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Plastic Milk and Clorox Jugs Materiel for Guitar Picks

Updated on October 12, 2011

Making do- Making Picks

Since my youth I have enjoyed picking guitar. My first was a Christmas gift from my parents bought at the Western Auto. It was a cheap guitar and the strings sat so high on the fingerboard it was difficult for a young boy to make chords without making blisters on my fingers. I learned chords from a lady in the cotton mill village. Mastering G, C, and D as she taught me an old song Chewing Chawing Gum and Little Brown Jug I was off and running and the blisters and pain just didn't seem to matter.

An essential piece of equipment for guitar pickers although not necessary are picks. Daddy had bought me three plastic picks but soon they were all lost from my pockets, I didn't have a case with a toy box for storing extra picks or strings so losing picks was always a possibility. Guitar picks even in the 1950 and 60's were and remain rather cheap but the problem for me then was getting into town to buy them at the music store.

Using a little imagination and a good pair of shears, the thought came to me, why not cut up one of those milk jugs that was sitting on the back porch. My folks never threw anything away so the jugs were kept to carry water to the garden etc., and if successful an endless supply of materials was close at hand. I also noticed my mama used Clorox when washing whites and the plastic jugs could also be cut into picks. It didn't take me long and soon I had made myself a bunch of guitar picks. I cut them in the triangular shapes I had used before and experimented trying to have enough materiel to hold comfortably between my thumb and index finger. It wasn't rocket science just making a few snips with those shears. The plastic picks I made were rather thin but at the time I was playing an electric guitar and didn't have to worry about striking the strings too hard.

These crude picks served me for several years and if i lost one it wasn't a big deal. Today there are so many picks available. I now buy them in bulk and we have nice cases with toy boxes to store our picks. My son came up with the idea of using one of those Altoid breath mint tins to store picks in the toy box, now our picks not only play well but smell good too.

When choosing a pick, the decision lies with the picker. Some like the thin picks to get a softer sound from the strings on the instrument while most bluegrass pickers like a stiff pick to bring out the strong notes on their guitars. Much lies with style or genre of music being played. Doc Watson uses a thumb pick on occasion and finger picks but then he is so gifted and versatile even using only his fingers on some tunes are all that is necessary. For classical guitars a felt pick is the pick of choice.

Picks made from tortoise shell are the most desired but with the hawk bill tortoise being declared and endangered species, these picks have all but disappeared though there are still some around and will sell for a premium if you luck up on someone who has them but you better not ever tell where you got the pick if could open up a can of worms we pickers had rather not discuss.. A synthetic material which resembles the tortoise shell is still a great pick. Other materials such as metal and nylon are also common.

I have come a long ways from that Royalist guitar daddy bought me at Western Auto and those fabulous Biltmore Dairy and Clorox plastic jug picks and now can get to a music store or order on line from First Quality Music, Janet Davis, or Musicians Friend all the picks I will ever need. the memories of making picks, blisters on my fingers proved to be a positive for me and music makes the world go round.


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    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a crazy brilliant hub, love this videos. Bonus dudes.

      Now I know what to do with all those bloody cd's and dvd's that failed to burn and are useless.

      I am going into the pick business. My son made some picks last week from his credit card, as that's all it's good for these day's. I wonder if he saw this hub? Hmmm!

      voted up interesting and useful

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 6 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and beautiful! Remember those days very well, good hub...

    • iZeko profile image

      iZeko 6 years ago

      How cool is that! Nice hub!

    • Cousin Fudd profile image

      RobertElias Ballard 6 years ago from From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina

      Gary has a few of those picks and paid around $40 for one of them. I also like a thick pick when I play. I use a wrap around thumb pick and brass finger fingers for banjo.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I've got more pics than I could hardly ever lose!

      All of mine are super stiff - stiffer and thicker the better - but I've got a couple tortoise shell pics. I used to have a few more - but someone stole some.

      I once saw a dude offer one of my uncles a hundred dollar bill for one - but he wouldn't take it.

      As much as I like the tortoise pics - what I generally use is a Dunlop 2.0 mm - and I've never seen a pic sold any thicker than that one.

    • cre8ivOne profile image

      cre8ivOne 6 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Interesting! Thanks for sharing! I find guitar picks all over the floor at my house.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Harvey 6 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Great hub. Really imaginative and original. When my son starts learning guitar I might suggest making picks rather than buying them for him to lose.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      This is real cool information! Thanks!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      What an inventive idea. I love how kids can sometimes see obvious solutions like you did for your guitar pick dilemma.