Those of you that have seen my post about whether the jazz iii is still the king of technical guitar picks will know how my pick reviews are going to roll. For those of you who have not, here's how I do things. First I'll give you an overview of the pick and the reasons why I thought it would perhaps be able to replace my beloved jazz iii. Then the review will be broken down into ten sub categories, which are basically the ten areas where the jazz iii excelled. For each category the pick will receive a mark out of ten. Then I will deliver my final verdict on the pick and give it an overall score out of one hundred. On review in this article we have the Jazzy tones max from Timber-Tones.
The Jazzy tones max was the first pick I wanted to try when I decided to make the move from the jazz iii. One reason, is that I loved the fact that these picks are British made, and I love the way that they are marketed as luxury picks. I had heard about the Timber-tones company from some students who had been bought their picks as gifts. At first I thought Timber-tones only made their picks from wood, and was not sure that this type of pick would be for me. However I since discovered that Timber-tones makes it's picks from a whole range of different materials that each have their own tonal characteristics.
The jazzy tones max pick was to my mind the ideal pick from their range to replace my favored jazz iii XL. They also make "jazz" tones, which are standard jazz sized picks, and their "jazzy" tones picks offer different colour schemes. The jazzy tones max offers all of the qualities of the jazz and jazzy tones picks but in a larger size. The pick has clearly been designed with fast precise picking in mind and has also been pressure dyed to it looks rather "jazzy" indeed. I ordered a mix pack of four that came in a lovely little Timber-tones pick tin, and each pick was individually wrapped in a protective tissue. When unwrapped, each pick was beautifully crafted and coloured in a gorgeous blue, green, pink and orange pressure dye. One thing for certain is that when you open the pack of these picks, you feel like you've bought a quality product. So, how does it compare to a jazz iii?
Thickness, Size and Shape
The first thing you notice about these picks when you take them out of the tin, is that they are huge! They are also very thick picks with lots of surface area. At first, I did find this a little strange, but very quickly I grew to love it! I've always liked having plenty of surface area on picks and the jazzy tones max delivers that. The thickness of the picks allows you to really dig in too which I like, but gives enough control for you to play softer if you wish. The shape of the pick is fantastic, with a nice round back edge with plenty of grip area and sharpening down to an extremely aggressive point which I really love.
Comfort and Grip
The size of the pick actually makes it pretty comfortable to hold, and the aggressive point means that you can really get a nice 45 degree picking angle holding the pick the way I do, which is between the thumb and first finger only. When changing from lead to rhythm I do swap to hold the pick at the back end, and the jazzy tones max is very comfortable in this sort of funk guitar grip. I did find when using the pick though I did drop it a bit more than I was used to. The picks are so stiff and thick that I did find them just pinging out of my hands every so often. Also the picks are buffed to a super smooth finish which I feel does lose a little bit of grip for them, especially on sweaty gigs etc.
There's no two ways about it, this pick was designed with speed in mind! When they are brand new and the tip is super sharp and pointy, they aid your alternate picking facility very well. They are also great for sweeping as the sharp tip and smoothness of the pick just glides off of the string. I also found that hybrid picking was very comfortable with these picks, probably due to the size.
Again these picks were clearly designed to be a precise technical pick. Alternate and sweep licked lines are very accurate with this pick.
Material and Durability
Timber-tones picks are made from natural sources and are Eco sourced to ensure that their picks are made in the most Eco friendly manner possible. The jazzy tones max are made from buffalo bone. This makes the pick very dense so it's extremely stiff. There is literally no give in this pick. I quite like that, but if you're after a bit of flex, you've come to the wrong place. The feel of the material is very smooth which feels quite nice on your fingers. This also means the pick has a very quick release from the string aiding with your speed. Unfortunately though I didn't find these licks to be terribly durable. At first I thought it felt indestructible, but after around two weeks of playing the pick had worn down so much it had lost the really sharp tip, which is one of the best things about it.
The jazzy tones max is superb for dynamics. The thickness, rigidity and sharpness of the pick allow you to to go from really loud to super quiet notes with ease.
The jazzy tones max has an extremely bright tone with lots of attack. There is a hell of a lot of pick click when the pick is brand new which slightly tails off when you start beveling it in. I was a bit taken back by this when I first started using the pick, but soon got used to it. It sounds awesome when used for intense shred guitar, which is where the pick is most likely aimed.
I actually used these picks for a week in a pit performance I was doing where I had to play anything from hard rock, to funk, to reggae, bluesy soloing and clean jazz parts. The picks covers them all pretty well but struggled slightly with the funk stuff. Probably because the pick is so damn thick! On the whole though I'd say it's a pretty versatile pick.
Timber-tones has a great website where you can purchase any of their picks at any time. They are also stocked in a number of online retailers and are in some high street music stores, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting hold of them.
Because these picks are a luxury item they are expensive. I bought a tin of four picks which cost me around £20 by the time I had shipped it. Now I would happily spend this if the picks were more durable. Realistically I feel that I would get two months out of £20 worth of these picks. This would make an expense of around £120 a year on picks for the way I blunted them, which i find is pretty steep.
Overall I think the jazzy tones max is a fantastic pick that is comfortable, versatile and allows you to pick really fast. It's a quality product no doubt, and when they arrive you feel like you have a really special pick, but are perhaps too expensive for me to want to keep buying them for myself. As a gift, I'd happily accept them and use them until I'd destroyed them! A great alternative to any fan of jazz style picks for sure.
Final Score: 79%