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Posts Tagged ‘plectrum’

Pointless Picks

I got a Twitter notification today of someone now following GuitarGear, so I checked Twitter to see who it was, and was intrigued by their website URL: http://www.pointlesspicks.com. Curious, I clicked on their link and was taken to their site. Sure enough, it was a product site dedicated to picks that were – as the name implies – pointless.

These are perfectly round picks, made of a polymer called Acetal. Acetal is a thermoplastic and apparently one of the stiffest and most durable plastics in the thermoplastic family. It has a variety of uses, and often competes with nylon for the same applications, according to the Plastics Web, such as the production of plectrums.

These picks are very interesting to me at first blush. As they’re round, there’s not a “wrong” way to hold them. And if you’re the type of player that almost always rounds off their points or plays with the fat end of a standard pick, then this pick may be appealing to you. It’s certainly a novel idea, and apparently they’ve got a lot of retailers selling them. They won a “Best in Show” at Summer NAMM last year, so obviously these picks made an impact on the judging panel.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many reviews of them, and the few that I found were pretty much copies from a single review, which was fairly short. I only found one video on YouTube that mentions Pointless Picks, and it wasn’t a review, though the guitar playing was pretty good, but you can’t see the dude using the pick!

Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about these. I love big fat picks, and these come in 1mm at their thickest. But if they’re really stiff, I may just like them. But it makes me wonder how to do fast alternate picking with them. I’m not a particularly fast player, but I hold my pick at about a 45 degree angle when I’m picking individual notes. It would seem to me that at that angle, the pick would just slide over the string. Maybe there’s some inherent friction…. Guess I’ll have to try them out to see what they’re like. But hey! Best in Show at NAMM is nothing to shake a stick at, so I’m game!

Anyway, for more information, check out the the Pointless Picks web site for more information.

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5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

V-Picks Psycho

V-Picks Psycho

Summary: It’s big. It’s fat. It’s humongoid! And it has TONS of tone!

Pros: Just a joy to play with! You can get big fat tones out of this, but its slightly pointy tip and sharp edges produce subtle harmonics that make notes ring.

Cons: None

Price: $20 (but it’s $10 right now as the June special!)

Specs:

  • 1 3/4″ wide
  • 5.85 mm thick
  • Slightly pointed tips and sharp edges

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 – With each new V-Pick I play, I fall more in love with them. This is by far my most favorite V-Pick to date – I even dig this one over my beloved Snake! That says a lot!

Just when I thought I found the perfect pick in the V-Pick Snake for playing electric guitar, I tried out the V-Pick Psycho. I must be psycho myself for loving a pick this big and fat, but I do! I’ve only played with it for a very short time, but I’m a believer! The big but ringing tones this pick produces are amazing. This is just perfect for playing leads, with incredible note articulation and clarity due to it’s pointy tips and sharp edges. Now you might think that would produce a fairly bright tone; it does, but the thickness of the pick also brings out the bottom end to bolster that brightness. The net result is a very balanced tone.

I’ve gotten used to playing super-thick picks, but this pick is a completely different story. It’s thicker than anything I’ve ever played before! But the pointy tip makes precision an absolute breeze. I’ve only clocked a couple of hours with this pick, and I only stopped because I had to write this review to share how much I just LOVE this pick!

The Psycho is CRAZY HUGE, but it’s by far the best pick I’ve ever played! I never thought I’d say that, considering I said the same thing about the Snake, but it looks like I’ve got a new favorite.

Yeah, I must be psycho to love a pick this huge, but I am after all, GoofyDawg, and I just dig goofy, crazy things! 🙂 And when it’s crazy, insane tone we’re talkin’ about, no way can I avoid it! I’m going back to playing right now!

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Just got home from my weekly gig at the restaurant where I was really able to put the Tuff-Tone Tri-Tip through its paces. I’ve never played with a Tri-Tip shaped pick, let alone gigged with a Tuff-Tone, so it promised to be interesting – especially if I didn’t like the pick – because like a dummy, I forgot to bring a spare! Fortunately, I didn’t need a spare. The Tuff-Tone worked out great!

