Check out a custom Jackson Explorer that was modded with medical equipment parts.
Name: Jeroen Sevink (aka Jerry Knives from the Jerry Knives Band)
Hometown: The Netherlands
Guitar: Custom-modded Japanese Jackson Explorer
Jeroen Sevink has been experimenting with guitars his whole life, and he even builds his own pedals. “I call this sweet guitar Industrial Steampunk-style," he says. “It still has its standard neck, which I think is amazing, so I left it as-is. But that's about all that is standard."
All of the electronics were seriously replaced with the help of an electrician friend. "The front pup is now a Sustainiac," says Sevink. "It's very, very sensitive to interference—a sheer drama to build into your guitar. It's like having a built-in EBow—fantastic!" Though the trimmings look unusual, Sevink swears they don't affect playability: "It's balanced, easy to play, and it sounds beautiful on everything from shoegaze to metal."
Sevink developed severe sleep apnea a few years ago and felt too run-down to play music "I had to stop with just about all my bands," he recalls. "I felt I might as well be dead if I couldn't make music anymore." For a while Sevink tried sleeping with a continuous-air-pressure machine. "After trying a million different masks, I gave up," he says. "I decided I'd rather live with the illusion that I was sleeping well then be kept awake by this Borg-like contraption meant to make me sleep better."
But that's why this guitar has so much emotional value for Sevink. "To make a long story short," he says, "in building this guitar, I've used various parts of the sleep apnea equipment I gathered over the years. This guitar represents saying goodbye to a lesser period in my life, and reminds me how I retook the wheel to rearrange my life so I could return to doing what I love most: making music."
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Oklahoma-based stomp veteran Robert Keeley puts Magnatone-style and dynamics-tracking capabilities into a tremolo box quite unlike any other.
For a couple of decades now Robert Keeley’s name has largely been synonymous with his great-sounding takes on the rare old Ross Compressor pedal, but in the last year Keeley has worked hard to change that: He’s modified and downsized many previous designs, explored more eye-grabbing visuals, and released around 20 new pedals—many of which prove that he’s as interested as newer pedal outfits in exploring unusual sounds. The DynaTrem is a perfect example of the latter. While its name and amp-grille graphics might convey a stomp aiming for classic-voiced, amp-style tremolo, the DynaTrem has loftier, weirder goals.
Delta, Delta, Sum
The “Dyna” part of the new Keeley’s moniker isn’t just some ’70s-style way of saying “It sounds groovy, man.” It’s telling you that the effect responds to input dynamics by mapping either rate or depth to the volume of your playing. The DynaTrem serves up this dynamic responsiveness in two modes (selectable via a 3-way toggle) and via four knobs: depth, rate, shape/reverb, and level. The way this is communicated on the pedal’s face may conjure fond memories/nightmares/cold sweats from past geometry, trigonometry, and/or calculus courses, depending on your tolerance for such horrors: All three mode labels use a Greek character—either Δ (Delta) or Σ (Sigma)—in an effort to succinctly communicate the chosen function’s basic gist. Δ (which means “4” in math, according to Prof. Wikipedia) seems to refer to the four waveforms you can select using the shape knob in ΔD and ΔR modes. I’m no engineer, but I presume ΣNT mode’s “Σ” character (which means “sum”) refers to how this mode sums rate and depth values, and/or the fact that here there’s an added reverb effect. (In this mode, shape/reverb governs reverb level rather than selecting waveform.)
In ΔR mode, a louder signal increases the speed of the on/off volume vacillation, while ΔD mode gives you a deeper, more dramatic sound as the intensity of your signal increases. Selecting ΣNT engages a “harmonic tremolo and reverb” function. This is the DynaTrem’s only mode that doesn’t track dynamics, and it aims for the unique sound of old Magnatone amp tremolo circuits, which modulated pitch to create a vibrato-like tremolo effect rather than true, volume-modulated tremolo.
All About Dynamics
Despite all the Greek symbols, getting cool sounds from the DynaTrem has nothing to do with mathematical ability and a lot to do with the art of evincing subtle tonal shades by mere attack variance. The more adept you are at exploring gradations between whisper quiet, moderate volume, and ham-fisted glory, the more fun you’ll have with the ΔR and ΔD settings.
In many ways, the sonic results are as wonderfully simple as the DynaTrem’s premise suggests: In ΔR mode and with my Teles and Jazzmaster-ish Eastwood baritone running into tube amps on the verge of breakup, I could go from a subtle lilting sound when I gently brushed the strings with my fingertips to increasingly undulating swells the harder I dug in with a pick. With a careful increase in playing intensity, it can be quite exhilarating—a bit like how a Leslie’s rotary speaker can be set to gradually increase to top speed. And when you hit a chord hard and let it sustain, you can get hypnotic, quasi synth-y sounds that seem to get zapped by a debilitating slow-mo’ gun as they blast out to space.
