July 28, 2020

Review – Hell Super Black 3.2mm

The devil can sometimes do a very gentlemanly thing.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Going Dark
From the very moment that the guitar came into existence, it’s been associated with the occult. Growing up I heard that heavy metal was all devil worship (it isn’t), that the devil has the best tunes (the best song titles maybe), and that anything related to this was wrong and stupid and so on. Today I would like to present a counter-argument to that flim-flam by reviewing a plectrum I believe is one of the best-kept secrets of the trade, the Hell Super Black 3.2mm.

Beelzebonus
I would like to open this piece by saying that these picks were first revealed to me by a follower on Instagram, and although I’ve seen a couple of people using them online, I’ve never seen them for sale in a shop. This is likely because the picks are only one facet of Hell Guitars, which itself encompasses Hell Parts, a company specialising in pickguards, truss rod covers etc. I bought the Hell’s Dozen variety tin, which contained their thicknesses of 1mm, 2mm, and 3.2mm. I’m not sure why it doesn’t go to a straight 3mm, but there we are.

His Time Is Short
Measuring 28.6mm long by 25.1mm across, the Super Black is slightly shorter and more broad than our old pal, the Dunlop Jazz XL. After a bit of digging around online the consensus seems to be that these handsome wee things are made of Delrin, but I’m not so sure. They’ve definitely been injection molded, but there seems to be a bit more than just Delrin going on here.

I Am Become Death
Elements from a number of other plectrums have done a Captain Planet in order to concoct the Super Black. The tips are beveled for right-handed use, which in the context of this shape reminds me of the Dunlop Jazz Polycarbonate, with the slats on the back of the pick tipping their hat to that destroyer of worlds, the Wegen Trimus 250. The face is gently recessed, with the Hell logo nestled in the dip, and the edges have a neat sharpness to them. Although Hell’s site lists them as ‘the ugliest picks’ I think they’re quite charming, with a slightly groovy quality.

A Jury Of Your Peers
If you’ve played the Jazz Polycarbonate, this isn’t a million miles away from it, but there are some key differences. Where the Poly has a polished feel, the Super Black is matte and slightly rubbery-looking. I found the grip, which is pretty good, did increase with temperature, and while it can be a little loose when you pick it up initially, the grooves and thumbdip do make a big difference. I decided to test it against a load of other picks around 3mm, notably an Arcanum Cleric Acrylic, the BHL Spartan, and an Ace Performance Force Push. In this test, the Super Black had a softer sound than all three of its contemporaries on the bass strings. The plain strings told a different story, and where the Push, Spartan and Cleric had mass and poke to them, the Super Black sounded a little wispy. This is because of the sharpness of the edge, which is a significant contributor to the bass response. Chord-wise it’s slick, straight, and gently muted, with an oddly genteel character to the strikes. The aggression on display here is a considered ‘why can’t we get along’ situation rather than the murderous violence perpetrated by the likes of the Esseti Fluo or the stall-kicking Killy Nonis Acker.

Paying The Cost
Despite the slightly thin treble and floppy bottom I still think this pick is a steal. Of the plectrums I pitted it against, it’s half, or sometimes a 1/3 of the cost. There’s naturally a sacrifice in terms of overall power, but given that a whole tin of these is $18.99 and a single Force Push is around $15, they’re excellent value for money. This is the big thing here – there’s plenty of picks that’ll go harder for longer than the Super Black, but the sheer number of these and how close they get to the big lads makes them a worthwhile purchase. There’s a little chirp on the go, which isn’t surprising for a 3mm plectrum, but it’s not distracting, and relative universality of the grip means you should be buying some now. Hell yes, if you don’t mind.

Vitals:

  • 3.2mm thick
  • Made In Japan
  • Delrin probably (I reckon there’s some polycarbonate in there too)
  • A devilish 7/10
  • Price Per Unit: $5.49 for three, $18.99 for 15 (as reviewed)
  • Satan’s accomplished lounge band

https://www.hellparts.com/
http://www.hellguitars.com/