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I used to worry mostly about it being made out of something I could keep my fingers on when playing out. That’s become less of a problem for me over the years, but it’s still one of those habits. When I look around at picks that are available, I don’t think first about the tone I’m going to get, I think first about whether or not I’m going to be able to hold on to it.
Well you’re going to love this new pick I just came out with. I don’t know if you play with any nylon picks?
Actually, I do… the .88s.
Oh dude, you’re going to love the Max- Grip .88mms. It is like the ultimate grip on a nylon pick.
Sounds good to me. What I really like about the nylon picks is that you can quickly wear a really nice set of grooves in it, and really shape it to your grip. Not a lot of other picks do that as easily.
Yeah, that’s the flexibility and the memory.
How has the business of making and developing picks changed over the last few decades? Is that something you’re interested in?
I don’t know that the business has changed that much. We went through a period where we got involved with picks like the Strum Rose picks and picks that went beyond standard shapes and features. There’s a ton of different ideas for picks. I get calls once a week—actually, somebody else takes the calls now. Somebody always comes up with something… put it on a ring, do this, do that… but the standard pick shape, I love. It’s just that now there are so many new materials out there. It’s about trying to find the next Tortex, or the next Nylon, or the next Celluloid. For me, it’s got to be in materials.
The design itself is what’s lasted?
Yeah, I think the basic design, but there are also tips that can be changed, and other stuff. It all comes down to who you’re catering to. Gypsy jazz guys like those big 3 mm chunky picks, and then you get the rock ‘n’ rollers who like the .88s
You know, I was joking the other day with Joe Coffey, saying he could just cut up milk cartons because his picks are so thin. I’m not into them, but he really likes that flexibility. It seems like every guitar player has a different preference.
Thirty-one flavors, man. They did it with ice cream. I mean how many SKUs of picks do I have… a thousand? To find the right pick, you’ve got to just try out as many as you can. Research the guys that you look up to and aspire to sound like, and figure out what they’re using.
What if they’re using one of your pick designs that you’re not taking credit for, so you don’t know how to get a hold of ‘em?
(laughs) Then I’m out of luck, I guess… story of my life (Rodney Dangerfield routine) So has this been helpful?
Yes, extremely. I think our readers will appreciate it. Thank you again.
Yeah, you’re welcome.
Dava’s Dave Story has been improving musicians’ tools for a long time, and he brings several good ideas together with these picks. He sent us a large variety, so I won’t go into detail about them all except to say that all are well-suited to their different purposes. Save for the Jazz Grips, all Dava Control picks feature a control region with an inserted molded tip. The control area allows you to easily change the flexibility of the pick by moving your grip, instead of loosening it. Different levels of flexibility in the same pick is highly useful. The inserted tips are also cool because you can get different kinds of tone and playability, but all the picks share the same grip.
The Rock Control grips with 1mm celluloid tips are smooth and bright, the delrin are indeed fast, and the precision tip offers a sharp point. The nickel silvertipped Master Control picks are very bright, but also seem to get really good purchase on the strings. I liked the precision and clarity these tips brought to single-note lines.
Dava control nylons offer the same pliant feel and grip as standard nylons, but with Dava’s control region for a range of flexibility. Joe Coffey, who plays acoustic and electric rhythm guitar, reports that these have solved an old dilemma for him. He prefers the flexibility of very thin nylons, but they leave him without the mass and grip he needs for more dynamics and power. He been using these for a few weeks now, and I don’t think he’s looking back.
Ra Denney started making these picks from lignmum vitae, the densest wood on the Janka scale, but he now also offers picks made from Snakewood, which is slightly less dense but can be shipped internationally (it’s not on the CITES list). When it comes to presentation, these pull out all the stops—taking these handmade beauties out of their satin pouch produced subdued “oohs” and “ahhs” of appreciation all around. They play extremely well, too, and are far more comfortable and welcoming than I had anticipated. After a few weeks, it’s become hard think of a hardwood pick as an extravagance.
We tested a Rubber Grip Surfpick, a Jack Grassell holy bullet, and one of the new Snakewood Surfpicks. Each had a snug fit and enough mass to require very little force for a secure hold, letting me relax my grip a lot for strumming. Going from light runs to digging in was easy, too, since I didn’t need a death grip to keep from losing control of it. The Rubber Grip Surfpick has become my favorite of the three. The weight and thickness makes a smooth, clear attack easy. Denney will provide as sharp an edge as you prefer, and he’ll also replace your broken picks, but remember that wooden picks don’t flex, so don’t try to test them that way, or you’ll break them.