It shouldn’t happen but it does: arriving to the gig and discovering you’ve no plecs. Luckily there’s no need to panic because there are no shortage of readily available of alternatives. Here we look at the pros and cons of 5 readily available options:
Credit Card: Probably the “go to” replacement for the majority of musicians, the credit card is very much the old reliable. And rightly so, it ticks a lot of the boxes! They are stiff, a good size, easy to cut into shape, and reasonably durable. However, they will damped the string sound as they wear down, AND you need to get a replacement card!
Disposable Coffee Cup Lid: Is there a band wagon that doesn’t have a pile of petrol station coffee cups under the driver’s seat? Unlikely. And it’s just as well because in your greatest hour of need they could be a saviour! They are large in size, durable, and easy to cut into your desired shape. However, they may be too light for many players.
Bottle Top or Ring Pull: Although they’re the one alternative that every venue is guaranteed to have, it may best be considered as a last resort. They are stiff, a decent size, and very durable. But...the sound they produce is very different to a plastic plec, metal on metal may result in a lot of broken strings, and there is a very high likelihood of razor sharp edges forming.
Beermats: Just like the bottle top, you’re nearly guaranteed to find beer mats in every venue. However, they also come with some significant cons. Although they are stiff, a decent size, and easy to shape, they’re unlikely to last more than a song. On top of that, if you’re a sweaty player, you can expect to end up with a piece of papier maché between your finger and thumb!
Your Fingers: Using your digits may seem like the most obvious choice. After all, they’re readily available! In reality however, for most people they should be the last option. Apart from being virtually impossible to use to play lead if you’re not used to it, and the fact that the strumming sound is much less clear, they come with a serious health risk; blisters, lesions, and sliced open finger nails can be nearly guaranteed!
The truth is when it comes to needing a plec, nothing beats the original. However, using one or more alternatives will ensure you get through the gig...hopefully without injury :-)