How To Make A Coconut Shell Guitar Pick{2}

Coconut Shell Guitar Pick

For many years now Tortoise Shell (Hawksbill Turtle) guitar picks have been considered, by most, to be the Holy Grail of picks. The legend has grown because they have not been legal to make or sell since 1973, when the trade of tortoise shell worldwide was banned under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Even before that time the use of celluloid had become common for guitar picks as it was much cheaper to produce.

Though many continue to try to come up with a material similar in qualities to the tortoise shell, some with pretty good success, others have gone a different route. Virtually all hard materials are used to manufacture picks now – stone, metal, lexan, nylon, bone, horn, etc. It’s subjective how well all these different materials sound, but the choices are plentiful.

I had recently seen a pick manufacturer that included coconut shell picks in its lineup. I didn’t think much about them until my friend came by with his tortoise shell pick, and allowed me to use it. Yes, it was very, very nice. During the visit he mentioned that he also used and made his own coconut shell picks. He told me I’d like them.

It took a few days but the idea of getting a tortoise shell pick seemed unrealistic, so I contacted him with regards to how to go about making my own coconut picks. I must say that I’m glad I did, because the results have been very good. I’ve made two so far and really like them. The first one might even be the best.

So here’s a litte summary about how to make these, if you have an interest. It’s really very easy and you just need to take a little time. Be patient.


How To Make A Coconut Shell Guitar Pick

* Gather some dried coconut shells. You want to get ones that are somewhat misshaped, with as much a flat spot as possible.

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* You’ll need something to cut the shell. Heavy duty wire cutters were suggested. I used a variety of small saws I already had. The Exacto Razor Saw worked best.

* Cut the shell down into small pieces, large enough for the pick you want to produce.

* Once you have a piece that will work, take a guitar pick whose shape you like and trace around it with a Sharpie, onto the shell piece. Cut or snip as close as possible to your outline.

* For the shaping you will need, at the minimum, some emery nail files and some sand paper. I also used metal files and would recommend them, if you have them. The sandpaper should start out heavy (say 100?) and go up as high as you like for the smoothness you wish. I used 150, 220, 400, 600 & 1000.

* At this point it is a matter of taking your time. Work with the files and sandpaper to get your shape refined. Continue to take thickness out of the pick until you hit the desired outcome. The files and coarse sandpaper worked well for that. Smooth the edges as you go.

* As I got close to the final smoothness I started beveling the tip of the pick to my desired levels. This is a personal preference, so you may not even want a bevel.

* Play your guitar and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a rich, thick, clear tone.