As a touring musician, teacher, and flatpick guitar camp director, I’ve tried just about every pick there is on the market. For years, like many flatpickers, I searched for a tonally comparable alternative to genuine tortoise shell. I found plenty of “close enough” or “good enough” options but until I stumbled across Red Bear Picks, nothing was ever exactly right. If it weren’t for Dave, I’d still be searching. A great product from great folks!
Adam Chowning uses our style "C" in medium gauge with grips and a right-hand bevel.
"In that never-ending quest for tonal contentment, so many of the things we guitarists try (higher action, heavier string gauges etc etc...) have a tendency to make playing more difficult. One of the great things about the Red Bear picks, however, is that they not only improve your tone - they actually make playing easier. Additionally, it rather appeals to my inner hippie that I can now enjoy the distinctive sound of a turtleshell pick without incurring any detriment to the turtle community."
Guthrie Govan Guthrie Govan Signature Model Big Jazzer Extra-Heavy Gauge
"Many guitarists don't give much thought to their pick... For me, a pick is vital and I've been searching most of my life as a musician for the right size, thickness, feel and sound that results from a pick...
When I played a Red Bear pick for the first time, I knew right away that I had found the best sounding, smoothest feeling pick I had ever tried... The material Red Bear uses has a wonderful organic sound that I haven't found in any other pick... The bevel is super smooth, feels very even and helps me play more accurately... I've settled on a C ll heavy with standard bevel... Big thanks to Red Bear!
Jimmy Herring uses our C-II with a standard bevel. Photo by Andy Tenille
"Red bear picks are inspiring. Not only do they make my acoustic guitars louder, but it’s the tone... it is noticeably richer with much more depth. I love the Gypsy Jazz flat-picks for my acoustic jazz guitars and the thumb-picks sound amazing for my National resonator guitars. They have a long lifespan and the playability is second to none!"
Ben Powell uses several of our picks including our Original Thumb picks and Gypsy Jazz gauge flatpicks.
Cormac O CaoimhMarco Minnemann
"I play mainly nylon strings and was classically trained. For awhile playing contemporary singer-songwriter music I was only playing fingerstyle. I wanted to do more pick playing but was always disappointed in the sound. About 5 years ago I went on a massive quest to try as many picks as possible - looking for the holy grail of picks - one whose tone produced the same tone as a classical guitar rest stroke and one that sounded equally good on nylon, steel and electric guitars. It was an impossible search but finally found what I was looking for with Red Bear picks. Love them. Tried and loved all shapes and sizes. The tone they produce is like no other pick. But finally settled on the 'lil jazzer' (extra heavy and gypsy jazz) because they are small enough to hold with one finger while playing fingerstyle and then you can easily switch between pick playing and fingerstyle. It has opened up more possibilities and many songs were written that otherwise would not have been. Try them yourself and you will see what I'm on about"
Cormac O Caoimh is a singer-songwriter from Cork, Ireland. Check him out here.
"Lately I got introduced to some new and really great guitar gear. First was Ola Strandberg's amazing and unique 8-string 'boden' guitar. And now Dave Skowron sent me some of his fabulous RedBear picks, seriously some of the best picks I've ever came across. You can also check out Guthrie's signature model there as well ... Redbeartrading.com"
Marco Minnemann Drummer for The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Steven Wilson and others as well as multi-instrumantalist solo artist and composer. He's a busy guy!
"I started using Red Bear Trading Co. Picks about five years ago. My favorite is the Classic Medium. Playing mostly acoustic guitar in my band Ben Rudnick and Friends, I initially struggled to pick the strings hard enough to be heard over the bass, drums and mandolin. My Red Bear pick gave me confidence to play harder if I needed to. As our gear and live mixes improved, I’ve come to appreciate my Classic Medium picks even more. Strumming or flatpicking – whether delicately or with authority - Red Bear Trading Picks are my number one choice to get it done. The best quote I ever heard about guitar playing was “your left hand is what you know and your right hand is who you are.” I’m at my best with a Red Bear Trading Company Flat Pick in my right hand.
Ben Rudnick – 2018"
Ben Rudnick uses our Classic in Medium Gauge. He prefers the Right-Hand Speed Bevel on his picks.
"If you use picks to produce the sounds on your instrument you know that they are one of the most important tools for creating your tone. Red Bear picks produce a huge full sound that is balanced across the full sonic spectrum. The picks also have a great feel and the beveled edges help get that big sound by creating a solid contact with the strings. Red Bear should be in everyone's tonal toolbox."
