Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sausage Making

I recently learned a cool German phrase "Das ist mir Wurst." Which loosely translates to "I don't care" but it literally means, "It is sausage to me." I believe this phrase refers to the notion that people want to eat the sausage, but really don't care how it is made.

In this spirit, I have kept a lot of the sausage making details out of the main updates, but here on the EpicGrip blog, for those that do care, let me spill some beans on how the EpicGrip sausage is being made.

First, for anodizing, I got a shiny new pair of titanium tweezers for dipping the picks in the acid bath. Originally I tried this with alligator clips, but the electricity just went through the clip, and rusted it to hell, ignoring titanium entirely.  I made a modified pair of tweezers out of an old prototype pick, but this thing is super slick, and much easier to work with. I'll show video of the dunking process when I start the anodizing run. Until then behold the awesome tweezerness below. This will make my life much easier...

Let's see, what else... I got the toppers. Here is what 5000 cards looks like:
The postal service tore a pretty large chunk out of the lower left side of the box, but none of the cards were damaged. 

So I had the cards, but folding them by hand proved to look a little unprofessional, so I poked around Amazon for card-scoring solutions and found a really great solution in a Martha Stewart Crafts Scoring Board... (Don't judge me... It works great!)

So I set down with a box of 250 cards to see what I'd gotten myself into... 
I swear I DO own other t-shirts, I just happened to grab the same one this morning as the one I wore in the jam video... 

Anyway, after mis-scoring, cutting through, and otherwise mangling the first few cards, I settled into a nice cadence of about 13 picks per minute.  If you want to follow along with the production, just let this gif run for another 385 minutes...  AKA: If anyone know where I can order pre-scored card-stock for next time, please let me know...

And, after about 40 minutes of this... I am done for the day... Actually it's not too bad once you get going... I'll probably pop on a movie every couple of nights, and should be done way before the picks arrive.

Two boxes down, 18 to go...

Which leads, of course, to... 

Where are we with EpicGrip production?  
The story up until now, (for those who haven't been following along,)  is that there was an issue with the pick tolerances, and some of the EpicGrips would have been too thin.  Luckily, I caught the issue right away, and after tossing around a few ideas, the manufacturer and I agreed that they will use a slightly thicker sheet of titanium.  

Good news for you, for your patience (or tolerance,) you will get your EpicGrip upgraded to a thickness slightly thicker than the original 1.0mm spec.  Some of samples they sent were thicker, and I can attest that the extra thickness is awesome. You wouldn't really notice the difference without a pair of calipers, or a really sensitive scale, but the general sense holding one is that it just feels more substantial than the v1 prototypes (which were already awesome).

I've gotten confirmation late last night from the manufacturer that it will take 4 more days to complete the new Titanium sheet,  he expects the new material will be finished on 27th, and the stamping should begin immediately.  This means the EpicGrip manufacturing process will now be completed by September 15th.  They will then be bulk shipped to me, where I will anodize them and package them up for their final trip to all your doorsteps... I know some of you were hoping to squeeze these in to fit September birthdays, So I am sorry for the delay.

When do the Surveys go out?
I plan to send out an email survey (requesting addresses and colors,) about half-way through the manufacturing process, this is currently looking like Sept 8th.  I will update again before that to confirm and to remind everyone to keep an eye out...

Now that I have the tops and the bags and a couple samples, I was finally able to put it all together and here is how it worked.  

The first assembled EpicGrip package ever!
This one I hand folded (before Martha Stewart stepped in), so I expect your packaging will be centered a little better.  I'll admit... There is room to improve, but I'm so proud that I hit the staple-mark on the first try...

And my weekly plug for someone that I met through KS who is awesome goes to...  
I've been emailing with this dude Kyle, who is making innovative music accessories, and using some of the proceeds to help kids in Mongolia.  Keep an eye out for his Kickstarter campaign which should be starting up really soon.  Great guy, great ideas, great work.

As always feel free to email me with questions or whatever... :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Hey All,
Small update, a few more pictures...and some babbling, cause that's what kind of mood I'm in today.

Don't worry, you didn't miss anything, I have not sent out the survey yet. After much deliberation, I am planning to hold off on sending the surveys until half-way through production to minimize complications caused by changes to shipping addresses etc.  When I do send out the surveys, they will include drop-downs that will let you select the color options for each of the EpicGrips that you ordered. The anodization is added as a free bonus to all you Kickstarter supporters for blowing past our stretch goals so darn fast. :)

I am continuing to offering the EpicGrips (still pre-order for now) through the site, but on, going forward, since it is an extra step, anodized coloring will be an added charge for new buyers.

"So when should I expect my survey," you ask... Good question, keep reading.

Production is ~25 days from the point when I approve the samples.  I haven't done so yet because I am currently in dialog with the foundry regarding the sample thickness. There was a tolerance issue with the samples, and upon clarification, the foundry confirmed that if we continued as planned, a significant percentage of the final picks would be too thin. I am currently exploring options with the foundry to assure that all the EpicGrips are consistently awesome.  I should know more in a few days, and when I do, I'll post another blog update with details.

