Dunlop 2019 Guitar Accessories- Straps, Strings, Picks, and Cables
By Chris Loeffler |
Dunlop 2019 Guitar Accessories-
Straps, Strings, Picks, and Cables - things guitarists need as staples...
by Chris Loeffler
As this line review was being written, we received word that Jim Dunlop Sr., founder of Dunlop Manufacturing, passed away at the aged of 82 years old. From the Dunlop website-
Born in Scotland in 1936, Jim traveled to Canada as a young man looking for new opportunities. There he met his bride and mother of his children, Bernice, and the two of them headed to California for warmer weather. By the 1960s, he had started a family and was working as a machinist and then mechanical engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Off-hours, he turned his lifelong interest in music to creating accessories for guitar players.
Jim’s fearless, innovative spirit led him to turn his hobby into a livelihood, and in 1965, he founded Dunlop Manufacturing, Inc. Finding local success with handmade capos, he made the life-changing decision to become a maker of guitar picks when his obsession for precision drove him to design guitar picks gauged by their true thickness. Jim made a personal commitment to expanding the options available to guitar players of the time, introducing strict quality control and a wider variety of gauges than had ever been available before. He blended the advice of musicians with his precise engineering intuition as he experimented with numerous shapes and materials so that players could find the right pick and get the most out of it. One of the greatest triumphs to come from that experimentation was Tortex Picks, which is the #1 pick in the world today.
In the 1980s, Jim boldly entered the effects market, assembling a crack team of engineers and securing top-quality parts. He acquired beloved brands such as Cry Baby and MXR and expanded their offerings while remaining true to their legacies and introducing a level of quality and consistency where it had never existed before. Taking on electronics blew the door wide open for Jim’s company, leading to collaborations with the family of Jimi Hendrix and numerous artists such as Eddie Van Halen, Dimebag Darrell, and Slash to make the sounds of the world’s top players available to everyone around the world. Today, Dunlop Manufacturing is one of the world’s largest pedal companies.
It would be difficult to find a guitar player who hasn’t been affected by Jim’s thoughtful innovations. Ever attentive to their needs, Jim will live on in the many products that he created to provide people with a better playing experience.
Jim was widowed by Bernice in 2001 and is survived by Linda, wife of 7 years; daughter Jasmin Powell, married to Glenn; son Jimmy Dunlop, married to Elizabeth; and grandchildren Alyssa Powell, Krista Powell, and Max Dunlop.
Harmony Central and its staff has a decades-long relationship with the Dunlop family, and we send our respect and condolences to the Dunlop team.
What’s New in 2019 for Dunlop
Accessories don’t often get a lot of attention in the review world for several reasons; their feature-set tends to be a shallower pool to evaluate from, the breadth of assortment in a given category is extremely crowded, and they are considered complementary to the core function of an instrument. That said, they are often the most frequent purchases made by a musician, and often represent the customization of final 10% players are looking for.
Dunlop Manufacturing has been providing guitar players with picks, strings, cables, and accessories for decades now and is one of the most visible brands in the world of guitar. Alongside their accessory offerings, Dunlop founder Jim Dunlop nearly singlehandedly kept the Wah pedal alive, resurrected renowned effects companies MXR and Way Huge, cementing their place in the industry as a company that cares about guitar.
At the Winter 2019 NAMM Show, we were given the opportunity to have some hands-on time with much of what they’ll be releasing this year. While most of the booth traffic was enraptured by the surprise release of the MXR Dookie Drive and new releases like the Siete Santos Octavio Fuzz and Way Huge Smalls Supa-Lead, those in the know and who are already pretty happy with their sonic palette were demoing the next-gen of Dunlop accessories.
Here’s a rundown of some of our favorites from the show…
MXR Mini ISO-Brick
The MXR Mini Iso-Brick Power Supply ($99.95) was designed to deliver quiet, noise-free DC power to wide range of pedal types in the smallest possible form factor.
The Mini Iso-Brick Power Supply has five outputs; each 100% isolated to eliminate eliminate ground noise and to keep your pedals from interfering with each other. Four of the outputs run at a standard 9v/300mA with Boss-style center negative cable barrels, while the fifth can be set to provide either 9 volts or 18 volts at 800mA to goose pedals capable of taking a bigger sip to build headroom. Dunlop claims the Mini Iso-Brick has been tested against hundreds of pedals, including notoriously fickle ones, to ensure clean operation and separation.
While the Mini ISO-Box is truly diminutive is size, it was designed to be expandable via a splitter cable that can be used to connect two pedals to a single output, provided they require the same voltage and you don’t exceed the output’s current rating. You can do this with all the outputs simultaneously provided you have the additional cables (sold separately).
Between the small size, extremely low weight, and well-lit status LEDs (believe it or not, that visual confirmation has cut time troubleshooting for me more than a few times), the MXR Mini ISO-Box looks to be a surprisingly strong middle-ground between a daisy-chained power supply and the more expensive isolation boxes; perfectly primed to support small boards.
Pendleton X Dunlop Woolen Authentics Guitar and Bass Strap
Pendleton x Dunlop Woolen Authentics Straps represent a collaboration between the Bay Area Dunlop and Pacific Northwest lifestyle brand Pendleton, featuring a soft, worked leather backing with a randomly cut section of Pendleton’s most famous fannel designs. Srafted of pure virgin wool from Pendleton’s own mills, the random selection of fabric makes each of these exquisitely made straps a one-of-a-kind throwback that seemed equally at home with with a shot of whiskey at the roundup as it does upscale grunge (is that a thing?).
Dunlop Flow Tortex Guitar Picks
Flow Picks feature a wide angle, sharp tip, beveled edge, and low-profile grip for a smooth playing experience that provides enhanced articulation in attack and demonstrable accelaration. Dunlop's Ultex material, known for durability and strong tone mean Flow Picks project complex, powerful overtones (as demoed at the booth with a hot set of single coils on a Tele).
Variety Pack includes Flow Standard .73mm, Flow Standard .88mm, Flow Standard 1.0mm, Flow Standard 1.5mm, Flow Standard 2.0mm, Flow Jumbo 2.0mm, Flow Jumbo 2.5mm, and Flow Jumbo 3.0mm picks. Not to be missed is the “we just legalized weed”420 green. As a Tortex user for many years, I'd say the differences were subtle but noticeable as I swapped picks back and forth. Fast players will find the most immediate benefit, but I'll be taking a set to my acoustic to spend more time with.
More and More
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.