Review : GruvGear FretWraps String Dampeners

Check out our review of the infinitely useful Fret Wrap professional string dampener from Gruv Gear. These wraps can be used to instantly clean up your playing and help you to get that absolutely perfect take during recording sessions.

Chicken Picks Guitar Plectrums Review

As you’ve probably figured out by now I have a little smidgen of a guitar pick fetish going on.  They’re just an inexpensive way to add a little fresh excitement to the daily guitar practice session, and every now and again you stumble across one that becomes a firm favorite in your arsenal…

Last month I picked up a couple of interesting sounding boutique picks from a new company based in Holland called ChickenPicks. Read on to find out what I thought…

ChickenPicks Plectrum Review

First of all let’s start of by pointing out that ChickenPicks are thick, chunky plectrums – so if you like wussy little bendy picks then these are not for you.  At the moment they come in two sizes: light (between 2.1 and 2.4mm) and original (between 2.5 and 2.8mm).  The benefits of a thicker pick include more efficient playing, less grip required to hold on to them and a fuller, warmer guitar tone.

Both picks are white in color and have some indiscriminate graphics on the back to help differentiate the two.  The front of the pick is emblazoned with the ChickenPicks logo, which features some type of weird sock puppet looking character having a smoke.  As the picks come from Holland it isn’t too hard to guess what he’s smoking…

Chicken picks guitar plectrum review eppo franken

I’m assuming that they are finished by hand judging by the bevels on them.  These look very similar to the picks I made myself with the PickPunch, as it isn’t easy to get a perfectly smooth line by hand.  In saying that, these tiny little imperfections have no impact at all whilst playing.

Review : Gaskell Classic Left Handed Guitar

Today’s post is a guest review of the Gaskell Classic I guitar by Alan Williams, who has recently taken the reins at Gaskell’s new European division.  This very guitar is available to try out or purchase, or alternatively those in Europe can contact Alan directly for other available options and pricing.

Higher quality images of this guitar (and others) can be found on the Gaskell Europe Facebook page or on the main Gaskell website – links at the end of the article.

Gaskell Classic Review by Alan Williams

Gaskell Guitars build only left handed guitars.  That’s got to be good news for us lefties who have every reason to feel unloved by the mainstream manufacturers.   I don’t know about you, but this hits me every time I read a review – go down to the “left hand available” and find a stark “No” staring back.  Most makers do a token number of “easy call” models as lefties and a few are now offering a wider selection, but there are almost no other companies who offer only guitars for us southpaws.

Gaskell Classic I Left Handed Explorer Guitar Lefty

Review: RJL Carbon Fiber Guitar Picks

A quick review of some interesting boutique picks from RJL Guitars. These unique plectrums are 100% made from carbon fiber!

Review : Slick Grip Guitar Picks

I seem to be on a never-ending quest to find my ideal guitar pick lately, and this month has been no different.  Recently I picked up some interesting plectrums from a new UK based company called Slick Grip…

These six picks utilise a unique design which is supposed to help wick away moisture and keep the surface nice and grippy.  As grip is something I have trouble with I was only too eager to give these innovative Slick Grip picks a good test run.

What’s In the Box?

As soon as I received the package in the mail I could tell that this was a company who put a lot of thought into how they present their product.  The picks arrived in a black branded envelope, and the bright pink Slick Grip logo instantly alerted me to what the package contained.

Inside the envelope the attention to small details continued as each pick was safely nestled inside its very own individual packaging!  A thick piece of foam houses each pick, which is then cradled by a piece of card and then finally wrapped in a sheet of plastic.  It’s a very neat little design and instantly gives the impression that these are more than your average-joe picks.

Slick Grip Guitar Picks Review Plectrum

The range comes in a variety of sizes from 0.45mm all the way up to 2.0mm.  The different thicknesses are color coded which makes them very easy to distinguish from each other.  Take a look at the close-up image at the end of this article to see exactly what pick sizes are available.

The Design

If you take a look at the image below you will see a detailed graphic of the pick design, which is displayed on the back of the packaging.

Review : Planet Waves NS Mini Headstock Tuner

Recently Planet Waves were kind enough to send over one of their brand new NS Mini Headstock Tuners for us to investigate.  As always we were only too happy to test out their new and always innovative little products.  Here’s our review…

The NS Mini Headstock Tuner is a little different to most other similar products in that it is tiny, and is also virtually invisible from the front of your guitar.  It tunes by vibration via its highly sensitive piezo transducer and clearly presents tuning information on its two-color backlit display.

What’s In the Box?

Inside the surprisingly small box you’ll find the tuner itself, the instruction manual and a battery.

The tuner itself is made of plastic and feels solid enough in your hand.  It is easily the smallest tuner I have personally ever seen.  I’m not sure why you’d want to do it, but the clip can be removed.

Planet Waves Mini Headstock Guitar Tuner Review

In order to keep things simple, there are only two buttons on the tuner: one to switch the unit on and off, and the other to switch between tuning frequencies (A430 to A450).  If you take a look at the image above you’ll notice the two buttons which are located on the underside of the unit.  Also notice the battery compartment door.


The tuner clamps onto your headstock using the adjustable clip.  The tab at the rear allows you to alter the height of the clip, making it suitable for surfaces of between roughly 1.2cm to 2.25cm.  Once clamped onto your headstock the display will move through a full 360 degree rotation, allowing you to achieve the perfect viewing angle.

