The Gravity Guitar Pick Review: Set fire to your sound and your technique!

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The Gravity Guitar Picks Experienced Review

I like to change the sound of my music from one recording to another, and particularly from one album to another (I have recorded 15 albums to date now…). This often entails different instruments, different recording gear (or recording techniques), different ambient work, and different accessories.

Yes, accessories… Strings, Picks, Mutes, and more. This review addresses a great find in the accessory world that makes a big difference in the sound of my recordings – while adding better playability for most of my pick-based technique.

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This review is about the wonderful line of picks from the Gravity pick company. These picks are high-end picks at a moderate price, and have lots of options to make most pick-style players happy. And for those who are prone to floccinaucinihilipilification of arcane terms applied to everyday objects, Perfectly Purposeful Pleasingly Playable Popular Plectrums…

Buy some today. You’ll be very glad you did. To know why I think so, read on!

The pick pictures in this review are of picks I’ve used extensively. The Classic, Razer, Edge, Sunrise, and Tripp have all seen play time in local acoustic gigs and in TWO of my most recent albums Halcyon Lullabies and the yet-to-be-released North by Northwest. To hear the direct influence of some of my favorites, listen to Halcyon Lullabies tracks Maggie’s Tone Poem (my red Razer XL), The Wandering Soul (my orange Sunrise), Evenfall three instruments with different edges of my blue Tripp XL, and Herman’s Song – a Father’s wish (a requiem for Maggie’s dad) for my blue Edge.

Why Gravity Picks are Great! (For the short attention span and executive summary types among us)

They are durable, affordable, and really comfortable.
My Biggest Reason(TM)? They sound wonderful. Since I gig with them and record with them, their consistent quality and consistent sound amongst identical picks is really great. Some premium picks are like different woods in the same guitar shape: you have to try lots of them to get the one that sounds the best. With Gravity picks, the sound is comfortably consistent and reliable. I need that when I flip on the mic pre or the DI.

I haven’t met a Gravity pick I don’t like. I’m hoping to buy a Gold and some new Thins soon so I can upgrade my pick arsenal.

Sound

The different edge finishes give you striking combinations of attack and release – even amongst acoustic and electric guitars. I’ve found that the smoother edge sounds nicer on acoustic, particularly with coated strings. The more course edge gives REAL bite and mix-cut-through for electrics, particularly when you’re playing with low gain or low distortion.

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The sound of these picks is superb. That’s the 75% of the reason why I love them so much.

I can get really great warm sound with the super-thick smooth-edge picks and get nice bright attacks and releases with the thinner picks with the rougher edges. There’s a lot of variety, so there’s likely to be one with which you will fall in love!

Lots of Varieties, Grips, Thicknesses, Finishes, and Colors

The Gravity guitar pick line comes in a dizzying array of options. I’ve not found a type of pick I play that can’t be ordered as a Gravity pick. Now with the new “Thin” line of Gravity picks, you can now get down to .60mm to at least 6mm. Almost all pick varieties, from the basic Thin pick to the lovely acrylic picks to the gold series all come in a variety of styles and sizes. I won’t enumerate them all here, but I’ll bring up a few of my favorites to give you an idea of what I’ve used and what I like about Gravity picks.

Ask Chris at Gravity about pick finishing options. You’ll be glad you did!

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To Grip or Not To Grip. That is the Question

Some players love it when they find a pick with a grip option. There are several grip options with Gravity picks, including holes in the picks and engravings on the pick surfaces.
I vacillate between grip holes and no grip holes. It’s a fun feast of feelings that forever fascinates facilitation of my sound experimentations.
There are ellipse grip holes, single round grip hole, and “little round hole group”” grip holes. I like all of them.

Pick Categories

  • The new Thin Picks
  • Acrylic Picks
  • Gold Series Picks
  • Signature Series Picks
  • and Custom Shop Picks

Most (not all, mind you, but most) of these are offered in a handful of great shapes, combined with excellent size choices

Shapes

  • The Classic (The good old Fender 351-style pick shape)
  • The Striker (Great for three nice easy rounded tips)
  • The Sunrise (A top arch combined with pointy grip edges and a pointy end point)
  • The Stealth (A more triangular pick with three rounded sides, two sharp-ish grip points, and a striking tip similar to the Sunrise)
  • The Razer (One of my often-played favorites, with nice rounded grip points and a nice long sharp-ish striking tip)
  • The Tripp (What a Trip! Deceptive in shape: semi-triangular with three distinctly different points)
  • The Classic Pointed (Like a classic, only more pointy :-))
  • The Axis (My mellow-sound FAVORITE: Three nicely rounded points on a triangular pick)
  • And my absolute go-to Gravity pick
    The Edge (Not, U2’s MR. The Edge, mind you, just “Edge”)

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Sizes

  • The XL ( Great for those arthritis-hand days 🙁 )
  • The Standard (My favorite on three of my different Gravity pick shapes)
  • The Big Mini (A surprisingly nice minor difference to a Standard that feels like a million bucks when I’m playing a Floyd Rose trem-based guitar or a Fender with wide string spacing)
  • And the Mini. I like Mini Coopers (I drive an R59 these days): I like the Gravity Mini, Too.

