A plectrum can be a thin flat piece of slightly flexible material held by or worn on the fingers and used to pluck or strum stringed musical instruments The plectrum is often called a pick or flat pick if used by a player to produce individual notes. Players of string-music know that there are many types of picks that will make the sounds that we all long to hear. A pick might be a sliver of material cut from an empty plastic milk jug; or constructed from a turtle shell; or maybe even a turkey feather trimmed in a special way. Milk jugs, turtle shells and turkey feathers are not the subject of this plectrum story though. No, we want to tell you about a man, his vision, and his legacy—a very special finger pick.
In 2003, Mr. Rusty Thronhill, a guitar picker in the style of Chet Atkins, could not find a finger pick that suited his needs or fit his fingers. Folks often say necessity is the mother of invention and such was the case with Mr. Thronhill. He needed finger picks that would fix the problems that he perceived as inherent to existing finger and thumb picks. Such as: clicking, catching on delicate fingernails, flying off, and producing inferior tones.
Thronhill was a tinker and innovator so he set out to fix the problems he saw with currently available finger picks. His goal was to create the perfect pick. Mr. Thronhill spent months designing and shaping many prototypes before he got his perfect finger pick design. With that conclusion, Rusty Thronhill patented his design and thus the Perfect Touch™ finger pick was born.
How did he go about sharing his creation you might ask? Travel—traveling to conventions, festivals and trade shows was his method. Thornhill went to as many of these events that his health would allow. He would meet and demonstrate his picks to players and they would experience the quality and pass the word among their peers. Before Mr. Thronhill’s health declined, he had introduced his picks to 44 different states and 20 different countries through online sales and the direct sales route. Thornhill developed a network of over 40 retail dealers. Alas, with further declining health, he was not able to keep up with the dealer and online orders. Eventfully, he shuttered the business and had the shop dismantled and put in storage. Mr. Rusty Thornhill passed away in 2015.
A Look At The Journey
We reached out to Ms. Jenny Thornhill Faulk, the current company CEO, to ask about her dad’s creation and the current business. She told us that the perfect pick was not an over-night creation; that Mr. Thronhill experienced about three years of trial and error and sending prototypes to testers before he had something truly special. Ms. Faulk said, “He followed up with a very revolutionary thumb pick. After the thumb pick, came the claw-hammer pick that has given claw-hammer banjo players the ability to be heard in a group.”
I asked Ms. Faulk how she became involved. She admitted that she did not learn how to make the patented picks at her father’s knee. Rather, she was busy raising her family. With her dad’s life quickly ebbing away, Ms. Faulk convinced him that she was ready to take on his creation and keep it going.
She related that inheriting the picks came at just the right time. Her children were at the end of their home-schooling career allowing her to concentrate on bringing the picks back to life. This was more difficult that you might expect. Ms. Faulk told us, “Dad was gone before I had a chance to talk through the process with him. I had to reverse engineer everything by looking at the product, the tools, and some sparse instructions that I found on his computer. I spent the first six months learning to make them. I had some of his favorite dealers check them out, and I didn’t put them back on the market until I got their okay on quality.”
I asked if the picks are mass-produced or custom formed for each order. Ms. Faulk said that while the picks are mass produced, everything is done by hand. The company is gaining a reputation for helping folks with very special needs. The picks are customizable so that folks who can not use regular finger or thumb picks are able to use these. Faulk commented, “Some folks need picks that are more like prosthetics. We really love working with these folks. It is my favorite part of the business when someone calls or emails and are so excited that they can play again.”
“The picks are manufactured in my basement,” Faulk says, “My son, Ezra, and I are the main manufacturers. Every once in a while a really large dealer order will come through, and all of the children and even grandchildren will hop on the bandwagon and help.”
Festival exposure is a big part of the revitalized company. Ms. Faulk travels to festivals and conventions as the sales representative and while back home she does more of the administrative side of things. Many of the original dealers signed on with Mr. Thronhill because customers came in asking for Perfect Touch™ Picks after seeing them at festivals or learning about them from their friends. Ms. Faulk is slowly bringing those dealers back on board. She said, “We love working with dealers and provide a product and support materials that have been called exceptional by most of our dealers.
At the end of our exchange, Ms. Faulk left us with these words, “Customer service is the one thing that we haven’t talked about. Dad received many reviews, and a huge percentage of them commented not only on the exceptional product but also on the old-time customer service. I am determined to continue that level of customer service. The way I look at it, not everyone can use my product but everyone can appreciate exceptional customer service.”
If you are a string instrument player searching to improve your playing style, Perfect Touch™ finger picks could be that for which you have been searching. Learn more by checking out the web site: Perfecttouchpicks.com or you can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615-669-3956.
By Edward Tutwiler