It’s a frightening scenario from an old movie. Hot lead is flying right and left. A dedicated lawman, trapped behind a bicycle rack, has already emptied his revolver and yet the remaining bad guys are closing in. There is no time to reload! If only he had a speedloader….
But wait! That’s only film fiction. Reality is even scarier…..
You are trapped with only a microphone between you and the restless audience. The pressure is building. Hecklers are lobbing (mostly truthful) insults right and left. The oily stage manager is fuming….”You are out of time!” Standing on their folding chairs, the audience is pleading, pleading that you stop murdering “That’s Amore” on your kazoo and play something nice on your autoharp.
Unbelievably it gets worse. Where did you lay your fingerpicks? There! Oh no!, one rolled under the accordion! OMG I got them on the wrong fingers! That one’s not even mine! Hey! who stepped on this one? “Will y’all just give me a minute?” (if only I had a “speedloader”).
I don’t know about you but I sure wouldn’t want this to happen to me. That’s why I made a “speed loader” and you can make one too.
An actual speedloader is a fairly simple device used by law enforcement officers and shooters to quickly load bullets into the round cylinders of a revolver. They hold the correct number of shells in the proper positions for fast reloading.
An autoharp (or banjo) player commonly wears a thumbpick and one to four fingerpicks that are carefully fitted to their respective digits. When switching from an autoharp to another instrument during a jam or a performance, the picks come off and on and must be parked someplace handy (usually a pocket) for the next switch. It’s all too easy to mix them up, drop them, or misplace them altogether.
So, here’s my speedloader. It’s just a piece of foam with holes that hold the picks in the correct order and position to facilitate putting them on and taking them off without having to sort or even look at them. It will fit into your case. You could tie a string around it and hang it on the microphone stand, music desk, or around your neck.
You can easily make your own with a foam pool toy.
I got mine for free. I located an unattended child playing with one at the pool.
“Is that a cell phone on the bottom?” I asked him.
By the time he had surfaced, I was already in the truck.
You can also get them for $3 at Dollar General. Be sure to get one with the large hole. It makes it easier to grip your fingerpicks when you take them on and off.
Start by cutting off a 1-1/2″ section. I used a saw but a serrated knife would also work.
Cut the holes for the picks a bit smaller than the pick diameter so that the foam will grip nicely. I used a drill but a sharp knife will work. The fingerpick holes on mine are 1/2″ and the thumbpick hole is 3/4″.
I used scissors to snip a short slot in the larger hole for the protruding part of the thumbpick.
There you have it, a fingerpick speedloader for almost no cost. That kid at the pool didn’t even notice the missing bit from his Super Whacky Noodle.