The Maker’s Dozen – Chris Fahey of Gravity
Quite literally the first boutique picks I owned, I’ve been wanting to interview Chris Fahey of Gravity Picks for a long time. Thanks to a mutual acquaintance, I’ve finally gotten the opportunity to talk to Chris through the medium of the internet. Sit down and have a good old read of this hearty dialogue between myself and the Gravity head honcho.
HR – Thanks for talking to HR! For those who don’t know, can you introduce yourself?
CF – Hello everyone. My name is Chris Fahey. I started Gravity Picks Inc. in 2011. Been playing guitar since middle school in a non-musical family. Playing guitar has brought me through a number of rough patches in my life.
HR – What were you doing before you started making picks? What made you decided to become a plectrier?
CF – I worked for another guitar pick company, V-Picks Inc, for almost 4 years prior to starting Gravity. Before that I was a wedding dj, ambulance driver, forklift operator, among other odds and ends. I truly enjoy crafting these little gems. It is quite tedious and labor intensive, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
HR – Gravity is known principally for its acrylic picks, but you make the Gold Series from a different material. What drew you to Acrylic as a medium?
CF – I was introduced to acrylic at the prior pick job. It is a great material which lasts a long time and has a certain sound to it. The grip is great as well. The Gold material is super difficult to shape and polish. It is louder than the acrylic, yet has less pick noise. But the raw material cost is 40x the cost of acrylic.
HR – There’s a fairly diverse roster of shapes in the Gravity stable. What were the shapes that inspired you in the beginning? Did you always intend to have such a broad spectrum of shapes?
CF – The ‘Classic’ is based on the normal teardrop shape. That one kind of has to be in the arsenal. The next best seller is the Sunrise shape. That shape is quite unique and has been a mainstay for many of our customers. From the beginning I wanted to offer a full range of shapes and sizes, which we accomplished. It is set up to fit any players’ needs. We have super pointed to rounded varieties.
HR – Given the finishes on the picks themselves, can you give the readers an insight in the creative process behind the plectrums? How much hand-shaping is involved?
CF – The creative part of the job can be the most fun and the most difficult. You must shut everything else out of your mind and let it go. Whether it’s a new shape, name, material, marketing ideas, etc, the process is the same. Thinking and trying new ideas.
HR – You offer a fair amount of customization on the website, from engravings to thicknesses – what are the sorts of picks you’ve been asked for outside of the norm (up to 6mm)?
CF – We always get asked to picks smaller in size and larger thickness. Up to 20mm Ive been asked about. But we don’t offer one off picks at this time.
HR – What’s been the most exciting chapter in the life of Gravity so far?
CF – The most exciting part is that we have a successful business in the music industry. This industry has proven to be a difficult one to maintain a successful business. We hope to continue for another 10 years and beyond.
HR – You famously held off on the Jazz III/XL shape for some time – what was the reception like to the 003 when it debuted?
CF – It was long overdue for us to make our version of the original and iconic jazz pick. The response has been amazing, selling very well from day one.
HR – What do you think has changed in the musical world that’s drawing players to more boutique, specialized builders?
CF – Well, before our time, 100+ years ago, there was a lot for direct to consumer businesses. And now with the internet, we have the opportunity to do the same. Bypassing the retail options, offering straight to the consumer. But just as the internet can be beneficial, it also can spread misinformation or negative publicity extremely fast. We work as hard as we can, shipping good products at a fair price, attempting to give our players the best customer experience possible.
HR – You’ve had a bunch of endorsees like Steve Stevens and Rob Chapman – how did those interactions come about?
CF – I met Steve Stevens in Germany in 2013 at a tradeshow. We had dinner together where he told stories of the music industry from the 70s and 80s. He told us about being in the studio with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson…. I’ll never forget that.
Rob Chapman emailed me one day saying he loved the pick he had. But neither he nor I know how it arrived in his guitar room. Since then, we have been delighted to the Chappers on board as an artist.
HR – What’s the model you’re personally most proud of within the range? Which one sums up Gravity as a company the most effectively?
CF – The Sunrise Big Mini 2mm, I would say sums it up. The Sunrise is one of our original uniquely developed shape and the Big Mini size is in between the Standard (351) and jazz size. That was one of my other original ideas, because I always liked my personal picks to be in that size range.
HR – What’s next on the horizon for Gravity?
CF – We test new materials and get regular feedback from customers and retailers to fine tune the picks and use that data for future decisions. We might have a new material later this year…
HR – I’ll look forward to that – much and many thanks!