View Full Version : Real Turtleshell picks?

Nov-24-2003, 6:31pm
I need to know a couple of things, I can get a bunch of real Hawksbill turtleshell picks. I need to know if there is any interest here at all? What is a fair price to charge and if it is fine to sell them here at all. I have heard they go for about $40 to $50 a pick. This is from old hawksbill stock before they were illegal. I was told that it is fine to sell them. Please if anyone knows or a moderator could tell me anything, thank you, Shawn http://mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

J. Mark Lane
Nov-24-2003, 6:47pm
Although it may be legal to sell them, I would urge you to consider some "ethical" aspects of it. The harvesting of these turtles is an ugly thing and has depleted the species. Any market in the products encourages poachers. I think it's sort of obvious. If someone in a poor third world country sees that you can get $50 (a fortune) for a tiny piece of the shell of a large turtle... well, you get the idea. It's not always easy to be certain what is from "old stock" and what is not.

Just a thought. Do as you feel comfortable. FWIW, I have made this same point to people selling ivory products, and they simple refuse to see it ... or feel that their own arguments are better. I accept that we all see the world differently, and I make no further judgments. But I do think it's worth noting that this point of view (mine) does exist.


Nov-24-2003, 6:57pm
I fully understand... I have the same thoughts. But I know the demand for them is always going to be there. Poachers will always be poachers. Thank you for your thoughts,



Mike Bunting
Nov-24-2003, 7:00pm
Not interested.

Nov-24-2003, 7:23pm
I'm interested.......

John Flynn
Nov-24-2003, 7:32pm
I tried using a tortise shell pick once. It was way, way too heavy and hard to hang on to, so I didn't like it.

It also pissed off the turtle, so I had to let him go. http://mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Seriously, legal is legal in my book. I'd advertise it as such in the classifieds. Look at what people are getting for high-end picks, like ivory and custom mades. If you want to move 'em fast, price around that. If you want to take your time and make more $$$, then price 'em higher.

What I really want is a genuine tortise shell pickguard. I just have find a way to keep this little bugger from clawing up the finish on my top...

Nov-24-2003, 7:49pm
"I was told that it is fine to sell them."

Were you told by a lawyer? A US customs officer? My only word of advice is to look up the statutes yourself and be aware of all the pertinent laws concerning resale of material covered by the Endangered Species Act. Don't just take the word of anybody off the street; this is a public forum and any commerce that occurs here could potentially be tracked by law enforcement. I have my own interpretation of the statutes that guides my own behavior in such matters, but I am not a lawyer and thus my opinions are worthless to you. Educate yourself before jumping into any gray areas -- my $0.02.

Scotti Adams
Nov-24-2003, 8:00pm
....after going thru my dads change he had layin on the table the other day...lo and behold..there laid a real beauty of a TS pic....needless to say I talked him out of it..I even recorded with it yesterday as well. I havent used one for years...now I dont know what I ever quit. I know there are people who sell these type pics.."under the table"...they have been doin it for years....Im not taking any sides here...but please be advised of the laws...I can see both sides of the issue...

Nov-24-2003, 9:18pm
Below is J. Mark Lane's post (I wasn't sure how the "quote"-key thing works, so decided not to screw it up). #

Anyway, thanks much, Mark...your sentiments are "spot on", with one important question that I can't answer, but that indeed does need to be answered if Shawn and others persist in selling their tortoise wares.

I suspect (but do not know) that if an attorney looked into the details of the law, with regard to US Customs, he would find that a person is on shakey ground (at best) in selling tortoise shell. #Without incurring attorney expenses, a call to US Customs might be somewhat enlighening.

Mark's quote: #"Although it may be legal to sell them, I would urge you to consider some "ethical" aspects of it. #The harvesting of these turtles is an ugly thing and has depleted the species. #Any market in the products encourages poachers. #I think it's sort of obvious..."

Just because poachers are out there regardless of your activities, doesn't make it OK to encourage the poachers by selling tortoise shell (or ivory)--legal or not. #Don't make the tortoise or ivory markets any larger or any more visible than they already are--nothing good can come of it, amigos (and amigas). #

Dawgs, Golden Gates, Wegens, Ultex (sp?) and many, many others are perfectly adequate for quality tone. #I propose we all show a little creativity, and experience the thrill of "pick experimentation" in finding alternatives to the practice of further threatening our endangered species.


Nov-24-2003, 9:56pm
I join Mark & Potosimando in saying "Please don't!!!!"

Nov-24-2003, 10:20pm
3 Comments (not necessarily in this order):
1. Out of my price range
2. I agree on the ethical no-no (legal or not)
3. The picks I have are just fine: inexpensive, and easily replaced.

jim simpson
Nov-24-2003, 11:09pm
Years ago I was given a TS pick that was well broken in. At the time I felt that my playing had stagnated. All of a sudden this pick seemed to turn on a switch in my approach to playing. One dark night at a festival I dropped it and lost it for good. My playing did not suffer for no longer having it. I found a pick that I like (Clayton) and I can lose as many as I like and have no trouble finding replacements. I was given a TS pick not too long ago and find that I still prefer the Clayton.

Nov-24-2003, 11:56pm
Only way I would use tortoise is if I converted an old piece whose provinance I knew (family old trinket). They do sound and play nice, but at this stage the old Dunlop or Fender is just fine with me.

(surprisingly, the Fender heavy sounds very close to TS tone to my ear)

Nov-25-2003, 12:20am
I hope that all of seen the end of my one post. Undecided, Shawn? You see I don't even have these yet. Didn't even purchase one yet to resell. Just throwing out the idea, to see the intrest. That is all, I am and was debating buying myself for the very same reasons all of you stated. Great tone, playablity awesome, last long, but like one of you stated they are easy to lose. I had two that were given to me. I just have the opportunity to get my hands on more. I thought that everyone desired these. I am new to the music world, I just started playing mando and guitar about a year ago. Everyone I meet says that all these other picks are great but don't compare to the TS. Hey, what ever. I thought I could get some postive feedback and solutions here. Nevermind, I rather not. Thanks, Shawn

Play-On :D

Nov-25-2003, 3:12am
Shawn--I think you did get a lot of positive feedback here, though it wasn't what you were expecting. For one thing, you were given advice on how to pursue this idea IF you decided to follow through. Nobody wants to see you get into legal trouble. You also got to see that a lot of people are against tortoiseshell based on principles, and they told you WHY they had those feelings. Had you placed a bunch of orders and got stung by the law, it would not have been a good thing for you. This is just a case of members looking out for a fellow member.

