Holiday Gear Finds 2022
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
The new Gibson Les Paul™ Standard 50s Faded returns to the classic design that made it relevant, played, and loved -- shaping sound across generations and genres of music. It pays tribute to Gibson's Golden Era of innovation and brings authenticity back to life. The Les Paul Standard 50s features a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish that gives it the look and feel of a long-treasured musical companion. It has a solid mahogany body with an AA figured maple top and a rounded 50s-style mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard and trapezoid inlays. It's equipped with an ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge, an aluminum Stop Bar tailpiece, Vintage Deluxe tuners with Keystone buttons, and gold Top Hat knobs with dial pointers. The open-coil Burstbucker™ 1 (neck) and Burstbucker 2 (bridge) pickups are hand-wired to audio taper potentiometers and Orange Drop® capacitors.
The PRS SE Standard 24-08 is a mahogany-body workhorse guitar with powerful humbucking and true single-coil tones in one instrument. Its PRS TCI “S” pickups are paired with a 3-way toggle switch and two mini-toggle coil split switches that individually split the humbuckers into true single coils for a total of eight pickup configurations. Players can enjoy two full octaves thanks to the 24-fret, 25” scale length rosewood fretboard and wide thin maple neck, and the PRS patented, molded tremolo gives players added flexibility and control over their playing. With sonic range and rock-solid reliability, the PRS SE Standard 24-08 will keep you playing without compromise.
Explore new guitar voicings and open tunings with the new Kaepo™, Gruv Gear's creative tuning guitar capo! Removable fretting pads can be set to any combination for nearly unlimited possibilities. Move the Kaepo quickly up and down the fretboard like a regular capo, without any tedious clamping or setup. Adjust the 7 individual fretting pads without any tools. Kaepo is also compatible with Gruv Gear's new Twistune™ rechargeable color tuner, for quick and convenient tuning on-the-fly. Works with most 6- and 7-string acoustic and electric guitars.
The Gruv Gear Kaepo is available on its own or bundled with the new Twistune tuner. Combine two or more Kaepos to open up even more tuning creativity!
The FlyBy Ultra comes packed with sleek upgrades while keeping the break-away laptop bag design of the original FlyBy. New features include an ultra-tough 1680D Ballistic Nylon exterior, reflective trim for visibility, waterproof zipper tape and new, larger compartments. The FlyBy Ultra also brings ergonomics to the next level with a luggage pass-through, and upgraded straps.
This is the tour pack that DJs and digital creators around the world carry and swear by. Get ready for the ultimate creator experience.
JBL 3 Series MKII powered studio monitors make JBL performance available to every studio. The JBL Image Control Waveguide and refined transducers offer stunning detail, precise imaging, a wide sweet-spot and dynamic range that enhances the capabilities of any workspace. Featuring patented technologies derived from the JBL 7 Series and M2 Master Reference Monitors and, sporting a sleek, modern design, JBL 3 Series delivers outstanding performance and an enjoyable mix experience at an accessible price. Special sale pricing begins Thanksgiving day with the 305PMKII at $109 EA, 306PMKII at $149 EA, 308PMKII at $199 EA, and the LSR310S subwoofer at $299.
Don't let sharp fret ends stop you from playing your favorite guitar! When dry weather comes around, your fretboard can shrink and the fret ends poke or “sprout” out. These razor sharp ends will slow you down, feel uncomfortable, or even cut your hand. It’s a very common problem that happens with every change of seasons. But you don’t need to take it to a tech, it’s easy to fix yourself! The Rough Fret Smooth + Shine Tool Set from StewMac has all the tools you need to protect your fingerboard, get rid of the nasty sharp ends, and polish your frets to be silky smooth. Keep your guitar playing great all year long.
Xvive’s U2, U3 and U4 wireless systems make going wireless easy, reliable and affordable, all with high-fidelity 24-bit/48kHz sound! They all recharge with any 5V USB power source, broadcast over a range of up to 90 feet, and have an imperceptible 5 ms of latency.
U2 Guitar Wireless System is the go-to plug-and-play solution for guitarists and bassists, giving you five hours of trouble-free wireless freedom on a single charge.
The U3 Microphone Wireless System turns any dynamic microphone into a wireless mic, in seconds. It can also be used to replace an XLR cable in other applications—for example between a mixer and a powered speaker cabinet!
The U4 In-Ear Monitor Wireless System gives you a beltpack receiver for your in-ears or earphones and a transmitter to connect to the mixer; up to six musicians can use the system at a time, even with separate monitor mixes.
For more info on these and other Xvive products, visit www.xvive.com and Play Free!
Engineered for great tone and long life, our proprietary, featherweight coating keeps strings sounding and feeling new for longer. Tone-killing elements like corrosion, dirt, oil, and sweat are no match for Elixir® Strings.
Our Phosphor Bronze with NANOWEB® Coating is rich and full-bodied with sparkling high-end clarity and a smooth feel.
See a line up of all of our acoustic guitar strings here - https://www.elixirstrings.com/guitar-strings#acoustic
Revolutionary Design and Features:
Optimize your pedalboard layout with durable, snug fitting, strong and lightweight risers. Tailor your pedalboard to fit your stompbox collection and your style of playing!
