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Do Herco picks live up to the hype?


I bought these just to see if they live up to the hype, and this is what I found out.

Before getting into that, a brief history concerning these specific guitar picks, because it explains the reason why I bought them in the first place.

While true what we now know as Delrin (a.k.a. acetal, POM or polyoxymethylene) did technically exist in the 1960s, the Tortex guitar pick didn't come into existence until the 1970s. And the main reason Tortex picks came into existence is because it was intended to replace tortoiseshell since that material was banned. Tortoiseshell used to originally mean "made from the shell of a tortoise", similar to how piano keys used to be made from real ivory that came from elephants or other white-tusked animals. The very name Tortex is supposed to mean "synthetic tortoiseshell".

Prior to the Delrin material that we now all enjoy, the hard/flat guitar pick materials widely available that allowed some flex were celluloid (thermoplastic) and nylon. Other materials like wood and metal were always available but didn't flex like celluloid and nylon did. Felt picks were also always available (and still are) but were very thick and much better suited for acoustic stringed instruments and electric bass rather than the 6-string electric guitar.

Additional notes on felt picks: These are made far, far better now compared to days of old. But it's still true their best use is on acoustic stringed instruments and bass. If you want a pick with some flex that has absolutely no "clack" to it where only the strings are heard with each strum, felt picks are great for that. Wood picks are the next best thing.

Herco nylon picks

The photo above is of two picks by Herco (now a Dunlop brand), the Vintage '66 and the Flex 50. They look identical, but the '66 is stiffer.

Supposedly, these very specific Herco picks are "the sound of rock". This is what dudes used to use back in the '60s to get that oh-so sweet rock guitar sound.

Personally, I don't get along with them. But I now understand why some guitar players swear by these things.

Watching YouTube videos of guys using this pick will not give you any better idea of what a Herco is like, because it's more of a feel thing than a sound thing. This is why I didn't bother recording a video of it myself.

I describe the Herco nylon pick as the sound in between a Tortex and celluloid, and will do my best to explain what I mean by that.

A celluloid pick has the most pronounced string strike where you will hear lots of "clack" as you play.

A Tortex pick has a slightly muted string strike. It's still there, but not as pronounced as the celluloid.

The Herco nylon pick has the feel of a celluloid, the string ring of a Tortex, and a slightly-quieter "clack". This is why I say the sound sits in between the celluloid and the Tortex.

As a soloing pick, no. Not good for that.

As a chording pick, yes. Excellent for that, even if it's just power chords. Strings ring out loud and clear when struck with thin nylon, and without the clacky noise that regular celluloid has.

For the classic rock sound with mild overdrive, oh yes, Herco delivers.

But for what I play personally, which is cleaner stuff and surf tones, I need a "clackier" pick and the Herco doesn't work too well there for my style of play.

Again, Herco picks are great, but I just couldn't get along with them.

But don't let that stop you from trying them. This is especially true if you've never used nylon guitar picks before. If you're going to try nylon, go Herco, and it might be just what you're looking for.


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