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Thread: Clown Barf Construction

  1. #1
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Clown Barf Construction

    Hi Everyone,

    I did it. I bought a pack of clown barf picks. They’re great and are fitting in nicely with my pick journey.

    My question is, what are they made with? Is it simply celluloid like any number of picks? Are there variations of celluloid that make clown barf particularly unique, different than, say, a Fender Extra Heavy guitar pick?

    Thanks!
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    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Weren't we *just* talking about this?

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...598-Clown-Barf

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    I believe there is an added ingredient. They are multi-colored celluloid that is bound with a substance(?) called Mojotone.

    It was a byproduct of the Staten Island Project (down the hall from the Manhattan Project) intended to be an all purpose replacement for the pearloid-type plastics on the proposed, but never introduced, Shmergal Devastator III models. Rumor has it that Mojotone reacts poorly when used in proximity to the uranium nuts that Shmergal mandolins are known for.
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by jefflester View Post
    Weren't we *just* talking about this?
    Define "just." That thread is from 2005.
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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by trodgers View Post
    I believe there is an added ingredient. They are multi-colored celluloid that is bound with a substance(?) called Mojotone.

    It was a byproduct of the Staten Island Project (down the hall from the Manhattan Project) intended to be an all purpose replacement for the pearloid-type plastics on the proposed, but never introduced, Shmergal Devastator III models. Rumor has it that Mojotone reacts poorly when used in proximity to the uranium nuts that Shmergal mandolins are known for.
    Really? I was thinking they are at least 25% cosmogenic ether, depending on the vibration of the celluloid. If I had known about the SDIII affiliation I would have just gone with Fender Extra Thicks, although I hear they haven’t been changed since SDI and/or SDII (depending), and also it apparently matters which end of Staten we’re talking about.

    Also… I’m sure whoever coined the term “Mojotone” suffered the same fate as the guy who came up “New Coke.” Whoops, seeing as “Mojotone” is slightly more, but actually slightly less (again, depending) creative than the abbreviated compound “Eastman.”

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    I bought a pack from Banjo Ben a while back. David Benedict got me into them. I use it as a back up or for a change of pace. Nice feel!
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Okay, am probably remembering this wrong, but back in the day clown barf picks were made from essentially leftover plastics of whatever kind were around. Some celluloid, some not. Just fused together at high heat and made into cheap (for the time) picks. What they were known for besides being easy to find were total unpredictable quality. Maybe if you bought 3 one would be stiffer and one would be like ready to come apart in your hand. That was the magic. Never know what to expect.

    Then along comes Ry Cooder and David Lindley who figure out that a lot of the folks they listened to used these picks because they were cheap and suddenly there's a run on them. And it's right around the same time companies stopped making them.

    At least that's my memories about the originals. David Lindley spoke about them in an interview in Guitar Player (ca. 1982)?

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Clown Barf and Grape Nuts are all from the same factory; floor sweepings bound with PFM.

    My favorite since around 1961.

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    According to Will Hoover's book "Picks!" they were first made with the left over celluloid material and were called Mosaic or Assorted Color picks. I never heard the term Clown Barf until years later and I think I first heard it from Paul Hostetter. Anyway, if you're looking for a comparison in other worlds think "Everything Bagel" and you should understand the concept. They don't always look the same so it's not like you're comparing Blue Chip picks to those picks that shall not be named. Not all Clown Barf is created equal. It's not a magical mix. If you have some you like that's great but don't assume all Clown Barf picks will exhibit the same tendencies.
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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    True dat. My understanding is clown barf picks are made from melted down floor sweepings. Thus they are not the ne plus ultra anything, except leftovers. Their composition is thoroughly random, as they're made from whatever plastic flotsam and jetsam floats by, and their quality is similarly iffy. They're the bottom feeders of the pick piscine community. They're somewhat popular because they are - or should be - cheap, and also funny-looking. In food terms, they're hot dogs, made from ground-up whatever is left behind and below the machines used for making actual food - or sundry plastic products. So they are NOT Grape Nuts, which, despite containing neither grapes nor nuts, are the result of much consideration, contemplation, and concentration, and are quite delicious.
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    True dat. My understanding is clown barf picks are made from melted down floor sweepings. Thus they are not the ne plus ultra anything, except leftovers. Their composition is thoroughly random, as they're made from whatever plastic flotsam and jetsam floats by, and their quality is similarly iffy. They're the bottom feeders of the pick piscine community. They're somewhat popular because they are - or should be - cheap, and also funny-looking. In food terms, they're hot dogs, made from ground-up whatever is left behind and below the machines used for making actual food - or sundry plastic products. So they are NOT Grape Nuts, which, despite containing neither grapes nor nuts, are the result of much consideration, contemplation, and concentration, and are quite delicious.
    So you are saying what they are made of depends on if the clown ate hot dogs, chorizo or SPAM...........

