Sure it can play guitar, but can it handle a 2-by-4?


TOKYO -- How's this for a market niche: hardware rock.

Mr. Big, the American band that uses a power drill for an extra biting sound, begins a 16-concert tour today, aided by $1 million from Makita Corp., the arch-rival of Towson-based Black & Decker.

Makita officials who appeared with the long-haired rockers at a ,, news conference yesterday seemed uneasy with the company's new promotional tie. "Makita's drills are really meant to make holes," said dark-suited Kore Eda, the company's executive managing director.

But guitarist Paul Gilbert eagerly demonstrated his technique -- tying a pick to a drill bit and letting it twist into an accelerated strum.

Why a Makita drill?

"It's the best. It doesn't break down," said Mr. Gilbert, who favors Makita's 6012 HDW model.

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