Joe Pass speediness, it’s a joy to play slow.
In full disclosure mode, I’m not the right sort of player for this plectrum. Much in the same way that I can pick out a song on a classical but not make it behave the way a flamenco player would, the Standug helps me deliver the smoothest version of my own style without really making the most of its potential. This was confirmed by sharing it with a jazzing friend of mine, who played three notes with it and looked up at me like I’d bought him a car.
In short, this is a witheringly fast, treble-free tool defined by an impeccable finish and unwavering commitment to its tonal nature. If you like it bright, keep walking, but if you like your chords cocooned in caramel, look no further. Magnifique!
- 4mm Thick
- Crafted in Aunay – en – Bazois, France
- A joli 9/10
- Price Per Unit: 10.75 €
- Ludicrously flowly with a side-order of ace.