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Thread: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

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    Default Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    I have a Blue Chip TD60 that I really like. I had a Blue Chip TD40 engraved with my name on it, but it vanished at a recording studio I was working at in Grass Valley. I know someone has it, I hope he is enjoying it. Today I placed an order for for the CT55 Chris Thile pick. It will be here in five to six days. I can't wait. Meanwhile, I was in a store that had the Dunlop Primetone picks on hand. I was intrigued because I had been reading about them here on this forum. They look just like the Blue Chip CT55, the same size. At $1.50 a pick, I bought a handful. One of every gauge. I dashed home to play some mandolin. This is where the weird thing happened. The Primetone picks felt pretty good, comfortable to hold and all, but the strings on my mandolin sounded choked, like something was impeding vibration. Most noticeably on the E and the A strings. I thought that I was having some sort of issue with the bridge. Then I grabbed the Blue Chip TD60 and played some stuff. I know it sounds crazy, but the string choking thing I heard using the Primetone pick went away. When I switched back to the Primetone, that sound returned. It sounds crazy, I realize, but that is what I experienced with the Primetone picks. I don't know what to make of it, but there it is.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Perhaps a different approach to handling the pick (the way you hold it and the way you approach playing) will reap different results. I like the Primetones, but not with every instrument. I often find that the Blue Chips also create a lot of pick click. I have consistently gone back to playing Wegens, unless playing cittern or octave.
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    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Both styles of Primetones in various sizes, thicknesses, and shapes all sound brighter with more click than BlueChip or Wegen, to me anyway. I like them, and would be my first choice after Wegen or BC. Definitely nothing muted about them on my instruments, though.
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    It seems like "one pick for all" will not be a slogan here. I also have tried the Primetone and in the light gauge,73 and pointed, it was bright. When I tried the heavier gauge and rounded it was muted. I have used BC 35,40-50-60 and find the 35 the best, but not as good on my mandolin as the Wegen 100. I like the rounded pick best. I played the BC picks for years and they are a great pick, no wear and no drag on the strings, but the Wegens have the same qualities, but are clearer sounding to me.
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    I like the Prime tone rounded picks because they cut down on the shrillness of a lot of mandolins, as Pops said they are not for every one or every mandolin, I use different picks on some different mandolins, most of mine have the names worn off of them so I don`t know what brand is which...I usually always fall back to my home made round pick that is made of nylon, no pick clack with nylon and if the pick turns in my fingers I am still playing on a nice flat surface....

  9. #6

    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Well, I feel like an idiot. Upon closer examination, I saw that the bridge was not properly centered on the mandolin. The strings sounded choked because the slots were creating a sideways pressure on the strings. After I centered the bridge, the problem went away. However, the Blue Chip pick did a good job of covering up the issue The Primetone picks are good, but the Blue Chip pick imparts a better tone. $1.50 vs. $35 dollars. There is that whole you get what you pay for thing.

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  11. #7
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Pick shape & thickness contribute a huge amount to the tone of an individual pick. My first Primetones were 1.3 mm thick & sounded terrific after the Wegens i'd been using. I chanced a move to a 1.5 mm thick PT's & the difference was unbelieveable. Rounded picks,rob any of my 3 mandolins of treble, & 'thick' (2mm) rounded picks kill the tone & power of my mandolins dead !. The rounded edges slide over the strings without imparting any 'push' to them,reducing the volume as well as killing any treble. However,that's for my own mandolins,other folk's mandolins might respond differently,but to date,i've not tried any pick on mine that betters the tone of the 1.5 mm ''grippy / pointy'' PT picks. Even the smooth, printed ones of the same thickness sound different. I think that the smooth ones are dead on 1.5mm thick because they're made from sheet material. The ''grippy'' ones are ''moulded'' to emboss the 'grip' on them, & the one's i've checked with my micrometer are a tad above 1.5 mm,closer to 1.55 mm, hence the punchier tone - i think.
    I have tried 3 Blue Chip picks,all with more rounded 'points' than my PT's & let's say,they didn't do anything at all for any of my mandolins & fell short of the 'punch' i get from the PT's - IMHO,it was all down to the shape of the point in this instance. A more 'pointy' BC pick might have sounded great,but, i think that my PT's sound great already,
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    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Same here. I used Primetone triangles with pointy tip and the sound was clean and ringing. I tried the exact same pick with rounded tip and my mandolin sounded like it was filled with mud. Right now I use a pointy tip buffalo horn triangle but when it wears out I'll be right back to the Primetones. Pointy tip all the way from now on.

  14. #9
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    For me, the 1.5 pointy triangle primetone sounded choked on the treble strings and felt slow everywhere. But, when I switched to the 1.4mm equivalent, it sounded and felt great.

