May 31, 2020

Review – Dragon Picks Dragon Skin

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.

J.R.R. Tolkien

The heat in Arizona is quite something. A huge portion of this southwestern state is desert, and as romantic and Kyuss-y as that sounds, all that expanse can do crazy things to people. These insane conditions drove one Arizona native – your man Chris Aldrich – to start making picks. His first work that I saw was a broken taillight shard that he’d shaped into a fabulously smooth-looking piece, and I was immediately intrigued. After a fair bit of back and forth, Chris sent me a couple of bits, and after spending much time with them, I’m sitting down to review the Dragon Picks Dragon Skin.

Fus Bro Dah
While at first glance this handsome number might appear to be a version of the classic 351, it’s closer to the lesser-discussed Dunlop III. Clocking in at 32.1mm long and 26.6mm wide, the Skin carries its 3.8mm thickness with ease. Chris has elected to make this fine item from Juma, which is a Resin/Acrylic cross. Hard but not invincible, it’s a particularly striking material, and is polished to the perpetually-high quality Dragon sheen. The slope of the bevel is set 6mm clear of the tip, a full 1.5mm longer than it is on a V Pick Infinity. It goes without saying (though I am clearly saying it) that the scale effect of this material is excellent, so there.

Scale Length
Normally I’m not drawn to picks this long, preferring to stick in the Jazz XL category, but the bevels and the taper of those bevels make me want to get in about my guitar good and proper. I’m forever talking about how the spirit of each maker inhabits their picks, and there’s a committed forcefulness to everything I’ve tried from Dragon. I’d say that this is down to the shaping approach being used on the tips, but as I’ve had a few different shapes from Chris now I think it’s something in his style. Compared to a number of its Acrylic contemporaries, this is a little darker with more push in the mids, albeit very slight. I found it more forceful on the wound strings than its conventionally cell-cast counterpart, and it felt slightly heavier in the hands.

Big Bird
Did it chirp? Yes, yes it did. Material this shiny and of this thickness is bound to, though I shall say that if you’re into picks in the cruiserweight division this won’t be news to you in any way. If you want to go thick, chirp is a fact of life, so I wouldn’t let that put you off. What we’ve got here is an immaculately-finished plectrum with a determined tonal character that’s oddly light on its feet for something this substantial. Single notes felt full-bodied and potent, and I was slashing out chords with an almost careless abandon. It’s not a pick that made me want to play with any grace or consideration – the compulsion was to get rampant, letting the lines slither out like an uncoiling cobra. It felt like drifting in a modern muscle car, all sideways smiling and power to spare.

Verpine Fiber Mesh
I’m not going to lie – I love this thing. Sure, the chirp is at predicted levels for thicker acrylic, and it wouldn’t be my first choice for a mandolin, but not every pick is supposed to do every job. If you’re after a pick that makes you want to seriously get into it, especially if you’re into playing at speed and find plectrums like the Jazz III far too small, this thing will lead you down a captivatingly wild path. I’ve yet to have anything conservative from Dragon, and the Plectroverse needs makers like this. Wild, and all the better for it.

Vitals:

  • 3.8mm thick
  • Made in Arizona, US
  • Juma
  • A serpentine 7.5/10
  • Price Per Unit: £11.84 (each one made to order)
  • Crawling King Snake

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Dragonpicks