So, remember the SPAMP+? It was a ton of fun. I wrote to ask the SpampMAN if I could get a ¼” stere-to-mono adapter for the headphone jack to make the headphone jack essentially an “out” for a guitar amp so I could use the Spamp+ as an effect or pre-amp.
Dude is solid, and sent me one! He may include it as an option with future builds! The grilled, chilled, & fried all work as you would expect and sound gorgeous coming through my Blues Jr.
Here I used my New York Pro StarGazer (with GFS Lil’ Killer Rails) into the SPAMP, then my Fender Blues Jr. The tones are still awesome! the volume differences are there, but if you pick one & go that rally shouldn’t be a problem. This is totally cool as a pre-amp effect! There’s no on-off, but I do have an A/B/Y switch that I could maybe use to put it in & out of the loop. At any rate, this is still super fun, and that’s what it’s all about!
A while back, I had the opportunity to reach out to Jimmie Bruhn about the Indy Custom Flycaster, and way way back I did some research on the BB Stone. (I have to try to recover all the stuff that used to live on SquareGuitar.com, all those links are now dead.)
I thought it would be fun to try and track down Dewey Decibel(a.k.a. Joe Jerardi – or is it Joe Geradri? Stage names are fun.), and get some insight on the inception and production of one of my favorite axes!
After some emails exchanged, here’s the story from the man himself!
I’m awfully sorry there was a delay on getting back to you. I honestly have had my hands full this year, and it slipped my mind. Just for your patience, I can offer the most information I’ve shared about my FlipOut days to this point. And thanks for asking.
I was performing solo in NY back in the 90s, playing CBGBs and many of the NY clubs. My stage name was Dewey Decibel, and I always performed hooked up to an IV pole. Just a thing I did – never mentioned it on stage. Played electric guitar, with synth sequencers for backing, plus voice.
One day I thought of this backward guitar – Its just wood I thought – so it would play the same, just super unsettling, and deeply rock and roll to my mind. I found one shop out of all the NY guitar techs who would follow my instruction. It was Rick from Carmine Street Guitars. I love him because he didn’t even blink, just said “sure, I can do that”. I went on to form a band called… Dewey Decibel, and kept doing shows, and finished up my third album “Unnecessarily Beautiful” with those guys, great players Jon Howard, and Martin Miller. We did good work. I always played the original FlipOut, which started its life as a Fernandes brand Strat. I always had the IV drip by my side.
We did no real promotion for the album, for any of my albums, so they reside in resplendent obscurity, rarely to surface.
Here is what exists online, though there are 3+ albums and an EP somewhere:
At shows, my guitar got so much crazy attention I conceived of the nutty plan to use a release of these guitars to bring attention to my band. In 2003 I went to the NAMM show on the recommendation of a friend, to look for a manufacturer. There I approached many confused factory reps from Asia, and ended up having luck with a Korean group who were ready to please. I ordered some prototypes during that year, and tweaked things. Then at 2004 NAMM I introduced them to the unsuspecting earthlings, took orders, and started shipping out of San Francisco once the container ship arrived. That first NAMM show was funny funny stupid funny.
The stupid part was that Fender lawyers sent me a letter on the opening day of my NAMM launch that I was in breach of their trademarks. This is a much longer story but I ended up licensing with Fender later, which was great for name dropping and demonstrating to folks that it was a quality guitar.
I was living in a warehouse with boxes of these guitars and my drum set. It was a time of odd existence, taking orders, shipping, doing R&D, and lining up reviews with the big guitar magazines. The FlipOut got strong thumbs up reviews in Guitar Player as well as Guitar One. I did care about the feel of the neck and the pickups. It’s self evident I think when you handle one.
I was moving forward on the BottomOut bass, having received a few prototypes which worked nicely. Even took orders. The problem was that the whole business had me working in too many directions, and exhausted. I’d gone to Europe, and did a bunch of sales, there and in Australia too. I was overworking, and getting wiped out. This was all on my own, and I’d been living with some fantasy that these cool guitars would elevate the music, and demonstrate my sovereign rock and roll whimsy. But alas, the FlipOut project ended at around 500 guitars because I was exhausted, the R&D was too slow, and I couldn’t parlay the thing into working for another manufacturer. I was too much of a lone wolf for them. So I went back to graphic design and animation. I’m an animator today living in incredible San Antonio. I also continue writing and recording a new album, to be released secretly into thrift store bins.
