Bluegrass Master Gary Brewer of the Kentucky Ramblers Shares Some Guitar Pick Wisdom

Talk shop with Gary Brewer for a few minutes and one thing rings clear as a bell: There is rhyme and reason behind everything on his mind. And that mind is full of wisdom acquired over more than four decades playing bluegrass professionally. As well as know-how handed down from his dad and his grandfather, whose tenure in the original Carter Family band dates back to the early ’20s.

When GP went deep with Brewer on his new acoustic guitar concept project, House of Axes, he went into the weeds on playing with a pick. Here, we share his knowledge and advice on the subject.

Organic Issues

Real tortoiseshell picks were the thing back in the day, and I used to use them years and years ago. Not to make a funny out of it, but they’re “picky” from an environmental aspect. Not just about the animal, but also from a playing perspective.

If it’s humid outside, by the time you play an evening concert they start catching and catching. They get to feeling rough on the wound strings, due to the humidity. The best time to use something [organic] like a tortoiseshell is in the wintertime or in a studio where you don’t have that environmental concern.



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