Canada, the land of snow, rocks and trees, is coughing out some serious plectrum activity at the moment. Having recently reviewed the Tree Picks Jazz and with my order from Suibhne due any year now it seemed pertinent to give the word treatment to Woodland Cast and their new line of picks.
I received my first batch of Cruz Camacho‘s plectra some time ago, but as he was working on some new approaches and materials, he asked me to hold off until the new stuff was ready. It is now here and in my hands, so it’s time to politely open a MooseHead and see what the Polkadot is all about.
Cruz makes his picks from a combination of wood and epoxy resin, which looks amazing. Choosing not to skimp on the wood itself is pretty noble, considering he’s using Butternut (in this instance), Aspen, Curly Maple, Purple Heart, Walnut, Bloodwood, Padauk, Zebra Wood and Wenge, each of which has it’s own unique tonal properties. What makes this approach particularly interesting is that in using wood as a significant part of the plectrum, the player is able to discover a shape and pick density that they like, and then order different types of wood to change the tone without sacrificing the shape.
I’d like to add that as I’ve played some of the very first Woodland Cast picks I’m not just comparing the Polkadot to other picks, but to previous iterations of itself. This is an interesting experience indeed – as the Polkadot comes in at a straight 2mm and the previous unnamed iteration comes in at 2.5mm with a darker wood, the initial tests reveal that the slightly broader, thicker, darker pick with the wider tip has more power. This was not news, but what was surprising was how they felt. There’s an inherent lightness in the Polkadot compared to its brooding forbear, but perhaps more importantly, it’s also noticeably different to its contemporaries.
I tested this piece against a Dunlop Jazz III XL Nylon, a .73mm Tortex and the Winspear Shiv. As I suspected, our protagonist lacked the brute force of the Ultem-based Shiv, though it sounded considerably more graceful. The Polkadot strummed as well as the 73 with predictably greater brightness, but the real surprise was how clumsy it made the XL sound. In place of that famous muted attack was the same speed, but with a pronounced leading edge. The Dot is composed about 60/40 from Wood and Epoxy – Epoxy forms the outer skin – which I found to give pretty solid grip. It’s worth saying that I also have a load of all-Epoxy picks from Cruz, and both the grip and excellent finishing is maintained, so buy your picks with confidence.
As these plectrums are very competitively priced, coming in at $15 Canadian for 5 at the time of writing, they’re very good value. For someone who hits their pickups rather a lot while playing, I found that the fine edges did nick a little, but that this didn’t change either the interaction with the strings nor the sound itself. Epoxy is in the Acrylic hardness ballpark when you’ve got an edge this sharp, and some wear is inevitable, but I noticed that this didn’t present itself when I switched to acoustic. In this environment, the Dot was thoughtful in its sustain and composed in its attack, brighter than I was expecting, with a sharp bass. On electric it was immense for clipped, choppy lines, lifting the notes up and over rather than pushing them through.
Taking this out into the world at large resulted in a number of my colleagues – one of whom uses a Dunlop .50mm on purpose – to place orders with Woodland Cast. I put this down not only to the looks, but the fact that there’s something honest about them. Compared to its earlier versions, this new series of picks feels heartwarmingly optimistic about the future, as though they’re quietly excited about going on a journey with you. WC is a young company, and what will come as our Canadian chum works through his shapes, materials and methods seems a genuinely exciting prospect. Having watched on since 6 days into the public release of these plectrums, I’m of the belief that there’s a lot of good stuff to come out this young builder, so follow him on Facebook and Instagram and see why. Qualit-eh!
- 2mm Thick
- Butternut wood and Epoxy Resin
- Crafted in Mississauga, Canada
- A fibrous 8/10
- Price Per Unit: $15 for 5
- Daft-pretty and full of promise, like a lake or something