V-Picks Is A Family Owned Business
This is a story of music. This is also a story of love and a story of faith. It is a story of family, friends and the story of V-Picks, and I like to tell it every time I hand a guitar pick to a friend, new or old. I wish I could tell this story to every person that plays one of our guitar picks in the world. This is why I am writing this letter to you, my friend. I long for you to hear and understand the passion and the secret behind what I think is the best guitar pick in the world!
It all started back in the early 80's. I was a young man then and just married to Mrs V only a few years. I loved her more than anything. We lived in a modest little cottage and I worked a day job and tried to be a Rock Star in the evenings and weekends. My favorite guitar player was Peter Frampton. I played Les Paul guitars, trying to emulate everything I saw and heard Peter do. I also loved the music and sound of three other guitarists, Brian May, Ed King and Barry Bailey. These three artists pretty much summed up what I considered to be my destiny of sound and style. I spent most of my energy grabbing at any hope of sounding like these icons of the Rock world.
I was not happy with one piece of equipment, however. My guitar pick. They just never made me happy. I must have tried hundreds of different types. A plethora of materials, shapes and colors. Only to be disappointed after a short honeymoon period. So, I decided to make my own plectrum. My own unique and different guitar pick. What material? Well how about wood? That didn't end well! Metal? Uhhh, that REALLY didn't end well. I found out that metal guitar picks tear up guitars and guitar strings. Rubber was even a consideration at one point. I found out that Brian May and Billy Gibbons were both using coins as a plectrum, so, I started buying up foreign coins and grinding them down. All in vain. Well, one day I was walking through a store and I saw it! It was a type of cast acrylic. Clear guitar picks! I immediately was drawn to it because I was also into Marine Saltwater Aquariums and I had a plexiglass tank that I just adored. This material looked so inviting that I bought a sheet of it. I took it to work the next day and cut out some shapes with a hack saw. I then took it to a grind wheel and created the bevel and point. Every gig for the next few weeks sported a different size and shape of pick until I finally found the right one for me. I would give them to a friend of mine that was still in high school and he would take them to shop class and buff them for me. Until then, I just buffed them on my Levi jeans. It has been said, "Poor people have poor ways." Well, I must have made about 30 of these things back then. I gave them to friends here in the area. Guitar players and bass players as well. Some told me I should market and sell them, but I wasn't really into selling stuff. Hey, I was gonna be a Rock Star, right? I ain't sellin' stuff! I used them for some years, and then...
Then there came a time when I decided I didn't want to be a guitar player any longer. I just got tired of it all, I guess. Guitar playing seemed to go into a direction that I didn't like. The melodies, in my opinion, seemed to be going away. It just wasn't fun for me any longer. I quit playing live and even told the studios to stop calling me for any recording dates. I just dropped out of the scene. I decided to play the sax. I sold off all of my guitars and bought saxes. Tenors and altos. My new hero was David Sanborn and I was like hair on a gorilla with his albums. Studying and learning to play the sax.
Now let's fast forward this movie. This nonsense with the sax lasted about 4-5 years until I decided it was time to play guitar again. And, because I decided to play Country music, I bought some Teles and Strats. One very odd thing happened. I did not remember the picks I had made a decade before. They never, even one time, crossed my mind! I began that same quest that I had back in the 80's. Trying this wood, this plastic, this coin. The very same steps! I think the older I'm getting, the more stupid I'm getting! I was grinding down silver quarters and Ben Franklin Half Dollars at one point.
Now, at this same time, Mrs V and I were starting to remodel our home. My daughter and I were cleaning out a closet and found an old guitar bag with a lot of my old tricks, effects, pickups and the likes. I was going to just throw it out but decided to go through it, just in case there was something in there I wanted, which I doubted. I reached into the bottom and pulled out this triangle, clear guitar pick. My heart almost stopped! I held it for a second and then the past started coming back to me. I said, "Audrey, Dad made this guitar pick back in the early 80's! I loved these things and got to where I didn't want to play with anything else. I don't know why I ever stopped using them". Then I realized, all the rest of my acrylic picks must have been in those guitar cases I had sold to get my saxes. I had completely forgotten these creations!
