I have to admit, I’m getting a little spoiled. Over the last couple of years I’ve completely switched from using a very common “green pick” (you know, the ones you find at the bottom of your laundry), to trying a wide variety of boutique and lesser known pick manufacturers picks.
I’ll be the first guy to tell you when something does or doesn’t push the needle in terms of you getting better as a player, or squeezing out that last little bit of tone from your setup, but choosing a good pick can make a bigger difference than you think.
After having reviewed a bunch of different picks in my quest for what was best, I ended up scouring YouTube and finding Ben Eller and Rusty Cooley talking about Swiss Picks. I immediately went to the Swiss Picks website, contacted them, and asked if I could buy a variety of what they had to offer.
The awesome Pete Punckowski who makes Swiss Picks sent over 7 different kinds for me to try. As a true test, I’ve been playing nothing but these picks over the last 5 days, and I’ve been getting in some good playing time each day, putting these picks through their paces.
What makes Swiss Picks unique?
Right out of the gate, lets talk about what people might think about Swiss Picks after seeing or hearing about them for the first time. With the way they look (they look just like a piece of cheese), and the company name, and model names (sharp cheddar, etc.), you might think it’s all too gimmicky. But after having picked these up and really played with them, I can’t put them down.
I actually enjoy the fun model names, and the way they look makes a big difference when you’re playing. Lots of pick makers have experimented with putting holes in their picks. Swiss does this too, with multiple holes throughout the pick, and the holes have raised edges. These picks give your hand a lot of room to breathe, and you can move them SO much easier than other picks I’ve tried.
If the picks have no hole cutout at all, it’s possible that the pick might move around or be “sludgy” when trying to maneuver during playing. If the picks have that sandpapery texture to them, it also might be hard to move your thumb at all when trying to pick. Swiss Picks fixes both of those issues. I was able to play with ease, whether I was alternate picking, economy picking, or even hybrid picking. The material that Pete uses, Delrin is also very common, and felt good while holding the picks for hours at a time.
The models I tried included the Original, which was very cheesy looking yellow color. I found the original pick great for acoustic playing as it was 1.10 mm thick. It wouldn’t be my daily driver, but it was fun to see where the lineup has come from.
Then I picked up two of my favorites, the Sharp Cheddar in both 1.50 and 2.0 mm thicknesses. These picks are amazing, and I can see myself wanting to pick up an entire pack of these. They had a sharper point than the original, and were perfect when I was practicing fast runs up and down the neck. They come in a funky looking orange color and had a beautiful tone when playing clean or with distortion. Unlike other picks they didn’t make a “clicking” sound when hitting the string, which led to a really smooth but accurate tone.
Similar to the sharp cheddar, I also tried the Atomic Glow, which came in 2.0 mm size. The difference between this and the sharp cheddar? It glows in the dark! How cool is that?
After that I moved on to the signature series picks. The Jason Becker pick instantly intrigued me, because I grew up listening to Jason Becker, and am thankful he’s still alive and making music. He’s truly an inspiration. Jason’s signature pick is called the Bleu Cheese, and has a different makeup of materials than some of the other picks, which is meant to give it a rounder tone and more ruggedness. If you want to honor one of the most talented guitarists of all time, check out this pick.
The last two picks I tried were Rusty Cooley’s signature Nuclear Cheddar picks in 2.0 mm and “jazz mini” sizes. These picks are made out of polycarbonate, and felt lighter to me in the hand than the rest of the lineup. The great part about them being lighter, was that I was flying through scales with these picks. I always have to get used to the size of a jazz mini, but then it’s all I want to play with for its versatility. Both of these were winners. Plus, if they’re good enough for Rusty Cooley, they’re good enough for me.
These picks have a lot going for them. The look, the feel, the sound, their price point. Any guitar player would get a big upgrade from their regular picks. These aren’t ordinary picks, they’re really great tools to play guitar for hours with, and they’re also sure to strike up a conversation if someone sees you playing with them.
Break out the mousetrap
I found a use for each one of these picks throughout the week, which is an amazing thing to say for any pick maker. I was excited to come home each day and rustle through my stack of picks and decide which one I wanted to use for what purpose.
You can find Swiss Picks online, and for the time being only online. These picks are crafted in the USA, and are very well priced. If you’re looking to break out from using a boring pick, check these out, and they won’t break the bank. Now, I’m going to go back to my sharp cheddar!