On the "boring details" front, the card-stock packaging tops have been ordered, and are on their way, and the EpicGrip plastic baggies are here. I'll post a picture of a 'final package' when the tops get here (scheduled for next Saturday.)

Here are some better pictures of the gold-ish, silver-ish and gradient finishes. Sorry about the fingerprints... :)


And totally off-topic:  
If you're one of the supporters who wants to learn to play the guitar, read on... I was talking to a co-worker about the new 2014 version of Rocksmith (a game by Ubisoft that lets you plug any real (electric) guitar into a PC or console, and play songs Guitar Hero style.) I do like the game, but it is not particularly cheap when you add in the cost of a proprietary $30 cable, and the DLC songs. If you have the money, I do recommend Rocksmith.  It does what it says on the box, and if nothing else, it's a fun excuse to pick up the guitar more often, but...
In the course of the conversation, I also learned about an app similar to Rocksmith called It's (mostly) free, it runs in your browser, and you can use it with ANY guitar including acoustic with no extra hardware required.  I played around with the guitarbots app this afternoon for about 15 minutes, and I must say that it looks like an amazing learning tool if you're just starting to play.  After installing the required Unity3D plug-in, it worked flawlessly, and on a technical level it's also just an amazing example of the kinds of applications you can build into a website these days.  BTW: I'm not affiliated with either of the above companies, I just like them both and think they are worth sharing.

Regardless of your playing level, I'd also heartily recommend checking out Andrew Wasson's Creative Guitar Studio channel on YouTube. Andrew does an amazing job of thoroughly explaining complex musical concepts in nice digestible chunks. Let me know in the comments below if you know of any other great resources like this for beefing your playing skills.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Samples Arrived!

I got a package with three EpicGrip samples in the mail today!!! And wow are they shiny! I knew they would be polished, but I had no idea they would be this nice.  My wife opened the pack and sent me this shot. The samples are literally mirror polished.  You can almost see the reflection of the trees.

When I got home, they were just as amazing as they were in the photo.

Since I only have the three samples, and there are 6 anodization options to show, I anodized, took pictures, and then buffed out the color, and then re-anodized the picks.  Everything colored up beautifully, but when when I went back to look at the pictures on the computer, the camera just didn't do the colors justice. I shot a bunch of different lighting conditions and different backgrounds, and it is just near impossible to capture the blue and purple that you can see when you hold it in your hands.

So below are the anodizing options:

Top row:
Raw Ti, Blue, Purple

Bottom row:
Golden, Fire Anodized, Gradient.
Note that the Fire anodized and gradient options will vary in pattern based on the variable nature of the anodizing process.

Here are a couple of the purple in the sun:

If you want a better sense of the true colors, the gradient photo in the original Kickstarter post is a LOT closer to the actual blue/purple/gold colors.  I'll have to remember how I shot that one... :)

One last macro that really shows off the nice beveled edges.

More soon...
cheers, and happy strumming,

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I got the EpicGrip stickers yesterday!  I bought them online through While stickermule is not the cheapest site I found, I'd read a ton of reviews about how amazing their quality was, and their web cart was very clean and easy to use.

True to the buzz, the stickers that arrived are nice thick vinyl and the printing is top notch. These stickers should weather pretty much any abuse you throw at them, so of course I immediately stuck one on my guitar case for testing. :) Everybody that ordered through Kickstarter or pre-orders through the cart gets one free with their order! Just a small way of saying thanks again!

And on the pick front... I literally (5 minutes ago) just got notification that the samples were shipped today. FedEx Tracking number included...
Delivery estimation is for next Tuesday evening (Aug 8th), so get ready for some hi-fidelity updates then. :)
The package is 1.1 lbs, hopefully that means I have a few extra samples to play with.
More updates as they happen...

Monday, August 5, 2013


Hey Pickstarters,

No picks today... I pinged the Factory this evening when I got home, and received a prompt reply confirming that the samples are complete...they just haven't shipped yet.

I'll post an update later in the week when I get an actual tracking number.  The samples will be coming via FedEx overnight, so hopefully I'll still have something to show off by Friday.
Thanks for hanging in...

In other news, got it's first post-kickstarter purchase through the (Shopstarter) cart today.  I'm currently evaluating Shopstarter for a survey solution as well.  It appears that they will allow multiple surveys, and should allow supporters to update their shipping address if anyone moves before the picks ship.

What else... I made up stickers... They should be arriving this week. I'll post a picture when they do. :) Meanwhile you can check out the design in the gallery page. (Really just a link to an imgur folder right now, but it works...)

Regarding packaging, I've got everything sourced and priced, I just need to pull the trigger. Probably this week. My wife is sick with some kind of stomach flu, so this week is going to be a little slow while I nurse her back to health. I'll definitely be updating the blog regularly though. It fills the void in my soul left by the closing of the KS campaign. :)

More soon... 'til then, happy strumming,