SUSTO's Justin Osborne joins Premier Guitar editors and our reader of the month in discussing oddball guitars and current musical obsessions.
Question: What's the weirdest-shaped guitar you own and how did you acquire it?
Justin Osborne – SUSTO
Photo by Dries Vandenberg
A: The weirdest-shaped guitar I own is by far my '80s Kramer Voyager. I never play it live, but it was actually one of the first guitars I ever bought way back in my early teens. I was at an antique shop with my mom and the guitar was there for only $75. I borrowed the money from my parents to buy it and had a lot of fun with it, mostly just playing in my room. My friend has been borrowing it indefinitely, but I still count it as a part of my guitar collection and will always remember it as my first electric guitar.
My current musical obsession is Strand of Oaks' new album In Heaven. I've been a fan for a while now, and just love how Tim Showalter creates such a specific sonic landscape on his albums. This new one is a banger!
Strand of Oaks - Galacticana (Official Acoustic Video)Strand of Oaks - Galacticana (Official Acoustic Video)Stream / Purchase: https://orcd.co/inheavenFollow Strand of Oaks:Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/...
Sam Crowley – Reader of the Month
A: My Telecasket, which I built. White Zombie is one of my favorite bands of all time and has been since high school. I loved Sean Yseult's coffin basses from the moment I saw them and always thought if I could have a custom guitar, it would be a coffin. Fast forward 25+ years, as I was playing in my horror-rock band, the Electric Dead, it was time to finally do it. My father, who is a cabinet maker, and I built it together over the course of a few weeks.
The string-through body is a big slab of pine, and the binding/center stripe are walnut. My favorite guitarist is Billy Gibbons, so I had to put a Pearly Gates in there. His style also influenced the choice of no neck pickup and just a volume knob. Super simple. This being our first guitar project, we didn't want to tackle the neck, so I ordered that from Solo Music here in Ontario. I replaced the nut on that with a TUSQ nut and gave it a satin finish. The guitar is amazingly resonant, sounds absolutely huge, and the audience loves it!
Photo by Blain Clausen
Always Billy Gibbons. To me, he's just the coolest guitar player ever!
Billy Gibbons X-Rays His Hands?! | The Big 5The ZZ Top legend on what makes his “Pearly Gates” Les Paul so special, why he recently had his hands x-rayed, and the “slithering” slide guitarist whose wor...
Shawn Hammond – Chief Content Officer
A: Unfortunately, I can't find a pic of the cherry-finished Gibson '67 Flying V reissue I had to sell in a pinch a decade and a half ago, but I really miss it—it had neato-sounding, splittable Duncan Seth Lover pickups.
The weirdest profiles in my collection now would be my old Schecter Ultra III (which has a TV Jones Magna'Tron in the bridge position) or my Mosrite-inspired Eastwood Sidejack Baritone DLX (with Curtis Novak JM-WR pickups).
Of late, I've really been lusting after a DynaSonic-outfitted Gretsch Jet.
Ted Drozdowski – Senior Editor
Photo by John Thomas Collins
A: If you're an old Delta blues guitarist, you might have started on a 1-string like my diddley bow (below). It's got slices of pipe for the bridge and nut, an old banjo tuner, a galvanized-pot body with a genuine plywood top, and an old tobacco barn stave for the neck.
It was a gift from my friend Mike Mitchell, an artist in East Nashville, and I put in a Mexico-made Tele pickup, so it sounds nasty. It's a big hit at shows and sounds super-gnarly through a Marshall.
Maybe a new combo for my stereo amp setup, or a damn cool small head? And to keep on keepin' on.
The box may not be truly tiny—but the Uni-Vibe-style sounds are totally huge.
Deep, luxurious, detailed, and very authentic modulations. Nice attention to detail.
No expression pedal option. Rate wheel not as expressive as treadle.
Sabbadius Tiny-Vibe 69
Argentina's Sabbadius is not messing around when it comes to Uni-Vibe-style pedals. Their authentically styled and photocell-driven Funky-Vibe pedals come in five incarnations—including models designed to replicate Jimi's Uni-Vibe sounds from Woodstock and the Fillmore East shows that birthed the Band of Gypsys LP. They also build Funky-Vibes intended to replicate variations built in 1968 and '69.
To this already overflowing stable, they now add the Tiny-Vibes—two compact (4"x 5 1/8") descendants of the Funky-Vibe that use circuits that are nearly identical to their larger siblings, stuff them in a more compact enclosure, and switch out treadle-operated speed control for a side-mounted rate-control wheel. I had the pleasure of testing the Tiny-Vibe 69. While I'll confess to longing for some of that expression control, particularly because the pedal sounds so much like an original, it was still a real pleasure to get lost in its deep, immersive washes of modulation.
