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Intro to Effectsblog

March 16, 2014
  • 5 Items to Display Your Guitar With

    Do you want to show off your guitar to everyone that steps foot in your home, but don’t have anything to display it with? Do you just leave your guitar leaning against a wall or on a floor rack? There are much better (and safer) solutions than that for displaying your beloved axe, and we have a handful of those options listed below!


    String Swing Guitar Hanger

    To start off, here’s a very simple wall hanger for your guitar. This hook is extremely sturdy, and can even pivot to accommodate any headstock. You can be sure that your precious guitar won’t be falling to the floor if you use this hanger!

    Click here to check it out


    Guitar Display Case

    Is a hook on the wall just isn’t enough to protect your precious guitar? This elegant cabinet is the perfect solution for you then. Your guitar will be safe from dust, moisture, and even sunlight in this UV-protected case. Plus, it looks great!

    Click here to check it out


    String Swing Horizontal Guitar Holder

    If you would prefer to hang your guitar horizontally, this mount is a great choice. It will safely cradle your guitar’s body and neck in it’s padded arms, while showing it off for everyone to see.

    Click here to check it out


    Multi-use Wall Hanger

    If you need your guitar mount to do more than just hold your guitar, check this one out! It’s a shelf with a built-in guitar hook. It also has several other small hooks that you could hang your jacket or your keys on.

    Click here to check it out


    Guitar Pick Collection Case

    If you are going to display your guitars, why not also display your favorite picks? This pick case functions like a binder, with pages that have special cutouts to put your picks in. It would be a great way to keep all your special picks safe, or even to just show off your favorites in a very unique way!

    Click here to check it out


  • Guitars Made From Unique Materials Part 2

    This week is another fun blog; creative people making guitars out of unconventional items! Much like part one, this blog showcases some really interesting handmade creations that are very awesome and very functional guitars. Read on to see things in guitars that you never thought you would see before!


    Colored Pencil Guitar – Burls Art

     

    We featured Burls Art on our previous blog entry about unique guitars, and here he is again, with another colored pencil guitar. As it turns out, pencils seem like a fairly sturdy and quality material to make guitars out of if you know what you’re doing. They also have such high potential to create interesting patterns, as seen in the neck of this guitar here.


    Plywood Guitar – Make With Miles

     

    We all know that guitars are made of wood, but it isn’t common that you see someone put together a guitar made entirely out of hardware store plywood. The end result is pretty fantastic looking, too! This video is also particularly interesting because the creator goes in to great detail about guitar building; you can learn a lot about how guitars in general are built in this video.


    Shelf Guitar – tchiks guitars and furniture

     

    If you were to just look at this guitar, it looks pretty standard and nothing seems out of the ordinary. But, in reality, it was made from a shelf! It takes true creativity to look at a shelf and think “this would make a great guitar”.


    Coffee Bean Guitar – Burls Art

     

    Here we are with Burls Art again, with yet another insanely awesome guitar build. Did you ever think coffee beans would look awesome if you put them in resin and turned them in to a guitar? Probably not, but it turns out that it actually does look pretty great. It also smells wonderful, too!


    Shovel Guitar – Burls Art

     

    The shovel guitar is probably the most unique and surreal guitar on this list! What would you do if someone had a guitar case, pulled a shovel out of it, and started playing it?


  • Aclam: Building Your Pedalboard the Easy Way

    Building pedal boards is fun, but it’s also often frustrating. The de-facto method of fixing pedals with Velcro is simple and inexpensive but I don’t know, something about it doesn’t feel like a real engineering solution. It’s also kind of messy. When you need to rearrange pedals or swap them out for new ones, removing the goop is a pain. If you have expensive vintage pedals you probably won’t want even to do that anyway. It’s really fiddly with very small pedals too.

    You’ll also need to power your pedalboard and connecting power supplies presents similar challenges. The hook and loop solution may not always work, and some other methods such as drilling the pedalboard may be challenging for some people.

    Aclam Smart Track is a properly engineered solution rather than an odd series of workarounds. It’s a track-based system with small movable brackets that slide up and down the track to position the pedals where you need. The brackets screw into place and can easily be moved with no drilling or adhesives required and protect the pedal finish while holding it securely in place. For me, laying out a new board typically involves a fair bit of trial and error, and this just makes it so much easier.

    Aclam have addressed the challenges of the underside of the pedalboard with a series of custom brackets for power supplies that easily slot into the board. They’ve included support for the Mission 529 power supplies too, so you can simply put together a fully wireless pedalboard. If you are a pedal board neat freak, Aclam Smart Track is a beautiful solution.

  • 5 More Valentine’s Day Gifts for Guitarists

    Valentine’s day is nearly here and the time to get a gift is running out quickly. If you are still struggling with finding that perfect gift for your guitarist spouse, check out these awesome finds below. Perhaps one of them would be the perfect gift!


    ChromaCast “Heartbreaker” Heart Shaped Pick

    Being both useful and sweet, these heart-shaped picks are a great choice for a gift, as every guitarist always needs spare picks. Every time your loved one plays guitar with one of these, they will think of you.

    Click here to check it out


    Leather Guitar Bracelet

    A classy, simple bracelet is a good gift for anyone. This bracelet in particular features a very simple but elegant design, and it comes in multiple different variations! Your spouse could wear the bracelet every day, because this design will match anything.

