10 plectrum alternatives
19th Dec 2012 | 16:25
Mmm... guitars. Our heroes have a history of chowing down, most notably Jimi Hendrix, who snacked on his Strat during Hey Joe solos in the 60s, but most dangerously Steve Vai, who laps at his JEM fretboard like a thirsty kitten. You might want to consider fitting your Les Paul with Cheestrings before you attempt to do the same.
Finding regular picks too floppy, Brian May stumbled across his clipped tone using the serrated edge of an old-school silver sixpence. The coin hit meltdown in 1980, but May has them specially minted, with his own face in place of the Queen. Your perfect tone could be hiding down the back of your sofa...
Dazed and confused? You would have been if you’d seen a jumpsuited Jimmy Page molest his Les Paul with a violin bow circa 1969. In more recent times, starting bids for a knackered-looking bow from Led Zep’s Knebworth shows were $3,000. It’s that iconic.
The stupidity of This Is Spinal Tap went to 11, and the dumbest moment is Nigel Tufnel’s parody of Jimmy Page, as he reaches for a violin, and screeches the instrument across the strings of his Flying V. He frowns at the atonal racket, tweaks a tuning peg, and starts up again. Still funny.
No guitar-polisher, Ritchie Blackmore routinely wrenched off his whammy bars, and got brutal for his solo on Deep Purple’s Hard Lovin’ Man. “I was knocking my guitar up and down against a door in the control room,” recalls the Man In Black. “The engineer looked at me oddly.”
Someone else's hand
In other words, you fret the chords, while your wingman hits the strings: a feat of guitar telekinesis that perhaps explains why only brothers – Dan and Justin Hawkins, and Alan and Stevie Nimmo – seem able to pull it off.
Truth is, Jimmy Page nicked his bow stunt off The Creation’s Eddie Phillips, who had already experimented with a hacksaw. “But it scarred my guitar,” he recalled in TG, “much to the amusement of the kids down the front!”
Tom Morello has the biggest bag of tricks in rock, but best is the Testify solo, where he yanks the lead and taps it on the bridge while wah-ing furiously. Warning: trying this at home may result in a loud boom and a campfire where your hair used to be.
Paul Gilbert laughed in the face of electrocution and self-mutilation when he revved a Makita drill to create a warp- speed tremolo-picking effect during Racer X’s club days. Good fun, until they played Atlanta. “The drill got hopelessly tangled in my hair,” Paul recalls. “I felt like Derek Smalls!”
“I’d pick the prettiest girl in the room,” recalls Anvil’s Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow of his now legendary Canadian heavy metal band’s unique brand of battery-powered cock-rock, “and play a solo right in front of her... then I’d pull out my dildo, use it to finish the last few bars, then thrust the vibrating pink plastic into her drink, and swirl it around with a filthy grin on my face.”