Recently, A friend asked me what was wrong with my bag of guitar picks? I knew exactly what he meant, and agreed they smell like menthol. I had to laugh at our strange conversation.
He seemed to think it tasted vaguely like hot sauce, maybe with a touch of ranch. I’m pretty sure that’s what he had for lunch!
It was a silly conversation, with silly questions. But, most guitar enthusiast would understand.
What are smelly guitar picks made of?
The question, why guitar picks smell and even more, what do they make them out of remained.
I told him they make them of a lot of weird stuff.
I must admit, for a guy I have known for years, I was truly astonished at his guitar pick, curiosity.
I then told him they made these picks from Celluloid. I read it’s a material which is softer, yet firmer than standard nylon, but it has that powerful smell, that they make into distinct shapes and a non-slip surface. The transparent flammable plastic is made in sheets from camphor and nitrocellulose. Back in the day it was used for cinematographic film. All that does not matter to me, because I really like picks made out of the stinky stuff. They make me play fast and clear.
He said he’d rather stick with his nylon picks because he liked the more traditional pick with that dry feel. They’re harder, regardless of the thickness.
Pay Attention to what picks you buy
No matter what, I think few guitar players pay enough attention to their pick. I think they should, because the plastic and thickness of plastic affects the tone of each string.
Celluloid was the original plastic used for picks. They are what you’d call the cheap picks, but I really like them. The tips wear out really fast, and harder players can actually snap these things easily.
I describe celluloid picks as very flappy, because you can literally hear a flapping noise when strumming with a celluloid pick.
I know a lot of players like nylon picks specifically because they are wafer thin. They also have friction coating that makes them easy to grab and hold on to. They are great little picks, but when I open the package, there is a crazy potent smell that comes out. The best way I can think to describe it is menthol-like, and pretty darn strong.
Besides, the smell goes away. If you air them out, the picks are superb. I make it a point to use them until they are all chewed up and faded. The choice of gauge seems right, the celluloid keeps them tough.
That should explain why guitar picks smell and why when I pick up my guitar, I instantly get a feeling of being at home. But, if I try playing my guitar with someone else’s pick, I suddenly feel like I’m lost.
An unfavorable pick can make me feel like I’ve never played before.
Today we have more choices than ever when choosing the right pick. But, they can keep their handmade boutique picks made of unusual organic materials.
I’m sticking to the mass-produced smelly pick. I’m glad that the manufacturers produce hundreds of millions of picks that are good quality, cool colors and a smell to remember. Especially to anyone that plays the guitar as often as I do. Because, truth be told, I lose my pick often. I buy my picks by the smelly bag full, I will never run out of that being at home feeling.
That was quite the explanation to why guitar picks smell, but I convinced him that smelly guitar picks are a must.
My friend suddenly set my guitar down, picked up his car keys. I wondered for a minute if I had offended him. Then he really shocked me when he boldly said he needed to go purchase some smelly guitar pick. I dared him to ask the salesperson at the guitar shop why guitar picks smelled. He waved his hand furiously in the air, his care keys jingling a wind tune. Telling me there was no way he’d ever ask anyone again. He feared the long explanation.
Although, I must admit. It makes me extremely curious. How many results of completely random explanations would we receive if we went about asking, “Why do guitar picks smell?
Entertaining thought, great question. Why do your guitar picks smell? Now you have at least one great answer.