About Us – Howling Monkey Guitar Picks

Our Story

Long story short...we make the best damned tagua guitar picks in the world.

The Rainforest.

The rainforests of Ecuador are humid, sunny, full of vegetation, animals, and critters of all kinds. It’s a place where the circle of life is fully evident.

Where monkeys live, play and howl in the trees. Where trees grow tagua nuts and shed their seeds to spread new life throughout the forest.

Western New York.

In contrast, we live in Rochester NY. It’s a beautiful and vibrant city, but compared to the lush rainforests, it’s cold, gray, full of concrete, cars, and crazy people of all kinds. Snow regularly falls in April (we get 90″ of snow each year).

We’ve dreamt of a championship from our professional sports teams and it never comes to true (being a Buffalo Bills & Sabres fan can be painful sometimes).

In the dead of winter, January 2013, where there was not a band to gig with and needing refuge from the cold, Howling Monkey was born.

Tagua cluster and guitar pick process


We tried guitar picks of all sorts of materials and brands. Tagua was introduced to us by a fellow musician and the rain-forest & Western New York merged into one spectacular place.

It didn’t take long for us to land on a solid design with some field testing with real guitarists.

After some amazing feedback, we set up shop on Etsy.com and our picks were ordered from guitarists all around the world. Then the awesome folks at Guitar World took notice of us, and our lives haven’t been the same since.

The Process.

Making tagua guitar picks involves many steps. The tagua nut is sliced, then cut into a pick shape. We add ergonomic grooves into each side. Then the pick’s edges are beveled, the pick is polished, and finally is immersed for at least twelve hours in a water-based dye.

Other manufacturers of plastic, resin, and acrylic based picks simply pour into a mold or injection mold. The quality and craftsmanship differences are very evident. Our picks have amazing tone, long life, and spectacular feel.

In-depth interviews and more



Our Philosophy.

Our tagua nuts are harvested through a coalition employing over 1800 native Ecuadorians providing good income that would normally not be there without this import. Unlike wood guitar picks that require manufacturers to harvest entire trees, tagua nut picks are environmentally friendly–we’re just picking the fruit.

Since tagua nuts grow on trees, there’s no need to harm animals like horn, bone and hoof guitar pick producers may do. Our supplier meets ISO 9002 standards and is certified by SGS International Certification Services.



Brian Staebell, owner and founder of Howling Monkey Guitar Picks, is an avid music lover and guitarist. He has been playing guitar for the better part of two decades. Before Howling Monkey, his professional background was in marketing & graphic design in instrument retail, golf products, mortgage, and tourism/hospitality industries.


Three years after developing Howling Monkey, he branched off, founding Red Bridge Engraving & Gifts.