Space Saving, Easy Wire Routing:
Our riser footprint is virtually the same as the pedal for which it was designed. Whether it's Boss, Wampler, Strymon, MXR, Ibanez, Electro Harmonix, Walrus, Earthquaker Devices, TC Electronic, JHS or any of the popular pedals, our risers take up no more space than the pedal itself. An added benefit of the Elephant Foot design is the ease with which you can route signal and power cables. There's plenty of space under each riser and multiple attachment points for tie-wraps.
Unique Features of Elephant Foot Risers
• Strong yet lightweight
• Cables route easily underneath
• Anchor point for tie wraps
• Hidden screw holes for a super-strong connection to either wood or metal pedalboards
• Works with hook & loop, cloth cable ties or tie wraps
• Unique Pedal "Frames" for your first row of pedals
• Risers can be customized
• 3D printed from eco-friendly PLA
Available in seven standard colors and custom colors available on request.
Benefits of Elephant Foot Risers
• No more accidental pedal stomps
• No annoying pedal wobble when stomping
• No more sloppy pedalboards
• Optimized Pedalboard layouts
• Easy, neat cable routing
• Custom riser sizes available in multiple colors
• Preserve resale value of pedals
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
XPND is the pedalboard that adapts to you. With XPND's patented telescoping technology, you can easily adjust the length of the board to add, subtract, and rearrange pedals how you want, when you want.
The original Cloudlifter® Mic Activator® adds tons of ultra-clean gain to dynamic and ribbon microphones and are the perfect stocking-friendly gift for any musician (or yourself)! Made in the USA. Get Lifted. Get Gifted!
The Horus-WB-FX is the latest model to be developed within the popular Caparison Horus range.
This newly designed fixed bridge version features a carefully considered body construction featuring a Walnut top and an Australian Blackwood back. This unique fusion produces a full rounded tone with a sweet emphasis on the upper mids ensuring clarity, focus and a distinct separation of notes, even with the most extreme gain-saturated down tunings.
When combined with an upgraded Caparison designed, sustain rich, high mass bridge (which effortlessly copes with a myriad of acute tunings and string gauges) Jescar jumbo stainless steel Frets and a specifically designed set of Caparison pickups, the Horus-WB-FX is more than capable of producing arena filling rock tones or creating more subdued, distinctively rich and bell like cleans.
The Horus-WB-FX plays like an absolute dream and features all of the beautiful aesthetic qualities that you have come to expect from Caparison Guitars. The striking body design is complimented by three stunning new finishes and also comes with a choice of either an Ebony or Maple fret board..
The Woman Tone is Aclam’s tribute to Eric Clapton’s amazing sound during his Cream era. The sound that turned him into a god. An accurate approach to the unique tone he attained with a simple yet effective combination of a P.A.F equipped Gibson and 100W Marshall stacks all the way up.
- Eric Clapton's Cream Sound in a box:
Aclam has distilled and bottled in a stompbox the key elements that shaped Eric’s rig. Reproduce his unique rhythmic and solo tones, fine-tuned using both live and studio recordings of Cream.
- Artwork by The Fool's Guitar artist: Marijke koger:
Responsible for the psychedelic decoration of Clapton’s Gibson SG nicknamed “The Fool”, Marijke has created a unique artistic interpretation of the Woman Tone that looks stunning!
- Custom humbucker pickup simulation circuit & tone control:
A pickup simulation circuit emulating the tonal characteristics of a P.A.F style pickup has been incorporated to reproduce the “Woman Tone”. With its buffered input, the guitar signal won’t be affected. Use compressors, fuzzes or whatever effect you want in front of the Woman Tone, and it will retain its tonal characteristics.
- Touch sensitive plexi-inspired overdrive using discrete components:
Inspired by Clapton’s 100W full stacks it results in a powerful overdrive with a great British character! Designed having blues-rock in mind, it will perfectly suit any guitar player seeking a vintage tone!
A hot new gear company from Canada, Templo Devices jumped on the scene with their flagship lithium-battery powered amp aimed at electric guitarists.
Focused on creating problem-solving products with tonal excellence, they've since released several small-batch pedals with wide appeal. Including SPLYCE, a versatile mini-mixer for using a microphone with a guitar rig, the atmospheric TRIPLO modulation pedal and the REEL DEAL tape preamp, as well as their exciting upcoming release, the Pocket Studio Compressor. There is always something exciting coming from this northern innovator.
With plenty of great deals for the holiday season, they have a little something for everyone.
Meet the Taylor GS Mini, one of the world's most popular acoustic guitars: a smaller body and a compact feel with a big, bold tone that punches far above its size. Based on a scaled-down version of our Grand Symphony body shape, GS Mini guitars boast solid tops and a variety of tonewood options serving up different flavors of vibrant acoustic tone. The GS Mini family is also home to the GS Mini Bass, a super-compact four-string acoustic bass with a slinky feel and a punchy response. Whether you're looking for a campfire guitar, a songwriting tool or just a great-sounding acoustic that's up for anything, the GS Mini has you covered.
