Sep 1, 2013
Throughout the course of rock history, there have been a number of legendary guitarists who have used bits of metal to craft their signature tones…
Exhibit A: Dr Brian Harold May, PhD, CBE.
There are a couple of important parts of Dr May’s amazing signature tone. Obviously, the completely hand made Red Special, with its hand wound pickups and shorter than usual scale length factors heavily into creating that tone. On the other end of the guitar lead is an AC30 driven into a near-nuclear state by way of treble booster. What happens between those two is all in the fingers – tone is in the fingers after all. But what’s that nestled in Brian May’s right hand? That’s right, Queen fans (I know you already knew, you well educated fans you!). It’s an English sixpence! Certainly, its material and stiffness played a huge part in getting that now-legendary Queen tone.
Exhibit B: Rev. William Frederick “Billy” Gibbons
Apart from being a sharp-dressed, extremely bearded man, Billy Gibbons is well known for using a Mexican peso as a pick… or is he? It seems that being called a Reverend doesn’t stop ol’ Billy G from embellishing a good story, so it’s not quite confirmed whether this is true or not. But considering his signature strong attack and propensity for pinch harmonics, I can certainly believe it.
Introducing Von Hotch Custom Picks
Now, when I first started playing guitar, my first guitar hero was Brian May. So obviously, the first thing I did (since it was essentially the only similar piece of “gear” I could afford at the time!) was to try the “coin as pick” thing.
Unwieldy, a bit too thick for my fledgling guitar playing hands, with a thick, unbevelled edge that made it “sticky” and difficult to control.
I then acquired a large, flat steel pick, which was a little easier to wield, but yielded an alarmingly bright and somewhat unpleasantly “zingy” tone.
… screw that.
Over the years I’ve gravitated towards Dunlop Tortex Jazz III picks, and have never really had much cause to care about other picks… until I heard about some really cool new picks from this guy called Von Hotch.
Made of aircraft grade aluminium, they came in a bunch of shapes, and looked cool as all hell!
Interest piqued, I got in touch with Von Hotch and he was kind enough to send me a few to try out! Here’s the result (and also my first shaky attempt at doing a video voice over – please be gentle!). I thought it’d be good to do a direct comparison between these different Von Hotch designs, and some more traditional pick materials.
Cool stuff, right?? What I really liked about them was the fact that they added a little presence and “zing” to the tone… but not too much so as to be overpowering. Just a hint of extra top end sizzle.
Ergonomically speaking, when you first pick one up, they’re a little different from a stock standard normal pick – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. See that giant hole in the middle of the Octavius? If you’re someone who is constantly dropping their pick, having that recessed area with more solid contact between your finger and thumb could be just thing to help you maintain your grip on the pick.
The Invader and Flying Dutchman designs are a little easier to transition to – a minute or two later I didn’t even think about the fact that I was using a strange new pick (and I’m usually quite sensitive to changes in picks, just because I use such a specific, small but thick pick).
The coolest thing about these little guys is that you can easily string them up onto a necklace, and be a total badass while never leaving home without a pick again! How much of a rockstar would you be if you flipped your crappy plastic pick into the crowd at a gig, and then just ripped off the pick hanging around your neck and continued rocking out?!
Literally can’t get more “metal” than this \m/
So… I think these picks are a really cool idea. If you’re keen on supporting this fledgling venture, head on over to the Von Hotch website and pick one up today, or talk to Von Hotch about designing your very own signature custom metal pick! I hear there are some cool new things in the pipeline – the new 7075 alloy, powder coated designs and more! Hmmmm… I’ve been daydreaming about a Superman design…
What do you think of the tone of these aluminium picks vs traditional materials?
What kind of custom-design metal pick would you get?
Join our discussion here: http://forum.sixstringsamurai.co.nz/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=28