Archive for March, 2016

We’ve seen guitars made of unusual materials before, including hockey sticks. But this replica of a Vox Phantom built from recycled skateboards is easily one of the coolest-looking guitars we’ve found. And as you’ll hear in the video below, it sounds as great as it looks.

The project was the brainchild of Swedish brothers Sondre and Amandus Mortensen and their father, Josef Forslund. Though none have been involved in building guitars before, their enthusiasm, creativity and hard work resulted in an amazing-looking guitar.

The guitar’s body and neck are made entirely of recycled skateboard decks covered in a clear, two-component car lacquer that was wet sanded and polished to a mirror finish. The fretboard is rosewood and was treated with lemon oil. In addition, skateboard material was used for the fret markers, which the group designed.

The decision to build their guitar out of skateboards was undoubtedly a no-brainer. Both Amandus and Sondre have been named Rookies of the Year in Swedish Skateboard for 2014 and 2015, respectively (you can see their skills in the video below as well). Josef Forslund, for his part, brings his skill as an industrial design engineer to the project.

The group writes, “We had often talked about to use skateboard material for building some cool stuff, so the choice to use recycled skateboard as building material came natural.

“The skateboard material is a seven-layer Canadian maple veneer that is epoxy laminated. Usually there are some colored layers, with gives a beautiful material well suited for building projects. Since both Sondre and Amandus are skaters they ‘produce’ a lot of material just waiting to be recycled.”

After deciding to build the guitar out of recycled skateboards, the trio discussed whether to copy an existing model or design one of their own. Sondre searched the Internet and found some pictures of a Vox Phantom that everyone agreed had an unusual and cool-looking shape. The Phantom was released in 1962 by Thomas Jennings and has a distinctive pentagonal shape. It was originally made in England, but manufacturing was later relocated to Italy.

As three of them designed the guitar, they decided to add some design choices of their own. One of their decisions was to exposing the colorful layers of the skateboard material. They also designed and crafted aluminum knobs that have the same look and vibe as those on the Phantom.

The guitar has three vintage single-coil DiMarzio pickups found at their local guitar shop, Gitarrist, in Malmö, Sweden. (They also got a bunch of tips from the shop owner, luthier Lloyd Gramstad.) Electronics include a six-way rotary switch and master volume and tone controls. All the cavities are copper shielded, as are the frames and channels between cavities. They also implemented star-grounding to protect against white noise and radio interference. The result, they say, is a hum-free guitar.

The guitar is also outfitted with a Bigsby B50 Tremolo with a Tune-o-matic roller bridge and vintage-style Kluson Gotoh machine heads. The scale length is 25.5 inches.

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J Mascis’ Dinosaur Jr. broke onto the burgeoning indie music scene just before Nirvana set off a seismic shift in the music industry in the early ’90s. And in many respects Dinosaur Jr.—along with bands like Sonic Youth, the Minutemen, and Mission of Burma—set the stage for Nirvana and the rest the alternative music movement.

While the rise of indie felt like nothing short of a musical revolution, the party didn’t last. And somewhat ironically, indie artists became the new mainstream. But while success changed other band’s agendas, Dinosaur Jr. stuck to their original sensibilities—making albums riddled with hooks and polluted with thick layers of sonic chaos.

Mascis (born Joseph Donald Mascis) formed the band with bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Emmett Jefferson “Murph” Murphy III more than 25 years ago in Amherst, Massachusetts. His droning vocals and controlled-noise guitar work were the backbone of the band’s sound, and his style—a fusion of punk and classic-rock moves—was revelatory at the time. He often included fierce guitar solos in Dinosaur Jr songs at a time when solos bordered on passé in indie circles. They also reflected Mascis’ uncommon compositional chops—they were integral to the song while being lyrical, rabid, and punctuated with wild, out-of-control bends.

