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Dunlop Tortex vs Fender 351 Guitar Picks

Updated on March 18, 2014
The two competitors
The two competitors

The Fender 351 Celluloid pick and the Jim Dunlop Tortex picks are the most popular picks today and have been popular for many decades. Many famous artists use these picks with members of bands such as Linkin Park, Blink 182, Green Day just being a few of them. However which one is best? In this hub I will test both to find out.


Price

Both of these guitar picks are cheap at less than 50p/cent per pick. At this price you can buy a multipack of these picks and not have to worry about them going walkabout in-between playing (Which is inevitable with guitar picks). Both of these picks are equally inexpensive so there is no winner here.


Shape

Both picks are the classic/traditional pick shape, this is a proven shape that has been around since D'Andrea invented the plastic pick in the 1920s. The Dunlop Torex is slightly bigger and more pointed than the Fender 351. This is a very subtle difference and not obvious when playing. I do find both picks slightly too small at times however and end up grinding my nails along the strings.


Colours

Here we come to the first real difference between the two picks. The dunlop comes in only one colour for each thickness.

  • Red 0.5mm (Thin)
  • Orange 0.6mm
  • Yellow (0.73mm) Medium
  • Green( (0.88mm) Heavy
  • Blue (1mm)
  • Purple (1.14) Extra Heavy

This is useful to see exactly what thickness pick you have at a glance (Apart from the fact the width is written on the pick in small writing), however it means that your picks lack individuality. The Fender 351 picks on the other hand come in a selection of solid colours, confetti colours and my favourite Tortoise shell.

In my opinion the fender picks win this section with their greater choice.


Durability

This is an important attribute for any pick to have. I have compared the medium versions of both picks and there is a clean winner. On the fender picks the writing rubs off very quickly and often after playing there is a fine dust collecting on the guitar where I have been wearing the pick down. However this is never the case on the Dunlop, the writing has faded slightly and the point has only slightly flattened through playing. The Dunlop picks will last at least twice as long as their fender rivals, thus this is an obvious win for the Dunlop Tortex. I will say however that I'm very aggressive with my picking due to the fact I play lots of punk rock.


Playability

This is what really matters, how does each pick play? Well they are both made of different materials, the fender is a smooth plastic (Celluloid) and the Dunlop feels almost rubber coated, this is due to Dunlops trademarked material "Tortex" hence what gives the name to the picks. This gripper feel of the Dunlops means they are less likely to slip out of your hand whilst playing, this is a major plus as the last thing you want during a song for your pick to break free. However a downside of the Dunlop is that it is very loud on the strings and if you playing unplugged it becomes irritating, whereas the Fender 351's are almost silent.

I would call this even for both picks, they are both good picks however have their flaws.


Conclusion.

There is no clear winner between the picks, the Fender 351's come in more colour options and are quieter, however the Dunlop Tortex's are more durable and grippier. For the price I would advise that you try both. Order a selection of thickness's of each and give them all a try, it won't cost you more that £10/$10 to have a large selection out of which you can then find which one suits you best. Every musician is different and will have their own preferences, I personally prefer the Fender however I know many people who prefer the Dunlop.

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