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Advice on pick making

I’m thinking about having a go at making my own picks. I’m a fan of thick picks 3.5mm minimum. I notice it’s not difficult to get hold of materials like plek etc. As someone who finds changing a lightbulb challenging can anyone give some advice regarding what tools I need to get. I’m guessing I’ll need a vice etc. I’m more interested in the end result than the process. Is it worth the time and effort?

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  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 798

    I tried it years ago with some old horn - cowhorn I think. It was ok but for me not worth the effort in cutting and shaping the material. I do however file most of my pre made picks using small files and then a nail buffer for final shaping and polishing. My favourite pick - about 4 mm thick and made from galalith - is made by a guy in England but I found it to be too pointy so I flattened off the picking edge and it works for me.

    Twang
    always learning
  • Posts: 3,165

    I haven't made any truly from scratch, only reshaping the tip or putting a new bevel on my existing picks. For that, multi sided nail files work great. There's one with 7 surfaces that go from rough shaping to buffing. It would halp to have a buffing wheel for a final shine and a hand held Dremel type tool to get to a rough shape. I don't think you need a vice though.

    Twang
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 568

    Over the years I've made picks from many different materials - titanium, obsidian, carbon fiber, tortoise shell, coconut shell, cow bone, horn, ebony, maple, epoxy resin, stone, jade, plastic, plexiglass... I have a box full of these picks. When I need a pick today, I use a Dunlop 207. I don't particularly like any of the dozens of picks I made over the years, but I certainly enjoyed the process of finding the materials and making them. I like doing this kind of thing - I also made many experimental bridges and tailpieces over the years. My point? You might put in a lot of effort and wind up indifferent to the result. If you are more interested in results and less interested in process and don't have tools/don't have experience in hand work, there are dozens of good picks to choose from.

    Anyway, that's my experience making picks...

    Those multi-sided nail files that Buco mentioned are really great for burnishing or reshaping the bevel on any pick - an essential tool in any guitarist's toolkit. Polishing the bevel on a tortoise pick is important because it keeps the pick from wearing away.

    Twang
  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 196

    You may want to first try shaping tips and bevels on any existing picks that you might currently have, that are (a) too pointy (soften the tip pount), and/or (b) sound too dull at the moment (increase bevel). That way you can see if you really want to get into cutting pick "blanks" at all.

    The combination of tip radius and bevel depth (and angle) make all the difference in the playability and tone!

    As to the bevel, I turn the pick at a 45 degree angle (from its long axis) and sand at 45 degrees (hard to explain in words), using a hard flat backing, to start. Then I rote the pick both ways and sand a little more, to taper it off.

    You can try the pick after a bit of initial rough sanding to see how the tone and playability shapes up.

    BucoTwang
  • Posts: 3,165

    This above, it's what I've done and was going to come back to suggest to do that first. And I've done it both ways, round of the tip that was on the sharp side and put more of a point on the pick that's been played a whole lot. It's a good training tool because you can dial in the angle you need to make a bevel on the new blank by going over the existing pick to buff out well played pick.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • TwangTwang New
    Posts: 289

    Thanks everyone

    This guy looks like he knows what he’s doing but looks like a lot of work and tools.


  • Posts: 3,165

    Who would dare say he doesn't?

    Twang
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Altamira M10
    Posts: 464

    The pick looks nice. As he indicates at the end, "as long as it lasts..." Don't know how durable the material is. He probably needed to try it on an acoustic using a la pompe rhythm to take full advantage of its 3.2mm width.

    As a non-tool type guy, I don't know if this thing is commonplace in a workshop, but I appreciated his little cutting jig to give him a flat surface that is level horizontally. Great idea.

  • TwangTwang New
    Posts: 289

    @Buco I'll be right behind you! 😁

    Buco
  • TwangTwang New
    Posts: 289

    @billyshakes I thought that too! Cool isn't it

    billyshakes
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