Guitar picks have a significant impact on tone and playability, but their importance is often overlooked. They come in a bewildering array of shapes, sizes and materials. Over the years, I have experimented with countless varieties in an attempt to find one that really suits me, but I have never been completely satisfied with any pick I’ve tried. So when I was contacted by Corey W. Bell and asked if I’d to review his Dragon’s Heart Guitar Picks I visited the Dragon’s Heart website to find out more. I was interested, but not overwhelmed with excitement. The picks looked weird, seemed way too thick and were made from a core material I’d never heard of. How wrong can you be? The first time I used one was something of a revelation.
Shape and thickness
A couple of features you’ll notice immediately are the unusual shape and thickness of a Dragon’s Heart pick. It has tree playing edges and is very thick – approximately 2.5mm. The pick is designed to be versatile. Each of the three playing edges is designed to support a different picking style.
Dragon’s Hart Guitar Picks say:
The primary lower edge offers the greatest balance between speed and attack.
The sharp right upper lobe offers a very aggressive attach while maintaining speed and consistency.
The rounded left upper lobe was designed with fast strumming and harmonics in mind.
When I first held a Dragon’s Heart pick I thought there was no way I was going to get on with it. I tend to use Dunlop Tortex picks – size 0.75mm. At 2.5mm, the Dragon’s Heart is over three times thicker than the type of pick I normally use. Surprisingly, within a few minutes of using the Dragon’s Heart, I got on with it very easily. In fact, it was a joy to use. Key to its usability is the bevelled edge.
For years I have used 0.75mm picks, because I don’t like the blunt attack you get from a thick edge. However, I tend to hold 0.75mm picks very close to the bottom contact edge to reduce flexibility a little. The bevelled edge of the Dragon’s Heart enabled me to vary the thickness of the point of contact as I played. It glided smoothly across the strings and played as easily as a thinner pick while offering the control and precision of a thicker pick. I found I could break my habit of holding a pick close to it’s contact edge.
While playing, I found it easy to flip the pick round and use one of the three different edges. Each makes a big difference to tone, attack and feel. The rounded edge produces warm tones with a soft attack, ideal for strumming. It rolls easily over the strings. The sharp edge is designed for fast lead work. It encourages an aggressive attack and generates bright tones. The primary lower edge has a shape closest to a regular pick and produces both tone and attack that are more conventional than the other two edges. It is designed to support both strumming and lead work.
It’s a minor point, and obviously a personal preference, but if I were to change anything about the design it would be pick length. Dragon’s Heart picks are a millimetre or two shorter than the picks I normally use. I don’t have large hands or thick fingers, but I’d like a little extra added to pick length.
Corey W. Bell considered hundreds of different material variations in the development of Dragon’s Heart Guitar Picks. He evaluated friction coefficient, erosion resistance, tensile strength, flexibility and production process requirements. As a core material, he felt that polyamide-imide offered the best overall performance. Polyamide-imide is often used in aerospace applications as a replacement for metallic alloys.
All Dragon’s Heart picks share the same thickness and signature design, but are available in 3 material variations: original, pure and hardened.
Made from a carefully selected polyamide-imide, the Original has 12% graphite content, making it extremely fast. It has a high level of durability and can endure over 1000 hours of play before the edges become less than ideal. This pick will suit shredders.
Made from 100% polyamide-imide, the Pure has no additives. It is designed to offer a classic softness, producing a warmer tone compared with the other Dragon’s Heart picks. The Pure is ideal for players of varied styles and will endure up to 1200 hours of play before erosion begins to impact playability.
The Hardened variation has a 30% glass fibre fill. It offers a brighter tone and is balanced for versatility in terms of attack, lubricity and durability. It is the longest lasting of the three varieties and will endure 1500 hours of play. Dragon’s Heart state that it’s “the choice for professionals that demand the most from their picks.”
The three varieties of Dragon’s Heart pick are similar in colour, though not identical. While playing in dimly lit venues or under stage lighting it may be difficult to distinguish one variety of Dragon’s Heart pick from another. Dragon’s Heart Guitar Picks might want to consider colour coding Pure, Original and Hardened, or etching a different letter on the back of each variety.
Dragon’s Heart should be congratulated for creating a pick that is both innovative and versatile, without sacrificing usability. You’ll be surprised at the wide variety of tones you can get from a single Dragon’s Heart pick. Don’t be put off by the thickness of the design; it’s not an issue. In fact, it will probably enable you to improve the precision in your playing.
At $10, Dragon’s Heart picks are not the most expensive on the market, but they are not cheap either. However, they are more versatile and last a lot longer than your average pick. Edges on my Dunlop Tortex picks begin to round off after a few hours of playing, so I buy lots of them. I can’t imagine that I’ll get through more than one or two Dragon’s Heart picks a year.
My son, Harry, is a highly competent gigging guitarist. A week ago I gave him a Dragon’s Heart pick to try. He hasn’t given it back, and I don’t think he will. That says a lot.
More at www.dragonsheartguitarpicks.com