My personal take on things like picks, strings, mandolin wood, etc, is that way too much emphasis is placed on the tools and not enough on the skill of the user. I'm sure that if Sam Bush or Chris Thile played my $200 mandolin using a celluloid pick, they would pull sounds from the instrument that I did not know existed. While I admit that different picks and strings do have some effect on tone, I refuse to buy into the idea that a tortoiseshell pick will elevate your playing to a new level. There are plenty of worthy alternatives. I've made some picks from thin plexiglass which I filed, shaped and sanded, that work great, wear like iron and provide an array of tones depending on how the edges were beveled, thickness, shape, etc. I bet I could make one that emulates tortoise pretty well.

Conversely, even a AAA condition vintage Loar is going to be wasted in my feeble hands. It might make me sound a little better, but whats really going to help us all the most is to practice with discipline and purpose. I do notice that the more I work, the better my tone becomes. There are no quick fixes--getting good tone is mostly a product of hard work and practice.

Nov-25-2003, 6:29am
Old shell and fossil Ivory, IMO, are fine to use. I get both at antique stores and dremel them down to where I need them to be. They sound great and don't play with my ethics one bit.

Big Joe
Nov-25-2003, 9:51am
Let's look at another side of the ethics issue. If one uses dead and already existing tortoise, just as we do Brazilian rosewood, it continues the life of that creature beyone its days on earth. I do not suggest poaching or killing more to get a pick, but for that tortoise that is already there, it is a terrible shame to let them rot away when they can help extend the usefullness of something God created and put on the earth. I love my Brazilian rosewood guitar. I love my tortoise picks. Can I use something else? Sure. But why use something that is substandard when the real deal is available, I can afford it, and it is not harming anything or anyone else. Again, I don't favor injuring any more trees that are near extinction or tortoise in the same shape. I just think proper management of resources require we use what is already there to its best purpose. Just my opinion and mine alone.

John Ely
Nov-25-2003, 10:12am
I also have no problem using material I know to be old stock. My wife, alas, will not let me cut up her grandmother's combs to use for picks.

I do also see the argument for not using it all, becuase there may be some slight "encouragement" effect for further collection. I feel this is not sufficient reason to not use known "old" shell or ivory.

Nov-25-2003, 12:38pm
The 1973 Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to buy, sell, or offer to sell tortoise shell, or tortoise shell products, across US state boundaries without proper authorization. All tortoise shell, irrespective of age and origin is covered by this act (this includes picks made from "antique" shell). Because of this, Ebay, and other online auction houses, refuse to list any products made from tortoise shell.

In 1993, a Fourth Circuit Court determined that merely advertising endangered wildlife products in the Washington Post newspaper constituted an offer for sale in interstate commerce. So placing an ad in the mandolincafe classifieds could probably get you into trouble.

I'm not against people using tortoise shell picks (I've used them myself in the past), but I would hate for anyone here to get into trouble.

Bob DeVellis
Nov-25-2003, 1:27pm
It seems to me that making the use of old material difficult is more, rather than less, likely to stimulate harvesting new material by poaching. I haven't seen demand evaporate or prices decline as a result of the ban. But I really don't have any hard data to either support or refute my hunch. Picks that used to cost $5 are now suddenly going "for about $40 or $50 a pick." I, for one, wouldn't have a problem using a tortoise pick made from old material if I could find one. I fully respect the opinions of those who disagree and appreciate the respectful way in which the counter-argument has been presented here.

I often find myself somewhat conflicted about the negative impact of harvesting on members of one species (tortoises) and the negative impact of not harvesting on another (humans). I'm not trying to equate the potential extinction of the former with duress for the latter, but I think it's easy to forget how extreme that duress can be. I'm not advocating poaching by any stretch but I'm distressed by the fact that, in many places where poaching might occur, people are really pressed for finding any means of surviving and I wonder if some of the alternatives to poaching might be even more ugly. Again, this isn't a justification, just a a rather depressing contemplation of how difficult life can be for many people is certain parts of the world. While activities like poaching, or growing coca plants are undeniably "bad," they are less difficult to understand (not less destructive) in the broader contexts in which they often take place.

This is getting way farther off topic than I intended. Again, let me thank those on both sides for their courteous discussion of a tricky issue and hope that I haven't unintentionally heated things up.

Nov-25-2003, 3:31pm
What amazes me are the numbers of persons claiming to be enviromently sensitive to things such as TS picks, ivory, etc. but live in redwood homes of 5000 sq ft and drive BMWs with leather interiors! I live in Redwood country where I can't hear or even see my nearest neighbor and I love nature and all its splendor BUT if I found a real TS pick at a decent price from old sources, I'd probably buy it. I'm also surrounded by bigleaf Oregon Maple and Port Orford Cedar. How many burled pieces of this maple are still around? Not much. My point is: one man's protest is another man's choice. Surely one should not condemn one for selling something that complies with existing regulations and laws!

Nov-25-2003, 3:41pm
i would definitely be interested in a ts pick. If you decide to go through with it, let me know. Thanks!

Dec-10-2003, 2:36pm
In reference to all the legal aspects of "TORTOISE SHELL" picks and "IVORY PICKS". I am a known dealer of Ivory picks which in my case I sell only extinct Ivory, not Elephant Ivory which is roaming the earth today. Extinct Ivory is perfectly legal and ethical as these have been extinct for thousands of years, this type of Ivory makes Phenomial Picks. Now, theres Elephant Ivory which seems to be a problem as they are living creatures in our day and age and certainly have laws pertecting them and the sell of this type of Ivory. So my point is be aware that Ivory shouldnt be catagorized as just "IVORY", as there is a big diffrence. If your thinking about purchasing Ivory Picks which are the "Holy Grail" of Picks, purchase Mammoth or Mastodon Ivory Picks as these are exceptional picks and have been extinct for well over 10,000 years.

Don / guitarhaus

Dec-11-2003, 1:02am
The only thing Don forgot to mention is the other "big difference" - that mammoth and mastodon ivory are inferior in every way to elephant ivory. Luthiers sometimes keep those on hand just to use for decorative purposes or have something to be able to legally sell to their international customers, but they will tell you that elephant ivory is far more preferable for making any instrumental accessory that has direct bearing on sound production, because it is both denser (making it able to create a fuller, more complete sound) and more durable (it wears for a longer time without needing "dressing" or re-shaping). My own experience verifies this, and is why I won't waste my time again making picks out of the less-than-exceptional ivories from the "2 Ms". I have collected enough legal elephant ivory to last a lifetime of part-time plectra production. It's all from animals who died at least 50 to 150 years ago and won't be needing it again. (I never got the nerve to try using the stuff from those that are roaming the earth today, for a number of different reasons! ;-) )


Dec-11-2003, 10:25am

If I were to try to purchase some ole tortoise shell from say an antique store, some combs, etc. How can I tell if they are real tortoise shell and not some bakelite or plastic?