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
The TASCAM DR-05X stereo handheld recorder is a great-sounding portable recording solution with helpful workflow options. Use the TASCAM DR-05X's built-in omnidirectional condenser microphones to capture vibrant stereo recordings anywhere, anytime. Use Auto Recording mode to automatically engage recording when audio signals reach a certain level. Use the Overwrite function to make easy punch-in audio replacements. Or use the TASCAM DR-05X as a 2-input/2-output USB audio interface with your Mac or PC. Whatever your portable 2-channel recording needs are, the TASCAM DR-05X has you covered. It's a fantastic and easy way to record your ideas, rehearsals, or gigs. Simply remove the SD card and pop it into your computer and send your song ideas to bandmates or collaborators. It's small enough to take with you everywhere and fits easily in a guitar case or small bag.
The cardioid MD 421 has been one of Sennheiser’s most popular dynamic microphones for decades. The large-diaphragm, dynamic capsule handles high sound pressure levels, making it a natural for recording guitars and drums. The MD 421's full-bodied cardioid pattern and five-position bass control make it an excellent choice for most instruments, as well as group vocals or radio broadcast announcers. One listen and you'll know why it’s a classic.
Every once in a while, a product comes out that makes you go “Wait… WHAT?!?!”. Well, those words are music to our ears! This game-changing pedalboard allows you to power all your pedals, including pedals that need isolation and different voltages, with a single power source. Yep, either our rechargeable battery or AC adapter fires up all your pedals without additional power bricks. No more Velcro carpet to rip pedals off! You can literally change pedals on the fly. But the flexibility of EARTHBOARD doesn’t end there – Our Lifeline Tether carries power off the board to connect a WAH, or daisy-chain multiple EARTHBOARDs together. EARTHBOARD comes in 2 sizes: double row (holds 12 standard size pedals) and single row (holds 6 standard size pedals). They are available as Complete Pedalboard Systems (includes all necessary components to play) or as a Build-a-Board and "ala cart" accessories!
See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3iwDgLnN6w&t=8s
The Nobels ODR-1(bc) has bass cut, 9-18 volt input, and glow-in-the-dark knobs. The ODR-1 is rated the best overdrive by Nashville studio guitarists and creates a natural, tube-amp style overdrive that is versatile, amp-like, and affordable. The ODR-1 has been on the market for over 30 years and remains the number one choice. Creates crunchy rock and blues sounds or extra boost for soloing without smothering the natural character of your guitar's tone. The Spectrum controls optimizes tones from single coil chime to powerful humbucker rock. When adjusting the Spectrum control up or down the circuit ensures you have plenty of clarity and full dynamic range.
Bass cut switch
Solid metal chassis
Nobel's remote control jack switching system
German Engineering. Made in China.
Click here for Audio Clips
Modeled after Orangewood’s full-size Oliver guitar, the Oliver Jr. is a scaled-down version of Orangewood’s best-selling grand concert model. But don’t let the small body fool you. Sporting a beautiful, woodsy solid mahogany top, this junior guitar sings a bold and bright tone that’s easy to love. Whether you’re looking for your new travel companion or simply want a compact guitar to live near your couch, you can’t go wrong with this perfect-sized guitar.
Prefer a full-size model? This holiday season, every Orangewood guitar includes a professional set up and free shipping right to your door with a premium gig bag included. Plus, get extended holiday returns until January 31st. That’s over 60 days of commitment-free playing, so you can gift a guitar that they’re sure to love.
Jump straight in and explore 100 presets, the CODE50 has all you need to start performing and recording with. 50W of power that’s portable enough for you to practice at home or in the garage. Sync with your phone or online so it’s always with you for those creative moments. This fully digital amp is loaded with 14 MST preamps, 4 MST power amps and 8 MST speaker cabinets for you to create sounds that suit you. Using the Gateway App you can connect via Bluetooth to control CODE and stream music from your iOS or Android device. MyMarshall has a global library of user presets that you can upload to and download.
Catalyst® 100 is a 100-watt, dual-channel 1x12 combo amplifier that performs like a traditional guitar amp—while providing the increased versatility of a modern amp. Catalyst 100 offers six Original Amp Designs—ranging from pristine clean to modern high-gain—crafted using our renowned HX® sound design techniques to ensure exceptional tone and feel. Ideal for stage or studio.
• 100-watt, dual-channel 1x12 combo amp (with optional LFS2 footswitch)
• Catalyst 100 operates like a traditional amp—but provides increased versatility
• 6 Original Amp Designs—pristine clean to modern high-gain
• Dedicated Boost and Reverb sections (6 reverb types), 18 Effects (3 types)
• Power attenuator (half power, 0.5 watts, Mute) for reduced volume
• XLR line output for pro connection to P.A. or recording devices
• Effects loop and Power Amp input for integrating external devices
• MIDI In via DIN connector
Every Tool You Need in One Acoustic Pedal
We created the Venue DI so you can travel light, set up fast, and sound incredible anywhere you plug in. The Venue DI gives you complete control by combining a full-isolation DI output, 5-band EQ with adjustable low & hi-mid bands, variable clean boost, and chromatic tuner all in one acoustic pedal. With its all-discrete signal path, hi-graded semiconductors, and exclusive use of audiophile grade film capacitors, the Venue DI is on par with the world’s elite preamps and provides a studio quality sound for the stage.
