Category Archives: guitar gear

Unique Guitar Player Gift – Pick Wallet

If you’re looking for a cheap and affordable gift for a guitar player for Christmas or other occasion, a pick wallet can be a really cool thing to give.  Sometimes as a musician you don’t know you need something until you see somebody else use it, or until it’s given to you.

As a guitar player, or if you use a pick on any kind of stringed instrument (like a bass or mandolin), you leave picks all over the place.  If I had a nickel for every guitar pick my wife found in the dryer, I’d have enough money to buy a new dryer.  Sometimes I need a guitar pick and I can’t find one, or if I’m on a gig they are all in the bottom of my gig bag just floating around.  A pick wallet organizes your picks all in one place, keeps them clean, and allows you to make sure you have a good supply on hand (and you know when to buy more).  Consider getting a pick wallet for that guitar player in your life – they will love it!

Click here to get the guitar pick wallet on Amazon

There are more than a few guitar pick wallets with different styles, designs, colors, and even shapes on eBay right now for as little as $5 or $10.  These would make great gifts for any guitar player or musician in your family.

 

What Guitar Pick is Best for Playing Rock?

I never thought that something as simple as a pick could control your playing style as much it does…until I started experimenting with different guitar picks. For YEARS I’ve used the exact same Fender medium picks (celluloid) – and ALWAYS the tortoise shell ones. I’ve used those since I was a teenager in high school (and I’m 42 now). I guess it’s one of those “stick with what you know” things.

So I’m in a cover band and we play 6 decades of music, dance rock, pop, classic rock, disco, country, alternative – everything. We picked up “Panama” by Van Halen recently and I noticed that it just eats up my picks (from the pick slides). I’m complaining about it every time I practice so my wife googles “what guitar pick is best for playing rock music”? I never would have thought of something that simple, and the thought of changing picks just never came up.

After reading some of the links she found I saw that most of the famous players that play fast don’t play with the larger pick sizes. Comparing my Fender medium to what they play with is about a 40% difference in size. I’ve always gone with the Fender medium because I have big hands anyway, the pick was easy to hold between my thumb and forefinger.

Comparison of Dava Control Picks to Fender Mediums

I got my guitar magazine in the mail that same day and saw an ad for these Dava control grip picks – so I ordered them (6).

dava guitar pick review

Once I got them in the mail I played with them about a week at practice, and a gig. The rubber overlay makes it easier to grip them. I never noticed how the Fender mediums slip in my fingers until I used these. They’re slightly harder then the Fender medium picks, and I did notice that if you pick too hard or aggresively the rubber does grab on the strings if you stick it in too far every now and again. Playing things like pickslides does eat on the picks a bit, but only about half as much as the Fender mediums. They also wear about 40% less than a Fender Medium, and they’re about 20% less in size with a more focused tip then the Fenders. All in all, these picks were better than the Fenders by far. But I was buying Fender Mediums for $25 / 144 (a gross) and these Dava control picks were $3 for 6. Fender picks are about 16 cents each in bulk, and these are 50 cents each. I wouldn’t regularly pay that much for them.

Different Types of Guitar Picks

At least ordering the Dava picks got me out of my norm and showed me that different (and better) alternatives do exist. I spent some time online looking at different picks and these are the ones I decided to order and try out:

Dunlop Tortex pick review

Dunlop tortex pick review

One of the first picks I tried was the Dunlop Tortex. It comes in varying degrees of thickness, and I believe my Fender mediums were .70mm. I don’t like heavy picks, but the Dava was heavier then my Fender and easier to use. I ordered the Tortex picks at .88mm (more than a medium, less than a full heavy). They are about 1/3 smaller than regular standard guitar picks with a pointer tip. They are smooth, and when holding them it feels kind of like a painted surface. I don’t like that feel so much, but they were much easier to pick with – and I was a more accurate player when using them. Better than Fender, but not my ultimate choice. They just make my fingertips feel weird.

Dunlop Ultex pick review

Dunlop Ultex Pick Review

So I tried the Dunlop Ultex pick next and I got this one at 1.14 thickness. I like this pick because it’s the same size roughly as my old Fender mediums, and the tip is slightly pointer. I found that in comparison to the others the larger size made me play sloppier and slower than with the smaller tortex picks. Better than the Fender picks for sure, but again not my final choice. This might be good for acoustic guitar for some people.