Dec-11-2003, 12:04pm
It's tough to tell some of the celluloid type stuff from the real thing without a fari bit of experience. The fool-proof way to tell is by the "hot pin" test; you take a straight pin and heat it up to red hot, and poke an inconspicuous area. The smoke should smell like burning hair, not like burning plastic. Of course, it's kinda hard to talk the antique store owner into this one! A non-destructive way is to examine the material with a high magnification loupe (what jewelers use to look at gems). With strong light coming in the back side, I look for an area with heavy dark/light contrast. At the boundry between dark and light, the real stuff will have very small dark brown dots which comprise the brown coloring (pigment cells, I suppose). On the fake stuff, the dark/light boundry will look more like two fluids flowing together, with no discrete dark dots. Another thing to look for is stamped markings, trade names, etc (such as "pyralin") on the fake stuff. The real items almost never have any stamped or engraved names, unless it's clearly done by hand ("Joe Bob, 1882"). Also, beware of material with a thick layer of animal horn laminated with a thin layer of tortoise; many cigarette cases were made this way and look fairly real except you can tell the tortoise material is very thin, and the monochromatic horn material (antler or whatever) comprises the majority of the thickness. If the stuff looks pale or washed out, this is probably what it is made from.

Dec-11-2003, 12:26pm
I make myself my tortoises shell picks (legally).I don't want to play with OTHERS PICKS THAN TORTOISE SHELL PICKS.Mine is very thick with rounds points( it's looks like dawg'picks).I have tortoise shell enough to make 4 or 5 picks.Enough for my life. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Dec-11-2003, 1:33pm
Flowerpot, thanks, that is exactly what I was looking for. I had a feeling with magnification, you would be able to tell the difference between natural and synthetic materials. Now my next question, what is the best way to cut, polish, get correct thickness, etc. to make a pic from this material?

Dec-15-2003, 1:51am
...Actually talking about various Ivories in my past post I stated facts about Mammoth and Mastodon Ivory for picks, actually elephant Ivory is good Ivory also but carries many legal issues as well as dealing with the Wildlife federation. #Their basically the same except for suttle diffrences as some Ivory may emphisize the lows, Mids, or Highs, more than another type of Ivory. #A good example of this is Ancient Fossil Walrus Ivory which is harder due to the fact its fossilized therefore giving you more of a high-end tonality much like tortoise shell. #Elephant Ivory isnt any better than Mammoth or Mastodon although I will say luthiers use Elephant Ivory primarly because of its neutral color, this is the ONLY reason. #Some people who are sitting on alot of elephant Ivory have the notion, or trying desperately to convince others that its the best !!! #I imagine if I had a vast supply of elephant Ivory and was trying to sell it, I might be tempted to use these tactics also, but the truth of the matter is they are basically the same, and only have slight diffrences as I stated. #The only reason I use primarily Mammoth, Mastodon, and Walrus is because of the rich color which most of these Ivories have from the perma-frost era. #Elephant Ivory has alot of legal issues which I dont care to deal with. #Having over 36 years in the music feild, building musical instruments and working with some of the best luthiers in the states I consider myself knowledgeable on this subject.
Simply stated Ivory is Ivory. #I would be more concerned with finding a nice High-Grade or Museum-Quality Ivory than to be concerned with the type of Ivory.

# # # # # # # # # # # Sincerely truthfull
# # # # # # # # # # # #Don / guitarhaus

Dec-16-2003, 6:05pm
As you'd know, Don, if you were a mando aficionado and long time participant on this board, I've made and tried picks from all types of ivories, but choose to stick with elephant alone precisely because of my experience (which includes the comparison and evaluation of other pro musicians of all sorts beside myself, prior to my ever making them available for sale or order). I was warned, by both a luthier and a supplier of various ivories to luthiers, that the mastodon & mammoth varieties (which surely you are aware exist in neutral coloration as well) would likely come up short quality-wise in my estimation, but I had to go and try them anyway. I really wanted to like them - M and M ivories can be had for less money, and the colorful types really are very pretty and unique looking, but found that they just didn't stand up to mando playing like elephant did, either tonally or in terms of durability. I couldn't personally justify spending 2-3 hours to make a single pick entirely by hand, not to mention charging a price commensurate with the handiwork, from a material I wasn't convinced was the best I could be using. But a newcomer dealer who seems to be here on this board for just one purpose would have no way of knowing any of this history. Impugning my motives just looks, well ... rather tacky.

In a nutshell, I could've gone on to make picks from whatever ivory material I wanted - they're all easy enough to obtain - and I do exactly that. You should be happy, not critical, because I've found my niche, like you've found yours. But to claim all ivories are essentially the same is something with which I must strongly disagree.


Dec-16-2003, 8:27pm
As folks know, I am also an artist making all sort s of parts out of fossil walrus ivory. #I do make picks of fossil ivory and in no way want to plug these for sale. #I mostly focus on mandolin bridges, which in my opinion, fossil walrus is the best material for this application. #For me it is a harness and tonal enhancement issue. Enough about that. #I agree with bratsche on this. #Not all ivory is the same. #I to can make picks out of whatever material I want but feel strongly that out of the fossil ivory out there, walrus is the most durable and warmest sounding. #The elephant ivory is warmer and nicer in many ways. #It is all personal preference of the player. #I am happy to see brasche carving (no punn intended) out her own nitche with the pre-bann ivory pics. #I have played one of her picks and they are wonderful. #As artists and manufacturers in this small community, I feel like I am just offering another option for folks and in no way want to compete or dog anyone. #We should be supporting each other, especially if it is something different. #We are in this together. #I am also a luthier and I find great comradery (spelling?) in that end of the business. #We should have the same as accessrory builders and artists and enjoy each other's beautiful creations. #

brasche, one correction in you earlier post. #elephant ivory is not exactly the "best " for all tonal applications. #The dentin layer of the fossil walrus ivory is better for mandolin bridges. # What makes the fossil walrus better is the separation of notes and projection. #Everything else it does is subjective. #Mamouth and Mastadon do not work well for mandolin bridges. #It is to soft and brittle. #The strings cut through it with all the tention on a mandolin. #

As far as the ethical thing with use of TS.....well, I am not for the selling of it. #I sometimes use a TS pick from reclaimed piece of art but feel that the selling of this material does stimulate the market and encourage poachers. #It is hard to think that fossil ivory fits into this realm. #All of the fossil ivory I get is stamped and clear of any antiquity laws. #It is very different from "current" or new ivory in every way. #There is no confusing fossil ivory with new ivory. #and there are no laws concerning non-natives carving or owning it in it's raw form. #Also, I look at it as if it is leagal it is legal and easily distinguishable. #TS and current ivory such as wlarus and elephant are to hard to distinguish whether it is pre-bann or not. #I I have a hard time thinking of using these products because of the poaching issues. #

Don, not to point any fingers, but sounds like you are saying that your "holy grail" picks are the best and only thing out there. # I sell fossil ivory picks and feel like they are still not the best material for every picker on every instrument. #I mostly play mandolin and like using different picks on different mandolins. #TS works great for me on some mandolins and fossil ivory works best on others. #Tone and playability is a very subjective thing and everyone has their own likes and opinions. #You maybe should look at your products as just another option for folks and let the individual decide. # I personally think your picks are beautiful, well built, #and many are very different from mine. #If someone if going to buy a $30+ pick, they should just shop around a bit and find the one they like most no matter who it is from or what it is made of. #That is what I would do when buying something that is hand crafted. The greatest part of being an artist is enjoying the things you create not just how many pieces you can sell or for how much $$$ you can make. # #Seems like this post might be getting a little touchy. #Lets keep it friendly and tactful.

