Resuscitating a quirky, heavily damaged ’60s-era electric is made possible by a skilled technician and friend.
Way back when I first discovered I had a passion for guitars, I also realized I was drawn to instruments that were weird and different. I’m not exactly sure why, but I didn’t want to play a guitar everyone else had and I also didn’t want to play new ones. I was attracted to the obscure, the wild, and the odd!
Back in the late ’80s, it was difficult to connect with like-minded folks. There were a few guys lurking in the classified sections of old guitar magazines (Remember those?), but, other than that, I felt like I was on an island of misfit-guitar fandom. One of the first people I connected with back in the day was Scott Freilich, who owned Top Shelf Music in Buffalo, New York, for many years.
We first met when I called him about some Valco pickups he had for sale. I quickly came to know Scott as a great music historian, writer, guitar tech, and fellow lover and collector of bizarre guitars, and we ended up striking up a good friendship over the years. Scott had some rather incredible photos of the oddball, rare, and expensive guitars that had passed through his shop, before they were really well-known commodities. For instance, he had some incredible Wandre guitars, which are now like owning a piece of fine art if you have one. He was also really into Valco guitars—Airline, Supro, and National—which is how Scott and I really connected.
Scott would talk about guitars in a way that spoke to me about equality. He didn’t hold a ’59 Les Paul in any more esteem than he did a blue-collar Silvertone. Since he had seen it all and worked on it all, Scott wasn’t really blown away by anything in the guitar universe. I really liked that about him. He was selfless and helped me tremendously with research. Heck, I got to befriend fellow guitar nuts from all around the world because of Scott. He was a regular at the big guitar shows and it was a real sight to see how he would work the Philly Guitar Show, in particular. He knew everyone and he introduced me into a nice little club of folks I still consider friends to this day.
Scott passed away earlier this year, so I wanted to honor him here in my column. There are so many stories to share and so many guitars to talk about, but I’d like to talk about the first guitar Scott ever repaired for me. Only the true wrecks got sent to him, because he could literally resurrect any guitar.
This 1965 Hoyer 725 (Photo 1) was a real basket case when I had purchased it. The neck binding was gone on both sides, and the neck was severely bowed and twisted. Like most early electric guitars made in Germany, the electronics were overly complicated (Photo 2) and, in this case, simply not working. Scott fixed it all without too much fuss.
The Hoyer company has been around for well over 100 years and has enjoyed a rather good reputation as a guitar maker. Located in Germany, Hoyer introduced some interesting electric guitars back in the day, and among them was the very strange 725. Rather than a traditional 4-bolt setup, this guitar had a huge hand screw at the neck joint (Photo 3). It seems Hoyer was simply going for an easy approach to removing the neck. You could actually pull it off with just a few twists of the big screw!
The 725’s body was sculpted in an interesting way, like a gentle topography that curves around your hip. The guitar also has a bridge mute that’s operated by turning a knob to raise and lower it. Scott, however, removed the rubber from the mute and added a piece of steel to give the guitar an intentional sitar-like buzz when set at the right level.
In 1965, the Hoyer 725 sold in the U.S. for a whopping $275 and—you may have guessed it—never sold well. Hoyer would later expand on the whole “travel guitar” idea to make neck removal easy, but this early Hoyer electric was anything but easy when it came to repair.
Folks, finding good guitar techs who understand quirky guitars is like finding a good mechanic who understands how to tune a carburetor. They’re hard to find, just like good friends or fellow lovers of weird guitars. Scott was like that for me, all rolled up into one.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.