Big Stubby pick review

Big Stubby Pick Review

The next one I tried was the Dunlop Big Stubby pick. I think I ended up trying all Dunlop picks by accident, they just had more choices with different options than anybody else. The big stubby pick is about 15-20% smaller than a Fender medium but twice the thickness. This is the first pick I ever played that had rounded edges. This isn’t really possible on standard picks because they’re too thin. It has an indent in the center about the size of a dime slightly to make it easier to grip. The rounded edges actually make it easier to alternate pick, but the tip isn’t as pointy. It’s also still a bit too flexible (despite the thickness) – seems like more of a pick for using on acoustic guitar or for rhythm guitar playing than for lead. Nice, but just not that suitable for my everyday playing.

Dunlop Jazz III pick review

dunlop jazz iii pick review

Finally I tried some Dunlop Jazz III picks. These are not to be confused with the Ultex Jazz III picks, which are the same size but made out of a different kind of plastic. I don’t like the way those feel.

The regular Jazz III’s are usually red or black (I use red, because they’re easier to find at a gig when dropped). They are a little more expensive (about 50 cents each or $12 for 2 dozen). However, I found over time that just one of these picks can last a month to 6 weeks, where a fender medium previously barely lasted me a week. So I don’t mind the added cost really.

The funny thing about these picks is that they are way harder and less flexible than anything I ever would have chosen on my own (without reviewing a bunch of picks at once). And when I play with them, I can barely see the tip of the pick when I play – my fingers cover up 90% of the pick when playing. But because they are so small I play more accurately then I ever did before. After doing a little research I also found out that both Eric Johnson and John Petrucci use these picks – which I guess is no surprise (how accurate they are as guitar players).

*UPDATE*

Since I first wrote this article, I have never used Fender medium picks again – and I have been using the Dunlop Jazz III picks exclusively for 5 years now with no issues. It was probably the biggest single change to my playing in more than 30 years. Also, since Dunlop has written an article entitled “Inside the Cult of the Jazz III”. It turns out a who’s who of guitar plays with these, such as Mick Thomson, Kirk Hammett, John Bonamassa, and more.

Guitar Player Gifts under $50

I wanted to write this page of Guitar Player gifts – because people often ask me what to get a guitarist for Christmas. Not just for me, but people I know as well! I got the Guitar Center catalog the other day, and a lot of times I don’t see much, but they did a pretty good job on their X-mas version this year. I found some really cool gifts right away, and they were all pretty much under $100!

First – let me introduce you to a guitar player’s friend – the string winder! Everyone needs to have a good string winder, but the Planet Waves folks were very smart because they built a string cutter right into the string winder! This is awesome, if I had this I guitar gadget I could throw away both my old nasty string winder (that falls apart when you use it), and my side cutters from my gig bag! Great budget gift under $10!

Planet Waves String Winder / Cutter

A string winder and cutter is one of the most indispensable tools that you can give to a guitar player. The funny thing about this tool is that most musicians (that I know) don’t have a good one. They probably have a cheap string winder that they bought at the music store checkout for $3, and a pair of general purpose wire cutters in their gig bag. Planet Waves makes quality gear for reasonable prices, and the great thing about this tool is that it’s both a cutter and winder in one! Makes a great musician stocking stuffer or small gift. I have this tool in my gig bag at all times – and it works great! Get the Planet Waves String winder/cutter.

planet waves string winder cutter review

Snark Tuner

Another great guitar player gift idea under $10 would be a Snark SN-1 clip-on tuner. It runs on a small watch battery (lasts forever), and you can just clip it to the headstock of any acoustic or electric guitar (or bass) and tune in seconds. I’ve found that I usually end up passing it around at practice (prompting me to tell the other guys to get their own), and I’ve even used it live in a gig while playing. Not bad for a little $7 device. This is also always in my gig bag at all times. Get the Snark tuner.

