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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Carlino Expression Exotic Tonewood Guitar Picks,... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $5.00 USD + Shipping

Carlino Guitars is the manufacturer of tonewood guitar picks that are custom made form exotic woods with some styles specifically designed for right and left handed players.

This review is of five different Expression exotic tonewood guitar picks including African Padouk, Claro black walnut, quilted maple, Flamed Hawaiian koa and Flamed African Sapele mahogany.

When most of us think of tonewoods we think of expensive custom boutique stringed instruments and how the different tonewoods affect the sound that projects from their soundboard. I've never personally thought of is using the same tonewoods that a luthier wound use to give an instrument character, voice and tone as a pick. I have always used your basic run-of-the-mill guitar pick until recently. I've been a little bit spoiled lately and have had the opportunity to experience different picks made from different materials due to an ongoing guitar pick comparison review that will be published next month. 

My impressions for this one are all over the place. On one hand I have always thought that a guitar pick shouldn't change the sound of your instrument or color it in any way, but just bring out its natural properties and allow the instrument to speak. On the other hand I have some guitars that no matter what I have done I can never get the tone I want from them-- so I was more than curious going into this review.

The very first thing that I noticed is how gorgeous they are with their beautiful rich wood tones and personalized laser engraving. The picks looks like they are worth more than some of my guitars -- but as we all know beauty only gets you so far. 

My first test was a drop test. This is when I take the pick and drop it on a wood surface. Each one of the picks had a different sound when they hit the test surface from a high-pitched rattle like a wooden coin, to a hollow light thud. After hearing the different sounds that came from each one of the picks I arrange them in what I thought would be the brightest to the darkest sounding and picked up a guitar. I started with my Parkwood acoustic and I was just blown away by the different tones I was getting from each pick. 

The Parkwood has this natural light crisp sound, but while using the darker sounding picks she went to a warm full almost Martin like sound. This got me very excited for two reasons. (1) The product works and that always makes me happy (2) my 1949 Kay Archtop has always had this wet paper bag sound -- so I immediately put down the Parkwood and took the Kay out of the closet. Now the picks did not perform a miracle. My 1949 Kay Archtop does not sound like a D'angelico, but the tonewood picks did altered her voice giving her the warmth and depth that I could only achieve with finger play.

After using the picks for a little over a week on 20 different guitars I found that they also hold up very well. One of my fears about using this product was wear and tear causing the picks to splinter, crack and eventually lead to string breakage. That has not been the case so far as I have put two hours a day for nine days on one pick and it's holding up incredibly well.

So to sum it up in my opinion, tonewood picks are a game changer for those of us that obsess over our guitars voice. Unlike traditional guitar picks that are made out of very similar synthetic materials, natural tonewoods give you endless tone coloring possibilities.

My advice:
Carlino Guitars has many different shape guitar picks made from some of the world's most hard-to-find beautiful tonewoods including the Expression exotics as in this review. So my advice is simple, go to their website or call them and order some. 
Carlino Guitars 
392 Main Street
Medford, MA 02155

(P) 781-391-4600

Posted 02/2012