How do they sound compared to plastic picks?
The first and foremost feature of the gemstone guitar pick is it's incredible Tone Quality, and the resonance it gives the voice of your instrument. To understand the difference between stone and plastic it's important to know that the stringed instrument has an aspect of percussion to it. The "Plectrum" or "Pick" is used to "strike" the strings, much the way that a hammer strikes a bell. Could you imagine striking a bell with a plastic hammer?
Yet we use various types of plastic to strike the strings of our instruments never thinking of how it effects their voices. Plastic dampens the tonal potential of the strings and even makes a flicking clicking noise that we just get used to. Part of the Stone Pick experience is the absence of plastic, and the completion of our instrument's voice.
What difference does thickness make?
The most important thing to understand about the thickness of stone picks is that they are on a whole different scale than plastic picks. This is because of the obvious difference in density between hard agate and plastic. We make the thinnest Stone Picks available, ranging from 1mm to 3mm, and Grip Picks ranging from 2mm to 5mm thick.
Thin Picks are extremly sleek and slick but thickness equals mass and enhances tone and volume. A thicker pick can have a thinner edge with a medium or sharp Bevel giving it more mass without softening the attack too much. A thicker Pick with a soft Bevel has a very soft attack and works well for Rythm guitar and Bass guitar. When a thick, soft bevel pick is used for lead it has almost no attack and the note seems to just appear.
What kinds of stones work the best?
Brasilian Agates are inarguably the best materiel for making gemstone guitar picks, and that's why we keep them regularly in stock. Many kinds of Agate will potentially work but most are inconsistently dense, too small, or fractured.
Once in a while we come acrossed some of these materiels of sufficiently high quality so check our Rare Picks page for Quartz, Black Skin and Montana Agates, Petrified wood (or Agatized wood) and other materiels when we have them available. We also make picks from Chiapan Amber that closely replicate the qualities of tortoise shell guitar picks. For more detailed information regarding the subtle tone differences between stones, see our Tone Factors page.
Can I use them on my bass, mandolin, etc.?
Absolutely! Most bassists don't use a pick at all, but for those who do, try a 3 to 4 milimeter stone pick with a soft Beveled edge. A thinner pick or medium to sharp Bevel will achieve tighter pops and snappier tone. It's certainly not the same as using a plastic pick on bass strings, which is known to sound especially 'scratchy'.
Stone picks can be used for almost any stringed instrument and work exceptionally well with mandolins. For these and other accoustic instruments we recommend a thick Grip Pick with a sharp bevel for maximum volume and tone quality, and of course Grip!
Do you test them for quality and durability?
Yes. The process of making stone guitar picks involves several thorough durability tests. In addition to the many phases of durability testing, we spend a few minutes with each pick playing scales and rythms in such a way that all of the possible angles to the strings are made.
Sometimes, even after confirming the quality of the pick we'll play with them a while longer. Though it is by far the easiest part of the job, this is the 'final test' for each pick. More of them are sent back for touch ups at this time than at any other point in the process, ensuring that they perform flawlessly.
However for all our attempts at consistency, each pick is truly unique. The quality of the stone is another matter altogether. Each Stone guitar pick is truly a gem and would be suitable as a fine piece of jewelry.
Do they wear out or wear away the strings?
Agate: No. Stone picks have absolutely no mal effect on the strings of your instrument. In fact: where plastic picks wear away and become sharp and scratchy, agate picks maintain their original integrity for as long as you can continue to use them. Because our picks are polished to a smooth glossy finish, they easily gluide over the strings with no resistance and zero friction.
Whether the pick is thin or thick or the Bevel soft or sharp, the edges are rounded and even kinder to the strings than a new plastic pick. Agate guitar picks will last for hundreds, if not thousands of years!
Though Agate Picks are stronger than glass, they can break under similar circumstances. Be especially careful with your picks over cement floors or asphalt. Always keep your stone pick in a pick box or other container. It is unlikely that your Agate pick will ever chip or scratch so it never loses it's resale value. Needless to say, it could be the last Guitar Pick you ever buy.
Amber: Amber Picks also have no mal effect on your strings, but because they are so much softer than metal they eventually do wear down in time. Amber is 2.5mohs as is tortoise shell and the human finger nail, so it wears away at a similar rate. Thinner Amber Picks wear away at a faster rate than thicker Amber Picks, a Thick Amber Pick (2.5mm+) can be expected to last many times longer than an Amber Pick 2mm or thinner. All Amber Picks can be worked and reworked using similar methods to those traditionally used to maintain tortoise shell guitar picks.
