The Wing Pick
A Plectrum Of A Different Feather!
When the folks from wingpick.com contacted me recently to try their new product, the Wing Pick, I was intrigued. I've seen and tried a number of picks, but this was a new take on the old standby design.
Their picks are uniquely designed, and the designer makes a number of tantalizing claims:
- Reduced frustration from dropping your pick
- Reduced effort to hold your pick
- A more natural feel to enhance your guitar playing.
Several key design characteristics aim to accomplish these goals, such as 100% larger gripping surface using a tactile rubber grip to reduce gripping pressure, plus a cut-out at the top of the pick to allow smoother strumming. This pick is marketed for acoustic, electric, and bass guitar. More on how well those objectives were achieved in a moment.
Pictured at right, this unique guitar pick is available in four thicknesses, thin (.50mm), medium (.60mm), thick (.73), and heavy (.88). These thicknesses and the color scheme follows the de facto standard used by other manufacturers.
Wing Pick's are sold individually, with the price dropping per pick as you increase your order. At the time of this article, pricing was $3.00 each for quantities of 1 to 5, $2.50 each for 6 to 10, and $2.00 each for orders above 11. The price includes shipping and handling, a nice touch in these days of exorbitant handling costs. You can learn more, or place an order here.
Choosing The Competition
Since the makers of this unique pick claim a number of benefits, when compared to other picks, it makes sense to discuss how it performs when directly compared to other picks. So, I sat down and played my acoustic guitar with the Wing Pick, a Dunlop Tortex Standard, a Dunlop Tortex Wedge, and a Wedgie Delrin EX, my preferred pick for the past year. To keep it fair, I chose the .73 thickness for each pick.
The Wedgie is an especially fair comparison, since it too is designed to help guitarists who find picks difficult to keep under control. This pick has a thumb-sized indentation on one side, that allows just a bit more of a naturally grippable surface. I find that it's enough to dig my thumb into, without significantly altering the form factor or performance characteristics. After all, I don't want to suddenly feel like I'm holding a strange item if I can't locate my favorite pick.
The Tortex picks were chosen for their standing among many guitarists as the one to choose for great tone, which is similar to tortoise shell. Once a favorite, natural tortoise shell is difficult to come by in the USA due to federal wildlife protection laws.
How Well Did It Perform?
In use, the Wing Pick was consistently easy to grip, and easy to strum with, especially for passages requiring rapid strumming. Two design features yield this benefit: the cut-out at the top of the pick (shown in white outline in the image below), and the flexible rubber grip.
However, this improved flexibility introduces a new problem: reduced volume. There was a distinct drop in volume, including muted tones, when using the wing pick. If you have difficulty holding onto a pick when vigorously strumming, the Wing Pick will certainly solve your problem. However, once holding a pick is second nature, you may choose tone and volume over convenience, and that is not where this pick shines.
The large gripping surface, which promises to provide plenty of room to grab the pick, is mostly unused. In my tests, including one where I wet my thumb to clearly see the contact area between my thumb and the pick, I discovered that about half of the rubberized grip is unused. Interestingly, my thumb fit very neatly onto the other standard picks. This is sort of like having a yardstick when you only need a ruler. It's nice to know you have that extra potential, but you never use it. The one group of guitarists who may find the large rubberized grip of the Wing Pick to be a real blessing are those with especially large hands.
Finally, the designer of the pick claims that you have additional versatility with the Wing Pick by spinning it slightly and using the rubberized surface for light strumming. This is, in fact, a real benefit. There are times when mood dictates that you strum with their fingers. But if you ever need to alternate between picking and softly strumming in the same song, there is no longer a need to tuck a pick between your fingers, instead simply twist the Wing Pick 90-degrees and keep playing!
You never know, the Wing Pick may be perfect for you. Thankfully, the cost is reasonable enough that every guitarist could order a couple and try them. If you like it, which I suspect beginners will, then you have a new favorite. If not, at least you had a little fun at a very reasonable cost. And, isn't that part of what playing is all about?