|Red Bear Trading Style B Heavy Pick
Summary: Thick, meaty hand-made pick from Red Bear Trading. You might think a pick doesn’t really matter until you play one of these picks. They’re totally awesome!
Pros: Thick and tactile, this heavy pick gives you instance response as soon as you strike a string. Chords seem to ring out better. Don’t be fooled by the thickness – the beveling makes this pick glide across the strings!
Okay, I admit it, I am now a true believer in hand-made picks! I wrote a review about Red Bear picks a few weeks ago. In the article I asked, “Does a pick really make that much of a difference?” After nearly a month playing with a Style B Medium, and now a Style B Heavy, I can undeniably say that it makes all the difference in the world! In this short span of time, I’ve become a better player, and while I attribute that to quite a bit of practice, I have to attribute a lot of my recent improvements in both tone and attack to the pick I’ve been using. I don’t say this lightly: These picks have totally changed my life with respect to my guitar playing!
When you first hold one of these picks, your first reaction is: Damn! This thing is thick! And while its smooth texture kind of sticks to your skin, it absolutely glides over your strings. And because of its thickness, it produces sound much faster than conventional nylon picks that need to be before they make a sound. The sound the picks produce is also much more crisp.
For instance, playing my Ovation acoustic/electric, I’ve never heard it ring the way it rings – and it’s because of the pick. I’ve had that guitar for over 15 years now, and it quite frankly has never sounded this good! It always sounded awesome to me because of its thick tone. But when I strum it with one of these picks, it now has a gorgeous chime! F-in’ A!
At first blush, you might think that paying $20 for a pick is just way too much. But how much would you pay for good tone? We guitarists spend literally thousands on guitars and amps and racks and pedals and other accessories every year! But most of us tend to play them with inferior plectrums, never knowing what we’re missing by making a relatively small investment compared to the vast sums we spend on other gear. Sure, our standard picks are cheap, and it’s okay to lose them, but there is absolutely NOTHING that compares to the tone you can produce with a hand-made pick. And once you play with a great pick, you’ll never go back to the cheapo picks again.
To be honest and fair, Red Bear is not the only one who makes handmade picks. But Dave is the only plectrum maker who uses TortisTM, a polymer made from animal protein that looks and feels EXACTLY like tortoise shell. Dave has mastered cutting and shaping of the material, something no one else who has tried to work with it has been able to do.
What’s so special about this material? If you speak with people who have played with tortoise shell picks, they’ll tell you about how good it feels to play with one. But by the same token, to play with tortoise shell means that a sea turtle had to be sacrificed to create the pick. On the other hand, Tortis feels like real tortoise shell. In fact, when Dave first sent out his first prototypes, people told him he was full of shit when he said the picks weren’t tortoise shell! That’s how natural these feel!
As I mentioned in the previous article, Dweezil Zappa swears by these! And for good reason. The sound they produce, and how they make your playing much more precise is an absolute inspiration! For more info, and to order them, go to Red Bear Trading!
If you live in the SF Bay Area, and especially near Palo Alto, you can also get them at Gryphon Stringed Instruments.