The bright and timeless color palette of Tortex® Picks is just as important as their feel and tone. For countless players, the color of their favorite Tortex Pick gauge is part of their identity. Jim Dunlop first introduced color-coded gauges at a time when player choice and quality control were limited in the pick business.

For gauges, you were stuck with Light, Medium, and Heavy. Consistency was questionable not just from company to company—it was also questionable within individual companies themselves. Starting with Nylon Picks, Jim doubled the number of gauges available and noted the gauge right on the pick, in millimeters, to prove to players that he was serious about providing them with reliable options. Overnight, Jim established a new standard for player choice and consistency. Today, we take it for granted that a pick you buy today is exactly like the one you bought last month, or last year, but we can thank Jim for setting that expectation.

A player himself, Jim understood that even the smallest adjustments can lead to great improvements. With that in mind, he took the final step of coloring each Nylon Pick gauge a different shade of grey to make it easier for players to tell their preferred pick apart from the others. Guitar players the world over welcomed the mindful and deliberate attention to detail that Jim brought to picks, which had up to that point been treated as a throwaway item by the companies that made them.

Jim built on these innovations when he created Tortex Picks. In addition to the expanding gauge range and exacting precision, Jim developed a painstaking process—carefully followed to this day—that gave Tortex Picks a feel and tone never experienced before. And as with Nylon Picks, even the appearance of Tortex Picks was carefully considered.

Jim needed a way to visually distinguish his new line of picks in a way that spoke to the modern and innovative nature of his creation. A way to make Tortex Picks memorable and recognizable to players and attract their interest in a snappier attack and a grip-enhancing surface. The answer was to take the color-coded gauge concept to the next level with a more striking scheme.

Whereas Nylon Picks come in different shades of the same color, Tortex Picks span a bright and timeless rainbow palette that captures the fun and enjoyment that Jim felt should be a part of any playing experience. This palette has become not only an industry standard but also a visual symbol, a mark of identification. A Tortex Pick is like a badge of pride that you carry around with you everywhere you go.

When the time came to design a logo for his new pick brand, Jim wanted it to match the fun vibe of the color palette and call back to his original intention to create a worthy replacement for the outlawed tortoiseshell material. Jim reached out to local Bay Area artists for some sample imagery, and the design he chose has become instantly recognizable the world over.

Making good on his promise to provide players with reliable high-performance guitar gear that provided stability while expanding players’ options, Jim left no stone unturned. For him, even the appearance of a pick could serve a purpose to the player and enhance their playing experience.