REVIEW: FinePicks’ Wooden Plectrums

An array of FinePicks handcrafted hardwood guitar picks!

An often overlooked component of tone is the method used for attacking strings. You’ll notice immediately that you can achieve a wide range of timbral differences depending on your choice of pick material whether it be plastic, metal, the fleshy part of your fingers, your fingernails, or wood, to name just a few.

FinePicks of Tampa, FL specializes in custom wooden picks in a variety of sizes and woods: bocote, zebrawood, cocobolo, East Indian rosewood, and African blackwood. They sent over a couple samples for us to check out and share our results with you.

EXOTIC LOOKS

The two picks reviewed include East Indian rosewood and bocote. Rosewood is a familiar material to guitarists as it’s often used for the back and sides of acoustic guitars and fingerboards on both acoustics and electrics. Dark brown in color, which can darken more over time, it’s a durable material. The pick was provided in the smaller jazz size of 26mm x 20mm. It’s an attractive plectrum with two f-hole cutouts near the top.

The bocote pick, in the larger 31mm x 25mm “original” size, is a lighter caramel-color with dramatic dark striping. Also known as “Mexican rosewood”, bocote is hard, dense, and oily. This pick, like all of FinePicks’ choices, also had the signature f-hole cutouts mirrored on either side.

LET’S TALK TONE

For this comparison, I took to my trusty Vantage dreadnought that’s been with me since the mid 80’s (a best friend for sure). I started strumming with my usual heavy gauge plastic pick as a frame of reference. Switching to the rosewood I expected a softer, rounder sound. The pick feels less snappy in my fingers and it has thicker rounded edges which I thought would give it less bite. I couldn’t have been more wrong as the strings literally came alive. They were brighter, more pronounced, and the attack felt stronger. The feedback also felt more interactive. Whereas the plastic pick just slid off, the rosewood pick seemed to grab a little and interface better with the strings. I experienced similar results with the bocote pick but with a brighter attack, likely due to its increased density and thinner, sharper edges. Going back to the plastic pick was like trading fresh strings for an old, dull set.

Next, the arpeggio test. Again, the plastic pick set the base with a sound that was very middle of the road: not too sharp, not too dull, a little on the trebly side, and not too much bass. The rosewood pick transformed my playing by bringing out the bottom end and mid range of my notes and rounding off the highs while still allowing for a bright attack – very full, very warm. It wasn’t as bright sounding as the plastic pick, but so much fuller. After the strumming test, the bocote pick surprised me with its mellow character. The frequency range was shallower and everything rounded off very smoothly. I thought of lighting candles and inviting over a date.

Finally, I played a series of single note lines. The plastic pick gave equal average quality across the board (slight pun intended). The rosewood pick once again provided fullness and imparted a softness to lower strings that made me feel like I was playing bass. Working my way up to the higher end, the pick bit into the strings and I was able to achieve definition along with a softer, chewy quality of an increased mid-range. Similar to my arpeggio test, the bocote pick resulted in a soft, mellow sound all around.

THE FINAL WRAP

Call me converted. For the cost of a new set of strings, a pick from FinePicks will completely transform your sound to bring out the best your guitar has to offer. Additionally, playing with a wooden pick just feels better and grabs well. With a focus on quality, each pick is hand-shaped for smoothness, wet sanded, and buffed to a matte finish. It was beyond the scope of this review to judge the lifespan of these all-natural wooden plectrums, but I guarantee you’ll get more than your fair share’s worth of enjoyment before you work your way through one.

PROS: Attractive all-natural exotic hardwoods. Brings out the best tone your guitar has to offer. Several size and material options.

CONS: None.

DIRECT PRICE ONLINE – $8 + $1 shipping per pick

Dan Coplan is senior staff writer at SMG. Dan is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and self-admitting guitar junkie. Email: dancoplan@sharemyguitar.com

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