Scott Fore is an internationally recognized guitarist having won the National Flatpicking Championships held in Winfield Kansas each year. He is also the Doc Watson guitar champion and the Wayne Henderson Champion of Champions. Honors and titles include: 2002 & 2015 National Flatpicking Champion, 2nd in 2000 and 2014. Scott has so many accomplisments they are too numerous to list here.
Scott Fore uses our Heavy Gauge C-II with a Speed Bevel and Grips.
"The two things you look for most in a pick are sound and the way it feels hitting the strings. The sound is clear and direct. You really hear the guitar itself much more with a Red Bear because notes don't begin with that little bit of pick noise you get with other picks. The feel is glorious too. They don't feel like a normal pick because they glide so smooth. Even if I have other picks all over my studio desk, I'll get up and go search for my Big Jazzer. These picks are addictive!"
Matt Reviere - Nashville sideman/session player, guitarist for Carrie Underwood
" First time I tried Redbear picks, it felt like home. I knew there was no way back !!! The tone, feel and durability of this picks are just amazing. "
Tony plays a Heavy Gauge Big Jazzer with a Speed Bevel and Grips. Tony is currently touring with Gloria Gaynor and Marta Sanchez. Like him on Facebook.
These picks are soooooo good, it's incredible the tone they impart on the string. At first it seems expensive for a pick but it's actually the least expensive major tone improvement I know of. And when you think about where your tone starts, it's the most important.
Ede Wright - Jazz/Funk Guitarist No. 9 Extra-Heavy pick with Speed-Bevel and grips
"That’s the real deal! The tone is warm and fat, but doesn’t sacrifice treble. Articulation and dynamics are way easier to control, the guitars really speak - WOW!!! I use the Big Picker extra heavy flat pick and the Large Original thumb pick. They really changed my guitar-life significant! THANK YOU Dave!" www.thomaswallisch.com
"Chris Bedward is a Rock/Fusion guitarist and composer based in New York. He is a regular at many major trade shows including the NAMM show. He has worked as a product specialist with Electro-Harmonix, has been featured on “96.7 The Buzz” radio station, and has played for hip-hop/reggae group RSNY as well as toured with international reggae star Shaggy—owner of Ranch Entertainment. In the summer of 2015 during a showcase with up and coming Saxophonist David T.V. Barnes, Chris received industry wide accolades from labels such as Def Jam records, Atlantic Records and Universal Music Group. Chris is also a private guitar instructor and session musician."
Chris Bedward uses our Lil' Jazzer in Heavy Gauge. Have a look at his newly released video
“I have been using Red Bear picks exclusively since I first tried them 10 years ago. Prior to that I was using reclaimed tortoise shell picks. I actually prefer Red Bears to real tortoise. They sound less clicky to me and require less maintenance as far as buffing out rough edges. I can get a full, dark tone from them without sacrificing the high end. They also last a long time for me so I end up using the same pick for up to a year and don’t detect any significant wear.
I am completely sold on Red Bear picks. They allow me to achieve the tone that I strive for!”
John Reischman uses our medium gauge style "E" pick with slight bevels on the edges
"I fell in love with the Red Bear Jazzer within minutes of playing one! I can safely say that it is impossibly difficult to find a pick that performs as splendid as a Red Bear be it with respect to tone, feel, grip, speed or longevity. I play a bit of everything Rock, Blues, Jazz and Heavy HEAVY metal and these picks adapt flawlessly.This pick was the missing piece of the puzzle I call my rig. There's nothing more I could ask for! I highly recommend these fine picks."
Suraj Gulvady is the guitarist of one of the biggest metal acts in India, Inner Sanctum and also a renowned session musician, composer, music educator and columnist based out of Bangalore, India.
"Like most guitar players I have a desk drawer full of guitar picks that I’ve tried over the years. Although I love the feel of real tortoiseshell, as an animal lover I just can’t support its use to make guitar picks. The idea that a guitar pick could replicate the feel and tone of real tortoise shell seemed hard to believe, but Red Bear has done it. I use the Classic II heavy gauge with grips and it is by far the most comfortable gripping guitar pick I’ve ever used. And I can’t say enough about the wonderful clean tone. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Red Bear picks to other guitar players, but I never lend one out because I might not get it back!"
