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It’s hard to describe how something tastes. If you had to explain what steak, or ice cream, or coffee tastes like to somebody with no taste buds, how would you do it? What words would you use?

Describing how a guitar pickup sounds poses the same kind of difficulty on the internet. Many factors make a sonic contribution so it becomes difficult to separate those parts from the total sum. (Ironically, I most often find myself using food to describe sound because most of us can personally identify with the concepts of “sour”, “sweet”, “salty” and “spicy”.)

Just consider how a pickup is wired: it is comprised of a series of magnets wrapped thousands of times with copper wire. The kind of magnet used, the thickness of copper wire, the tightness of the wraps, and the number of the wraps will all make remarkable differences in how a pickup sounds. Because of that, there are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to voicing a pickup for an Artist. If Steve Lukather (the artist for whom these were made) has found what he calls “the perfect pickup”, then those are telling words.

For this review, I loaded these DiMarzio Transitionâ„¢ humbuckers into and maple-necked, alder body strat. It’s also important to note that I had the pickups lower against the body and I have the guitar wired with a single volume knob and no tone controls. Sonically, lowering the pickups is going to pull them further from the strings which will lower the overall output and make the pickups slightly cleaner sounding. But wiring the guitar with no tone controls will add some volume, punch, and brightness back in since a tone control/ potentiometer has the ability to load down and disrupt the signal path.

The Transitionâ„¢ Bridge Pickup
My greatest beef with bridge humbuckers is that they tend to have too much… well, beef, I guess. Once Seth Lover invented the humbucker in the 50’s, it seems we have been on a course to make humbucking pickups louder and more aggressive. Thats fine if you’re a shredder, but I want to hear the nuance in a player’s note choice and pick attack, and those idiosyncrasies get lost in a heap of gain and midrange explosion. Upon turning up the volume, I was immediately rewarded with a pickup that responds to the nuance of playing and pick attack. In the press release DiMarzio says:

The passive Transition™ humbuckers are both subtle and tough. They have power and depth. Steve says they’re organic, and they allow him to own his sound. “These days I like it simple and direct,” he says.

Contrary to the DiMarzio Gravity Stormâ„¢ pickups I reviewed in October, these pickups don’t have the traditional midrange push that I have come to expect from a bridge humbucker. This bridge feels balanced across the frequencies and would accommodate both clean and dirty guitar tones without any sharp corners in the EQ curve. What it also tells me is that if you wired this guitar with a good treble bleed circuit, you could get brilliantly warm clean tones with an adjustment of your volume knob.

The Transitionâ„¢ Neck Pickup
The press release for the neck pickup implies that they have a scooped out midrange. “Scooped mids” describes what you would be left over if you looked at a multiband EQ and magically took a “scoop” out of the middle of the sliders. It’s also sometimes referred to a “smiley face EQ” because the treble frequencies are pushed up and the bass frequencies are pushed up put the midrange dips down.

The Transitionâ„¢ Neck Model (DP254) has very good balance between solid bass and glassy treble. The spread between lows and highs creates a big sound that works well for both solos and backup, while the frequency response of the coils is tuned just far enough apart to open up the mids without sounding hollow.

This is a great description, because what the neck pickup gives you is articulation and clarity with a full, round low end without any of the muddy midrange that can plague a neck humbucker. And probably my favorite thing about these pickups is that they sound like they were made for a player who regularly switches back and forth from neck to bridge pickups. These pickups actually match one another, in that both are organic and clear sounding. Where the press release describes a neck pickup with tuned coil frequencies so that it opens up the mids “without sounding hollow”, I hear a balanced pickup with plenty of smooth balance.

Who are these for?
I think if you’re looking for high gain pickups to make your shredding or legato playing easier, then you should look elsewhere. These pickups are for the player who is looking for something more organic, nuanced, balanced, and mature. It’s not to say these are “old guy” pickups. It’s to say that DiMarzio’s Transitionâ„¢ humbuckers will highlight the hands of those who feel comfortable in both the neck and the bridge and for those who like to explore the subtleties of what a single guitar can do in the hands of a player who is a student of its complexities.


More toys for sale

For sale- no trades please

Egnater MOD50 head • SOLD
I moved the handle about 3″ over to one side so that the head is balanced when you carry it. It means there are extra holes in the top where the handle USED to be. This doesn’t affect the sound negatively. Just the opposite, since you haven’t been arguing with gravity during load-in, your Chi is more focused and your playing will be more inspired. You’re welcome. I have a SL, SL2, DLX, and custom VX module (Bruce made it two A channels with a sweeter top end for me). The price above is for the head, 2 modules, and the footswitch. Additional modules are $300/each.

Morgan Dual 20 head and matching 1×12 cab • SOLD
Whats better than a single 20? EXACTLY. Dual 20’s. That would be 20 more then, wouldn’t it. Here’s the link at Joe’s site. This one has the Power Level option mentioned on the page. Amp head and cab are in the “Chalk” chiliwich tolex. GREAT looking and sounding rig.

65 Amps Lil’ Elvis 1×12 Combo • SOLD
Awesome little grab n go amp with a huge sound. Thankyouverymuuch.

65 Amps Empire head • SOLD
Alright, ladies and gentlemen… what if I told you that you could have 3- count ’em, T-H-R-E-E, different eras of Marshall amps, all in a 22watt head, from 6v6 tubes?!? You’d say I was crazy. And I am, FOR SELLING SUCH AN AWESOME AMP WITH FOOTSWITCHABLE CHANNELS!!. …I mean, y’know… whatevs. Buy it or don’t… no big deal, yo.