In the late ’90s, Dinosaur Jr. disbanded and Mascis went on to form J Mascis + the Fog. But Dinosaur reunited in 2005 for a short tour, and their early records were also reissued that year. In 2007 and 2009, the band also recorded new material for the critically acclaimed albums Beyond and Farm. But recent years have also brought out a different side of Mascis’ musical persona. In 2008, he released J + Friends Sing + Chant for Amma, a folk-influenced album featuring devotional songs dedicated to Indian saint Lady Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi).

Mascis is a quirky, one-of-a-kind character. He’s also a massive gear fiend. Although his instrument of choice is a Fender Jazzmaster—in 2007 Fender honored Mascis with his own purple-sparkle signature Jazzmaster—he’s a big collector of vintage guitars. And he finds them the same way we all do—by obsessively scouring internet listings.

Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis’ rig. he shows us his arsenal of modified Jazzmasters, a powerful four-amp setup, and then demonstrates some of the tones in his pedalboard.

Guitars
J Mascis‘ main guitar is a sunburst ’63 Fender Jazzmaster with original neck and pickups (left). He replaced the pickup covers, knobs, and added a Tune-o-matic-style bridge. His main backup is a sunburst ’65 Jazzmaster with original neck and pickups, also with the bridge replaced. Other Jazzmasters in his arsenal include a refinished ’58 with vintage pickups and gold hardware, a refinished ’63 body with ’59 neck and vintage Jazzmaster pickups, and the second prototype of his signature Squier Jazzmaster with Seymour Duncan Antiquities. Mascis disengages the top toggle switch and installs jumbo frets into most of his guitars.

Amps
Mascis’ four-amp setup includes two late-’60s Marshall Super Bass full-stacks, a vintage Hiwatt DR-103 head driving two Marshall 4x12s, and a Victoria 80212 tweed Twin clone. The head shown here sits atop an ancient and battle-scarred 4×12 that he proudly says he bought for $40, minus the speakers.

Effects
Mascis’ pedalboard is built around a Bob Bradshaw-built Custom Audio Electronics switcher that gives him a multitude of effect combinations. Among the notable boxes on the board are a ToneBender Mk I-clone/Rangemaster-clone combo pedal built by Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch (bottom right corner), Mascis’ first Electro-Harmonix “Ram’s Head” Big Muff (top right), an MC-FX clone of a Univox Super-Fuzz, a CAE Twin Tremolo (upper left), a Z.Vex Double Rock (two Box of Rocks in one, bottom left), and an Electro-Harmonix POG2 that he’s using to mimic Mellotron and organ sounds from Dino Jr.’s latest album.

 

KURT VILE – Guitar Power

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Guitars
Tags: ,

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Premier Guitar’s Chris Kies chilled with Kurt Vile, Rob Laakso, and Jesse Trbovich of the psychedelic folk-rock outfit before their sold-out show at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works on February 25th.

Rob Laasko, like his stringed brother Jesse Trbovich on the other side of the stage, bounces between guitar and bass during shows. His current No. 1 bass is this late ’70s Fender P Bass. (It is worth noting that Laasko mentions in the video that his real No. 1—a vintage B.C. Rich Mockingbird—was “accidentally” left back in Philly.)

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The band’s other multi-instrumentalist, Jesse Trbovich, spends most of his stage time with this Fender ’57 Reissue Stratocaster that is all stock aside from a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Strat Surfer Series in the middle position allowing him to have hum-canceling operation in the second and fourth position. This Strat sees a lot of action in the band’s older material because as Trbovich describes it, “that’s where the vibe was—a Strat and a whammy bar.”

 

The band’s namesake travels with not one, but two 1964 Fender Jaguars. During an earlier interview with PG, Vile explained his need to have dual ’64s: “I bought it in 2011 when I was on tour. I really focused on getting familiar with it, so much so that I just bought another ’64 Jaguar for the road.” One typically is tuned to standard or down a half-step while the other could be in any number of Vile’s own creative open tunings.

To continue learning about the band’s gear, visit: bit.ly/KurtVileRR

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