I would like to wish everyone a happy holidays and thanks Scott and all the contributing memebers of the cafe for allowing us all to participate in this great site. # Sorry for the long winded post, my fingers just took over.

Dec-16-2003, 9:28pm
Thanks, thunderplucker. I didn't mean to imply elephant ivory was best for all tonal applications. The only experience I have with fossil walrus ivory is with a pick (not yours, one I made a couple years back) and you're definitely the one who knows your bridges! Between those two hard and durable ivories, the differences in picks is pretty subjective - I find the walrus a bit too bright-sounding for my taste, and as a viola/mandola person who's not into bluegrass, I prefer maximum warmth and mellowness that comes from great mid- and low- range response, as you can imagine! All my personal instruments have bridges of the saddle-less type (one piece, for flatback mandos), and only once have I had the privilege to play on something that actually had an ivory bridge, just recently on a trip - it was a lovely old Martin style E or D, or something. Now, being a one-piece bridge, that must have taken some intensive work to make - I wouldn't have that kind of patience, with such hard material! ;-) But I was specifically comparing elephant with mammoth or mastodon ivory in my posts, and the problems you note with using them for bridges is the same as I found out with picks. Maybe they'd do all right for big heavy ones, but for the thinner ones that I like (-1.25mm), it was just too brittle a material that required very frequent re-shaping because it wore down quickly compared with elephant. But anyway, you're right, we shouldn't go on and on ad nauseam about this, as we've all got our reasons for preferring what we prefer, and we've all made our ... um... "points", so to speak. And I certainly bump the holiday wishes to all, and the thanks to Scott for providing a great site!

Best of luck,


Dec-16-2003, 11:59pm
Thunderplucker.... your absolutely right buddy. Picks are simply a matter of taste in anyone opinion. I sell Ancient Fossil Walrus also, Its great material. Ive heard alot about Walrus bridges and honestly its been all good !! I was just stating that theres alot of considerations such as the type of instrument, the wood that its made of, Fretboard, and strings, all these things certainly contribute to tone. There are certain qualities each type of Ivory has although I believe them to be suttle but nevertheless slightly diffrent as far as achieving various Highs, Mids, and Lows. Iam not a mandolin player but rather a guitarist, but making picks for many years I find mandolin players to be the most "demanding" as far as what their looking for. I personally like the challenge of it all, as god knows I spent years seeking the right tonality myself and again my friend, I must say "its a matter of taste".
Your comments on supporting each other and their abilities on what they do is very true. Personally competition and variety is good as it makes us strive to do better. I just didnt care for the tactics used in a prior post concerning these issues. You have a good point of view.
...To all, I hope you and your families the best
of Holidays.....

Till the next full moon'
Don / guitarhaus

Dec-17-2003, 12:44am
The easy way to test - heat a straight pin to glowing and push it in an out of the way area. The gas which is given off ... if it smells like plastic, it is. If it smells organic, almost like burning hair ... it most likely is tortoise.

Most likely is the operative word, but when they made this stuff, it was in a normally pretty high line item.

Dec-17-2003, 1:09am
Bud, I'm not ignoring your question about cutting, polishing, etc. I just know it's a potentially long subject, and I don't have much typing time right now. Maybe in a few days.

Dec-17-2003, 8:34pm
No problem Flowerpot, this pile of misc. tortoise shell objects can wait to be cut up after the holidays. #

By the way, like your moniker. #I've fretted over a tattoo for several years, considering what I would like to have. #Just this last week, I decided it would be a flowerpot. #Do you think that might upset the Gibson folks?, or perhaps I could become there spokesperson? # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Jan-03-2004, 6:13pm

Ok, I'm ready for any information you can provide me on cutting, sanding, polishing etc, tortoise shell for picks.


Jan-04-2004, 10:06pm
Obtain a piece of shell thick enough to work down to the thickness you prefer, a piece about the thickness of a silver dollar is fine...where do you get such a piece? ... I couldn't tell you...flatten the piece out by boiling it in hot water. Rough up the surface with 0000-steel wool. That way you'll see your pencil tracings. Trace out whatever pick shape you want by using your plastic picks as your patterns ("Dawg" shape, 'fender' Clayton triangles, whatever) Use a scroll saw to cut out your tracings into their rough shape. Use a bench grinder to true up the shape up to the pencil lines. Get the shape perfect by using 220-wet/dry (use it wet) and rub the sides to shape. Starting with the 220-grit, lay the pick flat and rub in circular motions the same number on each side of the pick. Next, do the same using 400-grit, then 1000-grit and finally 2000-grit. You can stop here if you want a non-slippery-when-you-sweat matte finish. Buffing with red jeweler's rouge will put a beautiful jewelry-quality shine to it. Using the 220-grit, put a 45-degree bevel on the edges, then follow that again using 400-grit and then the 2000-grit. This will make a smooth and better string contact and less scrape. After you play with the pick for a while and need to re-buff the edges, either use the 2000-grit wet, your buffing wheel, or just rub the edges on some berber carpet if you want a quick buff.

As for the ethics, that's up to your conscience. I can tell you that antique dealers sell the stuff routinely, and as far as I am able to tell, nobody has cracked down on them. You will likely have to go to a large show, with hundreds of dealers...your average antique shop won't likely have any. The hard part is finding a usable piece, one that is thick enough to work down...beware of overlay...you may think you have a usable piece but instead, it is just a paper thin layer of shell over wood or light-colored plastic. EBay used to be good hunting grounds, but there is a user named borkum_riff that is a wildlife officer from Georgia that has busted a few people. Read his feedback. Can't blame him, I admire his tenacity, that's his job just like yours is playing music, (but I think they'd have a much easier time of it busting the antique dealers at the larger shows where it is actually on hand, actually on display for sale)

All said, I am of the school of thought that it is the player, rather than the pick. Yes, shell will give you more tone and volume, but you as the player have to do your part. Using a $50 or a .50-cent pick won't do you any good if you don't practice. Hope this helps.