Toggle to ΔD, and the depth knob sets how extreme your volume cut will be at full attack. Here, you can go from clear, quiet, nearly un-effected passages to beautifully cozy oscillations or disorienting, hyper-chopped sounds, depending on the selected waveform.
For a lot of players, ΣNT mode will be the DynaTrem’s main attraction: It doesn’t require paying careful attention to playing dynamics, and it avails a nice approximation of the Maggie-trem flavor—gritty and hypnotic, with anything from mildly trippy to nauseatingly psychotic on tap.The Verdict
The reasonably sized DynaTrem does things few current trem pedals can. The unit we got (serial no. 0084) didn’t let you bypass input-volume tracking when you’re not in the mood for Maggie, but DynaTrems with a serial no. greater than 0300 now avail traditional, non-dynamic triangle-wave trem sounds when shape/reverb is at minimum in ΔD and ΔR modes. Even if that weren’t the case, the Keeley’s Magnatone flavors alone are pretty damn compelling, and the two dynamics-tracking modes offer intriguing sonic possibilities you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
This concert-sized flattop offers all-solid construction, slick playability, and quality electronics in a more affordable package.
In 1966, Guild Guitars—then just 13 years into its existence—moved from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Westerly, Rhode Island. Today, many players and collectors love those Rhode Island-built instruments, particularly ones from the mid ’60s. They were well made at a time when some bigger companies were seeing quality slip, and several of these Guilds—acoustics, electrics, and basses—became axes of choice for young, rule-breaking players of the era. The Rhode Island instruments were also original and innovative: That cutaway dreadnought profile that’s so ubiquitous now was a pioneering move by Guild in 1972.
Guild recently changed hands after a few decades in the hands of Fender, moving its headquarters to Oxnard, California, where it’s now a subsidiary of Cordoba Music Group. Given this change, it’s no surprise the company would reassert its roots and history by lending the Westerly handle to this new line of Chinese-built acoustics. The guitars pay homage to Guild’s Rhode Island history in more than name, however. Several classic Guild body styles turn up in the line, including the concert-sized M-140E reviewed here.
With a solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides, the M-140E is an attractive guitar with just enough upmarket details to feel a bit fancy without spoiling the intrinsically attractive lines. It sports the same headstock logo seen on ’60s Guilds, a vintage-looking tortoiseshell pickguard, and open-geared tuners that add to the old-school effect. More luxurious details, like a mother-of-pearl rosette and rosewood headstock cap, are nice flourishes. And the Fishman Sonitone electronics offer amplification flexibility via discrete, soundhole-mounted controls rather than a hunk of plastic on the side of the guitar.
Our review M-140E is very nicely built. The mahogany in particular has beautiful grain structure and coloration, and all of the binding is tight and flush with the body. The NuBone nut and saddle are perfectly notched, and the fretwork is clean. Bracing and kerfing are all tidy, too. My only minor complaint might be the high-gloss polyurethane finish, which is applied a bit thick in spots.
The M-140E’s diminutive dimensions make it very comfortable to play. The mahogany neck has a comfy, C-shaped profile, and the 24 3/4" scale and wider, 1 3/4" nut make stretchy chords and fingerstyle moves feel easy. The action is perfect—low but not overly so—and the neck is free of dead spots and fret buzz.
Meanwhile, its voice has many of the classic, mahogany-backed small-body attributes: It’s warm and slightly compressed, with impressive midrange response and strong fundamentals. The guitar also has great dynamic response for a small-bodied instrument—thanks, no doubt, to the Sitka top. Not surprisingly, the guitar works terrifically well for fingerstyle country blues, and the fast response makes it very sensitive to picking nuance.
Nick Drake used a concert-sized Guild (an all-mahogany M-20), so it was only natural to try a couple of his pieces on the M-140E. The accompaniment for “Cello Song” (which has the 3rd string tuned down to F# and a capo at the 6th fret) benefitted from the instrument’s warmth, but the main pattern of “Fly” (slackened B–E–B–E–B–E tuning, 4th-fret capo) suffered from the 6th string’s slightly anemic response.
The M-140E works pretty well as a strumming guitar, though Carter-style patterns required a little extra emphasis in the bass and a lighter touch on the high strings to get the most balanced sound. Single-note lines are especially satisfying, though. The guitar has a sweet, natural reverb that lends expansiveness, and the high end is never thin or brittle. Chord melodies benefit from these same qualities, with individual notes in tightly voiced chords sounding clearly and with great separation. The Sonitone pickup sounds very natural too, and does an excellent job of communicating such harmonic details.
At about $850 street, the Guild is a fair value for an all-solid-wood guitar, though small miscues like the thick finish hold it back from being a superb deal. The M-140E might not feel exactly like a classic Guild, but it’s a very nice little guitar in all regards—well built, excellent sounding, and easy to play.
Watch the Review Demo: