Review – Fred Kelly Slick Pick

John Tron Davidson
May 2, 2019
February 10, 2021

Delrin really is the gift that keeps on giving. Even after the development of UHMWPE, the application of Acrylic and the diligence of stone, Delrin is still there, plugging away at making your picking experiences thoroughly enjoyable. It’s easily one of the most enduring materials in the plectrum game, and while not the sexiest, it’s one of the most widely used, and if you think you’ve never used it, you’d be wrong.

This all ties in rather nicely to the Fred Kelly Slick, a thumbpick I’ve been using more and more in recent times. As mentioned in one of the earliest HR! posts, I had a lot of wrist problems that meant wearing a thumbpick for some years to correct my picking angle and thus aid my ailing limb, leading to me developing a much more hybrid-orientated style. The Slick is the only Fred Kelly thumbpick I’ve ever tried, and speaks volumes about the company from which it comes.

Mr. Kelly is a thumbpick enthusiast of the highest caliber. This plectrum was designed for thumb use exclusively it seems, as my efforts to try and strum with it (a la Herco) were utterly in vain. This is foolishness on my part however – it’s like complaining that a rally car doesn’t do F1. The Slick will therefore be judged solely on its designated purpose.

To this end, it’s truly excellent. With a supremely rounded tip, it downstrokes beautifully, delivering thorough, potent bass with great control and articulation. There’s also very little string noise – something of a characteristic where Delrin is concerned – and although one might want a hair more top end in normal circumstances, the extremely bass-focused nature of the Slick makes total sense given that it’s been designed to inhabit the wound strings. The guard is large enough to accommodate my thumb without giving me a bluetip, and felt very comfortable over a period of time. I don’t really enjoy wearing thumbpicks because of their predisposition to stemming one’s blood flow, but this one was pretty good in that respect. If anything is going to change fundamentally from person to person it’s this, as our thumbs are not uniform in length, breadth or depth as a species, so you’ll need to make your own judgement here.

As a predominantly electric player who’s come to the thumbpick out of necessity, I will state that I don’t have as much need for plectrums like this as, say, a folk player might, but I’d argue that me enjoying it perhaps carries with it a greater accolade. There’s a number of occasions recently where I’ve chosen to use this, and chosen to use it over other thumbpicks in my collection, so I can’t speak to its use much higher than that. I would have like the guard to have a bit more room in it, and the option to strum would be handy, but as it seemingly wasn’t designed with that in mind, I can’t fault it for that. If you’re a player who uses thumbpicks and wants a fast, low-riding thumbpick for speedy use, take a run at the Slick – it’s a corker.


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