I got into picks in 1997, 2 years after I started playing the guitar. It was deep in my blood after those first two years, and I’d graduated to electric after hammering my ¾ size classical within an inch of its life. I started with the Dunlop 0.6mm Tortex 351, which I got with my guitar from CC Music in Glasgow, and by the end of the year, I’d begun what would become a genuine obsession in my adult life.
All Glory To The Plectroverse
Small things in limited numbers have always been fascinating for me. When I was very young it was Lego, then games, and for whatever reason, I’ve always applied value to those things. I think it was the knowledge that something so small was inherently mine, and I attached character and meaning to those things.
Around 6 years ago, I was working at Wunjos on Denmark Street in London. We’d started using Instagram to promote the shop, and as a result, I got into using it for myself. I’d started using the Dunlop Ultex Jazz III XL, and it had changed my playing significantly. It made me wonder what else was out there, and I started looking for other pick makers on Instagram. I came across Gravity and took the plunge on their Sunrise XL model in 2mm.
Depth & Control
When they arrived, it was a revelation. I’d never played anything outside of Dunlop/Pickboy, and I wasn’t prepared for how much of a difference I was going to make. At the time, I was gigging a lot doing improvised solo electric work, which can be daunting, to say the least. The added depth and control I’d found in using heavier picks gave me the confidence to step out and do my own thing. I felt I could say what I wanted to say without singing, and it was a fundamental shift in my musical life.
After I left London, I moved back to Exeter and kept looking for makers online. I found Dragon’s Heart, Hufschmid, V Picks and Chicken Picks, and I was starting to see other names appear, like Winspear, Iron Age and so on. On a trip to New Zealand, I ordered some Dragon’s Hearts and shot minute-long videos with them – micro-reviews if you like. I started looking around and saw that no one was talking about these picks in-depth, which I couldn’t believe. How could something so essential be so under the radar?
Heavy Repping was born when I returned to the UK and began collecting in earnest. Every time the post arrived I was waiting by the door, ready for the next game-changer, and keen to finesse and improve my playing experience. I started a WordPress writing reviews, graduating to YouTube in 2018. This was my first time editing a video, something I’ll never take for granted again!
Speaking to the makers themselves was the great catalyst for where we are now. Putting it about that I was talking about this slowly attracted more people, and when the makers could see I was serious in terms of sharing their work, they began to notice each other, to talk and network amongst themselves. The support for HR! from the makers themselves was incredible. Because players generally take plectrums for granted, few outside of the more pick-centric parts of the music scene (gypsy jazz/mandolin players for example) showed such an interest in what they were doing, and as a result, I got to interview people who had been in the game for a long time.
A lot of credit goes to Scott (Conner), a modern collector who contacted me with a list that he’d compiled over the years of different makers. Some of them were truly obscure, like Xufoy (the maker of which is sadly no longer with us), and it spurred me on to dig deeper and harder, finding all sorts of people who had just got going, didn’t do social media or posted exclusively in languages other than English. His email gave me a glimpse of how much was still out there to find, and over the last three years, I’ve been constantly finding new makers, some of whom have very limited productions, odd materials, crazy shapes or fascinating stories.
The reason all this matters is because irrespective of the style you play, changing your pick will improve how you work. It’s the EQ before your guitar, the way you say your words, a saver of wrists and the best way to wring as much from your guitar as possible. The pick is taken so much for granted, but in the words of Will Hoover, try and imagine what the world of music would be like without the plectrum. For all we can play our instruments with our fingers, there’s so much the pick lets us do that fingers can’t replace.
Heavy Repping now houses 22 pick makers from around the world, all helping to deepen player’s connections with their instruments. I wanted to bring their work into the light, to create and foster a true community of makers, collectors and enthusiasts from across the musical spectrum. We’re now spread across social media, with a dedicated YouTube channel and Discord server, which allows people to talk to one another, share collections, new finds, and information in the Plectroverse.
I’m looking forward to bringing the work of these incredible makers to more people and sharing something that changed my experience of the guitar forever.