The Best Mandolin Picks: Part 1

V Picks

I had a chance to try out a number of plectrums, also known as picks, on my mandolins this month.  These were Wegens and V-Picks.

Since I liked the V-picks best, I decided to write a short review on what I found.

Basically, I love V-picks.

 

Ruby Red Pointed V Pick

When I first got into traditional music I had a guitarist friend who raved about getting great tone from really expensive picks.  He would show me his vintage tortoise shell picks and exclaim how wonderful they were.  Since I couldn’t get any tortoise shell picks (as they are illegal), I found the Red Bear Trading company, and I invested $40.00. In two picks.  That was 6 years ago.  I lost the medium gauge pick, but still have my pink and white extra heavy tri point. (I don’t think they make that color anymore.) It’s got some ridges in it now, and has discolored a bit, but that has been my favorite pick for these last 6 years, as I transitioned from Guitar to Mandolin. How I never lost it, I can’t say.

 

One of my students decided she wanted to try out some new picks, and so purchased a number of Wegens, V-picks, and Red Bear Trading picks (Still on order. Looking forward to trying out some new ones.), and she bought me a few as well.

The first V-picks she gave me were super heavy.  I think they were 2.75 millimeters, which I thought would be ridiculous.  One was a sharp pointy, candy red, clear triangular pick. The other was a little stubby glow in the dark rounded pick. At first I thought I was going to hate these little guys.  Then I started playing with them.

I leaned more towards the glow in the dark medium round pick at first, as I do enjoy the rounded Proplecs.  And it was like playing a whole new fantastic mandolin. It sounded like I just installed a humbucker where there once was only a single coil, and now I had a tone knob to turn up the tone.  It is really wonderful.  The volume increased, and the tone increased, and I could even play lighter and get good response.  (Vinni says these picks have some extra grab on the string.)

Medium Rounded Glow V Pick

 

Then I started using the sharp pointy triangular pick on my octave mandolin. It drove the sound board hard, and both chording and melody were a joy to play, with more volume and more tone.

I have a habit of dropping picks when I get into a really intense set of tunes, from sweaty fingers, but these stay right in place.

So I ordered a few more.  I ordered the clear rounded tremolo, the large 1.5 mm rounded pick, and also a pearly gates medium rounded (same thing as the glow in the dark pick, but shinier). Vinni threw in a .75 mm traditional guitar pick, and shipped the order out the same day. They were in my possession in three days.

The tremolo, and the 1.5 mm rounded I will use on my octave mandolin for a thinner sound, and for tunes that require triplets.  The pearly gates, goes with my mandolin.  I’m still not too fond of the .75 mm guitar pick.  It’s just too thin. (Although everyone who plays rhythm that I talk too, extol the virtues of thinner picks.  I might give it away to one of those players and see what they think.)

 

1 mm and 1.5mm V Picks - Not my favorites, but still pretty good.

If you want to drive your mandolin, increase the tone and volume, and really enjoy playing, I’d highly recommend a V-pick.  Remember, I don’t play bluegrass, I play Irish Celtic Music, and the fatter picks work really well for me. I also play a flat top mandolin, and these picks make my mandolin sing.  The student who got these for me, prefers the Wegens overall, so far.  She has an archtop Weber F-style Mandolin.  My thought is, that the difference between the arch and the flat top may make a difference.

 

The Wegens are nice, but they are third on my list of top picks at the moment, tied with ProPlecs.

I personally think her mandolin sounds wonderful with these fatter V-picks too.

Looking forward to getting a new set of picks from Red Bear Trading, and I aim to do a review of those as well.

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4 thoughts on “The Best Mandolin Picks: Part 1

  1. V-picks are known for their comfortable grip and I like how they have customized picks for different artists. Electric guitar players, mandolin players and acoustic guitar players can all have their pick, no pun intended, on any of the items in their product line.

    • I gave one to a jazz guitarist along with a Red Bear Trading Pick. He loved it, said it made his guitar sing. It was one of those pearly gates short stubby ones. I use them both to excellent effect on my steel string guitar, mando and octave. They seem to wear out quick though. I’ve had the triangular 2.75 mm for about a month or two and the points already wearing off well.

    • Since you are just getting started and I’m not sure what kind of player you are, I’ll make three suggestions. The safest bet would be to go for the MEDIUM LITE ROUNDED at 1.5 mm. Although I like the larger version, so if you like them bigger, go for the freakishly large one. It’s really not that much bigger. Once you get a good feel and are comfortable with your picking hand, you might try the Nite Glow Large Rounded at 2.75 mm. The fatter pick gets awesome tone, but if you aren’t well in control of your picking hand, you might get more pick click and less tone. It’s worth getting one, just to practice using it right. Some mandolinist seem to like really then picks. In that case go with the Tremelo. I don’t understand why, unless you are doing more chords, but they like them. The MEDIUM LITE ROUNDED at 1.5 is a first choice, can’t go wrong. The NITE GLOW LARGE ROUNDED at 2.75 is killer on tone, but needs a controlled hand (plus it glows in the dark!).

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