The shark-fin pick is quite an old idea, consisting of a plectrum with one corner and part of each adjoining side finely notched. It takes a slow and deliberate approach to picking, but has the advantage of adding a rasping sound and a lot of presence to chord work. It has been described as "The Poor Man's 12-string" and will also brighten up strings which should have been changed weeks ago. Unfortunately, when made in plastic, the notched edges soon wear down, but wholesalers Hornby Skewes are now importing a shark-fin pick of high quality made from real tortoiseshell, which should wear very much better. Ask your local retailer. Price about 60 pence.
Hardly a new product, but keep your eyes open for the last few Seamoon battery powered practice amps at nice prices. Called "Peter Portable" (which strikes me as a loser of a name to start with) they are apparently about to be discontinued in this country, and have the advantages of clean and dirty inputs and a warning light to tell you when the batteries are switched on. They look like black A.C.15's the size of a cigar box.
Strings:— Did you know that there are TWO sets of Gibson Light Gauge Rock and Roll strings; G 740 L with a plain third, and E 290 with the same 11 thou first string, and the rest, (including a wound third) just a little heavier than the 740 L.
Strings:— Did you know that most gauges of Guild acoustic 6-string sets are available in Brass or "Bronze" windings. There is an interesting difference in tone, and although the original Guild strings were Brass, Guild now fit the "Bronze" ones to their new guitars.
Portable Bass Amp: I saw some Novanex amps recently. I was not too impressed with the larger ones, but VERY impressed with a little one about the size of 2 "Pignoses" called 'Automatic 6' (where do amp manufacturers get their names?)
This one is mains operated, 6 watts output and sounds like 20. Not only does this amp sound good with guitar, organ and BASS GUITAR, but I have totally failed to blow it up with any of these instruments. Instead of distorting badly at full output, the Automatic 6 has a built-in compressor, which tactfully keeps the output down to what the amp and speaker can handle. If you insist on overdriving the amp with a bass, you get an "undistorted" 20 second sustain! The performance is already remarkable, but would be improved by 2 screws and a piece of draught-excluder, holding the rear of the control panel to the cabinet.
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