Review – Swiss Picks Nuclear Cheddar 2mm (Rusty Cooley)

John Tron Davidson
February 13, 2019
February 10, 2021

Rusty Cooley is a ridiculous guitar player. Far from a negative statement, the guy is daft-fast, with a genuine confidence that many guitarists would do well to observe. I certainly can’t play like him, but that doesn’t mean I can’t own his picks. Luckily, Swiss Picks are there to supply Cooley’s plectrum of choice to me, so I can pass the verdict on to you.

This pick is something of a first for me – I’ve only owned one Polycarbonate plectrum before this, a Pickboy effort that had split at the tip after years of use. It wasn’t mine originally, so I can’t remember how I came to possess it, but be that as it may, it’s my only other experience with this material. The brilliantly-named Nuclear Cheddar is here in its 2mm ‘Slab’ version, as I do like the thick stuff, so let’s see how we go.

Pete Punckowski has been quite open about how Cooley floored him back in the ’90s, and it was the feedback Cooley sent back that resulted in a change in the base ingredients of the Nuclear Cheddar. Though Punckowski talks about the brightness of Polycarbonate, this is contrast to Delrin, and using these plectrums, I initially thought the leading edge was a bit dull. However, there is a practical reason for this.

One of the reasons that the Jazz III is so popular with the speed-conscious community is that the compressed Nylon from which it is composed, combined with the rounded bevel and sharp tip, results in a pick with little string noise and greater control. Following this premise, Polycarbonate is brighter than Nylon, and that rounded edge means that although there’s plenty of note-to-note definition from the Cheddar’s pointed tip, there’s no real string noise. It’s also worth remembering that this is a pick designed for one player that’s been made widely available, so I can only judge it as a different type of player.

At 2mm, there is zero flex in these plectrums. This is excellent for their intended stylistic purpose, and anyone who likes blazing an 8 string will find a lot to love here. The tone is well-balanced, with a firm, confident feeling of control overseeing your every movement. The grip is also pretty good – it suited a less vice-like grip, as the holes do a lot of the work for you. This was a valuable lesson, as I’ve always had the temptation to grip my picks far too hard.

The angle at which the pick is used makes a massive difference. With such a stiff material and shallow bevel, approaching the strings with the pick flat is bloody hard work, but if you go in at an angle in the traditional shredding position this plectrum is unstoppable. I relaxed my grip to a silly slackness using this approach and the Cheddar clung on without flinching.

I’d like to add at this stage that these are insanely cheap for what they are. The majority of picks that I get my hands on tend to push past the £3 mark quite easily, but at $13.99 for twelve – twelve – the Nuclear Cheddar is incredible value. The shipping was peanuts as well, and they came surprisingly quickly.

If you’re a metal/metal-y guitarist who wants note separation, utter control and a plectrum that looks like cheese, this is exactly what you want. If you’re a strummer or someone with a less focused technique, you’ll get more out of a pick with a rounded tip, but don’t worry – Swiss Picks do that too!

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