A Note From Guthrie

It has been suggested to me that I should attempt to explain the weird little serrations which adorn the non-pointy end of the GG signature Red Bear pick.

Okay - here goes! As a little disclaimer, I'd like to make it clear that this feature is not intended to be any kind of "magic" gimmick, so please don't get too excited: basically we've just taken the (otherwise unused) blunt end of a conventionally-shaped pick and modified it so it offers an additional, differently-textured playing surface. Maybe you'll find a use for it: maybe you won't. It's part of the GG model purely because it's a feature which I personally find useful (and because, as far as I know, nobody else has ever bothered to make a pick like this!)

So… the Red Bear serrations are basically a much more precise, refined version of something I've been doing to my picks ever since I was a teenager. Whenever I bought a new pick back in those days, I would first use a nail file to sharpen and angle the point - resulting in something not dissimilar to Red Bear's "speed bevels", now that I come to think of it! - and then I would turn my attentions to the blunt end of the pick, into which I would cut lots of little notches… The purpose of this bizarre act of vandalism was in fact to create a coin-like edge - think of a US dime, or a British 5p coin, or indeed Brian May's famous sixpence…

If you hold a coin like a pick and then twist it around 90° clockwise so the edge is parallel to the bridge rather than to the strings, you should be able use it to scrape perpendicular to the length of the string, with the serrated edge acting rather in the manner of a miniature violin bow. (If that explanation doesn't make sense, maybe it would be more helpful to imagine the pick sawing through the string?)

When you've selected the bridge pickup setting on the guitar, performing this movement should produce some entertainingly high-pitched notes, far beyond the range of the highest fret. (Anyone who has heard the end of Layla already knows that those high notes exist - this is just a scratchier-sounding way to play them without using a slide…)

If you want a long, sustained note, you just have to tremolo pick up and down with this rough edge: alternatively, you can easily generate cheeky little staccato notes with a single pick stroke. (Either way, bats and dogs will surely respond to your playing with renewed enthusiasm when they hear these exciting new sounds!)

This can be used either as an obnoxious sound effect or as a tool for playing "real" notes: I personally enjoy both of these approaches on occasion, but of course I would urge you to experiment. How I use that serrated edge doesn't really matter all that much in the greater scheme of things - it's all about how you use it ;-)

Watch the video below for a demonstration of Guthrie's serrated-edge feature. You can go full-screen for the detail.