The guitar pick is a vital and often unappreciated piece of equipment. The little things are essential. Small and unassuming, picks of various shapes, sizes, and designs provide an essential "striking point" for many guitarists. Without proper picks (or hastily fashioned substitutes), many players are rendered mute — unable to pick, strum, or shred as they normally would.
"I have picks all over the world," laughs local guitarist Graham Whorley, one of hundreds of professional musicians reliant on the small pieces of gear. "Pockets, cases, floors, stages, hotels, motels, Holiday Inns ... in cars, planes, trains, on streets, at home. The only problem with me is I only have one at a time — if that one is to be found. They seem to evade me."
For years, the Charleston-based singer and blues-rock guitarist has established himself as a versatile solo live performer as well. He's famous for his "loop shows," where he digitally samples his guitar, plays the recording back on a repetitive cycle, and plays additional guitar over it.
"I easily go through 200 picks a year," he says. "I have probably had a million picks go through my hands in the last 20 years. Never kept one. Doing 300 shows a year, you would think I had droves of them. I only have one pick in my pocket and I will be playing with it tonight. As long as it is there when I step on stage."
Whorley normally uses medium and light gauged D'Addario picks. They're almost always within reach.
"Normally, I just keep a few in my pockets," he says. "I put a few in a little tray on my nightstand where I put my wallet at night. They'll diminish, and my wife will find them around the house."
He adds, "I have had to cut up credit cards, Piggly Wiggly and Harris Teeter cards, and anything else like that into the size of a pick and just play with that."