The LP-6 V2 is Kali's best-selling studio monitor, and it's made its mark in studios across the globe ranging from humble home setups to state-of-the-art recording facilities.
Kali's innovative 3-D imaging waveguides create a crystal-clear stereo image, and also help the speakers to perform their best in challenging acoustic spaces. Kali-programmed boundary EQs take this a step further, tailoring the sound of the speaker for its placement on stands, on a desk, or close to walls.
With accuracy and translation at the forefront, the LP-6 delivers transparent, full sound that gives you a complete picture of your mix. Whatever you mix on the LP-6, you can be sure that it will translate nicely to other speakers, earbuds and headphones, car systems, or whatever else your listeners are using for playback.
The H90 Harmonizer® is Eventide's next-generation multi-effects pedal. Whether you want high-quality bread and butter effects or experimental sounds unheard, the H90 has everything you need to inspire your creativity with an intuitive UI designed with players in mind. Discover why top artists and producers have chosen Eventide through the years with 62 effect algorithms and hundreds of Program combinations curated for a variety of instruments and genres. With its comprehensive I/O and flexible routing options, the H90 is designed to be the heart of your rig.
Wilkinson's R series range of pickups are the result of Trev Wilkinson's years of creating and listening to thousands of pickups. Time spent with legendary and iconic individuals such as Seth Lover and Leo Fender, with whom Trev questioned about all aspects of sound, construction materials and production methods. All this combined knowledge has been the template for the R Series range of pickups, a pickup range Trev is proud to place his signature on, and say " These are the finest pickups Wilkinson has produced in the history of the company".
Featuring Single Coil's for both S and T style guitars, P90 and Humbucker models, the R Series has era specific models to capture the tone and vibe of the time and the players that influenced generations of players and Hybrid designs to influence future players.
For a limited time only, get two FREE expansion packs with the purchase of a five-piece guitar rack. Showcase your collection while safely and securely storing seven to ten guitars. The Hercules GS525BP-HA205 is covered with Specially Formulated Foam rubber at all contact points and features a one-piece design that sets up and tears down easily. The guitar yoke is designed for acoustic, electric, and bass guitars with four pick slots on each yoke. This special pack comes with a total of seven guitar yokes leaving room to expand to ten. Available while supplies last.
Ultimate DSP 2 channel noise reduction pedal. Patented technology that will remove the 50Hz or 60Hz and all associated hum harmonic components with total transparency. Combined with the patented Decimator G technology and dynamic sliding low pass filter, the Hum Extractor is the pinnacle of noise reduction technology. The Hum Extractor technology is dynamic in operation which compares the level of the audio signal to the hum harmonic components. Dynamically removes hum components when they become dominant. Made in the USA.
Click here for video
With the multi-touch display integrated with HILAVA OS, the LAVA ME 3 provides easy access to play and customize tons of built-in effects and loops.
Comprising eleven of Brian Wampler’s favorite delays, the Wampler Metaverse is a full-featured, small-footprint multi delay stomp box that is fully programmable, preset capable, has stereo inputs and outputs, allows full MIDI control, and has an expression input that you can assign to ANY of the parameters. The Metaverse also comes with a software version of the pedal via a set of 11 AU and VST3 plugins compatible with most popular DAWs - FREE to all customers that register their Metaverse online.
• Studio quality conversion 48 kHz Sampling rate with 24-bit audio
• Full 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
• 11 Studio-quality vintage and modern delay effects
• Simple user interface
• All parameters controllable via an outboard expression pedal
• 8 onboard preset locations to save your favorite patches, 128 total via MIDI
• Full MIDI control with CC and PC commands
• Stereo or Mono I/O
Gator's Transit Series acoustic gig bags provide rugged case-like protection without sacrificing the lightweight portability of a bag. The red soft-lined interior and thick foam padding safeguard your guitar from drops and bumps, just like a regular case. A weather-resistant blended fabric exterior protects against the elements and features backpack straps, each with a concealable zipper pocket to switch between backpacking and briefcase carry modes. So for the gear you love the most, Guard it with Gator.
Experience exceptional clarity and articulation in a Filter’Tron format with Lindy’s unique Fralin’Tron design. Featuring a focused single-coil vibe with a rich, warm midrange and crisp attack, you’ll wonder where this pickup has been all your life. When Lindy started designing the Fralin’Tron, he did so with a particular goal: to get as much clarity and articulation as possible out of this design.We’re thrilled with the result! Our Fralin’Tron features a scooped midrange and defined bass and highs. In addition, you can expect more nuance out of the wound strings, unlike the original design. Furthermore, the treble strings have a round, warm quality, making our Fralin’Tron perfect for all styles of music – from clean to dirty. Lastly, this pickup features a dynamic and punchy attack that gives you back what you put into it.
The DL-225 is handcrafted exclusively from all mahogany, producing a warm and brilliant sound. The soundboard of the DL-225 features a vintage bracing pattern resulting in outstanding projection and tone with brilliant highs, strong midrange and subtle but full bass. The DL-225 has an extremely bright and dynamic sound. This guitar has the sound of a large body guitar. In a fingerpicking demonstration comparison we did with a name brand dreadnought the DL-225 was +3 dB louder.
Its smaller size and depth make the DL-225 a very comfortable guitar to play.
