Timber Tones Plectrums are a new type of luxury guitar pick which are designed and sold within the UK. What makes these picks different from most others is that each one is finely crafted from one of 18 different exotic woods from around the world, with each having their own unique tone.
Each pick is shaped by machine to exacting specifications, which ensures that the only difference between each one is the wood that they are created from. Once they come off the production line each Timber Tone goes through a quality control checklist to ensure that they are up to scratch. After passing this initial scrutiny the picks are treated with wax which seals the wood and gives them a more grippy texture. Finally each pick is given a generous coating of Tung oil to help enhance the wood’s natural beauty.
“You’ve treated yourself to high end guitar equipment, now treat yourself to one of the best plectrums money can buy…” – TimberTones
I was sent a couple of sample packs of Timber Tones to try out and I’ve been busy putting them through their paces over the last couple of weeks. I was given an electric sample pack which contained four picks for electric guitar, and an acoustic sample pack which contained four picks for acoustic guitar…
The Electric Timber Tones
The Timber Tones included in the electric package were made from some of the harder woods on offer. The hardness of each wood is calculated using the Janka scale which measures the force required to embed an 11.28mm steel ball into wood to half the ball’s diameter. Included in the electric package were Lignum Vitae (4500), African Ebony (3320), Sonokeling (3080) and Bloodwood (2990). Take a look at some more detailed images below…
The hardest of the lot is the Lignum Vitae pick – my dad told me they used to make ship propeller shaft bearings out of this! It’s also very, very smooth, despite the rather crazy looking patterns and ridges running over it.
Most people will know what the African Ebony will feel like considering that it is used on many fingerboards. Due to its very tight grain it is as smooth as a button between the fingers.
Sonokeling makes for a really elegant looking pick with its alternating dark and light brown stripes. This one is the least smooth feeling of the four as you can really feel the deeper grain as you move it around in your hand.
The Bloodwood pick is, as the name describes, almost the color of blood and incorporates some beautiful and complex grain patterns. It is also quite rough feeling around the edges.
The Acoustic Timber Tones
The Timber Tones included in the acoustic package were made from some of the softer woods on offer. Included in the package were African Sapele (1510), Cocobolo (1140), Santos Rosewood (1780) and Jatoba (2350).
The African Sapele has the least smooth texture of the four, it also somehow feels quite delicate. It has an almost reflective appearance, and as a result can subtly change its hue depending on which angle you view it from.
The softest of the bunch is the Cocobolo Timber Tone which is easily the most striking of all – its vibrant orange/red hues, combined with its contrasting wavy lines really makes it stand out from the rest.
The Santos Rosewood pick just exudes pure elegance and class, it’s almost like a more detailed version of the Sonokeling electric pick. This one is probably the smoothest of the acoustic picks and could almost give the ebony Timber Tone a run for its money.
Finally, the Jatoba also has a rather unique appearance with its almost dot-like grains. It is reasonably smooth between the fingers.
In terms of aesthetics these are certainly some of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous picks around, but if I’m being honest the differences in tone between each of these picks is so slight that you’d need a very well trained ear to notice more than a very subtle variation between each one. There is a definite difference to be heard when playing acoustically, but in all other situations I struggled. These are all roughly 2.5mm thick, hard picks, and for that reason I say just choose the ones that you like the appearance of the most.
For me, the big selling point of the Timber Tones picks is the ability to significantly alter your tone through the way in which you hold the pick in relation to the strings. Let me explain…
If you hold the pick parallel to the strings these are very similar to any other thick pick, i.e a smooth release with a full, well rounded tone. However, begin to hold the pick at a slight angle to the strings and the grainy nature of the wood comes into play and starts to make the pick ‘grip’ the strings. The more extreme of an angle you use, the more grip you get. This results in a more punchy, dynamic, scratchy tone which is completely different to the smoother tones we were getting before. Because most ‘normal’ picks are completely smooth and rounded you just cannot do this with anything else. At an angle, these picks also produce a beautiful percussive sound as they scratch along the string before you release. To me, this alone makes the £3 price of admission well worthwhile – I’ve never owned a single pick which could produce so much tonal variation before.
A further advantage of the Timber Tones is the grip that they provide between the fingers. Their oil and wax finish makes for a very grippy pick which will stay firmly planted in your fingers.
I’ve only had these for a couple of weeks now so I can’t really comment on the longevity of the picks – ask me again in a month or two!
I’d without doubt say that these are wonderful picks for any musical situation, but they really do seem to shine the greatest when used with cleaner tones. They have elegant looks and curves coupled with excellent utility and should definitely be part of any guitarist’s pick bag. LeftyFretz approved! ;)
TLDR : Buy the one you like the looks of the most and then revel in the tonal diversity you can achieve from just one single pick.