Of all the topics that come into discussion when asking what people look for in a pick, the most defining is grip. An overwhelming number of plectrums (especially store-bought 351 shapes it seems) that have been collected from gigging musicians have crude knife scores on both sides, indicating that the material could do with a bit of help. Today, we’re going to look at the most fragrant solution that I’ve come across – Picker’s Grip.
Developed in Charlottesville, Virginia by life-long musician and Charlottesville native Billy Cokes, Picker’s Grip was birthed out of a desire to attain, and maintain, a solid hold of the pick. It took 3 years of testing, re-testing and commitment to the cause to produce this fawny disc.
Measuring 34.6mm across and 5.9mm deep, Billy’s concoction has a citrus-y, furniture-polish-y scent to it. While it’s immediately obvious when opening a fresh container, it’s in no way invasive or overwhelming, even if you stick your face into the tub it came in. That tub is the perfect size, small enough to fit in that trouser pocket you keep your picks in. Everything seals neatly, and the logo itself is set in, rather than stuck on. This might not seem like an important detail, but it speaks to a professional attitude towards the product.
In order to give the fairest test possible, I got the one material I can’t grip to save my life – Teflon – and used that as the benchmark. As someone with medium to dry hands, Teflon is like oily pasta made of soap, making it an ideal proving ground for Picker’s Grip. I really dig the tone of it, and colleagues of mine with damp hands think it’s amazing, so I’ve always felt I was missing out.
The amount of PG required to make a significant difference to the playing experience is quite minimal. The surface is very firm – not hard per se, and it reminded me of a softer violin rosin, without the dust and flaking. At first, the feeling is quite strange – I’d call it tacky rather than sticky. If you’re thinking that this would be like getting honey on your hands, it isn’t. The closest approximation would be wax – this would make sense as there’s beeswax and citrus in there – but it’s more surefooted and intentional.
As a playing experience, it’s very good. I was testing it with a deliberately difficult material, and once I relaxed into it, I was rattling away like it wasn’t there. It didn’t leave any blemish on the Teflon or the other materials I tested, which is important if you’re using fancy kit. I used a bit less than was recommended on the packaging and found it to be both un-intrusive and very successful, which is a double plus. Extra bonus points for how easily it came off when I wanted it to. There was no indicator that it was going anywhere while I was playing – a little direct water and a rub after I finished (I’m not sure how else to say this) and it was gone, as if it had never existed.
Having established that it performs as intended, I’d like to talk about the broader implications. If you were to use this with a material that bonds with your skin, there’s a number of benefits besides better grip. A more secure plectrum means you don’t have to grip as hard, which is better for your wrists. This will in turn make you more relaxed, giving you greater control over what you’re doing. If you’re always complaining about dropping picks, this will solve that issue sharpish, which saves you money in the long run (probably a fair old bit if you’re reading this blog). The biggest thing for me, though, is that it enables me to use materials I wouldn’t otherwise have any meaningful grip of. Teflon, UHMWPE and Polycarbonate give me varying degrees of trouble, but this sorted it right out.
If you can’t hold things, this will fix it. It’s small, cheap, and lasts for ages. Great work!
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