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Thread: The pick considered

  1. #1

    The pick considered

    The thread I started about Sex Wax and Wig glue veered terribly into a discussion about picks. Guildedagain's comments got me to thinking about our little friend, the pick. He's something we all use, some of us obsess over him, others give him little thought. A few have no use for him. We buy, trade, borrow and lose him, and often when we find our long lost little pal, we say "ahhh, there you are". We often always have him in our pockets, and our in our cars ashtrays (pick trays), and under the seats and floor mats. He almost always hides in-between sofa cushions or underneath chair skirts. He can be formed of plastic, vinyl, bone, metal, leather, felt, shell, or some other one of dozens of materials we have found. He loves to play hide and seek in our sound holes, so easily finding his way into them, and so difficult to find his way out. He's thick, he's thin, he can be dull, or often has a good point. Tear dropped, triangular, symmetrical or custom shaped, it doesn't matter. He can be had for under a nickel, or, for more than $30. He's all the same, but he's not. He makes a thief out of all of us...seriously, is there anyone who doesn't like leaving GC with one or two in our pocket? We all have found that special pick that makes our guitars sing like the choirs from heaven, and we don't know why.

    So, this is a thread about our little pal, the pick. If you post, post about only one pick at a time. Tell us about the pick(s) that have passed though your musical life....the good, the bad, the ugly. I'll begin with a pick that has passed through almost all of our hands at one time or another...I'll call it the standard by which picks are held to:

    The Fender 351 Celluloid


  2. #2
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    My favorite pick:




    TODAY is the TOMORROW you spent all day YESTERDAY acting like there was no.

    '76 D-25M
    '99 DV-52ABHG (gave to my son)
    '98 DeArmond Starfire Special
    Takamine Acoustic Flying "A"
    Crate CA-125D Acoustic Amp
    Fishman Loudbox Mini Acoustic Amp

  3. #3
    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
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    Little bit of give for fast strumming, doesn't slide around between your fingers, and never breaks like celluloid (at least the old nylon didn't, but they changed to something a little more brittle a few years back)
    Al
    "Time May Change the Technique of Music But Never Its Mission " - Rachmaninoff
    My 1st Guild: '96 Westerly D25NT "Hally" (10-31-96 stamped on heelblock)
    #2: '01 Westerly F65ce "Blondie"
    #3: '03 Corona D40e Richie Havens "Richie"
    All bought new!

  4. #4
    Senior Member walrus's Avatar
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    After trying MANY, I am using a Dunlop Primetone .73. Love the sound - smooth and clear with little pick noise. And I love how Ultex sort of "sticks" to my fingers.

    walrus
    1958 Gibson ES-225T
    2011 Guild F-30RCE

    Gone but not forgotten (Guilds only): 1963 A-50, 1965 X-50BL, 1967 T-100D, 1968 Mark II, 1960's Baritone Ukulele, 1977 S-60, 1984 D-64, 1997 SFII, 1998 SFIV, 1998 Bluesbird Cherry Sunburst, 2001 Bluesbird P90 Natural

  5. #5
    Senior Member Guildedagain's Avatar
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    Man, I'm glad you started this thread. Reads almost like the intro of the pick book, that unsung hero, the pick. Comments on the back of the book from Chet Atkins and BB King.

    True that on the brittleness of the ultra thin Dunlop (RIP Jim), I've had them disintegrate while playing, breaking the edges off on three sides, but I attributed it to aging of the picks?.

    Man, that's quite the Kennedy half dollar pick, that is really beautiful.

    I take it you know that the Rev. Billy Gibbons uses an old quarter to get his tone.

