It’s not often that I come across a maker who claims to be doing something truly divergent from everyone else. There are obvious exceptions, like the work done by the likes of Depic in Argentina, but the case of Larry at Anatomy Of Sound is something different. Larry’s approach to making picks has come from a fascinating perspective, and I’m happy to finally have the opportunity to sit down and write about his work.
Why is that you say? Well, apart from the fact that Larry sent me picks some time ago and my focus on YouTube meant that I couldn’t get to everything as quickly or deeply as I would have liked, he’s also one of the few thin pick makers that I enjoy. Moreover, the physicality of the AoS series is, in the example shown here particularly, unlike anything else floating around in the Plectroverse. So today, let’s take an in-depth look at the Heartbeat Jazz Light, and find out why it’s such a distinctive piece.
2.5mm at its thickest point and 1.3mm at its tip, the Heartbeat comes in two designations – one debossed and one embossed. As their shapes are fundamentally the same besides this aspect, consider this review an assessment of both. I’ll state from the outset that I prefer the embossed version, as the lettering adds to the grip in a similar way to the Dunlop Hammett Jazz III. Speaking of which, the Heartbeat is a similar length to the Little King, though it’s categorically thicker and more broad in the shoulders. It’s also shaped in 3D, making for truly individual handling. There’s a lot more flex to the Heartbeat, something about which I was initially a bit concerned because of my prior experience with thinner, more flexible plectrums. I needn’t have worried though – not all picks are created for the same purpose, and as I’m about to explain, the Heartbeat may have an unintended niche.
Though I’m predominantly an electric and bass player who errs on the side of rigid, 3mm + plectrums, I do a lot of soft tonal work on the guitar, as well as playing a lot of nylon and dulcimer. I’ve yet to find a pick better suited to this latter instrument especially – the material, tip and dimensions of these picks make them perfect for more delicate, detailed application. The AoS range does have stiffer, more aggressive picks in it, but I’ve been drawn to these because of their softness. There’s absolutely no string noise from the Heartbeat at all – something that makes its use on mandolins, dulcimers and smaller guitars alike the absolute business. Tonally speaking, it’s hard to find something to compare it to, and the closest I can think of in terms of its operation is the Ibanez Soft Elastomer. That pick has zero treble in it however, something that is absolutely not the case with the ‘Beat. It manages to be bright and airy without sacrificing significant bass.
Testing it against a number of Dunlops (Tortex Flow .73/.88, Tortex 351 1mm, Jazz III Maxi Grip) was a surprising experience. Even though there’s undoubtedly more power in all the aforementioned picks, the delicacy and grace of the ‘Beat seemed to flutter above the lumpen characteristics of the Dunlops. It felt as though they were shouting boisterously while the more genteel tones of the AoS spoke with a calm, serious tongue. While this softness is not indicative of the rest of the range, the seriousness is, which is something I find quite gratifying. Those of you who own more than one delay will take to these immediately, and as AoS now offer free shipping, that’s something I’d encourage you to do.
At the top of this article I said that the Heartbeat Jazz was different, and it is. Most picks go for note separation, power, speed and control, and although there’s certainly grip here, carpet-bombing your amp is not the goal. If you’re seeking a plectrum that’ll allow you to speak with clarity and softness, this is it. I’ve genuinely not come across anything quite like it in my travels, and despite certain aspects of this pick being present in other things, it is, in its character, unique. I don’t know what they’re made from, and in the interests of mystique I shan’t guess. For the ethereal, dramatic player, whose chords are shimmering clouds rather than blunted storms, this is essential.
- 2.5mm to 1.3mm thick
- Clouds or something
- Made in California, USA
- A floating 7/10
- Price per unit: $9.99 for three, plus shipping
- A velvet hand in a velvet glove