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Is the Jazz III the ultimate lead guitar pick?

Learn why the Jazz III's geometry makes it a favorite for lead playing virtuosity

By June 4, 2019Lessons

Bright red. Extra pointy. Yes, it’s an iconic pick!

In our poll about which picks Cracking the Code viewers use, the Jazz III was an overwhelming favorite. Despite the name, this pick is popular in many genres, including rock, metal, prog, fusion, and really any style where single-note lead playing virtuosity is on the menu.

What about the Jazz III is so appealing to great lead players? It all comes down to geometry — specifically, its impact on edge picking and tone. For an important lesson on pick point geometry, and how pointy picks compare to those with more rounded points like the classic 351 design, watch here:

Learn all about the Jazz III and pick point geometry in the video above…or learn even *more* about picks and how they work in the Pickslanting Primer, which now includes almost two hours of awesome material on this very subject.

Top Comments

  1. When we posted our 351 video a few days ago, we got several comments to the effect of “but what about the Jazz III??” Well, we’ve got you covered!

    Here’s another chapter from our “Pick Design & Function” update, recently added to the Pickslanting Primer, all about the iconic Jazz III:

    The Jazz III is not only an instantly recognizable pick, it’s also surprisingly popular, used of course not only by jazz guitarists but by notable lead players across genres, from Michael Angelo Batio to Eric Johnson.

    When we did our “pick choice” poll a while back, we learned it was an overwhelming favorite among our audience, too.

    Watch the video above to learn more about the Jazz III, its pick point geometry — controlling edge picking and tone — and how pointy picks like the Jazz III compare to more rounded-point picks like the 351.

    This is one of a few chapters we’re making free for everyone to watch as a preview of this new material we’ve been working on for the past few months. You can watch all the chapters here with either Pickslanting Primer purchase or Masters in Mechanics membership:

    Let us know what you think!

  2. I don’t think the Jazz 3 is the “ultimate lead pick”, although it might have the best clarity + articulation, and demands more accuracy and thumb control.

    If a player would prefer a more legato feel with a smoother onset and release, or want more arm weight in attack with a heavy rest stroke - it’s not so optimized for that purpose as a bigger standard or triangle pick, with a thick grip and beveled edge. Dunlop Flow and Stubby are nice for this - the Andy James + Petrucci Flow are my favorite picks.

    All are good for lead playing, single note soloing, sweeping, and string skipping. I don’t think the pick impacts the player’s control over core skill & mechanics of these techniques, only the fine edge control of playing and tone.

  3. Though very similar in shape to a Jazz 3, and if you like the Jazz3, try the V-Picks Chicken Picker. It is a bit thicker and harder and teeeeeeeeny less pointed. It is a BLAZINGLY FAST and positive response pick, and its hardness adds a bit of chirp depending on where you play on the string and what PUP is selected.

    I LOOOOVE them.

  4. And all predominantly play single-escaped licks.

    I think the value of a pointier (and more rigid) pick emerges more where double-escaped licks are involved, in particular the consistency of attack brightness when the amount of edge picking and/or attack depth varies. Of course, that consistency can also be shunned as “lack of versatility” or “lack of range of color”; all about picking the tool that meets your needs in a particular circumstance. I like the Primer’s suggestion to experiment with different picks, while recognizing the ubiquity of 351 style picks.

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