I think I’m over it, but I recently had some bad Harley Benton related GAS. Look how awesome and cheap these things are! You know I have a thing for weird guitars. You know I have a thing for cheap guitars. This one like the Travecaster is cool. That’s on another list.
Despite Halloween and Thanksgiving being more my favorite… I do enjoy Christmas & Christmas music, both traditional and decidedly not-so.
I resisted streaming for a long time, in favor of just popping mp3’s on to a thumb drive & listening in the car/truck. I’m still in a lot of remote areas, and I think I clung to a desktop setup for a while longer than the rest of the world.
Someday, someday, I will rip all my CD’s, corral all of my purchased mp3’s or FLAC files, & pop the stuff on some kind of server so I can call it up at will.
I use Spotify occasionally. I would use it more, but I refuse to pay for a premium account, and sometimes I swear songs vs. commercials are 1:1 if not 1:3. I refuse to pay for Spotify premium account because we have whatever all-encompassing Amazon plan gives you Prime and Amazon Music.
I’m still building my Amazon playlists… I may pay for one to move to Spotify lists over. Maybe. I’d rather just by records, CD’s, & downloads directly from artists.
I haven’t dipped into YouTube Music yet. I think I have 2 or 3 Pandora accounts, but they’re just frustrating these days when you can actively pick a song with other services.
I just reached out on a couple of FB forums asking for suggestions, and I’m still pouring through, but these are my playlists across different platforms…
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!
I dimed the SPICE and HEAT knobs, but left TASTE at 12:00. Why? I always dime all the knobs. I like gain and dirt and punk rock. I ran each guitar through the CHILLED, FRIED, and GRILLED settings.
I like FRIED and GRILLED, but there was a noticeable volume drop with Grilled with all the guitars/pickups. This is a super fun little amp. I may get the normal one to use as a distortion pedal… as I don’t think this headphone out is suitable to run to an amp.
I will eventually get to using a 9V & rocking the headphones. This was plugged into a 9v power supply for the video.
I did test a 9V in it, and it had the same volume drop to GRILLED. Of course I used the oil can guitar in the Spam can amp first.
You can see what kinds of pickups they have and if not just ask me in the comments. You get single coils, humbucker/single split, lipstick, humbuckers, hot rails, and P-90-ish ones. I think the SPAMP+ sounds absolutely killer with the P90’s.
I try not to ruin my guitar/gear videos with talking.
Should I explain things for the 3 of you that watch? Lemme know what you think. Do I need the one that acts as a pedal?
Send me a pedal and I will demo it with all the knobs or almost all the knobs dimed.
So, we all know I have a thing for guitars. I like ’em weird and I like ’em cheap. Anyone who plays & reads about guitars on the internet knows about the reality of G.A.S. and all its warning signs.
I only have a few pedals. I mean, I could always use more. Right? I think the Falcondrive sparked this most recent attack. Eaglebones Falconhawk is the renowned stringman and Fender aficionado of the insanely fun band, The Aquabats!
It’s overdrive and distortion all in one… and I like all kinds of noise. I like high gain, overdrive, distortion, chorus, fuzz… all of it.
Eaglebones sounds great, and he’s a killer player… this takes two of his older beloved modified pedals and combines them all into one package. What’s not to dig about it?
Yeah. That got my interest piqued. Then between AliExpress and Amazon, I ended up in a cheap-ass pedal deep dive. I love cheap gear. But not garbage. We’ll say inexpensive gear.
How do the algorithms know? They’re listening.They’re reading.They’re watching.They’re pressuring.
I have sort of always been looking at an EHX B9 or the Earthquaker Organizer(or the EHX C9, Bass9, Key9. or Synth9 really). Honestly though, let’s face it; Most of my guitars cost as much as or less than these inarguably awesome quality pedals.
I found a super cheap and entirely crappy sounding sort of competitor online, then I found a slightly less crappy but seemingly more useful competitor online… still also pretty damn cheap.
That though, somehow led me to this, which does not sound super terrible: The Mooer E7 Synth. It is not quite as expensive as the big boys, but also doesn’t sound like a dying sound card from a Commodore 64. (Arguably, even that could be a valid fun sound to chase… but if you’re not going for that, then you probably don’t want it by accident.)
Why do I want a synth pedal? Because, for years when playing out in bands, one of the songs I always dug covering was “Cool Kids” by Screeching Weasel. It has two super short keyboard parts that I always just played on the guitar. I would be immensely amused by the 3½ seconds of satisfaction that would provide.
That’s how G.A.S. works, right?
That led me to the Mooer Pitch Box. I don’t even need a pitch box, but is sure sounds cool. And it’s cheap. Damnit. That just led me to the even cheaper VSN Harmonizer. And a drummer pedal! The struggle is real. The pedals have gained sentience and are conspiring.
Then there are the other pedals that I can’t forget. I love my Orange Micro Terror. Apparently they make it as a pedal now, The Terror Stamp. I use an A/B/Y sometimes to play through both the Micro Terror and the Fender Blues Jr. at once. It would be fun to Orange-up the Blues Jr., or to play the Terror Stamp into the Micro Terror to make the Orange even more Orange.
Is it possible to make into a pedal? I don’t have the skills. I have a soldering iron, but I am no good with it. I used to do drafting in high school, but I am lost on the schematics for electronics. It looks like at least two people have made the combo into a head(…OK, one was for bass). A schematic exists online. Someone even has a circuit board which emulates the circuits for the amp, but is small enough to fit in a pedal. Why make a $200 pedal for a $50 amp? Yes. Why? Also, why not?
I wrote all of that, and still don’t know the point. To relieve G.A.S.? I would guess it should only serve to exacerbate it.
I mean, I do have a few pedals. They’re not even on a board. I had them on the cut-off bottom of a milk crate, but then I wanted to remove one. They are fun, and they do indeed do things.
This, hive mind, is where I need your help. Do I want more pedals? Yes. Do I need more pedals? Also, yes. They are sure to spark creativity. Use your wisdom to teach me. Can anyone build me a TC-35 pedal? I can get my wife to Cricut the logo in vinyl! Ha ha. Which pedals should I go for? What would you go for? I’m looking for those people experienced with these cheap pedals all over the internet. Send me your thoughts, reviews, & opinions!
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!
For me, posting on YouTube is sort of like blogging. It’s more of a creative outlet than anything. I like to play the guitar, and I like weird guitars (Exhibit A & Exhibit B), so why not show off my weird guitars?