Spirit of ’69
The original Uni-Vibe is a well-studied circuit, and its associations with Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour alone assured that each of the minor differences between the pedal's early iterations would be dissected down to the last solder. Generally speaking, Sabbadius' 68 Funky-Vibe and Tiny-Vibe pedals replicate the circuitry and sound of the original Honey-built version of the pedal, which some aficionados find more intense at certain settings. The 69 pedals (and the later Shin-Ei-built Uni-Vibes that inspired them) are regarded as smoother and a bit more elastic, or "chewy" in the parlance of phase heads. In even simpler terms, you can think of Sabbadius' 68 as "Machine Gun," while a 69 is The Dark Side of the Moon.
If you can find a dealer where you can try all these pedals alongside each other, it would be pretty cool to dig deep into the micro-differences between them. With just the 69 on hand, I didn't have that opportunity. But whether you're chasing Hendrixian highs or slow-burning Floyd-style undulations, the 69 sounds super convincing and, at times, thrilling.
More so than many pedals, the Tiny-Vibe can feel like a collaborator in spontaneous composition, and there's a real, visceral thrill when it happens.
Sabbadius doesn't take shortcuts to making the Tiny-Vibe sound like the real thing. It's a true photocell-driven optical circuit (where modulations are activated by a pulsing lamp and light-dependent resistors). The pedal also runs exclusively at 18 volts, so you'll have to get a dedicated power source or allocate the 18-volt slot in your power supply.
If you've had the pleasure of playing a vintage Uni-Vibe or one of the more authentic replicas (like the Funky-Vibe), you'll recognize the controls used here. An output volume control adds gain that can range to a fat overdriven tone that dovetails well with the Tiny-Vibe's modulations. The intensity control, which has a lot of subtle variation, is also a carryover from the vintage Uni-Vibe, as is the chorus/vibrato switch. The two controls you won't find on a vintage Uni-Vibe are the true bypass switch, which bypasses the modulation and gain entirely, and the cancel switch, which takes the modulation out of the equation and leaves the preamp in the line—a very nice tone sweetener depending on your tastes.
The Tiny-Vibe is thoughtfully assembled and sturdy. The side-panel placement of the speed knob, and its substitution for expression pedal control of modulation rate, is a design factor you'll need to consider depending on the density and layout of your pedalboard. It's not easy to operate the speed knob when it's situated in the middle of a gaggle of other stomps, so situating it at the right side of a board is key. But even when situated ideally, there is no substituting the functionality, feel, and expressive outcomes of using an expression pedal. If this capability is key to the way you interact with a vibe-style pedal, you may want to consider the full-size Funky-Vibe.
Tiny-Vibe's deep, underwater chorus tones aren't easily replicated with most inexpensive vibrato units or phasers. The optical circuitry and high headroom enabled by the 18-volt power make the chorus tones extra liquid and creamy. Driven by heat from a silicon Fuzz Face-style circuit, the Tiny-Vibe is deeply Band of Gypsys-like. Filthy fuzz textures mesh seamlessly with the phase undulations, and the modulation rarely seems to completely obscure melodic or picking details. It's exhilarating to hear the fuzz shift in texture and harmonic makeup as notes, bends, slurs, chords, and double-stops collide with various spots in the phase wave. Everything from screaming, peaky highs to deep, wavy low-end wash leap to the fore depending on your phrasing and timing. And it's easy to see why Jimi embraced the Uni-Vibe at one of his most improvisational phases—there is an organic give and take that occurs when you use the Tiny-Vibe which creates happy accidents and nudges you in unexpected directions. More so than many pedals, the Tiny-Vibe can feel like a collaborator in spontaneous composition, and there's a real, visceral thrill when it happens.
Without fuzz, the 69 just as easily takes on the slow, stony, luxurious waves of Gilmour's parts on "Breathe," and sounds distinctly more elastic than most phasers. The intensity control also enables very pretty variations that can be subtle or dizzyingly deep.
If you're not wildly dependent on the phrasing possibilities derived from expression pedal operation, it's hard to imagine a more satisfying way to get vintage Uni-Vibe sounds. The compact size is a big plus, and the speed wheel is effective, just in a different way than a treadle. There's a very good chance that once you dive into Tiny-Vibe's deep, luxurious waves, you'll be hooked.
Mystery Stocking is almost here! Be sure to sign up for PG Perks so you don't miss it!
Mystery Stocking is coming November 29 at 11 AM CST!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $39.95. The cost includes shipping.
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct on the initial form.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 1, 2021.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!