One of my favourite things about HR! is the joy in seeing a company come in out of left field and do well. I count myself very fortunate to have been around when makers like Woodland Cast and Stone Age were beginning their journeys, and so it has been with John Brown of Plectrums Handcrafted. Shaping picks out of a broad cross-section of materials from Fordite and Ultem to Acrylic, Mr. Brown has been lashing up some impeccably-finished heavy action from his Kentucky stronghold, so I thought it would be an appropriate time to cast an eye over this hefty old bird.
Carved from the rippling stiffness of Kirinite – Acrylic’s bastard cousin – the True Blood is a stocky sort. 25.9mm in the shoulders and with a 28.1mm shank, this 6.5mm thick bruiser isn’t messing about. Rather than sweep the bevel from the top, John has opted to place the entirety of the slope in the bottom 8mm, meaning that the vast majority of the plectrum is flat with a distinctly robust feel. Bonding as I do with Acrylic, I can tell you that I get, if anything, better grip off Kirinite, and I’ll state for the record that rarely do I get such a surefooted hold.
Being 6.5mm thick with such a bevel does have its advantages – the rather sudden nature of the slope means you’ll be going through the strings slick and fast. This is a great feeling, and does encourage a less aggressive, more liquid style of play. There’s not a lot of push through the higher strings because the material is so slinky, and this lends the True Blood a more good-natured sound than you’d get from more gradually-tapered plectrums in the same material. It reminds me of what happens with Ultem when you slope it off, as in the case of the Dunlop 420 – the hardness goes out of the sound a bit, resulting in a more ‘smiley’, less defiant intent to the toan.
I found I was really getting the most of this pick when playing faster styles, especially when trem-picking. Despite the slightly fleeting nature of the strike, there’s ample mass for chord work, and I personally believe that if you were a player who favoured a more direct, fast right hand approach, this pick would be ideal. It’s not especially heavy, and the good-spirited toan inherent in it makes it perfect for rock of a big, hairy nature. Like all examples of Kirinite I’ve come across over 3mm, it does chirp a bit, but you’ll be going so fast you’ll hardly notice.
This isn’t a Swiss-Army pick – thicker, glossier materials don’t fare that well on acoustic for example, but I’ve rarely had anyone come to me and say “my 5mm acoustic plectrum just isn’t cutting it – I need an extra 1.5mm immediately”. If you’re looking to rip up the pavement with impossible speed and you don’t care if your shoes catch fire, this is the pick for you. Smashing.
- 25.8mm x 28.1mm x6.5mm
- Made In Kentucky, USA
- A sanguine 7/10
- Price per unit: anywhere from £10 upwards, as each one of these is a custom job
- The cheerful grin of a street brawler