Tone Quest, Does the Pick Matter?

Exotic PicksIn our seemingly never ending quest to achieve “The Tone” we sometimes overlook the primary generator: the pick. A small, relatively inexpensive, disposable and perhaps easily overlooked component of our sound, the pick has for many years taken a backseat to the more glamorous and expensive bits – guitars and amps – the multitude of effect pedals, the vast selection of strings, cables, pickups and on and on. But if you stop to think about it, the pick is what strikes the strings and produces the attack and causes the vibration which sets the whole tone chain in motion.

There are many variables that go into making a guitar pick. Material, thickness or gauge, shape, grip surface and numerous other aspects are now considered when a company designs a pick today. We’ll be looking into each of these attributes over the next few posts and what characteristics they can impart to your tone.

Traditionally guitar picks were made from natural materials like wood, stone, quills and of course tortoise shell. For anyone that’s done a bit of research it seems that most players will agree natural tortoise tone is the end all of tone. We’ve been exploring some alternative materials in the past few years and feel that we’ve some good alternatives.

  • Ebony Wood : a hard wood that has a sharper attack but still warm tone.
  • Box Wood : nice even warm tone and quiet attack.
  • Bone : hard with bright attack and tighter tone.
  • Rose Wood : warm attack and tone.
  • Horn : a bit of punch on the attack and nice mid tones

To get you started on your tone quest we’ve put together a sampler pack of our Exotic picks. One each of the above materials for the special price of $19.95. Just click on the below button and add the item in your cart.




Pickboy Unveils New ergo-grip mBOSS Pick

Pickboy unveils new ergo-grip pick – The mBOSS. Combining grip, ergo form, and celluloid, the mBOSS pick delivers great tone that won’t slip through your fingers. Pickboy is one of the leaders in introducing grip picks to the market and this is our newest design. The mBOSS pick features our retro logo for good looks and easy identification. The mBOSS pick is available in 1.00mm in rainbow, t-shell, black and white. You’ll find them in authorized Pickboy dealers at the beginning of November.

Dealers please contact Jeremy Johnson via email jeremy(at) and place your pre-order now.

Marblehead guitars by Matt Levonian

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One of our Pickboy users sent us some pictures of some really cool guitars he is building. These are some pics of the “MarbleHead” guitars (the “Magnetic” line) he has been making. They’re based (construction-wise) on Dan Electros. They have a maple frame, Masonite top & Back and have purposely unsophisticated paint-jobs using genuine Rust-O-Leum paint! They play and sound amazing, according to Matt himself. The fact that they’re mostly hollow except for a block under the bridge makes them very resonant and toneful. The one with the wood top is his “jazz” model, with slightly larger body. It’s full-hollow, uses a humbucking Charlie Christian pickup and really nails a full, fat jazz tone.

Matt tracked us down because he was in need of the rare and toneful “Clown Barf” picks. It seems these Pickboy picks are the perfect accompaniment to his “MarbleHead” guitars. Who knew?
Pickboy Clown Barf 1.00mm

Zak Loy Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you give a brief retrospective on your musical background?

Well, from my first live performance at 13 years old until today, it has been the ultimate roller coaster ride, really high highs and some lower lows. I got my first acoustic guitar when I was 8 years old in a boarder town in Mexico and I have never looked back. My cousins, brother and I grew up playing and writing music together. My brother is older and was the lead vocalist of our group which lasted over 10 years. During that time we worked and toured with a lot of different producers and musicians which is how I met Casey the lead singer for the group I’m in now, ALPHA REV. Casey originally asked me to just help him showcase some of his new songs at a SXSW music festival in Austin, it turned out to be the start of an 8 year relationship with Casey and ALPHA REV. But, I have had the opportunity to perform and record with a lot of very talented people of the years and for that I feel like a very blessed individual… Music is such a great inspiration to have in one’s life and I can’t imagine mine without it…

What do have going on presently in your musical journey?

I am currently making a new record with ALPHA REV. This will be Alpha Rev’s 2nd national release, which will be coming out later this year on our new record label which we recently signed to called “Kirtland Records.”

What is the role of education in music?