And there are colors that coincide with thicknesses, too (depending on the style and such)

My personal favorites?

  • Standard
  • Razer
  • Mr. The Edge
  • and Tripp (great for local live acoustic gigs when I need lots of different sounds out of 2 or three guitars)

Currently, my “favorites pick tin” has a Razer with a grip hole, a Tripp without a grip hole, and an Edge with a grip hole. These generally get rotated from my great big giant pick stashes: always a few gravities in the favorites…

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Durability and Ease of Use

Gravity picks have been a real mainstay for me this past year. I still use some of my previous go-to picks (Dragon’s Heart Pure, Dunlops, Claytons, Fenders, and such): still, my wide assortment of Gravity picks has taken over much of my playing. Bear in mind that I am still largely a finger-style player – but great picks make for great sound!

When I play with a pick, I do a hybrid finger-pick style, something close to a claw or chicken-pickin’ approach. I’m comforted with the clear and precise attack of the Gravity pick combined with the sensory input and varieties of sounds I can get in combination of pick and fingers.

Gravity picks last a LONG TIME.

Go to the Gravity Custom Shop page here to design your own combination!.

Price and Quality

The price of all the different echelons of Gravity picks is very reasonable. From the very inexpensive Thin Pick to the moderately-priced but very premium Gold Series – Gravity is a great choice for picks. I think of them as Premium Boutique picks at an everyday price. With so many players entering the Great Pick array, Gravity is in the very sweet spot of Excellent quality and playability at an Excellently low price.

The variety pack at http://gravitypicks.com/products/packaged-deals?variant=1399124483 is an excellent place to start. For about $30 you can get your hands on a bunch (Eight Premium Picks!) of excellent plectrums at a very nice simple price.

Buy some. Play them all. Feel the joy of a great pick that feels great too.

Wishes and Wants

I think it would be a blast for us to be able to upload a graphic to the Gravity site and order a pick with the graphic etched on it. I am aware that there are technical and legal challenges with this approach – it would just be a lot of fun.

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Have fun with Gravity!

The Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal: One to Many, Many to One

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The Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal: One to Many, Many to One

I’m a musician and a recording artist. I’ve always been in search of new ways to make sound with my instruments – and new ways to record unique and fulfilling sounds from many different types of instruments. Some things one tries when searching for new sounds is to use effects pedals, another might be using different tubes in a pre-amp or amplifier. There are nice upgrades in guitars, basses, gear, and rack-mounted gear that really change your sound.

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But sometimes, something VERY simple comes along that lets you truly turn your playing and recording on ear. The little tank-built Morley ABC Switch box is a surprisingly versatile tool that really makes your setups incredibly flexible and easy-to-change. This review is about my journeys with my four-year-old Morley ABC boxes (I am buying a second one this week!) and the wonderful things they’ve brought me.

You can see more information about the Morley ABC Switch box here at zZounds, my favorite internet gear seller (my sponsor, too). If you click here and buy stuff, I can write more reviews!

Quick Opinion

Buy one or two after you read this review. You’ll be VERY glad you did!
I am not hard on my gear – but I do use what I own. And when I brought the Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal into my life, it became something I use EVERY day. It started with being a way I could play through three amp stacks at once – and then it evolved into a recording tour de force for my home studio. WOW. Amazing, simple, durable, quiet, efficient, well-made, inexpensive, and downright fun!

Please read on: I’ll tell you why I took the time to write this review and to help spread the word for this wonderful little box from a strong instrument gear brand!

Durability and Ease of Use

I bought my first Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal out of necessity. I wanted to have a few different amps in the house (and later the garage), and I didn’t want to have to have redundant pedal setups or spend time playing with cables when I wanted to go from my Marshall to my Fender to my VOX. As time went on, I was even experimenting with combinations of one, a pair, or all three. This little box makes it all just a click away!

Durability? My first Morley ABC Switch Pedal sat in the garage for a couple of years, with little climate control and LOTS of use from LOTS of different players. Just bring in your instrument (bass or guitar or ?), plug it in to the right-most ¼-inch jack, click a few stomp buttons and you get lots of different amp sounds all at once!

