Some thirty years experience as a professional lute player have taught me to eke out the maximum of tone out of, let’s face it, acoustically challenged instruments and strings, a knowledge that has proved useful when making plectra. That experienced feel leads me to select materials, to design shapes, and to define edges and finish.
When I picked up the electric guitar again, I was sceptical of the pick hype, thinking I could get good/great tone with basically anything… fingers, nails, or any basic pick.
But out of curiosity I ordered a couple of acrylic picks and never looked back… it was like my terrific Mesa Boogie amp had suddenly gotten more headroom and fullness. I loved those acrylic picks for a while, until I realised that shape and thickness make a very real difference to one’s tone as well. Around that time a small Chinese CNC router made its way into my workshop, and I decided a pick shape would be a good and simple test object. I still play my #002 pick, made of red transparent plexiglass that happened to be present in the workshop, regularly. What of #001, you ask? Well, if you must know, #001 melted under the router bit, came loose from the surrounding material, flew across the workshop, and broke the router bit. We don’t mention #001 anymore.
I’ve been honing my CNC and pick shaping skills for the past two years, and am happy enough with the current results that I would like to begin to share my views with guitar players at large. With you, that is.
Regarding materials, I’ve experimented a lot with various materials. Started off with normal plexiglass, tried POM, PEEK, Bakelite, but have landed mostly on resin (as in Surfite) and Kirinite, both offer pretty and varied looks and the best tone, in my opinion. The Raffir Dragon Skin materials are also very pretty, but hard to work and a bit reticent in finishing. Finally, I like Casein a lot, personally, for its tone and highly natural feel.
Four shapes are currently offered, a Standard, a JazzIII version with wider shoulders, and my two proprietary shapes (if there is such a thing in the plectrisphere), a wider-shouldered Standard, and an interesting offset model, which I have named JM, an homage to the original offset, the Jazzmaster. The JM comes in a standard size and an XL size.