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Materiality of Picks

Posted by Jack Phillips on Jul 13th 2018

Picks have always come in a variety of materials.  As is well known (and now illegal), many picks were first made of tortoise shell.  Other types of natural material that have been used including ostrich, raven, and eagle feathers, ivory, bone, coconut (still made by Clayton), stone, brass, and steel.  For various reasons (including fewer turtles), tortoise shell became less available and more expensive.  The search was on for a man-made substitute.  Celluloid, one of the first man-made polymers, stepped in to fill the void.  It is safe to say that more picks have been made out of celluloid than any other material and is still popular today.  Manufacturers continue to develop new materials to construct picks.Ultex, Delrin, and Tortex have all found a place in guitarists tone arsenal.  Next week we will look at some of the different shapes guitar picks have come in.