March 25, 2020

Talk To Me – Kaotic Artworks and the Beauty Of Resin

One of the most compelling individuals that I’ve come across in the maker community is Justin Mosley, the fast-talking, block-spinning wizard behind Kaotic Artworks and 16 Bit Bastards. Because of his deep knowledge of the materials used by many plectriers, I approached Justin to talk about his field in his own words, so if you want to know the real talk about resin, read on!

Hello Plectroverse! I’m Justin, a.k.a. Kaotic Artworks. I’ve been playing music since I was 6 and will until my fingers turn to dirt. I’m here to talk about resin in plectrums. This whole piece is more focused at the boutique plectrum market. If you buy boutique plectrums, if you make plectrums, or plan to at some point I suggest riding along for a bit. I make epoxy resin art material, it’s my full-time job and I love it. I have worked with several plectrum makers like Alex at Iron Age Guitars and John at Plectrums Handcrafted.

Not all resin is created equal – even epoxy resin differs greatly based on the type and kind. I’m going to stick to what I know and describe the characteristics of the resins. You’re going to have to read Johns’ work here on Heavy Repping and watch on YouTube to understand what these characteristics will have on your sound and playing. Let’s start with just the different kinds of resin commonly used and available for plectrum makers and users. 

Urethane

First up is urethane resin. It’s probably the most common resin used in most available material you find online. It’s easy to use, it’s resilient and it polishes up easy and fast. It’s a softer more pliable material so you can achieve a thinner plectrum easily with this stuff. It is almost positive that it’s what’s in your wood and resin pieces or any hybrid pairing with resin. It has a softer feel all around. The downside is the material is a little on the toxic side and you better have proper protection and ventilation in place to use it. That’s a tip for the makers. They are completely safe to play.

Epoxy

Second is EPOXY!!! This is what i use and love so much. This is the one that gets complicated quick. Epoxy comes in many forms and can be almost impossible to navigate. I use a high performace or a 1:1 table top resin depending on what characteristics are needed. Epoxy is a harder resin all around it will have more pop than most other materials. I am able achieve a higher level of color detail and pattern with epoxy vs urethane. Thats my main draw to it, and if you’re familiar with my work at all you can see why I prefer it. It’s also the least toxic, and it’s good business not kill your customers. Now it gets complicated. Table top resins are the softer of the epoxy resins and will have a completely different feel and sound from a high performance epoxy. Each individual manufacturer of epoxy also uses different mixes of ingredients and therefore has a different feel and hardness profile. Not all epoxies are created equal and spending the extra money on a good one is the only way to go.

Acrylic

Third up is acrylic. This one is pretty common in plectrums all over so I’m not going to dwell to much on it. It’s very flexible and probably the softest of the 3, it’s used by everyone and you probably know what it feels like.

Informing yourself on these things may seem superficial but there is a very distinct sound and feel between these 3. They all sound different  based on finish and shape as well. Looks are important – believe me I know – my whole business is focused on looks. But I don’t play around with quality and neither should you, especially considering the investment you’ll make on some of these plectrums. Find out in detail what it’s made from, even contact the maker of the material to find out more. Trust me – if they are serious about what they do they will happily talk to you about it. Hardness is the big takeaway here. Epoxy is the hardest with urethane coming in second acrylic bringing up the rear.

There is a use for all these materials so none is better than another they are just different. If you make plectrums I suggest you get familiar with these just out of health and safety concerns. The best way to find out what your favorite is to get out there and play and keep up with Heavy Repping here and on YouTube!

Follow Justin and Kaotic on Instagram @kaoticartworks and give him a subscribe on YouTube here!