Silverface Princeton Non-Reverb • SOLD
Princeton reverbs are loved because they’re awesome. Their non-reverb brothers have one less gain stage and are therefore cleaner amps. These little boogers are Fender vintage sparkle at it’s best. Amp is stock (with exception to a 3-prong cord). I love it this way, but swap out the speaker for a Ragin Cajun and you’re ready to melt faces with a 40 year old gem.

Fulton Webb 17 combo • $1600
I’m pretty sure they’re not making amps much these days. But this is a cool combo. 17watts is just right for most stages. Google the name and read the online mystique surrounding these amps and their affiliation with Eric Johnson. Or don’t… and sit there… and don’t buy my amp… and learn to live with the life-long nagging fear that this amp might have been the one that changes your life…

Reason Bambino with FX loop mod • SOLD
2w or 8w, powerful little amp and it weighs 11lbs! You can play a gig with it and then your wife can use it as a light weight to tone up her arms. EVERYBODY WINS.


DiMarzio Pickups Ionizer and Transition pickups



Staten Island, N.Y., December 11, 2012 – DiMarzio, Inc. welcomes Tosin Abasi, trail-blazing pioneer of modern heavy music and lead guitarist of progressive instrumental band Animals as Leaders to its roster of endorsers. DiMarzio announced it will release three new Ionizer 8™ pickups developed for Abasi’s new signature 8-string Ibanez guitar in January of 2013. DiMarzio will also make the Ionizer 8™ pickups available for retail sale.

It has taken DiMarzio nearly two years to develop the pickups Tosin Abasi envisioned because Abasi wanted them to be capable of a wide range of sounds.

The Ionizer 8™ Neck Model (DP809) is warm and open like a vintage humbucker, solid and tight like a modern metal pickup, and performs like a classic single-coil in split mode. It’s unusual for a player to request a humbucker with the single-coil sound as important as the series humbucking sound, but Abasi was clear on this point. The split mode has lower resistance than a vintage Strat® 6-string pickup in order to let the 7th and 8th strings stay clean, but all the other specs nail the classic Strat® sound.

DiMarzio specifically created the Ionizer 8™ Middle Model (DP810) single-coil to work with the Ionizer 8™ Neck and Bridge Models. It’s clean, bright, and well-balanced. Although its construction bears little resemblance to a vintage 6-string single-coil, it performs similarly. Treble response is bright without being thin, and bass response is clean and solid.

When Abasi described what he wanted for the Ionizer 8™ (DP811) humbucking Bridge Model, he said it is all about the mids. 8-string guitars have extended low-end response, and the mids need to power the bridge position so the sound doesn’t wash out. It also needs to have enough output to overdrive an amp without making the sound muddy, and enough headroom to clean up when the volume is rolled down.

The long scale length of an 8-string guitar can make the sound of the unwound strings brittle, but the Ionizer 8™ Bridge Model has a low resonant peak that warms them up, and the high E doesn’t sound thin, even at the upper frets.

The 4-conductor wired humbuckers allow multiple coil connections, enabling a wealth of diverse sounds within the Ionizer 8â„¢ three-pickup combination.

DiMarzio’s new Ionizer 8™ Neck, Middle, and Bridge Model pickups are made in the U.S.A. and will be available from DiMarzio dealers in January of 2013. Suggested List Price for the Ionizer 8™ Neck and Bridge Models is $139 each, and the Ionizer 8™ Middle is $79. DiMarzio will show the pickups at the January 2013 NAMM Expo in Anaheim. For more information about Ionizer 8™ pickups, visit our website at www.dimarzio.com.

Strat® is a Registered Trademark of Fender Musical Instruments Corp., with which DiMarzio, Inc. is not affiliated.

Please visit YouTube to view Tosin Abasi’s Ionizer 8™ Demo Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBVRXQh5cU4


Ionizer 8â„¢ Neck Model DP809 List Price $139 USD
Wiring: 4-conductor
Magnet: Ceramic
Output: 345mV
Treble: 5
Middle: 6
Bass: 6.5
DC resistance: 8.40Kohms

Ionizer 8â„¢ Middle Model DP810 List Price $79 USD
Wiring: 2-conductor
Magnet: Ceramic
Output: 145mV
Treble: 8.5
Middle: 5
Bass: 4
DC resistance: 6.00Kohms

Ionizer 8â„¢ Bridge Model DP811 List Price $139 USD
Wiring: 4-conductor
Magnet: Ceramic
Output: 440mV
Treble: 4.5
Middle: 7
Bass: 6.5
DC resistance: 12.69Kohms




Staten Island, N.Y., December 4, 2012 – DiMarzio, Inc. is thrilled to welcome legendary TOTO guitarist, solo artist, and first-call session player extraordinaire, Steve Lukather to its team of esteemed endorsers. DiMarzio announced it will release two new Transition™ humbucking pickups for electric guitars in early December of 2012. The Transition™ pickups were developed by DiMarzio and Lukather for his new LIII™ Music Man® guitar. The pickups will also be available for retail sale from DiMarzio.

