The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19468   Message #198067
Posted By: GUEST,Anthony
20-Mar-00 - 10:51 AM
Thread Name: Thanks Mudcatters! Now, about thumbpicks
Subject: THANKS & thumbpick search
Dear Mudcatters,

I'm fairly new to this site, but have already discovered what a wonderful community of friends and neighbors this is!

Two items:

First, thanks for all the great P.A. advice. You good folks probably saved me a lot of money and frustration. Basically I learned that I haven't done nearly enough research yet. We now plan just to rent sound equipment until we understand our needs better and learn more about all the new toys on the market.

Second, I'm on something of a quest and need your help:

For many years (most of the 60s and 70s) I favored a particular kind of thumbpick, which now seems impossible to find. I always called them "ribbon" picks because they were very narrow across both the thumb loop and the shaft -- about a quarter of an inch. These picks were made out of hard plastic and came in a variety of colors, including a fake tortoise shell that seemed to wear a little better than the others.

The last time I saw this style of pick for sale was about 10 years ago at tbe Signal Hill music store in Mountain View, Arkansas. They had a dozen or so mixed in with a big jar full of Nationals, Gibsons, etc., and I bought all of them. Now I've got two left, both badly worn.

At the suggestion of a friend, I e-mailed Thom Bresh and asked if he could help. Mr. Bresh wrote me back a very friendly note saying that he remembered the pick I was talking about, and that they were favorites of his father's -- Merle Travis, as most of you probably know.

Mr. Bresh continued that this particular thumbpick was also used by Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley's guitarist at Sun Records), and that he had been looking for them -- unsuccessfully -- for years.

What made this pick so neat was their flat-pick like "feel," especially on upstrokes. I think this was produced by combining narrow pick width with a fairly heavy gauge of plastic. In other words, the pick was thick-gauged enough not to bend much at the curve where the loop joins the shaft, but they were narrow enough across the surface to flex just a little along the picking surface.

Also, the narrow width allowed the longish, rounded thumb loop to rest entirely BELOW the nail, which meant they were extremely comfortable to wear.

The Fred Kelly "Slick Pick" is designed along similar lines except that it's a little wider, is made out of Delrin instead of slick plastic, has a shorter shaft (too short, I think), and has a stubby, square-cut loop end that digs into your cutlicle.

If Mr. Kelly would modify his design just a bit (Delrin is great pick material, in my opinion) he'd be there. But since that seems unlikely does anyone know if these old-style picks are still made? Or is there at least someone who has an existing supply for sale?

I'm sure a number of us older thumbpickers would be willing to pay a premium for them.

Thanks to all, Tony