Early on in EffectsBay history, I started Free Shirt Wednesday. Basically, it’s a way for builders, dealers and bands to get some exposure on the web site. They would send me a shirt, I would wear the shirt and I would talk about what they do. It’s been a fun thing, and a great way to get the word out. If you’re interested in being featured on Free Shirt Wednesday, click here for more info.
To the players out there that use picks with their instruments, know how important it is to get the ‘right’ pick. Right hand picking technique is very important and one of things that you don’t want to fight is pick movement and pick hand fatigue. I’ve gone through a few phases in my time. I changed sizes, changed gauges. I use to like the Dunlop Nylon picks for the raised writing for grip. I remember scratching picks for grip, etc. I’ve gone extra smooth and tried different materials. Picks are a very personal piece of equipment to the guitarist/bassists that use them and finding that perfect match can sometimes be a quest.
Here is where Pete from Swiss Picks comes in. Pete has been working hard to create a pick that addresses these issues with guitarist, specifically focusing on the grip. His Swiss Picks have various holes though the picks with raised outer edges. He was kind enough to send me a shirt and a pack of picks to try out. They definitely work as expected. You definitely get additional grip and I noticed no slippage while giving them a test drive.
I thought it would be cool to send Pete some questions and post them on this post.
– What inspired the Swiss Pick?
I was always looking for a pick with a better grip. My pick would turn in my hand during play, which drove me nuts, so I started by experimenting with different sized holes and locations for texture. It didn’t take long to see the Swiss Cheese image, and with a few side holes added, I knew I had something unique looking. However, it wasn’t until a year later that I figured out how to get raised edges, and ‘BOOM’, it was everything I’d dreamed of.
– How long did it take you to go from idea to product?
A couple of years in that department. I’ve been teaching guitar for 17 years, and the picks look gained interest from my students and fellow musicians to want to try them, and once they did, they begged to keep it. They loved it and wanted more. It was then that I knew that the public would totally dig these.
Then after countless prototypes, I figured out where the perfect hole placement would have to be. There’s a theory to this way beyond just putting holes in a pick. I experienced my proud Dr. Frankenstein moment of “It’s Alive!”
– Did you experience many challenges during that process?
Too many to list. Y’know, I’m just a guy who plays guitar and then I’m looking into manufacturing, and the only way to make these is by injection molding. They can’t be stamped. So, then I’m having meetings with mold makers and everyone I know is pushing me to outsource this to China because it’ll be a fraction of the price. Well, that wasn’t going to happen, and then I found the right guy here in Los Angeles to make it. Then it was all about using the best Delrin/Acytyl for the best possible pick tone. You won’t get that in a Chinese made pick. I promise.
Then there’s all the other costly issues, like Patenting, Trademarking, Artwork, Promo Materials, Price Sheets, Website Design, and Business Registration… Hell, I’m getting dizzy just typing this.
On top of that, I gambled by taking a loan on my ’59 Fender Strat.
– How did, and how do, guitarists/bassists respond to your picks?
I have people that absolutely freak out over them, but then again, some of the old school guitar players keep with their standard Fender Mediums and will not try anything else. But, the people who wanted something more in a pick have been diehard supporters and continue to spread the word.
– Is there a type of musician that the Swiss Pick appeals to? And why?
This is a great question, and here’s why… Different styles create different needs. For myself, I’m into Blues, Jazz Fusion, Classic Rock, to Shred and Metal, so I needed one pick that could cover all that ground. I knew it worked for me, but being in Los Angeles gave me a variety of very worthy test pilots.
First up, was Fusion/Jazz ace Julian Coryell, who was floored by it. This guy just glides over the strings, using a sweep/economy picking style like Frank Gambale. Julian put in his Swiss Picks order right there. He was sold.
Second in line was Terry Kilgore (ex David Lee Roth) who is THE definitive rock guitarist. How many guys could follow up Van Halen, Vai, and Jason Becker. What makes Terry so unique is that he’s not a gain nut. He plays with a cleaner tone and he needs his pick to ‘sound’ great. It has to ping off the strings. Terry’s review was that “It sounds great, especially for harmonics. It’s an easy pick to adjust to, and you sure as hell ain’t gonna drop it.”
Last, I knew I needed a really different player, so I chose Josh Landau from The Shrine. Picture power of The MC5 and Black Flag, mixed with high octane classic rock riffs. Their new record ‘Primitive Blast’ will surely blow your minds. Now, Josh really digs in live, riffing like a madman, soloing like Hendrix, sweating heavily, and beating the shit out of his guitar. After his 45 minute set Josh said, “Man, the grip is like super glue”.
Ted from More Music in Santa Cruz, CA is also a guitar teacher of 25 years and said “Finally, somebody got it perfect” and refers it to all his students. That really meant alot to me.
So, I think it’ll cover most styles. Hey, do you play any Country, Hank? (Yeah, I live in Montana and my name is Hank… but I don’t play country music. I respect those musicians though.. they’re damn good.)
Swiss Picks is located in West Los Angeles.
– How do I buy?
Please check your local music store. If they do not carry the line yet, ask them to carry it, as we are open to non-corporate dealer inquires, or order direct from our website, www.swisspicks.com
– How much are they?
A bag of 6 should be no more than $3.99
– Do you offer different gauges and shapes?
At the moment we have a Regular, .80, but in the near future I will have a Thick, 1.10, and last a Thin, at .60. As the company progresses, there will be different smaller jazz style shapes available.
– How does the future look for Swiss Picks?
I think it looks great. Though some of the store owners are skeptical, as they always are when a new product is released, the guitarists and musicians have really gotten behind the pick, and I’m grateful to them all. My current dealers are amazed at how fast they’re moving off the shelves, most notably Guitar Asylum in New York.
In closing, I just want to keep the company growing and keep playing guitar as much I can. After all, that’s what it’s all about, right?
So, if you’re looking for a change in your pick department or looking to fix your slipping pick issues, definitely check out Swiss Picks!