The pickups are named after Steve Lukather’s new album, Transition, that will be released on January 21, 2013 by Mascot Records. Lukather played the LIII™ guitar with Transition™ pickups throughout the new record.

The passive Transition™ humbuckers are both subtle and tough. They have power and depth. Steve says they’re organic, and they allow him to own his sound. “These days I like it simple and direct,” he says.

The Transitionâ„¢ Neck Model (DP254) has very good balance between solid bass and glassy treble. The spread between lows and highs creates a big sound that works well for both solos and backup, while the frequency response of the coils is tuned just far enough apart to open up the mids without sounding hollow.

A powerful magnet and coils tuned to slightly different frequencies create very strong fundamental tones, with sustained notes that resolve easily to first- and second-order harmonics. The output rating is not as high as DiMarzio’s loudest models, but the Transition™ Bridge Model (DP255) puts a lot of impact into every picked note.

DiMarzio’s new Transition™ Neck and Bridge Model pickups are made in the U.S.A., and are available for order now. Suggested List Price for each pickup is $115. DiMarzio plans to show the pickups at the January 2013 NAMM Expo in Anaheim. For more information about Transition™ pickups, visit our website at www.dimarzio.com.


Growing up, I always envied the players who got to be on the road and discover cool pieces of gear in rural pawnshops and independent music stores. The internet has pretty much killed the needle-in-a-haystack gear discovery, but advances in technology have also made it easier for rural stores to sell worldwide and become stronger and more connected to great gear.

Since I have been on the road for the last 6 years doing in-store clinics, I feel like I’ve been in just about every cool music store in the country and have gathered a short list of favorites. Some are favorites because of the layout, others because of the gear inventory, and some are favorites just for the people there.

One of the coolest stores in the country is Two Old Hippies (2OH) in Nashville, Tennessee. (They have a second location in Aspen, CO but I haven’t visited that one yet.) OK, imagine a store that is a mixture of one-of-a-kind acoustic guitars, bitchin rock and roll memorabilia, lifestyle products like music-themed clothes and jewelry, and an amazingly intimate performance venue right there in the store.

The store is the brainchild of Tom and Molly Bedell, who describe the store with these words from their site:

…Now, with our kids grown and “real world” careers behind us, Two Old Hippies is the connection to our roots. Serendipity brought us to the setting. The Great Divide, a funky little Bluegrass guitar and music shop in the heart of Aspen, Colorado, was up for sale. We scooped it up, brought it back to life and filled it with everything we love.

Our love of music is expressed in a collection of premium acoustic guitars, Great Divide Vintage Guitars and the next generation of custom Bedell Guitars. 2OH delivers hippie chic clothing (inspired by Molly’s Peace Love and Rock n’ Roll penchant for comfort and color), textiles and products sourced globally, along with thoughtful gifts to share.

Rock N’ Roll Memorabilia brings us right back to ‘the day.’ Discoveries from our travels, including fine textiles, artwork and crafts from indigenous cultures, speaks to our One World way of life. Portions of our earnings will be directed back to global communities, and individual artists.

But, beyond material things, Two Old Hippies is an outlet for the values and beliefs that two “born” hippies acquired long ago. Seek peace and harmony for all living things. Inspire community. “Be True” to ourselves. And share in the spirit of Peace, Love & Rock N’ Roll.

Like them, I don’t just love guitars- I love the whole music universe. That includes guitars of course, but also the lifestyle, the look, the experience, and the passion that surrounds all of us weirdo musicians who would rather do music than almost anything else. Having Molly give us the tour around 2OH was torture- for the sole reason that my paycheck was nowhere near the size of my purchasing appetite! haha

Ladies and Gentlemen, put this store on your bucket list. It’s a destination and a true work of art in our cookie-cutter, big box, homogenized retail world. These people know inventory, branding, environment and personal interaction.

Guitar Vault at Two Old Hippies, Nashville

The Guitar Vault

2OH Tees

Some of 2OH’s custom tees

2OH interior shot

Some wares for the rock n’ roll woman

2OH interior

Th’Doorway 2 Cool…

the boot section

Every musician’s fantasy lounge…


Drawers full of swagger…

performance venue

The In-store Performance Stage. You Shop while They Rock.


I have always envied the players who fall in love with- and become associated with- a single instrument or amplifier. The idea of having my “Blackie” or my “No. 1” is so appealing. And the idea of knowing my amplifier so intimately that I can tell when the tube brands change or the speaker cab screws were replaced in the wrong order, like we’ve heard from Eric Johnson and Eddie Van Halen, is somewhat appealing. I will never love one piece of gear so faithfully.

However, the alternative has some upsides, too. I play someone else’s guitars and amplifiers EVERY NIGHT when I’m on the road and I’ve found ways to love each piece of gear for what it has to offer. Although I have some distinct preferences, I’m not tied to any one shape or brand of guitar, string gauge, amplifier, pedal combination, or guitar pick. I actually enjoy the process of discovering new links in the signal chain and seeing how their nuances work in conjunction with the other links.

Having said that, I’m NOT a snob for any one approach to choosing the right tools for music. Specifically, I’m NOT a tube snob that believes that only tube-based amplifiers can sound good. I’ve owned just about everything Line 6 has made since 1999 and have made some great music (and great money) using those pieces of digital modeling gear.