Want to see more about this awesome pedal at the Morley site? Click here.

It’s only a quick change to have three instruments punching down to one amp (not something I recommend very often, folks!) – and all the pushing, pulling, stepping, re-wiring that went on with that little blue Morley box was amazing. In the recording arena, I often have signal that’s 3-to-1 or 1-to-3 when it comes to computer input gear (read below), signal chains, and more. And it still looks almost new, and it works FLAWLESSLY in its fifth year!; This little metal stomp box is amazingly durable. it has taken everything that has been thrown at it and it still is the quietest (heavy-duty metal push-push switch-noise wise) stomp box I’ve ever owned and still to this day creates no discernible circuit noise.

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It’s incredibly easy to use. You have three switchable ¼-inch jacks, A, B, and C. You have one 1 ¼-inch jack on the right-most side of the pedal. The pedal doesn’t care if you want three ins to one out or three outs from one in. It works flawlessly in both directions.

Believe it or not, you can easily daisy-chain more than one of these little ABC boxes and do some pretty amazing things without any discernible signal loss. Just draw your ideal setup on paper, follow the cables with your diagram, and Poof! Many-to-Many signal chains!

Price and Quality

The price of this little blue Morley ABC Switch Pedal stomp box is one of the easiest parts of this review. They’re less than $100 US in most retail outlets. It’s worth every cent and will last pretty much until the next EON (YMMV). The price is definitely just right, although five years later I would probably be just as happy had I paid $125 US or so back then. It’s flawless.

Quality? The Morley ABC Switch Box stomp pedal is made strong enough to withstand the heavy stompers of some local metal-music heads that have used it. It has withstood HUGE temperature fluctuations, endured well-below-freezing temperatures and well above 100 F degree temperatures. it has withstood LOTS of drops (from six feet or so). it has been slammed around in pedal cases, trunks, hatchbacks, and on stages. It has been around cat fur and garage dust and high humidity and low humidity. After a simple wipe-down, it looks almost new, and it BEHAVES as if it was just brand new!

The Morley ABC Switch Box stomp pedal is my OFFICIAL switcher box. I’m good to go for a lifetime with mine!

It really does help me if you click on a sponsored link and buy your gear from my favorite vendor zZounds… Click here to find great gear to feed your GAS!

How have I used mine?

Interestingly enough, the Morley ABC Pedal truly is only limited by your imagination in the ways it can be used. I’ve used mine for two very specific purposes (mainly): playing through 1, 2, or 3 amps (in different combinations) from one guitar at a time (this gives LOTS of tonal variations!); and creating signal/effects/pre-amp chains that send the signal from one guitar through different chains to different inputs in computer recording input devices hosting multiple ¼-inch mono inputs.

In the early days of using my Morley ABC Switch Box, I primarily used it to experiment with and enjoy playing through multiple amps at once. I often played through combinations of a Marshall, VOX, and Fender amps, each with its own pedals and signal chain. It’s amazing what you can do. In addition, when playing one of my Rickenbackers with Ric-o-sound, I was able to have one output jack going to the Morley and the other going to yet a fourth amp.

It’s amazing what you can do with a few amps in your garage, a Morley ABC switch, and pedals with multiple outputs. Here’s a fun one: Guitar in; A to a Marshall with no effects, just clean gain; B to a Fender solid state with a pedal setup signal chained; C to an Electro-Harmonix Sitar pedal with the primary out to my old VOX and the Sympathetic output to yet a fourth amp, an Egnater tube amp I used to own. WOW. Imagine the multiplicity of chorus, phase, special features, and amp sounds coming from one guitar all at once!

More recently, I’ve been using my Morley ABC Switch stomp pedal to broaden and enrich my recordings from my electric instruments. I’ve got two rack-mounted multi-channel computer interfaces and three small effects chains, with three channels running through NICE tubes in good tube preamps. I plug the guitar into the Morley ABC, and A goes through lots of pedals to one tube preamp channel, B goes through a Seymour Duncan Pickup booster pedal to another tube preamp channel, and C goes through a funky old Danelectro chorus pedal into a tube compressor and preamp rackmounted device. All three go to the back of one or both of my computer input channels. Sometimes, to throw in some spice, I have two-channel pedals in my chain: Since my computer input devices are 8+ ¼-inch mono input channels, I actually have the second output of my chorus pedals and my Sitar pedal all feeding to the inputs. In some setups, I’ve got 7 individual channeled inputs from my guitar into my recording.

Most of the time, I’m just running one or two channels through my good tubes for the recordings. It is awesome, however, to make entirely new sounds in my recordings with the simple click (or three) of my Morley ABC Switch.

