Although this may be an unpopular opinion (as all opinions are to someone on the Internet), I’m a big fan of gimmicky things. The Korg Miku, pedals with funny lights, amps with cup holders built in, all that sort of thing gives me an enormous amount of joy. What I’ve never liked is gimmicky plectrums, because I just want them to work. No-one wants a hammer that lights up but won’t bang a nail in, neither does a guitarist want a plectrum that doesn’t operate.
It’s only been in recent years that more attention has been really been drawn to the possibilities of the plectrum – after all, in order to break with tradition, one must have a tradition. This has meant that a few people have tried to reinvent the wheel, which in this case means moving away from a traditional teardrop or triangular shape to a more abstract or inventive one, and it’s here that we find Switch Picks.
Made outside Taunton in Ashill, England (about 40 minutes from HR!‘s headquarters), the Switch is the product of aerospace engineer Paul Newberry and guitarist Andrew Barrett, who have followed the common path of inspiration that stems from the market not giving them what they want, and deciding to do it themselves. The Switch currently comes in one model, with two thicknesses. Injection moulded from Nylon, it’s got a 0.6mm and a 1.2mm tip, with a bumped edge on its third ‘side’ mirroring that of the Sharkfin. The Switch is, thankfully, nothing like the Sharkfin.
As you can see from the picture, there’s a hole in the middle of this thing, in addition to raised lettering and an inner circle. Cleverly, Paul and Andy have thought to make the 1.2mm and 0.6mm tips have different corresponding heights in this department, meaning that you should be able to tell, albeit subtly, that you’ve got a different tip pointing forwards. I don’t know if this was 100% necessary, but it shows how much thought went into the designs. The grip is pretty good under duress, and as the tip designed for strumming (the 0.6) has plenty of flex, the Switch doesn’t swivel about.
Tonally speaking, this is, at it’s core, a Nylon plectrum, and the pointed tips make it bright and jovial compared to the duller quality found on picks like the Dunlop Nylon 351. The 1.2mm especially reminded me very much of the Jazz III XL, and while this doesn’t have the characteristically deadened edge of the III, Dunlop’s legend certainly seems to have informed its shape. I tested the Switch on acoustic more than I normally would, especially as it’s intended for broad application, and was in no way surprised to discover that it works very well. The thinner tip is great for strumming, due in no small part to the fact that the combination of a sharp point and lack of resistance means it’s easy on the wrists. The 1.2mm was grand for this as well, though I definitely preferred it on electric.
So what have we got? A carefully-priced, extremely well-thought-out plectrum that’s unusual enough for plectrologists like me and more than functional for even the most casually guitar-curious. The Switch isn’t a gimmicky plectrum – it’s just a plectrum, the sort of pick that you could buy at any level and use. If that sounds in any way negative, it’s not. I honestly think it’s a tremendous bit of gear that’s clearly been designed by a working guitarist and realised by an engineer, rather than something that’s trying to be too clever for its own good. If I were to level any criticism at it, it would be that Nylon isn’t the hardest-wearing material in the world, nor would both tips be suitable for certain styles, but I know for a fact that harder models are coming, and players that require frighteningly sturdy plectrums aren’t likely to be considering Nylon regardless.
If you play the guitar, mandolin or dulcimer in any style that doesn’t favour constant trem-picking, get some of these. For rhythm players I’d openly state that this is a must-try, and I honestly think that with sturdier materials, these could end up in the hands of a lot of players. Remember, Switch have only been in business since the end of last year, and with a product this well-designed, they’ve got nothing to worry about. Proper job.
- 0.6mm and 1.2mm respectively
- Made In Ashill, UK
- A selective 8/10
- Price Per Unit: 9.99 pounds for 10 or 2.89 for two (buy ten – 11.99 with the tin!)
- A heavy repping-mendation