Pedal Genie is a Netflix-like service for guitar pedals. It's great. But my first experience was offputting. A strange generic metal box arrived in the mail with a lot of unidentified knobs. It made sort-of-distorted sounds when plugged into a guitar and amp. I wasn't sure how to use it! So I immediately issued a complaint to Pedal Genie. An email came back in response saying it was actually a “one-off,” “hand-wired” “work of art,” implying that I didn’t appreciate such a fine custom pedal. They were right. I plugged it back in and indeed learned to like the Caroline Guitar Company Cannonball that they had sent.
File alongside other consumer complaints: “My caviar tastes salty” and “My Harley is too conspicuous, loud.”
Teenage Engineering, makers of the amazing $850 OP-1 synthesizer, have designed three nifty $59 pocket synths: the PO-12 "rhythm" drum machine, the PO-14 "sub" bass synth, and the PO-16 "factory" melody synth. The Verge has a first look.
Despite their spartan design, the synths have a host of smart features that make these devices far more powerful than they might appear. Each device has two 3.5mm ports, which lets you output audio to a mixer as well as chain all three devices together, with a master unit setting the tempo and patterns for the other "slave" units to follow. Another low-tech (but no less useful) design decision is the small wire stand on the back that lets you prop up the devices for easy use on a table. Even the power source is clever — the PO series runs on two AAA batteries, something I haven’t used outside of remotes in years.
If you like what you hear, build one. It will take practice to play as well as Justin Johnson does, but even a rank beginner can make good music with a diddley bow. (Watch Justin play a full song at the 16:00 minute mark). (Thanks, Kent!)
Psychedelic TV ad from 1972 for Wurlitzer's Orbit III organ: "It may just change your mind!" (via Weird Universe)
Ben Marks, our pal at Collector's Weekly, says, "I just wrote a piece about Matt Eichen, the yarmulke-wearing, oral-surgeon founder and designer of Musicvox, whose Spaceranger guitars were used in the last Austin Powers movie. After taking an almost decade-long hiatus due to his daughter's bout with cancer (she's fine now), he's back at it, with new designs and models, all inspired by the cheap, consumer guitars of the 50s and 60s, from Danelectro and Harmony to Supro and Silvertone."
Like a lot of budding collectors of the inexpensive, entry-level guitars of the 1950s and ’60s, Eichen found himself in a lot of pawn shops. “During my residency and afterward, whenever I had some spare change I would go to a pawn shop wherever I could find one. If I was traveling to a conference in any state, when I get off the plane, the first thing I’d do is go to a pawn shop in the worst part of town and see what kind of guitars were available. Harmonys were always on my list, but then I spread out to Supros, Danelectros, Airlines, and Silvertones. Anything made by Valco or Kay. They had magical tones.”
Oral Surgeon's quest to reimagine the garage-band guitar