Favorite picks made from unusual materials

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
5 years ago
408 posts

Welcome back, Folkfan!

Sheryl, a pick made from a vinyl record sounds like it wouldn't be very flexible and I like a really flexible pick for the kind of playing I do.




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
folkfan
@folkfan
5 years ago
365 posts

I've cut some picks from the lids from cans of prunes we buy at Walmart.  They are in a purple plastic with no printing on them.  I also cut one from each of the lids. They are lopsided leaving a large top strip to grip with the pick cut below and to one side.  Sort of a purple pick on a grip stick.   Fewer picks fly out of my hands and I don't have to hold on to the pick as tightly between my thumb and index finger.  It gives the arthritic joint at the base of my thumb a rest.


updated by @folkfan: 01/15/17 01:30:33PM
marg
@marg
5 years ago
570 posts

Below posted elsewhere but maybe better as a post here:     

     Having just gotten my new for me dulcimer and not caring for the tone from my go to picks, led me to a very interesting creative way of taking care of the problem. I came up with a  '2-Tone Pick',  once I got started making them, I ended up with several:         Taking just the picks I have collected but don't use for one reason or another, I added leather to one side of the pick.  I also had some felt uke picks & ones made from plastic cards or butter tops, which I glued leather to the other side.

    I found some scrap leather at Hobby Lobby (thanks ken for the idea of scrap leather) , several different types & had a coupon so the whole bag only cost about $3-$4. 

  I haven't seen any other 2- sided leather picks so I wonder why non of the pick companies have come up with something like this. Does anyone know or do you know if there is a pick like this?

    I would say, the leather does mellow/damper the sound some so if you like a very bright/loud sound a leather pick may not be for you, but then you have the other side of the pick and can have bright on one side & mellow on the other. 

Always an adventure, always glad when we are on it together.


updated by @marg: 01/15/17 01:03:32PM
Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
5 years ago
258 posts

Jan Potts:


I have made picks from credit cards (including the fake ones that come in the mail in ads) and stiff cardboard--but those get pretty flimsy really fast.  One of my favorites was punched out of the pink vinyl cover of a spiral notebook (I have Dana McCall to thank for that one!  kiss )


Yes, I have a pick punch.  No, I don't use it nearly as much as I thought I would.  I still buy picks!



Jan, Have you ever trued making a pick out of an unplayable vinyl record with your pick punch? 

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

Sometimes I use plastic collar stays.

DulcimerDad
DulcimerDad
@dulcimerdad
5 years ago
4 posts

I love the V-Picks Bing Lite picks for all types of playing. But my new favorite are picks made from Coconut shell. They're made by Steve Clayton (and maybe others). They are very loud, so if you're trying to play with no one else hearing you, these are the wrong picks to use. They also have some of the inside husk on the back so you have a grip. They are all natural, very durable and sound amazing. But they are a bit expensive compared to say a nylon pick. Though the Bing picks are expensive too.

Steve Clayton Coconut Shell Pick

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,888 posts

Find a leather crafting shop that has heavy "belt" leather nearly a quarter inch thick, they may have scraps they might give you.  

Another good soft pick that you can find at music stores are the hard-ish felt picks used by some ukulele players;  I've had one for years.

marg
@marg
5 years ago
570 posts

(What's a leader?)

Sorry leather 

marg
@marg
5 years ago
570 posts

I took a pick I didn't like and glued a thin piece of a leather belt on one side, cutting to fit. Love the sound but on some of the picks I made, they sound better on the other side than the leather side. Interesting a 2 tone pick.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 years ago
2,018 posts

What's a leader?




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
marg
@marg
5 years ago
570 posts

leather picks:

can we buy these somewhere or do we make them & what would be a good leather to use?

 


updated by @marg: 01/15/17 12:47:07PM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 years ago
2,018 posts

Fingerpick garters?....oh my, my laugh of the day!  bananadance




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
6 years ago
408 posts

Rod, I wish you would make a video of all those strum styles!  Sounds fascinating!  And I love your fingerpick garters!  I guess that wouldn't even make sense to young people....




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
IRENE
IRENE
@irene
6 years ago
167 posts

laughing hard at some of these comments.  love it.  and Aldi's gonna go look for some stuffs to buy to make a pick. yeah.  beautiful guitar photoed. and woah, my husband is always losing his picks on playing autoharp.  I doubt he'd try this...but that's really innovative. aloha, irene and I'm going to bed smiling. thanks

RHytonen
RHytonen
@rhytonen
6 years ago
2 posts

I've discovered that certain products come carded with a fitted dome of a VERY tough clear plastic, that's perfect.

If you buy tools or household devices from ALDI, you know what I mean...

You can cut a strip with curved edges (for stiffening)and leave a flat part at the end, which you can tailor finely to any desired stiffness and length

(very helpful to me, as my right hand fingertips are permanently numb from carpal tunnel etc. and can't hold a standard flat pick by my fingertips.)

