Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Pick shoot out

Well, I am sick today so I wanted to do very little. I had been meaning to do a pick tone shoot out for some time. I received two great picks for Christmas and so I had all the more reason to run the shootout.

Here it is:
[attachment=0]Pick test.mp3[/attachment]

I tested the following picks:
Blue Chip CT-55
Blue Chip TPR 50
Delrin similar to fender “heavy” (still thin)
Dunlop 1.5 Gator
Fender medium
Golden Gate SAGA rounded tip
Red Bear Heavy Round tip
Red Bear Heavy speed bevel (pointy)
Tortoise .053" moderate point
Ultex 1.14 teardrop
Wegen 1.0 BG
Wegen 1.4 BG
Note that these are not the order the picks were recorded in. I figured some of ya’ll might enjoy trying to guess which is which.
I’ll post the actual order sometime a week or later than this original post.

If someone somehow correctly identifies the correct order of the picks, I’ll send a pick of your choice like the ones in the shootout (excluding the tortoise as it’s not replaceable, and also the Red Bear availability might be an issue, but we can cross that bridge when we get to it). The ending date for attempts to identify them will be the end of the day 1/8/2014. Let’s say each individual gets 3 chances to identify the order. Best of luck! Just in case someone gets the bright idea to add a bunch of users and put up each permutation, only usernames in existence prior to this post are valid. If there is a genuinely new user who wants to participate, you are welcome to join in. Just shoot me a PM.

Ok, with the contest out of the way, the reason I recorded them was so that I could compare the tone. The recordings were made in one session with a single mic, an MXL 890. It was located in front of the 12th fret. There is no processing on the recordings other than to edit to run them back to back. The guitar was a D18-GE with Martin Lifespan Phospor Bronze Mediums with somewhere around 15 hours of play on them.

I started with “pick one” using a metronome. I set it to try to keep the speed down to where I would be more consistent and the pick differences might be more apparent. Unfortunately, the metronome annoyed me, so I ditched it after the the first pick.

I have a least favorite tone, but I am not sure I have a most favorite. I have several that are all in the hunt for numero uno.

Rules modification alert… I’ll be giving some feedback/hints as the days go by. Thus, to make it fair to people that post early and late, people can make one guess a day between now and 1/8/2014. This eliminates the previous restriction of 3 submissions and replaces it with one per person/per day.

Work is going to keep me away from the desk a bit, so there will likely be some periods next week where I am not able to post. I’ll probably give more hints and tips this week.

I got to admit I was overwhelmed by this challenge. Despite having a few of the tested picks in my possession, I still couldn’t sort them out. Maybe if you collected the samples into smaller groups (like 3 or 4) I might have a fighting chance.

Yeah, I guess it is a bit too many picks. I didn’t originally plan to make a contest, but such things have been popular in the past. I was planning on identifying some correct answers as they came along (was planning on one a day). Since no answers have been posted, it has been hard to confirm any :slight_smile: If I eliminate half, I think that would give a fighting chance…

So instead of petering out the information over the life of the contest, I’ll just pick 6:
Pick one is a nice medium brightness tone with a moderate attack** Pick 1 is a Wegen 1.0 mm BG**
Pick three is the reference standard. Pick 3 is the Tortoise with a moderately pointy tip.
One of my favorite bargain picks is pick 4. It’s tough to beat for $.050. It has a nice tone and plays real easy once one has a bevel on them. Pick 4 is an Ultex 1.14 Teardrop
Pick 5 is the pick I use the most. Pick 5 is the rounded tip Blue Chip TPR-50.
Next to last (and maybe least)… the most obvious pick to my ear is pick 7. Bright strum, weak attack. It has the thinnest sound and it is the thinnest pick. This one is actually about 25 years old. It’s got the vintage vibe going. Pick 7 is a Fender Medium
Having a dark tone, but strong attack. A nice woody tone. Pick 9 is a Red Bear heavy rounded

Well, now I feel like I might have made it too easy :smiley:

As I said previously, I won’t be able to check in as regularly as during some times, so feel free to post a submission a day (as indicated by the post timestamp). The first person to pick the picks correctly in the contest date range gets a pick of their choice (see previous disclaimers of excluding Tortoise and Red Bear availability).

I listened to the recordings a couple times and boy this ain’t gonna be easy! You’re Martin sounds great by the way as usual. I was going to guess recording #7 was obviously a thin pick.

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Tortoise .053" moderate point

— End quote

Is that correct or did you mean 1.53"? .053" is awfully thin.

I’ll listen some more before I take any guesses.

Thanks for the post, J.W.

Thanks for the nice words on the Martin! I thought about normalizing the tracks to make the volume greater, but I decided against it in favor of leaving everything raw.

O.053" (inches) is roughly the same as 1.35 mm. The micrometer I have in here is thousandths of an inch… I think I have a mm in the garage. Sorry for any confusion. If desired, I can measure them all out and put both the mm and thousandths measurements with the remaining picks. The blue chips are in thousandths as well. 50 = 1.27 mm and 55 = 1.4 mm.

You are correct on #7! I suspect you already saw that, but I like providing some positive feedback nonetheless.

No need to measure Mike unless you just want to. I didn’t catch that the .053 was in inches. I was thinking mm’s. I pretty much know what all the others are except for the Golden Gate. I’ve never tried one but I’m guessing it has rounded corners and about 1.5mm?

I should have read your post more correcter. :unamused:

Thanks for bringing that to my attention, 1.35mm makes sense. If it was .053mm it would have broke a long time ago.


