logicbdj, on august 07, 2013 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 10
Purchased from: www.Timber-Tones.com
Ease of Use: I suspect Timber Tones may be a hidden secret in the plectrum world, at least in North America. In my travels I could not find any Canadian distributors, and music shops I visited never heard of the company (although Timber Tones is well known and respected in the UK and Europe). There are a few retailers in the USA, but far and few between. This amazes me because of the quality that this prestige plectrum company upholds, in both materials and design.
Even the name, Timber Tones, is a bit of a misnomer, simply because of the vast array of materials this company offers in its products. Timber Tones may have started developing plectrums from various woods (none of which are endangered or in limited supply), but have moved into the direction of bone and horn (from farm animals intended for food and other manufacturing), stone and even precious metals (silver, gold and platinum!)
But it's more than just the materials and the incredible array of tones achievable from their dozens of offerings to the musical gods; what drew me to Timber Tones as of late, more so than in the past year or two using their plectrums, are the shapes and comfort. I recently acquired several different types of multi-packs, each of which contains an assortment of plectrum shapes in different mediums (bone, horn, wood and stone). The Stone Tones have a traditional appearance, but the other plectrums all possess some form of dimple, groove or edge of some type that makes using them a pleasure.
In my case it has as much to do with music styling as I sometimes like to "tap" while playing a bend, a legato passage, etc. I don't tap with my finger, but with the edge of the pick. And so, I need to flip the plectrum on its edge, do my tapping, and then flip it back flat between my fingers quickly and easily. The problem was that the Pick did not always turn or go back into place as I liked it to. When I saw the structural design of the Star Tone, my curiosity was peaked and then I saw the Groove Tones, the Groovy Tones, and the Heart Tones! // 10
This is a large chunky plectrum (ideal for bassists and guitarists), available in white horn, black horn, African ebony and Indian rosewood. What attracted me to this Pick was the grooved hole in the centre (for easy gripping and quick manipulation between the fingers), as well as the three large tips with a double-honed edge that work well for Precision picking, as well as strumming. Because the three edges and points are symmetrical, you can hold the Pick in any manner and have a point available and when one point wears too much, you still have two others at your disposal. The tone when playing is very full and "solid," but not clunky, ideal for loud acoustic strumming, as well as pushing an electric punch through the mix. Surprisingly, the wood Star Tones give off a very loud yet warm sound considering their thickness, whereas the horn gives more crispness and Precision to one's playing.
The Groove Tones are thinner than the Star Tones, but depth of sound still stands out very well. More importantly, the Groove Tones have one of the most comfortable grips I have experienced, with a well rounded dimple on the thumb side and a groove along the finger side. What else draws me to this plectrum is the sharp, curved tip that makes playing far more precise and easy to manipulate for tapping.
Groove Tones Mini
And this brings us to the Groove Tone Mini, which is a smaller version of the Groove Tone (3mm shorter in both length and width), but with a more pronounced curved tip.
At first sight you would think it was made for mandolin players, but if you're one of those musicians who like only a "bit of tip" poking out between finger and thumb (or have smaller fingers), then this is a must try. I like the Mini for my Precision playing, but when I getting into tapping, I prefer the slightly larger size of the regular Groove Tone. Both are available in buffalo bone, blonde/clear horn, black horn and African ebony.
Groovy Tones are slightly smaller than Groove Tones, and a bit larger than the Groove Tone Minis. What makes them different is a deeper grip (both thumb dimple and index finger groove) and likely one of the most comfortable plectrums to hold (I don't think I could Imagine greater comfort in a pick). Timber Tones' plectrums are of various pricing, and just under $10 USD the Groovy Tone may seem expensive for those who buy plastic Picks by the bushel basket, but these are hand-crafted with a tip design that increases plectrum-string contact area for an enhanced tone. In fact, these wood plectrums are so rich and full in sound that I would compare them to something of a thicker and harder substance, like bone or horn. Now, although that may sound like marketing hype, after using a Groovy Tone it simply does not feel "right" going back to a standard music shop Pick feeling and hearing is believing! These are available in Katrafay, Royal Blood Rosewood, African Ebony, and Indian Rosewood.
Being on a roll with these grooved and dimpled picks, the Heart Tones were an obvious selection to try. Besides being a great gift idea from a loved one, the comfort is something to experience, with a double recess for the thumb and a scoop for the index finger. The contouring is designed in such a way that the Pick feels as though it will stay put, even under sweaty conditions, which is a plus when in the middle of a long passage or solo and you don't want any Pick movement. Although Heart Tones may not look it (with their "romantic" design), these Picks are ideal for speed players as the sculpted tips provide an attack that is brief and clear (but not too sharp). Get on board Malmsteen! These are available in Katrafay, Royal Blood Rosewood, African Ebony, and Indian Rosewood.
Amazingly, these plectrums do not sound harsh and they certainly do not feel rough on the fingers or strings. Although they do not have that great dimple and groove design, but being of materials I have not experienced, I just had to try. The sound is extremely clean and not clunky so smooth in finish with a unique rounded and beveled tip you would not think they are made of stone. Timber Tones make these plectrums from different semi-precious gems, and the two in my collection are made from Malachite Azurite and Bloody Basin Jasper. Using these on an acoustic, it was surprising to hear how the Blood Basin Jasper sounded softer, whereas the Malachite Azurite sounded crisper not what I expected from plectrums both made of stone, thinking the only difference would be appearance or beauty. // 10
Reliability & Durability: Any Pick wears over time, but with the inclusion of stone, bone, horn and shell, the latest Timber Tone plectrums may cost more than the average Pick (although no more than the various prestige Picks out there), but the wear-ability will certainly make up for the modest cost. On that note, it is interesting that people may scoff at the cost of these picks, and yet invest hundreds or thousands in guitars, amps and pedals. Or more specifically, consider the cost of quality guitar stings vs. Cheap strings; more expensive strings are purchased because they last longer and/or sound better, and the same is true of the various tonal qualities found in Timber Tone plectrums when compared to their cheaper plastic and nylon counterparts. // 9
Overall Impression: As stated, different materials in different thicknesses will give you a different quality of feel, attack and tone in one's playing. Timber Tones offer more than 18 types of wood, along with bone, horn, stone... and all in different shapes, edging and thicknesses. To offer a recommendation to anyone is impossible, since the vast array of possibilities would suggest you visit www.Timber-Tones.com, do some investigation, and certainly email the company with information on your instrument and musical styling to help direct you. The engineering behind these plectrums have to be felt and experienced to be appreciated. // 9