snark tuner review

Proline Fretrest Guitar Hanger

This next gift is for any guitar player that has his own little studio or music room. Chances are that he has more guitars than shoes, and there are just way too many guitar stands all over the place! What he needs are these Proline Guitar Wall Hangers so he (or she) can just hang the guitars right on the wall! Awesome guitar player gift under $15! why not display all your best axes on the wall?

proline fretrest guitar hanger review

Beyution Bluetooth Headphone Review

This one may seem weird, but I’m telling you this is a great guitar player gift idea! Every guitar player can use a good set of headphones. More and more players are using iRig and other devices to plug directly into their tablet or phone to practice. Why not have a decent pair of bluetooth wireless headphones? Recently, at Christmas, we found a really great (and highly reviewed) pair of Beyution headphones on Amazon for only about $20. We have these in the house, and they’re a really good deal.

beyution bluetooth headphones review

Mini Marshall Stack

Here’s another really cool guitar player gift idea – it’s the Mini Marshall amp MS-2! It runs on a 9v battery and has a belt clip! Complete with distortion, tone, and volume knob! You can have a lot of fun just walking around with this thing on your belt! A very cool gift for the Marshall loving guitar player! It’s cool to have around the house or take on the back porch.

Marshall MS-2

Here are some other guitar player gift ideas posts I wrote:

Personalized Guitar Straps
Guitar Pedal Stompbox Cord Saver
Shure SM58 Microphone

Headphone Guitar Amp Review

To practice guitar quietly you need a “headphone guitar amp”.  In the privacy of your own bedroom or basement you can have an entire Marshall stack between your ears!  There are bunches of headphone guitar amps on the market right now, and many are just, well….very cheap!  That’s why we recommend a couple different units for you to check out..

It’s not just a chinsy personal guitar amp, it’s a “modeling” headphone amp.  It’s got effects that include Reverb, Chorus, and Delay.  It even has Phaser, Tremelo, and Wah!  In as far as amp models you can get a jazz combo all the way up to balls out metal crunch.

The Vox Amplug

The first one is the Vox Amplug“. The first time I saw this a friend brought it band practice. He actually had purchased a Vox amp, and got this headphone amp for free with it. He lived about an hour away from our practice space, and he came right from work to practice. His work was 30 minutes from his house, so he didn’t want to go home and load up all his gear (traveling one way in the car) and then double back to practice (traveling another way in the car). And he didn’t want to leave his amp his car all day. So he used to leave one guitar in the practice space, and then bring this headphone amp in his pocket.

I thought it was pretty funny, actually, at first. He would plug his guitar into the Vox Amplug, and then we’d use a 1/4″ to 1/8″ converter and plug it directly into the PA. Guess what – it worked just fine! I was always amazed with the preset channels how easy it was for him to just plugin and go. He could sound like Red Hot Chili Peppers one minute, and Metallica the next. This unit I personally recommend for bedroom practice or situations like the one we had at practice. It’s nice because it plugs directly into your guitar, and you plugin the headphones into that. As an added bonus, it has a mp3 or 1/8” aux input – so you can plug your mp3 or CD player and practice alone with the music!

The newer versions have modes for vintage AC30 sound, classic rock, metal, and even bass.

Vox amplug headphone amp

Click here, you might be able to find one used on eBay too.

Joyo Tube Drive

While the Vox Amplug has been around awhile, there are some alternatives. The Amplug is $39.95, but you can get the Joyo Tube Drive for just $20 on Amazon. It has MP3 input and headphone out same as the Amplug. The quality may not be as good, but it’s less than half the price. It does have quite a few decent reviews.

Joyo JA-03 Tube Drive

You can find that on eBay too.

Electro Harmonix Headphone Amp

Electro-Harmonix makes a quality headphone amp too, it’s just a bit more money than the the Amplug. The difference between this and the Vox is the vox has amp models and effects built in. The EH headphone amp is about as basic as it gets – power and a single volume know. However, this means you can easily connect your pedal board or any effect you want (or just go dry). It only runs on batteries (no adapter), but it does have a cool little belt clip.

Electro Harmonix Headphone Amp

If for some reason you didn’t like one of those – like I said there are cheaper headphone amps out there, and you can get good deals on most of them on eBay – check out these auctions too…there are many other type of brands that sell them

Find headphone guitar amps here on eBay.