Jan-04-2004, 10:09pm
No...I don't own, sell or have any for sale...just thought I'd save you the trouble of emailing me. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jan-05-2004, 12:34pm
Thanks, Joe for helping out here... Every time I would start replying to this thread, something got in my way, like work or babies screaming.

I would just add a couple of tidbits to Joe's description:

For flattening a curved piece, I clamp between two flat pieces of metal and heat in the oven at 250 degrees until pliable (15 minutes will do), tighten the clamp again and allow to cool. It will retain shape.

For sanding, I do the wet sanding on a piece of plate glass (old mirror) to keep the surfaces very flat.

If you don't have a power scroll saw, a hand scroll saw is fine; use the micro fine toothes laser cut blades they sell at Stew-Mac and other places for cutting pearl. If you are cutting something thinner than 0.1' or so, back it up with something to keep the edges from cracking. For templates, I cut paper templates and apply to the tortoise shell with double sided tape and then cut around the outline of the paper.

For my final finish, after the 2000 grit paper I use rotten stone/oil for rubbing to a semi-gloss, then McGuire's #7 auto polish for the final shiny finish.

Jan-05-2004, 8:42pm
I do feel I have to add this because I care about my fellow musicians...
If you work with shell, even if you wear an expensive "gas mask"-like respirator, you will eventually get the shell dust up your nose/in your lungs. While not as toxic as pearl dust, (which your body CANNOT disipate), the shell dust nonetheless can cause you to get (bacterially) sick. For the first 10 years or so, I never really had a problem with the stuff, I'd wear one of those light pink dust masks like you see in Wal-Mart. But in the last few years, every time I'd mess with the stuff, I'd wind up at the Doc's office. I know the procedure by heart now...play with shell, get sick, get injection in butt of depomedrol (steroid) to help me breath, plus a 10-day prescription of Trimox (anitbiotic) to clear it all up. There was one time several years ago when I got really stupid, told the wife "I'll just be messing with it 15 minutes", and I was out there in the shop for over an hour with no mask. It took //FIVE// different antibiotics to clear me up that time...sorry to be blunt and too descriptive, but I was coughing up //dark// phlem in strands, like spaghetti...again, I mean in no way to digust anyone reading this, but that to me was pretty scary, and I would in no way wish this on anybody. So, I'm out $$$ for an antique piece to work with, gas $$$ to travel to whatever antique show to (hopefully, never a guarantee) find the shell, out $$$ for sandpaper, rouge and saw blades...then out more $$$ for trips to the doctor's office. If you choose to buy a shell pick from someone at a festival or somewhere and they want an astronomical price like $50-$60 per pick, think about all of the above before you skoff at the idea of paying such a price for a pick...

I hope that you that make your own picks never have the problems with the dust from it that I have. I did not have problems with it until recently, years after I started messing with the stuff. I know alot of you out there make your own picks out of other organic material, like fossilized ivory and related stuff. Miss Ellen, please wear a mask that covers your whole face, with not the tiniest way for the dust to get in your nostrils/lungs. To the guy ("thunderplucker") here on the cafe that does those beautiful saddles, I advise the same...it may not bother you now, but it might as time goes by, so wear those masks. Thankfully, I don't have other real allergies as a result of shell dust, I did manage to escape this year's flu epidemic, I don't think I have done any permanent damage to myself. But I sure am not going to take anymore chances. I do enjoy making my own picks...just like someone who paints or does pottery (or builds a mandolin), there is a satisfaction in making something beautiful as well as functional and that brings out a little more juice from the instrument. But the days of cranking out pickle jars full of picks for me are over, as I value my health over jar fulls of picks, of which I can only use one at any given time anyway.

Lastly, I add this admittedly as humor, but a true incident...if you insist on making your own picks and not wearing a mask, and you wind up in the doc's office with an infection, remember this... when that cute little nurse tells you to undo your pants and pull your underwear down a little, she does not mean drop them all the way to your ankles... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Hope this helps!

Jan-06-2004, 3:25am
I do feel I have to add this because I care about my fellow musicians...... when that cute little nurse tells you to undo your pants and pull your underwear down a little, she does not mean drop them all the way to your ankles... # # # # #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Hope this helps!
And that is why since I turned 30, I have had a woman physician. They have the smallest fingers. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Jan-12-2004, 5:27pm
I just picked up two different kinds of TorTis picks, the Mando/mondo (like the Grisman/Golden Gate) and the big rounded triangle. They definitely have a different feel to them than plastic. Whether its the same as the Real Thing who knows but I doubt they'll make you sick if you mess with them. The packaging says they are made of an organic material.

Jack Roberts
Jan-12-2004, 7:30pm
I picked up a few real hawksbill picks in Japan over the holidays and my first impression was they were great. BUT... There is a pick that I like much better, and you don't have to kill any endangered species to get them. For less than 1/20th the price of tortoise, you can buy Dunlop Ultex U114 (1.14 mm) picks. They have a picture of a Rhino on them. If you use a dremel tool and some jewelers rouge on a polishing disk, you can polish them up. After the polishing so they they play much better than any tortoise picks, for me, anyway.

The proof is in the playing. I'm can play smoother tremolo, I can play faster runs, I get a prettier sound, and when I turn the pick sideways, I get great chop chords. And they are easy to grip (as are real tortoise.)

Jan-13-2004, 12:32am
If you use a dremel tool and some jewelers rouge on a polishing disk, you can polish them up. After the polishing so they they play much better than any tortoise picks, for me, anyway.

Playing them polishes the edges too, but it takes longer than a Dremel http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

I agree, these Ultexes are as close to shell as to be indistinguishable to my ear. I hope they become a top Dunlop seller, so they start making them in large triangles however http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Jan-13-2004, 9:36am
Thanks Crawdad for the advice there.I had been wondering about picks and the effect they had on the tone. I bought mine at a music store that sold electric guitars and chose a heavy. I wasn't sure. It seems to get the job done. It is also encouraging to hear you say that getting a good tone is mostly hard work. I know that I can get a better sound with practice. I was getting concerned that maybe it was my mano or the pick or the fact I had it restrung for a lefty.

Steve Cat
Jan-13-2004, 9:54am
I hate to sound incredibly naive but do tortoise shell picks come from tortises only or do they come from turtles too?

Are all tortoise shell pick producing animals endangered?

Is there such a thing as farm raised tortoise pick producing animals that are used for things like turtle soup anyway and the picks would be a by product?

Are people that use tortoise shell picks considered Republicans?

Do people who use tortoise shell picks also play b@nj&*?

