I arrived at the Big Stubby picks1 from using the Dunlop Tortex Standard 0.88-1.14 (green, blue, purple) habitually, because I had this almost undefined need to go thicker. The Big Stubby Lexan® 2.0 mm is now my favourite pick, for both electric and acoustic.
The overall tone of the Big Stubby can be described as bright and “glassy”, it does have that effect of hollowing out the sound a tiny bit, making it sound like glass being tapped. This is the first pick with which I noticed an actual and blatant2 change in tone. Although it won’t turn a humbucker into a single coil, it may help brighten up a dark guitar, because it seems to impart a lot of high-order harmonics to the sound. So much so that I actually had to do some minute adjustments to my rig settings.
On the flip side, the Big Stubby may be to bright for some folks, especially in the attack phase.
The Big Stubby has a very distinct, dare I say almost metallic, “plinky” attack, which I find helps a lot with note definition on fast single note runs, especially on lower strings. However, the release (the string snapping off the pick) sounds smoother, so the overall impression is of a quick, bright attack, followed by a mellower release and sustain. This recommends it again for darker, “duller” guitars.
Grip & comfort
The nylon material is almost as far from grip-y as it gets. However, the sheer bulk of the Big Stubby and its central depression, where the material is not polished and it has the text engravings, make this a pick with an excellent grip. I don’t think I’ve ever dropped it. Its configuration actually allows for less gripping force, which accomplishes two essential goals:
- The picking hand is more relaxed, which in turn allows for a lighter touch, which then promotes speed.
- The pick is allowed to pivot on the fulcrum that is the gripping area, therefore tightening the grip makes the pick very rigid, great for digging-in, while relaxing the grip (and this is the essential bit, where good grip matters) allows the pick to move up and down, which is very desirable when dragging it across strings when chording.
Strumming & conclusions
During my initial time with the Big Stubby I was worried about strumming, but I quickly adjusted my outlook and grip, and now I’m able to play full chords (on both electric and acoustic) in 16th note patterns very accurately and controlled, without sounding snappy and buzzy. A softer grip, combined with the sloped edges of the Big Stubby, ensures a smooth glide across the chord notes. The overall dynamic range of strumming is enhanced, in this reviewer’s opinion – you can easily lighten-up with a thick pick, but you can “harden-up” only so much with a thinner one, before it bends out of control.
I found improvements in my chord arpeggios (I’m not referring to sweeps), due to the enhanced accuracy I seem to have with this pick3.
Another welcome effect with strumming is chords getting a bit more definition due to the sharper attack and the larger harmonic content.
Considering I’m using super-light strings (.0095 on electric, .010 on acoustic), and I achieve a big, full, thick and tight strumming sound without beating the strings against the frets chaotically, I would definitely recommend trying a thick pick for strumming (even if it’s against common wisdom and intuition), and the Big Stubby is perfect for that.
Accurate, offering great tone (on the bright side with a sharp attack), great for single note lines and for chording, which makes it versatile across genres, the Big Stubby demands a trial. So try it.
- This review is about the Dunlop Big Stubby Lexan® pick (the translucent ones, pictured), because they have apparently re-engineered it – hopefully without messing it up, I didn’t get a chance to play them. To stay on the safe side, I’ll make sure to get my hands on as many of the old ones as I can, while they are still being stocked. ↩
- In tone-speak, “blatant” means “barely audible, but very definitely there, i.e. I’m not imagining or wishing-up things as we guitarists so often do.” ↩
- This is not magical, and I explain this by again looking at the bulk of the Big Stubby, which makes me feel I hold something very palpable between my index and thumb, and this provides better spacial clues to my brain as to the whereabouts of my picking hand in relation to the strings. To understand this, close your eyes and try to feel the tips of you index and thumb, while holding nothing, then while holding something between them. In the second scenario you seem to be able to actually locate your fingers in space. ↩