Monday, January 23, 2017

NAMM 2017: Graphtech Tusq Guitar Pick Review


I stopped by the Graphtech Guitar Labs booth at NAMM 2017, and they slid me one of their Tusq guitar pick to try out. When I saw the pick I was kind of like “Meh – another pick,” but Dave from Graphtech told me that these picks were different as they have their own harmonics. This got my attention, and then he dropped their pick on the counter and it made a resonant “clink” as if he had dropped a shard of glass. One of my fake tortoise shell picks produced a dull click when I dropped it, so I left it there on the counter and decided to go home and give their pick a fair test drive.

Surely you know a thing or two about Graphtech by now, or at least the guitar stuff that they build. This Canadian company produces products under the Tusq, Nubone, and String Saver names (plus many more), and they sell really good nuts, bridge saddles, bridge pins, machine heads , and… guitar picks!

Tusq picks are available in three different harmonic tones: Bright (white), Warm (cream) and Deep (gray). Each of these comes in three different shapes, including standard, teardrop, and bi angle (kind of a bigger triangle), as well as plenty of different thicknesses. I ended up with a bright tone standard pick that is 1.0 mm thick.

The pick itself is blindingly white, with raised logos on either side which allow me a bit more grip than my picks. The edge is a tad sharper, and it is the stiffest non-metal pick I have ever tried. My A/B testing was the Tusq against my regular celluloid picks on a Telecaster, a Stratocaster, and my Takamine EF acoustic. It was not a blind test, but there was an obviously difference in tone between the two types of picks.

I really dig the stiffer feel of the pick, as it gives me the kind of control I look for. It is indeed much brighter than I am used to, though not as gnarly as aluminum or titanium picks that I have tried in the past (and later gave up on). The difference with the Tusq’s brighter tone is that it is less strident, and a little more musical. I wish I had gotten the Warm and Deep models too, as it would have been nice to include them in this comparison.

As far as longevity, after about an hour of playing with the Tusq pick there was noticeable wear to its edges. This was with normal strumming and picking, with no Pete Townshend windmills added in for flair. I have never actually worn a pick out before as I usually lose them in a day or two -- I have no idea where they go, and think that maybe my cat is hiding them somewhere. So, for me this wear would be a moot point, but for those that can keep better track of their stuff, they might be able to actually wear them out.

If you are interested in the Graphtech Guitar Labs Tusq picks, they seem to cost around $6 for a half dozen from most retailers, and there are combo packs available if you want to see which ones work best for you. For more details head on over to


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