A company that is newly formed from old heritage is Quilter Labs, formed by Pat Quilter who is the “Q” in QSC Amplifiers. Pat knows a thing or two about amplification, specifically solid state amplification and his StudioPro line of amps is the culmination of decades of experience in that world.

In the late summer, I was asked to come in and shoot some videos for Quilter Labs and I just discovered those videos online. You can see them here at this link. The ones we shot are the first six of the cluster, all with the same devlishly handsome guitar player

Effective product videos are the sum of a few different parts. First of all, it starts with the product and the Quilter StudioPro sounds ridiculously good. Secondly, it involves on-screen talent that can actually play and that is comfortable and conversational. Lastly, it involves high quality, focused production value. By that I mean that the camera(s), lighting, editing, and audio all need to be high quality. It doesn’t matter how great the gear and the player are if the production quality doesn’t reveal those values.

The reason I’m writing this stuff is to point out the true value of these videos. It’s NOT the on-screen talent. I’ve watched videos of guys who were remarkably smoother and easier to look at than myself. But when you add the great sounding amplifier, the high production quality, and some creative editing and titling, you get videos that not only do a great job of highlighting the gear, but they also do a little bit of teaching.

Anyway- that’s just me gushing. I think these videos are some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on and I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed them.


Answers to Reader Mail

Hey Corey…I’ve got a question for you. I think I saw you (dognmoon) on a forum that mentioned you were going to mess with a friend’s Eleven Rack to see what it was like. I never saw a response to it…was hoping for some advice. I’m a worship pastor at Forefront Church in VA Beach and considering upgrading from a Line 6 HD500 to the Eleven Rack, but I can’t seem to find any reviews that I trust. My brother (Jason Allen) recognized you from some of your YouTube gear reviews and suggested that I give you a shout. I think he jammed with you a few times with Troy Welstad when Troy was still in town. Long story short…I’m just wondering if you have any advice on this topic. Any help would be much appreciated!

The 11R is a cool piece of gear. I think the sounds are better than the HD500, BUT I also think the added necessity of a floor controller makes the 11R more of a pain in the butt. The HD500 has more versatility in the stereo rig option, the ability to place any effect anywhere (and even multiples of the same effect in the chain), where the 11R is more straightforward with fewer options for amps and effects. I also prefer the HD500’s ability to use that single foot controller as a means of controlling multiple effect parameters at once. For instance, on one patch, I used to have a dual amp setup where the volume pedal was inverted on each amp. So heel down is amp A at 100% and amp B at 40% and toe down would swap those values. It let me blend between two sounds pretty seamlessly. I’m not aware of the ability to do that on the 11R, but admittedly, I’m no MIDI master either. Just a dumb guitar player.

My quickest response is that the 11R *may* sound slightly better, but the functionality of the HD500 far outweighs the discrepancy in audio quality.

I hope that helps, Justin. Lemme know if you have any other questions.

Hey Corey, was wondering if you could help me out in choosing a fuzz pedal?
I’m really digging the demos you did with the zephyr, one ton bee, and the bunrunner..
I play worship and can’t really decide which is the right one. Maybe you have a suggestion of a fuzz for worship? This is going to be my
First fuzz pedal purchase… if you can maybe recommend one versus the other and why
I will be so thankful! Thanks so much!!! I appreciate your quality demos.. They are definetly making me spend money.. So maybe you should stop!!

I think the first thing to look for in the right fuzz is its ability to clean up when you roll off the volume knob. Fuzz faces do this really well. It gets extra sparkly and extra clean- and really beautiful with strat-style guitars. Some manufacturers, on the other hand, add noise reduction circuitry that makes the pedal sound sputtery or choppy when you roll the volume off. Essentially, it’s reducing the output level BELOW the threshold for the noise reduction to open the pedal up. I have found that the MojoHand pedals (Zephyr and One Ton Bee) do a beautiful job of cleaning up. I would call the Zephyr my overall favorite fuzz. It’s sophisticated and vibey, but it’s conventional enough that you could use it in a church service and not freak anybody out.

Another great option is the Way Huge Fat Sandwich. It’s more of a filtery drive, that kinda rides the line between a RAT and a fuzz pedal, but it cleans up so perfectly. It might be my favorite pedal for going from clean to mean with the volume knob.

I hope that helps, Willy. If you have any other questions, lemme know. And I hope your CD arrived safely. Thanks again for the purchase.

Hello, I watched some of your videos on youtube and I really liked your playing and tones. I recently bought a DT25 and an HD500. Could you give me some tips to get some good tones?

Congratulations on buying a great rig. The HD500 and DT25 together make a pretty amazing combination.

As far as tips on getting good tones, I always recommend that players use the power of modeling amps to find variations of THEIR OWN sound. It’s tempting to use a modeling rig to dial in a wide variety of sounds and try to use those all the time on every song. But I believe that one of the true benefits of a modeling rig is that you get to audition dozens of amps, cabs and effects in one place so that you can better find the one or two guitar tones that really suit your playing.

For instance, when I play live with my HD500 and stereo DT25 amps, I almost always use the JCM800 amp model and I dial back the gain for my cleaner sounds. For heavier sounds I’ll add the Tube Drive or Boost Comp to hit the front end of the amp a little harder. And even though the really heavy amps or the super clean amps are fun to play with and experiment with around the house, I never use them on a gig because they’re not really part of MY sound.

