Review – Purple Plectrums Rugge Tricolor
Imagination is the true magic carpet.
– Norman Vincent Peale
A lot of people’s first introduction to Purple Plectrums was through Rob Scallon, and they remain making some of the biggest, more outrageous picks on the market today. Famous for their insane XLS and magnificent Ultima models, they’ve found a welcome slot here at the Rep. As I’ve been playing with my collection of their picks for a recent project, I thought it time to take a look at one of their smaller models, the Rugge Tricolor.
The signature model for podcast host and shredder Mike Ruggirello, the Tricolor is the fancy version of Purple Plectrum’s entry model, and one of their smallest at 31mm long and 27mm across. At its deepest, my model is a hair over 5.5mm thick, which is positively slender in Purple’s terms. Made from UHMWPE and furnished with two of their coloured optics, its closest off-the-peg relative would be the Jazz XL, if Dunlop’s finest was 5 times thicker and felt like suede.
As I covered in my video on this very topic, UHMWPE is an interesting material for picks. It’s got insane wear resistance, and for people who get damp or clammy hands, nothing will stick to you more effectively. Something that isn’t touched on enough is the scope for softer tones. This is a plectrum I turn to when I needed to speak firmly and softly, rather than shouting.
Polishing UHMWPE leads to miles of chirp. While it’s easy to accept that as part of the Thick Life, Purple’s decision to leave the Tricolor in its hairy state means this factor is greatly reduced. The tip isn’t blunt or especially pointed – appropriately tapered, let’s say. This results in healthy projection and a wholehearted push to each note. The nature of this substance is to be light with an extremely low resistance – mercilessly pounding the strings feels unnecessary and futile. There’s more than enough force in here to do just about anything – if you want white-knuckle aggression, check out their Ultem picks instead.
The rigidity of the UHMWPE combined with how slick it is on the strings is a bit like running in your favourite slippers. There’s so little force required to get all the power out that it lets you ease into everything, sliding into phrases with an almost relaxing grace. Alternate picking, even at extreme speeds, feels like watching the ballet – there’s no malice or teeth-grinding at all. Tested in the context of Purple’s own Iommi and Shield the Tricolor is unhurried, genteel and good-natured. Despite sharing its principal material with its bigger brothers, it’s not as doomy, authoritative or bassy. There’s plenty of smiling mids, a well-tamed treble, and despite the thickness, even the most noodle-loving plectronaut wouldn’t find this an intimidating ride.
If you’re looking for a stupidly fast pick that’s no more strenuous to use than a kettle, get the Rugge. It weighs nothing, lasts forever, and is a great intro into the world of hyper-strong boutique materials. Silky.