Introduction: Make Brass Guitar Picks From an Old Cymbal

Picture of Make Brass Guitar Picks From an Old Cymbal
I like brass guitar picks. They have a tone all their own. Buying them in stores is very expensive, so I decided to make my own...

Step 1: Parts and Tools

I bought two cracked cymbals off eBay for one dollar.
I'll be using a tin snips, a bastard file, and a Dremel tool to make my picks...

Step 2: Cut the Cymbal Into Pick Shapes

Picture of Cut the Cymbal Into Pick Shapes

I used three picks as templates for my picks...

First I cut them into small "chunks"...

Step 3: More Cutting

Picture of More Cutting

Then I cut the chunks into each pick shape. If you take your time, you can cut pretty close to the traced outline...
The better you do this step, the easier the next step is...

Step 4: Fine Tune Your Shapes

Picture of Fine Tune Your Shapes

I used a cutting bit and my Dremel to get the shapes "just right".

Step 5: Finish Your Pick Shapes With a File

I then used a bastard file to smooth the edges and make them nice!

Step 6: Polish the Picks

Picture of Polish the Picks

Then I used my Dremel again, this time with an emory bit to further smooth and polish the picks.
Voila! Brass picks!

NOTE: Safety first - wear gloves and eye protection when making these picks!


ShaneM52 (author)2016-01-22

I hope you wore a respirator. Brass contains lead which causes cancer, especially when ingested or inhaled. Anyone ever heard of Flint Michigan?

andrewmag166 (author)ShaneM522016-08-13

Cymbals arent made from brass they are made from Bronze.

quadracer (author)2012-04-22

My brass picks are in high demand from all my guitar friends. i use mothers polish and a piece of cardboard to polish the edges, and I put a slight angle on all the edges. Then use mothers to polish the surface, Smooth as glass, Bright as gold.

jtaylore o (author)2011-07-19

Haha, I agree with the other drummers.
I'm both a guitarist and a drummer. I would only turn my crappier cymbals and completely broke-beyond-repair cymbals into pick, especially since I don't breaking strings.
Heh, but I have to say, if my guitarist ever uses my cymbals for picks, she's dead XD

masterochicken (author)2011-07-01

I just cut some picks from some 6061 T6 aluminum I had lying around. Thanks for the idea.

2cool4u (author)2009-10-24

 badass dude grate idea!

remssik (author)2009-08-23

Being a drummer, this wouldn't make sense if it was a small crack or chip. But otherwise, by all means. I did this to some stock no-name cymbals, they look really cool, and my 1st I still carry around.

i am a drummer too and i agree the only way i would through out a cymbal would be if it was cracked all the way to the center

SkateboardingForLife (author)2009-09-19

i wonder if the pickups on the guitar pickup the vibrations from the metal picks, if so that could be part of the unique sound that they make, just a thought

guitarmonk15 (author)2009-08-10

so I can see you play a little jazz guitar because you made jazz style (also known as tear drop) picks. One problem, wouldn't they be curved?

they are such a small area of the cymbal they wouldn't be noticeably curved, but if they were that might be helpful for gripping the pick

weaponscollector94 (author)2009-08-26

how did the file get the name B******? i use them for metal working and they are quite handy for sharpening an axe but i am not sure how it got that name

remssik (author)2009-08-24

Couldnt you use the sanding part for the dremel? Just wondering.

guitarmonk15 (author)2009-08-10

BTW, cool 'ible!

Coopah223 (author)2009-07-30

Why are you wearing gloves while using a dremel??!

unsurreality (author)Coopah2232009-08-09

To hide his identity.

halfroboy (author)2008-06-02

I have heard that you are not supposed to use anything metallic as a guitar pick.

scott! (author)halfroboy2009-07-15

yeah, they wear your strings down faster until they break, I have a metal pick, but I don't use it mostly because I don't like the sound of it though

Shligger (author)halfroboy2009-04-07

I use metal picks myself. It's a rumor that they break strings. Players break strings not picks. The picks do "eat" at the strings over time (the strings will retain their luster wear you pick as they are being worn at.) Nice guide! Brass picks are kings among wimpy plastic plectrums.

Soupraok (author)halfroboy2008-06-12

it just wares your strings faster, and if your not careful it will take the paint off your guitar, and scratch it up

Sgt.Waffles (author)2007-04-15

As a drummer, i want to kick you in the jaw for destroying cymbals. But on the other hand, they are only paiste 302s, and not zildjian platinums. Good instructable! Too bad i dont play guitar though. +

Shut Up Now (author)Sgt.Waffles2009-01-10

what would you do if you had a cracked cymbal? make something for your set out of it right? well this guys a guitarist so he made something for his guitar... btw, i play the drums too but ive only been playing for 4 years

michoi (author)Sgt.Waffles2008-03-22

i totaly agree

yeah i know right!