I hope that helps, Mário. Good luck, and if you ned more detail, don’t hesitate to ask.

Hello Chef…
I have a Ceriatone jtm45 with a non-buffered series fx loop. I also use an m13 (w/ a line6 digital wireless unit like the one pictured on your pedal board)…and use the 4 CM. I would describe my concern as you did here:

“To Buffer?

We’ll keep this one simple. Most modern amps come with a buffered effects loop to help compensate for the lower level output of most stompboxes. In a non-buffered effects loop this lower output can cause a somewhat anemic tone. A buffered effects loop makes up for this signal mismatch and cures the problem. If you’re suffering from the woes of a non-buffered effects loop, there are products that are designed to help such as the Ceriatone Klein-Ulator. Most mainstream amplifiers will have a buffered effects loop while boutique amplifier builders may only offer this as an additional option.”

I am experiencing the anemic tone you describe above. So…would a kleinulator solve my problem…and where/how would the kleinulator be connected between amp and M13?

Thanks and hope you can help.

Hi Jack,

Sorry you’re getting that “anemic tone” described below. I know it’s frustrating to put time and effort into your guitar sounds only to have them come up short. Hopefully we can get you sorted out.

I’m not sure if the Kleinulator is the fix-all for your problem. I know that in my original Egnater Rebel 20 there was an issue with how it received the Line 6 M13 in the FX loop. After talking with Bruce Egnater about it, I’m not sure that a simple buffer would do the trick. In your case, however, it sounds as if the buffered signal is exactly what you need. If you’re sure that your loop-based pedals are functioning correctly, then the non-buffered FX loop in your amp may be the culprit.

The first thing I would try is to see if there are any other pedals that you could insert into the loop to see if they give you the same anemic issue. If they don’t then your M13 is the issue and that’ll have to be resolved. My advice, in that case, would be to then see if putting the entire M13 into the fx loop (instead of just one or two banks) remedies the problem.

I hope that helps. Try these things and then follow up so we can work it out.

Hi Chef!

I require some advice about my effects situation. See, I run a lot of effects and I’m at the point where something simple like switching from a rhythm tone to my desired lead tone is akin to Michael Flately’s Lord of the Dance. It’s all currently packed away as I’m moving state, but here’s what I’ve got running (I’ve forgotten the exact names of some) –

Strat -> Crybaby wah -> Boss Cs-2 compressor -> Trex Mudhoney -> RAT -> Phase 90 -> Boss chorus -> Ernie Ball Volume pedal -> delay -> delay -> delay -> reverse delay -> Trex Tremster -> Fender Deluxe amp

A simple explanation would be to eliminate pedals, but they are all essential to what I do. The chorus, Phase 90, volume pedal and a long set delay create a Shine on you Crazy Diamond type synth sound, for example. Or I need all the delays because I have a song where I build up tension and create random chaotic noise with all the delays set to different lengths which I then cut up with the tremelo. So I’d like to keep all these effects while making what’s happening at my feet take up less area if that makes sense.

I read your article on effects loops, and I think that could be the way to go, but I still have questions regarding the how to and what to get’s of it all.

Any tips?



Hi Sam,
This is a problem that plagues many guitarists, and it’s exactly why some players move over to a modeling rig. Having to kick off three pedals, another three pedals on, and do so in a musical fashion is pretty taxing.

SO, here are some solutions.

The first is to integrate your pedals into something like the TC Electronic Nova System. It has some loops available that would allow you to use the onboard effects PLUS one or more of your own pedals. And then you can assign patches or presets to those sounds. The downfall is that it’s expensive and large.

The second solution is the GigRig. This is an analog true bypass loop switching system that allows for presets as well. So with one button push, you turn on pedals 3,5, and 7 and then with another button push, you turn those off and turn on 2,4, and 8. It’s also large and expensive.

Similar to the GigRig, your third solution is the Voodoo Lab Pedal Switchers and Commander system. These are purchased in pieces, so you just buy what you need. They are sturdy and they work great, but can be large and expensive depending on your needs.

The next possibility is the Cusack Pedal Board Tamer. Again, it’s very similar to the GigRig or the Voodoo Lab stuff. It’s analog bypass loops with the ability to activate and deactivate clusters of pedals with one button. The downside is that it’s – yup, you guessed it- large and expensive.

The last possibility, and the largest and most expensive, is the rack rig. In this case, you’d purchase a 4, 6, or 8-space rack case and load it with a few necessities. The first thing you’ll need is a Power Conditioner like the ones made by Furman. Then you’ll need an RJM Effects Gizmo. This is a single-space unit that you’d plug all of your pedals into. Your pedals would be on a sliding shelf in the rack case and would always stay on. Once you have the Pedal interface and power, then you’d need a MIDI foot controller since all of this is being activated and deactivated via MIDI program messages. The industry standard for foot controllers is the Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro, but smaller companies like Keith McMillen are making cool in-roads in that world, too.

You’ll notice, Sam, that the problem with all of these solutions is that they make your pedalboard way more expensive and a whole lot bigger. They may solve some problems, but the problems of space, budget, and perceived ego sometimes are born here!