How to Get or Build a Zendrive Clone pedal

How to Get or Build a Zendrive Clone pedal

As long as I can remember I have wanted a Zendrive pedal. I don’t know why I never purchased one, it seems like guitars, amps, and other things have always taken precedence. For those of you that don’t know, the Zendrive is a highly sought after as the key to the “Robben Ford sound”. It’s also sometimes called the Dumble in a box. Dumble is a boutique amp used by Robben Ford, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Mark Tremonti, and John Mayer (among others). They usually cost $20-$30K new, and can run $40-$60K used (because of the waiting list). You can see why guitar players seek out the lower cost alternative of having the Dumble sound in a pedal.

As an example, listen to the solo passage of nearly any Robben Ford song and you’ll hear the biting yet stunningly clear subtle overdrive boost of the Zendrive:

The Zendrive was built by Hermida Audio. Alfonso Hermida had been building the pedals in Germany by hand for years, and had built up quite the backlog of orders. So much so that you would see people selling them on eBay for $400-$500. You can still find auctions of his original builds going for high dollar amounts, even though the original purchased directly from Hermida was only $199:

Hermida Audio Red Zendrive Guitar FX Pedal *Ships Free*

USD 128.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 22:42:46

HERMIDA ZENDRIVE 2 GOLD --FREE SHIPPING

USD 145.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 02:35:43

Original Hermida signed Hand-wired Zendrive

USD 375.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-16 07:41:41

Original Hermida Audio Zendrive 2 Hand wired and signed, The real one.

USD 399.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 02:28:35

"Original Hermida Audio Zendrive 2 Hand wired and signed, The real one.

USD 399.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 02:15:28

Then back in 2013 Lovepedal announced it would take over production of Zendrive from Hermida audio. Lovepedal raised the cost of Zendrive up to $239.00. I really want a Zendrive – I really do. But having paid so little for so many of my great pedals (either in auctions or things like Joyo), I just don’t know if I want to pay that much for a single pedal. Especially because I’m interested in so many pedals (like Klon, Timmy, etc) I can’t afford to have them all.

This began my quest to see if there was a decent Zendrive clone out there or not. It turns out there are some pedals that are “similar” on the market. You really have 2 ways to get a Zendrive clone – you can either buy one or build one. First we’ll review the ones you can buy and play right out of the box.

Dumble Pedal Clones You Can Buy

Hotone Grass Overdrive

The most surprising thing about this little bugger is the fact that it’s only about $79 on Amazon. I like to buy pedals on Amazon – shipping is free with Prime! =)

Here’s a video comparing the Zendrive Red with the Hotone Grass:

Mooer Rumble Drive

The Mooer Rumble Drive is another little green overdrive that claims to be the “Dumble in a box”. It’s also available for the insanely cheap price of $66 on Amazon right now.

If you think that’s a crazy price, you should watch this video comparing a Zendrive to the Mooer Rumble Drive. I was shocked at how near identical they were on tone and sound. The only thing they aren’t alike on is the pricetag.

Dumbleoid Pedal

So, you might be wondering – what is the other end of the spectrum? Shin Suziki makes a pedal called the Dumbleoid. Shin is actually a respected Dumble amp tech, so he might just know a thing or two. He created the Dumbloid pedal to recreate the authentic Dumble sound, but it comes with a pricetag of $599.

Is it worth it? You be the judge:

Wampler Euphoria

In the mid-range price tag area comes the Wampler Euphoria pedal. This clocks in with a pricetag of about $199.

I personally don’t like the sound of this pedal, but they say that you can get John Mayer like tones with it (a known Dumble and Two-Rock player):

Special Mention: Dumkudo

You might want to check out the harder to find Dumkodo pedal. Here’s a review if you’re interested.

Zendrive Clone Kits You Can Build

You may not know this (if you’re not into electronics), but there is a whole network of people online that buy pedals, tear down the circuits, and then attempt to rebuild (clone) the pedals themselves. Then, many of them share their circuit findings online – and many sell kits where you can build your own replica.

First I’ll show you somme places you can buy a Zendrive clone kit.

Zenith Pro Kit

This the a href=”http://www.pedalpartsandkits.com/zenith/”>Zenith Pro Kit from Pedal Parts and Kits.com. It looks like you can get the kit with drilled or undrilled pedal box for $60-$70 US.