Theoretically you can place the tuner anywhere you would like on the guitar, although the idea behind its design is that it should be virtually invisible, so it should generally be positioned with the display behind the headstock.  Since the audience can only see a tiny portion of the clamp they will most likely assume that you are able to tune perfectly by ear!

Review : Pick Punch – Make Your Own Customized Plectrums!

The Pick Punch looks just like any old paper punch at first glance, however upon closer inspection you’ll notice the great big plectrum-shaped hole in the bottom.  With this little gadget you can take almost any piece of flat plastic material and turn it into some custom guitar picks!

We featured the Pick Punch in our Xmas Stocking Fillers article last year and I have to admit that I almost instantly wrote it off as a fun, novelty item.  But once you start to see the possibilities for custom pick creations it quickly becomes a very useful (and incredibly addictive!) tool.  Read on to find out how…

What’s In the Box?

Inside the attractively designed box you’ll find the Pick Punch, ready to start pumping out custom plectrums.  I also picked up a small selection of plastic sheets from the Pick Punch website to get started with, as well as a sanding block for shaping and buffing the picks – these are an extra purchase, but very inexpensive.

Pick Punch Custom Guitar Plectrum Review

The punch itself is very heavy and feels incredibly well built and solid in your hand.  When you first see the size of the hole on the bottom you really wonder how on earth it manages to cut such a large area from your material.

The plastic sheets are all of a similar thickness, but are of varying colors and opacities.  Pick Punch sell a variety of different plastic sheets directly from their website should you need a good supply.

Review : Planet Waves Auto-Trim Tuning Machines

I’m a big fan of locking tuners and try to have them on all of my guitars where possible, so when I recently received my new Gaskell AllRounder the very first thing I did was to upgrade the standard stock tuners.  D’Addario were kind enough to send out a set of their Planet Waves Auto-Trim Tuning Machines, and I was only too glad to give them a test drive!

These tuners are a little different to most in that they negate the need for string cutters by incorporating a trimming mechanism directly into the tuners themselves.  The design is so simple and innovative that they really don’t look any different to any other locking tuner on the market.  They come in either a 6 in-line set or a 3+3 set in a variety of different finishes. Read on to find out how the magic happens…

What’s In The Box?

Inside the beautifully designed packaging, the tuners are artfully displayed in their cardboard mount.  Underneath you will find six screws, and your nuts and washers, as well as a brief information pamphlet which details how the tuners function.

DAddario Planet Waves Auto Trim Locking Tuners Review

The packaging is a very elegant affair, clearly Planet Waves has also put a lot of thought into the smaller details such as this. The tuners themselves are incredibly solid and feel very well made – they also look fantastic!

Locking Tuners?  What Are They?

For those of you who are new to guitar and perhaps haven’t come across locking tuners yet, let me tell you that they are a godsend!  A large screw on the bottom of the tuner controls the height of a clamping pin inside the post where you thread your string through.  So the idea is that you thread the string through, pull it tight, and then tighten the screw to clamp the string firmly in place.

Review : D’Addario EXP Strings and Planet Waves Pro-Winder

D’Addario very kindly sent me a sample of their new EXP coated string range as well as a pro-winder from their Planet Waves brand.  I am a long time user of both of these companies so I was only too happy to test-drive a few more of their excellent products!

For those who aren’t in the know, Planet Waves is also owned by D’Addario.  I was sent a set of super light (EXP120) and regular light (EXP110) strings for electric guitar, and a set of light (EXP16) and medium (EXP17) strings for acoustic.

D’Addario EXP Coated Strings

I’ve been using D’Addario’s EXP range of strings for probably a year or two now, and they are superb!  These strings do cost a little more but they come with a special coating which should hopefully extend the life of the strings quite considerably.  If you’re like me, get fairly sweaty during a good guitar session and never bother to wipe down the strings afterwards, these are absolutely ideal.  I used to be able to turn a set of strings brown within a couple of weeks, but with these I can easily stretch them out for months of use if need be.

D'Addario Coated EXP Strings

Fair enough if you play live or do session work you will want a fresh set of strings on for each and every gig, but for home practice these EXPs will keep you going for longer without sacrificing tone.  A further bonus on the electric packs is the extra high-e string that comes bundled inside – something that you see less and less of these days.

Will you notice the coating on the strings?  Sure, at first.  As you make your first bend you will be able to feel the string grind against the fret, but this is only temporary and will quickly disappear as you continue to play.  Once you’ve worn off the coating beside the frets the EXP’s feel like any other set of regular strings.

The strings come with colored ball-ends to allow for easy identification and are packaged in a sealed bag to keep them factory fresh forever.  If you go through strings like nobody’s business I would absolutely recommend test driving a set of these strings out, both for acoustic and electric.

Planet Waves Pro-Winder String Tool

If your guitar doesn’t have locking tuners then a good string winder is a complete necessity.  It will shave minutes off of your restring time and saves a lot of  unnecessary strain on your wrist.  I’ve been using a Planet Waves string winder for nearly 10 years now and it’s still going strong!  This winder also features a string-cutter to help speed up the removal of old strings and tidy up the new ones.

ReadHow often should I change guitar strings?

D'Addario Pro-Winder NEW vs OLD