There are other great Morley products, too! Click here to see lots more at zZounds! They guarantee you’ll love your gear!

There’s another useful way (of the many) to use a Morley ABC: One ¼ instrument input going out to two amps with A and B, C going to a tuner pedal or tuner rack component. The tuner can be on all the time without causing any signal interruptions or noise in the actual amplified channels. Nice!

Wishes and Wants

Honestly, I don’t think I have any wishes and wants on this gear: the Morley ABC Switch Box stomp pedal is JUST RIGHT and is the F-150, the Cadillac, and the Mercedes of stomp-switchers. I like it just like it is.

The Little Tool that Could – The Schatten Design Knob, Bushing, and Stud Puller Review

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The Schatten Design Guitar/Bass Knob, Bushing, and Stud Puller Review

Quick Opinion: The Schatten Design Guitar and Bass knob, bushing, and stud puller is simple genius. It uses leverage and evenly-applied pressure to safely and easily pull up even the most stubborn knobs and guitar parts.

Schatten Design Stew Mac Knob And Bushing Puller Detail Jim Pearson

I have used this tool countless hundreds of times on guitar and bass knobs and studs. I’ve even used it to pull a fragile tuner bushing from a valuable guitar’s headstock. These are a little pricy, but are worth it in the end for the damage they prevent and the comfort, speed, and ease with which one can do guitar repair work. I got mine here at StewMac.com.

Epiphone Sheraton F Hole Original Knob Detail Jim Pearson

Quality: This little tool is well-made. I just throw it in my shoebox-sized toolbox of specialty tools, often from chair hight to the toolboxes on the desk and floor. It’s never so much as chipped or shown wear. It is solid, simple, and very workable. I like this tool – it is well-made.

Here’s a link to the tool on Schatten Design’s website…

Schatten Design Stud Puller Extensions Factory Image

Schatten Design Stud Puller Extensions Factory Image

Value: I think the buy-in price is a little high. But, in the end analysis, it is very much worth its cost. It has saved me countless parts (especially fragile plastic knobs) and made me much more comfortable with working on valuable instruments. This tool has given me a new level of confidence when working with $5 guitars and $5,000 guitars.

In the past, as a beginner, I would occasionally break a knob while pulling it from a pot shaft (potentiometer shaft). I’ve even marked a guitar body or pickguard before trying to pull stubborn knobs or studs.

It has saved me more than it has cost me, by orders of magnitude, in my opinion. In the words of guitar folks, “I’d definitely miss it and replace it if it got lost!”

Features: The Schatten Design guitar/bass knob, bushing, and stud puller is fairly basic, but is designed very well for its purpose.

It comes with the puller tube (with a black foam ring stuck on the contact edge), a couple of different puller boxes (they call them “blocks”), and several threaded stud puller-assisters. Overall, it’s simple and has only what it needs. I wish it had extra protector rings, or at least a way to get more…

Epiphone Sheraton F Hole New Knob Detail Jim Pearson

Wishes: Not much to wish for with this little gem. It does a great job.

Crate V-Series V18-212 Combo Tube Guitar Amplifier Review – Loud, Lean, and Clear

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I originally wrote this review on December 3, 2008 – This is the Class A Combo that could. It’s loud and mean, it’s heavy and well constructed. No frills, and all thrills. I sold mine a while back, but am on the search for a used 18 or 33 2×12 as I write this. It’s a great small gig and garage amp…

Crate V-Series V18 212 Combo Tube Amp Review

Amplifiers. Musicians. Opinions. Infinite combinations. Put the same amp in front of 50 different musicians and you’re not likely to get the same opinion twice. That’s OK. Some folks like gut strings, others like nylon. Some folks like Fenders, some folks like BC Richs… you get the idea.

The point of my review is not to take an opinionated stand on this particular amplifier. Rather, the point of this writing is to tell you what my V-Series makes me feel and hear. Ultimately, however, you should trust your own ears and wallet. You are your own best judge, even novice, even lofty professional. Music is wonderful and the more colors we introduce, the better.

There was a need to consolidate the amps in the house down to one amp. Some were too big, some were too small, some didn’t sound like what we wanted… So, I sold them all. And I bought one amp to serve our (my son and me) needs. I don’t recommend this approach, but it was useful for us from the standpoint of housing space and underlying need.

