By Linzy Novotny
Amidst all the chatter of the latest, most innovative gadgetry, it’s easy to forget true innovations can be simple, beautiful solutions to simple, irritating problems. Case in point: the Pick Punch. These simple plastic triangles are the bane of many guitarists. The pick punch solves the problem in a deliciously straightforward way: it lets the guitarist easily make his or her own replacement picks.
It is as easy as taking a gift card, ID card, expired credit card or plastic lid; inserting it in the punch while aligning it at the bottom and pressing down on the handle. A pick-shaped blade slices through the material, and out pops a guitar pick adorned with a MasterCard logo.
Released in July of 2009, Von Luhmann came up with the idea for the Pick Punch after finding himself in need of a guitar pick, but not having any on hand. “Like most guitar players I eventually found myself without a guitar pick,” Luhmann said. “In a pinch, I cut them out of materials I had on hand such as plastic lids and expired credit cards. I remember telling myself there must be an easier way. So that’s when the Pick Punch was born.”
Guitarists can start strumming away after punching out a pick. “You can use it immediately,” Luhmann said. “Some [people] prefer to do a light sanding on the edge just to make it perfect.”
Besides punching out quick replacements, the possibilities for custom picks are endless. “Some guitar players are happy playing with factory produced guitars and guitar picks,” Luhmann said, “but guitar playing is a very individualistic hobby and passion. Everyone has their own technique and tools that they use. No two guitar players are the same.”
Making Custom Picks With The Pick Punch
Luhmann is already pushing the envelope, experimenting with the capabilities of the Pick Punch. He devised a way to sandwich images in between two picks made out of polycarbonate plastic. Super gluing it all together produces a hard pick with an image that will never fade away. More ideas for custom picks can be found at the Pick Punch website.
The site also offers sheets of plastic perfect for pick punching with the Pick Punch (say that three times fast). Sheets of nylon, polycarbonate, Acetal Delrin, Acetal and Ultem are available on the Pick Punch website for even the most discerning metal head. The different sheets produce picks of varying flexibilities, strengths and grip abilities. Nylon produces thin and extra-thin picks that are extremely flexible, while picks made out of Ultem are stiff. Acetal picks are highly durable and are easy to grip because of their matte surface. Each sheet will yield between 56 to 72 picks.
Pick perfectionists should check out the site’s sanding blocks. The four-stage sanding block comes in small and large sizes. Each side of the block has a different degree of sandpaper from rough and medium-fine to fine and buffing. There is also a large, single-stage sanding block that has rough sandpaper on four sides of the block. Those on world tour will want to pick up the small; it fits neatly inside the handle of the Pick Punch.
The Different Types of Pick Punches
The Pick Punch is available in two varieties. The Standard Pick Punch creates picks that are 1.18 inches (30 mm) by 1.06 inches (25.5 mm), while the Jazz Pick Punch creates picks that are 1.05 inches (26.6 mm) by 0.918 inches (23.3 mm). According to Luhmann, “[The jazz picks] are smaller and more pointed than normal picks for more precise control.”
The Regular and Jazz Pick Punches retail for $24.95 and sheets of plastic are $3.00 per sheet. The small, four-stage sanding block is $2.50. The large, single-and four-stage sanding blocks are $4.99 each.
“With the Pick Punch you can test new materials not available, recycle credit cards and other similar materials, express your individuality, learn more about your guitar playing style and have a lot of fun doing it,” says Luhmann.