Holy Cow – 7 Picks For The Heavy Strung
The proliferation of low tunings and extended scale instruments means that big pick use is on the rise. If you’re packing some hefty cables, where do you start? This article looks at the scope and possibilities of picks for the meatily stringed, so read on and get with it!
7-string sets typically favour anywhere between a 56 and a 64 on the bottom, with 8-strings hitting between a 65 and 84, and 9-strings going the whole hog at 105. Maintaining grip and control with a pick this size in styles that favour rapid picking-hand movements and syncopation can cause wrist fatigue, in addition to problems with grip maintenance.
As the shred-favoured Jazz III is only 1.4mm thick, it can only be bevelled to a small degree. Bevelling plays a huge part in the mastery of heavy gauges, as this enables both pick and string to recoil at speed without a loss of power or an increase in drag.
Higher mass and stiffer materials mean less aggression is required from the player. The bevelling that accompanies such picks lends itself to pushing through massive gauges, while delivering all the contact needed to make the most of each note.
With the essentials to giant gauge use being rigidity, wear resistance, generous bevels and ultra-solid grip, let’s have a look at some models you might consider.
Honey Queen Bee (5.6mm)
Rick and Andrew have spent the last year making some of the best picks in the game, and their Queen Bee was made for graceful hammering. The huge bevels, flat surface and weighty thickness give it plenty of top end, and the acrylic version pictured here is nicely balanced.
BHL Hodor (5.6mm)
Brock makes picks that can survive even the most aggressive players, and the Hodor (particularly the U-Glass version) is tremendous. Grand and wise-sounding, it’s not as toothy and mental as some of the other things out there, but if you want composure and an almost effortless push, invest immediate.
Dunlop Flow 420 (4.2mm)
Not just a silly name, the 420 is an Ultex piledriver with a jovial nature. I considered the Flow 3mm and its derivatives (John Petrucci and Andy James signatures), but the 420 is like playing your guitar with a greased Seth Rogan. Sharp enough if you want to go fast, and blunt enough to make playing as hard as you used to feel completely unnecessary.
Stone Age XL (2.5 – 4mm)
In the modern era, a lot of extended-scale players will immediately think of Stone Age. Matt’s Agate-based picks are geared towards the tech-minded player, and favour versions of the Jazz III and Jazz XL. Clear, focused, and imbued with the consistent breathiness you only get from stone, these are a must.
Arcanum Barbarian (3-6mm)
Surprisingly gentle considering how brutal it looks, the Barbarian is Nadz’s take on the 346. A large grip area gives way to three slightly rounded tips, making this a great pick for sludgier, doomy styles. If you tune low and play slow, check this out.
Jaketto Phoenix (4.5mm)
Perpetually good-looking and ideal for players who prefer larger picks, Jaketto’s work is great for big strings. The huge grip surface and neat bevels comfortably fill the palm, giving added stability for maximum power. Dark, too, if you’re looking for moody tones.
Pigtrum Troink (3mm)
Plant-based and properly stiff, the Troink is Tibor’s version of the 346. Differing considerably from the aforementioned Barbarian, it’s available in Extra Resistant and Super Eco, with the pink Super Eco being a personal favourite. Awesome on bass as well, it’s a great plectrum if you’re tentative about spending the big bucks, or if you’ve never gone more than 1mm.
While by no means exhaustive, this list is presented to give you options to consider when scouring the internet. There’s an abundance of makers operating in the 2mm+ category, with many of them operating in the Shop. Check them out, try something new, and plunge those heavy depths!