Dragonheart Guitar Picks (review)
Dragonsheart Guitar Picks were invented by guitarist Corey W. Bell, and are made from a compound called ‘polyamide-imide’. These plastics are also used in aerospace applications as replacements for metallic alloys, and have a very low friction co-efficient (which should make for less drag on the pick).
These picks definitely sound very interesting, and I’m always intrigued by new and interesting guitar technologies- especially if they might help my playing (for example, finger weights). I have also heard that these futuristic sounding picks can actually improve playing and make you play faster!
Now, I’m not one to get sucked into the hype of these things, so I put these picks to the test. Let’s see if they’re really all they claim to be, or if it’s all just clever marketing spiel from someone wanting to sell something.
Then, I was sent some sample dragonheart guitar picks…
These picks come in ‘original’, ‘hardened’ and ‘pure’.
These picks are made from the original ‘Dragonheart’ formula, and are made with 12% graphite- which makes the pick just glide over the strings. They also reckon these picks will last for over 1000 hours of play before the edge wears away too much!
This was the first pick that I tried, and I was impressed by how easily the pick just glides over the strings. After shredding for a while, I did get some dust on my hand (which I assume is from the graphite?). I think that’s because it was new and haven’t noticed it after wearing the pick in a bit.
This variation is hardened by adding glass to the original mixture. This hardening makes the pick last much longer (up to 1500 hours), but they still glide over the strings just as easily.
I tried this pick second, and I think I prefer it to the ‘original’. The harder material gives a slightly sharper pick attack, for a crisper sound. I usually prefer thinner, but stiffer picks anyway, so this one is closer to what I would naturally choose.
I’m also attracted to the idea that this pick should last longer. I have- so far- been using this pick this week for my own practise, jamming and teaching my students (that’s actually quite a lot of playing!) and I haven’t yet noticed any wear on the edge. Picks wearing down or melting is usually a problem for me, but not with this pick.
The Dragonheart guitar picks are all pretty durable, but the hardened pick will probably last the longest.
The ‘pure’ pick has no additives at all- it’s just the pure plastic. This provides a much softer attack than the other two formulas, but it will wear down the fastest.
This is definitely my least favourite of the three. It’s still pretty good, but the softer attack can affect note definition (unless you want to use the pick super-aggressively). It also doesn’t seem to glide over the strings as easily as the original.
This variation is, for me, a combination of the my least favourite qualities of both of the above picks. Although, if you’re into more strumming or prefer a softer note attack in your playing, then this one is for you.
About Dragonheart Picks
These picks have been made from polyamide-imide, which is a very low friction plastic compound. The idea is that the less friction you have between the pick and the strings, the faster you can play.
The real key to the design of this pick is the bevel around the edge. You see, with a standard pick, the flat edge of the pick contacts the strings and produces resistance when you’re playing. So, it’s generally a good idea to pick the strings at a slight angle- to reduce the resistance from each note.
However, with the cleverly designed bevel-edge of Dragonheart guitar picks the string glides around the pick, which minimizes this resistance. It also reduces the note attack, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it. When using this pick, the notes are warmer, and softer sounding- which can be great for playing some more melodic phrases, or strumming. When strumming with these picks, chords never sound too jangly or harsh- but at the same time, you can still hear definition between the notes.
If you’re into more aggressive playing, just using the bottom edge of these picks may not be enough. The note attack is reduced a bit, so if you want a harsher sound, you’re going to need to play quite hard! Also, for faster lead playing, this loss of note attack and clarity can cause some issues (although read on to find out how you can solve them).
Dragonheart guitar picks come with three, optimized playing edges (which explains the kinda weird shape). The first edge is the one that I mainly use, it’s like the tip of the heart-shape, and is probably more similar to a standard pick shape. This part of the pick has a good mix between pick attack and low resistance.
Then there is the rounded edge at the top of the ‘heart’. this edge can be great for softer playing, or strumming, where you want as little note attack as possible for a softer sound. I wouldn’t use it too much myself, as it doesn’t suit my style- but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!
The third edge is the very pointy part, which has the most note attack. I found this edge a little difficult to get used to at first, as you can only use a very small part of it if you want to play fast. Digging in any more than a tiny bit with this edge and it will act like a ‘hook’ on the strings, and try to catch them. This is not what you want.
After a few weeks or so with Dragonheart guitar picks (at the time of writing this article), I’m slowly getting used to them, and can see the advantages that the three sides have to offer. I would definitely recommend having an open mind with these picks, as the potential is there for a great playing experience!
