The Pickin’ Tool was first envisioned by Jim Kelly while studying guitar at The Denver Guitar Institute. While pursuing his studies he found it useful to hand draw the guitar fret-board and mark it with the notes of the guitar chords and scales he wanted to practice. Tired of re-drawing a new fret-board every time he changed scales, he designed a portable and reusable tri-fold with laminate covering the fret-board. The Pickin’ Tool was born!
At that time a makeshift Pickin’ Tool was made for his own use. Later, in 1986, when Jim was furthering his guitar studies with Jackie King of The Southwest Guitar Conservatory, he carried The Pickin’ Tool around with him in his guitar case so that he could use it anywhere he decided to play or practice. The great and continued feedback received from fellow musicians and his guitar teachers convinced Jim that all guitar players could benefit from The Pickin’ Tool.
Keeping simplicity in mind, Jim set out to make The Pickin’ Tool a useful tool for all levels of guitar players. After compiling 73 pages of guitar theory and instruction, he gradually and persistently condensed that body of knowledge into three pages of basic music theory as it applied to scales and chords. The final manuscript could be understood by the beginner while still being useful to advanced players. The Pickin’ Tool is an extremely beneficial visual aid.
The Pickin’ Tool combined with the newly written instruction book formed a tool, rather than a method. The tool could be used by all musicians with any method. The professional could use it to think “outside the box,” and the beginner could deploy it to learn guitar scales, or simply to learn his or her way around the fret-board.
1,000 Pickin’ Tools were made for the first sales run. Jim took to the road visiting all the music stores he could find. The Pickin’ Tool began to be sold in several states across the nation. Many stores sold their initial orders quickly and promptly re-ordered. When the store employees were fresh with the excitement of The Pickin’ Tool, it would be demonstrated and customers, instructors, and students would buy them after having seen the benefit of the product. However, there was a big problem. After the initial excitement of the “new” product from the stores’ sales staff wore off, it was no longer demonstrated to regular customers. Store sales efforts would be focused on selling the $1,000 guitar; not the $20 Pickin’ Tool that showed you how to play it.
The Pickin’ Tool was designed around simplicity, and looked too simple; it did not sell well off the shelf.
The Pickin’ Tool needed brand recognition. It was already a great tool for guitarists of all levels — the guitarists just needed to know it was out there. At that time, Jim could not afford the advertising push needed to establish the new product in the market. Jim continued to use The Pickin’ Tool as did the guitar players among his family and friends.
Aaron New was first shown The Pickin’ Tool in 1998 when he was sixteen and hanging out with Jim’s son. He recognized the usefulness of the tool and during his early studies of the bass guitar, he, too, would draw out the guitar fret-board and plot the notes that he was working with.
In 2010, at a Thanksgiving celebration, Aaron and Jim got to talking about The Pickin’ Tool. Aaron had saved a good amount of money and Jim still wanted to get The Pickin’ Tool out to the guitar community. The two friends formed a partnership and decided to sell the proven product online to overcome the previous brand-recognition problems. The innovative tool for learning how to play guitar chords and scales is once again commercially available.
Prior to the second-generation launch, a re-design and modernization of The Pickin’ Tool was performed. This included content additions to the original three-page accompanying booklet to cover more information on modal scales, pentatonic scales, and lineal scales. The chord construction chart was expanded and several images of fret-board chord fingerings were included. The cover was re-done and is now a spectacular piece of art. The grease pen that was sold with the original Pickin’ Tool was replaced with 4 dry-erase markers. The lamination was upgraded to a laminate specifically designed for dry-erase application.
The Pickin’ Tool opened for sales mid-year 2011.
The Pickin’ Tool is only $19.95 and available online. BUY NOW! Start making your guitar dreams come true and pick one up today!