Hey Sarge, could you suggest a set for me? (in the 800-1200 price range) I've been looking for about a year now, but have never actually bought one. I've got a shitty groove percussion that I got for free off a friend, and if I'm going to play any better, I've gotta sound better.

D'OH! forgot to tell Quarry what a nice job he did!

damn! me too! good job quarry, do u play drums aswell at all, im just suprised to think that a guitarist thought of using broken cymbals for picks rather than buyin some sheet metal.

Pearle 9 peice, with zildjian platnums. Buy the gaurentee on the cymbals, because if you rock as hard as i do, you WILL break one. Expecially if you get a thin crash or a splash cymbal. With the garuntee, if you break one, you get a new one for free.

sweeeet! Thanks for the advice =)

The zildjians are expensive, but they are worth it in quality and free stuff.

drummonkey92 (author)Sgt.Waffles2008-02-23

i play guitar and drums (drums mainly) n iv just bought a ziljian zxt and 2 sabien pros, iv got a splash from an old drum world hi-hat, so i mite make some picks from my drumworld ride...still seems a shame somehow :( lol

Quarry (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-04-15

Don't fret, Sarge. The cymbals were broken before I got them! ;)

Sgt.Waffles (author)Quarry2007-04-16

I figured as much XD

dcehm (author)2008-08-12

Bronze picks are amazing, thanks for posting this!

thedog458 (author)2008-07-03

nice idea but i would not use them it wears your strings to fast

DjProToJeeX (author)2008-04-08

i love it but i still cant see useing cymbals :(

microman171 (author)DjProToJeeX2008-05-17

what if they are already cracked?

DjProToJeeX (author)microman1712008-05-18

i have cracked ones i hang in my studio.. idk its to each there own i guess. its definetly a great way to reuse resources.

that bass player (author)2008-04-25

I made a brass pick form a old cracked cymbal and it works great! I'm a bass player so using a pick is uncommon do to its harsh sound but when i used this pick (after making it) it sounds like i'm using my fingers... I highly advise doing this. or at least buying a brass pick. so ya try this.. if you don't have a cymbal just look at yard sales or good will your bound to find a broken cymbal sonner or later.

WAKKO444 (author)2008-03-24


Black Jelly (author)2007-09-17

if you only used the cymbal on the left to make picks, i have seen people cut broken cymbals, to make them more of a splash cymbal. you seem like the kind of person that could try this out. get back to me if it sounds good.

drummonkey92 (author)Black Jelly2008-02-23

iv got a splash cymbal cut down from an old hi-hat. sounds suprisingly nice but not perfect obviously; its still a good idea for any drummer whos upgraded his cymbals from realy crappy ones that arnt worth selling

Quarry (author)Black Jelly2007-09-18

Jelly, you are correct. I know of that being done as well... however, I don't play drums, and have no need for a splash cymbal (or any other kind of cymbal, for that matter), but I do have a need for more guitar picks!!! These are quite popular with my guitar-playing friends, too. They make great Christmas gifts... ;)

INSTRUCTUBAL (author)2007-12-27

i should try that them shiiiiny.....

shadowgravity (author)2007-12-14

there brass

Quarry (author)2007-04-24

You know, I say in this Instructable that these picks are "brass"... but I guess they are actually "bronze"... - My bad!

Punkguyta (author)2007-04-19

What the hell's up with the super evil villan gloves you had on in the dremel picture. Cool though

Quarry (author)Punkguyta2007-04-19

Actually, I'm wearing a pair of latex gloves in that pic... The brass filings are pretty nasty on your skin, and normal work gloves seemed too clumsy for this task. Glad you liked 'em!

Bigdawg (author)2007-04-16

I'm sure you probably didn't have access to one or you wouldn't have been using the Dremel, but a bench grinder would make short work of the shaping process. Also, if the picks are thicker than desired, one could sand them thinner I would guess. And, though it might affect the tone, dipping them in a resin (or spar polyurethane?) would make them less likely to scratch and preserve the shine. Though I think they would look cool tarnished, every time you used one your fingers would stink of brass!

Quarry (author)Bigdawg2007-04-17

Ah yes, the bench grinder! I thought of that, but couldn't justify buying one just to make some picks! But that would, indeed, make this job easier. I think any coating would chip or flake off as you played... and the tarnish, used look of the pick is very aesthetically pleasing!

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