Review – The Raptor

John Tron Davidson
April 7, 2019
February 10, 2021

Hindsight is a very odd creature indeed. When we revisit old records, go places we used to frequent when we were growing up or meet old acquaintances, our previous experiences colour our opinions, and can often manifest a creeping disappointment. This isn’t always the case – and it’s more common with people than places. Meeting someone that you haven’t seen in 10 or 15 years when one of you has grown up and the other hasn’t is a pretty awful on both sides, and although this review doesn’t concern a person, it does concern a similar engagement.

Many moons ago I tried out a Raptor, and I remembered it being odd, but fun. Once I’d figured it out, it felt like a special tool, a secret thing that let me into a new world of playing of which I was unaware. I wasn’t anywhere as into picks as I am now, but that encounter left a long-standing mark on me. So, in the spirit of adventure and because the Raptor isn’t especially expensive, I thought I’d take another run at it and see if it was as I remembered.

Made in Britain from Acrylic and clocking in at 3mm, it’s a sturdy, well-finished, good-looking plectrum, and comes in four colours. I ordered all of them, and was very pleased indeed when they turned up promptly in an envelope, taped to a bit of paper. Packaging aside, they looked exactly as I remembered, and because I had a bunch of work on that day, I didn’t get a chance to play them until much later on. I spent hours fiddling with them, reminiscing about that first time, and looking forward to discovering what exciting things I could do now that I was a much better player.

To date, I’ve never had to look up how to use a plectrum. What it’s made from – absolutely. Where it’s crafted or why it’s a certain shape – yes. How to use it – that’s a first. I couldn’t get comfortable, and though I originally thought it might be a bit like the bedding-in couple of hours I had with Dragon’s Hearts, my playing time with the Raptor became almost Kafka-esque. It shouldn’t be this off, I thought, it must be me – I must be using this incorrectly. I tried every way of holding it, turning it around, using all three of the very different tips every way I could think of, but man alive was this not happening.

Before I get too deep into this, I’d like to explain that the sound is fine. Not life-changing, not super-fat or dreadfully shrill, just fine. It’s 3mm thick and made from Acrylic so there’s really very little to go wrong from a material perspective, but that’s not the problem. The Raptor’s main issue – in my solitary opinion – is drag. Each one of the tips offered up needless resistance, and though I’d like to single one out as the chief offender, all three made me incredibly disappointed. Either the downstroke or upstroke felt like it was catching its hem on the strings, and whether strumming or playing single notes, electric or acoustic, it was needlessly hard. The sound is well-balanced and even, and each tip does genuinely deliver a different tone thanks to the bevelling and shape, something that’s clearly had some science thrown at it, but it’s just so hesitant that it made me sad.

I’m not saying that as a throwaway term either. I truly love when plectriers go out of their way to make something fantastical, ridiculous even, that’s so unlike what went before that it doesn’t make any sense to look at. I love how the Raptor looks, how much effort has clearly gone into it, and I even dig how it sounds – what I can’t get on with is how it feels to use. HR! is partly founded on the principle that’s there’s no one right pick for every single person, and I know full well that for someone out there the Raptor will be everything they’ve ever dreamed of. I’m not sure who that person is, but it isn’t me. Sorrow!


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