--- On Wed, 10/21/09, Thornton Hagert <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I did know collectors who swore by cactus (which they
> sharpened by hand). t I believe it turned out that
> blunt cactus was no more forgiving than steel.
I don't know about cactus, but bamboo needles were popular.
I bought a few back in the 70s, and they sounded mellow
but good. I've kept them in case I come across a
sharpener, which I've heard shaves a tiny bit off the
diagonally-cut tip to remove the blunt corner (they
are triangular in cross-section).