DIY Vespel Picks

Making my perfect pick from the same material used to make Blue Chip picks

When I set on a quest to find the best Jazz-style picks for acoustic and electric guitars, one of the first “boutique” picks that came up were Blue Chips. The only problem with them was the price – 50 bucks for a 2mm thick Jazz III clone was a bit more than I was ready to pay for a pick. And soon after I realized why they are so expensive, the stuff they are made from (Vespel Polyimide) costs an arm and a leg. I was quoted over a $100 for a single 10x10cm sheet! Apparently, it’s an advanced polymer used for mechanical parts that demand friction resistance, as well as heat and chemical resistance and whatnot. Picks made out of it should last for years! So I looked around and found a grab bag of plastic samples on eBay that contained three small Vespel scraps from rods of various diameters, together with 10 different types of plastics. All that for 20 bucks. Three of those scrap pieces turned out to be large enough for guitar picks and were enough to provide at least 7-8 blank discs, so I got a good deal.

Real Blue Chip Jazz picks

Blue Pick Jazz picks


Vespel comes in many different flavors. SP-1 is unfilled, “vanilla” Vespel. Other variations are filled with graphite, Teflon on other materials to make it more suitable for certain applications. SP-21 and SP-22 contain 15%/40% graphite for improved wear resistance which sounds appealing for guitar pick use, but after comparing the color of Blue Chip picks with colors of different Vespel variations it seems they match the color of SP-1 perfectly. Apart from SCP-5000, all other types of Vespel I saw are noticeably darker in color, so I think it’s safe to assume that Blue Chip picks are made of SP-1 only. Although their patent #US20090249938 is not limited to SP-1, but also covers the use of all other variations. They probably did so to cover the most ground and ensure nobody else uses Vespel of any kind for guitar picks. Cunning 🙂

Vespel rod types

Few different Vespel rods


With these Vespel rods, the trickiest part of the process is cutting the discs out of the rod. You want the cut to be as thin and as precise as possible, or you’re making some very expensive dust 🙂 . It’s probably easier if you have a band saw, especially if you take a square piece of wood, drill a hole of the same diameter as the rod, stick it in and then cut the wood together with the rod. That way at least you have flat surfaces to work with instead of the rod. We, however, don’t have a band saw, so it’s down to the good old hand saw.

The first vespel pick

After the disks are cut, the next step is fine sanding them to thickness, followed by cutting the pick to shape with a fret saw. I really like Gravity Sunrise pick, so we used it as an inspiration. The final step is sanding the edges and creating the bevel by hand using very fine sandpaper (#1000 grade).

Vespel pick roundup


To help with the grip and the looks, I took them to be laser engraved, each with its own design. Then filled the engraved area with golden nail polish to make the design stand out. I roughly covered both sides with nail polish and after it set (5-10mins to be safe), I scraped away the excess with a sharp blade. Everything that was engraved stayed golden because it was deeper. Finally, I polished both sides with 2500 grit sandpaper.

Dream Theater vespel pick


What I like the most about the pick is how it feels in the hand, it’s very comfortable to hold and feels like there’s nothing there. It glides across strings effortlessly and produces balanced, slightly warmer sound. Compared to Gravity Sunrise, which is a slightly bright pick, Vespel is a bit less bright, but still clear. It’s firm, but does flex a tiny bit with picks 1mm or thinner. All in all, I’m very happy with results. The closest shape that Blue Chip makes is standard Jazz III, so other than saving money, I got the pick shapes and designs that I really like.

There’s a potential issue with the grip, however. When your hands are dry, vespel grips OK, but it gets very slippery in sweaty hands.

Teddy Bear vespel pick

Dream Theater vespel pick

11 Responses to “DIY Vespel Picks”
  1. David S says:

    The patent number you listed is actually the application number. US10366678B2 is the number for the allowed patent. In that patent you will see that both independent claims specify a polymer containing both polyimide and an additional material. Their initial patent application was likely found to be too broad. If they are using SP-1, it would be my opinion (not lawyer) that anyone has freedom to market identical material guitar picks.

  2. Mark says:

    Hello all. We manufacture a plastic material called VTEC. It is the same plastic as Vespel, but sells for considerably less. We welcome the chance to supply rod stock for you to make your own picks, or we can make the picks given a drawing or sample pick. You can see VTEC at . Thanks!

  3. Eric Kelley says:

    Where did you purchase the raw material from?

  4. Just an FYI. I found a guy who can make guitar picks from VESPEL SP-1. I sent him a picture of my favorite pick shape with dimensions and was able to duplicate it with Vespel SP-1. The shape is Gravity Big Mini 2.0 without the multi-hole. I am now a Vespel fan and at a reasonable price.

    Thank you for your article. I’m going to try any find some material and make my own, maybe!


    • bEN says:

      Hi – would you be willing to share the contact info for the gentleman you noted can make guitar picks from VESPEL SP-1?

  5. André Orsel says:

    I can confirm that the grip of the Blue Chip pick is just outstanding with both dry and sweaty hands.
    I have tried a loooot of different brands and material, but Bleu Chip picks are realy awesome!

  6. Clay says:

    Something that is said about blue chip picks in all of the reviews are how grippy it is in your hand. I’ve never tried one, just reading reviews and figuring out which boutique brand I want to order. But people that review blue chips often comment on how grippy it is in your hands and slippery on the strings.

    so weird that you find grip to be the number one concern

    good work though!

    • bancika says:

      Hi Clay. Thanks for taking the time to read through the article and write a comment.

      I haven’t tried Blue Chip picks either, but they are supposedly made from the same fancy material as mine and seem to be finished very similarly when it comes to pick surface and etching. Maybe they are doing some magic that would make them grip better then mine, but Vespel material is designed to be slippery, as noted in the wiki article

      It combines heat resistance, lubricity, dimensional stability, chemical resistance, and creep resistance, and can be used in hostile and extreme environmental conditions.


      • Hi, I love your DIY Fever Website and content. Thank for you publishing such great information. I’m especially interested in pick types and your research on the BlueChip material. Any change you sell your version of this pick? I use the Chicken Pick Badazz III 2.0 and really like them. But I’m always interested in testing others. Please let me know if any of your picks are for sale.

        • bancika says:

          Thanks for reaching out, Rich. Unfortunately, I don’t have any for sale, those are the only ones I built. Blue chip are probably the closest commercially available picks.

Leave A Comment

  • About

    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.