Filled with trinkets and blues
While it might seem easy to dismiss his Totemguitars as function following form, closer inspection invariably leads to a different conclusion. The Victorian Era curio box faces are the most captivating aspect of the Totem series, but more subtle design cues are just as impressive once your eyes acclimate to the incredible amount of visual information these guitars provide. By placing everything from doll parts to rattlesnake rattles in resin, Spalt has deftly combined artistic conceit with function-focused design.
Sharing little more than a similar shape and the same body wood, the disparity of the two Voodoos speaks to the one-off nature of Spalt’s instruments. In fact, Michael informs us that each guitar is a one-off, although he will sometimes make up to three similar instruments within a series. Both guitars benefit from Michael’s collaboration with pickup guru Lindy Fralin – the P-90 inspired units feature colored bone bobbins crafted by Spalt, which are then sent to Lindy for winding. The Voodoo II is equipped with an upside-down Tele-style pickup in the bridge position, patterned after Fralin’s SP 42, which also features a bone bobbin.
The Voodoo II creates a cubist-influenced, guitar-shaped motif by placing plywood and weathered, solid wood cutouts throughout the resin impregnated top, offering a visual pun via the rustic cutout’s more traditional shapes. Further inspection reveals dried flower petals, a pocket watch, a charm bracelet, a button, what appear to be mangled, rusty bottle caps, a crude, homemade domino and a coral necklace.
|"The Victorian Era curio box faces are the most captivating aspect of the Totem series, but more subtle design cues are just as impressive once your eyes acclimate to the incredible amount of visual information these guitars provide."|
The Voodoo II has a mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, aged hardware and Gotoh tuners, along with a creepy-cool dismembered baby doll eye in the tip of the lower bout. A closer look at the mahogany reveals plenty of visible grain, following the recent trend of thin finishes and no grain filler. The organic look suits the natural shapes on the back of the instrument, allowing the multiple, functional contours to stand out and highlight thoughtful touches such as a flush-mounted neckplate and a 3/16” recess for the Tele-style string ferrules. The input jack resides on the same side as the rear-recessed Straplok receiver, pointing perpendicularly out of the back of the guitar to keep the cable away from clumsy feet.
The mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard are beautifully offset by a green-tea colored bone nut, abalone Spalt logo and the most attractive six-on-a-side headstock shape since Leo busted out his French curve and designed the headstock for what would become the Telecaster. In pure design terms, the appealing headstock profile gives a good indication of what Michael is up to; keeping the instrument’s visual appeal on par with its functionality.
Tonally, the Voodoo II draws the inevitable Telecaster comparison due to its bridge and pickup choice. While it does offer up Tele-like definition, it delivers its own thing. The unmistakable Tele “cluck” is nowhere to be found; instead, the Voodoo II skews more toward a single-coil Gibbo, with added definition provided by the bolt-on neck and Tele bridge. While the bridge pickup’s angle is completely reversed, the neck pup is also angled slightly, adding to the II’s warm, individualistic tonality. While (attempting to) play a James Burton tune which required plenty of palm muting, I repeatedly hit both E strings against the bridge pickup’s adjustable pole-pieces. Once I lowered the pickup slightly, I was not only greeted with less breakup, but also with added depth and dimension from clean and overdriven tones, all while retaining a good volume balance with the front unit. The neck pickup is a real treat, blending well with the bridge unit while bringing fresh, mid-heavy tones and typical P-90 dynamics to the mix. Both the P-90- ish pups and the SP 42-based model are exactly the kind of pickups that beg for you to lose the pick, plug straight in and begin exploring just what the volume and tone controls have to offer.
The Voodoo I came to us with Sperzel locking tuners, a Wilkinson tailpiece with two compensated sections covering the A and D, and G and B strings respectively, and a birdseye maple neck with bloodwood fingerboard and headstock veneer. The dyed nut falls somewhere between British racing green and evergreen and sets off the dark, red hues of the bloodwood nicely. The I has a larger profile, soapbar-inspired pickup in the bridge position, but shares neck pickups with the II. The body is impregnated with more Santeria-inspired baubles such as dismembered doll legs, seashells, what looks to be a broken, feminine totem, a rattlesnake rattle and an unsettling baking mold that looks like the back of Hansel. Additional, less “Voodoo” influenced bits include coins, another poorly made domino, several additional old bottle caps, keys and more old costume jewelry. The distressed, multi-colored wood cutouts adorning the I’s face are more an exercise in pure design than any cosmic in-joke, offering up enough visual texture to hold their own against all of the other interesting tchochkies.
While providing an overall darker sound, the Voodoo I delivers even more depth and responsiveness than its sibling, going from warm, delicate passages to raucous dirt with little more than a nudge on the volume knob and an increase in attack. Rolling down the volume close to halfway landed me close to Fender territory. The bridge pickup was better suited to cleaning up, due to the neck pickup’s seeming reluctance to give up its delightfully throaty growl, no matter the volume setting or level of attack – it cleans up well but retains its signature mids.
However impressive the Voodoo II’s tonal dynamics are, they come at a price that not even the Dark Lord himself, let alone Michael Spalt and Lindy Fralin’s dalliance with black magic can cure: noise. There was enough that it was a bit distracting when switching from the II to the I, but no more so than any other high-end P-90 pickup. Most fans of this design accept this as the price of admission, but consider this a heads up if you’re new to the game. The pickups are wired in series, offering hum-canceling when both are engaged.