Zendrive clone kit

Here’s a video of the Zenith Zendrive clone in action:

MEK UK Zendrive Clone

MEK UK apparently had a Zendrive clone for sale a few years back. I don’t see it on their website currently, but Guitar Kid Builder has an old review of it. Maybe if you contact MEK UK directly, they can still get you one.

Zen Tone Overdrive

3PDT.com out of China has a full clone kit of sale for under $50 US. It includes all instructions for the build, case, parts, literally everything except for knobs. I have not been able to find a YouTube review of this pedal yet, but I was able to find a few favorable reviews of their kits on reddit. They seem to have a decent Klon Centaur clone kit for sale there as well.

The Zen Overdrive

Musikding.de has The Zen Overdrive kit for sale for 23 euros (which currently amounts to about $25 USD). Looks like costs vary depending how you want your kit configured. I was not able to find a video review of this pedal either, but there are plenty of them to the other pedal kits they sell. At this low pricepoint, it might be worth a try.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a Zendrive clone or Dumble type guitar pedal there sure are a lot of options out there. While there are some great clone kits for sale that you can assemble yourself, just keep in mind that you’ll need to have basic electronics and soldering experience to put them together and troubleshoot any issues you have during the build.

While you might save a few bucks by getting a kit, it is interesting to note that you can get a comparable pedal completely ready to go out of the box for just $20 more. It looks like the Mooer and Hotone options are a great value for the money!

Who Played the Peavey Mace Amp?

Seems like I end up hearing classic songs lately and wonder “what amp did they use on that?” That very thought came to my mind when playing “Any Way You Want It”, I wondered – what did Neal Schon use for those screaming lead solos on that classic song?

A few Google’s later I found that the first few Journey albums were recorded with none other than the Peavey Mace amp. This is crazy considering it’s a solid state preamp with tube power amp (a 160 watt amp with 6 power tubes!!).

Here’s Neal Schon playing on the Departure tour (used the Peavey Mace for that entire tour):

But guess who else used the Peavey Mace? Lynyrd Skynyrd! Turns out that amp is “THE Lynyrd Skynyrd sound”.

here’s an example of exactly what I mean:

and another one here:

That’s insane~! Who would’ve thought the sound some of the greatest classic rock hits could be a Peavey amp (let alone solid state preamp)???

Doesn’t look like there are a lot of these around, but you can find one or two every now and again on ebay:

Mace VT Series AMP and Cabinet

USD 1250.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-16 18:24:39

Corning 400 ohm 10 watt 5% resistor for Peavey Mace Deuce 5150 amplifier 10 w

USD 3.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 03:54:59

Marshall AMP G12-80 4x12 SPEAKERS & PEAVEY MACE VT SERIES TUBE AMP COMBO Vintage

USD 1200.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 19:42:04

PEAVEY MACE VT AMPLIFIER HEAD VINYL AMP COVER (peav127)

USD 30.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 21:03:50

70's Vintage Peavey VT Series Mace Tube 160 Watt Amp Head - 6 X 6L6

USD 494.95 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 22:30:56

5 Corning 400 ohm 10 watt 5% resistors for Peavey Mace Deuce 5150 amplifier 10 w

USD 7.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-11 15:39:54

Kramer 84 Baretta Guitar (EVH) now on sale

Vintage 84 Kramer Guitar

It’s hard for me to say this (because I’m 43), but remember the (now) “vintage” 84 Kramer Baretta guitar? The Kramer Baretta was the famed hockey stick neck one pickup, one volume pot Floyd Rose masterpiece played by Eddie Van Halen.

Remember the guitar magazine ads with EVH holding the Baretta like this?

EVH Baretta

There were actually a whole series of Kramer ads like that, there’s another one with him holding a Kramer Pacer like this:

Eddie Van Halen Kramerr Pacer

So you’re probably wondering already why I’m lamenting about Kramer guitars of years gone by? Recently my wife picked me up a Kramer Focus 3000 from 1983-4 at a yard sale for a rediculous price with OHSC and stock pickups and floyd rose (and working coil tap). I’ll blog about that in another post.

