In the last year I’ve undergone a bit of a guitar pick metamorphosis. For years I’d been a strict Jazz III user for rock stuff (switching over to Jazz III XLs for acoustic, Delrin for bass and maybe the occasional Stubby 3.0mm), but after I found myself feeling a little lost while using an unfamiliar pick during a lesson with Paul Gilbert, I made a conscious effort to use any and every pick I could get my hands on. I’ve really enjoyed the Ultex Sharps, and the sharp-tip Max-Grip 1.14mm really rocks my world when I’m playing my Fender ’62 Stratocaster Reissue. So how about the new Ultex Jazz III 2.0 and Tortex TIII?
Ultex Jazz III 2.0
The Ultex Jazz III 2.0 is (obviously) made of Ultex, a much more matte, stiffer material than the nylon of the original red Jazz III. There is already an Ultex Jazz III design out there, although it lacks the sculpted tip and velvety feel of the 2.0. The 2.0 again features raised lettering (which improves the grip further) although I find it less obtrusive than that of the nylon version. There’s a slight bulge in the middle of the pick which makes it simultaneously more grippable and more controllable – it’s super-easy to angle the pick slightly for different articulation effects and pinch harmonics, and I find that the pick really flies from string to string when you use Frank Gambale-style (down-up-down, down-up-down) economy picking.
The fine, sharp tip is also ideal for Roy Buchanan-style circular picking (where you use the point of the tip to ‘draw’ tiny circles on the surface of the string, thus attaining the speed of an angry hummingbird). I’m a dude who likes to occasionally play at ridiculous speeds which betray my affiliation for 80s-style shred, and this pick never tripped me up on those wild alternate-picked flights of fancy.
The Ultex Jazz III 2.0 is the Empire Strikes Back of Jazz IIIs: a sequel that contains all the great elements of the original while improving on them in certain key ways (and also being significantly darker).
The Tortex TIII is made of (duh) Jim Dunlop’s popular Tortex material, and is available in standard Tortex gauges (.50mm, .60mm, .73mm, .88mm, 1.0mm, and 1.14mm). I tested .73mm, .88mm and 1.0mm. What I like about the Tortex material is that it’s a little tougher than nylon, and therefore doesn’t ‘give’ as much. In that sense, a 1.0mm pick has more stiffness than the equivalent thickness Nylon Standard. The TIII combines the tone and feel of Tortex with the sharp pointiness of the Jazz III, and as such it’s great for players who really need to dig in harder than the Jazz III’s enhanced precision might allow, while also enjoying the latter pick’s detail and articulation. I found it to be especially good for bringing out extra attack and wallop from single coil pickups. This pick will be greatly appreciated by players who like the size of a conventional pick but need a sharp tip for faster playing styles or for extra twang.