An honest criticism I have was with the Voodoo II in particular – it smelled like the unholy combination of styrene and a Diaper Genie. The fact that the I smells mostly good, like delicious lacquer with just a hint of the plasticy trash smell, plus the fact that it dissipated quickly once out of the case suggested that it might not be the resin. A quick email to Michael cleared up the cause of the problem: the cases. Spalt had difficulty sourcing cases that would fit the Voodoos. In fact, they held up our review. Because of time constraints, the Voodoo II’s case didn’t receive the thorough airing out that the Voodoo I did. Michael informs us that he only uses odorless resin which has been “FDA approved for food preparation surfaces due to its low toxicity once cured – one of the considerations besides its tonal qualities that led me to this formulation.” Sweet! A couple of additional things need to be noted here – I can smell cigarette smoke at stop lights with my windows rolled up from three or four cars away, and an hour or so out of the case cleared up the problem.
The Final Mojo
For what it’s worth, I’ve always considered myself a Tele guy, yet I kept finding myself drawn to the I for its responsiveness, and no, it wasn’t because the II initially smelled funky. The II covers the most stylistic ground of the two Spalts, but the I has plenty of tonal flexibility and more mojo, no pun intended. While other guitars have successfully melded art with guitar design, the Spalts are among a handful that have blurred the distinctions to the extent that the Voodoos would be equally at home hanging in an art gallery as they would played on stage. That they play and sound as phenomenally as they do – without any caveats – speaks to Michael’s success as both an artist and guitarmaker.
you''re in to gut-bucket blues and Picasso.
the search for the perfect Strat isn''t over.
MSRP $4800 each - Spalt Guitars- spaltinstruments.com
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
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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 $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- 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?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
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!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The Badlander 25 is designed to carry the tradition of high performance, high gain forward with tight low end, an aggressive midrange character, and enhanced harmonic content.
Badlander 25 Head
Mesa/Boogie’s Badlander Series of amplifiers draw inspiration from Mesa’s legendary Dual Rectifiers, paying homage to rock and heavy sounds in their own distinctive and percussive way, with a focus on today’s musical genres. Its tight low end, refined top end, and defined mids combine with Mesa gain for huge tones that will appeal to rock leaning guitarists who like a bit of Brit influence with their American-voiced gain. The Badlander 25 Head uses the same straightforward channel format as its 50 and 100 Watt siblings, with 2 identical, footswitchable channels each containing Clean, Crunch, and Crush modes that feed an EL84 power section to deliver an unprecedented fierceness and harmonic complexity. The Badlander 25 Head combines these ingredients in a small package and power range that adds a raw character all its own, offering the essential voice, performance, and features of the Badlander 100 and 50 in a fiery-sounding, ultra-portable low-power format that’ll gratify those not seeking big horsepower.
Badlander 25s employ a pair of EL84 power tubes operating in MESA’s proprietary Dyna-Watt Class A/B Pentode for maximum power, punch, and clarity, producing 25 Watts or switched to its 10 Watt Class A/B Triode setting for lush harmonics and a sweet, liquid feel at lower volumes.
The Badlander 25 Head packs a built in CabClone IR Direct Interface making recording and cab-less live capture consistent and easy. Players can choose from a preloaded collection of eight Rectifier Closed-Back and Boogie Open-Back Cabinets IRs from MESA’s standalone CabClone IR for a wide array of sounds and responses.
A Tube-Driven, Series Effects Loop acts as a circuit bridge, permitting players to patch their favorite outboard effects between the preamp’s end to just before the Driver tube feeding the power section.
For guitarists seeking the tone and feel of an all-tube amplifier with huge sounding gain that is voiced to handle the demands of today’s musical genres, the Badlander 25 Head delivers from a package that fits in an overnight bag.
Badlander 25 1x25 Combo
Mesa/Boogie’s Badlander Series of amplifiers draw inspiration from MESA’s legendary Dual Rectifiers, paying homage to rock and heavy sounds in their own distinctive and percussive way, with a focus on today’s musical genres. Its tight low end, refined top end, and defined mids combine with MESA gain for huge tones that will appeal to rock leaning guitarists who like a bit of Brit influence with their American-voiced gain. The new Badlander 25 1x12 Combo uses the same straightforward channel format as its 50 and 100 Watt siblings, with 2 identical, footswitchable channels each containing Clean, Crunch, and Crush modes that feed an EL84 power section to deliver an unprecedented fierceness and harmonic complexity. The Badlander 25 Combo combines these ingredients in a small package and power range that adds a raw character all its own, offering the essential voice, performance, and features of the Badlander 100 and 50 in a fiery-sounding, ultra-portable low-power format that’ll gratify those not seeking big horsepower.
A UK-made Celestion Creamback 65 Watt speaker is MESA’s driver of choice for this 1x12 Combo amp. G12M-65 Creamback is ideally suited for the Badlander 25 as its power handling permits added low-end grunt complementing the warm and vocal mids, crunchy upper-mids and sweet, refined highs.
The Badlander 25 Combo packs a built in CabClone IR Direct Interface making recording and cab-less live capture consistent and easy. Players can choose from a preloaded collection of eight Rectifier Closed-Back and Boogie Open-Back Cabinets IRs from MESA’s standalone CabClone IR for a wide array of sounds and responses.
For guitarists seeking the tone and feel of an all-tube amplifier with huge sounding gain that is voiced to handle the demands of today’s musical genres while being incredibly portable, the Badlander 25 1x12 Combo delivers.
BADLANDER™ 25 Head & 1x12 Combo | MESA/Boogie
Explore and shop the Badlanders on www.mesaboogie.comand at all authorized Mesa/Boogie dealers.