The swift-riffing Swedes keep it simple with mended classics and a handful of saucy stomps.
The Hives are a ripping quintet that formed in Fagersta, Sweden, during the early ’90s. They exploded into American pop-culture consciousness during the garage-rock revival with a pair of chart-splashing, straight-forward stingers (2000’s Veni Vidi Vicious and 2004’s Tyrannosaurus Hives). And while they did take a hiatus in the mid-2010s, they’ve continued rocking the thin line between ragged and refined for nearly 30 years with a total of five albums, four EPs, and a 2020 live set recorded at Nashville’s Third Man Records.
Just after soundcheck wrapped at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl, the Hives’ redlining guitar duo of Nicholaus Arson and Vigilante Carlstroem welcomed PG’s Chris Kies onstage to talk gear. The resulting chat covered just how and why Carlstroem’s Flying V has split so many times (supposedly sounding better after each repair), and the reasons why Arson explains his vintage, bridge-pickup-only Fender Telecaster Custom is still the one. Both also quickly detail the torrid fuzzes that will never leave their respective boards.
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Carlstroem’s Corroding Coronet
The band has several rigs situated across the globe with varying differences. However, for Vigilante Carlstroem this early 1959 Epiphone Coronet never leaves his side and tours everywhere. He’s had the stripped-down, rock-’n’-roll machine for 20 years, but when he first acquired the Epi it was “in fucking mint condition.” Prior to owning this one, he fell for its shape and vibe in the form of the similar (3-pickup) Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe. The stage staple has endured two different headstock fractures. Since getting his mitts on the axe, he’s played every Hives show with it. And he keeps everything decked out with Ernie Ball Paradigm Not Even Slinkys (.012–.056) and punishes the strings with Dunlop Tortex 1.14 mm picks.
Come Fly with V
When Carlstroem does need a neck pickup, he’ll put on this ’90s Gibson Flying V (with Lollar pickups) that’s been snapped in half and splintered several times. He swears that both this and the Coronet sound better after their rehabs.
V Marks the Spot
Here’s a glimpse of just some of the V’s battle scars.
Just like in our 2013 Rundown with the Hives, Carlstroem is still bringing the might with a one-two amp punch. He’s using a Divided by 13 JJN 50/100 that runs into an Orange PPC412 equipped with Celestion Vintage 30s (last time he was running Celestion Heritage Greenbacks in a different cab) and a Fender Vibro-King that pumps through three 25-watt alnico Jensen P10R-Fs. The amps’ controls and circuitry are shielded with foil because they and the Epiphone are sensitive to interference. (And an Orange Custom Shop 50 lurks in the background, as a backup for either amp.)
Old and New
When it comes to Carlstroem’s pedalboard, some things have changed while others have remained the same. Holdovers include a Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay (set to slapback setting), an Electro-Harmonix POG2 (used for an octave down or to imitate the saxophone on “Go Right Ahead” or organ on “My Time is Coming”), a custom Frantone Vigilantron tremolo, and a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus. Newcomers include a Skrydstrup R&D BF2M buffer (helping with the long cable runs) and a ZVEX Fuzz Factory Vertical. (To be fair, Carlstroem had an original Fuzz Factory—his favorite pedal—last time but has since opted for the compact version.)
T Time for Arson
Similar to Carlstroem, guitar mate Nicholaus Arson travels light when Stateside. Again, his No. 1 is a 1970s Fender Telecaster Custom that has just its overwound (stock) bridge pickup wired up. The vintage Tele once belonged to frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, who generously sold it to Arson. Both his Ts take Ernie Ball Paradigm 2020 Power Slinkys (.011–.048).
Crack My Back
Arson’s main axe has suffered several splits—none more impressive (or worrisome) than the re-glued fault line running from the cutaway to the body’s bottom.