Steve Cat http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

John Ely
Jan-13-2004, 10:07am
Tortoiseshell for picks, combs, etc. came from the carapace of the Hawksbill sea turtle. They are a pretty animal, and of course, they are declining in numbers.

I have also wondered if some other turtle's shell would make suitable tortoiseshell, but I do not know the answer. If it was another sea turtle, of course, it wouldn't help much, becuase they are all protected, with good reason.

Jack Roberts
Jan-13-2004, 1:32pm
Playing them polishes the edges too, but it takes longer than a Dremel http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

I agree, these Ultexes are as close to shell as to be indistinguishable to my ear. I hope they become a top Dunlop seller, so they start making them in large triangles however http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif
Too true! I snagged a large martin heavy triangle and rounded off two of the edges (with my trusty dremel tool) This gives me a really large tear-drop shape that I can use the point for lead and the roundy parts for chopping along.

But the 1.14 Ultex is the best I've found. After polishing it looks like a piece of amber. Beautiful in appearance and sound. And to me, being that they are thicker, they sound better than the shell. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

Big Joe
Jan-13-2004, 3:04pm
The other supply for Toirtoise picks is the Green Tortiose (Turtle?) Those are the only two I am aware of that are used for picks.

I have used the ultex and don't really care for them. They are ok on electric guitar, but they still sound too plasticy for me on mandolin. Many friends love them and play them all the time, but to me the good ole Tortoise is still the best.

Jack Roberts
Jan-14-2004, 11:08am
Big Joe, you are right about ultex when it is off the shelf. Not only does it sound too "plasticy", they are too slippery for me to hold with my somewhat loose grip. They need special modification, described earlier.

Don Grieser
Jan-14-2004, 12:07pm
It sounds like the Dunlop Ultex picks are made of the same or very similar material as the Clayton Gold Ultems. (similar name too) Anybody have both and can give us an opinion? The Claytons are available in the large triangle and turn into an amber color after being polished up. I have some Claytons but haven't seen the Ultex yet.

Jan-14-2004, 5:52pm
AS far as the species of "tortoise" that picks are made from, most, if not all, are made from true ocean turtles (true tortoises are land reptiles, that may or may not live near water). The words "tortoise shell" picks is a generic and actually incorrect name for the stuff, sorta like calling all species of marine and river dolphins under the general name "porpoise"...
Anyway, antiques made from the green sea turtle tend to be a yellowish-green in color, with some browns mixed occasionally mixed in, the stuff tends to fade out for whatever reason, when heated, and the shell from antiques made from it can become "rubbery" if in the heat too long, if you are making picks from it. This species is not necessarily a tropical species, it can be found in temperate waters around the gulf stream and it's diet is somewhat different that other species.
The Ridley's turtle is almost extinct...very rarely do I come across an antique item made from this species...if you do, it is a solid dark, almost blood red in color, sometimes it looks even black until you hold it up to a halogen lite, then it glows "laser" red..pretty incredible, makes great picks...by the way, you kill one of these turtles, they'll put you UNDER the jail...
Hawksbill is the species that you will likely find at the antique shows, made into various objects a long time ago. The quality of the shell can vary, depending on the diet of the turtle that gave up his/her life to be a cigar box or mantilla comb. If the animal originally came from the warmer waters of the Carribean, the diet was probably pretty good, and can result is the beautiful patterns you are probably familiar with. The highest quality shell will have depth to the coloration, that is, it appears to go thru the entire piece. Also, the lighter areas will be a golden amber color as opposed to a 'cataract' white, hazy area, and the darker areas will be dark brown to blood red. There will be a bold definition to the colors even when side by side.
The best quality shell will break your scroll saw blades...that's a good indicator you have some great, dense pick material. My b***o thumbpick is on it's 4th year, my main mando pick on it's 3rd, with very minimal wear on either. I tend to play pretty hard and use medium gauge strings on all my instruments, still no real wear. I don't have to re-polish or re-shape them...on a very high quality piece of shell, you won't have to.

I still get private emails from some of you on the ethics of all this...my opinion is that if you are at the beach with a speargun, hiding behind the dunes waiting for a turtle to come ashore, if you are at their nesting sites, if you actually try to catch one while fishing offshore, you deserve everything the law can throw at you.
If you are cruising the antique stores and luck up on a few usable combs or bracelets, I see no harm in reshaping them into something else, like picks. Again, this is my opinion, you do what your conscience will allow you.

Jan-15-2004, 9:48pm
i dont think playing with a turtle shell pick makes you republican, ive done well being one without the pick.

Jan-16-2004, 10:24am
I took out the collection the other day and played with the real TS and all the others rock cowhorn etc. I put em back in the bag and decide that the cheap fender heavy needed to be turned around to the point side to get more treble out of my otherwise high dollar mandolin.

Dru Lee Parsec
Jan-16-2004, 6:41pm
Somebody may have pointed this out already, I havn't read all 4 pages of this thread yet, But there is a "cultured" tortise shell product that is essentially the same protein as real tortise shell. The manufacturer calls it "Chemically Identical" which may be a bit of marketing hyperbole. You can see them here: http://www.folkofthewood.com/page3823.htm The manufacturer is here: http://www.redbeartrading.com/

I broke down and paid $20 (OUCH!) for one. I'll let you know what I think when I get it.

Jack Roberts
Jan-17-2004, 11:52am
I took out the collection the other day and played with the real TS and all the others rock cowhorn etc. I put em back in the bag and decide that the cheap fender heavy needed to be turned around to the point side to get more treble out of my otherwise high dollar mandolin.
Bowfinger reflects my opinion as well, other than I like the polished ultex extra-heavy a little better. I own a couple of TS picks and can't say they sound better on my mandolin than a fender heavy clown barf. But my son likes to borrow them for his electric guitar. I lent one to a bluegrass guitarist at our jam this week, but he didn't like it. (I didn't tell him that is was tortoise shell, I just asked him to try it and tell me what he thought.) He said it was too stiff.
It could be that a lot of the appeal of TS is there is something slightly extravagant and wicked about owning one, so the owners tend to hear better sound than they may actually be producing. TS picks are not particularly hard or even expensive for me to obtain, and I might be prejudiced in their favor if they were.

Jan-18-2004, 4:09am
I agree that there is likely something out there that can equal or surpass tortoiseshell in tone/volume. I have just not found it yet. I agree that there is certainly a mystique about tortoiseshell picks but beyond that there, is something to the total quality of the sound I have not found with any other kind of pick. Use what /you/ like. If you prefer plastic, ivory whatever, use what pleases your own ears, that is the important thing. I am certainly not a better player because I use tortoiseshell. I am a better player because I practice all the time. I purposefully do not have cable TV or a satellite, nor do I have a boat or a metal detector or a ultralite airplane and all those other fun things/hobbies I am attracted to because I know I personally would enjoy them too much at the expense of my music. That is just personal weakness on my account, a personal weakness for /me/...no offense to those of you that have/enjoy such items. I want to be the best player I can be, to take the musical ride as long as I can...using tortoiseshell picks is just one of the tools of my trade and a personal preference.

