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Arts and Crafts

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Origin Of Guitar Picks

Some sort of plectrum has been used pretty much ever since stringed instruments came into existence. It is assumed that quills were initially used, making it easier for the musician to entice brighter and enhanced sounds from their instruments.

Over time, other means were given a try, but didn't yield the same results and it wasn't until the late 1900s when tortoiseshell gained the preference and replaced quills. The flat guitar pick became extremely popular during the 1920s, when musician Nick Lucas used a flat plectrum for playing his guitar.

Using a flat guitar pick had its disadvantages; if the musician wasn't careful, it could slip out from between his fingers, and it occurred on several occasions when the plectrum got airborne. Pieces of rubber glued on each side, drilling a whole in the middle, or cork affix on the wider part would prevent this from happening, but were not ideal solutions.

The best solution turned out to be celluloid with an imprinted relief on it. Luigi D’Andrea was the first one to develop such a guitar pick in 1920. His invention would rule the market for guitar picks worldwide from 1920 through 1950 and he became the main provider for Gibson, Fender, and many more.

His plectrums became even more popular during the 1960s, after tortoiseshell picks were no longer available due to the turtles which shells were used were put on the list of endangered species.

Celluloid picks were not only much cheaper, but had also more flexibility and durability compared to the tortoiseshell ones, while the sound they made came extremely close. Celluloid, and later plastic, glass and metal, turned out to be a great alternative.

It provided musicians around the world with the means to create music at its best!

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