Muskox Designs’ Gypsy Pik Review

Greg Pacetti/ Muskox Designs | 2010 | Gypsy Pik Review |

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A Brondel B-3can models the 2 Gypsy piks. The J hook sits pretty on the left and the standard on the right. In front is a moosehide pouch. (you can read more about the guitar here)

Gypsy Piks are handmade by Greg Pacetti in his Alaskan workshop. Having built various electric and acoustic instruments over the past 15 years, Greg is now making a limited number of picks from Musk Ox horn. The muskox is an Arctic bovine mammal living primarily in Arctic North America as well as in Sweden, Siberia and Norway. Both females and males have long curved horns. They can reach 1.2 m tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 300 kg. The horns are used in sparring and are highly prized for their rippled figure.

I received 2 picks to review, 2mm thick standard pick and a 2.75mm thick J hook model. The thinner standard is shaped like rounded triangle- much like the popular tortoise substitute picks (on the right in the photo above). The other J hook model (left in photo above) resembles a more standard teardrop shaped pick but with as Greg says :”small cresent cut-out to help steady the axis of the pick while in use”. Both picks had two holes bored through and through to help grip. Greg very kindly sent them in a moosehide pouch with a simple tie string. A really really nice touch! As one might expect from the name, these picks are designed for rapid, accurate flatpicking.

Finish wise, both picks are well made- smooth and even, with precise machining for the holes. The musk ox material as you can see from the photos is a translucent slight amber with sinuous milky white inclusions. This gives an overall effect of a curl like in maple. The picks remain light despite being relatively thick with a very slight flex. All the striking surfaces are bevelled smoothly and nicely.

Both picks are comfortable to hold with a texture and feel unmatched by synthetic materials. There is a subtle warmth and yield to the grip which delrin and cellulose lack. The J hook model did feel more secure in my hands and that allowed me to relax the right hand more than with the standard model. And both play excellently and easily without need to adjust my technique. The striking surfaces glide over strings and have a very slight, high noted pick click. The stiff and lightweight picks allowed for lightning fast and accute picking. The sharper striking point of the J hook along with the sharper bevel produce an articulate, lyrical tone with a meaty fundamental. The more rounded standard model as expected gives a more powerful fundamental tone. Both picks were similar in producing a more powerful fundamental, something similar to what I hear with true turtleshell picks.

Greg has these picks selling for US$30 and let me tell you it is worth every penny. Figured Muskox horn is rarer than mammoth ivory at the moment and is available only in very small sizes often reaching $30 per cubic inch. The craftsmanship is superb, the material is superb and the product is superb. If you are a fan of tortoiseshell or tortoise substitute picks, you should try one out for yourself.

You can get a hold of your own gypsypik here.


On the moosehide pouch sits the J hook on the left and the standard on the right. Check out the figure in both picks!


Greg Pacetti Instruments:


©Terence Tan.
Titled Pictures courtesy of Greg Pacetti©.

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Steve Baughman, Robin Bullock, and Al Petteway were all extremely gracious with their time and advice. I have attended the Swannanoa