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Welcome to Meantone guitar plectra. How did this happen?

Some thirty years experience as a professional lute player have taught me to eke out the maximum of tone out of, let’s face it, acoustically challenged instruments and strings, a knowledge that has proved useful when making plectra. That experienced feel leads me to select materials, to design shapes, and to define edges and finish.

When I picked up the electric guitar again, I was sceptical of the pick hype, thinking I could get good/great tone with basically anything… fingers, nails, or any basic pick.

But out of curiosity I ordered a couple of acrylic picks and never looked back… it was like my terrific Mesa Boogie amp had suddenly gotten more headroom and fullness. I loved those acrylic picks for a while, until I realised that material, shape and thickness basically make up the Trinity of tone, and that I could perhaps work out my own pick recipes, making use of these three ingredients to make even more difference to my tone.
Around that time a small Chinese CNC router made its way into my workshop, and I decided a pick shape would be a good and simple test object. I still play my #002 pick, made of red transparent plexiglass that happened to be present in the workshop, regularly. What of #001, you ask? Well, if you must know, #001 melted under the router bit, came loose from the surrounding material, flew across the workshop, and broke the router bit. We don’t mention #001 anymore.

I’ve been honing my CNC and pick shaping skills over the past years, and am happy enough with the current results that I am confident to share my views with guitar players at large. With you, that is.

Tone materials are an interesting subject, there are so many parameters to what constitutes a good sounding and playing plectrum. One hundred years of commercial plectrum development, and the field is as wide open as ever. There are fabulous and expensive modern materials to make guitar picks out of, but, as with plectrum shapes, my personal preference goes out to the early plastics. 
Galalith of both vintage and modern manufacture, and Catalin bakelite offer a perfect balance between tone quality and stunning looks. But so do modern resin and Surfite, the run-off material of the surfboard industry, with gorgeous varied looks and bold clear tone. Some modern acrylics, like Kirinite and cast polyester offer great looks, great feel and great tone, and are a good and affordable way of getting into playing handmade plectra.

You can now find a fairly large number of different shapes at Meantone… some are vintage inspired, respectfully pulling those lovely shapes of yesteryear into the present; some are Meantone shapes, concepts I worked out with a certain application in mind; and some are the popular shapes we are all familiar with.

Please enjoy your visit to the Meantone store.

Michiel Niessen
Meantone Plectra
michiel@meantone.eu