INTERVIEW: Kevin Grover of Grover Allman

Picks (or plectra to those of us who like to use big words) are all too often overlooked when it comes to grear, but dude, that’s where your sound starts, so you really owe it to yourself to make your pick your own! And there’s no better way to make a pick your own than to have it printed by a company like Grover Allman, who have been printing quality picks for years, and more recently have made huge waves in the industry for their revolutionary photo picks (not to mention being very active and entertaining twitterers!). As you probably know if you’ve been reading the site for a while, I’m a Grover Allman user myself (pick up some I Heart Guitar picks by Grover Allman here). My latest batch reads ‘My other pick is my fingers.’

Grover Allman’s Kevin Grover talked me through the company’s history and its products.

When did you start the company?

The company started in 1990, there were no Australian made guitar picks back then. We invested a small amount of money and had an amazing response from our Australian retailers, as they say – the rest is history. Grover Allman now exports to over 25 countries and has sold in excess of 30 million guitar picks.

Do you remember your very first pick? I still have mine, and it makes me all nostalgic to drag it out and think about all the bad notes I must have played with it…

I do remember my first guitar pick; it came from one of our current competitors, however I don’t have it anymore. It was a brown medium celluloid.

The first guitar pick that our company made I still have. We made a small test production run to trial our tooling and the picks are now kept in a big glass jar. They were .85mm white nylons. We still sell them today as our performer series. Every time I look at the jar I reflect upon where it all started and where we are today.

Who are some of your star clients?

We have a lot of star clients on our books now. Please forgive me if I have left your band off my list as there are so many, there is no order of importance here, just what came to my head – Motley Crue, Bleeding Through, Klaxons, Extreme, Silverchair, Nuno Bettencourt, Nick Sterling, Suicide Silence, Living End, Cannibal Corpse, Slash, Joe Robinson, Bring Me The Horizon, Rammstein and many more.

You get lots of work from non-stars too: what are some of the more unique custom pick orders you’ve received?

We get requests for just about everything you could imagine on a guitar pick. We had a run of porn stars on picks, which was quite funny – maybe there are some discounts being applied for guitar lessons for porn stars? Haha. Weddings are very popular, so are album releases and tours.

Tell us about the licensed products you do.

We have a number of licenses currently. The Simpsons, Family Guy, Chicks on Picks, Drop Dead Sexy, Triple J and Beached Az ,all proving to be very popular. With these licenses we manufacture picks, straps, music manuscript bags and guitars. We are always on the lookout for new licensing opportunities.

The photo picks are a very bold step. Was it tricky to perfect the process?

Photo Picks have certainly opened up a great deal of possibilities for our clients now. We were the first in the world to print photographic picks; this was in the late 90’s. Unfortunately to produce photographic picks then was an extremely expensive process and you could only print picks cost effectively if they were large production runs. That situation has now changed, with our new processes and machinery we can now print guitar picks cost effectively, with print runs as low as 30 picks.

Grover Allman has invested over $1 million in specialised printing machinery and we have no doubt that we have the most revolutionised printing machinery in the world.

What other services does Grover Allman offer?

Grover Allman offers a number of different products and services and our range is continuously growing. The range now includes picks, straps, music bags, guitars, tuners, slides, jewellery, keyrings, and capos. We are getting a lot of our artists now asking for customised products for merchandise. This is an area that we are focusing on; a lot of bands gain their income through merchandise. If the merchandise range can be expanded upon this gives the fan a lot more choice at the merchandise booth. Our 5 packs of guitar picks have been very popular; bands are using these for tour memorabilia and CD launches. We have also had bands approach us for customised jewellery, another popular band merchandise line.

LINK: Grover Allman