Dunlop Primetone Sculpted Plectra
By Chris Loeffler |
Dunlop Primetone Sculpted Jazz III Plectrum
Durability and Definition in Picking
By Chris Loeffler
When compared to the sexy purchases of Les Paul Customs and Marshall Stacks, buying strings or plectrums (okay…I used the proper term once, they’re “picks” from here on out) can feel like an underwhelming maintenance charge…like putting gas or oil in your car.
But following that metaphor, how far would you get without them? While playing guitar (especially electric) without a pick isn’t unheard of, the attack and tone produced by a pick is a defining part of sound of the electric guitar. Picks are available in thousands of variations of shape, size, and material, and most players gravitate towards the one that best fits their style and settle. I’m a Dunlop Jazz III player by choice, but I get along with almost any pick that isn’t huge or paper thin. Given the Jazz III was included in the new family of Dunlop Primetone Sculpted picks, I chose that version for evaluation as I could best speak to the differences between materials and design.
The Primetone Sculpted pick series is based around their Ultex material, Dunlop’s proprietary formula based on UTLEM resin that Jim Dunlop states is the closest material he has found to the feel and sound of tortoise shell. Having had the chance to play a real-deal tortoise shell pick against Ultex in Benicia many years ago, I can attest they were pretty damn close. Compared to Tortex, Dunlop’s other polymer solution to creating the tortoise shell sound, Ultex is slightly harder and brighter. There’s something about the rigidity of the material that feels firm but never stiff and creates a more organic connection between the player and string. Ultex is a durable material that is about as hard as one could want without sacrificing a smooth glide over the strings, and has a longer play life than standard latex.
The Primetone Sculpted series differentiates itself from the other Ultex picks by featuring hand-burnished edges so the pick instantly feels “broken in,” and offers the option (in most cases) of selecting a raised grip or standard grip. To test the claim, I compared a new standard Jazz III pick with a new Primetone Sculpted Jazz III. The burnished edges of the virgin Primetone Sculpted Jazz III indeed played easier and smoother compared to a first-use standard Jazz III, and hit the sweet spot between too sharp (new) and too worn (old) that is my favorite part of the pick lifecycle. The difference between the raised or standard grip is whether or not the text and design on the picks are slightly raised to increase surface texture for improved connection and less slip when held. I preferred the raised grip as it improved stability on the somewhat slippery material without being distracting in how it makes contact with the fingers.
While aesthetics are typically not a consideration in something as function-focused as a pick, it's worth noting the quality and class of the design. The rich, wood and leather inspired colors and simple graphic design suggest a classic, vintage feel that evokes material and artistic gravity. But yeah, they’re still picks.
While I wasn’t able to perform a head-to-head of the Primetone Sculpted series against each of their standard series counterparts, it’s a safe bet the qualities and differences I observed carry through to their other Primtetone Sculpted formats. Whether or not you would want to switch from your current go-to to a Primetone Sculpted is likely predicated on whether you’re already playing a Dunlop pick in one of the standard shapes but would like a bit more brightness, response, and durability from your pick.
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.