How Indigenous’ Mato Nanji gets roaring Hendrix-inspired tones from his Fender 75s.
from his own heart or from that of the Nakota Nation, to which he belongs.
“I learned a lot about guitars, amps, and pedals from my dad," Nanji explains by phone from his home on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, where he grew up and still lives—at least when he's not touring the world with Indigenous or as an essential performer on the Experience Hendrix Tours. His father, Greg Zephier Sr., was also an accomplished guitarist and a member of the band the Vanishing Americans, who opened for Bonnie Raitt and other notables.
“My dad would bring home new gear and new music all the time, and once he brought home a Fender 75 and said, 'Hey, check this out,' and I was hooked," Nanji says of his favorite-model amp. “It sounded different from the other Fenders we had: a little darker, a little warmer, a little fatter, and bigger."
Currently Nanji owns two 75s: a 1x15 combo and a head, which he uses to power a Fender 4x12. “I had a 1x12 combo first, but I got the 15 because it has a little more kick with a bigger low," he relates. “Sometimes I use both of my 75s in the studio along with my Super Reverb, with its four 10s. The combination of all three is really awesome."
The 75 series has more functions than typical early '80s Fenders and were among the last designs for the company by famed engineer Ed Jahns, who spearheaded Fullerton amp building before Paul Rivera took the reins in 1982. Both men had a similar bent for innovation, and their designs are sometimes confused for one another's.
Jahns designed the first Fender amps with push/pull tone controls and was also behind the legendary 435-watt Fender 400 PS. The 75 was made from 1980 to 1982 and can scale down to 15 watts with the flip of a toggle. The faceplate controls, from left to right, are a bright switch, a volume dial for the clean channel, treble, mid, and bass EQs—all with pull-out boost, a lead drive dial, reverb, a lead level, and a master volume. The tube array is three 12AX7s, two 12AT7s, and two 6L6 power tubes, but the rectifier is solid-state. The combos came with 8-ohm Electro-Voice or Fender Blue Label speakers made by Eminence. These amps aren't as collectible as many vintage Fenders, despite their sonic virtues, and can be found for $500 to $1,300, depending on condition.
Nanji likes to use only the lead side of his 75s and sets the dials on 5—all the way across. “Right in the middle is where the sweet sound is," he notes. “I like to keep the core tone clean as much as I can, and then use a few pedals to overdrive it." Although a TS808 is his longtime go-to, he also favors a Mojo Hand Tone Factor and a vintage Fuzz Face for snarl options, and a Prescription Electronics COB (Clean Octave Blend) fuzz for more radical colors.
To hear Nanji's potent tone in full, listen to “C'mon Suzie" from 2003's Indigenous. In addition to his 75s, that track features the rotating sound of a Leslie cabinet—like Hendrix used on “Little Wing." (Onstage, Nanji gets that swirl from a Tinsley Audio Sir Henry pedal.) The guitar on that song is the one that's always over his shoulders: a '60s reissue Stratocaster, which recently got a Custom Shop neck that was a gift from Nanji's Hendrix tour compatriot, Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
That first time I heard Nanji live, he was using his 75 head on two 4x12 Fender cabs, but in recent years he's relegated his 40-year-old amps to the studio. On the Hendrix tours, he powers up the Marshall JCM800 that's provided. “Everybody says it's really loud, so they block it off with Plexiglass, but I can't tell when I'm onstage and feeling it," he says, chuckling. Just before touring stopped, he'd been using a Legacy Steve Vai signature head—a gift from Carvin—with Indigenous, for its reliability and the Marshall-like tone of its EL34 power tubes.
But he's lost no fondness for his 75s. “I'm in and out of the studio working on songs as much as I can, although the studio where I work is shut down a lot, and there aren't many alternatives in South Dakota," he relates. “But I'm pretty close to finishing an album that I'd like to get out next year."
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.