MATTHEW GOINS RUNS A MACHINE shop in Knoxville, Tennessee, that specializes in manufacturing parts for the semiconductor industry. But through a serendipitous series of events, he has found himself also manufacturing high-tech plectra that an increasing number of star pickers are using in place of their previous picks—especially genuine turtle shell picks. “BlueChip picks are made from a composite material that costs $4,800 for a ten-by-ten-inch square a halfinch thick,” says Goins. “They are precision machined with CNC equipment to extremely tight tolerances and then hand-beveled and polished, which is why they sell for $35 each. I don’t advertise them as replacements for turtle shell picks, but a lot of users change over because turtle shell picks break easily, the edges develop grooves that get hung up in the strings, and if you play with sweaty hands or run them through the washer they’ll break down. My picks also contain lubricants that make them fast off the strings and reduce pick noise, yet give them a slight tackiness that makes them easy to hang onto. They are also extremely durable and last for months and even years. You get basically the same tone as turtle shell without the drawbacks.”
Goins in his shop with a handful of his latest creations.
Goins got a break when a crackerjack mandolin player he’d given one of his picks to posted a rave review online, and email began pouring in asking how to get one. “I’m a Christian, and I believe the good lord watches out for us,” says Goins. “At the time I began developing picks we had plenty of industrial work. Then the recession hit, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make payroll. But the picks began taking off and now we are selling to 15 countries and we’re having trouble keeping up with demand. It’s also pretty cool having folks like Jerry Douglas, Chris Thile, Roy Curry, and Tommy Emmanuel calling to talk about picks!”