The phrase ‘you should never judge a book by it’s cover’ isn’t always correct – if that book is called ‘Endometrial Cancer Surgical Procedures’ it’s unlikely to be a knitting manual. That being said, there are instances when we don’t get the full story about something just from looking at it.
A perfect case in point is the Plectro Prototype. Hailing from Italy and made from – that’s right – corn maize, the green chief you see in the top right hand corner of this picture is a 3D printed, ecologically-sound plectrum, and I’ve been meaning to write about it for some time now. The reason I’ve been a bit hesitant is because Plectro are a new company doing something genuinely interesting, and I wanted to give this pick its due time.
That phrase at the start of this review is there because the Plectro looks a bit rough. Clearly 3D printed onto a flat surface, it’s both a very old construction and a completely new way to do things. As early as the mid 1920’s companies were fitting their plectrums with materials like cork in order to give them better grip – Plectro have elected to follow in their footsteps by filling this one with red felt, which feels a bit strange at first. The pick is 3D printed from corn maize – somehow – with the idea being that as it wears down, you can send your picks back to Plectro, who will reconstitute them into new picks. I admire this idea, and the fact that they’re deliberately making them from a material that’s going to be recycled is quite noble.
Before proceeding, I shall tell you, dear reader, that this sample is an early one, and the finishing in places is pretty rough. While the tip is bevelled nicely, the edges are a bit ropey, and while the side that you see in the picture above is contoured for grip, the back of this pick is completely flat. This is presumably why the felt is there, and my first impression was that this would be a difficult play.
I’m happy to be wrong – the tone of the Plectro was one of grinning, almost puppy-like joy. It’s hard to explain – comparing it to the likes of the deeply focused Iron Age Helios 3, this 4mm corndog had a sound that was almost gleeful. Imagine those videos where someone puts subtitles on a dog, and you’ll be in the right ballpark. It was well balanced, had good bloom, didn’t move around in my fingers, and gave my single notes real body, all imbued with that happy-go-lucky character. Trying to play black metal with this just felt wrong, not because the pick couldn’t handle it, but because it was like trying to get a perpetually cheery person to be mad.
On acoustic the story was the same – big, rosy-cheeked tone, trotting through songs without a care in the world. I’ve long held to the belief that plectrums are filled with the spirit of those who create them, and if you go to @getplectro and watch the videos of this plectrum’s creators, their personality is exactly what this sounds like.
Every company needs time to bed in, develop, get better, and grow. Very, very rarely does anyone deliver their best work the first time around, and Plectro have some QC issues to fix. I’d stress quite firmly that since these picks have been sent out they’ve revised them slightly, refining the formula each time, and I encourage you to check in on them. These picks won’t be expensive, and come with an Italian smile built in that only the most churlish, downtrodden grump would be able to shake. Grande potenziale!
- 4mm Thick
- 3D-printed Corn Maize
- Made in Italy
- A bene 7.5/10
- Price Per Unit: Undisclosed as yet, but soon!
- Immense potential from a material no-one ever considered.