A faithful recreation of the Germanium Mosrite Fuzzrite with a modern twist.
From the years of 1966 to 1968, Mosrite produced two distinct fuzz circuits---one outfitted with silicon transistors, the other with germanium parts. Of the two, the germanium version is by far the most rare, with original designer and Mosrite employee Ed Sanner estimating that around 250 ever made it out the door. In that final year of production, Mosrite shifted exclusively to silicon parts, making germanium components a thing of the past. However, by 1968 the public was hungry for fuzz, having heard it on a handful of recordings, most notably "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly and "Incense and Peppermints" by Strawberry Alarm Clock. These two buzzy, sinewy fuzz tones were part of a wave of psychedelic rock gaining traction in the mainstream, and both were recorded prior to the introduction of the silicon Fuzzrite.
Other purported users of this early Fuzzrite circuit include Ron Asheton of the Stooges, Norman Greenbaum on "Spirit in the Sky", Henry Vestine of Canned Heat, and many others. We at Catalinbread happen to have a germanium version at our disposal, and we've used it as a benchmark to create an extremely faithful version with a modern twist. Just like the original, the Catalinbread Fuzzrite Germanium includes two NOS PNP germanium semiconductors with a polarity inverter IC so it plays nice with all forms of power. Unlike the original, we've added a toggle switch to shift into modern mode, significantly beefing up the low-end content to suit more contemporary rigs.
Playing The Fuzzrite Circuit For The First Time!! | Feat. Catalinbread Fuzzrite Germanium
The Fuzzrite Germanium is out now and available for $179.99 at participating retailers and catalinbread.com.
With such a flashy flame top, the Silvertone 1445 was built to catch the eyes of department store shoppers.
I don’t know what’s going on lately, but I’m breaking down all over and my shoulder is the latest to crumble. When I was a kid I would practice guitar in my bedroom near a radiator with an ungrounded amp plug and I’d get a zap right through my guitar and into my hands. Well, my shoulder pain is like that now, only without the cool story of rock ’n’ roll survival. I simply woke up one day like this. After a few weeks of discomfort, I figured I’d try out a new pillow, since mine are flattened like a wafer. I ventured out to the mall and, much to my sadness, saw the local Sears store shuttered, with weeds growing up from the sidewalks and concrete barriers blocking the large glass doors. I know I don’t get out much, but, man, was I sad to see the Sears store I’d known since childhood closed-up like that. My wife was laughing at me because apparently it had been closed for some time. But since I seem to exist on a separate timeline than most folks, it was all news to me.
The 1445 combines an elegant sunburst top with surfy accoutrements and makes a few noticeable nods toward both Fender Jaguar and Mosrite styles.
In the parking lot, I stretched my shoulder and gave some thought to Sears and department stores in general. Back in the day, I would see stacks of new vinyl records in the store, alongside the classic, huge hi-fi stereo systems. I feel like I grew up during a great time, where I had one foot in a bygone era and the other foot pointed towards gigantic technological breakthroughs like computers. But I also feel kind of bummed about missing out on the whole electric guitar/department store connection. My good buddy Mike Dugan recalls those times, and while most kids were charging towards the toy section, he was checking out the electric guitars and amps. Can you imagine?
“I feel kind of bummed about missing out on the whole electric guitar/department store connection.”
For those of you who also missed the Sears guitars, here’s a quick primer: They were almost all branded Silvertone and, in the late ’50s and early to mid ’60s, were manufactured by either Danelectro, Harmony, or Kay. By the tail end of the ’60s, a lot of Silvertone guitars were Japanese imports that were priced and aimed at beginners. I’ve always felt that the Silvertone guitars were a bit on the conservative side of the spectrum, and there weren’t many crazy designs or finishes.
The headstock on this 1445 , with binding and its sloped shape, is an elegant touch for a beginner’s guitar.
This Silvertone 1445 model hails from around 1969. It’s a cool 3-pickup model that features an offset shape with some exaggerated lines. Built at the Kawai factory, the guitar has an ebony fretboard and some standard Kawai appointments, like the in-house vibrato, electronics, and pickups. There is an on/off mini switch and volume knob for each pickup as well as a single tone knob. Around this time, Kawai was starting to cut corners in subtle ways, one of which included underwinding the pickups, which, in most cases, resulted in a thinner sound. Luckily, the series wiring in these guitars can produce quite the powerful sound. The finish is a nice-but-kinda-blah sunburst with some flamed wood. The flame veneer was a new thing for the Japanese guitar makers at the time, and I think there was some elegance attached—especially for a guitar targeted toward beginning players.
Strapping on one of these late-’60s 1445s is a familiar-feeling experience, offering up a cross between a Fender Jaguar and a Mosrite vibe. Often, Kawai electrics of this era were neck-heavy and the headstock would take a dive on you when slung around your shoulder. But the 1445 features a thicker body with a thin laminated neck. Kawai had basically perfected that laminate-neck-making technique, mostly to prevent warping, and these guitars usually hold up very well, even though the necks on are quite slender and narrow.
