The last few months have been an education in materials. As a young player coming up in the ’90s, I experienced the same Tech Picks as everyone else, and their brutal scrape, combined with the understandable nervousness that manifests when you’re playing with steel, meant that for the best part of a decade, I shied away from the most metal of picks.
However, recent times have meant that I’ve been more hands-on with the hardest stuff, and as a result, I’ve got some Tantris Picks in my possession. Recently featured in my video on 5 Ridiculously Good-looking Picks, David Clendenen‘s creations are some of the most exquisitely-cut bits of gear I’ve ever come across, so I felt the 351 shape deserved a full review. Read on then, as I state my case for the steel.
Cut by laser and finished by hand, the Standard is crafted from 0.6mm stainless steel, and is almost identical in dimensions to the 351 standard set down by D’Andrea back in the ’20s and copied by every major pick manufacturer. This is quite handy, as it won’t be too weird if you haven’t tried steel picks in a while, or before. Immediately, the grip on this plectrum is utterly mad, and I scoff openly at the idea that I’d drop this in any circumstance other than the loss of my hands. It’s very, very gently sloped at the sides, at the edge is neatly rounded, so you can strum without worrying about your guitar exploding.
Steel tends towards the brighter end of the tonal spectrum, but the Tantris bucks the trend. That familiar scrape is still there – something I’ve experienced with all steel picks to a certain extent – but the tone isn’t as brash, harsh or unyielding as I’d expected. Strumming is oddly satisfying, and it’s incredible how the shape made me anticipate a certain recoil, strike feeling and response. Imagine how your trusty Dunlop feels, then add impossible density and the knowledge that it’ll last forever. Although these aren’t coated, the curvature of the edges means that they’re unlikely to sharpen into a deadly knife like other steel picks, so that’s a bonus.
In relatable terms, this 0.6mm steel plectrum is a lot like Ultem, but less rounded, and with a more open top end. It’s got that hard approach, but with less bonk than its stiff plastic cousin, and with less sizzle at the top than its metal brethren. If you favour strumming, it’s pretty good, and the grip is one of the best I’ve ever encountered. I did find it drags a little bit for single note work, but this may partly be down to my style, and the fact that I’m used to deeper bevels and sharper tips. Overall, if you find yourself drawn to metal picks, you owe it to yourself to try them. I’d also add that for the money involved (including the intense packaging they came in) these are good value for money, especially when you consider the longevity. Stiff.
- 0.6mm Thin
- Stainless Steel
- Made in the America
- A tirelessly robust 7.5/10
- Price Per Unit: $14.95
- Permanent strumming + skulls = this