The guitar colors were just my favorites at the time, the names were inspired by memories. Barry Leventhal was I think a kid I played in little league with. Austin really had cabs colored like the guitar.
I’ve seen the FlipOut rip-offs coming from Europe/China, and they look ridiculous, all backward and stuff. Just joking – I guess it was inevitable someone would cash in.
Hey thanks for your interest. Hoping it fills in some detail.
I tried to pick the most odd & attention grabbing of my herd. Do you think I missed the boat by not including some of my other notable oddballs? He didn’t even mention the amps or pedals. Ha ha.
Shout-out to my peeps at Actual Ugly Guitars! It’s a Facebook group focused on looking for guitars ranging from the weirdest of the weird to just pure abominations with strings and sometimes even frets. If you’re gonna join, answer the questions or you won’t get in.
Here’s a rundown of what’s pictured if you’re interested:
If not rocking the Spark for practice or jamming along to YouTube or the built-in drummers, I like to rock a guitar through the tuner then into the A/B/Y into both the Blues Jr. and the Micro Terror through the Laney. Sometimes I put the wah up front, or sometimes on just one amp. I had a Dunlop CryBaby for years, then once I heard the “tone-suck” even when it was off, I couldn’t un-hear it. Same with the Dirt & Ernie… sometimes I just use it as a boost. It will come in handy if I ever get back to live stuff. My “sound” is pretty much gain on 10 master volume on 2 through both amps because I love the sound of the overdriven amps, so I don’t really need to add much dirt. If I set up the Trio, I run the “band” out to the PA so drums & bass come out of that nice & clean instead of one of (or both of) my amps. I am terrible with the POCK LOOP looper. The Lil’ Smokey is also a ton of fun, and I have used to to drive a 4×12. I think I need simpler one or more patience. Maybe both.
So, that’s my setup. Yes, I do play these guitars. Yes, they’re all playable. (I have a go-to guitar guy that is like a guitar-whisperer.) Yes, I have gigged & even recorded with some of them and would gig with all of them.
Which ones do you dig or hate the most? Got any oddballs you want to share? Hit me up with some comments!
I’m in a lot of guitar-related Facebook groups. I’m probably in a lot more guitar -related (and general music-related) Facebook groups that ought to be allowed. I see a lot of talk about guitars, and a lot of opinions about guitars. People are very strong and vocal about their opinions. (Did you see the guitar bingo cards?)
One post I see quite often is someone who is buying a guitar for their kid, or even one for themselves. It usually contains no details or insight and boils down to “I am buying my kid a guitar, what should I get?” or “I want to try playing guitar, what is the best one to buy?”
The responses come in swiftly and are predictably all over the place. Guitarists who frequent guitar-related Facebook groups are a wild bunch. It’s hard to get a good feel when advice is all over the place.
I am certainly no guitar expert. Hell, I’m not even that great of a player. Ha ha. I have, however, played a very large variety of guitars over the years. I happen to own a wide variety of guitars and am a bottom-feeder of sorts… All of which I feel plays well into qualifying me to dole out advice on the matter of a starter guitar.
First, you need to ask yourself some questions. We need more to go one than “Which guitar should I buy?”
What’s your budget?
What kind of music do you listen to?
What guitarists (or musicians, bands, artists) do you enjoy?
What would you like to sound like?
If this is a GIFT guitar, this becomes tricky if you want it to remain a surprise. You’ve got to do some homework. If a kid is dreaming he wants and Explorer or a Jaguar and you get him a Stratocaster or an SG, there may be some disappointment or it sitting in the corner for a bit.
What do you see yourself or what does the recipient see themselves playing? What kind of noise is yearning to be made? Get an idea of a shape in mind, maybe even a color… or whatever is there sparking that interest.
Check local Facebook sale groups too. I help moderate one for my area and it is a FANTASTIC place to get great deals on gear, ask, & answer questions, etc. It’s also all invite-only so it’s relatively drama free.
I’m largely ignoring acoustics, but that may be what you want. They are so versatile and a great place to start learning.
Go to a music store and pour over the stuff. (I know things are different right now with a global Covid-19 pandemic, but I hope they will eventually return to a much more normal state of existence. Please follow the guidelines in a store or if meeting someone to purchase via an online ad.) Play it all. See what feels good.
