Researchers Have Created a Glass Pick That Promises to Harness Harmonics That “Cannot Be Obtained With Conventional Guitar Picks”

Glass guitar pick
(Image credit: Shigeru Fujino)

Researchers from a University in Japan have created a one-of-a-kind guitar pick made from glass that is said to be capable of harnessing tones that are unobtainable for standard plastic-style alternatives.

The pick itself was designed and developed by researchers from Kyushu University, who – lead by Professor Shigeru Fujino – managed to develop a way of processing silica glass into various shapes and contours, reportedly impossible to achieve via conventional methods.

That technology was first pioneered back in 2018, but last year the researchers’ new method of silica glass processing was put on display for the world to see at a United Nations ceremony, after the intergovernmental organization had declared 2022 to be the International Year of Glass.

Wielded by jazz guitarists Joshua Breakstone and Satoshi Inoue, the silica glass pick took center stage at the UN International Year of Glass closing ceremony, and though footage from the occasion has yet to emerge online, a YouTube video demo – as well as a dedicated SoundCloud account – has been set up to showcase the pick’s sonic potential.

Intriguingly, silica glass is the same material used to construct the jewel in Tutankhamun’s scarab brooch, meaning Egyptian pharaoh’s brooch might also double as possibly one of the best-sounding guitar picks of all time.

Of the one-of-a-kind pick, Fujino noted, “The molecular structure of silica glass makes it more durable, has better light transmission, and is highly heat and chemical resistant. 

“Silica glass has higher mechanical strength and density than celluloid, the common material used in guitar picks,” he added. “Its unique properties produce gorgeous and glittering high-frequency sounds that cannot be obtained with conventional guitar picks.”

For our two cents, it sounds like a fairly clean pick with a nice biting edge, though whether those previously unobtainable “high-frequency sounds” really make much difference to the naked ear, we’re slightly skeptical.

Likewise, despite all the assurances that this silica glass pick might be one of the most robust picks available, we’d still be worried about snapping the thing in half mid-strum, leading to a particularly nasty injury to the strumming hand.

Despite our concerns, Fujino’s process of refining silica glass looks to be a substantial development in the world of engineering, and to have a guitar pick placed right in the center of this innovation is a neat extra.

For readers keen on testing out the glass pick for themselves, it might not be long before the silica glass pick becomes available to the masses: right now, Fujino is said to be in discussion with Ikeda Picks and Kohoku Kogyo in an effort to make the pick commercially available to all guitarists.