One final possible solution is ditching some of your delays and using the Line 6 M9 instead. It’s not a whole lot bigger than a couple of stompboxes and you can activate 3 delays at once. And the unit can be configured to auto-select 6 different choices of those three unique effects (ANY effects you choose, even 3 of the same delay flavor). That means you could have 6 different tones, each comprised of 3 effects simultaneously, available to you instantly.

I hope that helps, Sam. Good luck, and lemme know what you chose. 🙂

Hey Corey, Great to see and hang with you at the Nashville Road Show last week with Barney and Sam. That pizza afterwards was awesome!

Hey I noticed on your pedalboard that night you had a Strymon TimeLine delay pedal. What are your thoughts on it? They look amazing online and I am also interested in their new Flint pedal. Their stuff is quite pricey though which to me is the only drawback, but I get them wanting to keep it small and high level, and appreciate that.

Would love to get your input on the TimeLine pedal when you have a spare few minutes. Blessings to you!

Hey Jay,
I agree- it was great to see you in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. I’m excited about your relaunch and am anxious to see it completed.

Regarding the Strymon TimeLine, it’s kind of a funny story… all the little hipster players here in Los Angeles kept going on and on about how cool the TimeLine was. And the very nature of these hipster kids is that EVERYTHING is cool for a second and then they’re on to the next thing! haha Especially with these last two years being the years of delay with the TimeLine, the JHS Panther, and then the ongoing popularity of the Line 6 M9, the TimeFactor, and the Nova Delay- it’s hard to believe that there’s anything new under the sun. So I did what any narcissistic guitarist would do and I mocked them all. Every last one of them with their stupid $500 delay pedals.

And then I tried one.

Holy. Smokes. I started to call, text and email each one to apologize for my bullheadedness. The TimeLine is the real deal, without a doubt. Not only are the individual delays beautiful and lush, but the different effects that you can get from one unit is pretty stunning. It’s not just the delays that are the inherent value, it’s that once you’re echoing your sound, the amount of shape and tone shifting you can do to that echoed repeat is like nothing I’ve seen before. Unfortunately, it’s big and expensive. But I can’t see myself doing a gig without a TimeLine until something substantially more inspiring comes along. I try not to say “never” when it comes to gear, because my tastes change frequently. But the TimeLine has been the single most inspiring pedal that I’ve bought in 5 or 10 years.

I hope that helps, Jay. I’m looking forward to seeing you someplace on the road again soon.


The Problem with Inspiration

I just sat down with my acoustic and played for an hour. It’s funny, I’ve spent almost a full six years on the road as a traveling clinician/Product Specialist for Taylor Guitars, the world’s leading manufacturer of acoustic guitars, playing acoustics every night and talking about the tactile romance of holding a resonating box against your torso while you make music. and I rarely sit down to just play my OWN acoustic at home.

Lately I have been getting the itch to work on the follow up to my cd, “Strong“, and I have been batting around musical ideas to see how may of them deserve to live. Tonight I grabbed my acoustic and played along with a drum track to work on an acoustic blues thing. It was cool, but nothing ground-breaking to say the least.

Then I grabbed a short-cut capo (one that only covers a select set of strings to leave some in their standard tuning) and started playing this cool, bluegrass/newgrass kind of thing. Seriously, I lost myself for a a half hour and the ideas poured out of me like a natural spring of inspiration. I can’t remember the last time I was awash with joy like I was in that moment.

And then the reality of the situation hit me. That moment was as good as it’s gonna get. The newness, the excitement of uncharted territory. The anxiousness of wondering where the musical path might lead and then the accomplishment of sticking the landing and finishing the piece in a powerful way. All of these things will never be new again, and to capture it in a recorded media would be like trying to recreate the immediacy, power and terror of a lightning strike.

Ah, well. The only consolation we can take is that those moments are fleeting yet special. To bastardize some wisdom from literature, “tis better to have been inspired and had the moment pass, than to never have been inspired at all”.


Review: DiMarzio Gravity Storm Pickups

Sometimes, seemingly minor modifications to your rig can make dramatic changes in the overall tone. For instance, if you don’t like the sound of an amplifier, you can often make drastic changes just by swapping out the speaker. In the case of an electric guitar, it’s stunning how much change can come from just swapping in new pickups in place of your stock pickups.

I have been off the road for a few days and today I finally had the opportunity to load some of DiMarzio’s new Gravity Storm pickups (**press release is here) in a maple necked Fender Stratocaster to try them out. I was amazed at a couple of things.

First of all, it’s crazy how much the personality of a guitar can come alive with the right set of pickups. Although I love strats, I don’t particularly love this guitar, which is why I didn’t mind using it as a test bed- but it’s crazy how powerfully sweet and resonant it sounded once I loaded in these new pickups.

Secondly, I’m a lover of Fender-style instruments. Strat and tele-shaped guitars feel like home base to me and I love the sparkle of single coil pickups. But I’m a child of the 80’s and have spent plenty of time wiring up and playing through humbuckers. Some humbuckers just strike me as a flamethrower of volume and gain, with very little articulation. Others strike me as midrangey and honkey, hardly the sweetness that I’ve come to love in a good set of single coils. The DiMarzio Gravity Storm neck and bridge humbuckers have more sweetness than I’ve ever heard in a full-sized humbucker.

