A week later, I tried the Red Bear Trading Company Classic II MSB (Medium with optional Speed Bevel) Doug had given me, and—this ain’t no fairy tale—the pick changed my tone the microsecond it touched the string, producing a warm, round snap that subtly emulated the sound of a guitar running through a tube preamp. By comparison, my custom Poly Carbonate Pick Guy and Everly Delrex Star (both 1mm) picks delivered sharper attacks with more sting. I dig that sound, as well, but the Classic II’s tone is like going from widescreen to IMAX. The level of sonic enhancement I got from simply changing my pick was kind of spooky—but in a good way. And while I’m not adept enough at sweep picking to exploit the Classic II’s Speed Bevel, the pick’s girder-like rigidity causes its edge to practically leap off a string with each pluck, helping me pick faster and with better articulation.
The Red Bear line is a bona fide labor of love by picker Dave Skowron and his wife Monica, who can make 50 picks during a 16-hour day—if they take a very short lunch break. The faux turtle shell is so difficult to work with that Skowron had to design much of the machinery he uses to manufacture the picks.
“It comes in 16" x 20" sheets that are 1/4" thick and warped like a potato chip,” he says. “I had to make special vacuum pumps, a heated brass press, and a buffer to flatten and work the material. Then, we put about 30 to 60 minutes of handwork into sanding and buffing each pick.”
The downside to these beauties is they require more care than picks typically get. Bend a Red Bear, and it’ll break. Leave it in your pocket when you do the wash, and it will absorb water and warp. Scratches and dings will bring on an early demise unless you buff them out (Red Bear sells a care kit for $3.75, or any drugstore fingernail buffer will work). However, if you’re looking for a rounder pop to your notes, any one of the seven Red Bear styles (plus thumbpicks and custom jobs) will be more than worth the extra trouble. And, heck, as I’ll happily waste $20 on a witless summer blockbuster, I think it’s far smarter to lay down the same tariff to improve my tone and technique.KUDOS Remarkable tone. Speed Bevel for sweep pickers. Grip holes.CONCERNS Fragile. Costly.CONTACT Red Bear Trading Co., (775) 293-1732; redbeartrading.com
J Ferro Basses Introduces the Arcadia to their Line of Basses
Def Leppard Announces North American Tour with Poison and Tesla
Journey Instruments Expands Line of Collapsible Carbon Fiber Acoustic Travel Bass Guitars
Best Service Presents Ethno World 6 by Marcel Barsotti
Bonnaroo 2017 Reveals full Lineup
ADAM Audio Introduces the S Series Range of Studio Monitors
GIK Acoustics Makes Impact with New Impression Series
Best Service Presents Etnno World 6 by Marcel Barsotti
Titanium Timepieces Make Every Time the Light Time
Ibanez Introduces Retro Fuzz Pedal as a Mini
Shochu makes a splash in its Japanese homeland and abroad
Arch Enemy Premiere Trailer for Forthcoming Live DVD, "As The Stages Burn!"
Chicago Open Air Announces 2017 Lineup
Zakk Wylde Premieres New Music Video, "Lost Prayer"
How Danny Gatton Mixed Jazz Into the Pentatonic Box
Metallica, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck Jam at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009
Three Fingerpicking Patterns Every Guitarist Should Know
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470