Jazz III Alternatives: 11 Great Options You Can Buy Anywhere

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By Guitar Pick Reviews

It’s easy to get lost between all the different variations of one of the most recognizable picks of all time. The Jazz III Shape is so common, It’s hard to even find a boutique pick maker who doesn’t have their own version of it. This post is not about small makers though. I really think that any guitar player should have at least one super-common guitar pick they’re comfortable with, so they can jam as soon as the option presents itself. The Jazz III is a great solution, but not everyone likes it. If you’re not a big fan of it, you should consider trying one of these Jazz III alternatives

The Original: Dunlop Nylon Jazz III

First released in 1976, this is one of, if not the most innovative pick ever made. Up until a few days ago, It used to be my personal favorite of the bunch. Nonetheless, not everyone likes it, and that’s why I started working on this article. The funny thing is that while I compiled this list I found a pick that I liked better than the original. Naturally, every pick in this list is compared to the original Jazz III pick. It is so well known, and it’s also the whole point of this post, so…
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Jazz III Alternatives

My favorite: Tortex Flex Jazz III

My new favorite. I’m not a big Tortex fan, but I feel like the Flex has all the advantages of Tortex (or Delrin, for that matter), just without the dullness of the high strings. Finally, a real Jazz III alternative. It’s comfortable, has many different gauges to choose from, sounds great, and you can get in on every store. They go in thickness from 0.73mm to 1.5mm and in price from $3.99 to $8.86 for a pack of 6, and they are hands down my favorites in this list.
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Fender 551

You might ask yourself, “What does a Fender pick do here? this is Dunlop territory”, and you won’t be wrong. That being said, I do think that this is a great alternative to Jazz III, and with that shape, can you blame me? It also used to be my #1 pick for a long time before I started getting very serious about picks, so it made it to the list. It’s made out of Celluloid (so the sound is both very nice and familiar to everyone), not too grippy, and glides very well across the strings. I have no problem with it other than it being a bit clicky, especially if you use thin or medium gauges. But which thin pick is not clicky?
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Tortex Jazz III

Like other Tortex picks, the Tortex Jazz III Is extremely comfortable to me. My problem with them is that their sound is just missing a punch. I really love their sound when they “scratch” the lower three strings, but they’re missing a punch on higher strings.
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Ultex Jazz III

Ultex (or Ultem, for that matter) is known for being very durable, especially compared to materials such as Celluloid and Nylon. It’s a bit brighter and has some sort of “kick” in the mid-high to the high end. This pick’s best advantage as an alternative to the original Jazz III is the fact that it’s available in 2mm, additionally to the yellow 1.38mm.
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Eric Johnson’s Signature: EJ Jazz III

The two main differences between the original Jazz III to Eric Johnson’s version (and the two things that qualify it to be a Jazz III alternative rather than another version of the original) is the fact the EJ’s version has a matt finish and a tip that’s slightly rounder. It glides a bit better, but I don’t know if I’d notice it unless I compared them head to head. Their sound is mostly the same, and the feel is very similar too. Another difference is the price. These cost $3.90.
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John Petrucci Signature Jazz III

The Petrucci Jazz III picks are made of Ultex, 1.5mm thick, are slightly bigger (but not to a point where you feel like they lost their Jazziness), and have a rounder tip. The main sound characteristics of them are their bright sound and smooth attack compared to the original. John Petrucci has four different signature picks at the moment, and I believe that this is the most successful one.
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Kirk Hammett Signature Jazz III

In terms of sound, I think that this is the closest version of the original. The shape is what makes the biggest change. The V cut makes you play differently, and it just sticks to your hand in the best possible way. And the cherry on top? It’s available either in Chemical Green, or Sparkling Purple. How can you beat that?
You can buy the purple version here and the green version here from Amazon

Stubby Jazz

The thing about this pick is that you can either love or hate it. I don’t know many people who tried it and don’t have a firm opinion about it. I happen to love it. It comes in 1mm, 2mm, or 3mm (which is the closest to the gauge I tend to feel the most comfortable playing, as I’m really into thick picks). Its shape is somewhere between a classic Jazz III and a teardrop, and at $5.15-$8.07 for a pack of 6.
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Primetone Jazz III

They sound bright and sharp, but their brightness is tamed by their speed bevels. They’re extremely comfortable, and if you are a Jazz III player who wants to try a Primetone pick, this is the one for you.
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Dunlop Jazz III Max Grip

This is more of a version rather than an alternative to Jazz III. A lot of you are not going to agree with me on that, and it’s fine. But this is one of the very few picks I really hate. I can’t play more than a few notes without getting annoyed. I’m not a big fan of gripping surfaces to begin with, but this is really too much in my opinion. The pick needs to have some life and movement in it in order to be used properly, and you don’t have that option with the Max Grip. It got to a point where their sound doesn’t even matter to me.
You can buy the Red Classic from here, the Black Stiffo from here, or the Carbon Fiber from here on Amazon

Matt Heafy Custom Max Grip Jazz III

This is going to be a short one. I couldn’t find any difference between this pick and the Max Grip. Except for the price, these are more than double the cost.
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Final words

There are tons of great alternatives to Jazz III, and it’s up to you to find what’s your favorite one. I tried to describe each one based on what I’d look for when looking for a pick. Hope I succeeded.

See also  6 Good Reasons to Play With Thick Guitar Picks

2 thoughts on “Jazz III Alternatives: 11 Great Options You Can Buy Anywhere”

  1. I agree with you about Tortex flex Jazz. III. I love the tone and feel. I also play the Rock III and Jazztone 205. The Flex has the best tone to me.

  2. The Jazz III is the perfect pick shape. I used various 351’s for years like Dunlop 0.65mm ; Herco; Bay City 0.84mm and Dava. When I discovered the Jazz III my playing improved tremendously.
    I recently discovered the Dunlop 500 Delrin Prime Grip 2mm it’s a 351 shape but I’ve modified it to a Jazz III 651 shape. Love it. I have written to Dunlop asking if they would consider manufacturing this as an option. D’Andrea and Taylor produce very nice 1.5mmm Jazz III versions.


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