Duo Ahlert & Schwab

Woodpicker - cherry tree picks

Cherry tree picks for gut-strung (or using gut replacement, like Nylgut) mandolins, like Cremonese and baroque mandolins.
The idea of Woodpicker grew out of studying the mandolin methods by Fouchetti and Bortolazzi. Both methods describe picks from cherry tree bark as being the most suitable means for playing gut-strung mandolins


Bartolomeo Bortolazzi (1773-1820):
"Was die Behandlungsart der Mandoline betrifft, so hält man bekanntermaßen das Instrument selbst mit der linken Hand, auf die nehmliche Art wie die Guitarre; die Saiten selbst darf man nicht mit den Fingern der rechten Hand, wie es wohl einige gelehrt haben, und eben so wenig mit einem Federkiel (statt des Bogens bei der Violine) berühren, sondern man bedient sich am schicklichsten dazu eines kleinen Blättchens von Kirschbaumrinde, welches man im Italienischen Patacca nennt."
(German original)

About treating the mandolin, as you know you hold the instrument with your left hand, just like you do with a guitar; you do not, as some used to teach, touch the strings with your right hand fingers, nor use a feather (similar to a bow on a violin), instead you seemly use a small flake of cherry tree bark, which is called Patacca in Italian.
(English translation)

Giovanni Fouchetti (1757-1789)
"Ceux qui montent leur Mandoline en cordes de boyeau doivent se servir en maniere de plume, d'un morceau d'écorce de Cerisier, que l'oncoupe en forme de coeur et de la longueur convenable pour pouvoir le tenir facilement dans les doigts car les plumes ne vallent rien pour les cordes de boyeau."
(Frensh original)

Those who string their mandolin with gut strings, have to use something in the same way as a feather, which is made from a piece of cherry tree bark, which you cut into a heart-like form that is long enough so you can easily hold it between your fingers, because feathers are not suitable for gut strings.
(English translation)

The picks are handcrafted. First, a piece of wood has to be peeled, then the peeled off bark is soaked in water. Afterwards, the picks are cut and separated from the outmost layer of bark. They get pressed and dried and finally ground and polished. The grinding and polishing process also serves as a quality check. As these picks are a natural product made from trees of different ages and sizes, picks from different batches differ concerning looks, consistency and thickness.
We don't know, today, how thick the picks at Bortolazzi's time really were. But we can assume there will have been variations in thickness back then, too.


Cherry tree picks are 10,-Euro per piece
postage and packaging in Germany: 2,-
postage abroad on request
Order via e-mail an: duo@ahlert-schwab.de

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