Review – Alpha Atomic Titan
Despite my extensive travels through the Plectroverse, one thing that has been poorly represented is the land of my ancestors. While Scotland has a rich musical heritage, especially with guitar-based music, the number of plectriers there is sadly minimal. Imagine my excitement when I discovered Alpha Atomic on Kickstarter, hailing as they were from my native Glasgow. Today, let’s take a good look at the Titan, and see what’s what.
At 29.91mm long and 24.86mm across, the 0.92mm thick Titan is the thinnest of hairs slimmer than a 351. However, unlike its plastic counterpart, it’s made from Titanium. Smoothed with electro-static tumbling, this process gently rounds the edges of a boldly fade-free material, and leaves the surface elegantly clean rather than mirror-polished. Its shoulders fall slightly below the centreline of a traditional 351, and the taper is significantly sharper. Gone is the conventional, tidy bulge of most picks, replaced with a cyclist-like slenderness. The tip is quite rounded, something that was no doubt implemented to temper Titanium’s inherent brightness.
The grip of metal picks varies significantly. Those of us with dry hands (myself included) will need a little heat in the palms to really get hold of this material, but once evident it’s thoroughly secure. The finishing of the edges, carried out with precision machinery, is as impeccable as one might assume. However, even taking the aerospace background of AA’s creators into account, it’s fabulous. Classy, scientific, and immaculately packaged.
The very first run of these picks were a little hard-edged, and since then, AA has refined the process. If you’ve been anywhere near metal picks you’ll be aware of the slightly unnerving scrape that’s emblematic of the breed, and is unsurprisingly present here. However, when tested against its contemporaries, the Titan is quite distinctive.
One of the defining characteristics of metal picks is their brightness. Steel especially (Rock Hard, T1, Tantris etc) is very bright indeed, and it’s that top end that many afficionados gravitate towards. Titanium is darker in the bottom and more breathy in the top – like stone, only more urgent. Brighter than aluminium and less bassy than brass, it’s a material well-suited to electric application, particularly if you’ve got a firm approach – not a heavy hand. The genteel taper and fundamentally unyielding non-flex means that each string is felt, but not to an intrusive extent. I found myself rattling away quite happily with it, even on acoustic. Going back to plastic after this sounds like you’re playing through foam.
Metal picks are, by their very nature, not for everyone. Despite this, they’ve persisted for decades (something I’ll get into more in an upcoming piece), and many players swear by them. The feel of the Titan will either melt your brain or send you running, but for those who are into it or even the lightly curious, it’s a powerful, open-sounding piece that will only improve over time. Ignore what you’ve heard about the hard stuff and try it. Och.
- 0.92mm Thick
- Made In Scotland
- Well-read and hard as nails