It was an unusual day indeed when I discovered Wedgie. I’m a great believer that picks can be made from anything, and stories regarding plectrums made of hotel card keys, folded bus tickets, leather and more abound in our glorious plectroverse, but straight-up rubber was a relatively new experience for me.
Upon his return from Japan, my good friend Nadz of South-West thumpers Ashen had very kindly got hold of some picks for me, including a Pickboy Curve, a couple of Master 8‘s, and this Wedgie Rubber 5mm. I was very excited the latter, as having experienced plectrums along the lines of the others, I had some idea what I was going to hear. The Wedgie, on the other hand, is very much its own thing, and as I’m constantly gasping for new stuff, my expectation gland was pulsing.
It must also be stated that Wedgie don’t just make the line they refer to as Rubbers. Crafting picks from Delrin, Polycarbonate and Nylon, they make drumsticks, pick holders and more, and the name Wedgie is a shape rather than simply the name of the company. Characterised by a recessed oval that bulges out slightly on one side, the Wedgie is pretty comfortable, with good grip, and enjoys the benefits of a slightly sharper tip than its 351-style contemporaries. It’s closer in size to a Jazz XL, meaning that I took to its shape straight away.
The elephant in the room here is the material. Made from Elastomer, the Rubber is literally rubber. Immediately you’re thinking many things, but before we get into that, it’s worth noting the purpose for which this plectrum was designed. Unlike other picks, the Rubber is meant to sound like your fingers, and through its strange consistency, to remove string noise. I shall state outright that it achieves the second of these objectives with some ease, and although it initially feels like playing with old Blu-Tac, it makes sense the longer you use it.
What is a bit difficult is how the Wedgie interacts with the strings. It grips your fingers insanely well, but that means it also grips other things – like coiled steel – insanely well. This meant borderline adhesion to the strings – especially the plain strings – as I thrummed away, resulting in a fair bit of drag. However, I’d like to note that when applied with a relaxed right hand and playing chords, it behaves brilliantly for jazz, delivering a muted throp rather than the clinky cut I’m used to with many picks. That initial period was a learning curve of some size, which may be odd to some players. That being said, I’d be very surprised if anyone who favours the pointy, rigid Jazz III style or just about anything else at the 5mm mark would look at a rubber plectrum and think ‘yes! That’s what I’ve always needed!’.
It’s a good thing too, as bare Elastomer and bone-spreading speed don’t mix. Even in my hands, the tip wears in real time, and I could see tiny slivers of it pilling up and rolling away. I tried it on the bass, and with my customary flatwounds and an appropriately relaxed touch, it did indeed yield fingerstyle tones, even further dampening the thuddy edge that one gets from such an approach. It’s hard to imagine how the Rubber would hold up to really intense use, but I get the feeling that the wear would slow after a certain point. These are quite cheap, coming in about the same as an Ultex Jazz XL, so it’s not as though you’re chucking a fiver at each one and blazing through it in a matter of weeks.
On acoustic, if you’re looking for a genuinely soft, oddly sedated tone, these are excellent. The Rubber tempers the brighter edges of your sound immediately, and if you like that backed-off-tone lead sound so adored by the likes of Joe Pass, these are the picks for you. Those of a less aggressive disposition will also enjoy these picks quite a lot, but if you’re a rough, thrashing player, don’t even think about it.
I like the Rubber. It’s extremely weird, and truly its own thing. Although I’ve played picks made from Grafit and other odd materials, I’ve never played anything like this, so it really is in a class of its own. For the tonally genteel, or for those players who like a more relaxed sound, it’s amazing, and although the wear is an issue, that’s offset against the cost, and as a tool within your regular collection of picks, it’ll give you a tone that nothing else will. I’m a great believer that there’s no one pick to rule them all, and if you’re looking for something that’ll change your approach and possibly your writing for next to no money, try one of these. Boing!
- 5mm Thick
- Made in the USA
- A flubbery 6.5/10
- Price Per Unit: $3.60 for three or a refill bag of 18 for $9.99
- Softly softly rubber picky