Big Joe
Jan-20-2004, 11:57am
I can get access to all the ts picks I want. I don't use them because they are exotic. I use them because FOR ME there is nothing better. They sound better, feel better, are easier to use and last longer than anything else I've tried, and I think I've tried just about everything that has come down the pike. I use them on mandolin and acoustic guitar. I don't like them on electric guitar. Different animal entirely. However, one must chose for themselves what they like and what works for them. One is in no ways superior because they use a ts. Like many choices in life, it is a matter or preference. I love steak and don't care for okra. All personal choices. I'm happy with mine and I hope you are with the choices you make http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif .

Darryl Wolfe
Jan-20-2004, 12:32pm
I've been doing some house cleaning and have decided to put some stuff in the mandocafe classifieds. #Among those items are some old TS picks. #I no longer use TS because it takes me 2 weeks to figure out how to play again when I lose one.

The picks, along with some other parts and neat stuff will all be sold in exchange for a specified donation which will be split equally between Mandolincafe and Mandolinarchive.com (unless you designate one or the other) #The F5journal will provide all merchandise and shipping free of charge
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif............don't even think about contacting me about the picks http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jan-20-2004, 2:20pm
that has been a point of mine before. loose one and then what?

Jan-23-2004, 10:03am
NOW. After practicing with the band last night. I may have to reconsider using the TS pick on the new fern. I have it set with kinda low action and have tried to get it's volume up and clean. I found I could do it with my rather large TS pick better than any other but when I swithch back to the regular fender style pick it's hard to play as well. HMMMMM more experimentation once more

Jan-23-2004, 10:30am
Similar to what I have found. When playing alone, I often think TS is too bright and clickity(?). When playing with an ensemble the brightness turns into something much more desirable. TS has a more effortless feel when trying to be heard over other instruments. On the couch though, a nice old Pro-plec or Dawg has a certain richness and warmth that feels more satisfying.

Dru Lee Parsec
Jan-23-2004, 12:50pm
Well it's been a week since I ordered my TORTIS pick from "Folk of the woods" and I still don't have it. A quick check on their web site says I DID order it, but it's not approved for some reason (and therefore not shipped). I have a feeling that they arn't in stock. So I'd love to let you folks know what I think of these cutured tortise shell picks if they'd only take my money and send me one.

Maybe I'll just go find a handfull of Goden Gates Dawg picks.

Dru Lee Parsec
Feb-05-2004, 1:27pm
3 weeks and still waiting. 2 weeks ago Folk Of The Wood told me "Oh Yeah, we just got those in". Apparently, "We Just Got Those In" means "They're not in stock but please don't cancel your order".

Feb-09-2004, 11:26am
I played with the real TS pick this weekend at a fest. It got a little rough around the edges. That was a distraction to me. ... and I didn't havea set ofnail files to fix it. It may be too much trouble for me.

Feb-09-2004, 2:49pm
As I stated ealier in this thread, if you use a high quality piece of shell, you won't have the problems (scaping, premature wear, etc.) that you mentioned above. I use J74 strings almost exclusively, my current pick which I have used for several years, does not scrape at all. I play pretty hard, so I know I am not babying the pick, or the mandolin. You can keep a piece of 2000-grit wet/dry sandpaper in your spare string pack and go over the edges of your pick prior to playing if you like, but I would imagine that the maintenance required by some shell picks is why alot of people just use plastic...I have found however, that the plastic can scrape just as bad. I can tell you this...real t-shell picks can vary greatly in quality...the main reason being the diet of the turtle it came from, then how it was treated when used to make whatever antique that it was used in before you found it and reshaped it into a pick.
I have found if you use a shell pick about the thickness of a quarter, and a good quality piece, you won't have to worry about anything except losing it or if you let someone use it, it staying in that person's pocket. When you use real thin shell picks like I see offered at some festivals (Galax comes to mind) you do run the risk of fractures/flaking/warping. I have accidently left mine in my jeans pocket and it going thru the wash/dryer, did not hurt it a bit...

On a side note...a friend of mine does some sort of treasure hunt with his kids, using their GPS thing in their vehicle. They get the instructions off the internet and follow the directions...it is a real kick for the kids. When they discover the "treasure, it is stuff like candy or hotwheels cars, notes and things like that. I can remember some sort of whiskey company did the same sort of thing in very back issues of Field and Stream/Sports Afield or whatever...they bury a dozen bottles in some weird or very remote-### place somewhere (the one I remember is "right in the middle of 'Bigfoot's' feeding range in the Cascade Mountains") and they'd give you the directions to go find it...I thought I might do this sometime...just for kicks...on the way to Galax or the Allegahny Fiddler's Convention up on the Blueridge Parkway...just put a few t-shell picks in a string pack in a zip lock bag with a note, leave a few directions here on the Cafe and whoever finds them, keeps them for free. Just for the fun of it...

Anyway, good luck with your pick maintenence...keeping at it, you'll find one eventually that you just play with and you'll know what I'm talking about in the quality area... area...

Feb-09-2004, 6:36pm
True, not all shell is created equal. Some pickers swear that the amber colored parts are not as tough as the dark areas, and want their picks to be completely dark. I think color has nothing to do with strength, and think I would see some difference in splitting, chipping, and polishing while working down different parts of a shell if that were true. But some material samples seem to be "golden"; I had one English scrub brush with a TS cover (still have the brush, my wife likes it sans cover) which only made 7 picks, but every one sounds entirely perfect to me, wears like iron, and looks gorgeous. That batch should last me another 20 or 30 years, I hope. I've not lost a TS pick in the last 10 years, after swearing myself to the following rules:

1. The pick I use every day will either be in my right hand or in the strings of my instrument. Period.

2. I will not lend a pick to anybody unless they have one just like it to replace it.

3. If the ground under my feet is such that a pick would be lost hopelessly if dropped (like a stage with space between the floor boards, or a moving flatbed truck), I switch to plastic, and the TS goes into the case.

4. No pants pockets, shirt pockets, table tops... see rule #1.

And Joe, I love your idea, that's a good one. But be careful when you put out the "bait" -- like the day before a big festival... I can see the headlines: "8 Dead in Blue Ridge Parkway Shootout... no known motive."

Feb-09-2004, 7:07pm
I've heard some of the same hooey about the light areas on picks wearing faster...

From a purely biological standpoint, it makes sense. The pigment in cheloderm is a melanin-group pigment, and as such it is derived from hemoglobin, so it contains iron compounds. It stands to reason that an area of dark shell might be more dense than an area of light shell.

