Is anybody else other than me obsessive about guitar picks? Jeeze, I never can seem to make up my mind about which one is best. I know players that have used the same style and thickness of pick for thousands of years, but I am constantly looking for the perfect one. I seem to have more or less settled on Dunlap’s Tortex line as the best in terms of snap and tone, but as for thickness, YIKES! It’s a never ending concern.
There seems to be no hope for me in this regard. Before I learned to play guitar, I fancied myself a “finger picker,” using either long finger nails or steel Dobro picks. I remember simultaneously discovering tortoise shell picks and discovering just how illegal they were. A Sad day for me, but a happy one for the tortoise.
After 40 plus years I am still deciding what thickness works best. I have it down to three: the orange, the yellow and the green Tortex picks. I switch back and forth and around and around depending on my mood, sometimes the song, sometimes the rhythm. On really fast Rockabilly numbers that are heavy with rhythm I like the lighter orange pick and the slap, almost drum-like sound it gives. For rhythm when I need to pick a few notes, I use the yellow, medium pick. When I am playing electric and need to allow the notes to be predominant I use the heaver green pick.
As far as guitars are concerned, I seem to be just as obsessive. At present I am using the HD-28-V Martin for my acoustic work, and a Telly with P-90s for my electric stuff. However I have around fifteen to twenty or so depending on what guitars I decide to count. My two most prized guitar is a 1928 Epiphone Recording A that my mother gave to my father for their first Christmas in 1928. My other most prized instrument is not a guitar, but a mandolin. It is the 1922 Wards mandolin of my mother’s. In the late 1930s and early 1940s my father put on tent revivals in the Ozark Mountains, and my mother led the singing with that mandolin.
Next in line as far as the guitars I sometimes use are a Gretsch Electromatic and a 1957 Silvertone big-box hollow-body, and a 1960 Gibson two pick up Melody Maker. Also on my list of acoustics that I love but hardly ever take out to clubs is my 1959, OO-18, Martin. Sweet, lovely, and my baby! I have another Tele, but right now it is all apart and being used as a pattern for another Telly I am building, that, if it comes out the way I envision it, will be my on-the-road guitar.
And then there are the genres to be considered, and I know that there truly is no hope for me. I have spent much of my time over the years, trying to decide just what to call what it is I do when I write and perform. My influences are varied and so it seems is my product. I started out, of course, listening to, and singing, the hymns our of the Baptist Hymnal my father used in his ministry. Later, when we settled down and we weren’t banging around the mountain country of the South, my father had actual churches, and we had regular houses to live in. My mother bought the RCA Red Dot collection of classical music, and I was introduced to the greats of that genre. I also listened to the Grand Old Opry as a kid, and heard the three Hanks, (Williams, Snow, Thompson). There was also Wilf Carter, The Sons of the Pioneers, Red Foley, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and whomever else my little radio could pick up. In the middle sixties, I heard Rockabilly for the first time and then Rock ‘N’ Roll, and on through The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Seeds, The Ramones, Social Distortion, and all that came after.
So here are some to the ideas I’ve had for names to call my genre: Honkabilly, Tonk-a-Billy, Western Swing-Punk, Hoss Punk, Boot-Bop, Real Deal Rockabilly, Ameri-Canabilly Swing. As you can guess, I’ve had some fun with it, but there is nothing conclusive. I seem to be self-entertaining, and I suppose that is best, as it keeps me out of trouble. Someday I may figure out who I am–well…