You are pretty much right on with the Golden Gate. Rounded triangle, 1.4 mm (or .055").

Here is my first set of guesses and that’s after listening over and over several times, still guesses.

You’ve already given out #'s 1,3,4,5,7 and 9 so here’s what I came up with:

#2- Dunlop 1.5 Gator
#6- Golden Gate Saga
#8- Delrin
#10- Wegen 1.4 Bluegrass
#11- Red Bear Heavy with speed bevel
#12- Blue Chip CT 55

Before I posted this I listened to them all a couple more times and each time I wanted to change my answers, but I’m going to stick with these and see what happens. I think my personal favorite is #10 whatever pick that may be. It seems to be the most clear with good volume and tone. #5 is right up there with it. I can see why the TPR 50 is the one you use most. I may change my mind on my favorite if I go through them all again.

Thanks for the post


Howdy JW, and thanks for playing! Thanks also for the comments on which tone you like. When the contest is over and all is revealed I look forward to jumping in on the discussion of what types of tones people like and why.
Depending on how many people give answers, I may not give feedback on all submissions, but I will certainly do it for the first one. You got 2 out of 6 correct. I think that’s twice as many as one would get from pure guessing. Not too shabby for a first submission. If my math is correct, there are 120 possible combinations, so only 119 to go (I think 6 items to be ordered should be 5! which equals 120 according to my 25 year old calculator).

Bad math alert!!! :blush:
In my previous post that should have been 6! instead of 5!. That means there are 720 possible combinations, so there are only 719 remaining combinations that have not been tried.
Hmmmm… depending on how things go I might identify another pick.

Even with the clues I’m finding this a tough challenge, but since Jeff gave it a shot, I did too. I went through and made my best guesses then looked at Jeff’s guesses and we only have one the same, so I know I’ve got some wrong, but it’s beyond me which ones they are. Anyway, here’s my attempt.

6-Red Bear
10-Golden Gate
12-Blue Chip

If you’re right on #2 and #8 Larry, I’m gonna be mad at myself because that’s what I had first and then decided to change and flip-flop them. Oh well, that’s what makes it fun!

After learning of all the combinations, I don’t feel so bad about two out of six being correct. Honestly I would have been happy if I only got one right.

Hope you get some more guessers.


Larry, it sounds like you are really enthused :smiley: Thanks for the entry. You got one correct, but there’s still 5 days and 5 attempts left! In honor of all the 5’s, I’ll cut the number of unknown picks down to 5. This is the last one I’ll identify until the end. Since JW liked pick #10 so much, I’ll identify it. Pick #10 is the Wegen 1.4 BG. I like that pick quite a bit, and I use them pretty often. It’s kind of like the Honda Accord of flatpicks… it’s nice and dependable. It’s also relatively inexpensive at $4 (when I last bought one). I included both the 1.4 and the 1.0 to see if I could tell much difference in tone, and I can hear the difference. The funny thing is, the tone seems more different from a players perspective. It makes me wonder how much the feel of a pick influences how I think I hear it.

As I said before, I might be unable to post over the next week. Even if I can’t, just keep posting up to one entry a day and I’ll go through them in order looking for a winner when I get time next week.

— Begin quote from ____

Larry, it sounds like you are really enthused

— End quote

Sure I’m enthused, but also a little frustrated. I can hear the differences in tone, but assigning each tone to a particular pick is above my pay grade.

since i lost my blue chip about a year ago, I had to take a chance here.

  1. Golden Gate

  2. Blue Chip

  3. Derlin

  4. Wegen

  5. Red Bear

  6. Dunlop

Probably a sad attempt but an attempt nonetheless…… John

You identified #10 which looks to be one of the two I got right so here is my day two attempt with the five that are left:

#2 Delrin
#6 Golden Gate
#8 Blue Chip Ct 55
#11 Red Bear with speed bevel (I’m sticking with this one for some reason)
#12 Dunlop 1.5


Wow! JW is close… Keep them coming!

OK, if you say I’m close then I’m assuming I have three right this time. It would be impossible to have only one wrong so I need to change two. You said Larry had one right in his attempt. I’m thinking that it was the Delrin on #2 which was my last guess so I’ll keep that the same. #6 has a darker more muted sound which you would get from rounded corners, so I’ll leave that to be the Golden Gate. #12 seems to have a strong dark attack which you would get from a thick pick, so I’ll keep that as the Dunlop 1.5. That leaves #8 and #11. They both have that sound you get from a speed bevel to my ears which leaves only the Blue Chip and the Red Bear. So I’ll flip them and go with #8 being the Red Bear and #11 as the Blue Chip. My day three guesses (or four, whatever we’re on now) are:

#2 Delrin
#6 Golden Gate
#8 Red Bear speed bevel
#11 Blue Chip speed bevel
#12 Dunlop 1.5

Now, I either totally crashed or nailed it this time. Either way it’s been fun.

I got all my favorite picks out and have been comparing tones on the mandolin lately. It’s hard to pick a favorite, they all have good qualities but I think I’ve got it down to two now: the old Red Bear I used on jttw recording and my new Blue Chip TP-55 with the CT-55 bevels that I ordered for Christmas. I ordered with one standard bevel and two CT bevels (they’re slightly different than the normal Blue Chip speed bevel) and I’m really starting to like the tone they give.


Winner winner chicken dinner! Nice job JW!
Be thinking about what kind of pick you would like. I suspect it won’t be the 50 cent Ultex :smiley:
I will get it on its way later this week!

So what picks do y’all like?