Admittedly, I was a little nervous, not because of the Tuff-Tone material itself but because it’s a lot thinner than what I’m used to playing. If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know I’ve been using a V-Picks Snake and also a super-thick prototype Red Bear Tortis as of late. The Snake is 4.1 mm thick and the Red Bear is 4 mm. I believe the Tuff-Tones are only 1.75 mm thick. I really didn’t know if I could make a clean adjustment. All my nervousness was washed away within a few bars of the first song I played. The pick felt so natural in my fingers, I just played without thinking. Whew! That was a relief!

So how did it perform? Practically flawlessly. The Tuff-Tones feel a lot more rigid and dense than their Tortis counterparts, but the material seems to weigh much lighter. That perception could be due to having played with thick, weighty picks. But to be perfectly honest, I really loved playing with this Tuff-Tone. As I mentioned above, it felt very natural in my fingers, and all the accuracy that I’ve come to expect from rigid picks was there from the get go.

Dave mentioned that in blind tests there was no difference between the tones of the Tuff-Tones and Tortis picks produce. But I noticed a definite difference. The Tuff-Tone produces a much brighter, jangly tone than the Tortis picks. Tortis picks, on the other hand, produce a smoother, more evenly balanced tone. Neither is better than the other; they’re just different. For me, when I want a brighter tone, I’ll use a Tuff-Tone. But when I want a fatter tone, I’ll use a Tortis.

I played all sorts of tunes tonight, ranging from full-on strum songs to songs that combined strummed chords and single note runs. I could be as expressive as I wanted with this pick, and that’s really the test. Lighten up your grip and let the pick glide, and the tone it produces is marvelously bright and ringy. Dig in and be greeted with a nice snappy tone. Want to do some quick alternate picking runs? No sweat!

This is a great pick, people, and a pick I highly recommend trying out and adding to your arsenal! I know that kind of goes against the common thought of using one pick for everything, but I’ve come to realize that using different picks will produce different kinds of tones, and different “moods.” It’s kind of hard to explain, but I’m now a multi-pick player.

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Vinni Smith is such a great guitarist. He just released a new video entitled, “Why should you play V-Picks?” Yeah, it’s to hawk his picks, but everything he says is true. Having played V-Picks for a few months on my electrics, I just gotta say that these picks are the absolute bomb! I use only V-Picks on electric guitar. And that electric guitar he’s playing? That’s right, it’s a Saint Guitar Benchmark. 🙂

For more information, go to the V-Picks site!

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5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

Red Bear Trading Style B Heavy Pick

Red Bear B Style Gypsy Jazz Gauge Pick

Summary: At 3mm, this is the thickest gauge that Red Bear offers (though you can get thicker ones by special order).

Pros: All the tactile goodness of a Tortis pick, but with real beef. At this gauge the speed bevel is very pronounced, and that is a good thing!

Cons: Cons? What cons? None.

Price: $30

Tone Bone Rating: 5.0 – This is my favorite Red Bear pick yet!

I love both Red Bear and V-Picks picks so much, that I give them away – and I gave my last Red Bear pick away last Tuesday to my friend and fellow musician Christy Martin of “Four Shillings Short,” a very long-lived Celtic band. It was great to see her reaction to how good my B Heavy felt to her! But that left me with no Red Bear!

As work has a tendency to make forget things, I was on my way to my weekly gig today when I realized that I didn’t have a pick! Luckily, my gig was a few minutes away from Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, so I resolved to go to the shop and pick up a new Red Bear. Once I entered the store, I went right to the pick case, and asked the sales guy to pull out the Red Bear tray. I was all set to get my normal B Heavy, when I noticed a Red Bear pick that I hadn’t seen before, a B-GJ! The sales guy said that the GJ stood for “Gypsy Jazz.” Well, of course I had to take it out of its pouch, and feel it. Mistake! The damn thing was beefy – nice and beefy, just how I like my picks.