But my own experience has shown me that bevel, finish, and picking attack contribute a whole lot more to pickwear that light or dark TS.

Having said that, I came across an ugly, broken TS box with Indian Ocean origins...very "red" color to the shell, heavily streaked... that made the picks I now have as my personal stash, and the best-sounding, longest-wearing picks I have played.

Feb-10-2004, 1:37am
Flowerpot...that was /hilarious/!!! "8 Dead on Parkway Shootout...No Known Motive". ..I just thought it'd be a fun thing to do...but I can actually see your point...
As for those of you that mentioned a different density depending on shell coloration, I've heard that too. That very well may be true, but on a crappy piece of shell, it'll flake/fracture/warp no matter what color it is...

...got to tell yall this...I went to an antique show they held in Raleigh, over at the Civic Center...at these larger shows, your chances are better at finding something usable, plus you get a receipt that can, let's just say keep your nose clean...anyway, I found a nice piece, a small cigarette holder...both halves meant about 8 picks total...as I was holding it to the light, imagining the white Clayton pick I use as a tracing, the lady said "May I ask you something? "Sure", I said, a bit annoyed that I lost my concentration..."Are you a musician?" That turned my attention directly to her, all counting picks in my head vanished... "Why do you ask?" "Because I had a guy here earlier that wanted this to cut it apart and make guitar picks out of it, and I refused to sell it for that", she said.
"Do tell... I'll take it", I said to her, as I whipped out cash before she could take it out of my hand. If this was her way of keeping me from dickering price or otherwise asking for a little discount off the price, it worked...but I have a sneaky suspicion she was telling the truth...

Point? Word's gotten out...so be discreet when hunting the antique shows...take your girlfriend/wife WITH you, and let HER be the one to make the big tadoo over the piece, because, you know, SHE collects items like that...

My wife hunts with me...she is well-trained to spot the real thing vs. celluloid/other plastics...we have a signal we do...if either of us actually finds a usable piece, whoever makes the find goes into a very good, exagerated "coughing spell"...then we go into our routine of the romantic husband considering the purchase of a beautiful item to buy his girl to make her happy...
Sure, it is corny as all get out...ok, downrite pitiful, but it works and is usually pretty funny...and I always try different "terms of endearment" each time, you know, 'honeypot', 'sweetiepie' and so forth during the act.
I highly recommend if you try this, DON'T use the term "sugarbumps"...my wife did NOT like that one...

"Well...if you really want it, sugarbumps.... how much, mam?"...

Feb-10-2004, 8:31am
thats a funny story aerojoe..... and informative... so thats the kinda places you find TS ?!? I have been wanting TS pick for some time, I play a classical with light strings, but I am still worried about the wear so I dont want to spend too much at least not the first time around.

so its antique shops mostly?
or poachers,

http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif kidding

Feb-10-2004, 1:43pm
Good story, Joe. Been there, done that over the phone before... had an ebay auction for a box purse that got cancelled by the tortoise police, and I pursued it over the phone. The seller wanted to know why I wanted it, and I said I wanted to add to my collection. They were relieved, because another guy was after it to cut it up for -- gasp -- picks! "You're not serious," I replied. Of course when I referred to my "collection," I meant plectrum collection; I didn't mention that, but what I do with an item I legally buy is my own business. I did enjoy looking at the purse on a shelf at home for over a year, until I couldn't take it any more and recycled it... it's all the more beautiful now.

Feb-10-2004, 1:51pm
I find that the pick I've exclusively used for the past 6 years (btw, found on the ground at the 1997 Delaware BG fest) actually has smoothed out and beveled itself with playing. I've never had to file it.

Feb-10-2004, 3:14pm
I once told my brother I wanted one of those metal detectors with the built in discriminators...it rejects nails, pull tabs, aluminum/tin cans, all that stuff, and only sounds off when you find a silver, silver clad or gold object (coins, rings) he said if it was all that easy everybody would doing it...Alan brings up a good point...he found his...I found one at the local jam here where I live...and I know it was not my work...
When I started making them years ago, I knew no one else that did...had quite the Park Place on the Monopoly board... there's lot's of people are making their own now. Everybody is doing it, it seems...

Down at Emerald Isle, they have one of those turtle rescue/recovery stations..they have the baby turtles in tanks...they are so cute...serously, they really are...if they had that evil, you know, rattlesnake-looking mojo about them, I would feel differently perhaps. They have a article posted on the wall where several times in many years past, a sailor would be lost overboard for whatever reason...and along came a turtle to which he clung to, eventually finding rescue. And here we are making picks out of the shells...
My point is the beach is the LAST place you want to go...hit a big antique shows, a really large one that runs for an entire weekend...chances are you'll find something, and your conscience won't get to you...hey, if you don't buy that tortoiseshell cigarette holder, someone will...
I don't have the monopoly anymore, (although I still boast mine are the nicest ones you'll ever see!...) so I don't mind sharing my pick stories...I hope you find what you want, I hope you get a deal on it...cough, cough cough...

A word of caution...thanks to Ebay, those in authority are much more aware of the t-shell situation, and by that I mean how that it is directly invovled with the music genre' in the form of PICKS...

You want to try your hand and make your own, cool. You want to try your hand at making a few bucks by selling them, you best be really, really careful...
Your cellmate Bubba might just find your hands really soft and supple, and you know, they turn out the lights eventually...

Dru Lee Parsec
Feb-10-2004, 4:19pm
Joe, that hobby is known as Geocaching. I've geocached quite a bit her in So Cal and even some in Utah. Check out www.geocaching.com for more info.

Feb-11-2004, 7:52am
all I hope is to find enough to make a few picks. #I definetly wouldnt go cleaning out any shells. besides the cute turtles, its kinda disgusting. #I wouldnt even know what to do with it.

I see your point...about supply/demand... I have a feeling I will cash in my area. ## I live in a place where many people live out their last years.... antiques find their way into estate sales, auctions, jewelry and antique shops... in fact , right down the road from my house is a strip that has been nicknamed "antique alley" #lots of silver and gold jewelry. I dont know about cigarette holders and purses... but why not?
maybe I wont find any easily...

Feb-11-2004, 7:54am
I dont even really want to make picks.

I just want a calace shaped, and a pettine shapes TS pick.
and a couple backups would be nice.

Andrew Reckhart
Feb-11-2004, 11:38am
I absolutely love mine. Don't kill any new turtles, but don't waste the ones that already fell victim.

Apr-13-2004, 9:34pm
PETA people eating tasty animals.

Well I lost my real TS pick last practice. I was just getting real emotionaly attached to it too. Darn I hate when that happens. back to the plastic...