Adapting tools to the human as opposite to adapting yourself to the tool: I always like when someone take that challenge to find a solution even when I’m considering guitar picks. Since I’ve found my ideal picks (i.e. Dunlop Big Stubby) I’ve almost never been able to play with any other basic pick!
What I do like even better is when the innovation (regardless with its field of application) is driven by a constraint that the inventor himself is subject to. The story behing the conception of the object may become a focus in a way but the new item that was invented for the needs of the inventor can also turn out to be interesting to many people. That’s the story of Daniel Patin, and his Niglo bronze guitar picks.
Daniel Patin is a French guitarist who decided to build his own ideal guitar pick mainly because he lost his index finger in an accident which makes him unable to hold a basic guitar pick without dropping it. That’s how he started to think about building his guitar picks, and then started to experiment by modifying wooden picks that I could carve, trying several materials like wax that he could easily shape,… And as in every good story there is an encounter. Daniel met François Allier a jeweller who happened to be very interested by Daniel’s project. Both took the project from there, and perfected the building process to achieve these ergonomic bronze picks: the Niglo picks.
Is it a guitar pick or a piece of jewellery? That’s a little bit of both, sir! How else could it be as the Niglo picks where the fruit of the collaborative work between a guitarist, and a jeweller! As a matter of fact, Niglo picks are drilled, and shipped with a fine cord so that you can wear them around your neck. As I am not the biggest fan of jewellery in general I will mainly focus on the guitar pick function of the Niglo.
Ergonomy of the Niglo
The Niglo 2 & Niglo 3 weigh 9 grams each, and they respectively made for solo playing, and rhythm playing. The particular ergonomy of these picks is mostly due to the carving of the upper, and lower face of the plectrum. The picks were carved to slide the lower side of the pick on the edge of the index, and then grip the pick with the thumb on the upper side. Being fully comfortable with the Niglo requires some time to get used to it because there are not so many ways to hold it. Actually there is only one possible way though you can still adjust the position by moving it on the edge of the index finger. Notice that if you slide it deep on the finger (i.e. far from the tip) the more you will have to bend your wrist.
Both picks have two main differences that have an impact on the way you play. These differences are the reason why they are either made for soloing or rhythm playing (that doesn’t mean that they are exclusively made for that though) :
- The shape of the tip
- The angle made with the strings
The following picture shows the differences in the shape of both picks, and also how important it is to a have a cleaning product to clean them from time to time to protect them (any product used for metal decorations that you can find in most places, except mine obviously, will do).
The Niglo 2 Guitar Pick
That’s the soloing version of Daniel Patin’s picks. The tip of the Niglo is pointy but in an asymmetrical way. The pointy tip allows an attack that is precise on the guitar strings. The thin profile of the pick allows a sharp attack on the strings as well as the obtuse angle made with the strings. Let me explain this another way… When you hit the string, the angle between the tip of the pick, and the guitar string is theoretically superior to 90° so when you downpick you pluck the string in a precise and biting way. I hope you understand what I mean, and if you don’t maybe the next paragraph will throw light on this.
The Niglo 3 Guitar Pick
The Niglo 3 is the rhythm playing version of Daniel Patin’s picks. The tip of the Niglo 3 is rounded instead of pointy either looking it from a top view or a side view. Indeed the lower face of the Niglo 3 (the one that hit the strings when downstroking) is also rounded so that the angle between the pick, and the guitar string is softer than that of the Niglo 2. The consequence is that when you play the picking will be closer to a sweep movement on the string instead of a plucking. The resulting tone is softer than the tone of the Niglo 2, and if you need more precision, and a more biting tone you will have to hit the strings a bit harder.
On the following picture you can see the difference at the tip level that explains the different angles made with the strings hence the sound differences.
My Opinion on the Niglo Picks
I wanted to make a video in order to throw light on the differences between both picks, and so that you can judge by yourself but I have to admit that the differences are subtle. My recordings were not informative enough to publish them. Anyway the general tone of the Niglo picks is similar to many other guitar picks made of metal. The attack is more powerful, and you can generate harmonics more easily than you can do with a wooden or a plastic pick. The metallic halo that surrounds the notes might be disturbing to some people but it can make some others quite happy (any Billy Gibbons fan out there?). Because of the powerful attack you probably will have to slightly change the way you play if you want to bring some variation in the dynamics of your playing.
Compared to most guitar plastic picks this is a totally different tonal world that is opened with these picks. I am not planning to fully switch to the Niglo picks because they have a strong signature tone but they now fit well in my arsenal of Stubby, Big Stubby, and Jazz 3 picks.