His U.S. backup is this Sundberg The Arsonette that was designed by the guitarist. He aimed to make a crossbreed of a Telecaster and a Firebird by giving the single-cut a raised center block. (The neck still uses Fender-style, bolt-on construction.) The lone pickup is a Lace Sensor T-150 single-coil. The upper bout is chambered producing a deader, more-direct sound that Arson likens to a banjo or drum. He strives for a tone that is immediate and rhythmic, eschewing any sustain or lingering notes.
Up top, the hybrid 6-string has another cross-pollination feature: the traditional T-style headstock is elongated, similar to the old Italian Eko designs. The small text on the headstock reads: “Built by D Sundberg in favour of the hands of N Arson.”
Black-panel + Silver-panel = Fender Bliss
Keeping it all Fender, all the time, Arson plugs into both cherished time periods of Fullerton amp lore. Side A is a black-panel Bandmaster that hits a vintage Hiwatt cab outfitted with Celestion Heritage Greenback speakers. Side B is a silver-panel 1976 Fender Vibrolux. Notice Arson is plugging into the vibrato channels of both amps and each has its bright switch engaged.
Three of Arson’s pedals are exactly as they were in 2013: a Crowther Audio Prunes & Custard fuzz for songs like “Tick Tick Boom,” a Boss DD-3 Digital Delay for short echo on “Take Back the Toys” and “Bigger Hole to Fill,” and a Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah used for the intro to “Hate to Say I Told You So.” Last time he had an EHX Micro POG, but because the band was playing a fresh set of jams, he swapped it out for a TC Electronic Classic TC XII Phaser.
For these new recreations, Fender focuses on the little things that make original golden-era Fenders objects of obsession.
If there’s one thing players love more than new guitars, it’s old guitars—the unique feel, the design idiosyncrasies, the quirks in finish that all came from the pre-CNC era of instrument manufacturing. These characteristics become the stuff of legend, passed on through the years via rumors and anecdotes in shops, forums, and community networks.
It’s a little difficult to separate fact from fiction given these guitars aren’t easy to get your hands on. Fender Telecasters manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s sell for upwards of $20,000. But old is about to become new again. Fender’s American Vintage II series features 12 year-specific electric guitar and bass models from over two decades, spanning 1951 to 1977, that replicate most specs on their original counterparts, but are produced with modern technologies that ensure uniform build and feel.
Chronologically, the series begins and ends, fittingly, with the Telecaster—starting with the butterscotch blonde, blackguard 1951 Telecaster (built with an ash body, one-piece U-shaped maple neck, and 7.25" radius fretboard) and ending with the 1977 Telecaster Custom, which features a C-shaped neck, a CuNiFe magnet-based Wide Range humbucker in the neck position, and a single-coil at the bridge. The rest of the series spans the highlights of Fender’s repertoire: the 1954 Precision Bass, 1957 Stratocaster in ash or alder, 1960 Precision Bass, 1961 Stratocaster, 1963 Telecaster, 1966 Jazz Bass, 1966 Jazzmaster, 1972 Tele Thinline, 1973 Strat, and 1975 Telecaster Deluxe. The 1951 Telecaster, 1957 Strat, 1961 Strat, and 1966 Jazz Bass will also be offered as left-handed models. Street prices run from $2,099 to $2,399.
Fender '72 American Vintage II Telecaster Thinline Demo | First Look
Spec’d To Please
Every guitar in the series sports the era’s 7.25" radius fretboard, a mostly abandoned spec found on Custom Shop instruments—Mexico-made Vintera models, and Fender’s Artist Series guitars like the Jimmy Page, Jason Isbell, and Albert Hammond Jr. models. Most modern Fenders feature a 9.5" radius, while radii on Gibsons reach upwards of 12". Videos experimenting with the 7.25" radius’ playability pull in tens of thousands of viewers, suggesting both a modern fascination with and a lack of exposure to the radius among some younger and less experienced players.
T.J. Osborne of the Brothers Osborne picks an American Vintage II 1966 Jazzmaster in Dakota red.