When I’m not making records or touring with Alpha Rev I teach guitar and have done so off and on for the past 6 years. I really enjoy it and there is nothing more gratifying then sharing your own love and knowledge of music with another person and then to see them use it and take off on their own musical journey. So I am huge supporter of musical education and I think everyone should at least give it a try and see where it fits into your own life…

What do think of the current “State of Music”?

Sounds, music and the music business is and always has been ever changing. I’ve seen major changes just in my career. But I honestly am very excited about the current “State of Music,” it seems to that more so now than ever artists are seeking and not afraid to try new sounds, instruments and stray away from the mold of how songs have been structured for so many years. I also feel like all the major music fans are ready and excited about feeling new music and hearing new sounds… So I cant wait to hear what comes out in the next few years and I know we can’t wait to get out new music out for our fans to hear…

Why do you use Pickboy picks?

I use PICKBOY because like no other picks they last longer and they don’t take away from the natural sound of your instrument they only complement it. If you haven’t tried them you need to and you will never go back… Thanx a lot Pickboy, you have made my life that much easier.

Editors Note:

You can buy Alpha Rev’s CD, “The Great Thing I’ve Ever Learned” at iTunesa.

This is a full concert stripped down set Alpha Rev did at Saxon Pub in Austin in Feb 2012.

Mattia Sisca Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you share a brief description of the your music gear?

  • Fender Stratocaster Made In USA Black with Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Pick Ups and Floyd Rose;
  • Fender Stratocaster Made In USA Olympic White with 2 DiMarzio YJM Pick Ups (Neck and Middle) + 1 DiMarzio HS-3 Stack (Bridge);
  • Head Engl Savage 120- E 610;
  • Engl E412 VINTAGE VS;
  • Boss pedals: DD-3 (Delay); RV-5 (Reverb); GE-7 (Equalizer); Cry Baby; Shure SM57

What do you have going on now?

We will play a lot of concerts out of Italy in countries like Germany, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and Sweden. We are confirmed as headliner for 2013 in Hamburg after the great success obtained in April 2012. We will play lots of performances with famous international artists, lots of concerts in Italy, lots of interviews with the most important Italian and international Metal magazines. Then there is another concert with Michael Angelo Batio in 2013. I got on very well with him very and I hold him in high esteem. I had in 2012 a concert him which was a great success. We have all the tracks that will be soon in our album and lots of labels are interested in our project.

Where do you see the direction of music going in the future?

I hope always that music is going to be played with musical instruments, and I have confidence in the future of metal, rock, blues and jazz.

What role did music education have on your career?

I think that music education is very important when the goal is to become a professional musician.

Music education, both theoretical and pratical are needed in order to understand the basics and to make you more confident especially if your performances are in important venues together with important people like Michael Angelo Batio, whom I admire a lot because he is ‘The Shredder’ by definition. But music education isn’t the only important aspect, because you need also patience and hard dedication to be original and expressive. In fact it is necessary to have ideas and not to stop. I want to realize all these ideas with my Neoclassic, Power Metal band with Progressive influences LUNAR EXPLOSION.

Why do you use Pickboy picks?

Simply and sincerely because Pickboy Picks are the best product in terms of reliability, precision and quality.

When you need to shred with the guitar you need picks which have a particular and sharp tip, these characteristics are incorporated in Pickboy picks. I love the Pickboy pick in Carbon Nylon 1.14mm. This model has a great thickness and with this pick model every note is particularly powerful and has great tone – it does NOT sound like plastic. Last thing, in your pick the picture in relief of the marijuana leaf helps me to keep a great grip when you are shredding and moving on the stage and inevitably you are going to sweat, a very nice thing. Pickboy picks are surely the best picks in my opinion. I have tried many other brands of picks, but Your picks are the best: realiable, enduring and they don’t loose dynamic in the fast picking and in the sweep and are killing in every style of picking. Also the tip is fantastic. I really believe that Pickboy Picks are the best, especially the model I use, but also the other models are good for a lot of ways of playing. Professional people have to treat the details and the pick is a instrument.

Not all picks are the same.

Hermann Utz Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you share a brief description of your musical background (gigs, tours and recording projects etc)?

