Web Exclusive! First Impressions: Dugain Ebony, Bone, and Horn Picks

Jean-Charles Dugain began crafting wooden picks for himself in 1977, and perfected his 4mm-thick ergonomically carved design in 1982. He currently produces dozens of models of picks, made from a variety of woods, bones, resins, and stones.
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 Buffalo Horn

Mr. Dugain provided GP with three variations on his Standug style picks: The Ebène (ebony), Os (bone), and Corne de Buffle (buffalo horn) models, all of which retail in the U.S. for $14.99.

All three picks have a large, circular indentation on one side that your index finger fits into, and a curved indentation on the other for your thumb. This ergonomic design allows you not only to get a better grip, but also to articulate more precisely. The tips are carved to a point, though there is still considerably more width than with a standard flatpick, which takes some getting used to.

As might be expected, the three picks sounded quite different, the bone model being the brightest, horn being the most mellow, and ebony falling somewhere between the two. My immediate favorite was the bone pick, as it brought out more of the natural personalities of my mahogany Baby Taylor acoustic and PRS Custom 24 electric guitars, but the others also provided distinctive sounds, and I could see using them all for various purposes. The feel of the three was very similar, the contours fitting my fingers perfectly, with just enough tackiness to make holding onto them easy, and about the same stiffness as a heavy standard pick. Like any picks, I’ll need to play with them a while to see how they perform in various situations, but I can already tell that they are “keepers,” to be added to my collection of favorites.

Visit Dugain’s Web site to hear recorded examples of how these and many more picks sound playing identical passages on electric jazz, nylon classical, and steel folk instruments. —Barry Cleveland