Bringing back the polarizing 7.25" radius across the entire series is a gamble, and it’s been nearly five years since Fender released year-specific models. But Fender executive vice president Justin Norvell says that two years ago when the Fender brain trust was conceptualizing the American Vintage II line, they decided the time was right to “go back to the well.”
“We’ve been doing the same [models], the same years, over and over again for 30 years,” says Norvell. “We really wanted to change the line and expand it into some new things that we hadn’t done before and pick some different years that we thought were cool.”
“It takes a lot of doing to go back in time and sort of uncover the secret-sauce recipes.”—Steve Thomas, Fender
To decide on which years to produce, Fender drew from what Norvell calls a “huge cauldron of information” from Custom Shop master builders to collectors with vintage models to former employees from the 1950s and 1960s. The hands-on manufacturing of Fender’s golden years meant guitars produced within the same year would have marked differences in design and finish. So, the team had to procure multiple versions of the same year’s guitar to decide which models to replicate. Norvell says some purists would advocate for the “cleanest, most down-the-middle kind of variant,” while others would push for more esoteric and rare versions. Norvell says that ultimately, the team picked the models that they felt best represented “the throughline of history on our platforms.”
Simple and agile, the Fender Precision Bass—here in its new American Vintage II ’54 incarnation—earned its reputation in the hands of Bill Black, James Jamerson, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and other foundational players.
Norvell says the American Vintage II series was developed, in part, in response to calls to reproduce vintage guitars. Just like with classic cars, he says, people are passionate about year-specific guitars. Plus, American Vintage II fits perfectly with the pandemic-stoked yearning for bygone times. “For some people, these specific years are representative of experiences they had when they were first playing guitar, or a favorite artist that played guitars from these eras,” says Norvell. “These are touchstones for those stories, and that makes them very desirable.”
Fender’s electric guitar research and design team, led by director Steve Thomas, dug through the company’s archive of original drawings and designs—dating all the way back to Leo Fender’s original shop in Fullerton, California. They found detailed notes, including some documenting body woods that changed mid-year on certain models. Halfway through 1956, for example, Stratocaster bodies switched from ash to alder. That meant the American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster needed to be alder, too. That, in turn, meant ensuring enough alder was on hand to fulfill production needs.
Among the series’ Stratocaster recreations is this 1973-style instrument, with an ash body, maple C-profile neck, rosewood fretboard, and the company’s Pure Vintage single-coils.
Thomas and his team discovered another piece of the production puzzle when researching how pickups for that same 1957 Strat were made. “We realized that if we incorporated a little bit more pinch control on the winders, we could more effectively mimic the way pickups would have been hand-wound in the ’50s,” says Thomas. “It takes a lot of doing to go back in time and sort of uncover the secret-sauce recipes.”
Thomas proudly calls the guitars “some of the best instruments we’ve ever made here in the Fender plant,” pointing to the level of detail put into design features, including more delicate lacquer finishes which take longer to cure and dry, and vintage-correct tweed cases for some guitars. New pickups were incorporated in the series, like a reworking of Seth Lover’s famed CuNiFe Wide Range humbuckers, which were discontinued around 1981. Even more minute details, like the width of 12th fret dots and the material used for them, were labored over. Three different models in the line feature clay dot inlays at unique, year-specific spacings.
Ironically, modern CNC manufacturing now makes these design quirks consistent features in mass-produced instruments. While the hand-crafted guitars from the ’50s and ’60s varied a lot from instrument to instrument. “Everything needs to be located perfectly, and it wasn’t necessarily back in the day,” says Norvell. “Now, it can be.”
Don’t Look Back
With this new series so firmly planted in the rose-tinted past, Fender does run the risk of netting only vintage-obsessed players. But Norvell says the team, despite being sticklers for period-correct detail, sought to strike a balance between vintage specs, practicality, and playability. The 1957 Stratocaster, for example, has a 5-way switch rather than the original’s 3-way switch. Norvell also asserts that the “ergonomic” old-school radius feels great when chording. “It might not be [right for] a shred machine, but it feels great and effortless.”
The 1966 Jazz Bass is also represented, shown here in a left-handed version.
