Dunlop Jazz III – Review – The Best Pick Of All Time?

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By Guitar Pick Reviews

I can certainly say that I went through hundreds and hundreds of these red daemons in the past 15 years, and rarely do I go to a music store and not buy a few more. The Jazz III is one of the most famous and successful picks of all time.

What else can I say about a pick that has a shape named after it? I Don’t know If I’ll be able to share anything new here. It used to be my favorite pick for a long time but was recently overtaken by Ernie Ball’s prodigy. Either way, this is still my favorite shape, and I always have a blast when playing with it. I really think that any player should get used to at least one guitar pick that’s available everywhere, and this one is mine. If you’re reading this, you are probably wondering if this pick is any good. It is.  And if you want to know a bit more about its strengths and weaknesses, keep reading.

Background and history of the Jazz III pick

This pick was designed in 1976 by Jim Dunlop himself. He was obsessed with Jazz guitarists, how they played and what they played with. Two other picks were released together with the Jazz III: Jazz I and Jazz II. Basically, Jazz III is the thickest (1.38mm) and sharpest, Jazz II is a bit rounder and thinner (1.18mm),, and Jazz I is the roundest and thinnest, at 1.1mm thick.

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You really don’t need me to tell you that the Jazz III is the most successful of the three. But believe me that you should really try them all back to back as they are so similar, and yet, so different. But let’s get back to the topic.

Size and shape

The fact that the Jazz III is much smaller than the standard pick, and its pointed tip makes it stand out among other guitar picks. Its sharp point and shape make it super accurate and slice through the strings like butter. This results in an extremely fast pick. The sharp tip along with enough thickness (1.38mm) and rigidity gives you a lot of sonic possibilities.

If you feel that the Jazz III is too small to have a good grip, that’s not true at all. But if you still want to ease yourself into it, there’s an XL version that stands right in the middle between The Jazz III and the standard shape.

Accuracy 

Jazz III is a relatively accurate pick. Most players that are using it can easily and quickly control it because of its sharp tip, comfortable shape, and stiffness. We know and bear in mind that large flexible picks have the nature to flap around a little and catch other strings while we try to rip through runs. However, I feel confident while using the Jazz III and hit the note I’m looking at with pinpoint accuracy. 

How does the Jazz III sound?

The main selling point (for me, at least) about the Jazz III is how accurate and consistent it is compared to other mainstream picks. Its attack is sharper and it sounds so familiar, that most guitarists will probably just say that it sounds like a guitar.

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How does it feel

If you’ve never used it before, you are in for a treat. I’m not saying that getting used to it is easy, but once you get there, it’s hard to go back. It’s a lot smaller than most picks, but it provides more grip because the nylon sticks to the fingers. And the risen letters provide a little extra grip that goes a long way. If you play a lot, you can easily wear one out in a matter of days. But, when talking about a relatively sharp pick, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it will not win in a fight against your strings.

Material and durability 

If you’ve ever read any Jazz III Pick Reviews online, you know that its biggest downfall is its durability. But I want to share a fresh perspective on it. I think that this pick’s durability is one of the reasons you should consider trying it. The fact that it wears so fast means that it’s easier on the strings, and they will last longer. The usual material used to make this pick is Nylon. Although, it also has a stiffer version called “Stiffo”. Other than these two, there are many other versions of Jazz III picks. Some of these include Tortex, Carbon Fiber, and Ultex. You can explore a lot of them here, in an article I wrote about most of the Jazz III alternatives.

Speed   

Speed is another important thing almost every guitarist considers when choosing a guitar pick. The Jazz III has a sharp pointed tip. The material, though, plays a leading role in its speed. Nylon tends to release faster from the strings. It glides across the string instead of resisting them. This is the main reason why it lets guitar players play faster. 

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Dunlop recently released a new version of Jazz III, with speed bevels. It’s appropriately called Rock III, and it’s a lot more consistent and faster.

Pricing

When buying a pack of these (anywhere between 6 and 24), the price is constant at a bit less than $0.5 per pick. At your local guitar store, it should cost around the same.

Where to get it from?

Unless you lived under a rock in the last 3 years, you probably know that small businesses took a big hit. Small guitar stores are the best place to buy any guitar-related gear, including guitar picks. The Jazz III can really be found everywhere, and I’ve never seen a store that doesn’t have it. If for any reason you do want to get them online, you can get them here on Amazon.

6.4 Worth a shot

The sound won't surprise you, as you've heard it a million times before. It feels decent: not too grippy, and won't slip off your hand easily too. It's not so durable, but its lack of durability will save you some money on strings. It's cheap, and you can get it pretty much everywhere. Overall, a great pick.

  • Sound 6.5
  • Feel 7
  • Durability 4.5
  • Grip 6
  • Price 8