Last Updated on July 22, 2023 by Justin
When it comes to the world of guitar picks, Tortex picks by Dunlop stand out as a top choice for musicians around the globe. Known for their durability, grip, tone, and range of sizes, Tortex picks have become an industry standard. This article delves into the history, features, and impact of these iconic picks, providing a comprehensive review for both new and experienced guitarists. The reviews are based on my personal experience with these picks.
The Birth of Tortex
Tortex picks came to life following a shift in the music industry. Prior to the late 1960s, guitar picks were commonly made from tortoiseshell, appreciated for their tone and feel. However, the tortoise species became endangered and international laws were put in place to protect them, outlawing the use of their shells for picks.
This led guitar accessory companies to search for a synthetic alternative that could mimic the desirable properties of tortoiseshell. Jim Dunlop, the founder of Dunlop Manufacturing, developed a material known as Tortex (a portmanteau of “tortoise” and “latex”). Tortex, an innovation in its own right, offered a balance of durability, flexibility, and memory akin to tortoiseshell, which was key in maintaining the performance guitarists were used to. Thus, the Tortex pick was born.
|Dunlop Tortex Standard
|Dunlop Tortex Flow
|Dunlop Tortex Jazz III
|Dunlop Tortex Triangle
|Dunlop Tortex The Wedge
|Dunlop Tortex Flex
|Dunlop Tortex Sharkfin
Key Features of Tortex Picks
One of the standout features of Tortex picks is their durability. They are resistant to wear and tear, maintaining their shape and structure even after extensive use. This long lifespan is part of what makes Tortex picks a practical choice for guitarists.
The term “memory” in the context of guitar picks refers to the pick’s ability to return to its original shape after being flexed or bent. Tortex picks possess excellent memory, ensuring a consistent playing feel even over long periods of use.
Tortex picks are recognized for their grip. The matte surface of Tortex is designed to minimize the pick slipping from a player’s grasp, even during vigorous playing. This reliable grip enhances control and allows for precise articulation.
Tortex picks yield a clear, well-defined tone, another reason for their widespread popularity. The material strikes a balance between soft and hard, generating a sound that has both warmth and brightness.
Tortex picks come in a variety of gauges, colors, and shapes. The gauges range from thin (0.50mm), medium (0.73mm) to extra heavy (1.14mm), each identified by a unique color. The assortment of sizes enables guitarists to find a Tortex pick that fits their specific playing style and needs.
Tortex Picks in Practice
Tortex picks have found favor among guitarists across genres, from rock and metal to jazz and country. Their balanced tone and excellent control make them suitable for both rhythm and lead guitar playing. Moreover, their durability ensures they can handle a variety of playing styles, from gentle strumming to aggressive, fast-paced picking.
Signature Tortex Picks
The influence of Tortex picks can be seen in the roster of musicians who have chosen to use them. Below is a very short list of some of the famous guitarists that have used and that still use Tortex.
- James Hetfield’s Black Fang: Metallica’s frontman uses a custom Tortex pick designed to withstand his hard-hitting playing style. It features a sharp point for precise articulation and a custom grip surface.
- The Slash Tortex Pick: The legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist, uses the pick in the distinctive purple hue. It features Slash’s signature art for a unique aesthetic.
- Dave Mustaine’s Tortex Triangle: The Megadeth frontman prefers the popular Yellow Tortex pick.
A lesser-known advantage of Tortex picks is their environmental friendliness. Being a synthetic material, Tortex is more sustainable than natural tortoiseshell. Dunlop has shown commitment to environmentally responsible practices by reusing excess Tortex material in the manufacturing process, further reducing waste.
The Legacy of Tortex Picks
Tortex picks have undeniably left their mark on the music industry. Their adoption by both amateur and professional guitarists attests to their quality and performance. The picks’ success also showcases how innovation can provide sustainable and effective solutions in response to environmental challenges.
Tortex picks have stood the test of time, consistently delivering in terms of tone, durability, and comfort. They offer a solution for guitarists seeking a reliable pick that can cater to diverse playing styles and genres. With their vast range of gauges and shapes, Tortex picks uphold the belief that there truly is a pick for every guitarist. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a beginner, the Tortex pick is a tried-and-true option that is worthy of consideration.
Hey, fellow guitar mate! I’m Justin, I have been a professional guitarist since 2012. I have traveled the world playing on different stages alongside some of the best indie bands, at some of the biggest music festivals in the world. As a result, I’ve played lots of different guitar gear. Instead of keeping that knowledge to myself, I have set up this site to share my honest reviews of various guitar gear. But most notably, my love for guitar picks.