Click here for video and audio examples
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
If you are looking for a single pedal solution with multiple degrees of gain from light overdrive to full out saturated fuzz tones, then you’ll surely love the Ratsbane. The Ratsbane is based on a true benchmark sound amongst guitarists that has been heard on thousands of famous recordings.
In typical Wampler fashion, Brian improved the circuit’s flexibility by adding two new switches. The Gain switch offers three distinct choices. In the middle gives you the “stock” gain for this pedal. The left position offers a firm, yet smooth boost in gain, whereas the right delivers an insane level of creamy distortion. The Voice switch subtly alters the compression and clipping of this pedal. It tightens the distortion to be more manageable with greater levels of gain, while rolling back some of the fuzz qualities, to deliver a modern, high gain distortion.
Click here for video clips
Wolfgang Van Halen joins Cory for the season 7 premiere of Wong Notes! Chatting before the release of Mammoth II, the duo discuss guitar trios, 5150 studios, cloning, touring with Metallica, plus: Who’s that playing wah on the record? What’s WVH’s rig? And much more.
Wong Notes is presented by DistroKid.
Use this link for 30% off your first year.
On his new record, WVH has lots to share. When it comes to writing and recording rhythm tracks, he’s says, “It’s all groove.” Later, he adds, “I’ve always championed myself as more of a rhythm player than anything.”
And on what’s next for EVH gear, he promises that there’s much more in store.But the most profound thoughts come when the pair go deep on music. WVH shares his soloing philosophy, which he learned from his father:
"Something I follow … when I write guitar solos that my dad taught me … is you can shred all you want, but if you can’t sing the solo, then it’s usually not working. There’s always a moment … that you can do the wankery of a shreddy solo, but it’s important to be able to hum the melody, you know? That usually, with the way that I write solos … is really deliberate in the way that I write … I’m a pretty poor off-the-cuff soloist, I like to really plan things out and have it be this nice piece. It kind of forms up with a melody, then it crescendos, then by the end it wraps up with … maybe a tapping section or a shreddy sort of passage. Basically, the main thing is you should be able to hum it. The melody should be in your head.”
Guitars without headstocks—and opinions about them—have shifted since their ubiquitous ’80s heyday, and now it seems like they’re here to stay. How did these guitars lose their heads—and why do some players absolutely love them?
Stringed instruments without headstocks, from lutes to nylon-string guitars, have existed for ages. It’s even rumored that Les Paul built a headless guitar of his own. But chances are, when you think of electric guitars sans headstocks, you either picture someone from the 1980s in tight pants and big hair playing an original Steinberger, or you envision a tattooed YouTube shredder with a Strandberg in hand. The two brands share many similarities and dominate one of the most controversial electric guitar designs since Leo Fender slapped a pickup into a plank of solid wood.
Until now, headless guitars were a respected but—other than for a brief period in the ’80s—niche product played by only the most adventurous. Recently, though, they’ve enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity and are giving the legacy guitar models a run for their money. How did such outlandish-looking instruments become so popular? What would possess a guitar designer to “head” down such a radical path? Is this a fad, or is there something to these futuristic-looking instruments? To answer these questions, we’ll have to go back to 1976.
Back in the mid 1970s, then-guitar-builder Stuart Spector wanted to create a new kind of electric bass. He made a serendipitous move and turned to a fellow member of his woodworking co-op to help: Ned Steinberger. Inspired by Ned’s ergonomic furniture designs, he wanted to imbue the new instrument with the same level of comfortable contouring. While furniture and basses might seem like an odd pairing, to Ned, the two are the same.
“I was involved in designing chairs, primarily,” Ned explains. “And a lot of the things I was working with were analogous to bass. I thought, ‘How does it feel? What are the ergonomics? What is the message of the piece?’ The bass guitar was essentially the sexiest chair I could have imagined [laughs].”
Ned Steinberger with his first TransTrem model in 1983. It was pure kismet that Stuart Spector asked Steinberger, then a furniture designer, for help with a bass design back in the mid ’70s. The rest, as they say, is headless history.
Putting their skills to work, Steinberger and Spector created the very first Spector NS bass, and it’s remained a staple of the industry ever since. But as great as it was, in Ned’s mind it still had a few shortcomings that he would address in his very own bass design.
“There’s this neck-dive issue I was working on,” he says. “All bass players are familiar with it, and that’s where I came into the whole thing, with the ergonomics. There wasn’t balance. And I was thinking, ‘This is not working!’” The culprits were the headstock and the added weight of the tuning machines. Ned’s solution was simple. “If you have a weight at the end of a stick and you put it at the other end of the stick, it’s going to change the balance,” he says. He would move the tuners to the body and remove the headstock altogether, giving birth to the modern, headless electric guitar—or bass, in this case.
“These weren’t weird for being weird. They were about trying to make an instrument perform at the highest level, and musicians could relate to that.” —Ned Steinberger
Ned was just getting started. Many more design elements most luthiers hold dear were on his chopping block, including the wood itself. Creating his first prototypes and production models was a gigantic undertaking. But it would soon be worth it.
The Rise of Steinberger
The 1980s were an exciting time for electric guitar and bass. New brands like Jackson, Charvel, and Kramer, along with Floyd Rose’s revolutionary bridge designs, created fertile ground for forward-thinking electric instruments. Trying to capitalize on this opportunity and wanting to avoid running his own manufacturing business, Steinberger tried to sell his new design to more prominent guitar manufacturers. But even in the ’80s, a bass shaped like a paddle was a challenging sell.
“People didn’t understand. These weren’t weird for being weird,” explains Ned. “They were about trying to make an instrument perform at the highest level, and musicians could relate to that. But when I first brought it to a lot of the shops, they all said, ‘No. We don’t want any of that shit. We can’t sell it.’ They weren’t being mean to me. They were just laying it out there.”
Paul Masvidal wields his signature Strandberg Boden Masvidalien NX 6 Cosmo live with technical death metal pioneers Cynic.
Photo by Stephanie Cabral
It was clear to Ned that if this bass design was going to succeed, he would have to build them himself. And that’s just what he did, creating his namesake brand and heading to the 1980 NAMM show. There, displayed alongside countless basses from Fender, Yamaha, and even Spector, would be his headless, paddle-shaped, carbon fiber Steinberger L2 bass.
“We had a little 10' x 10' booth,” Ned remembered. “Most people walked by and looked at us like we were crazy. But NAMM put on a huge concert that Saturday night, and the [Dixie] Dregs came out, with [bassist] Andy West. And unbeknownst to me, there he was with a Steinberger bass! That was the beginning of everything. We were nothing until an artist took it out there and said, ‘This is cool.’ Then, the day after, you had to stand in line to get into our booth.”
Everything had changed. Soon, Steinberger basses were shipping around the world. Headless electric guitars were no longer an experiment by a curious furniture designer. They were a legitimate take on electric guitar design, and it was only a short time before Steinbergers were in the hands of some very influential players.
Sweetwater Senior Category Manager for Guitars Jay Piccirillo remembers when he first encountered the brand. “To me, Steinberger was [Rush’s] Geddy Lee,” he says. “I wanted one so bad, just because he played one. That was probably the Power Windows era, and his bass tone was so cool.”
Allan Holdsworth played headless guitars since their early days, and he’s had several headless signature models dating back to the Steinberger GL2TA-AH all the way up to this modern-day Kiesel.
Steinberger guitars followed in 1982 and were adopted by everyone from Allan Holdsworth and Genesis’s Mike Rutherford to forward-thinking side-musicians like Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine, and, now, the Cure) and David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel). Even Eddie Van Halen got into the act, composing “Summer Nights” around Steinberger’s revolutionary TransTrem system.
In 1987, the big guitar builders finally came calling, allowing Ned to sell Steinberger to Gibson. Unfortunately, as the 1990s drew closer, so did a seismic shift in popular culture. Though still going under Gibson’s leadership today, Steinberger would, in many ways, be a casualty of the decade.
The Decade That Changed Everything
By the time 1992 rolled around, bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Sonic Youth had replaced the technology-tinged tones of the 1980s. It was as much a reaction to the previous decade’s fashion and trends as it was a trend of its own. Anything related to that era’s guitar playing, including Steinberger, was gone. Even the early Steinberger stalwarts had turned their back on their beloved L2s.
“Sting [who famously used his L2 on the Police’s Synchronicity album and on the Ghost in the Machine tour] is an interesting story,” sighs Ned. “He played a Steinberger for a few years. Now, he’s done a complete 180, and he’s playing an old Fender. Geddy Lee, too. While there are still all these people out there that really appreciate Steinberger instruments, not everybody has stayed with it.”
Piccirillo thinks he knows why. “I think the timeliness—and not the timelessness—of some of that music, that’s maybe where it started to fade. I think of a Kevin Shirley interview I read while he was producing some of the later Rush albums. He told Geddy, ‘Get away from the modern stuff. Go grab your Jazz Bass, and let’s crank up that old SVT.’”
Whether it was changing fashion or preference for tone, by the 1990s, Gibson was sitting on a game-changing brand that had made next-level instruments for some of the most popular and finest musicians, and nobody wanted them. Well, nearly nobody.
Headless Goes Underground
While the rest of the world focused on Seattle, the band Death, featuring guitarist Paul Masvidal, also a member of Cynic, had emerged as a leader in the Florida death metal community. In 1991, Death released Human, which many consider the first technical death metal and progressive death metal record, and Cynic’s Focus followed in 1993. Both albums laid the groundwork for modern artists as diverse as Plini, Animals as Leaders, and Per Nilsson. And like many of them today, Masvidal made his music on headless guitars—the Steinberger GM and GR models.
Strandberg’s Paul Masvidal signature, the Boden Masvidalien NX 6 Cosmo, strikes a pose.
Photo courtesy of Strandberg Guitars
“When I played on Death’s Human, Steinbergers weren’t popular,” Masvidal remembers. “But I had no issues with [there being] no headstock. To me, it was groundbreaking. Those guitars felt alien, and I felt like an alien. It was also when my playing started to go into new places. My harmonic vocabulary and soloing style expanded. I started to feel like I was onto something, and that was somehow in tandem with this instrument. With Focus, a voice was emerging, and the headless guitar was the beginning of that for me.” Photo courtesy of Strandberg Guitars
Masvidal wasn’t alone. A small but passionate network of collectors also kept the headless-guitar design alive. Two of which were Headless USA’s Donald Greenwald and Jeff Babicz (also of Babicz Guitars). Calling themselves the “home of everything headless in the music world,” their company was ground zero for buying and selling classic, U.S.-made Steinbergers, accessing hard-to-find headless hardware and strings, restorations, and anything one might need on a headless guitar journey.
“Those guitars felt alien, and I felt like an alien.” —Paul Masvidal
Greenwald unfortunately passed away in late 2022, but he left his partnership in Headless USA to his dear friend and guitar confidant, Natalie Thayer. Still teamed with Babicz (who worked in the original Steinberger factory), Thayer’s goal is to honor her friend’s legacy by playing a major role in the current popularity of headless guitars.
Beyond Masvidal, Greenwald, and Babicz, several online guitar builders’ groups and forums were dedicated to the headless guitars, covering every topic from vintage headless gems to creating new designs. Little did they know, hiding in their ranks was a soon-to-be electric guitar icon, Ola Strandberg.
In the 2000s, Ola was a hobbyist guitar player looking for a way to unwind from his stressful life. A tinkerer since birth, he says that he soon found himself thinking of an old Steinberger copy he had torn apart years prior. “It was a Hohner with the Steinberger-licensed tremolo system,” he recalls. “The hardware really appealed to me from a technical perspective. It was next-level stuff compared to traditional hardware. So, I ended up tearing it apart and building a different guitar around the hardware.
“Then, I got back into guitars in 2007 as a mental recovery after a pretty intense period of work, and I wanted to build another guitar. The headless concept … I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. It just made sense for so many reasons.”
Direct from the “cutting edge” of headless designs, according to Sweetwater Senior Category Manager for Guitars Jay Piccirillo. Ibanez has several forward-thinking models, including this EHB1005F Fretless 5-string bass.
Ola wasn’t out to make a Steinberger clone. Like Ned, he wanted to take what existed and make it better. The difference was that Ola says he “wanted to build a guitar that had some references to what a traditional guitar would look like and that would appeal to what I would want to play.”
From custom hardware to a new body shape, nothing was off the table. Refusing to compromise, the guitar Ola arrived at—now called the Strandberg Boden—was an instant winner and caught the attention of another of the forum’s members. As Ola explains, this part-time luthier and full-time musician was at the epicenter of a new style of highly technical, heavy new music and was about to change his life forever:
“Chris Letchford of Scale the Summit came up to me and said, ‘I hang around the forum because I’m a guitar builder, but my music is taking off, and I don’t have time to build guitars. Can you build me a 7-string guitar?’ I hardly knew 7-string guitars existed, but I said yes. So, guitar number five was for Chris.”
Letchford was hitting the road on package tours that included four or five bands, sometimes sharing members and gear, Strandberg recalls. “Chris showed it to Tosin (Abasi from Animals as Leaders) and Misha (Mansoor from Periphery), and I built number eight for Tosin and number 15, I think, for Misha.
“They were producing a new type of music, and it was perfect for them to have a guitar that looked different. They were a lower weight, had quicker response, and had better resonance. They addressed a lot of the issues they were having with traditional extended-range guitars. And, obviously, with those guys out there playing to audiences largely composed of other musicians, it was the perfect viral marketing.”
“The headless concept … I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.” —Ola Strandberg
Like Steinberger in the ’80s, the orders started flooding in. Strandberg had set off a headless-guitar tidal wave that’s still going strong. What once shocked the industry is now found next to Les Pauls, Strats, and dreadnoughts. For devotees of the design, it’s been a long time coming— especially for Ned Steinberger.
“Think about this,” Steinberger says. “It was less than 30 years from when the Fender bass and Strat were introduced to when I got started. It is now 50 years later. That blows my mind when I think about it.”
Ned Steinberger’s latest design project, the Phin, built by Patrick Sankuer of Sankuer Composites Technology using carbon fiber. The self-clamping bridge tuners are 3D printed in bronze-infused steel, and the custom EMG pickup incorporates 3 humbuckers inside a single housing.
Is the Future Headless?
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the decades of hard work have paid off. Countless guitar brands like Ibanez, Traveler Guitars, and Kiesel have now put their take on the headless thing. These companies are pushing their own boundaries in design, and the headless community is happy to have them. But is there enough demand to keep all of these builders afloat? Piccirillo says yes: “Ibanez, as far as the bigger manufacturers go, they’re the cutting edge. They spend a lot of time with artists and developing the next iteration to make things better and better. And Strandberg already broke through. They perform consistently, they have wide distribution with lots of great retail partners, and they have enough artists that legitimize the design in the eyes of others. Demand is still huge, and it’s not slowing down. There’s plenty of room for brands to join in.”
“It was less than 30 years from when the Fender bass and Strat were introduced to when I got started. It is now 50 years later. That blows my mind when I think about it.” —Ned Steinberger
“I don't think there’s any going back now,” says Masvidal. “The post-Cynic artists that are creating these sounds need them, and there are so many. It’s post-trend now. It’s still there, and it’s still holding up. There are so many companies that are making interesting things and pushing the envelope. They’re not going to turn that uncool corner again. It’s just not going to happen.”
