Category Archives: Guitar Equipment

Kinda Miss My Camaro

CamaroFuzzTopCC copyAbout 10 years ago I had a dark purple 1986 Camaro Berlinetta with a 305 and the digital ‘knight rider’ instrumentation panel.  I bought it for $775 (only 83k miles!) from an old lady who grumbled, “don’t kill yourself Don Johnson” as she handed me the keys.  Except for one odd incident in which the car would simply not turn off,  it was 100% reliable and I loved driving it.  I sadly had to sell it because I lost the parking space it slept in.  I was poking around the ole MacBook today trying to find some pics of it, and there ain’t even one!  I guess that 2005 was maybe riiiiiiiight before the era of ubiquitous photography of every single fkkn facet our goddamn lives, and maybe I’m better off for it.  Maybe Camaro is just better off living in my midnight-blue tinted memories.

Camro_Fuzz_insideWhile I couldn’t find any Camaro car pics on the laptop, I did stumble on the above-depicted germanium Fuzz Face ‘clone’ that I decorated with a mid-seventies Camaro badge.  I buy these old chrome auto badges in lots at the flea market; if yr patient, you can get em for a buck or two each.  Anyhow, this is one of the only guitar pedals that I ever built and it turned out great, despite the fact that I simply used whatever old NOS RCA germanium PNP transistors I had around, without so much as even looking at the data sheets.  I just tried a few different types until the thing sounded like a Fuzz Face, and voila.  One cool detail: in the image above, check out the massive mil-type chassis-mount oil cap (far left) that I used as the output coupling cap.

fuzzfacepnpschematic copy
Above is the very simple schematic that I apparently pulled from FuzzCentral.  Much like my Camaro (the car), my Camaro (the fuzz) was sold off many years back, and yeah I kinda miss it.  Can’t keep em all…

Kustom & Kasino in the 70s: Part II

Kustom_1972Today at PS dot com: a few images of the ‘later’ Kustom amps, as well as a forgotten entry by sister-company Kasino.  Above:  the 1972 Kustom Hustler, Charger, Sidewinder, Commander, and Challenger amps.   I think someone had a thing for muscle cars back in the day,,,  ironic, considering that dude later went into business making police radar detectors.  Oh wait: you don’t know the crazy story of Kustom founder Bud Ross?  You might want to check out our earlier article about Kustom at this link… including our exclusive high-res download of the complete 1972 Kustom Katalog.

Kustom_1972 copyAbove: this advert uses the non-literal communication method known as SIMILE to suggest that ‘Kustom amps are as precision-made as surgical instruments.’  There is also a parallel structure that relates a musician’s ‘picking’ of a guitar-string to a surgeon’s ‘picking’ of a cyst/tumor/etc.  Aii yi yi.

Kasino_PA_1972Above: a Kasino PA system from 1972.  Kasino products were apparently the same circuitry as Kustom, but repackaged to as to allow different local dealers to carry the same products without competing directly.  Much like Gibson/Epiphone in the 1960s.

KustomAmps_1977Above: the third generation of Kustom amps circa 1977.  The big selling point here seems to be…  a wide-Q notch filter.  Yawn.

Travis Bean: 70’s Guitar Icons

Travis_Bean_1977There are not a lot of 70’s guitars that have attained classic status. 1970’s Gibsons and Fenders have a checkered reputation, and while a select few 70’s Ibanez and Yamaha models are highly valued, most Japanese electric guitars of the decade are fairly poor in quality compared to what we would come to see in the 1980s.

TravisBean_TB1000_1976A notable standout is the Travis Bean.  Regularly trading in the $3000 -$5000 range, these guitars have enjoyed a very strong reputation since their introduction. Travis Beans feature an aluminum neck and high-quality construction.

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Any Travis Bean players or collectors out there?