My name is Hermann Utz and I am the guitarist of the German alternative rock band Stereostoned. In the past I´ve done a lot of different styles of music… blues, prog rock, metal, crossover, funk and some jazzy stuff. I started playing guitar at the age of 17 (I started on drums when I was 12 years old) and my teachers were the records I loved at this time like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, RHCP, Hendrix…….. I have done live and studio work for the last 15 years. I own a small record studio where I record bands and work on my own stuff. My work also include guitar teaching, performing and recording I am endorsed by Pickboy, Spectraflex, Pyramid Strings and SPL.

What do you have going on now?

Our CD “Stay Sexy” was released on 27 January 2012. At the moment I am doing a lot of promo work for the album. We are also planning our gigs/tour for Summer 2012. I also work with different bands in my studio, teaching, write songs for the next Stereostoned album and doing pre-production for my solo album.

Where do you see the direction of music going in the future?

I think it’s difficult to be a musician today. It has never been easier to promote your music all over the world via internet but it has been never been harder to sell CD´s because of the internet download thing. I mean nobody can change this and you have to see the chance in this situation. I think the good thing about that is that bands have to be real good live bands; that´s the only way to survive as a musician or band. You must be a real band and know how to perform.

What role did music education have on your career?

Technical/theoretical knowledge is the foundation for a lot of things. It´s the speech of musicians and it makes it much easier to work with different kinds of musicians. But the most important aspect of making music is your attitude and your talent. After you learned a lot about technical things….forget all you know and try to feel music ;—) That´s what it´s all about. The sound was much earlier than the note ;—)

Why do you like Pickboy picks?

I spent a lot of time checking out equipment like guitars, amps, speakers, cables……but picks were only picks for me for a long time. Until I had the chance to play with Pickboy picks. I tried a lot of them and they are all pretty cool. But when I found the Polycarbonate Pos A Grip 1.00mm. Wow !!! These picks were the missing link between my fingers and the strings. The shape is perfect, the grip is awesome on stage and the sound is great. Since I found them, Pickboy Pos A Grip 1.00mm are the only picks I play live or in the studio.

Cris Tian Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you share a brief description of your musical background (gigs, tours and recording projects etc)?

I’ve been into music since a young age. I learned accordion and keys at the age of six. But since playing keys in my first cover-band at 14, I wanted to play another instrument, so I switched to guitar. Since the first day of playing guitar I felt that I found the perfect instrument for myself.

What do you have going on now?

At the moment I am on tour with the Austrian band “Serenity.” Visions of Atlantis is preparing the next record now, so there is a lot of song writing action at the moment. Above that I am going to open my own music school called “Learn to Rock” in Germany.

Where do you see the direction of music going in the future?

That’s a not an easy question. I hope that there will be more rock again, especially in Germany. At the moment, all we just have is this Hip Hop, Pop and Dance s**t. The Rock, Punk and Metal music is missing completely. So let’s hope for a return to Rock. When I look at my students I really get the feeling that it will come back – most of them want to play rock, so it has to be this way!

What role did music education have on your career?

I haven’t studied at a real music university or school. I learned a lot from private teachers, from very good musicians and from playing music on my own. You have to feel it and you have to go into the music you really like, then I think you are on the right way for getting educated. And that’s also something I try to teach my students. Learn and play what you really want to play, step by step and try to feel it, then you are into music better than getting taught only theory. I think theory is very important but sometimes it stops us from feeling the music because you play more with your mind than with your heart.

Why do you like Pickboy picks?

Since I started to play guitar I tried to find a pick that supports my style of playing, that creates the tone and the attack that I want to have in my playing. So one day I tried PICKBOY and I fell in love – completely!. Great feeling, great attack – everything that I want in a pick!

Andrea Bailo Interview

hand-made, hand-selected music products

Artist Spotlight

Can you share a brief description of your musical background?
Our music is made up of 2 styles of music. On one side we have the metal-core and on the other side hard-core. This is the perfect key to have a lot of fun on stage and for the fans. The metal side comes and goes. The hard core will never die. There are a lot of cool bands from the USA and UK trying this combination now.

What do you have going on now?
Stigma was born 10 years ago. In the last 5 years we changed our music direction to metal/ hard core but melody based. I hope for our new record which we are writing right now for 2012 release will be appreciated by our fans.