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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    I've tried to love Primetones, but still prefer BC and Wegen. They're good picks, and I carry a 1.4mm large triangle on my keychain for convenience when in wander into music stores, but for me the tone and feel of the other two is better. I'd much prefer to pay the Primetone price, but as long as I have the other options, they'll get the play. If I didn't have the other choices, though, I'd probably be very satisfied with them.
    Chuck

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    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWilliam View Post
    For me, the 1.5 pointy triangle primetone sounded choked on the treble strings and felt slow everywhere. But, when I switched to the 1.4mm equivalent, it sounded and felt great.
    Yeah mine are 1.3 mm.

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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    So far I have yet to find any advantage in my own playing on either guitar or mandolin to the more expensive BC or Wegen picks. The Primetones work just as well, and dollar-for-dollar offer a much better value than the others.

    And of course my choice of pick is pointy, not rounded.

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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    If you have rounded the points your self then just maybe the surface isn`t as smooth as it should be and thats why they seem to grab the strings, I would like to find and try the thinner rounded Prime tones and see how they sound...I am just a person that can`t stand a shrill sounding mandolin although some people just love it...ALL A MATTER OF TASTE......The rounded PT`s are not completely round, just the points are slightly rounded...How would a person know if he/she never tries them all? I have about 40 picks laying around that I have tried over the years and most of them just don`t suit what I like to hear...

    Willie

  20. #14

    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post
    I like the Prime tone rounded picks because they cut down on the shrillness of a lot of mandolins....
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonkay View Post
    Well, I feel like an idiot. Upon closer examination, I saw that the bridge was not properly centered on the mandolin. The strings sounded choked because the slots were creating a sideways pressure on the strings. After I centered the bridge, the problem went away. However, the Blue Chip pick did a good job of covering up the issue. The Primetone picks are good, but the Blue Chip pick imparts a better tone. $1.50 vs. $35 dollars.
    I've always thought it was interesting when people have talked about different methods of damping their instruments' high end, like thicker picks on mandolin, or a higher capacitance cable on electric guitar.

    In this case, it sounds like an instrument was being rendered incapable of a fuller high end due to a set-up issue, but a particular pick was unable to elicit that high end in the first place, leading to the problem going unnoticed until a more capable pick was used and the problem of the uneven string response across the instrument noticed.

    It's good to keep these hidden assumptions in mind, including the idea that some mandolins might be set up in a way that their tone is less than pleasant without wiping out the high end. It's an alternate way of viewing the discussions about bowlbacks and flat-top instruments having a "sweeter" sound (meaning "full range) and being undesirable for some purposes, compared to mandolins which roll off the high end and produce mostly fundamental.
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  21. #15

    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonkay View Post
    I had a Blue Chip TD40 engraved with my name on it, but it vanished at a recording studio I was working at in Grass Valley. I know someone has it, I hope he is enjoying it.
    A couple thoughts. Did the person taking it know it was a $35 pick? Or, just a pick worth 25 cents, or so? Might have been an honest mistake or force of habit, putting the pick in your pocket after you are done playing...? walking off with a ball point pen, etc.... Or could it have fallen between some cushions on a couch? Before I joined this forum I did not know $35 picks existed, and I'd been playing since 1966...... Was there some discussion during the recording session, referring to the price? Otherwise, I'm guessing there is a very good chance nobody would know the value. (or care) Speaking only for myself, I've been carrying around a pocketful of picks in my left front pocket for decades, in case I happen upon a guitar or mandolin to play. (I know, I know, I really should change those jeans, one of these days! ) Some of my picks I'm sure I bought 25-30 years ago and are still fine. I give them to musicians all the time when they need one, no big deal. But it seem we have now entered an era where "Grand Theft Pick" may start appearing on the books!

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Hi Willie - I think that over time,we come to understand what shape / thickness of picks suit our mandolins. I tried the Golden Gate & Dawg picks early on in my mandolin playing & quickly discovered how dreadful they made my mandolin sound. I'd been using the freebie Weber picks for a while,then when i discovered the Wegen picks via a friend of mine,went over the the Wegen Bluegrass picks & used those for several years. The Wegens always sounded a bit 'soft' to my ears,that why i was so amazed when i tried the Primetone picks. I'd also just discovered DR mandolin strings & the DR + Primetone combo. was astonishing.

    Rounded picks seem to me to be almost 'self damping' & mute the strings to an small extent (IMHO). I prefer a pointy pick for the strength of tone (not 'volume') they produce,although using DR strings,the volume is already there.
    I've played the 1.5 mm 'smooth' & 'grippy' Primetones back to back,in fact i was doing that yesterday. I find the smooth ones to be just a tiny bit less bright,something that suits my Weber very well,
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Thanks Ivan, If I am out jamming somewhere I use a pick that gets me the most volume, if I am doing a show I use a pick that gives me the tone I like going through the PA system...usually it is two different picks, we are doing a show next weekend where the sound will be furnished and that may mean I will have to take a few different picks with me to find which one works best with that soundman...Not everyone is this concerned but I strive to make my music sound the best that I can where ever I am playing, I don`t get any complaints so I must be on the right track...

