About Steve Vallance:
I turned 60 this year, and I have been playing guitar since I was about 15. I played in garage bands as a kid, playing both guitar and bass. I wasn’t very good, and I eventually gave it up, as I was a young man growing up in Southern California, and there were too many other things to do.
Like most other kids, we would ski in the winter, surf in the summer, and I even learned how to play the trumpet, and marched in the high school band. I discovered a less popular sport called falconry, and after I saw a guy with a falcon on his gloved hand, I was hooked. (Falconry is an ancient method of hunting, using trained hawks or falcons, that fly free and catch wild quarry.) Falconry took up most of my time as a young man, and even as an adult I managed to find time to fly my birds.
Along with falconry, my younger years included marriage, raising my son Chris, and working as a Los Angeles police officer. At about 45, things slowed down, as Chris had moved out of the house, I had left law enforcement, so I picked up the guitar again.
Playing the guitar as an adult was quite a bit different, as I had learned how to apply myself, and I practiced sometimes six hours a day. I was taking lessons, watching YouTube videos, and really learning all I could about guitar. On aspect of playing the guitar that really interested me the pick, or plectrum. I learned quickly that the type of pick I used really effected how I played, and I experimented with all types of picks, from thin to thick, from large to small, and even picks made different materials.
For me, smaller, thicker, and more pointed picks were the best, as I could play more efficiently. As I progressed at guitar, my appreciation for a good pick increased, and at least for me, my playing depended on a good pick.
10 Years Ago
By the time I had been playing again for about five years, I had a pick collection of about 100. Although I knew what type of pick I liked, it seemed I could never settle on a pick, or if I did, I would lose it, or it would simply wear out, as virtually all of the picks I could find were made of some type of plastic or nylon. I was always on the lookout for new and different picks, and about 10 years ago, while I was searching online, I stumbled upon a pick called V-Pick. This pick was made of acrylic, which was different, and they had a good selection of shapes and sizes.
I placed an order of a few different picks, being cautious, as these were not cheap picks. Some of them were several dollars apiece, compared to other picks, which were a lot of times less than a dollar. The first time I played with a V-pick it changed how I played and how fast I could play. The acrylic felt solid, stuck to my fingers as it warmed up. The thick picks that I selected, pushed through the strings, cleaner, smoother, and faster than I had ever been able to do before.
The picks I started with were the screamer, the mummy, Dimension Jr, and the Psycho. These are thick picks between 2 millimeters, and 7 millimeters thick, and are different from anything I have ever used before. Also, they don’t wear out like other picks I have used. Sure, even acrylic wears our over time, and with the lighter V-picks I have used, they do wear at the tip, a bit. However, with the larger picks that I prefer, I see very little if any wear. I also find that with the thicker pick, I pay closer attention to my technique, which is utilizing the least amount of pick necessary to create the desired sound. With a thicker pick if you dig too deeply into the strings, the pick will snag. This insures that I pay attention to my technique.
A Product that changed everything
I have now been using V-picks exclusively for 10 years, and I won’t use anything else. In fact, not long ago, I picked up a regular pick, just to mess around, and I found it to be completely inadequate. The only problem I have with guitar picks, is that I lose them too easily. This isn’t typically a problem when using inexpensive picks, but when you are paying between 4-10$ and up for a pick, it gets expensive if you have a tendency to lose them.
Solution to a problem
Last year really became a problem losing picks, as I was staying in a lot of different hotels, almost every night, and I was bringing my guitar to practice. Misplaced expensive guitar picks at home, aren’t a problem, as you will invariably find them. However, when your job requires that you stay in a different hotel every night, a misplaced pick becomes a lost pick when you check out. I was losing a couple picks a month, which isn’t a lot, but some of these picks were my favorites, and yes, expensive. I tried different methods of keeping my picks in order, from pick holders, to special bags. It never seemed to work, as eventually I was going to set my pick down somewhere I wouldn’t remember later. Either that, or it would fall under the bed or furniture, never to be seen by me again.
How I came up with this
A few months ago I was trying to figure out a way to keep my picks in order, and I wondered if I put a magnet inside a pick, would that work? With that, I ordered some neodymium magnets online, and I epoxied a few of them inside some of my V-picks. Granted, it was a bit labor intensive, burning a hole out of an acrylic guitar pick, but it was worth it, once the magnet was epoxied inside the pick. Not surprisingly, it worked, they stuck together beautifully.
and that's how the SVPicks were created!