A New Take On an Old Tradition

April 28, 2023 4 min read

A New Take On an Old Tradition

Thalia is releasing a new set of guitar picks for 2023 

Close your eyes and imagine a guitar pick. What most of you probably saw was the classic shape created by Luigi D’Andrea in 1922, and that has endured over the years, becoming THE modern guitar pick.  

If we go back many, many decades ago, picks were originally made from tortoise shells. The material had a great sound and feel but was also fragile. Fast forward to 1973 and the material was banned under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (along with ivory and other such materials). It’s now basically illegal to make anything new from the material. This also gave birth to an entire industry dedicated to creating materials to replace these banned items. 

Luigi D’Andrea got into the pick-making business in 1922, when he decided to make guitar picks out of sheets of celluloid, which was readily available, more durable than tortoise shell, easy to work with, and allowed him to experiment with several different pick shapes. One shape in particular would become known the world over; the 351 guitar pick shape, famously known as the standard “Fender” pick and used by basically every company that produces picks.  

Now, Thalia has partnered with the D’Andrea company as they continue their legacy of producing quality picks for every guitar player out there. Here’s a preview of what to expect over the next few months. 

The Materials 

Thalia’s new line of picks will be available in three different options. 

The first is the classic celluloid. This material has been used for picks ever since D’Andrea began using it in the 1920s. It is a smooth material that offers a balanced sound and good durability.  

There’s also Delrin, a type of industrial plastic that offers exceptional durability. It is a favorite for players who prefer heavier picks and offers a great attack when picking or strumming. 

And finally, we will continue to offer our wood picks which we believe are far and away the best in the industry. We are even working hard on a version 3 of these picks that are more durable, have smoother edges, and come in more varieties of sizes and shapes (get version 2 while suppliers last!). We know the wood picks are not for everybody, but we stand by our belief that these superior picks offer a uniquely warm tone with less bite. And the best part, these sound better with each use. 

The Shapes 

The pick is more than just the material. As part of this launch, Thalia will be releasing four different, yet well-known, pick shapes. 

The first is the classic 351. The shape was pioneered by D’Andrea all those decades ago and is often imitated. It is a shape that provides a good amount of surface grip with the perfect balance of roundness and sharpness at the point, suitable for every player, from the shredder to the strummer. This shape is quite versatile! 

Next is the 551, which looks like the 351’s big brother. It is a much larger pick that allows for a better grip for more aggressive players, or for those who play with heavier strings, such as bass players. The pick also has a sharper tip than the 351, making it ideal for fast players who are looking for something bigger.  

The 358 is the third pick being released and is commonly known as the “teardrop” pick. These picks are much smaller and have a sharper tip, ideal for players who want something that is fast and unobtrusive. It is a little harder to grip than the previous two because of the surface area but is a joy to play once you are accustomed to it.  

Finally, we have the 346, which is the largest of the four picks being produced. If the 551 is the big brother, the 346 is the big daddy, offering a good amount of surface to grab onto. The size also makes this a great pick for bass players or jazzers who use heavier strings. The added bonus to this shape is its three-way shape, offering three tips on one pick! 

The Thickness 

This aspect of a guitar pick will probably have the greatest effect on a player’s preference. The thickness of the guitar pick not only affects the sound but the playability as well. 

Thinner picks will have a great amount of flex, which means there is less attack on the strings themselves. They will have a bit of a quieter and thinner sound, and the tone will sound a bit more jangly. Rhythm guitar and acoustic guitar players may find this combination of flex and tone desirable.  

At the opposite end of things, people who like to play loud and/or fast will likely prefer a much thicker pick. The added thickness means more attack and volume once the pick leaves the string. Because of the rigidity, there is next-to-no flex in the pick, something that shredders will find appealing as this offers much better accuracy with each stroke. 

But for many, a medium-gauge pick just might be the answer, offering the best of both worlds. The tone is quite balanced with just enough flex for rhythm playing, while rigid enough for volume and accuracy. 

When in doubt, it’s best to try a variety of shapes, sizes and materials to see which one is right for you. The notes above are generalizations but are not absolute. Take Paul Gilbert, one of the fastest guitar players on the planet. He uses a 0.5mm pick! That’s as thin as they get! Meanwhile, Malcolm Young, one of the great rhythm players, uses heavy picks.  

We hope you enjoy all our new products we roll out as we try to serve you, our customers, better! Give our beautiful new celluloid picks a try available in 3 new finishes (White Pearl, Tortoise Shell, and Abalone) and 3 new sizes (thin, medium, heavy).

Check out all of our picks here!

 

By Kevin Daoust - instagram.com/kevindaoust.gtr

Kevin Daoust is a guitarist, guitar educator and writer based in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. When not tracking guitars for artists around the world, or writing music-related articles around the internet, he can be seen on stage with Accordion-Funk legends Hey, Wow, the acoustic duo Chanté et Kev, as well as a hired gun guitarist around Quebec and Ontario. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



Also in Fingerboard Stories

When A Musician Visits Nashville
When A Musician Visits Nashville

January 26, 2024 5 min read

To walk into his store is a sight to behold. The walls are lined with instruments from various eras, from legacy brands like Fender and Gibson to instruments from uncommon makers such as Paoletti and Mervin Davis. The staff are also not shy about letting anyone try anything. Want to play the $20,000 1950s Stratocaster? Go ahead!
If You Have To Ask...
If You Have To Ask...

January 12, 2024 4 min read

Louis Armstrong once famously said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” Some will say that talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Jazz has undergone several phases over the years, from big band to bebop to fusion to fuzak (though the less said about that one, the better). Many common elements exist in these styles that help define them as jazz.
A Silent Night For Every Player
A Silent Night For Every Player

December 19, 2023 3 min read

One of the most popular, if not the most popular, songs of the holiday season, Silent Night, originated in 1818 in the Austrian village of Oberndorf. Joseph Mohr, the local parish priest, approached Franz Xaver Gruber, a school teacher and organist, with a poem he had written. On Christmas Eve, faced with a malfunctioning organ, Gruber composed a simple melody to accompany Mohr's verses (with a guitar, no less! How fitting for this blog!). The song was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 at the St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf