The Stormbird offers a stylish nod to classic bass designs with an affordable, sub-$500 price tag.
It's always fun looking at pictures from our youth. Those captured moments that reflect the trends of yesteryear can ignite a pleasant smile or quite possibly a “what was I thinking” moment. For many of us, the sentiment and appreciation of vintage styling carries over into our possessions, from clothes to cars, and, of course, guitars.
For more than 10 years, Mike Robinson and Eastwood Guitars have been building guitars and basses that harken back to the unique instruments of the past. The latest addition to their flock is the Stormbird bass, an instrument that continues Eastwood's ethos of old-school style with a contemporary twist, and an affordable price tag.
Birds of a Feather The Stormbird's design is influenced by both mid-to-late ’60s Thunderbirds and the Firebird guitar. Deviating from traditional bursts, Eastwood spices up the instrument’s basswood body nicely with a metallic blue finish. Outfitted with dual humbuckers, the Stormbird’s passive electronics system consists of a 3-way toggle switch for the pickups and a pair of knobs for volume and tone. A rosewood fretboard tops a set maple neck that’s crowned with Eastwood's vintage-looking headstock, which, with a little imagination, visually suggests a profile of bird's head darting at its prey.
Aware of the weight and balance issues that typically plague Thunderbird-style basses, it was refreshing to lift the Stormbird out of its case with little effort. The use of basswood for the body is certainly a slimming solution.
Bassists who ride their instrument low, or those who carry a John Entwistle-like posture will be pleased with how the Stormbird hangs over the shoulder. Supported by a strap, the bass rested nicely with a slight tilt, though it tend to tip a bit when played at a higher angle. The Stormbird is just a tad heavy in the neck, so it tips slightly when in the seated position too, but the blue ’bird sits comfortably in the lap overall.
Prior to plugging in the Stormbird, it needed a bit of a setup. While the bridge is reminiscent of Gibson hardware, the inability to raise or lower the saddles creates a challenge in accurately setting the string height. The solution is to adjust the three screws that support the bridge, but doing so can result in a tilted bridge. And because the fixed saddles varied slightly in height, there was some slightly inconsistent feel when crossing from string to string.
Anytime one inspects a production instrument at a price under $500, it’s relatively normal to encounter minor construction issues. So, it was no surprise that the Stormbird wasn’t totally exempt. I found some of the frets to be higher than others and some nut slots were cut a bit too wide—all issues that can be easily corrected, especially by those who like to tinker or mod.
Riding the Storm Out
Construction concerns aside, the Stormbird's strength is in its sound. Plugged into a Phil Jones D-600 and a Glockenklang Quattro 410, the neck pickup delivered an aggressive, mid-centric voice, cawing with plenty of punch. While the bridge pickup was a touch thin on its own, it conveyed a throaty growl with crunchy highs. Engaging both humbuckers provided the best characteristics of each pickup, and created a tone capable of appeasing the rocker in all of us.
I took the Stormbird out for a gig with a classic-rock cover band and paired it up with a Peavey Tour 450 head and 4x10 cab. The Stormbird impressed with just the neck pickup engaged, particularly when recreating John Entwistle’s solo in “My Generation.” Wielding a pick for Yes classics like “Roundabout” and “Yours Is No Disgrace,” I got close to Chris Squire’s tones with both pickups engaged and an overdrive pedal in the signal path. While the Stormbird won’t necessarily cater to every playing style, the tones were quite satisfying overall and its metallic-blue body and vintage look brought instant smiles from both onlookers and bandmates.
Those who fly with an original Thunderbird are rewarded with pterodactyl-size sounds, but run the risk of weight problems, an arguably awkward design, and a hefty price tag. Eastwood has created a budget-friendly alternative that offers comparable—if sometimes relatively thinnish—sounds in a cool, nostalgic package. The Stormbird is a solid choice for the beginning bassist, as well as the player who wants an instrument they can bring to a gig without having to hire an armed guard to protect it. And despite the construction issues found with the review model, a healthy Stormbird is a bass of great value that’s able to deliver some thunderous tone.
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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.