How much do they cost?
At Picks and Stones we give you a lot for your money! Though Agate Picks may seem expensive, they never wear out! Many professional guitarists go through hundreds of plastic picks every year, and like strings they aren't always in peak condition. Stone Picks give you the smoothest, cleanest sound and don't wear down on the playing edge.
If you take good care of these gems, they will last many lifetimes, and never lose their voice. Don't directly compare prices between stone picks and plastic picks, compare one stone pick to a lifetime of plastic picks. Click here for a basic breakdown of our prices and service fees, as well as our available discounts.
Chiapan Amber is an extremely expensive material (almost $500lb) but so is tortoise shell which it replaces and is no longer legal to buy. And Amber Picks are worked completely by hand, whereas Agate picks are finished and polished in a tumbler. Amber is also known to feature organic fossils from 22-25million years old, and in rare cases even insect fossils perfectly preserved.
But Amber Picks are more forgiving of slight blemishes in the finish, and thicker Amber Picks make slight cracks less of an issue. For this reason it's always easy to find a great price on a slightly blemished Amber Pick in our Blemished Pick section, making Amber an accessible option for any guitarist.
Do you gaurantee the beauty of the picks?
It would be impossible to gaurantee the beauty of every pick because beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Seeing the beauty in every pick comes with the understanding of how they came to be.
In volcanic episodes of the earths history new land is formed as lava beds slowly cool. Gas bubbles stop rising and become trapped for thousands of years. Over time the molecules in the gas stack themselves very orderly around the exterior of the bubble forming a layer of crystals (Druzy) growing inward leaving less and less air or gas in the center.
If they are leaft to follow through to completion there are no crystals leaft in the center and only solid agate. So around the outside of the stone are the bright colorful bands and in the center are various shades of golden honey colors. Though the center doesn't seem to have the bold pattern, if you hold it up to a bright back light you may find some interesting things going on in there.
What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept all major credit cards, checks, and money orders.
For non-web orders, call us Toll Free at 1888-878-9985 or send us an email to let us know which picks you would like. We can take your credit card information directly over the phone, please call to send a check or money order for the purchase price plus shipping and handling. We will mail your order as soon as the check clears.
How secure is my purchase?
We use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to ensure that your order information is kept secure and private.
Your privacy is very important to us. We will never give or sell any of your personal information to a third party.
Do you offer discounts for large orders?
Our bulk discounts are as follows:
5-9 Picks - 5% off order total
10 or more - 10% off order total
If you are considering buying more than 10 picks, please contact us beforehand to apply your discount, verify availability and work out a shipping schedule.
What is your return policy?
If you feel that your pick does not match the specifications you ordered or if you find a blemish that we missed, you can exchange it or get store credit. To return your pick, first email us and let us know what you would like in exchange. We will give you specific instructions for returning your pick.
As soon as we recieve the pick, we will mail out your replacement. All returns must be made within 30 days from the date you recieved your pick. We do not charge a re-stocking fee but we do ask that you pay for the extra shipping and handling.
What is your shipping and handling fee?
There is a $3.00 flat shipping fee and a $0.50 handling fee for all orders in the US, and a $9.00 International shipping fee. Expedited shipping is available and subject to change with current shipping rates.
How long can I expect until I recieve my pick?
All Orders usually ship within 1 to 2 business days. Orders within the lower 48 US States usually take 2-3 business days to arrive. We use Global Airmail for our international packages, which usually arrives in 5-7 business days. All International Orders are subject to be held in customs, this process can add an additional 2-14 days to your delivery time. We apologize for any inconvenience when your package is selected for this process.
Our Domestic Priority (2 day) and Express (overnight) are usually shipped out the day of purchase. Because of our relatively remote location, a day may be added to shipping times.
Large bulk orders will take longer. Please contact us before making an order of more than 10 picks and we will verify your shipping schedule. After we recieve your order we will email you with the expected shipping date.
Do you offer international shipping?
Yes! We are happy to ship our picks overseas! We use Global Airmail for our international packages, which usually arrives in 5-7 business days. Our International Shipping Rate is $9.00 plus a $0.50 Handling Fee.
Our Global Priority and Global Express orders are usually shipped out the day of purchase. We are not responsible for expedited international packages that are held up in customs and we appreciate your patience if your order is selected for this process.