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This take on the lesser-known but brawny-sounding Tone Bender Mk III inhabits a pretty unique expanse in the fuzz universe.

Rotosound Fuzz

Few names have more renown for fuzz fiends than the Tone Bender. But getting to the essence of what a Tone Bender really is is a labyrinth that can claim the sanity of even seasoned fuzzologists. Different versions abound, rebranded specimens and copies lurk at every turn, and even within specific types, differing components can make individual units sound worlds apart.

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One of their most recent offerings, the Meaden bass (named after ’60s British mod icon Peter Meaden), is a fine example of familiar, new, and vintage—all rolled into one.

The term "doctor/lawyer instrument" is often used to describe a bass or guitar sporting a price tag that only a doctor or lawyer could afford without prompting massive overdraft fees, calls from debtors, and possibly threats of bodily harm (or worse) from significant others. In other words, they’re effectively out of reach for the average working musician. It might follow logically that a doctor who designs and produces instruments himself would put out similarly impractical instruments, but in the case of Nashville’s Waterstone Guitars and Dr. Robert J. Singer, M.D., the results are quality instruments at a relatively affordable price.

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With the Airline Espanada, Eastwood has delivered a great-playing hollowbody that brims with vintage authenticity, even if it doesn’t deliver all of the mojo of the original.

The 1950s may have witnessed the rise of the solidbody, but hollowbodies ruled the decade. Some of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest vanguards are synonymous with archtops and hollowbodies: Scotty Moore backed Elvis Presley on a Gibson ES-295, Chuck Berry reeled and rocked with an ES-350, and rockabilly pioneer Eddie Cochran wielded a Gretsch 6120. But as cool as they looked, those instruments were out of reach for most burgeoning rockers. The Harmony Company—the largest musical-instrument maker in the United States at the time—did a remarkable job of filling the void with affordable hollow and semihollow guitars like the Meteor, Rocket, and others that, over the next six decades, would propel everything from the Rolling Stones’ salvos to Dan Auerbach’s fuzz riffs. That enduring appeal has made Harmony guitars (and those they built for companies like Kay, Airline, and Silvertone) the subject of collector affections.

The H63 Espanada is among the rarest and most coveted of Harmony instruments, drawing auction bids in the thousands of dollars. So it was a logical subject for reinterpretation (or reissue, depending on how liberally you define such terms) by Eastwood, which has been revisiting oddball guitar designs since 2001. In tackling one of Harmony’s most elegant designs, Eastwood has delivered a great-playing hollowbody that brims with vintage authenticity, even if it doesn’t deliver all of the mojo of the original.

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