    I agree that not all picks, strings and some other things are the same on all mandolins, I have many picks here on my table and when people come to play I let them try as many as they like to see if any will make them sound more like they want to sound...Then I give them a pick if need be, as long as it isn`t one that I am using most of the time...

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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    I need different kinds of picks for the same reason I play different kinds of mandolins, play different kinds of music, and play in and under different circumstances.
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    When I had a Weber oval hole (it was kind of bright and stringy sounding) I used a Golden Gate and that gave me a bigger and smoother tone. After getting a Northfield BigMon I switched to Proplec for a while but found their thickness to be very inconsistent. So now I ended up using PrimeTone 1.5 pointed picks. I'm very curious about the Blue Chip picks but not interested enough to shell out $35 on a "guess" that I might like it more. Someday, I'll run into someone with one and give it a try. For now, the Primetone 1.5 work great for me.
    I find it very interesting how different people are attracted to completely different mandolin sounds. Some guys really like that thin, bright and super loud sound. I prefer the biggest warmest sound from my mandolin. I have to amplify anyway to be heard next to a drummer. I suppose if I played bluegrass I might feel differently but I'm one of those converted guitarists who thinks he can define a new genre by making a mandolin the main instrument of a rock band. a sick and twisted mind.... I guess that's why I've never run into another mandolin player doing this kind of thing. Then again, there don't seem to be too many mandolin players in rock bands playing at larger Chicago clubs either.

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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    I don't know if I have a question or an observation but this year-old thread seems like a good place to raise whatever it is.

    I just received three Primetone large triangle 1.4mm thick smooth picks by accident. I intended to buy the same shape and thickness but with the grippy faces. My purpose was to compare them to the 1.5mm large triangle grippy Primetones that I have used off and on for the last year or so. So, well, they are smooth faced, shouldn't make much difference, right?

    Well, I like the new picks a lot better, even though I like the old ones well enough to use them instead of my BC TAD50 sometimes. The new ones, in fact, seem very very similar to my BC. The old ones don't - they seem to impart a brighter tone than the BC in addition to feeling different in my fingers.

    Now, the question is, which variable is responsible for the difference in the Primetones? The small difference in thickness or the smooth-vs-grippy characteristic? I tend to believe the latter, even though I previously thought there should be no difference except for 'grippiness'.

    Are the grippy PT's made from the same material as the smooth ones? They do look different. Does anybody else detect a tonal difference between the grippies and the smoothies?
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  31. #21

    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    To me, the grippy ones are brighter. I like the smooth ones.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Bill - I've found exactly the same thing. The smooth ones are made from sheet material cut to size & shape & then bevelled & polished.The 'grippy' ones are moulded ie. hot formed & they're very slightly thicker than the smooth ones because the hot forming makes it harder to control the 'absolute' thickness. I think that's the reason why the grippy ones sound brighter. I have some 2.0 mm thick 'grippy' ones in the teardrop shape & they have some 'pick click' going on with them. I also have 1.3 & 1.5 mm smooth & grippy ones in both the teardrop shape & small triangular shape & there's no pick click with those at all.

    When i looked at the 2.0 mm ones,the bevel is much broader because of the material thickness. I filed the bevel on one of them down to reduce the width & re-bevelled it to a much narrower bevel = no pick click !. I use that one on my Lebeda mandolin & it sounds great (to me). The wider bevel was 'slapping' the strings,
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  33. #23

    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    I'm really impressed with the Prime Tone smooth (non-grippy) large triangle 1.5 - tons of punch and note articulation. Really not a fan of the grippy ones - they're brighter and there's a lot more pick click.

    My favourite pick for the past year or so is a BC TP60 - very close in tone and volume to the PT, but there's a smoother tone with more "going on". Those Non-grippy Prime Tones are a very close second in my opinion.

  34. #24
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    I've played 2 BC picks back to back with my own Primetone 'smooth' pick on my Ellis "A" style & on a friend's Heiden "A" style,& i honestly couldn't tell the difference. My friend thought that he could detect a slight difference, but sitting in front of him when he tried out both pick,there was no difference to my ears. However - that doesn't mean to say that the different picks would sound so similar on other mandolins with different string brands / gauges. I just know that on my own mandolin,the BC & PT picks sounded identical in tone 'to me'. The PT's have to be one of the best bargains in picks out there right now,
    Ivan
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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird thing about the Jim Dunlop Primetone Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    So far I have yet to find any advantage in my own playing on either guitar or mandolin to the more expensive BC or Wegen picks. The Primetones work just as well, and dollar-for-dollar offer a much better value than the others
    And of course my choice of pick is pointy, not rounded.
    Those are my current go-to picks too. I have the pointy ones, but I slightly round one corner to make them release the strings a bit more easily. This has the advantage of giving me one pick with two distinctly different sounds.
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