BY CHRIS BURGESS
Often, it’s the little things that go unnoticed,
but in the pursuit of tone perfection, even
the diminutive and easily neglected pick can
make a big difference. I must confess that
I’ve been overlooking my own picks. When
I buy them, I tend to grab a dozen or so of
the same ones I bought the last time, stick a
few in my mic stand pickholder, and forget
about ‘em. So, when the PG staff was batting
around the idea of a story on the plectrum, I
saw my chance to get reacquainted with the
we can, we also asked a fingerpicker for his
take on playing without a pick. I suspect I’m
not the only one who’s been taking the spectrum of plectrum for granted, so maybe this
will help you in your own quest, too.
I got you. That’s not a bad place to be, is it?
An Interview with Jim Dunlop
Chris Burgess: I want to thank you for
talking to us about picks today. I just realized recently that I’ve mostly been using
your picks since I started playing back in
No. And that’s why with guys like Santana
and Jerry Garcia, and all the different people that have called me to design a special
pick for them, I usually never charge for it,
for the molding and all that. I just want to
be able to say, “I did that for him.” It’s just
because I want to be a part of that guy’s art
in some way.
There are many factors to consider when
hunting for the right pick: size, shape, thickness, flexibility, and material hardness, the
edge, the point, and not least the grip. As
with every other enterprise in the larger guitar
industry, pick designs continue to be developed and refined; there are always new materials and expanded options. Since it’s high
time I scouted some new picks, I took this
opportunity to examine a handful of the many
new options I’d been overlooking. I also talked to Jim Dunlop himself, to get the scoop on
what I should keep an eye out for. And, since
we at PG like to balance things out whenever
Jim Dunlop: I’ve pretty much dedicated my
whole life to guitar picks (laughs).
Does anybody ever call those guys and
check to see whether or not they’re still
using your picks?
Apparently, it’s still going okay for you…
Yeah, it’s going great. It’s an interesting business. A lot of people really underestimate
guitar picks. When I meet people and they
say, “What do you do for a living?” When I
tell them I make guitar picks, they kind of give
me that blank stare, but I equate what I do
with making paintbrushes for artists. I’m like
the guy that made Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintbrush. You know what I mean?
Oh, well, no see… well… Jerry Garcia’s not
using the picks anymore… but you know what
happens with others, like Santana? They call
up and they get the picks shipped to them,
and they’ll buy 10,000 picks. Definitely, it’s the
repeat business. That’s how we know.
Is there a lot that guitar players don’t know
about the pick business? Something like an
insider’s view, you know, on what’s changed,
what’s still the same, and where things
might be going?