"I used to play the real thing back in the eighties, when I could get them legally from an old man in Milan, Italy. I used to get them by the Gross. When he passed away, I found Celluloid to be a good replacement material. When I switched over to coated strings, about ten years ago, my tone changed. Wear and tear on the guitar was greatly reduced. But the tone suffered, the strings being very slick. With Dave's picks I have found a great synergy with the coated strings, RedBear picks having just the right amount of roughness to them. There are other picks out there, let's call them the "brown ones", that I have tried, but I found them to be too slick on the strings to produce a nice, fat tone for me. The RedBear Classic light that I play is the best of both worlds. Great tone, lasting forever and,very important, legal! Thank you for coming up with such a beautiful product!"
Uwe Kruger - guitarist and singer for the Kruger Brothers
"I have tried many brands and models of guitar pick, I've been finding a guitar pick to help me to express my ideas without sacrificing my sound. Finally I found: the Red Bear are the best guitar picks I've tried.”
Juanjo Gómez - Guitarist and Music Director for Alejandra Guzman “Mexico’s Queen of Rock” Big Jazzer Heavy Gauge
"My favorite guitar picks in the universe. Awesome!"
Matt Schulze - Actor (Blade, The Fast and the Furious, The Transporter, Fast Five and more) and Guitarist
Classic Plus Extra-Heavy Gauge
"What I love most about the Red Bear C-HVY is it's transparency. You can barely hear a pick on the strings when I play my acoustic guitar and mandolin. Suddenly it's all about the sound of the strings and the instrument itself. It is a fundamentally different sound"
Tommy Shaw - STYX/Damn Yankees/Shaw Blades Tommy's Website Style C Heavy Gauge with Speed-Bevel and Grips
"Do not be fooled! Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing! Red Bear picks are THE REAL DEAL, and used by guitarists world wide! The quality and tone are unmatched. The thought, time, love, and effort that Dave and his wife put into every Red Bear pick can never be recreated. I feel it every time I use mine and so will you. At the airport recently I noticed I had forgotten my Red Bear pick and had to have it overnight shipped to the hotel where I was staying, because that is how important to my tone these picks are. No joke! I am so proud to endorse Dave and Monica's Red Bear picks! This is not only a craftsman but a pure hearted, compassionate man. These beauties were in my mailbox today and I only spoke to Dave on Sunday. I cannot use anything else, I am hooked. Try one, you will be glad you did...Thank you Dave and Monica."
Joey Rotella - Guitarist, Tavares Joey's Website No. 9 Heavy Gauge with Standard Bevel and grips
"As the guitar player in the soul/funk band Tower of Power I need a strong rhythm and lead sound to cut through the mix of such a large and powerful band. A loud guitar and amp is one thing, but the clear definition I obtain comes from using such a high quality pick not made from conventional materials. Red Bear picks make such a huge difference in the overall tone and feel. The notes just sound bigger, rounder and more beautiful. My current fave Red Bear pick is the Tuff Tone Classic. I am really appreciating the durability and longevity of these picks. I have been playing and rotating several Tuff Tone picks for the last five months and I'm still not experiencing any chipping or breaking. Thanks so much Dave and Monica for making my musical experiences that much more positive."
Jerry Cortez - Guitarist for Tower of Power
Tuff-Tone Classic II Heavy Gauge pick with Speed-Bevel and Grips
"The Red Bear Lil' Jazzer is my ultimate flat pick! Smooth, articulate and toneful! I love the feel of the pick ... really nice and even tones with very little pick noise. I prefer the right hand speed bevel, and the grip holes are cool too. The Lil' Jazzer plays and sounds great. The notes are very defined and clean. I find that I don't have to work as hard to get the tones from my guitar. After hours of playing and gigging there is no wear in sight. You guys make a great pick! Thank you Red Bear!"
Carl Roa - Magic Elf, Carl Roa Band, Guitar World Columnist Carl's Website
"The quest of the right pick can be a life-long story for a guitarist, but I finally found the pick that meets all my expectations : dynamics, expression and sound are never betrayed by a Red Bear pick."
