Samick Motherlode

December 2014
more... ArtistsBassistsGuitaristsJuly 2014Steve HoweYes

Cruising to the Edge

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Marillion's Steve Hograth rocking the cruise ship with his Rickenbacker Blue Boy. Photo by Robert Juckett.

Onboard Gems

There was no shortage of intriguing instruments aboard the MSC Divina on Cruise to the Edge, so in the spirit of celebrating aspects of offbeat musicianship, here’s a look at a few eccentric tone toys used on deck.

Blue Boy: Marillion guitarist Steve Hogarth showed off his Rickenbacker 360 with a Blue Boy finish. The 6-string was originally made as part of a limited run of 40 for the U.K. market in 2002. In 2004, Rickenbacker issued the Blue Boy in the U.S.

Touchy Stuff: Let’s be honest, the Stick Men’s touch instruments are a little mysterious. Tony Levin is well known for playing a Chapman Stick, but most people don’t know that it’s a stereo instrument that combines both a bass and a guitar on one fretboard—five or six strings devoted to each on opposite sides. “It’s a touch style, so you don’t pluck it, you just thump it with all your fingers on each hand,” Levin says. “Which means you can play a lot of notes.”


Moon Safari bassist Johan Westerlund grooves with his Gibson Victory bass with Moog electronics, 24 frets, and two active pickups. Photo by Klaus Bornemann

For Tony’s standard electric bass rig, he says doesn’t need an amplifier. “I’m going direct into the house. If there’s an amp onstage it’s just for me. I like the sound of the bass and if I didn’t, I’d be looking for another bass.” The Stick, however, is a little more complex. He runs the bass strings through a compressor directly to the front-of-house, and processes the guitar side with a pedalboard of effects.

Stick Men guitarist Markus Reuter also plays Chapman Stick, but he currently uses his own brand of touch-style instruments that he co-designed with luthier Ed Reynolds. Reuter has two models of Touch Guitars, the U8 and U10. He tunes the middle six strings to the New Standard Tuning (NST) developed by Robert Fripp for his Guitar Craft workshops. “My tuning is mostly in fifths,” Reuter says. “It starts in a low Bb and the top is a minor third and major second.”

Space Bass: Swedish bassist Johan Westerlund of Moon Safari plays something of interest to fans of rare Gibsons. His futuristic, antique fireburst 1981 Gibson Victory Artist bass has 24 frets, two active pickups, Moog electronics, and an unusually shaped pickguard. “It was supposed to be like a Y, which is kind of weird, but it was inspired by Yes,” says Westerlund. “I like the sound. It’s really thundering—it’s like a Precision bass, but with some strange electronics from the ’80s.”

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