I went to my buddy, John's house and took my new-found friend with me. We played it and decided to put this lost formula back into play. I went to the store but couldn't find the exact materials used before, but found the next best thing. We started making fancy picks! I started sending them to friends all over the world that I had met on guitar forums. Hey, we have the internet now, right? They all loved these new handmade guitar picks just like my buddies did way back when. John asked me, "What are you going to call it?" I said, "I dunno. The Plexi-Pick?" John held up the pick between his finger and thumb, just like our V-Pick poster and avatar, and said "The V-Pick!!!". "Yeah!" I shouted. And that day, V-Picks were born! The funny part of this whole thing was I thought he called it that because they were shaped like a V. I didn't even realize he named it after me. I'm just getting dumb and dumber!
Here is where the faith and passion comes in. About the same time this was all going down, my daughter Audrey had gotten sick. She was not getting better and seemed to just get sicker and sicker. We began to worry and got her in to see doctor after doctor. They checked her for a lot of very scary things. And even though they were getting closer to a diagnosis, we just seemed to get more and more confused and worried over the situation. It finally got to the point when Audrey was hospitalized. They eventually got to a diagnosis after months of tests. Rheumatoid Arthritis. An Auto-Immune disease. We finally found the evil thing we had battled for so long!
One day, while driving home from the hospital by myself, I was really very depressed. Not knowing how I was going to fix all of this like Dads are supposed to, I cried out to God. "God, I don't know what we're going to do about all of this. Audrey is so sick and I don't even know how I'm going to pay for all these hospital bills. I need help!" I went home and life continued on as usual. At least we now had a diagnosis. At least we now had a name for all this pain.
Two days later, a forum buddy wrote me and said, "You need to stop giving these cool guitar picks away. A bunch of us want lots of them and we are not going to let you just give them to us. So, you need to start selling them and here is where you are going to go to sell them." He directed me to The Gear Page. A forum with thousands of members. Another good friend started a thread on the Birds and Moons Forum about the picks I had given him. I conversed with some guys online, and Mrs V as well, and we decided to sell them for $5.00 each or 3 for $12.00. I didn't think they would sell for that, however, the amount of time it took me to make them, they had to draw a sum like that to make it worth my time and effort. So, I guess they were classified as expensive guitar picks now. I just could not see the world paying me money for my guitar picks. Oh ye of little faith.
The orders immediately started rolling in on PayPal and did not stop. People were paying me, in advance, for a product they had not even seen or played with! They trusted me and they didn't even know me! The money to pay the doctor and hospital bills just seemed to come from nowhere! Audrey started getting better and better! Hope and light was at last coming back into our lives!
Now let us fast forward again, two years later. Today, my friend, we have not fallen short of paying one bill! Audrey is now 21 and has hopes of going to San Francisco State College so she can work for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, CA. She had a doctor visit this week and he told us that EVERY one of her blood tests came back normal! She is starting her own dog walking business. Someone at church this morning told me how good and healthy she is looking! We are selling thousands of V-Picks, literally all over the world! Not a day goes by that I'm not talking to, or writing to someone from Europe, Asia, Israel, etc. Carlos Santana and other well known artists are now playing V-Picks. We are going to NAMM this year and are in hope of picking up a lot of V-Pick dealers! We are making personalized guitar picks, electric guitar picks, acoustic guitar picks, mandolin picks, bass picks and even dulcimer picks!
We have a great God, my friend. He hears when His children call out to Him. I give Him all the glory and praise for where the Smiths are today. Could it be, after that one cry for help? Did He hear from Heaven and gather us under His pinions as promised so long ago? Does He actually know how many hairs are on our heads and does not even a sparrow fall from the sky that He does not know? Choose you, this day, who you may serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story.
Never Drop Your Guitar Pick Again
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I LOVE these picks! The feel while you are holding them is SO comfortable. The tone is really, REALLY nice and the ease with which you can speed pick (to the extent I can!) is phenomenal. I'm SOLD! There's no going back! I just put in another order!!! ~ Charles