The Silvertone triple-pickup 1445 cost $78.95 in the 1969 Sears winter catalog and only lasted for a few years. I’ve seen all sorts of variations on this model, like bound bodies and necks, different colored pickguards, and different knobs. I suspect a lot of you out there started on a Silvertone. One has to marvel at the sizable influence Sears stores had on generations of folks. I’m really going to miss that local Sears and the feeling of nostalgia it evoked. Not quite like the electric zaps flowing into my shoulder right now, but still powerful!
It doesn’t have to be all cowboy boots and yee-haws!
• Learn how to comp using hybrid picking.
• Add nuance to your playing by combining pick and finger string attacks.
• Add speed and fluidity to your lead playing.
The first thing most guitarists think of when they hear the phrase “hybrid picking” is undoubtedly twangy Telecasters. While that may be the most common use of hybrid picking, it is far from the only application. Diving into hybrid picking opens a whole new world of control, timbre possibilities, ideas, speed, and more.
As beginning guitarists start to move into the intermediate level, they typically build speed by practicing alternate or economy picking. It makes complete sense–especially to someone who’s new to the journey–that if you’re holding a pick, that’s what you should strike the strings with. I grew up learning how to play taking a slightly different route. Personally, I found it easier to be faster–and cleaner–to hybrid pick phrases, lines, and solos. It clicked with me and therefore was the technique I homed in on when growing from a beginner to an intermediate player. My alternate and economy techniques still aren’t as comfortable as hybrid picking, so here are some ideas from a guy that learned things from a bit of a different perspective. If you feel like your playing has plateaued, this might help you to keep climbing.
Small note: I use the pad of my fingers when hybrid picking and not the nail.
Step 1: Focus on the Small Differences
In Ex. 1 you’ll find what I consider to be one of the main benefits of getting comfortable with hybrid picking. I pick every note of the phrase on the first pass, but hybrid pick it on the second. On the second pass, the root note (open 4th string) is the only note the pick hits. I generally like to approach hybrid picking with an “each finger is assigned a string” method, meaning in this example the middle finger picks the note on the 3rd string and the ring finger picks the note on the 2nd string. Listening to the same two phrases played differently, you’ll note that there’s a tad more feel and nuance the second time through. These are subtle but can make all the difference in the world when it comes to creating, playing, recording, or performing parts. The combination of a mountain’s worth of small differences like this are what sets the pros apart!
Step 2: How to Play Chords with Hybrid Picking
Ex. 2 is how I love to use hybrid picking when comping. In this example the pick is handling everything on the 5th string while the middle finger picks the 4th string, the ring finger picks the 3rd string, and the pinky picks the 2nd string. Not only does hybrid picking this groove allow for a ton of control, it allows the pick to rhythmically separate from the rest of the fingers, creating a faux bassline. Again, using the middle, ring, and pinky fingers give a softer touch to the upper end of the chords, creating a more nuanced feel.
Step 3: Time to Go Low
Taking the idea of the pick handling the low end of the chords and giving the notes focus while the fingers contribute to clarity and softness on the upper end of the chords, we get Ex. 3. The pick only strikes the 6th string, while the middle finger picks the 3rd string, and the ring finger picks the 2nd string. This example of hybrid picking is widely used by guys like John Mayer and allows a player to have a ridiculous amount of control over what strings are being struck when playing something clean such as this.
Step 4: Let’s Get Sweeping
Applying this concept to lead playing, Ex. 4 replaces what would typically be an upward sweep with hybrid picking. The pick strikes the A note on the 7th fret of the 4th string. Then, the middle finger picks the C# on the 6th fret of the 3rd string, the ring finger picks the E note on the 5th fret of the 2nd string, and the pick strikes the F# on the 7th fret of the 2nd string. This is followed by a downward sweep of the same notes in reverse order. To end the lick, I pick the open 4th string. That’s when hybrid picking allows me to play a rolled Dmaj7 chord. These two embellishments are highly useful when both soloing and comping, and once again are a small touch that provides some “spice.”
Step 5: Enough with the Clean Stuff
Ex. 5 is a lick I use (I should probably say abuse) consistently. My sweep picking skills are abysmal. In part because I haven’t dedicated the appropriate time to practice them, but also partly because I tend to hybrid pick as a cheat or workaround. The lick is based on a G major arpeggio beginning at the 10th fret of the 5th string. I then pick the 4th string with my middle finger and the 3rd string with my ring finger. From there, I gather for a few notes with the pick on the 3rd string and repeat the pattern again across the fretboard. However, the second hybrid-picked part of the lick begins by striking the 9th fret of the 3rd string with the pick, then using my middle finger to pick the 8th fret of the 2nd string and my ring finger to pick the 7th fret of the 1st string. To end the arpeggio, I strike the 10th fret of the 1st string with the pick. The last bit of the phrase is a garden variety blues lick ending.
Hybrid picking is an extremely valuable tool that I think every guitar player should have in their arsenal. A player can have more control, feel, and timbral options compared to only using a plectrum, and it’s an easier way to add velocity with very minimal right-hand movement or tension. Try hybrid picking different grooves, licks, arpeggiated chord shapes, and even pieces of lead lines you already know to begin exploring how the technique can work for you.