Why pedal makers keep trying to build a better mousetrap.
In nearly every industry I can think of, companies often come out with new and improved versions of their products—sometimes on an annual basis. Car companies do it, tech companies do it, and even guitar companies do it, without customers so much as batting an eyelash. Whenever guitar pedal companies do it, however, customers are sometimes ready to grab their pitchforks and riot.
Let’s consider a couple of typical comments you’ll see online when a company has a history of releasing multiple versions of a product:
• “Nah, I’ll just wait until next year when they come out with V2.”
While this sentiment is understandable, the logic is not. If this is what you believe, then buying anything at any time is a bad idea because there will come a time in the future where the current product is obsolete. Humans and the companies they work at are constantly innovating and trying to improve things for their customers. So, with this line of thinking, you’ll also not be buying that car, new phone, or other gadget.
• “I don’t understand why they didn’t come out with this version originally.”
Well, the short and honest answer is that we may not have known how to make this “improved” product when we first started, and that has certainly been my personal experience. In most cases, pedal builders are releasing the absolute best thing they can make at that time. That doesn’t mean we will stop learning and improving our craft as the days, weeks, and years pass by. There is always at least one thing I would change if I could start over and design every one of my products from scratch. I think it would be disappointing otherwise, as it would be an indicator that I wasn’t improving. Perfection is not possible, nor should it be the goal. I’ve run into my fair share of pedal designers that describe their products as “perfect,” and it’s difficult for me to accept that. It’s just too far from my experience and expectations of myself. In some ways, I’m envious that they can be that satisfied with their creation, but it also just doesn’t quite feel right, or accurate.
Think about your favorite album. Was it the band’s first record? Their third? Why aren’t all of their records as good as your favorite one? There are no definitive answers to these questions, because there were innumerable variables that went into the production of that thing that you love so much. Maybe technology improved. Maybe the musicians got better. Maybe they had some life experiences. And sometimes, all of these variables can add up to something that wasn’t as good as before. Sometimes, at least in the eyes of the consumer, version 1 is better than version 2.
This is precisely why version 2 (or version 3, for that matter) is important. It’s a clear effort and attempt to improve on something, and that’s a good thing even if it doesn’t achieve those objectives 100 percent of the time. Further, a new version of something doesn’t immediately make your older version bad or inferior. If you love something, you love it. Why does the existence of a new iteration of the thing you love change your relationship with it?
Another neat thing about new versions is they often contain features that our customers specifically requested. Maybe you emailed a company something like, “I love everything about this pedal except for _____.” If your suggestion made it into the new version, then you helped to make something ideal for your needs. And yeah, you might have to flip the previous version and take a little bit of a haircut on it to get the new thing, but I still think that’s kind of a sweet deal.
As I conclude, I will concede that I understand some of the complaints and frustration consumers have with new versions, especially for expensive products. You just shelled out a bunch of cash on something that you wanted to be perfect, only for it to be implied a short time later that it might not be perfect. And all those things people complained about on guitar forums? Well, the V2 designer addressed those to try to make people happy and improve the product. (That jerk!) From a consumer’s perspective, I think the important thing to take away here is that the designers tried to make their products perfect, they gave it everything they had, but they fell short. They always fall short. It’s impossible not to, yet we keep trying to make the perfect thing. We want it just as badly as anyone.
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Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA
MLA Pedals AC/OD - Music & Demo by A. Barrero
Energy is in everything. Something came over me while playing historical instruments in the Martin Guitar Museum.
When I’m filming gear demo videos, I rarely know what I’m going to play. I just pick up whatever instrument I’m handed and try to feel where it wants to go. Sometimes I get no direction, but sometimes, gear is truly inspiring—like music or emotion falls right out. I find this true particularly with old guitars. You might feel some vibe attached to the instrument that affects what and how you play. I realize this sounds like a hippie/pseudo-spiritual platitude, but we’re living in amazing times. The Nobel Prize was just awarded to a trio of quantum physicists for their experiments with quantum entanglement, what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” Mainstream science now sounds like magic, so let’s suspend our disbelief for a minute and consider that there’s more to our world than what’s on the surface.
I recently spent a day filming a factory tour of Martin Guitars in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. After we wrapped, we discovered that Martin has this amazing museum that showcases more than 170 historic instruments. We decided to meet at the museum at 7:45 a.m. the next morning to film a few choice pieces before catching our flight in not-too-near Newark, New Jersey, that afternoon.
These were not ideal conditions for a performance. Neither my brain nor my fingers work well before 10 a.m., plus I hadn’t slept well the night before. Even so, we loaded into the museum, met the curators, set up the shoot, and began rolling by 8 a.m.
The first guitar was an 1834 gut string, perhaps the oldest Martin in existence. It was beautiful but had some tuning issues and did not project very well, so playing it felt more like work than music.
Next was a prewar D-45 worth over $500k. The strings were ancient with that rusty feel, like you’ll need a tetanus shot after playing it. I’m sure it sounded great, but I was tired and thinking more about making our flight than playing guitar. Wonderful instrument but uninspired performance on my end.
Then, I played a 1953 D-18 coined “Grandpa” by Kurt Cobain. I picked up the deeply sacred D-18, and my hands went to an A minor. This sounds like hype, but honestly, I closed my eyes and connected with a deep, beautiful sadness. The feeling was palpable as soon as you picked it up. This guitar pretty much played itself, leading me to a sad version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I don’t know if it was any good, but I know I felt something deeply. That’s why I started playing guitar in the first place. I don’t have to play well to feel moved.
I later talked to the museum director, who told me the D-18 was given to Cobain by his 1991 girlfriend Mary Lou Lord. Cobain played it on tour before and after Nirvana’s Nevermind. It was returned to her after Cobain married. Shortly after that, Mary Lou loaned the guitar to Elliott Smith, who played it until his death.
When I’m sad, I make myself play guitar to feel better, because it usually works. This 70-year-old guitar spent a lot of time literally pressed up against the hearts and chests of two artists who were so tormented by their emotions that they ended their lives. That’s heavy. You can’t explain those feelings that make the hair stand up on your arm, or when you feel like crying for no reason … but hitting that A minor made me feel it.
We had to split for the airport, so Chris Kies and Perry Bean started packing up. As they did, I saw this cute little 1880 Martin 000 that belonged to Joan Baez. In the photo next to it, Joan looks like my mom in the ’60s. I asked the curator if I could play it, and Chris grabbed his phone to do a quick Insta video. I swear there was a happy vibe coming off this tiny guitar. It felt like watching my mom dance—like a warm hug I needed after Cobain’s D-18.
In Chinese culture, there is a superstition that antiques may hold evil spirits, and chi (energy) transfer can bring this negativity into your home. Feng shui is all about objects carrying good or bad chi. Here’s how I see it: All matter is made of atoms. Atoms contain energy. Ergo, everything contains energy, or, more aptly, everything is energy. Ever walk into a room and feel powerful emotion: joy, sadness, fear, tranquility? That’s energy. We all have felt energy coming from people, places, and things. But that’s what I love about old guitars: Their atoms spent the first few hundred years as a tree in the forest connected to nature. Then, they’re turned into an instrument that makes people happy or consoles them when they are sad. That’s the kind of chi I want around me.