The Gibson 369 is a tribute to a little shape, seen in a 1936 Gibson catalogue. A little nondescript sketchy monochrome picture, but it somehow shows balance and poise. The raised grip rhombuses, or the more modern take on these, the Meantone grip bars, are inspired by its neighbour in that catalogue, the 370…
Together, they somehow result in a vintage style plectrum that gives modern guitarists a new little tone tool that works in any material, whether modern resin, vintage galalith, Catalin, polyester or even Surfite.
This material, known as Galalith is a modern manufacture of a historic synthetic plastic material produced by the interaction of casein (a milk protein) and formaldehyde. Invented in 1893 and first commercially produced in 1900, its trade name is derived from the Greek words gala (milk) and lithos (stone). It is odourless, insoluble in water, biodegradable, non-allergenic, antistatic and virtually nonflammable. Talk about environmentally friendly and sustainable. It also is a joy to work with and polishes up to a lovely transparent deep sheen. What’s not to like? And, true to its heritage and composition, Galalith’s tone is slightly mellower and rounded than that produced by its more recent brethren Kirinite, Juma, and epoxy, but offers great clarity and definition.
Galalith comes in many colours and patterns. The modern manufacture of Galalith is still very much alive, in the jewellery and hobby segment, and in the manufacture of Rosary beads. NOS (New Old Stock) material can also occasionally still be found. Mechanically the new and old manufacture Galaliths are 100% similar, whereas visually the NOS material tends to be more subtle and refined in its patterning.
This rather odd, flowery Calico-pattern Galalith is of contemporary French manufacture, ca. 1930s. A very interesting, quite rough calico pattern in a deep amber resin ensures striking visuals in a very tough-wearing plectrum.