Tortex Vs. Ultex

Let’s dive right into the difference between the the Tortex vs Ultex guitar picks. The comparison between these two guitar picks is one that is regularly asked however there does not seem to be many answer out there. As a result, I decided to answer this question myself and discuss with you the differences between the Ultex and Tortex guitar picks. Tortex has long been the most popular and best picks for guitar around. However, in recent times, Ultex has made many a guitar player shy away from Tortex all together.

Some Background To Tortex & Ultex

Tortex guitar picks and Ultex guitar picks are both produced by Jim Dunlop, a company I’ve mentioned many times as being one of the most popular and well known companies to produce guitar picks today. They have so many different types of guitar picks in their range. However, the Dunlop Tortex as well as the Dunlop Ultex are some of the most popular on the market.

Ultex Material vs Tortex Material

The ultex material is essentially polyetherimide plastic which is one that is strong and can withstand quite a lot. It is no secret that that Ultex guitar picks last much longer than Tortex and wear down a lot less. Tortex on the other hand is basically a Delrin guitar pick with possibly some other materials added which Dunlop are not explicit about. It is no wonder seeing as though tortex is one of the most preferred plectrums in the world.

Tortex vs Ultex Sound?

Before talking about the tone, I have to say right off the bat that the Ultex plectrums are much noisier against the strings in comparison to the Tortex and possibly one of the noisiest picks I've played, especially the thinner gauges. However, this doesn’t put me off and I still enjoy the sound of the Ultex picks.

Ultex guitar picks will give you a much brighter sound often described as being “crisp”. The tortex guitar picks will give you a much smoother sound when compared and the midrange that these tortex picks produce is clear and evident which I absolutely love.

The Feel of Tortex vs The Feel Of Ultex?

The Ultex picks are definitely a lot snappier whilst the Tortex picks are smoother and give less friction against the guitar strings. Despite this, the Ultex picks seem to glide across the strings a lot better. It is because of this that the Ultex guitar picks are most likely preferred by speed/shred players. However, this could be a generalisation.

What Shapes & Gauges Can You Get Ultex & Tortex?

I’ve said many times that Jim Dunlop make Tortex guitar picks in pretty much ALL the popular shapes and gauges. That means it is very unlikely to not find a Tortex pick that you’ll enjoy. With Ultex picks, they are made in a variety of gauges in the “regular” and “Triangle” shape but are only made in one gauge for the Jazz version. Also, those are the only three shapes. So the ultex range seems to have less variety making it potentially harder to find a suitable pick for your personal preferences.

My Tortex vs Ultex Conclusion

For me, it is very hard to say which of these two guitar picks I prefer. But I think when it comes down to it, I like the Tortex better. This could however be due to the fact that I’ve used these picks pretty much all of my guitar life and the discovery of Ultex is one that is a lot more recent.

The final verdict at the end of the day has to come down to what you prefer as we are all different however, if I had to try sum up each of these two picks, I’d say that the main differences between Ultex and Tortex is:

  • Tortex: smoother, warmer and more mid-range tone
  • Ultex: fast, crisp, noisy and snappy.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my article on Delrin vs Tortex.

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  • Justin
    July 17, 2018

    Hi Michi

    I tend to agree with you. I think the Tortex material is great and Jim Dunlop absolutely nailed it when it comes to how they feel and sound. It is no wonder they’re some of the most popular picks. That being said, I have been getting into the Ultex sound lately. Especially when it comes to strumming as they deliver a crisper tone.