I asked to try it out, and picked up a Martin dreadnought. From the very first strum, I knew this was the pick for me. But I also compared it to my beloved B Heavy, and there was just no comparison! I really loved the B Heavy, but since I’ve been playing with the V-Picks Snake on electric, I’ve developed a real penchant for super-thick picks, and at 3mm, this B-GJ felt just too good to pass up. So I returned to the case, pulled out my bank card, bought the pick, and went to my gig.

All I can say is that tonally, this had to be the best gig I’ve had in years! At this particular gig, I play solo with just me singing and accompanying myself with acoustic guitar and piano. I think I only touched the piano four times tonight! I was loving playing with this pick!

First off, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles about thick picks, you actually hold them lighter, which relaxes your hand muscles; thus you play faster. But from tone standpoint, I was in total heaven!

As expected, light strumming with the B-GJ produces wonderful, chimey and ringy tones. But the big difference I found between my old B-Heavy and B-GJ was when I dug into the bottom strings with the pick while simultaneously partially palm muting on the saddle of my guitar. What that usually produces is a subdued low-freq boomy kind of sound. With the GJ, it produced that tone, but it was much more pronounced. It was freakin’ awesome.

Moreover, I could ellicit all sorts of different tones by changing the angle of the pick. I could do that pretty well with the B-Heavy, but the tone was so much more full and rich with the B-GJ! I was really at my creative best tonight. A customer, who said he was also a guitarist, walked up to me at the end of his meal, and remarked how good my guitar sounded, and that it sounded nothing like an Ovation. I told him it was the pick, and let him hold it. “You could do all that with this pick? Damn! I gotta me one of these.”

Folks, this is just a dynamite pick, and it’s worth every penny of the $30 you pay for it retail (though it’s $5 cheaper if you buy direct from Red Bear Trading). For what this pick does for my acoustic tone, I just can’t think of using any other kind of pick for playing my Ovation!

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Gear-aholic. Tone Freak. Gear Maniac. At least that is what I have been called. I like to think of myself as a “Tone Crusader.”

I comb the ethers in search of implements to try to catch the unicorn called “Tone.” And since tone has so many faces, I need different kinds tools to help me catch the unicorn.  Thus, I have an arsenal of axes, both custom and commonly available; a bank of sound amplification devices to announce my presence with special foot pedals to alter my sound to affect a different response.

I spend hours upon hours developing and honing my skills, and learning how to most effectively use my tools. I am a warrior who must constantly be at the ready to perform.

And like the Crusaders of old, my quest for the tone unicorn is a life-long pursuit that has been fraught with both times of extreme joy and with days of dark dispair. But despite its ups and downs, I cannot even begin to imagine abandoning this pursuit! I’ve seen the unicorn! I have even come close to touching it! And until I do touch it, I will never give up. Never!!!

I fully realize that I may go to my grave without ever catching the unicorn. But it is not the goal that matters to me in any case; it is the journey that matters.

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Red Bear Trading Tuff-Tone Classic H

Red Bear Trading Tuff-Tone Classic H

I occasionally browse Red Bear Trading’s web site to see if Dave Skowron has come up with anything new, and much to my surprise, he has! Red Bear has come up with a new pick line called the Tuff-Tone line that apparently sound just as good as his originals. But the big difference is that these picks are made of a material that is much more durable than the Tortis material of the original Red Bear picks! Apparently, they also sound just as good as the originals. Could this be a death knell for Tortis? I doubt it. Dave’s Tortis picks are the absolute bomb, and the natural feel of the Tortis when you’re playing is absolutely to die for!

In any case, here’s an excerpt from the Tuff-Tone web page:

Are they tough enough? You bet. These picks aren’t going to warp or break on you anytime soon. They will pick up some discoloration from your guitar strings. When this happens, simply wash them with soap and water. Go ahead and run them through the washer and dryer! No problem! Keep them in your pocket full of change – see if we care! These picks are really tough!

Not only are the tougher, they cost half the price of a regular Red Bear pick at $10.00! This is something I’m going to have to check out – and soon! For more information, check out the Tuff-Tone information page at Red Bear Trading!

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