- Made from specific grades of Polyamide-imide
- Low friction
- High erosion resistance
- Specially designed bevel to reduce resistance when playing
- Three optimized playing edges, for different styles of picking
- Dragon logo etched in with lasers
- 100% made in the U.S.A.
My First Impressions
When I first took the Dragonheart guitar picks out of their packets, I really loved the shape and feel of them! The ‘hardened’ pick especially looks like it could be from ‘Lord of the Rings’- especially with the dragon logo etched in with a laser!
The picks feel very smooth, and you can definitely tell there is something different about them. I also really liked their shape, and futuristic feel.
However, what matters with a pick is not how it looks and feels, but how it plays, and when I first picked up the ‘original’ pick, I didn’t like it much. I usually prefer thinner, but harder picks (a combination that can be hard to find), and thicker picks- to me- can lack accuracy. Also, the graphite on in the pick was wearing off on my hands, leaving black marks (something that has since reduced, but can still be an issue).
These Picks are Faster
I was almost about to give these picks a negative review…but then it dawned on me. The whole concept of dragonheart guitar picks is that the friction between pick and string is reduced. Now, in theory, reducing the friction means the possibility of faster playing– maybe this wasn’t about the pick being bad at all, but just that it feels weird to use at first.
Then my opinion of the picks quickly changed. I realized that what I was doing was to naturally compensate for the feedback from the strings. I’m used to having that resistance there, and I was expecting it. Once I realized this, I could see that it was my fretting hand that was struggling to keep up, as dragonheart picks are actually faster than other picks.
Once I’d got over the initial ‘weirdness’ of playing with these picks, they started to make a lot of sense! The reduced friction is actually an advantage when it comes to picking fast, or sweeping. The notes sound very even and clear, and very full and warm, thanks to the cleverly engineered shape of the attacking edge.
My first impression of these picks was very wrong. Although there was still an issue, for me, with them being a bit ‘fat’ for my tastes, the design concept here makes a lot of sense for playing guitar!
Anyway, I then tried the ‘hardened’ pick, which has a bit more of a pick attack, and most of my worries about note clarity disappeared.
What I liked
Although my concerns about the picks being ‘fatter’ is more for faster lead playing, it’s a bonus when playing slower lead, or strumming. Strumming with these picks produces a richer, fuller sound, with less pick attack.
When you strum with a dragonheart guitar pick, you get none of the ‘jangling’ that you can hear from other picks. In fact, your chords sound warmer, and fuller than before, without losing any note definition.
These picks are also much easier to play with than a standard pick- which is most definitely due to the clever shape and low friction material. This means that the pick tends to glide over the strings…but at the same time I did find that the low friction meant that I keep dropping them…
The material does have one huge advantage, though: it doesn’t wear down very quickly. I’ve literally put these picks through playing that could melt or destroy other picks (which has happened before!). These picks still look almost as good as new- not even a scratch.
What I didn’t like
When I first started experimenting with these picks, I was very interested in the shape. I mean- let’s face it- these things just look cool. Supposedly, each edge offers a different playing option- suited to a different style.
Now, I know we all have our preferences when it comes to pick choice, and I assume this is Dragonheart’s way of catering to the main tastes in picking technique. So, I decided to keep an open mind and try out each of the different edges- even though I was happy with using the bottom part of the heart-shape.
Well, the pointy edge (at the top right of the pick) looks lick it should have more attack and a more aggressive sound. Considering that I already thought the picks lacked a bit of this, the sharper point should compensate, right?
Well, yes and no. It does have more attack and precision- great! However, it’s almost like a hook, and if you’re not careful you can get caught on the strings- not so great! I did eventually get used to this edge. The key is: don’t dig in– you have to let the pick do the work for you. If you dig in too much, you’ll quickly get stuck on the strings.
Of course, the great thing about this is that the key to playing fast is: don’t dig in. So, this pick can actually improve your picking technique at the same time!
Other than that, the thickness of the pick makes string skipping at speed a bit more effort- because sometimes you don’t have time, and the pick attack is kinda slow…
Conclusions about Dragonheart Guitar Picks
Dragonheart Guitar Picks are definitely worth the money! I really thought at one point that I was going to have to give these picks a bad review- I mean, I’m not going to lie to you. However, the more I play them, the more I like them. They just take a bit of getting used to.
Overall, I do like these picks…but as I said, they have advantages and disadvantages. I believe they really can improve your playing, if what you want is to play faster. They also have a fuller tone for slower lead, harmonics, and strumming chords.
Find more information on their official website.
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