Soon you’ll have a Pinterest board for beautiful, weird, ugly, and random guitars you find on the internet.
All the references I can think of for name-dropping for guitar players are ancient. But if you want to play like Slash and you get a John Mayer guitar, it’s not going to be as exciting, right?
Get your budget set. I personally stick to cheap guitars and I love them. You can get some really nice guitars for $300. One group I frequent calls anything $500 & under cheap. I can dig that. You can also get some great guitars for $100 if you’re looking in all the right places.
Used gear is a great place to start. Stuff depreciates rapidly. Stores pay pennies on the dollar for value so they’re able to make a profit, so the best bang-for-your-buck may be some sort of local online sale. Although, Music Go Round seems to have reasonable used prices in person.
Avoid any listings online that say “great for beginners” or “great for a first guitar” or “great for kids.” Loosely translated this means “this guitar is a steaming pile of poop.” Usually it has terrible action, won’t hold a tune or even intonate properly, or has some other hidden issues.
If anyone lists something online for free and says “Make an offer” they are the worst kind of person, so just keep scrolling.
Don’t pay over $50 for a used First Act unless it was one that came with a Volkswagen. They were $50 new at Walmart. Some brands with great budget axes can include Squier, Lotus, Hondo, Dean, Hamer, Schecter, Ibanez, New York Pro, Galveston, G&L, Peavy, Epiphone, Kramer, and so many more outside of the ones everyone seems to know like Fender and Gibson. Don’t pay too much attention to the headstock logo though.
I would also probably be wary of new “starter packs” that come with a tiny amp. Do your research & read reviews on that kind of stuff.
Stick to your budget & play everything that you can that resembles what you’re looking at online. You might like a heavy guitar or a light guitar. You might like a wide neck or a skinny neck. You might like a thin neck or a heavy one.
If you want a cheap new guitar and are not concerned with the logo on the headstock, I cannot recommend Agile or SX and Xaviere enough. I hear nothing but good things and they’re just great axes. I have heard mixed reviews on Hard Luck Kings.
Whatever you buy, I suggest, and a I cannot stress this enough, get a pro setup. Find local music shop… preferably from work of mouth or asking locals online. Find someone that recommends a tech or luthier that does great work. This person will ask you questions. Give honest answers. I suggest getting a lighter gauge pack of strings at first. Tell them you want 9’s. I would say $75 for a pro setup and a few bucks for a new pack of strings will make even the rattiest of guitars into beautiful machines. Figure it into your budget if you need to.
If you’re close to Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs, I may even recommend the guy that has polished some of my proverbial turds and made them into rock n’ roll machines.
Amps? Well, amps are whole different animal. There are headphone amps, practice amps, and combo amps. It’s all in the budget/preference mix. Maybe that will need to be another blog post?
You (or the gift recipient) will fall in love with the guitar if you get the right one. Soon you’ll have GAS.
Don’t hesitate to ask me any specific advice here in the comments or with the contact form.
Feel free to add to my advice, or contradict it in the comments!
Back in the day, I used to go to websites, message boards, chat rooms, or forums, & blogs. Now it’s mostly Facebook groups.
I’m a simple man. When not enjoying real-life things like family time, noodling poorly on the guitar, drawing mazes, or watching some funny or sci-fi-ish stuff on the TV, I enjoy reading things on the internet. This would include subjects like guitars, gear, guitars, music, Star Wars, guitars, guitars, and surprisingly enough …Guitars.
Picking up a theme? I’m in some guitar groups of varying purpose, from celebrating the instrument in general, to celebrating ugly ones, celebrating cheap ones, celebrating unique ones, alternating between building camaraderie or trolling between fellow guitarists, and making fun off bass players & drummers. I may have G.A.S. – It’s gotta be a real thing.
After a while, you start to notice a repetitive pattern of seemingly-canned responses.
At first, I thought of a drinking game. But, I’m too old for that, and I’m currently on antibiotics. Ha ha.
It may seem light a slight, but it’s not. I’m in there. I have said the thigs. I have typed the things. I have read the things. I have heard the things. We all have a common interest. This is a celebration of you, & us. 🍻
How quickly could you get a line, or even fill up the card?
What responses have I missed?
Please, elaborate in the comments.
What would go on your Bingo card or cause you to take a drink?
