The Cheapest Way to Improve Your Guitar Sound

August 7, 2006

For the past twelve years, I used Dunlop Tortex picks (1.14 mm, the thickest they make). These picks are cheap and durable. The tortex material produces a mellow, thick tone that isn’t too bright. Heavy picks are essential to getting a big, fat clear tone.

Then I discovered Tortis. ( These picks emulate the chemical composition of real tortoise shell, and they sound amazing. Real tortoise shell picks have long been tool of choice for flatpicking bluegrass guitar and mandolin players, but the material is rare and new tortoise is illegal. Tortis picks on the other hand, have the same qualities of tortoise, but without the hassle. They’re made by a true picksmith, Dave Skowron, and come in all kinds of shapes and colors. If you’re used to $.25 picks, the $20 price tag will shock you, but they’re worth every penny. After viewing the endorsements by all kinds of hot flatpickers, I decided to try one, and now I can’t use anything else. The improvement in the clarity of the guitar, depth of the bass and speed of the attack is instantly apparent.