What surprised me in a few google searches was the fact that Gibson now owns the Kramer name and has been reissuing various guitars, like the Kramer 84 Baretta, and the Kramer Pacer (among others). I can’t believe they did the reissue with the hockey stick necks (also AWESOME!). Note in the EVH pics above that one with Ed has the hockey stick neck, but the Pacer has the pointy headstock.

Check out this fabulous Kramer 84 Baretta reissue:

84 Kramer Baretta reissue

Either this thing must be so very new that not everyone has it (yet), because you can’t even get it at Musician’s Friend or Guitar Center. You can find it however at American Musical right now in stock. In fact they even have this new 8 payment plan (that I just used to get mine) so you can get this axe for just $84/mo if you do that deal (and have it to play in just a few days).

*UPDATE*: you can also now get the 84 Kramer Baretta at ZZounds for the same prices with 8 payments as well!!

84 Kramer Baretta

They also have the Vintage Kramer Pacer dual humbucker model for sale too (in Tiger stripe!):

vintage Kramer Pacer

They also have the Kramer Pacer there too, which comes in a both a cool burst or “Tiger Stripe” version (AWESOME!). I like this Baretta because it has the maple fingerboard, and I prefer that to the rosewood. What version would you get?

You can also still find quite a few Kramer Baretta guitars on ebay now as well:

Kramer Baretta Special

USD 99.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 01:44:52

Kramer Baretta 1986 Kline "Month of the Comet" #52 One of a Kind!

USD 1000.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-15 15:20:18

Guitar-Kramer Baretta FR-404S/D

USD 214.50 (2 Bids) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 16:14:26

Vintage Original Kramer Baretta 1984? 85 87 Made in USA Mint/Seafoam SUPER RARE!

USD / 239.16 (13 Bids) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-16 03:05:23

Kramer American Baretta Floyd Rose Waterslide Neck Decals CHOOSE any 2

USD 17.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 01:00:49

Kramer Baretta Style Body.

USD 155.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 20:41:00

Kramer Guitar Neck American Baretta Pacer Floyd Rose Nightswan Waterslide Decal

USD 17.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-13 17:00:37

1987-88 Kramer USA Baretta Guitar Schaller Black Retainer Bar String Tree #2

USD 5.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-11 15:03:08

Kramer Baretta German Made Original Floyd Rose Black Mounting Stud Screws #2

USD 15.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-11 15:12:56

Kramer Baretta Schaller German Made Original Floyd Rose Black Complete Saddles 2

USD 98.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-11 15:17:14

Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule Review

If you’re been reading any of the guitar magazines over the last few years, odds are you’ve seen that ad with the shirtless gentleman with a handlebar mustache about to bare knuckle fist fight. It’s a great logo, and “Bare Knuckle Pickups” is just about the greatest description for a brand I could think of. There’s really no thinking about what they well, or what their pickups sound like – it speaks for itself.

the mule pickups review

Today we’re going to review the “Mule” humbucker pickups because I’ve been researching some options for PAF ’59 pickups. There are so many options, Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, and even original Gibson re-issue PAF ’59’s. PAF is the famous “patent applied for” name given the pickups first made famous in Les Paul guitars – and the SG’s and others. They had a 100% nickel silver baseplate, maple spacers, and nickel plated slugs, and Alnico magnets.

So the question is – could a modern pickup sound as good as the original ’59 PAF? I want you to see something that floored me, check out this video from a parts guitar with The Mule pickups installed:

here’s another video of The Mule installed in a ’59 burst replica:

I’ll warn you now – they cost about $300 (and they’re worth every penny).

Here’s some on ebay right now:

Bare Knuckle The Mule Standard Spacing Long Leg Pickup Set, Black Coils +Picks

USD 299.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 20:05:47

Bare Knuckle The Mule Vintage Output Humbucker Bridge Pickpup Cream Coil +Picks

USD 169.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-16 18:07:43

Bare Knuckle The Mule Vintage Output Humbucker Bridge Pickpup Black Coil +Picks

USD 144.95 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-16 18:08:09

Bare Knuckle The Mule Humbucker Pickup Set (Aged Nickel)

USD 319.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-13 22:37:16

Bare Knuckle The Mule Humbucker Set, 50mm, 4 Cond., Short Legs, Nickel - BKP033

USD 274.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-12 21:04:27

Guitar Modeling Effects vs. Traditional Pedals

This is the information I wish I would have had about new fangled guitar modeling pedals versus traditional stomp boxes (before I burned up 2 amps!).

