Is Your Herdim Pick Losing its Edge?

You may know that The Edge of U2 uses a Herdim pick to get that percussive chime of his. But did you also know Herdims wear out over time? See and hear the difference in this post.

It is well known that U2’s The Edge uses a nylon Herdim guitar pick to get that percussive sound he’s associated with. What some Edge fans don’t realize, however, is that Herdim picks wear out with use and eventually need to be replaced. The sonic difference between a new Herdim pick and a worn out one is huge, and this post will explain why.

What Are Herdim Guitar Picks?

Herdim guitar picks were first sold in the 1960s, as per parent company Dictum. The picks come in a variety of widths, and are dimpled along the upper aspect to aid with grip. The Edge first started using them sometime in the 1970s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he did not use them as intended.

SEE ALSO: In Praise of U2’s The Edge: A Guitarist’s Perspective

The Edge holds his Herdim picks with the smooth end facing up, and grippy, textured end facing down. It’s more or less the exact opposite of how you’re “supposed” to hold a guitar pick. When he plucks or strums his guitars, the textured end of the pick catches momentarily on the strings. As the pick releases its grip on the string, a sharp, almost percussive sound is heard — especially on the upstrokes.

The song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” demonstrates this percussive sound best, in my opinion. Watch the following video on YouTube for an example, if you’d like:

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Tempe, AZ 1987

Listen to those upstrokes; you hear a little “chick” sound before the note plays out. It’s almost like a hi-hat. Eliminate that “chick,” and you eliminate a lot of what makes that sound so unique.

How Do Herdim Picks Get Worn Out?

Nylon is fairly robust as far as plastic goes, but it’s not impervious to the ravages of repeated use. As explained above, the dimpled side of the pick momentarily latches onto the string if you hold it like The Edge does. Every time you use the pick in this unintended way, you scrape away microscopic pieces of plastic from its surface.

Gradually, the dimples along the edges of the pick become smoother and smoother, until they no longer grip the string as well as they did when the pick was new. At that point, your Herdim pick is functionally the same as any old guitar pick, and sounds drastically different when compared to a brand new, unworn Herdim.

You can hear the difference really well in a video I posted to YouTube a couple of years ago:

Have Your Herdim Picks Lost Their Edge?

You can even see the difference — and I don’t just mean on the physical pick itself. I imported the audio track from the above video into a new Cubase project and zoomed in on the file.

Difference in transients with new Herdim pick versus old.
Holy transients!

Skip to the 1:42 mark in my video to follow along with the sound wave. On the left side of the sound wave, you see my worn out Herdim in use. On the right, my brand new Herdim is in use. Note how much more pronounced the transients are on the right side compared to the left. This is a clear reflection of the percussive nature of the sound. Remember how I likened it to a hi-hat? It even looks like a little like a hi-hat at the waveform level.

Conclusion

If you play a lot of U2 and your Herdim pick has lost its edge (heh), replace it as soon as you can! Avoid overpriced resellers on Amazon, Reverb, and the like. I purchase my Herdim picks from US-based stringsandbeyond.com (no affiliation), and have always had great experiences with the company. If you live in Europe, you can buy packs of 100 Herdim picks directly from the manufacturer. Dictum ships outside the EU as well, but international shipping and import duty fees obviously come into play at that point.

No matter where you buy them from, the main takeaway here is that you should never assume that playing with a Herdim pick will get you that Edge sound indefinitely — always remember that Herdim picks can and do wear out over time.


Questions?

Do you have a question about the subject matter of this blog post that I didn’t answer above? Feel free to leave a public comment on my YouTube channel by clicking on the button below, and I’ll get back to you there as soon as I can.

See Also: