All posts by David Szabados

Stories of The British Amp Invasion Come to Life

Dave Hunter’s latest book is entitled, The British Amp Invasion: How Marshall, Hiwatt, Vox, and More Changed the Sound of Music, and covers a span of the influence of British amplification from the late 1950s onward. As an industry, the companies behind the amplifiers are a fascinating study, not only from a design and sonic perspective, but also because of the stories themselves that surround their business success and growth (or for some, their bad deals and decline).
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Fender’s Mod Shop Expands for Summer and Fall 2017: Enables Direct Online Creation of Custom Instruments

In between a Fender production instrument that one can purchase from a dealer and a Fender custom shop instrument, is the Fender Mod Shop. The Mod Shop opened its doors in June of 2016 and is Fender’s online digital design studio where users can directly create and customize their instrument from a variety of options otherwise not available on standard off-the-shelf models.

Fender recently expanded its palette of offerings for the Summer and Fall of 2017, with some options being offered for only a limited time. From new body and pickguard colors, neck shapes, and pickups, the online Mod Shop offers a variety of options to create an instrument that is truly unique.
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Analog Man Astro Tone Fuzz Review: The Fuzz to Win Over the Anti-Fuzz Player

Fuzz pedals are notoriously finicky. Not only can some fuzz boxes themselves sound different based on their own component variances and the environment or temperature they are used in, but they are always dependent on the gear that they are being used with as well. Case in point is the classic germanium Fuzz Face beloved by Hendrix. Sure, when it’s in front of a Marshall that is already overdriven, you’ll get some magic happening by adding those bits of germanium magic.  But…

…stick that same Fuzz Face in front of a Fender blackface amp and you’ll hear a whole different, and very ugly, side to the Fuzz Face. And turn on the bright switch on your old blackface and you’ll be pummeled with an even more horrid and brittle sound.
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Mike Fuller Obsesses Over a New Version of the Fulltone OCD Overdrive and Introduces the OCD V2

The Fulltone OCD, otherwise known as the Obsessive Compulsive Drive, is not only one of Mike Fuller’s best-selling overdrive/distortion units of all time, it has also been heralded and awarded accolades by the media since its introduction 12 years ago. Along the way, Mike has continued to make mild tweaks to the circuits and I remember playing through and trying each version myself. Mike continued to be obsessive about his OCD and I enjoyed listening to the results.

Now in 2017, Fulltone has launched what it is being dubbed as the “final” version of the OCD, the OCD V2. The OCD V2 packs a number of new updates and features, so we took a look to compare it to its predecessor, the OCD version 1.7.
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Fender Launches Fender Play, a Digital Learning Program for Guitarists

This research point I’m going to share with you doesn’t surprise or shock me. Researchers working on behalf of Fender found that ninety percent of people who pick up the guitar will drop out after one year. In this day and age of instant gratification and short attention spans, it’s not surprising is it? But now, Fender has a solution to take on that challenge.

Fender released a new, subscription-based, digital learning program for Desktop and iPhone, FENDER® PLAY™, designed to help aspiring musicians everywhere learn how to play the guitar. Designed with esteemed music programs and instructors from the University of Southern California and Musician’s Institute (MI) to help first-time players via personalized paths, 4K video and song-specific lessons – Fender Play is poised to revolutionize how new guitar players learn the instrument.
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Talkboxes and Vocoders Reviewed From BOSS and TC HELICON

Guitar effect signal processing has become more advanced in the past several years as DSP engines have allowed musicians to obtain more specialized, advanced effects that are easy-to-use and available in smaller form factors. Today we’ll look at two effects for guitarists and vocalists that enable classic talkbox effects as well as vocoder synthesizer sounds in convenient small stomp box-sized packages.

These two units from BOSS (the VO-1 Vocoder, $249 street) and TC HELICON (Talkbox Synth, $249.99 street) offer similar overall sonic features, but they each take different approaches with how they are used in a guitarist or vocalist’s system and also in how the talkbox and vocoding effects are processed and applied.
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The Story of the Musicians Behind the Scenes of the Stars Goes to the Big Screen TODAY June 29, 2017

HIRED GUN opens for one night only in theaters nationwide TODAY, Thursday June 29, 2017. It is positioned as the quintessential summer film, a rock documentary feature about the stars behind the stars. The film features session and touring musicians that are hired by well-established and famous bands and artists from Billy Joel to Pink to Metallica, and KISS, among many others.

These hired guns — some household names, some not — are undeniable masters of their craft who talk about the art of creating historic rock ‘n roll music of our time.  “Hired Gun” is a unique motion picture with the pedigree of winning numerous festivals and making an impact with print editors and the rock community in advance of its June 29th US premiere.
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How to Chain Your Effect Pedals – A Basic Primer

We’d like to introduce and welcome a guest blog from Natalie over at MusicalAdvisors.com. She has some tips to offer for those interested in using guitar effects. Consider these a good starting point for readers looking for introductory advice – DS

Guitar effect pedals are an excellent way to take your music to the next level by adding texture, volume, resonance, or modulation effects. The best guitarists in history, such as Hendrix and Van Halen, have made effect pedals a staple for all rock styles of music. As a musician myself, I’ve learned the ideal way to organize my pedals on a pedalboard through years of trial and error. If you’re looking to create a pedal chain to make your music more complex, there are a few basic principles you can follow to optimize your sound.
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When Newer IS Better – Fender Innovates with New Mustang GT Amps and Tone App

Guitarists (myself included) tend to live in an unusually backward-technology world. Meaning, what was made back then was generally always considered better and more valuable than what is being made now. The proof is in our love of all things vintage, whether we’re talking tube amps, guitars, or effects.

While there is certainly some validity to the argument of certain aspects of “older is better” being true (I would argue that this is true if we are speaking about vacuum tube production, wood availability in guitars, etc.) compared with what’s currently available now, continuing to make the claim of “older is always better” when discussed as an ENTIRE category of guitar gear I would say is false. And I still love vintage gear, but let’s explore this a bit and really think about it and remove our blinders for a moment.
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Modified Classic Overdrive/Distortion Units Reborn from Analogman, Keeley, and TWA

Not every overdrive or distortion pedal has a pedigree that begins with the influence from a Tube Screamer. Many of today’s designers look to other classics to either modify or create their own variations. Today we’ll spend time with the Analogman DS-1 Pro Mod with midrange control, Keeley’s Super Phat Mod Full Range Overdrive and the Totally Wycked Audio (TWA) Hot Sake. Each has its own unique story and tone so join us as we explore them further.
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