I’m 39 years old, and I grew up in the 80’s when effects mainly consisted of a Boss Distortion and maybe a chorus or a flanger. I knew guitar players that had more money that maybe had a delay or something, but many of us just plugged straight into the amp. Most of us had Peavey or Crate amps, there was only one guy who had a Marshall – and he was the local “guitar god” if you know what I mean. When I was 25 I quit playing and sold my equipment to pursue family, career, and the American dream.

Fast forward to 2003 when, at the age of 35 – I decided it was a good time to get back into music. At first I had a cheap guitar and a practice amp. Not much different than when I was a kid I guess. Then I bought a Marshall (Valvestate) 65W combo amp and just played straight through that. It had some built in chorus and reverb effects – so it wasn’t so bad. It even had an overdrive channel.

I started a cover band and that setup was ok at first, but in a cover band there are so many songs in different genres that you need a lot of different tones and sounds to make it sound right. I was in the store looking for some new stompboxes when the owner showed me a Digitech “modeling pedal”. He explained that the little computer chip inside contained nearly all the effects one could ever need – it was like 50 stomp boxes in one. He also talked about 50 “amp models” – something I really didn’t understand. It seemed like quite the deal for $89 (basically the price of a single stomp box) – so I bought it and took it home.

At first this was a real piece of work, I plugged my guitar into the box and ran it out into the effects loop in the back of my Marshall. Most of the preset effects were awful, and just made my amp feedback and squeal no matter what I did. The way these units work, there are preset “patches” with loaded sounds you can try. My digitech unit had 64 patches, 32 – each loaded twice. You were supposed to program over a set of them with your own preferences. When I started creating my own patches, I just set some up with individual effects, like chorus, delay, reverb, trememlo, etc.

After about 6 months of playing that way I discovered some of the “amp models”. I found that if I took the one that emulated a Fender Hot Rod Deville amp and cut the volume (in the pedal) down to about half, and through the effects loop of the Marshall ran the effects blend volume at 60% I could get an absolutely awesome classic rock sound! About a month later I added an overdrive pedal and connected the digitech to that, so I had both running together through the effects loop of the Marshall.

I had a lot of intermittent problems with my Marshall for the next 6-12 months. Sometimes it would quit working and it would “come back” minutes later – and sometimes I would have to turn it off and back on before it would. After about a year it just died, and when you turned it on it either squealed or just had nearly no volume at all. I bought a Marshall (Valvestate) head and a 4×12 bottom and began to use that instead. After a few months it started giving me trouble too. I took it in and had all the pots cleaned (which helped), but then it started cutting out and clipping a lot. I took it back in and they said they fixed something, but when I took it home and plugged everything in to practice it started to smoke big time! I turned it off just before it appeared to nearly catch on fire. When I took it back the next day – they replaced all the main transistors.

I didn’t play it as much for awhile, and took my Valvestate combo back to have it revived from the dead. The amp tech told me the preamp was burned out and needed to be rebuilt – so I had that done. When I went to pick the amp up I started asking questions about whey the preamp would go out and described my setup to the tech. It was during that conversation that I realized I had blown up 2 amps – and didn’t even know it.

A traditional effects pedal or stompbox can be used in an “effects loop” or direct through the front of an amp. Straight through the front the effect is just added to the total sound. But by using the “effects loop” you add the effect to only the pre-amp, and you can choose the level of the effect before it gets to the main portion of the amp. This is great if you want to choose how mild or harsh the effect will be added into the total sound. What I didn’t know and what the “modeling pedal” (and Marshall) instructions failed to say was that – modeling pedals aren’t meant to be run through effects loops – EVER! Modeling pedals are supposed to go straight into the front of the amp – ONLY!

