D’Addario introduces new pick material and Chris Thile signature pick

D’Addario has added a new item to its accessory line which should attract a good bit of interest from bluegrass players. 

If you have spent any time in the company of grassers, you will have heard stories about the wonder of natural tortoise shell as a plectrum material. Prized by both guitarists and mandolinists, and even some banjo players, for its warmth of tone, true organic shell products have become largely unavailable and quite expensive since laws protecting the hawksbill tortoise have been passed around the world, and the supply of antique items made of shell has dwindled.

A number of companies have risen up producing synthetic materials that are said to mimic the feel, response, and tone of natural shell, with many players singing the praises of this or that pick.

Now D’Addario has entered the competition for a shell replacement with a material derived from dairy proteins called casein. It has been utilized for a number of applications, from paint additives to glue production. Based on phosphoproteins found in the milk of most mammalian species, designers with D’Addario wondered whether these organic origins might offer a sound similar to shell when shaped for picks, and so the process was begun.

At roughly the same time, the company had been approached by mando-master Chris Thile about developing a mandolin pick that could meet his demands. That collaboration has resulted in a new line of picks, including the Casein Chris Thile Signature Pick, a rounded triangle shape with beveled edges which Thile says he is honored to have share his name.

“I’ve been frustrated by my pick options as a mandolinist… I went to D’Addario with my conundrum and we went to work on a solution together. The result is the first pick I’ve ever used that combines a balanced, full-spectrum tone with speed and precision, edge-to-edge, pick-to-pick. This pick does it all! I couldn’t be more proud. HALLELUJAH!!!”

Now available from music retailers worldwide, the Chris Thile pick is made to a thickness of 1.4 mm and sells for $24.99. There is also a 2.0 mm teardrop shaped pick made of casein offered for $21.99.

Thile is donating all of his royalties from this project to the D’Addario Foundation, a non-profit that supplies both funding and products to further music education in primary schools all over the world.

Visit your favorite music store to see and try this new pick for yourself.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.