Norbert Galo - Josh Groban Norbert's MySpace Page
"Playing guitar with a Red Bear pick is unlike any other guitar playing experience I have ever had. For the first time the ideas and sounds I hear in my head are able to be fully realized. The tone of the picks is rich and full and they do not make that horrible 'clacking' sound that the competition is famous for. Actually, the Red Bear picks have no competition... the phrase "best of breed" comes easily to mind. I own picks of real tortoise, horn, bone and hoof and the red bear is clearly the modern choice and the correct one for the working pro or beginner. After testing in a controlled studio situation the Red Bear had the lowest noise to volume ratio and this is in addition to clear tone, enhanced low end, and ease of operation. Playing chops intensive Gypsy Jazz is technically demanding in the truest sense. My red bear pick with its perfect shape and precision beveled edges is a dream come true for high speed playing. As the George Cole Quintet continues on our mission to spread our music to the world one thing is certain... my Red Bear pick is coming with me!"
George Cole - The George Cole Quintet Style B, Gypsy Jazz - 4.5mm
I have to be frank, when I read about your picks I figured what could they possibly do to make a pick better? Then I read a Dweezil Zappa interview where he raved about them. Being a gear freak, I knew I had to check them out. Well your picks arrived Saturday and I was blown away. I'm in the middle of a practice frenzy right now revamping my playing, approach, and sound so the timing of this new pick arriving is perfect. Once I started playing with one yesterday I stayed up till 4:30 am ! I just could not stop playing. All the lines I have been working on were just popping out of my guitar. Articulate, crisp and FAT sounding!! I'm not sure why they work but who cares??? Thank U so much for adding a powerful weapon to my musical arsenal. This pick is amazing! "
Vinnie Zummo, former Joe Jackson guitarist, writer, producer and solo artist. Check out Vinnie's new CD: "Swinging Guitar Sounds of Young America" at: CD Baby
Video Testimonials from our customers
Mauro Henrique P. de Samuel Marques
Customer Reviews of Red Bear Picks
Tuff-Tone Review by Ryan Rhea.
Testimonial from David Neely
I started using Red Bear picks about two years ago. I was intrigued as to whether a relatively expensive piece of plastic would improve my guitar tone and playing so I ordered a medium gauge Classic. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Red Bear picks are so much more than just a piece of plastic. The first thing I noticed was was that my tone was much clearer and distinct. The term "bell-like" gets thrown around a great deal when describing guitar tones, but that is exactly what a Red Bear pick did for my tone and I am certain it would do the same for anyone who is on the fence regarding spending the money on one (or more) of these picks. The best way for me to describe the feel of these picks is that it reminds me of a violin bow. Red Bear picks simultaneously grab the strings as they glide across the strings. At the risk of sounding cliche, I can play faster and with less effort when using a Red Bear pick. Over these two years, I have tried many of the different shapes and have found the Lil Jazzer in heavy gauge to be perfect for my style of electric playing (blues, classic rock, jazz, funk) and the Classic II in medium to be perfect for my style of acoustic playing (bluegrass, Americana-type strumming). Whether you're a professional, amateur, hobbyist or student, and you are serious about your tone and technique, do yourself a favor and check out Red Bear picks. I promise you will not be disappointed.
PS: If you ever deal with any of the people on the other end of the website, they are genuinely nice people and clearly have a great deal of pride in what they do. Thanks, Red Bear!!
David Neely, Nashville TN
"Tortoise shell has always been regarded for it's warmth and it's organic feel and tone. Most plastic picks can't compare to it's character. When I tried a Red Bear pick, It was hard to believe it wasn't tortoise shell. Once I learned it was made from a natural animal protein, I was convinced that Dave had found a sensible alternative that has all the comparisons to real tortoise shell. It's very consistent too! I just ordered another batch, thanks Dave! "
Keith Sewell - Guitar for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (formerly), Currently playing guitar and Mandolin for Lyle Lovett's Large Band
Emory Lester Style E Medium Gauge pick with Speed-Bevel
"With these picks that I've received, I've come to learn - first hand - that there is no other pick that comes as close to actual shell as these Red Bear picks that Dave Skowron has created. I have refused to use anything but shell for the last 25 years, and have often refused to even try anything else, because it has been my experience, as well as being widely known, that nothing can come close to shell for tone, playability, etc. So, to get me to try this, and now use these for recording and performing, is a feat, and is totally my gain. I believe that Dave has finally solved the "as good as shell" mystery, and has created something that will make a vast improvement in anyone's sound, and will greatly improve one's ability to play. Obviously, the inclusion of the bevel in these picks is a stroke of genius - making this pick immediately useable, with minimal to no alterations needed in my case. I have truly benefitted from Dave's work, and I am very grateful for these incredible picks."
Emory Lester - Mandolin, Guitar