17 February 2012

Dunlop Black Fang vs Ultex Sharp

Disclaimer:
This basically is one big Dunlop advertisement, so deal with it.
No, I'm not getting paid to do this and if you're reading this, Dunlop dudes: why the fuck don't you lot answer my emails?

Anyways, for what it's worth: a bit of history first... maybe this'll help someone.

Since I started learning playing the guitar I've been a bit obsessed with finding the perfect pick for me.
I noticed very early on the kind of pick I used greatly affected my playing.
The dude in the music store I bought my first guitar at (grossly overpriced, but what did I know... bastards) recommended those floppy light nylon ones, I tossed those after 5 minutes. That started my search for the perfect pick... (still haven't found the Pick of Destiny)

I recently fell in love with Dunlop's Ultex Sharps 1.0.
I already was using regular Ultex which I love for the material it's made of: durable, very nice sound and they don't slip as much as, let's say, the Tortex ones.
The Tortex ones, I used the green 0.88 ones, were great at first, but they wear down as fast as hell and they get incredibly slippery after half an hour of use.
Now, before Tortex I used the famous Jazz III for quite a while.
Incredible picks, I bought a couple of them and only had to grab another one when I lost one. They last forever, they really do.
The sharp tip was so great to use and the small size forced me learning to pick more accurately, which was great as well at first.
They only have one major downside: they're extremely slippery.
Heh, I used to cut them up with a knife to increase friction.
So when I heard Dunlop would release a Max Grip version I immediately placed an order at the local music store.
The Max Grip version has this diamond plate thing going on on the surface which really works and I used them for quite some time as well.
After a while I grew tired of the additional harmonics I created while playing fast riffs as the thumb of my picking hand would keep hitting the strings because of the small size of the pick.
Yes, I know, it's all technique and all and I guess I just suck.
But that lead me back to normal sized picks.
Ultex ones were the next ones I tried but I really missed having a sharp tip.
Apart from that Ultex is an amazing pick: the brightness of the tone it produces is amazing .
After another trip to the Dunlop site I saw the Ultex Sharp ones... and placed an order at my local music store.

Btw, start seeing a pattern here? For some arcane reason they don't stock a great variety of picks, I wonder why...
Anyways, about 2 weeks later they arrived and I fell in love.
Lightweight, durable with a sharp tip and they produce a great sound. I absolutely love them.

I noticed people talking about Hetfield's Black Fangs on a couple websites.
Looking at the specs it seemed just a branded Ultex Sharp in varying thicknesses the regular ones aren't available at and way more expensive of course.
Rephrase: ridiculously more expensive.
They go €7,50 for 6 here which is 2.5 times more than what I buy the regular ones for.
Just because of that I wouldn't buy them but it kept bugging me: was it really just a Ultex Sharp in another color, another gauge and with a fancy drawing on it or was there something else going on?
Reviews just reviewed the pick, not comparing it to a regular Ultex Sharp of course, that'd be too obvious and easy... sigh.

Then, my mother got me some as a present (thanks, Lien!) so when I got home I tried the Black Fang and Ultex Sharp back-to-back, not expecting much difference.
The first thing I noticed about Black Fang is it's a much rougher texture than regular Ultex, which is smooth as a baby's bottom.
They're exactly the same size, apart from the thickness that is.
So without further ado, here's my take on Ultex Sharp vs Black Fang:

Black Fang is better.

There's no sound difference at all but due to the rougher texture they're so much more enjoyable to hold as they're even less slippery than the regular Ultex and a bit more durable as far as I can see.
And, let's be honest here, they're just plain fucking cool; appealing to my inner Metallica fanboy even.
A black rhino silhouette on transparent yellow doesn't exactly scream metal to me.

That's it.
So, are they worth the money? Hard to say, isn't it... how much do you want to spend on a pick?
One could spend 1000's on guitars, amps and effect pedals while saying 'you get what you pay for'.

I used to say €7,50 for 6 picks is ridiculous, but I'm not too sure anymore.
Time will tell which ones I'll buy next, but chances are it'll be Black Fang.