Pick materials, and how they change the "feel"

I’ve spent a decade playing with a variety of picks–predominantly Fender mediums, Tortex heavies, and most recently Jazz IIIs. Recently, just out of curiosity, I picked up a Dunlop Jazz III “variety pack”–all picks with the same geometry, but with different materials and thicknesses. I was fairly surprised at how different they feel, in aggregate–by which I mean, yeah, they’re all definitely Jazz IIIs when you play a few notes, but over the course of a practice session or a lesson, you sense a serious difference.

Here are the notes I’ve got for various materials of Jazz IIIs:
-Nylon: the classic for good reason, it’s got a sort of “buttery” feel compared to a lot of the other materials. People who aren’t fans might say “plasticky” instead. The softness of nylon seems like it dampens the attack a little bit, but also is more “forgiving” on articulation, in a way. Also becomes scuffed up quickest out of the whole variety pack.
-Tortex: powdery, not my favorite. A very solid pick with lots of authority in the attack, but it seems like it “grabs” the string so much that you can’t control your articulation as well. (Subjectively, as are all of these thoughts)
-Ultex: I’m a big fan of other Ultex picks I’ve played–if you’ve never used one, they’re a super neat polymer that basically never wears away–and the Jazz III geometry is suited to it as well. Three months of teaching lessons six hours a day with one, and it’s got no visible signs of wear. However, it just feels… I don’t know, maybe a little too stiff? at 1.38mm, which is standard for Jazz IIIs. Almost to the level of a wooden pick, or something.

What are your thoughts on pick materials? Naturally the CtC video on “chirp” gets into it quite a bit, but what are your favorites on “feel?” Personally I’m still hunting for a Jazz III in celluloid in my area.


I like the standard red ones after about a month in which they’re in between 2/3. A few come out of the batch with indentations on the top logo which I like but it’s more of a manufacturing defect than anything.

The black and ultex are too but I swear the black sounds different and the ultex, while it wears very beautifully, it’s too clumsy feeling. Same with the bigger jazz iiis. It however helped when I first began the economy picked journey.

I also have about 50 EJ signature picks and although I’m his biggest fan, I don’t like them very much because they’re grippy and slow.

Another pick I like just as much as red jazz iiis are the smaller fender tortoise teardrops. 351s or something I like. The smallest. Probably a reissue of some original pick brand I reckon. Really cool for acoustic and they look beautiful.

So in short, the only real thing I nerd out on and it’s red for electric, teardrops for acoustics.


Because I play with a fair amount of angle and edge picking I need picks that have a good bevel and are fairly pointy, and have a bit of grab on the strings, otherwise they tend to sound bad.
The red jazz iii xl work quite well for me, sound and feel pretty decent.
The ultex are too smooth and sound and feel wrong, plus I find the chirping way too pronounced.
I like the material of the carbon grip ones but they don’t come in xl and the small ones are too small for me.
The tortex ones would be nice if they had a proper bevel but sadly they don’t.

Hi! I recently did something similar by buying a variety pack as well as any other jazz 3 style pick that was available. FWIW, I really love the John Petrucci jazz 3s now. They’re supposedly Ultex but don’t feel like the Ultex pick that comes in the Dunlop variety pack – they’re very glossy. And once they start to wear, which subjectively seems to take less time than nylon, they seem to be less chirpy than a worn nylon jazz 3.

Im coming from Fender Heavys. I just started using the jazz iii’s and I notice I have to curl my index finger so much more, so that it doesn’t rub up against a string, causing harmonics or unwanted noise. My index finger keeps naturally curling out because with a heavy pick, there is so much more room that it doesn’t make a difference. But with the jazz iii’s, the index finger will quickly start hitting the string. It’s tough!

Have you tried the xl version ? The standard ones are way too small if you have big fingers.

I havent. So they’re just like the iii’s but larger in size? I ordered a bunch from Dunlap. Some stuff I still don’t get. The jazz iii’s refer to the shape of the pick? It has nothing to do with thickness?

Yes. Jazz iii is a style, they come in two shapes: the standard and xl, and in a few different materials and thicknesses.
The red nylon ones are the standard ones and only come with one thickness and have bevels and a fairly sharp edge.
The tortex ones come in a few different thicknesses and have rounded edges with no bevels ( which is a shame, IMO ).

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Strongly agree with EJ Jazz 3. From my point of view, Every product related to EJ can’t go wrong Lol…