Information about Picks
for mandolin and guitar     

My Picks - Yesterday and today

On this page I have collected some information about picks that I have used or that i am still using, about shapes and materials. I have made scans of picks I have used and I am still using.


Tortoise Shell

Picks made of tortoise shell have been used for a long time and are still a model the picks try to come close to. I have used tortoise shell picks - I bought those picks at a time, when it was still allowed to sell those. Today it is not allowed to sell picks made from real tortoise shell, so it is not easy to get this kind of picks. The tortoise shell material compines a stiffness and elasticity which makes it almost ideal for a pick. Even a quite thin pick made from tortoise shell ist very stiff, thick picks are very hard.
There is one big disadvantage with picks made from tortoise shell - these picks get a rough edge very fast, and it is necessary to polish the pick and its edges very often. For this reason I prefer picks made from Tortex or Acetal, which are very similar to tortoise shell, but without the disadvantage of getting rough very fast.
Some of my picks, on the right one you can clearly see the rough edges.



For a long time celluloid was mostly used for picks. An also today you can get picks made from real cellulose. The possibility to produce celluloid in all kind of shimmering colours made it very attractive, the disadvantag of celluloid is, that it burns pretty well.

Picks made from celluloid - like those made from tortoise shell - also get a rough edge very fast, but are usually a good choice. Those picks are usually not very expensive, so you can always take a new one, if the edge has got rough.

The next picture shows to Fender pick, small size, heavy.


Worlds Finest

I have ordered 50 or 100 picks of a brand called "World's fines", a special offer from a guitar magazine (Fachblatt Musikmagazin). Those picks had a standard size, but I used to modify the picks according to my preferences - I still have a bunch of then in my box.


Dunlop Jazz II

I used to play Dunlop Jazz II when I preferred playing with small picks.


Pickboy Mandoln Pick

A nice little pick with a special shape and a mandolin and the word "mandolin" in gold on it. Made by Pickboy in Japan. Shape is similar to the Pettine picks below, but this pick is too soft for me.



Together with the Mandolin Method by Giuseppe Pettine I have ordered those four Pettine picks. Pettine - and also other old mandolin methods - recommed a pick shaped like this for the mandolin. The small Pettine picks at the right hand are very small, the belong to the smalles picks I own. As you can see on the last pick, the quality was not very good - this would need some work if you want to use it.



Dunlop Tortex

Dunlop has introduced many new materials for picks. They used delrin/acetal, which has very interesting features.

One of the materials has been named "tortex" because it is quite similar to tortoise shell. I have been using tortex picks for a lng time, and for me the tortex picks belong to the best picks that can be used for the mandolin. Tortex pick are produced in different sizes and thicknesses, each thickness has a special color. The yellow picks (0.73 mm) are just a little bit too soft, but right if you wan a clear tone, the green ones (0.86 mm) have possibly the best thickness for general usage. Blue is quite hard (1.0 mm), and violet (1.14) can be used, if you want a soft tone.

The big advantag of tortex picks is, that the edge does not get rough, so you can play those picks for a long time without caring much about it. As you can see from the pictures I have usually modified the form of those picks, beginning with a big one.

The basic material for those picks is polyoxymethylen also known as Delrin (a brad owned by Dupont), acetal or polyacetal. Dupont lists more than 60 different specialiezed products based on Delrin suited for different requirements. Which one of those is used for the Tortex picks is probably a secret

Yellow, 0.73 mm, a little to thin, but sometimes just right
green, 0.86 mm - for me the optimal thickness
Blau 1.00 mm - auch sehr gut geeignet, besonders bei den kleinen Formen
violet, 1.14 mm - I tried to make a heart, with very round tip, for a soft sound

Those Dunlop 500 picks are also made of Delrin.

More new materials

More new materials are being used for picks. Those picks are very stiff, even if they are not very thick.

Pickboy Carbon Nylon und Pickboy Edge.


Clayton Ultem - another pick made from a kind of acetal, clear, very hard, very similar to real tortoise shell - one of my preferred picks.


Clayton Acetal - another kind of acetal, white color with a nice logo printed on it. I am using this pick now and then, the heavy one with 1.0 mm produces a soft sound. The big triangle is also good for making your own shape.


Pickboy Rainbow Classic - I love this pick for its bright rainbow colors.


Tortoise Todd - anohter celluloid pick with an interesting color


d'Andrea  und Galli

d'Andrea was the pioneer in picks. The typical teardrop shape for picks was created by d'Andrea, as you can read in the book titled picks.

A pick made by d'Andrea today is the pro-prig pick with a nice mixture of red, blue, black and white. The pick made by Galli has almost the same colors.



Wegen Picks are handmade picks made from a special hard material. Those picks are very hard, but the edges are shaped. Wegen produces differnt picks that are especially used for Jazz. The tonetoys triangle is a special pick produced for Tonetoys 

Wegen Picks are quite expensive, but certainly very good. You can see the different picks made by Wegen on the Wegen Homepage  - you can try to make your own picks like this (just use a big and heavy Clayton pick to start your project)


Any questions?

You can use the contact form to send ma any questions and ideas - or if you can offer some intersting picks to me!

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