I wanted a tube amp combo. My son wanted LOUD and easy to push the tubes into breakup. My son was looking to compete with a drum set and a small band in small venues and recording. I wanted a way to jam, comp, record, and just enjoy making noise. After playing a bunch of amps (including some solid state amps), I chose the Crate V-Series V18 212. Here’s my story (and I’m stickin’ to it ;-))

Quick Opinion: The lower-end V-Series Crate Tube amps are a bargain. They’re becoming scarce to buy in stores, so if you’re interested, play one very soon, or find an online store willing to take returns. These aren’t the high-end USA-made Crate tube amps, but they’re still Class-A, and you can tell it.

Interestingly enough, depending on which combo (or head) you purchase, you get different types of power tubes – something like a Fender in a couple of models, something like a Marshall in a couple of models. If you can play several side-by-side, let your ears decide. If you’re looking for a particular sound, read up on the power tube types.

We love our V18 212. It’s moderately heavy (about 50 lbs, nicely balanced at the handle), it’s loud as a pissed three-year-old, and it has a good fundamental sound. I’m happy with out decision and my experience with this amp has made me contemplate augmenting my studio room with a little V5 combo for when I’m comping.
The Crate V series isn’t available in new retail any more, but you can see other great Crate amps here at zZounds.com

The inclusion of a standby switch is awesome. It lets you keep your tubes hot while you silence things in standby for breaks, instrument switches, pedal-foreplay, and other shenanigans – you don’t have to shut down and re-blaze your tubes every time you need to fiddle with things on the other end of the cable. Very nice touch for an amp at this price point.

Features: As an inexpensive Class A tube amp, the Crate V18 is actually pretty nice. It has more than just volume or volume and tone (as its price-wise competitors are built). It has a real reverb, three bands of EQ, and drive to go with the volume. Our particular V18 is a combo, and we opted for the 2×12″ model. The pair of Crate-branded speakers are fairly run-of-the-mill, but they suffice.

This is a one-channel amp. There is only one input. These things are not unusual in this price range, but it’s important to point this out.

What do you get?
18 watts (very LOUD watts, thank you very much);
Class A tube circuit;
2 12″ Crate-brand ceramic-magnet 8 Ohm speakers (on our V18212 model);
2 EL84 power cathode biased tubes;
3 12AX7A pre-amp stage tubes;
Gain, volume, bass, middle, treble, and reverb controls;
Two-switch actuation mode (on and standby).

Quality: Our experience with our Crate V18 has been excellent. The tubes seem to be just right in their quality and adjustment. The Speakers are just what you would expect from ceramic-magnet 12s, the control quality is quiet, smooth, and feels good.

The tolex covering and the overall fit-and-finish is just fine. The cabinet seems decently tight and well-assembled. The corner protector covers are nice and big… and the screw-down parts seemt to be pretty good.

Our V18 has been lugged around by teenagers quite a bit. Everything still works great, there are few tears in anything, and the sound is still very, very good.

Playability: Well, as an amp, playability is really not the big thing to review… but… it’s easy to position, the knobs are easy and intuitive, and the tube-warm-up time is reasonable. The standby switch is a great feature and makes this budget amp a top contender.

Sound: Here’s where the speaker hits the air and ear. The synopsis is this: the sound is Marshally, the spring reverb is actually pretty good but can get overloaded (not quite sproingy like you get on a nice $800 Fender tube amp). It’s easy to over-drive the tubes and start crunching away. There is no quiet setting, and there is no clean sound unless you turn the gain all the way off – thereby compromising the volume almost completely. But, I love playing it in overdrive! If you are looking for clean, these are not the droids you are looking for. Move along.

The long version: This amp is really crunchy and tubey for $199 (It’s 2008 street price when it was still available new and was a “closeout” model). It sounds much better than its price and it really delivers as a low-cost small-gig/recording amp. If you’re rockin’, bluesin’, or doing some crunchy country, this amp delivers in a big way. You can even play it without an overdrive pedal at low volumes to get some nice tube distortion.

Some might find the sound a bit brittle at some settings. Really, the right way to approach this amp is to plug in your guitar, and dial in the different aspects until you like it. I’ve never seen an amp that sounds great with every guitar at every setting. I warm mine up with an Analog.Man pedal and a nice small device chain (wah, chorus, delay/echo). I’m very happy with this amp at any price under $300.

It sounds loads better than most solid-state amps even up to those in the $500 range. It’s a nice alternative to solid-staters for crunch delivery and guts.

Value: This amp used to have a street price of about $300. It was worth it then… Although the occasional discount was nice. Now that these sell for (typically) $199, they’re a steal – a bargain – a smart and easy choice. Think about it… at peak gas prices of 2008, that’s really only two tankfuls for a large vehicle ;-).

Wishes: I’d like to see a built-in attenuator and a means to get more clean-channel sound out of the amp. Crate: Clean is important to lots of buyers.