Picks and their various materials and shapes are debated endlessly in online instrument forums. One new entrant to that conversation is the Chris Thile Signature Mandolin Pick from D’Addario (#2CA7-01CT), which the bluegrass mandolin world has been giving a lot of positive chatter to lately. The standard triangle pick with rounded points is made from casein, the main protein in milk. Relatively easy to work with, casein can be fashioned into a pick that looks and sounds strikingly like the now-banned tortoiseshell picks many players still use.
Embossed with Thile’s signature and the company logo, the hydrophilic material is grippy and unlikely to slip even when sweating. Each point is speed beveled for a right-hand player: Sorry lefties, you’ll have to re-bevel it yourself.
Soundwise, I was playing my Kimble A-5 with my standard Blue Chip TP-1R and then switched to the Thile. My wife immediately noticed the mandolin was suddenly louder with a warmer, sweeter tone. I’m not 100 percent sold on switching over permanently, but I’ll definitely be experimenting with it.
As a socially responsible artist, Chris Thile gets no revenue from sales of the pick, which sells for $24.95. He donates all proceeds directly into the D’Addario Foundation which supports “programs that bring music back into communities and schools and get kids playing as early and as frequently as possible.” An excellent pick supporting a very worthwhile charity, this is a win-win for D’Addario and players wanting that shell pick sound without the environmental impact. For more information, visit daddario.com.