  6. #6
    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guildedagain View Post
    True that on the brittleness of the ultra thin Dunlop (RIP Jim), I've had them disintegrate while playing, breaking the edges off on three sides, but I attributed it to aging of the picks?.
    Nope, the new nylon's a different color too (lighter than the original stuff), and doesn't wear down like the original stuff did.
    38's used to be discernibly grey too, now they're "white" and the 46's look as light as the old 38's.
    I noticed it around ten years ago I think, was running low, bought a bag of 5 and when putting 'em in with the old picks saw the difference. Started using the new ones first and noticed the difference immediately.
    The old ones lasted forever, they'd just wear down slowly until they were finally too round at the tip for me to use anymore.
    Also Nylon doesn't get from aging outgassing it gets brittle for a whole different set of reason which only just now learned about:
    https://www.plasticstoday.com/materi...r/141225133500.
    Methinks the explanation for Dunlop's more brittle picks is in that essay.
    It discusses methods of improving the "toughness" of molded nylon parts.
    "Most nylon polymers, including those used in the largest volumes, nylon 6 and nylon 6/6, have an unusual affinity for water."
    "While rapid moisture conditioning is a legitimate method for improving the impact resistance of nylon products, there should be concerns with using it indiscriminately. A nylon product may be temporarily brittle while it comes to equilibrium with the atmosphere. But it may also be brittle because the material has been degraded during the molding process. In such situations, the brittle condition is not simply a temporary symptom of low moisture content, but rather is a permanent condition brought about by reduced molecular weight."

    So, Nylon actually absorbs water and the amount of water held by the material, can be artificially increased by soaking it in water which will increase flexibility, but it inevitably reverts back to its original moisture content in ambient conditions, much like the moisture content of wood stabilizes according to ambient humidity:
    "The problem is that this shortcoming can be covered up by pumping large amounts of moisture into the polymer. Under such conditions, the polymer becomes sufficiently flexible so that it no longer appears to be brittle. But a moisturizing process that is performed rapidly often introduces more moisture into the polymer than it can retain in the long term. If this happens, then when the excess moisture comes back out of the polymer, the brittle condition can return, usually after the part has gone into the application."
    So while I think they also changed the nylon, it may be that they're not treating the new stuff properly to maintain the characteristics of the old stuff.
    In the meantime I guess I have to start humidifying my picks.
    Last edited by adorshki; 11-04-2019 at 05:48 PM.
    Al
    "Time May Change the Technique of Music But Never Its Mission " - Rachmaninoff
    My 1st Guild: '96 Westerly D25NT "Hally" (10-31-96 stamped on heelblock)
    #2: '01 Westerly F65ce "Blondie"
    #3: '03 Corona D40e Richie Havens "Richie"
    All bought new!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Guildedagain's Avatar
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    Yep, this is true.

    My BIG Stihl FS-85 dinosaur handlebar weed/brush whacker takes three plastic blades, which last way better if you keep them soaked in water before use. Old trick that landscapers know.

  8. #8
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    My favorite pick for acoustic guitar playing: Snarling Dogs Brain Pick, 1.14 mm




    Guilded, I also have a 1954 US Quarter silver pick (my birth year) but it is considerably smaller than the half dollar. I keep that one in my mandolin case, works perfectly for that.
    Last edited by dreadnut; 11-04-2019 at 05:46 PM.
    TODAY is the TOMORROW you spent all day YESTERDAY acting like there was no.

    '76 D-25M
    '99 DV-52ABHG (gave to my son)
    '98 DeArmond Starfire Special
    Takamine Acoustic Flying "A"
    Crate CA-125D Acoustic Amp
    Fishman Loudbox Mini Acoustic Amp

  9. #9
    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guildedagain View Post
    Yep, this is true.

    My BIG Stihl FS-85 dinosaur handlebar weed/brush whacker takes three plastic blades, which last way better if you keep them soaked in water before use. Old trick that landscapers know.

    "Ve-e-e-ry IN-ter-e-s-ting...."
    Al
    "Time May Change the Technique of Music But Never Its Mission " - Rachmaninoff
    My 1st Guild: '96 Westerly D25NT "Hally" (10-31-96 stamped on heelblock)
    #2: '01 Westerly F65ce "Blondie"
    #3: '03 Corona D40e Richie Havens "Richie"
    All bought new!

  10. #10
    That is interesting about nylon absorbing water.

    As for pick choice, I tried a blue Tortex decades ago and ever since they're the only ones that feel right to me. I don't know how thick they are; I just know they're the blue ones. Way stiffer than nylon, but when strumming I tend to use my finger nails or a combination of pick and fingers at the same time.
    DTC

    1958 T-100, 1964 S-50, 1964 M-65, 1976 S-300 (bolt-on neck), 1977 D-25, 1977 S-300, 1979 S-300A, 1983 S-25, 1984 Detonator, 1987 Nightbird (spruce top), 1988 D-15, 2001 Blues90, 2002 Bluesbird P90, 2014 Aristocrat

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