The very soul of headless electric guitar design is the unwavering charge toward progress and evolution. From the work Ned’s doing today with his company NS Design to Strandberg’s line, to Ibanez or Kiesel’s creations, the platform, by its nature, must move forward. That takes commitment from builders, players, and retailers. Luckily, it’s in good hands.
“I’ve had a lot of heart-to-hearts with Ned and Don about the future of the headless guitar business,” says Thayer. “I want to put some fresh, grassroots effort into revitalizing it. This headless resurgence is the perfect opportunity. I think it’s going to be like the Les Paul and the Strat. I see a huge future for [headless] guitars, and I think it’s only just begun.”
Stymon’s new UltraViolet pedal recreates the sound and feel of the original Shin Ei Univibe units from the ‘60s, popularized by players like Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, David Gilmour and Doyle Bramhall II, but adds a number of different options that were never available on the original units for greater flexibility.
Housed in the same smaller chassis as Strymon’s recent Cloudburst and Brig releases, Ultraviolet also takes advantage of all of the features of the new platform, including full MIDI implementation and 300 presets, USB-C connectivity, stereo IO on TRS jacks, a rear-panel mono-stereo switch and a discrete JFET input preamp for unmatched touch-sensitivity and tone.
UltraViolet’s simple and responsive controls provide a wider range of sounds than traditional vibe pedals. In addition to the familiar Chorus (50% wet) and Vibrato (100% wet) settings, there is a new Blend setting (30% wet) for an inspiring variety of more subtle effects. A Bias switch gives you three distinct flavors of sweep shape and tone emphasis, allowing for tons of sonic variation.
At slow speeds, the intensity range has been expanded beyond that of traditional vibe circuits to push even further into warmly undulating sonic territory. UltraViolet gives you all the classic vibe tones—and more.
Strymon UltraViolet Vintage Vibe
UltraViolet features a new algorithm in which all the elements of the classic optical vibe circuit (and their interdependencies) have been meticulously recreated for a dynamic playing response. From the effects of bias, speed and LFO waveshape on the pulsing of the lamp, to the response of the light-dependent resistors that set the center frequencies of the staggered phasing filters, the entire system has been duplicated and carefully tuned to produce the very best sounds a vibe pedal can offer.
TRS stereo input and output in a dual mono configuration means you can place UltraViolet at any point in your pedal chain with no impact on your stereo image. Full MIDI implementation with 300 available preset locations ensures that UltraViolet is ready for your MIDI rig. In addition to TRS MIDI, there is a USB-C jack for controlling the pedal via MIDI from a computer or for performing firmware updates. For hands-free control without MIDI you can connect an expression pedal for control over any combination of knobs in any direction. (Expression pedal controls Speed by default.) Or attach an optional external switch for tap tempo or favorite recall. Finally, a high-impedance, ultra-low noise discrete Class A JFET stereo input preamp provides exceptional touch sensitivity, dynamics and feel—all in a rugged and elegantly compact form factor.
Strymon UltraViolet Vintage Vibe – Deep Dive with Sound Designer Pete CeliLearn more about UltraViolet ► http://strymon.net/ultravioletIn this video, Strymon co-founder and senior DSP engineer Pete Celi takes you on an in-depth tou...
“Good grief this thing is addicting to play!”, said Sean Halley, Strymon’s Head of Marketing. “It has all of the low frequency girth that the best pricey boutique big-box pedal versions have, but it can do so much more than the originals could and it’s small enough to fit on any board. It’s the very first digital vibe I’ve ever heard that sounds this big”.
Pete Celi, Strymon’s co-founder and DSP guru adds “After deeply studying a bunch of the best analog units we ended up giving UltraViolet three different Bias settings, so you can really fine-tune the response to fit the music you’re playing. Also, in addition to the traditional Chorus (50/50) and Vibrato (100% wet) modes, the new Blend mode gives you a 70/30 mix of dry and wet, for more subtle versions of the effect. It can totally do the hyper-authentic ‘60s thing, but it can do a bunch of other stuff that makes it much more versatile than the original units.”
UltraViolet is available now directly from Strymon and from dealers worldwide for $259 US.
Much more than a re-creation of the legendary Uni-Vibe effect, Strymon’s UltraViolet Vintage Vibe chorus and vibrato pedal elevates classic rock’s most psychedelic effect with a significantly enhanced control section and modernized features. This pedal starts with an extraordinarily precise digital replica of the original Uni-Vibe’s Chorus and Vibrato modes, then ups the ante with a more subtle Blend mode — a 70/30 split of your dry/wet signal, as opposed to the 50/50 split of Chorus mode. Speed, Intensity, and Volume significantly increase your ability to sculpt and shape Uni-Vibe tones to your liking. Meanwhile, Strymon’s addition of a 3-position Bias switch drastically alters the UltraViolet’s voice by modifying the center frequency of the effect’s sweep. You also get all the cutting-edge benefits inherent to Strymon’s compact pedal lineup, including full MIDI implementation, a premium discrete analog input preamp, 300 presets, USB-C, and mono/stereo operation. Compact, versatile, and beaming with vintage-accurate swirl — Strymon’s UltraViolet is a must-have pedal for any Uni-Vibe fanatic.