What do I need to add to my pin boards?
I would love to hear what you have to add.
What are your favorite places to discuss and ogle guitars on Facebook or online in general? You can even share some of your favorite guitar photos or memes in the comments.
Since the world is a bit strange right now, I decided I wanted to see more guitars on social media. Maybe it’ll start a trend, maybe not.
I like classic guitars, I like modern guitars, I like classy guitars, I like ugly guitars. I like guitars. I like playing them. I like looking at them online. I like looking at them on my wall. I like looking at them in the store. I like hearing them. I like arguing about them on the internet. I also like other assorted stringed instruments.
Maybe this will make the world a little brighter. Maybe people will like these guitars. Maybe people will argue about these guitars. Maybe absolutely no one will notice. Who knows?
Below the collage, here are the ones I have posted so far via Instagram with the #AllMyAxes hashtag, minus today’s. The rest will be in the next post. This is the bulk of my guitar collection. The rest of the stuff in the house are my ukuleles and mandolin, the wife’s ukuleles, and the kids’ guitars and ukuleles.
There is a little bit written about each guitar if you click through to Instagram or follow me on Facebook. I hope to blog more in-depth about each of them, or more than I have in the past anyway… reaching out to some manufacturers and designers, especially for the most interesting ones.
This morning I felt like playing the guitar. I didn’t feel like jamming in the basement by my work bench where all my stuff is set up. I didn’t bring up the Laney 2×12 or the Orange Micro Terror. I brought out the Fender Blues Jr. & a Yamaha MSR100 powered speaker so I could run my new DigiTech Trio into two different outputs.
The Trio was a birthday present from my wife. It was on backorder from Sweetwater for a while & we have been really busy so this was my first chance to try it out. I set it up like this…
It started out as a pile of stuff in the corner. Then I remembered that I had an old RCA-Victor TV cabinet in the garage purchased from our house’s previous owner that I thought about turning into an amp someday. The Blues Jr. fit where the TV went, and the Yamaha PA fit underneath where the speaker grille is.
Then I had a cabinet and I pile of pedals. So, I cut up a milk crate and made a goofy pedal board with a Donner power supply & some zip ties. The “board” fits inside the cabinet with the blues Jr. too. It was a morning long project but it felt good to get it done & know I can jam a lot more easily. It may be tricky if I just want to use the Trio & some headphones.
I do have a Dirt & Ernie pedal & an A/B/Y that I use to run the Jr. & Micro Terror at the same time. Maybe a board extension will eventually be in order? How cool would it be if the doors came off & were the pedalboard?
Oh well. Enough monkeying. Time to jam.
I will eventually have to give a serious(?) evaluation of the Trio. I do already know I want a looper now. Ha ha. It was pretty intuitive & loads of right out of the box. My 4 year old told me to turn it down right away, so it had to be cool. Right?
Monkeying with the DigiTech Trio:
I apologize for the “living room while the wife and kids are home” volume, and the Crocs.
My little dude seemed to like the idea. He has all the moves down. Maybe some day he will want to play too!
Do you have a living room, bedroom, or other small setup rig? Share some in the comments! Any thoughts on any of this equipment? Any tips for the Trio? You can comment below here at the blog with WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or a Gravatar login.
Narrator: “Up next on Guitar Hoarders; Jim, 48, a self-professed ‘Blues Lawyer’ from Oaklahoma is going through a divorce due to his recent failure to remove 27 partscasters from his bathroom, leaving his soon-to-be-ex-wife to do her business in the rose bushes out back.”
Narrator: “Jim’s wife, Tonya, thought the rented apartment two towns over was for another woman, but it was way worse than she could have imagined. It was full of Chibsons and falsely advertised ‘Lawsuit Era’ LP copies that were actually nothing of the sort.”
Tonya: “I wish his browser history had said PornHub or RedTube, but no… it was all Reverb, eBay, ShopGoodwill, Craigslist, and the lowest of the low… local & national guitar forums on Facebook!
Don’t even get me started on LetGo and OfferUp. I wish I had found Tinder or even Grinder. That, I could deal with.”
Narrator: “Tonya did at least see a bright side to all of the madness.”
Tonya: “I mean, I guess at least it wasn’t Reddit.”