The neck humbucker sounds full and warm. It turned the strat into something that could easily pass as a semi-hollowbody guitar. It is fat but surprisingly articulate and juicy. I know that trying to turn sound into descriptive words is difficult, especially when all the normal food metaphors (gooey, chocolatey, sweet, juicy) have all been overused. But just know that the Gravity Storm neck pickup is great for somebody who wants to fatten up the neck position in his/her guitar but doesn’t want to sacrifice the articulation and clarity. And especially if you’re willing to wire up a little fancier control layout, with the use of push/pull pots or miniswitches, the Gravity Storm neck would create the perfect pickup when wired in parallel or split (coil tap). This may easily be the best sounding neck humbucker I’ve ever installed.

The bridge humbucker is forceful and articulate. The EQ is pretty different from the bridge in that it has an extreme midrange push. Normally I don’t care for this kind of mid-emphasis, but in the context of a live show or recording session, that midrange push is exactly where the guitar needs emphasis. Don’t fall into the trap of dialing in your perceived glorious tones at home, only to find that the “smiley faced” EQ curve (lots of bass and lots of treble with the midrange pulled down) is the exact opposite of what you need in the context of a band setting (since the lows are covered by the bassist and left hand of the keyboardist and the treble is covered by vocals, loops, and cymbals/hats). With all that in mind, I can also see how the midrange emphasis would make fast picking and/or legato runs a little more smooth sounding. All in all, it’s a great rock pickup, and wired with more complex wiring options such as those mentioned above, it would create a beautiful option for your bridge humbucking needs.

The good news for many guitar players today is that most guitars are routed for humbuckers in both the neck and bridge positions so there’s no need for major surgery to load humbuckers in. An extra pickguard cut for humbuckers and a couple extra pots and knobs gives you a fully-loaded pickguard that you can easily swap into your current S-shaped guitar for a wildly different sound. Think about it- it creates an entirely new sound for much less than the cost of a new instrument.

If you find that your current guitar lacks power or punch, a set of Gravity Storms, designed by DiMarzio and Steve Vai, may be just the shake up you need. More info can be found at Dimarzio.com.

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DiMarzio Gravity Storm Pickups

Mark my words, ALL of the publications are gonna lead with something about a storm coming. Mark. My. Words.

Here’s the press release


Staten Island, N.Y., July 22, 2012 – DiMarzio, Inc. announced it will release two new Gravity Storm™ humbucking pickups for electric guitars in mid-August. The Gravity Storm™ Neck and Bridge Model pickups were designed for Steve Vai. The pickups are named after a song on his new CD, Steve Vai: The Story of Light, that will be released on August 14, 2012 by Vai’s Favored Nations label.

The Gravity Storm™ is the next step in Steve Vai’s pickup evolution. Vai used to speak of pickup sounds in terms of specific frequency responses, but now he describes them in terms of flavors and textures. The flavor of The Gravity Storm™ Neck Model (DP252) is sweet and warm, but the texture has an edge to it. The combination of fat neck position tone with harmonics gives the Gravity Storm™ Neck Model an unusual throaty quality that sounds like a cross between a humbucker and a single-coil.

Steve described the sound he wanted from his new Gravity Storm™ Bridge Model (DP253) pickup as “a thundering cloud of ice cream”. It is very much a plug and play pickup – it does not require a lot of tweaking to get a great sound. Because the highs are very fat, it is possible to increase treble response on one’s amp without losing tone and sustain on the high frets.

DiMarzio’s new Gravity Storm™ Neck and Bridge Model pickups are made in the U.S.A. and will be available August 14, 2012 from www.guitarcenter.com and www.musiciansfriend.com. They will go on sale from all DiMarzio dealers on September 14, 2012. Suggested List Price for each pickup is $115. For more information about Gravity Storm™ pickups, visit the DiMarzio website at www.dimarzio.com.



Gravity Stormâ„¢ Neck Model DP252 List Price $115 USD
Wiring: 4-conductor
Magnet: Ceramic
Output: 290mV
Treble: 5
Mid: 6
Bass: 6
DC resistance: 12.56Kohms

Gravity Stormâ„¢ Bridge Model DP253 List Price $115 USD
Wiring: 4-conductor
Output: 340mV
Treble: 4.5
Mid: 9
Bass: 7.5
DC resistance: 15.19Kohms


MojoHand FX One Ton Bee Fuzz demo video

Another great offering from MojoHand FX. This pedal is based off of the Mosrite Fuzz that made a ton of surf and punk music popular. Of course, it’s got a little bit of the MojoHand magic added in to make it modern and more musical.

Backing tracks used below are available here, and if you actually like the music, check it out with some other great songs here.


MojoHand Zephyr Fuzz and Bluebonnet Overdrive Demo

Brad from MojoHand FX has been very good to me in the past 6 months and I’m proud to show off his pedals. The Zephyr Fuzz is based on the Sam Ash Fuzz and is pretty great, particularly for those people who are not connoisseurs of fine fuzz pedals. Check the video below for scrumptious goodness.

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Guitars For Sale, Tell Your Friends

Here are a few guitars, all of which are cool. All prices are for the guitars shipped and paypal’d CONUS. If you’re local here in SoCal, we can discuss the cash n’ carry discount.

