Jazz III Pick Family
I’ve always liked pointed picks as they seem to be more precise than traditional pick. Even before knowing about Jazz series I’d get a regular tortex or gator pick and sand down sides to get a pointed tip. I had beed been using the good old black and red nylon Jazz III for few years and really loved them. At some point, whey came up with the semi-transparent yellowish Jazz III Ultex that was my favorite pick for a while. Then Dunlop released the black 2.0mm version of the Jazz III, also made from ultex. Finally, I got some brand new John Petrucci signature picks which also seem to be 2.0mm ultex, but with few significant differences. Here are my thoughts on these four similar, but different picks.
So what’s different?
- All but Petrucci have the same classic Jazz III shape. Petrucci is slightly bigger with a longer tip.
- Some are made out of nylon, while others are ultex, Dunlop’s proprietary material.
- The yellow ultex model has the sharpest edges of all, not much bevel at all.
- 2.0mm Ultex has that sand-papery feel both on the sides and edges which will translate into a rougher sound.
- Petrucci has the most beveled edges. Some say they are like Red Bear picks. Haven’t compared, so I can’t confirm on that 🙂
I have to give this one to the 2.0mm Ultex and Petrucci. I was never a fan of large embossed letters on older models. Although they do provide better grip than a completely flat pick they also make the pick a bit less comfortable to hold. The 2.0mm version has thinner, less embossed letters that grip perfectly while not sacrificing the comfort at the same time. Also, the 2.0mm version is not perfectly flat like the other Jazzez 🙂 It seems to have very slightly arched sides which may or may not be something you like.
All Jazz III picks are designed for picking and grip nicely but 2.0mm Ultex and Petrucci are slightly better than the rest and nylon is slightly worst in this regard than the other two because it’s a bit slippery in sweaty hands. That puts the yellow ultex model right in the middle. The 2.0mm Ultex has rougher surface which grips better and won’t slip as easy as nylon in a sweaty hand.
When comparing the sound of the picks, it’s not a bad idea to play an acoustic guitar with them as it will make any difference in sound much more obvious than an electric guitar.
Being pointy and stiff, all three provide sharp tone and quick attack, but there’s very slight difference. Nylon is more slippery than the other two which makes it slip faster from the string, thus transferring a bit less of the energy into the string. That makes it very, very slightly less loud than the other two. As said before, the 2.0mm Ultex has rough surface which makes the sound a bit more aggressive than the other two. That may be good for some styles as it almost acts as a distortion pedal, but it’s not great for acoustic guitar as you can clearly hear the scratching. Again, the yellow ultex is somewhere in between. It’s got sharper edges than the other models but smoother surface than the 2.0mm. Sharp edges also tend to sound scratchy on acoustics, so bear that in mind. Petrucci model has beveled edges which make sound smoother than the 2.0mm Ultex, but they seem to have longer tip which makes you dig in deeper in strings while picking which makes you put more energy into strings. As a result, you get a bit more volume but smoother sound. It’s good for Petrucci type of sound and I love them with electrics, but I find them to be too warm and thick for acoustics.
All Jazz picks are great here, made for fast and precise picking. Being pointed, there’s no as much meat at the tip as regular picks, so you can be more nimble when moving between the strings. Petrucci model is slightly bigger, so it’s maybe not as precise as others.
All of these are fat and durable, but I prefer ultex over nylon. Ultex doesn’t feel like plastic but more like a brick, so it wears out slower and more gracefully than nylon. Nylon picks tend to develop small shavings from picking over time that keep sticking while you pick. That is not the case with ultex. It wears out as if you were to sand it down with a really fine sandpaper – stays smooth.
What I don’t like about them?
- These are made for picking. Pointed tip and stiffness make them less ideal for strumming.
- Due to smaller size they are easy to lose. Semi-transparent ultex makes the yellow ones even harder to find, especially if you drop it on the wooden floor. It’s exactly the same color as my floor 🙂
- These are very different shape and size than regular guitar picks. Once you got used to them it’s not easy to go back. If you go somewhere without the pick and need to play with something else it could be tricky.
- Except for the regular Jazz III, others are either too fat sounding or harsh sounding on the acoustic guitar. If you’re after fat acoustic tones, Petrucci could be a decent pick for you.
I love Jazz III shape and size and every Jazz III pick is good in it’s own right. The regular Jazz III is probably the most versatile, as it’s the only Jazz III I’ve tried so far that works decent with acoustic guitars, although it’s a bit too stiff for my taste. For electric guitar, I prefer the Petrucci model. More aggressive tone the 2.0mm provide is not for everybody, but it may add that little grit to your sound if that’s what’s lacking. All of them are great for alternate picking, string skipping, fast rhythm parts, soloing in general, but not so much for strumming and acoustic stuff. I strongly recommend checking these picks. They are 50c each and I honestly can’t remember a product (or service) that provides as much fun for that money.