mosrite picks crop jog smaller
mosrite picks crop jog smaller

Serious Gear Geekery: Mosrite/Bakersfield Guitar Picks

mosrite picks crop jog smaller

I wonder how many of even my guitarist friends will appreciate the above photo. Maybe some of you Seattle musicians, or Ventures fans. I found a set of vintage Mosrite guitar picks on Ebay, which isn’t that hard, but, I found a set including the white one, which is ridiculous.

For those not in the know, the Mosrite/Bakersfield (same pick, different branding in different decades) white .74mm guitar pick is the best guitar pick ever made, and extremely difficult to find anymore. Mosrite/Bakersfield picks were kept alive by solitary enthusiasts for 30 years because there was no substitute, selling the tooling to one another and hawking them via mail and to local guitar shops, until, in 1997, Jim Dunlop purchased the brand just to put it out of business.

I was jamming at my friend Ranger Gary’s house waaaaay back in 1995, and I had picked up this pick off his table to play with, and after a few minutes was like, “Gary, this is the best guitar pick I’ve ever used.” And his eyes lit up. “I’m glad you noticed! That’s my favorite guitar pick. Bakersfield white.” And I knew nothing at all about it, but for two years Bakersfield whites were my pick of choice. Until, suddenly, every guitar shop in Seattle was out of them. And nobody knew where they had gone. I had standing orders at every shop in town.

I never stopped looking for Bakersfield picks, and if you search facebook, you’ll see there’s a small but devoted fan page from the days when there were still enough around for people to offer them for sale.

I called around and eventually got the story: Bakersfield wasn’t a company, it was a guy. He was making them at home and selling them to Seattle area guitar shops, and had suddenly just stopped coming around.

And over time, via the internet, I got the whole story. When the Mosrite company went bankrupt, a gentleman named Rudolph Scaffidi acquired the rights to make the picks, and changed the name & logo to “Bakersfield” (the town where Mosrite had been located) but nothing else about them. Scaffidi made Bakersfield picks himself for over 20 years, not because he wanted to be in the pick business, but because, he couldn’t get picks he liked as much anywhere else!

Eventually, after repeated requests from film composer John W. Goode of Seattle for the picks, Scaffidi sold him the brand name and the tooling and said, “Have at it.” And from 1990-1997, those of us lucky enough to be in Seattle, in exchange for tolerating the smell of the grunge musicians, got to have all the the Bakersfield picks we ever wanted. And then in 1997 Jim Dunlop made Goode a buyout offer. And shuttered the brand, for his own nefarious purposes.

And I have spent 25 years trying to get more Mosrite/Bakersfield white picks. I have had a standing alert on Ebay for years. The black Mosrite picks pop up fairly often for fairly exorbitant prices (as I type this, a lot of 9 Bakersfield blacks recently sold for about $50 on Ebay), as well as green ones that were made for a while in the ’60s.  Never the white ones. Nobody will part with those.

bakersfield blacks on ebay

And a few weeks ago, years of searching paid off. I now have ONE Mosrite white .74mm pick, mid-60s vintage, which together with its black and green siblings cost me less than the cost of a takeout meal in my neighborhood. So, a lot, but not a lot a lot a lot.

At this point, the goal is not to play with it, but to use it for measurements to find (or custom order) the closest equivalent I can.

For the real pick geeks: the white Mosrite/Bakersfields are made of delrin, the same stuff as your Tortex picks, but with a gloss finish. Supposedly the Dunlop 500 is the exact same material and process but I have a Dunlop 500 .74mm right here and I can tell you it’s much stiffer than the Mosrite. The Mosrite picks aren’t shaped like a normal 351 pick, they’re a little pointier. The Tortex Wedge picks (the white ones with the colored logo) are pretty much the same shape, although the Mosrites don’t even have the slightest pretense of the ground or rounded edge that Dunlop seems to put on everything as if they’re afraid you might cut yourself.

And you might have guessed already, a few months ago before this find popped up, I shot off an email to Dunlop, asking if they’d consider selling the Bakersfield brand and the tooling for the picks. No reply.

I looked into those home pick cutter gadgets and delrin sheets. The delrin is obtainable in close thicknesses to .74mm (not exact though). The pick cutter gadgets all cut either standard 351 shapes or ridiculous shapes like those tiny little teardrop metalhead picks or great big triangles. Now that I have the exact shape, I’m still not sure if it’s possible to get a custom punch. To be continued…

Some of the only good info you can find online about Bakersfield picks: