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June 2017 Giveaway

Tortoiseshell

Most guitarists are familiar with the standard “tortoiseshell” pick and pickguard, both of which are made out of plastic and made to duplicate the appearance of the original horny, transluscent, mottled plates that cover the carapace (outer shell) of the tropical hawksbille turtle (which is actually not a tortoise at all). These plates were too thin to serve their original purposes, which led to the material being built up in layers that were molded or compressed after the surfaces had been liquified by heat, thus assuring a firm bond. Tortoiseshell has actually been used since ancient times for inlays or veneering. As populations of the hawksbill turtle started slipping towards extinction, a plastic alternative was developed. Hawksbill turtles, while still federally endangered, have made a significant comeback, although their nesting beaches are being threatened by development along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

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