I was introduced to real music by my friend Ross MacKenzie from Vancouver, Canada. We studied film together in California back in the early nineties. He is the one who inspired me to start playing guitar. Ross introduced me to the music of Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Johnny Winter, J.J. Cale, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Taj Mahal, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd & The Allman Brothers Band.
I play guitar every day, I love the blues and I love the feel of a handcrafted guitar in my hands. But I never liked the feel of the acetate or celluloid picks that were available. My nephew, Simen, hand carved a guitar pick from beechwood for me as a gift back in ’09 when he was 12. He even took the time to carve out my name, TH on one side and OR on the other. That beechwood pick changed the tone of my ´91 Corona Fender Stratocaster and my Seagull S-6 acoustic. Turned out to be the mother of all gifts, the best gift ever!
I crafted a few wood picks for myself and noticed the distinct tone differences in woods, thickness and tips. I crafted over a hundred wood picks, playing them hard, giving them to guitarist friends, wanting feedback from working guitarists. The feedback was amazing, they all wanted to play with my wood picks.
Then I discovered the possibility of using different metals as a core and wood tops. I crafted some prototypes and the result was unreal! Experiencing fundamental tone changes in my guitars, I made a decision to develop that concept further. NorwegianWoodPickers CustomShop was conceived and we started building high end guitar picks for professional guitarists.
Morten I. Bjella, a local wood craftsman, high school shop teacher, tree lover, and artist driver for 19 years at Notodden Blues Festival, was invited onboard the project in early ´13. His job was to collect, process, dry, cut, sort and label all the wood collected and donated. Bjella officially retired from the company in 2014, but still collects and process wood for the company. Thanks, buddy!
My friend and Graphic Designer Pawel Bilas started working with the project in late ’12 and has done a awesome job creating logos, design profile, and a brilliant, dynamic website to tell our story. Thanks, my friend!
I spent three years developing the concept, photograph and write the story, and handcraft the prototypes. My goal was simple, to create an excellent high-end tool for guitar players to bring out the true potential of their instruments, and present it in the sweetest way possible.
Thor M. Renslemo