Norvell also pushes back on the notion that Fender is playing it safe by indulging nostalgia and leaning on their past successes. He says that while the vintage models are some of the most desirable on the market, the team “purposely did not stick to the safe bets,” citing unusual year models like the 1954 P Bass and the 1973 Stratocaster.There’s a good reason why anything that hails back to “the good ol’ days” hits home with every generation. We’re constantly plagued by a belief that what came before is better than what we’ve got now. But with the American Vintage II series, Fender makes the case that guitars from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s can very easily be a relevant part of the 2020s.
The Cream Amp is a handmade low-gain overdrive pedal based on the Electra Distortion circuit.
The Cream Amp was designed to deliver full dynamics amp-like dirt to your clean and crunch amp or to another pedal in the chain without altering your tone too much. To add some grit at low volume or to make your amp sound more full, use the Drive control to set the gain and the Level control to match with your amp.
- Two knobs to control Volume and Drive
- Shielded inputs/outputs to avoid RF
- Filtered and protected 9VDC input
- Daisy-chain friendly
- Current draw: 7.5mA
The Cream Amp pedal is hand-made in Barcelona with carefully selected components and has a price of 100.00€. The pedals are available and can be purchased directly from the Ananasheadonline store.
For more information, please visit ananashead.com.
The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment.
Introducing the Red Sea, an all-analog signal routing matrix, designed for countless stereo and mono signal path routing options. The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment. The Red Sea has accomplished this in a compact, easy-to-use, and cost-effective solution.
Wet | Dry | Wet
The Red Sea gives you the ability to run a FULL Stereo wet dry wet rig using only 2 amps or just 2 signals to the FOH, while also giving you complete control over your Wet & Dry mix! Use the Blend knob to control the overall mix between stereo wet effects and mono dry/drive signals.
Stereo Dual Amps
Run dual amp modelers if full stereo w/ stereo effects. Gone are the traditional ways of one amp in the Left channel and another in the Right channel. Now use the Red Sea to seamlessly blend between two separate amps in true stereo. Think of this as a 2-channel amp where you can blend anywhere between both amps.
Stereo Parallel FX
Red Sea has two independent stereo FX loops. Use each FX loop to run stereo delay's and reverb's in parallel, where each effect does not interact with each other. Huge soundscapes can be achieved with washy reverbs and articulate delay repeats while being able to blend between each FX loops mix level.
The Red Sea can also do the following routing options:
- Wet | Dry utilizing a single amp
- Clean Wet | Dry | Wet (drives DO NOT run into wet effects)
- Wet | Dry | Wet with dual delays (one in the L channel & other in R channel)
- Parallel Dual Amps (run dual amp modelers in FULL stereo)
- Convert a tube amp's serial FX Loop to a parallel FX Loop
- Stereo and Mono analog dry through (avoid latency in digital pedals)
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct amplifier models.
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct maxed-out amplifier models. An all-analog signal path with discrete gain stages featuring MOSFET transistors provides juicy overdrive tones with great note separation that clean up to that sparkly sound that we all love and heard in recordings of the past. Set gain and tone and control everything from your guitar. Sparkly clean to crunchy mean are all there.
You can select the amplifier voicing via the onboard toggle switch.
BSM: Voiced after a blackface amp head that was primarily targeted for bass guitar players but got famous for electric guitar classic rock tones.
VLX: Voiced after a chimey 2x10” combo offering the perfect amount of controllable crunch
DLX: Voiced after one of the most popular low wattage 1×12″ combo amps that have found their way in countless recording studios and clubs around the world.
Stardust V3 now comes with top-mounted jacks and soft-click true bypass via a high-quality relay. The pedal has loads of output volume and enhanced headroom provided by 18V DC (boosted internally) so that it can also be used as a preamp going straight into your Power Amp or AudioInterface when combined with a separate speaker simulation device.
Street price: 199 Euro / 199 USD.
For more information, please visit crazytubecircuits.com.