In this modern age when there’s such a daft number of people on Earth and we’ve got plastic coming out of our eyes, the continued upswing in both people and companies devoting themselves to recycling and upcycling is admirable.
I’m a big fan of builders taking new approaches to making picks from recycled materials, so I was very excited to receive my order from Sesh, a company that re-purposes skateboard decks into jewellery, watches, art and, in this case, plectrums.
It should be noted at this stage that I haven’t had a great relationship with wooden picks. The first ones I owned took a bit of a battering which led to cracking, and the tone isn’t always as potent as it could be, but the nature of skate deck construction led me to think that this might be different. Indeed it was, and aside from looking absolutely superb, the two stripey smashers that arrived did impress me.
Firstly, the multi-laminate method that’s used to give skateboards their strength means there’s more confidence to the sound than a conventional wooden plectrum. Granted, a horizontal laminate would be even stronger, but in order to make that meaningful the pick would have be quite thick, and wouldn’t look as striking. These are impeccably finished, and I truly can’t fault the way the smoothness of the edges or bevels.
Using the approximate dimensions of a classic 351, the Sesh isn’t sealed, so you’re really striking the strings with wood – laminated maple in this instance. Tonally, there’s a quiet assertiveness to the delivery – the relative thinness and absorbent nature of the wood meaning there’s very little chirping. On electric, this was a bit of a disconcerting experience – although the pick bears up well, going to town was rather nerve-wracking, and I like my electric plectrums to have a sharper point. Personal preference aside, this produced one of the most elegantly restrained acoustic tones I’ve experienced to date, pushing out a mid-heavy tone with scaled back treble, and softening the sprightly sound of my OM. There’s an engaging evenness to strumming, though the single-note work felt a bit strange.
Being completely honest, it’s unlikely that you’d choose a wooden plectrum of any variety if you were Marty Friedman, but if you’re looking to bring a certain level of gentle sophistication to your strumming, or perhaps tame a bright acoustic, this is a great way to do it. There’s also something to be said for the packaging in which the picks arrived – easily the nicest I’ve seen from any company, with their own shiny box and protective foam. You even get a card telling you what the deck was beforehand and who donated it (these came from an Expedition One deck donated by Ben Grove, and were one of 30 pairs of picks from that deck).
An enormous amount of care and effort went into making these, and even if you buy them for the way they look, you’re still helping a company with the right idea when it comes to pick manufacture. Slick.
- 1mm thick, tapered
- Made from laminated Maple, reclaimed skateboard deck
- Crafted in the UK by hand
- A rad 7/10
- Fantastically soft and strong given their gnarly origins