The pick in these pics has one curved edge down its length (the "handle") for stiffening. The curled edge is trimmed off, starting the taper to a fairly wide (about 1/4") "point," at a spot that leaves a flat, more flexible "picking" end about 1/2" long. I like the sound -and the feel-  better than a pointed end (like a standard guitar flatpick has. I never was a decent flatpicker.)

As happened with the guitar (some 55 years ago ;) I will probably eventually wind up using fingerpicks. I've adopted a guitar style that can flexibly go from traditional (ragtime, or "clock-picking") fingerpicking, to strumming (Carter Family or "church lick") and lots of variations in between, by creating small finger "garters" that let me strum in either direction with the National-type fingerpicks, without a pick flying off (inevitably landing inside the guitar, &#$^@ ;)  There's a sweet, hollow metallic sound to a back-strum with METAL fingerpicks, that you can't get any other way. And with the pics this securely on, you can develop a technique that saves you a lot of effort to get volume. It really brings out the highs in the Monel strings I've stuck with since I started - and that makes the Washburn have incredible sustain.. (I hate brass strings. Don't like the feel at all... or the sound.)

The technique may or may not work for dulcimer... but it works GREAT with the little Washburn Parlor guitar I've fallen in love with. (And yeah, I DO miss the 1963 D-18 I bought new and had to sell years later for the rent - FOR $250! - in New York. I'll NEVER be able to afford "that much guitar," today as a retiree. But I got a great eBay bargain on the 125th Anniversary Washburn, one of the 2008 reissues they made 250 of. And I had coveted a slotted head guitar since the 60's!)

-Rod

IMG_1603.JPG.jpg
IMG_1603.JPG.jpg  •  216KB

IMG_1607.JPG.jpg
IMG_1607.JPG.jpg  •  701KB

IMG_1536.JPG.jpg
IMG_1536.JPG.jpg  •  1.1MB

IMG_1494.JPG.jpg
IMG_1494.JPG.jpg  •  1.3MB


updated by @rhytonen: 09/10/16 03:38:58PM
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
6 years ago
408 posts

I have made picks from credit cards (including the fake ones that come in the mail in ads) and stiff cardboard--but those get pretty flimsy really fast.  One of my favorites was punched out of the pink vinyl cover of a spiral notebook (I have Dana McCall to thank for that one!  kiss )

Yes, I have a pick punch.  No, I don't use it nearly as much as I thought I would.  I still buy picks!




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke

updated by @jan-potts: 09/10/16 02:47:55AM
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
6 years ago
408 posts

Noah Aikens:


now I play dulcimer either with a very thin dunlop nylon pick or my fingers. but when I play guitar I like to use dragon heart picks. But they cost 10 dollars and I lose picks alot.



Noah, the thin Dunlops (.38) made a huge difference in my ability to increase my playing speed--necessary for those lickety-split fiddle tunes.  The test strips have about the same flexibility, depending on how close to the end you hold it.  And I have 2 or 3 newly available ones every day!  thumbsup


 




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Noah Aikens
Noah Aikens
@noah-aikens
6 years ago
33 posts

now I play dulcimer either with a very thin dunlop nylon pick or my fingers. but when I play guitar I like to use dragon heart picks. But they cost 10 dollars and I lose picks alot.

hugssandi
@hugssandi
6 years ago
254 posts

I still love my Blue Bonnet Butter lids best (actually just posted about it on fb!), but I just heard of someone using bread tabs as picks.  I had never thought about that before...  And there's already a hole in the middle for a good grip!  

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
6 years ago
1,888 posts

Hmmm that  blood test strip is an interesting idea.  I'll have to give one of mine a try.  My unusual material is a pick I made several years ago from a slice of "vegetable ivory" (sometimes called Tagua nut) from the Ivory Nut  Palm native to the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.  It's a bit smaller in area than a regular pick, and also much stiffer.  And, after years of use, has that wonderful "weathered ivory" look.

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
6 years ago
408 posts

We know about the picks made from butter tub lids, old credit cards, etc., but maybe you have a favorite pick made from something you don't see others using.  Share your creativity!

I have two unusual favorites. One (which I've mentioned before) is a pack (block?) of Post-it flags....the older kind, made of paper, gummed together on one side.  This works great for when you want to play your dulcimer with your normal intensity, but don't want anyone other than you to hear what you're playing.  Just strum as you usually do; very little sound is produced...just enough so you can tell that you're getting the notes right...or not!

The other is a new favorite...a blood glucose test strip (use a new one if you're concerned about the used ones being a biohazard).  I use a Freestyle brand monitor and these little plastic strips--smaller and thinner than a collar stay--are the perfect pick for my new Little Mule soprano dulcimer made by Jim Fox.

What have you recycled into your pick pocket?




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke

updated by @jan-potts: 10/27/19 12:02:25PM