  16. #12
    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    I have probably 20 recent Golden Gate clown barf picks. Though not all the exact same color pattern, they are consistent in feel, quality, etc. So my guess is the ingredients are pretty consistent for these modern clown barf picks. I see on Golden Gate site that there are the tortoise colored that we are used to seeing, clown barf, ivoroid, pearloid, etc--all are pretty much desribed the same. https://www.sagamusic.com/shop/?s=pi...nt-type=guitar
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    I suppose clown barf picks could be made with some dedication to consistency in quality, independent of visual conformity. One wonders why one would want to ... My understanding has always been they are the result of mfrs wanting to utilize every last bit of material to optimize efficiency, much as in my food analogy, hot dogs and sausages and ground beef utilize trimmings and other leftovers from more desirable cuts of meat. But I can see how, with some attention to production methods, such quality could be achieved.

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    So you are saying what they are made of depends on if the clown ate hot dogs, chorizo or SPAM...........
    Mixing metaphors and analogies a bit, but if this gets us to spam, that's all right ...

    Last edited by journeybear; Sep-14-2021 at 11:06am. Reason: thought of something else
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Can't say what they're made of (that Will Hoover book that Mike Edgerton references is excellent if anybody's into collecting BTW) but i've cut/reshaped/buffed a lot of CB thumbpicks, I always need to shorten the blade and some of them had air bubbles inside so they wouldn't hold an edge. My favorite CB thumbpicks are from American Made Banjo Co, Golden gate are generally good now, I think in the past they had some of this air buble issue.

    Also this user (last post in thread) says Fender mediums of 3 materials have different flex patterns https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=193020
    Last edited by gtani7; Sep-14-2021 at 11:22am.
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    You put a clown on a tilt-a-whirl for long enough…
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Collins-Hill View Post
    You put a clown on a tilt-a-whirl for long enough…
    Maybe if their shirt got caught....

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Browsing around luthiery suppliers, I was startled to find out you can get clown barf binding to match the picks. It's hideous, but there's almost a perverse urge to put it on an instrument...
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Beer View Post
    Browsing around luthiery suppliers, I was startled to find out you can get clown barf binding to match the picks. It's hideous, but there's almost a perverse urge to put it on an instrument...
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Screenshot_20211003-145244_Firefox.jpg 
Views:	42 
Size:	110.8 KB 
ID:	196661
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    Can't say what they're made of (that Will Hoover book that Mike Edgerton references is excellent if anybody's into collecting BTW) but i've cut/reshaped/buffed a lot of CB thumbpicks, I always need to shorten the blade and some of them had air bubbles inside so they wouldn't hold an edge. My favorite CB thumbpicks are from American Made Banjo Co, Golden gate are generally good now, I think in the past they had some of this air buble issue.

    Also this user (last post in thread) says Fender mediums of 3 materials have different flex patterns https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=193020
    Ha! First off, that pretty much lines up with my own observations on those three picks. Also, that's probably the first time I've seen David Lindley referred to being a hipster. Brought a smile to my face thinking about it.

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    There is in fact an acronym for clown barf. According to those in the plastics industry it is referred to as: "Unused Particulate Celluloid Heated Utilizing Convection Kettle". Makes sense now.

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Beer View Post
    Browsing around luthiery suppliers, I was startled to find out you can get clown barf binding to match the picks. It's hideous, but there's almost a perverse urge to put it on an instrument...
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Screenshot_20211003-145244_Firefox.jpg 
Views:	42 
Size:	110.8 KB 
ID:	196661
    But one must resist the temptation

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    The Clown Barf binding could make your mandolin sound funny

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    First gig out with the clown barf that came included with my mandolin. I'd rank it dead even with the Primetone and Wegen. I have the Golden Gate MP-12 Deluxe Tortoise Style Rounded Triangle, which I expected it to sound exactly like. The CB doesn't really approximate faux Tortoise of an MP-12 or ProPlec, as I assumed.

    I'll try again but am usually in the mood for some texture like the Primetone or Wegen.

    Confession time: I did switch to the Primetone, after the first set. I was self-conscious of the thing sitting on the strings of my instrument in the stand. Anyone else feel funny playing it?
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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    Quote Originally Posted by trodgers View Post
    ...the proposed, but never introduced, Shmergal Devastator III models...the uranium nuts that Shmergal mandolins are known for.
    Iff'n ya can't spell Shmergel, better avoid invoking the Devastator...

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    Default Re: Clown Barf Construction

    I'll admit that I really like the clown barf picks now and they've begun to be my mainstay. I own Apollos, BCs, etc, too. Something about the similarity of tone to the others and the fact that they're dead cheap.
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