This month we find resources for compulsive traders, with four pick collecting and trading websites and a blog that recalls long-gone gear.

Picks of the Rich and Famous

Picks of the Rich and Famous This month, Chris Burgess takes a look at some recent advances in the plectrum. The entire office got in on the act, testing a slew of new picks, ranging from quirky to revolutionary to downright practical. Once we had picks on the brain, it was hard to stop. What else could we do but start Googling?

A sort of pick-obsessed society became apparent through a quick search of the web. We soon learned that a legion of guitar pick collectors worldwide have been showcasing and trading picks online for a while now. The result? Massive pick collections! Some collectors have nearly 1000 picks displayed on their websites, and online trading has enabled them to grow their collections in ways never before possible.

Most of these collectors don’t appear to be guitar players—or web designers, for that matter—but that doesn’t mean that the websites are useless to players. Ever wonder what kind of picks your favorite guitarist is using? Chances are there’s a picture of the pick, front and back, on one of these sites. And if you really want to take that extra step in snagging a specific guy’s tone, you can log onto one of the trading sites and procure one of the picks that he personally used.

One of the biggest pick-trading networks exists on PickNET, where collectors from around the world can post messages about anything pickrelated and list trade offerings. It uses a Yahoo!Groups message board, and anyone can join.

If you’re just looking to browse, there are plenty of sites for that as well. In fact, most sites we found serve as a simple bragging device for the collector. The flashy section titled “My Picks,” is usually followed by a flashy disclaimer that reads, “Sorry, not eligible for trade!”

And when we say flashy, it isn’t necessarily in a good way. Most of these sites look as though they were built in the early days of the internet, and aren’t updated frequently. Others have compatibility issues with newer browsers like Firefox. But it’s hard not to be impressed by someone who owns nearly 1000 picks, and takes the time to upload a picture of every single one. If you’re looking to get into pick collecting or copy one of the basic elements of your idols’ tone, these websites are worth a look.

Get your pick on at:

The Ones That Got Away

The Ones That Got Away Feel like saying ohhhhhhhhhh over and over again? Head over to The Ones That Got Away blog and eat your heart out on post after post of sob stories. Forget about that cute girl at the bus stop in college, we’re talking long lost Silverfaces and Thinline Teles.

The blog is the creation of Jaimie Muehlhausen, who appears to have traded in more guitars in his lifetime than our entire staff combined. Not every story is from Jaimie, however. Readers are encouraged to commiserate with their own stories of love and loss.

The stories range from gut-wrenchingly painful to hilarious. More than a few center around trading in a beloved instrument to pay the bills—and are accompanied by warnings against doing this, pleas for the return of their instrument, or both. Other stories actually feature instruments that were once happily unloaded, with detailed descriptions of the guitars’ shortcomings, along with cringe-inducing current values.

What really makes the blog a good read—and might keep you reading archived posts for a while—is Jaimie’s style of writing. He winds in stories from his personal life, that at times perfectly capture a moment of time (being psyched about a friend’s Delorean, for example), along with astute and funny gear reflections (“You wear a Rick on your sleeve if you know what I’m sayin’,” he says about Rickenbackers).

The blog is surprisingly active, with 86 different stories so far this year, which averages out to about nine per month. There isn’t something new every day, but there are generally a few posts each week. If you’ve ever pawned an old Strat to keep the water on, or tried to trade up only to be let down, this blog might ease your pain.

Throw a pity party at

Almost six decades after forming the short-lived Rising Sons, the two legends reconvene to pay tribute to the classic blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the warm and rootsy Get on Board.

Deep into Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, percussionist Joachim Cooder lays out, letting the two elder musicians can take a pass through “Pawn Shop Blues.” To start, they loosely play around with the song’s intro on their acoustic guitars. “Yeah, nice,” remarks Mahal off-handedly in his distinctive rasp—present since he was a young man but, at 79, he’s aged into it—and Cooder lightly chuckles. They hit the turnaround and settle into a slow, loping tempo. It’s a casual and informal affair—some notes buzz, and it sounds like one of them is stomping his foot intermittently. Except for Cooder’s slide choruses, neither guitar plays a rhythm or lead role. They simply converse.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less