The problem is this, in a modeling pedal the “patch” contains both an amp model and effects. These together, going through an effects loop “drive” (or overdrives) the pre-amp before the signal even gets to the main part of the amp. The end result sound is great, but too much for the amp (slowly burning out the preamp!). In a tube amp, it would just get hot and start clipping. Once you turn it off and it cools down, you could turn it back on and do it again over and over without damaging the amp. But my (Valvestate) amps are solid-state, and while there’s a governer in the main part of the amp that protects it from burning up during clipping, the pre-amp doesn’t have one. Hence the reason I burned up my pre-amp!

So, once I learned this when I went home I plugged my digitech modeling pedal straight into the clean channel of my Marshall and started to play around. All the pre-set effects now sound great with no squealing! I even downloaded some patches from the Digitech forum and using the amp models was able to get some great Van Halen, Weezer, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Ozzy, and U2 sounds!

After doing some research online about modeling pedals, and now having gone through the good bad and the ugly with them – I can honestly say that as a guitar player they take a lot more getting used to than a traditional stomp box. With stomp boxes (other than the settings for each box) they are either “on” or “off” and that’s it. In a modeling pedal you have a “patch” that is basically a pre-set that can contain your amp model, an amp cabinet (speakers), the intensity of the amp model, the volume of the patch, any effects (chorus, delay, reverb, etc), and even some EQ – like bass, mid, or highs. You may have to setup a dozen patches for sounds you like, one for lead, one for rhythm, one for clean, etc. I found that I had 2-3 for different classic rock songs, some for harder rock, and quite a few for clean.

Guitar modeling pedals take TONS more time to setup at first, but are much more versatile in the end result. The CON is that if you love the natural distortion or tone of your amp – you won’t get to hear it using the modeling pedal. Having said that – having a good amp with quality speakers is kind of key to getting a good sound with a modeling pedal. If you have a cheap amp with cheap speakers, a modeling pedal will not make it sound good. You’ll just have a good sounding model through tinny speakers. So you still need a quality amp, it’s just not as important that you have a $3,000 Mesa Boogie or Bogner, a lower end Marshall or Fender will do just fine.

There are dozens of options for modeling pedals, and in the coming posts I will review them all – starting with the end all be all of live modeling rigs – the POD XT Live and POD X3 Live – which I now use, all coming up in the next post.

Custom Personalized Guitar Strap – Perfect Gift Idea

You know, I get the question a lot “What are good gift ideas for a guitar player“? There are the obvious choices, like a new guitar or amp, and the often bad ones – like guitar magazines or books. Let me first state that guitar players are “very pick” about both their gear and their reading materials. Unless you know exactly what they like or want you can likely get something they will never use at all. But I think that a really cool gift idea for a guitar player that you can’t really go wrong with is a custom personalized guitar strap! How cool would a custom leather strap with either your name or initials be?! You can search google for hours, but reputable guys that sell personalized custom guitar straps for a living are already selling them on eBay. Here’s some links – place your order now so you get it in time for Christmas!

CUSTOM LEATHER GUITAR STRAP PERSONALIZED WITH YOUR NAME.

USD 45.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 19:19:03

Custom Hand Made Leather Guitar Strap

USD 45.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-13 00:07:02

Leather Guitar Strap 2" ~ Custom Hand Made One of a Kind ~ With 7 Star Conchos

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End time: 2017-12-13 15:31:59

Leather guitar strap custom hand made tooled and dyed "Borders" black letter

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End time: 2017-12-11 23:13:02

CUSTOM HANDMADE LEATHER GUITAR STRAP 2 1/2" Wide PERSONALIZED WITH YOUR NAME

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End time: 2017-12-14 20:01:58

"Circle Pi" Custom Guitar Strap, 2.5" wide, adjustable length, made to order, ex

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End time: 2017-12-11 16:24:03

Fender Leather Strap Stratocaster Custom Shop Tele Guitar Parts Telecaster Strat

USD 79.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-15 15:38:47

Circle Pi Custom Hand Tooled Leather Guitar Strap, Floral/Basket Weave

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End time: 2017-12-11 16:24:03

Custom Made Rattlesnake Guitar Strap Last Chance for Christmas Orders

USD 200.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-12 16:07:24

Circle Pi Custom Hand Tooled Leather Guitar Strap, Feathers 2 1/2" Wide

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End time: 2017-12-11 16:24:03