In pursuit of the perfect, but affordable pick. Or, the great pick buying scare of 2021
A few years ago I fell in love with Bluechip picks. They are the perfect pick. They have a nice balanced full tone, and slide effortlessly across the strings due to the well beveled edges and the “self lubricating” properties of the material. They feel great and sound amazing. But, they cost $35, plus shipping. 😬
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t fault them for their prices. Bluechip picks are made from a plastic called Vespel, which costs over $1,000 for a 12x12 inch sheet. Add to that the cost to mill out the picks, engrave, hand bevel, and polish, and $35 is not unreasonable.
I thought me and my bluechips would be happy together forever, until I lost one. And then I lost another one. (I know what you’re thinking, how does this guy keep losing expensive picks? I don’t know, it just happens) Anyway, I decided I couldn’t handle losing anymore 35 dollar picks so I started looking for a more affordable option, and so began the great pick buying scare of 2021.
I don’t know how exactly much money I spent on picks last year, I don’t want to know. Frankly I could have bought enough bluechips to last a LONG time. Plus bluechips actually hold value on the used market. But I never said I was a rational person.
Here’s my review of a few of the brands I tried out:
Graphtech - I was disappointed in these. I’m a big fan of graphtech’s other products, like nuts and string trees, but I didn’t like their picks and would not recommend them.
Chicken picks - I liked these. Some kind of thermo plastic I think,
Howling Monkey - Didn’t like them, They were slippery in my fingers and scratchy on the strings.
Rombo - these are cool, a little over priced for being injection molded, but a cool design
V-picks - this guy makes some great stuff, highly recommended, I especially like the bullseye with the “ghost edge”. I didn’t like some of his other acrylic picks because they were just too clicky and chirpy sounding, but that only matters if you play a lot of acoustic or electric at low volume, which I do.
Wegen - I only tried one of these and it was pretty massive, they’re other stuff is probably pretty good based on their reputation.
Dunlop primetone - these are good picks, and they have a variety available. I liked the semi round grip 1.5 mm best, good option for being fairly cheap.
GoldenGate - cool looking tortoise shell style picks, I liked the round edge mandolin style picks. These are on the cheaper end in the world of expensive picks, you get a lot for your money.
Gravity - I bought a “gold striker” which was a fine pick and I liked it, but felt a little underwhelmed based on the price.
After a few months of this I had found a few good keepers, a few crappy picks I’d never use, and a bunch that are just fine, but none as good as my beloved bluechips. So I decided to try to make my own. I got some scraps of various plastics, Teflon filled acetal, regular acetal, Ultem, and polycarbonate, from a local supplier and started experimenting with different shapes and thicknesses.
I learned a few things right away.
So I’ve been using my homemade casein and polycarbonate picks for months now and still love them both. Casein seems closest to the Bluechip sound and feel, but polycarbonate has its own subtle quality that I really love.
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Kendall, owner of Bensonite, average guitarist