Click here for previous Travis Bean TB1000 coverage on PS dot com

Also here

More 70’s aluminum-neck guitar-geekery

Maestro FX units of 1972

Maestro_Rover_1972Today at PS dot com: just a quick look at some of the state-of-the-art in guitar/keyboard FX of 1972, courtesy the Maestro division of Chicago Musical Instruments, also parent to the Gibson brand of instruments.  Maestro made a lot wackier stuff than even the above-depicted Rover (a mini-leslie-on-a-stick) – Rhythm and Sound, anyone? – and we’ll get to it all eventually.  There’s only so much past I can write about, people…

Maestro_sustainer_1972Above: This does not appear to be a legitimate doctor. At best, he will likely ‘goose’ you whilst you are subdued via anesthesia.  I don’t really understand why a sleazy physician makes a good metaphor for a compression pedal.

Maestro_Fuzztone_1972Above: SuperFuzz.  It’s like a smug cop.  Ok…

Maestro_RingMod_1972Above: the Maestro Ring Modulator.  This is a rare one, I believe.  Do you get the feeling that this advert tells NOTHING about what this thing actually sounds like, other than it makes ‘unheard of sounds?’  This is likely because ring mod is really very hard to describe in words, and its effects really can be incredibly varied.  It actually synthesizes new pitches by outputting the sum and difference (in hertz) of your monophonic performance input and some second signal – in this case, likely an internal ‘carrier’ oscillator whose pitch is determined by the panel fader there.  I love ring mod.  It’s great that a few companies (Moog, EH) are making ring mod pedals again. A truly wild sound with a ton of applications for modern music.

Echoplex_1972Above: The Echoplex line of 1972.  The EM-1, ES-2, and EP-3.  Better than hanging out in a trash can.  Kinda need one of these.

Maestro_Brassmaster_1972Above: The Bass Brassmaster.  Tuba/trombone/bass sax players end up homeless/hobos/vagrants as a result.  Great, thanks.

This is an actual, published Gibson advert from 1986

Gibson_1986Good lord.  Here it is.  A dispatch from the absolute nadir of the Gibson musical instrument company.  This comp resembles nothing so much as this piece of graphic-design genius earlier described on this site.  Who would have guessed that this company, responsible for the best electric and acoustic guitars of the 20th century, would have fallen so low?  And even more surprising: that they bounced back in a mere 20 years, becoming the behemoth that they are today?

Gibson_1988Two years later (1988 – above), Gibson was back to running full-page ads (this one’s for you, RR…).  Note the hilarious high-school-notebook-style illustration work which attempts to position Gibson above “NoName, NoTone, Yamawho (Yamaha), Cartel (Charvel), IBenHad (Ibanez), Kromer (Kramer – ???), and Blender (again, don’t really get how this is a dig).

1978: Pete Townshend ‘Boogies’

PeteTownshend_Boogie_1978Goddamnit I hate that word.  ‘Boogie.’  Yuck.  Instantly brings to mind brain-dead root-fifth/root-sixth endless nonsense non-songs.   Really sounds like s$%t.   And you do know that boogie-riff inventor chuck berry was later famous for… NSFW)  Eii Yii Yii.   I wonder if Mesa Engineering would sell more units if they dropped that word.  Cause they sure ain’t bad amps.   But boogie!  No thank you! Never!

The HiWatt Bulldog Combo amp c. 1978

Hiwatt_Bulldog_19781978: The HIWATT 100-watt Bulldog combo amp offers a challenge to Mesa/Boogie in 1978.  These must have been very rare; I can’t find a single one online.  Read all about them at this link.   The ‘mini-monster’ hi-powered-combo concept was introduced by Mesa/Boogie in the late 60s when Randall Smith modded a Fender Princeton by adding the power supply and output section from a Bassman, essentially making a little tiny (but heavy!) 50-watt combo amp.  Curious about exactly how much of a ‘feat’ this was, I actually did this very thing many years ago to my brother’s Silverface Princeton.  A decade on, the thing is still cooking.  The perfect ‘vintage’ amp for NYC, or any city where you’ve gotta share a taxi to the gig!