Jim: “I guess I don’t need that many guitars. I mean, I don’t get to play as often as I like. Most of my time is spent online explaining to n00bz how tone wood makes a huge difference, why I think Gibson is overrated and how they have gone downhill, the best types of wood for a fretboard, you know… the important stuff. There are some real idiots out there. How can you have fun if you’re not getting the best possible tone from your fingers?”
Narrator: “Jim is seemingly unaware that he has a problem.”
Jim: “GAS? No, never heard of it. Wait, is that the psychobilly jam-band that plays every open stage night at Free Beer Tomorrow over in Tulsa? No?
Anyway, did you know that Slash’s Les Paul that he used on Appetite for Destructionwasn’t even a Gibson? And now they endorse him? I mean. If you don’t know that, you shouldn’t even be allowed to play Guitar Hero.”
Tonya: “I’m currently living with my sister. Her husband plays the bass, so he can’t afford to have a hoarding problem.”
Jim: “That guy? He doesn’t even know the difference between active and passive pickups. Heh.”
Narrator: “At this time, Jim refuses counseling. He thinks they can work it out.”
Jim: “I was teaching her how to play, but Mel Bay is so dumb. We re-started with a ‘Top 50 riffs of all time’article form an old guitar magazine out of my pile. I mean, there are only 8 notes, right? Or is it 12?
I was trying to tell these guys at the county fair that they were playing the riff for ‘Lay Down Sally’ wrong, but you just can’t tell some people things. I have a tabographic memory. That’s where you can instantly remember every guitar tab that you have ever seen.”
TLC, I have another TV show for you. This is a comment from a guitar group gone awry because I amuse myself way too much. Who wants to do a YouTube sketch comedy show for a very specific audience?
I certainly don’t need another guitar. I’m always looking at them though. There are just so many different kinds out there, and I can appreciate almost all of them. Some I actually sort of drool over, & eventually I end up with one. I don’t think 13 Guitars in 2013 will ever become a reality. I can always add cool guitars to my Pinterest board, right?
These are some that I’m always thinking about…
Epiphone USA Map Guitar
The Epiphone USA Map Guitar – It has to be ridiculously cumbersome to play, but no more than my Galveston B.B. Stone. The brown finish is neat, but I’d love it to look like an old-school pastel textbook map of the USA. They pop up on ebay every once in a while, but none are ever priced low enough that I feel it’s a “must buy” because I’ll never see the same deal again. There are other companies that make them too. I’m not picky, I just like the shape & the idea. It would certainly be a fun one on stage.
The Fernandes Ravelle – I’d like any of them really, but the green Dave Kushner model is awesome. I dig the green color, and the sweet pick guard with holes in it. I love how it takes the classic Les Paul shape, and makes it a little Alien. The curves are awesome. I dig the sound too, on the Velvet Revolver albums & live show. I’ve seen a few in action at shows around here, but I’ve only seen one for sale at Guitar Center in Robinson. I almost dropped more money than I could afford on it… it was only around $500 which seemed reasonable. Sadly, I made a sound financial decision that day.
Fretlight® Guitar – It seems like it would just be really fun to play with one. I might even learn a scale other than the pentatonic with one. I like the old school one with the knobs & switches. I don’t know if I’d even gig out with it, unless you could program it to make a cool light show or spell out the name of your band or something tasteless & offensive on the fretboard. Maybe even the word “POOP” because, well, that’s always funny.
Hallmark Guitars Wing-Bat
Hallmark Guitars Wing-Bat – Or the George Barris Batman guitar. I’ll probably never have enough money to own this thing, but it sure is cool. No Batmobile beats the 60’s Batmobile… and this thing looks like it was in the trunk all along. If anyone has one that needs a good home, let me know. I’ll play it & take care of it quite well. I’d gig out with it too. It’s a shame when these collector guitars hit a shelf somewhere never to be played again.
DIPinto Mach IV
DiPinto Mach IV – One of my favorite guitars playersplays one of these sweet-looking axes. It’s very eye-catching. It’s almost like a Mosrite, but not quite. Gel from The Eyeliners is one hell of a guitar player, & the reason I want one. I’m generally not a fan of red guitars, but with this… I’d like a red one.
Annihilator copy by Oktober Guitars – I’m not nearly as cool as Doyle, but I’d love to play one… being a Misfits Fiend for all these years. I’m not sure I’ll ever have $600 lying around for a guitar that I wouldn’t play all the time.