Epiphone Les Paul Deluxe • SOLD
It ships in a hardshell case. The guitar was my son’s and he has become a telecaster kid. It’s in great condition except for a guitar stand blemish on the back (which I photographed for your viewing pleasure). Guitar is about 9lbs and sounds great. He and I made a trussrod cover together, but the original is in the case.
Epiphone Les Paul Deluxe Epiphone Les Paul Deluxe Epiphone Les Paul Deluxe

Schecter/Fender/Dimarzio partsocaster • SOLD
The body is an old schecter body, routed for S-S-S, so no humbuckers for you. It was originally gold, but was later spraypainted in semigloss black. The black ran, so there are some run marks and the gold has naturally begun to resurface. It has a pretty substantial gash in the finish at the top of the pickguard and there’s plenty of belt rash and lovemarks around the guitar. Also, our very own Rich Renken carved his initials in it. The neck is from a 70’s strat, but once was outfitted with a locking nut. That has since been replaced with a standard, non-mullet nut but the screw holes and repair are clearly visible. It has Dimarzio Area noiseless vintage pickups and the volume and tone controls have the treble bleed mod as well as the tone to bridge mod. The guitar sounds and plays great and is a ton of fun to play. The high E-string tuner probably needs to be changed because it’s loose, but you don’t notice while playing it. This guitar is way ugly, but could very well become your best friend. Ships in a faux-leather, well-abused, clay colored gig bag that has probably done a cameo or two in filthy homemade dirty movies. (“IT PUTS THE LOTION IN THE BASKET OR IT GETS THE HOSE AGAIN.”)
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1992-ish American ’52 telecaster • SOLD
Ships in a hardcase. The guitar has been around the world on stages big and small… it’s seen a million faces, and ro-…fired the bass player. It is well-played but not not intentionally abused. Weight is roughly 8lbs.
Fender American '52 Telecaster Fender American '52 Telecaster Fender American '52 Telecaster Fender American '52 Telecaster Fender American '52 Telecaster

Reverend Pete Anderson Model • SOLD
This is the guitar that was sent to Guitar Player Magazine for their review. They gave it an Editor’s Pick Award and that is written and signed on the back of the headstock by Joe Naylor. Satin Black finish is neo-industrial cool and the guitar is in great condition. It ships in the original hardshell case.
Reverend Pete Anderson guitar Reverend Pete Anderson guitar Reverend Pete Anderson guitar Reverend Pete Anderson guitar Reverend Pete Anderson guitar Reverend Pete Anderson guitar

Fender Custom Shop ’56 Relic • SOLD
This is a sparkly and articulate strat with a beautifully playing neck. Any time somebody grabs the guitar, they always comment on how great the neck feels. It’s slightly fat, like a fat C, but nowhere near baseball bat or boat neck. Guitar is all original and was built in October of 2007. Ships in the original hardshell case.
Fender Custom Shop '56 Relic Fender Custom Shop '56 Relic Fender Custom Shop '56 Relic Fender Custom Shop '56 Relic Fender Custom Shop '56 Relic Fender Custom Shop '56 Relic Fender Custom Shop '56 Relic

James Tyler Classic • SOLD
A wonderful specimen from Jim’s shop. Solid alder, midboost, ’59 neck. Excellent condition with exception to 2 very small finish marks, neither of which would photograph and neither of which go beneath the clear coat. This guitar has been babied. Ships in the original hardshell case.
james tyler classicjames tyler classicjames tyler classicjames tyler classic


MojoHand FX “TheRook” Overdrive Demo

The video covers most of what you need to know. It’s a stinkin’ GREAT pedal. As a matter of fact, I’m fixin’ to be on the road for a couple of weeks and I’m unable to bring the full-sized pedalboard (the “ego rig”). I’ll be prying the Rook off of that board so I can keep it with me as my one pedal. Boom.

As you can see from the first video, I just picked up my Martin Scorsese Starter Kit. Things are fixin’ to get awesome ’round here, y’all. 🙂


Gear From The Road

Another cool and unique guitar on the road. This one is at the Music Mill in Manchester, Massachusetts (holy alliteration, Batman) and Joe is the guy to call.

It’s a really cool limited run of the Charvel San Dimas models. It’s called “Primer Fear” and features a matte finished body in grey auto primer. The headstock logo and fretboard inlays are in right yellow.

– Posted from my iPhone.


Hidden Road Gems: Cool Musical Instrument Alerts

I’m in the fortunate position to be traveling the country perpetually. While this stresses the domestic side of me, it exhilarates the guitar nerd side of me. Since I believe that I’m not alone in the quest for great guitar tone, I think it’ll be cool to post cool pieces of gear that I stumble upon.

First up, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Fender blonde BandMaster. I’m not sure if this particular amp is for sale, but they have a TON of cool vintage gear and- let’s face it- everything has a price.

Secondly, I didn’t grab a pic, but there is a NOS Fender Custom Shop Tele Esquire there. It was a ’94 NAMM Special Limited and has been there ever since. It’s tagged at $3050, but that price is VERY negotiable since 1) it has celebrated a few birthdays in the store and 2) the Olympic White has yellowed nicely to a vanilla pudding on the face due to direct sunlight. But it plays great, sounds glorious and has a nice subtle flame on the maple neck. The weight is probably just over 7lbs and it’s a sweetheart.

Contact Matt at Craig’s Music in Weatherford, TX. 817-599-8021

– Posted from my iPhone.