Where do you see the direction of music going in the future?
Music goes in a lot of different directions. IMHO there are 3 directions:

  1. Progressive – super technical;
  2. Metal Core – with pop or electronic basses; and
  3. Hard Core.

Our music is a combination of the last 2 styles. In general we going with a music that pays tribute to the past but sounds sonically totally modern.

What role did music education have on your career?
I start to play guitar when I was 9 years old just for fun. When you are young you don’t understand how important theory and education is to you. Later you understand that you need this education. I’m 25 years old and I’m still studying. Practicing is so important. You need someone to help you. It is important for every instrument. I’m still learning.

Why do you like Pickboy picks?
I’m using Pickboy Nylon 66 1.00mm, my bass player uses Nylon 66, 1.14 mm. I think this is a really good plectrum. I have been using them for 5 years now. They are really sharp and cool on the strings. The best part of the plectrum is the material. It is really comfortable and you get a really good grip!

Christian Colabelli Interview

Artist Spotlight

Can you share a brief description of your musical background (gigs, tours and recording projects etc)?

I always had a fascination with music and actually played saxophone before becoming completely fixated with guitar at age 13. Early on, I was greatly influenced by Van Halen and Slash and would lock myself in my room and learn their solos note for note. When I discovered the world of jazz and fusion, a light bulb went off. I listened relentlessly to Mike Stern, Tal Farlow, John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Alex Machacek and Pat Martino. I attended and graduated Berklee College of music and was exposed to a universe of musical knowledge. I had the undeniable privilege of playing and recording with drum legend, Rakalam Moses (Pat Metheny, Gary Burton) and was a three-time member of Mark White’s advanced guitar ensemble, “The Eklektik Elektriks.” I also did a few tours on Holland America Cruise Line’s Veendam and Westerdam as a member of the Halcats. I played with the JT Project, an up and coming jazz band out of NYC with Nathan Webb on drums (Kenny Garrett). I’ve recorded on countless studio sessions in a plethora of styles from pop to shred. I started working with my main band and source of passionate inspiration, Boy Meets Machine, in 2009 and we’re currently playing a ton of shows all over the map.

What do you have going on now?

As I mentioned before, my main focus right now is my original project, Boy Meets Machine. We’ve showcased for Grand Hustle records and are really trying to get our name out to as many people as possible. We’ve got a diehard legion of fans and each show is getting bigger and bigger. I also play with a fantastic cover band called Johnny Drama that plays up and down the east coast. Last year we played over 150 shows in some really high profile venues such as House of Blues, and the Borgata in Atlantic City. I was recently endorsed by Vigier Guitars and will probably be doing a bunch of clinics in the upcoming year. They make unrivaled instruments and I’m happy to be part of their team. I’m still doing studio work here and there as well and also teach a bunch of lessons. I try to stay as busy as humanly possible.

Where do you see the direction of music going in the future?

I think music is in limbo right now. The industry seems to be in a perpetual state of flux and it’s a very trying time for original artists. It’s really become a “do it yourself” operation. Record companies are being phased out and record sales have plummeted. Digital media has become the standard and it’s blatantly obvious that the tangible aspect of being able to possess an album and its artwork has taken a back seat to an itunes playlist. We are dominated by a world of “singles,” and substance has been traded in for production and entertainment value. Shows like “American Idol” have completely devalued the original artist and turn music into a popularity contest. It’s tough to stomach at times. The only way to persevere is to be incredibly well educated and business savvy and to have an iron will.

What role did music education have on your career?

Music Education definitely paved a solid foundation for my growth as a musician. The Harmony and Ear Training classes I was enrolled in at Berklee were absolutely invaluable. Obviously, the exposure to great players and teachers was truly life altering. That goes without saying. Perhaps the most underrated and important aspect of my time at this institution was the networking aspect. I was able to make a massive amount of contacts that keep panning out for me in my professional life. It’s all about having a personality and reaching out to people. Tenacity is the most important quality of a successful musician.

Why do you like Pickboy picks?

I use Pickboy Picks because they have the best tone, consistent response, and lighting fast rebound off of the strings. To me, the give the player the greatest sense of control. I can’t tell you the graveyard of picks that I’ve amassed throughout the years. I’ve tried every brand and make from standard to boutique and nothing matches up to a Pickboy Pos-a-Grip Jazz 1.5 in my opinion. Pickboy makes a stellar product and I hope to be working with them for years to come.