    Click here to check it out


    Wooden Pick Box

    This gift is very simple but very useful. But, with how plain this little wooden box is, it would be very easy to customize. You could order this pick box and paint it or get it engraved; the possibilities are endless! It could be a useful and very thoughtful gift with a little bit of creativity.

    Click here to check it out


    Musician’s Mug

    Mugs are always a great choice; everybody could always use one! This mug in particular would make a very fun gift. It is covered in musical notes, and it even includes a lid that has piano keys on it! It is sure to bring a smile to anybody’s face, and remind them of how awesome you are at giving gifts every time they use this mug.

    Click here to check it out


    Guitar Blanket

    Nothing is more romantic than spending an evening cuddled up under a blanket, and nothing is better than giving the gift of warmth! This ultra soft and cozy blanket would be a great gift for your valentine this year; it’s a gift they can appreciate all year long, especially in the winter!

    Click here to check it out


  • Valentine’s Day Gifts for Guitarists

    With Valentine’s day right around the corner, it is certainly time to start thinking about what to get your loved one as a gift. Sure, you could go the boring route and get them candy, but why not get them something guitar-themed instead? Here are some Valentine’s day gifts for guitarists that are sure to make your loved one smile!


    Couples Mug Set

    Is your musician partner constantly away from you and on tour? Then this mug set would be a great gift for them! They could bring the mug along with them on tour and leave the other at home for you to use so you will always be connected in some way.

    Click here to check it out


    Guitar Pick Keychain

    A little keychain reminder of your love for your partner makes a very sweet gift. The pouch will keep the engraved metal pick safe, and they can pull it out any time they are thinking about you. Additionally, the pouch can be used to store extra picks so this keychain is both a kind gesture and practical!

    Click here to check it out


    Custom Engraved Wooden Guitar Pick Set

    If you are looking for a more personalized gift, this one would be an excellent choice. This little wooden pick box can be customized with any text that you’d like, along with the three wooden picks that come with it. Nothing says “I love you” as much as a personalized gift! The pick box can also hold many more picks, so it is something that can be taken on the road or to a show to use.

    Click here to check it out


    Stainless Steel Guitar Pick Keychain

    Here’s another great pick-themed keychain for your guitarist partner. This one is a metal pick and a small guitar charm on a key loop. While not functional as a real pick, it still makes a wonderful gift and serves as a small reminder of how much you love your partner.

    Click here to check it out


    Guitar Gift Set

    Here is a bundle of gifts for a guitarist. It comes with a fun mug, some cozy socks, and a pen holder shaped like a person playing a guitar. This is a great set of gifts for the guitarist that enjoys receiving more practical things as gifts. They will surely think of you every time they use one of the items in this bundle!

    Click here to check it out


  • Guitars Made From Unique Materials

    Most people make electric guitars out of different types of wood. They carve the wood, and then add the electronics and an electric guitar is born. Of course, that is over-simplifying it, but you get the picture.

    However, some creative people don’t want to stay inside that box. They have different ideas of what materials guitars could be made of, and they experiment with very different materials. The results of these experiments are often extremely unique and beautiful, and the process is very interesting to watch!

    Here are some creators that made amazing guitars out of very unconventional materials.


    Glass Guitar – Morningstar Glass Guitars

     

    Glass is, no doubt, an awesome material. It’s possible to create some really awesome looking things with it, so why not a guitar? Morningstar Glass Guitars specializes in making these guitars, and you can watch the build process in the video. Note that even the fretboard is entirely glass!


    Lego Guitar – Modustrial Maker

     

    Do you need a use for all those old Legos you had when you were a kid? Here’s possibly the best use for them that you’d ever find; a Lego guitar. Imagine rocking out to some metal on a guitar made of Legos!


    Mario Guitar – Cranmer Guitars

     

    This guitar is my personal favorite; it’s a guitar made entirely out of popsicle sticks, but with an interesting twist; the popsicle sticks were used as “pixels”, and Cranmer Guitars used them to make a design based on a classic Nintendo video game. The whole build was quite time-consuming, but the end result is amazing.


    Jawbreaker Guitar – Burls Art

     

    If you liked jawbreakers as a kid (or now), you’ll absolutely love this guitar made of jawbreakers suspended inside resin. The jawbreakers give the guitar a really awesome design when cut in half!


    Pencil Guitar – Burls Art

     

    Here’s another amazing design from Burls Art; a guitar made entirely of colored pencils. This one is particularly cool, because it looks just like a typical guitar until you get closer and see the pencils it is made up of!


    Thinking outside the box is always a good thing, but it’s particularly awesome when combined with guitar construction! Which one of these unique guitars is your favorite?

  • Tolex or Not Tolex: That is the Question

    Our amps, speaker cabinets, and even guitar cases are typically covered in Tolex, but what exactly is this ubiquitous material? Where did it come from, and how did it come to be used in so many guitar related applications for almost 70 years? And what does it have to do with WWII?
     
    The earliest mention of the word Tolex I could find is in TESS, the US government trademark database where the trademark was first registered on Christmas Day 1945. When you think of the other things that must have been happening during that first holiday following the end of WWII, it seems a rather curious date, but there you go.
     
    Tolex’s birthplace was General Tire and Rubber Company in Akron Ohio. The name moved around as General Tire diversified, changed management and acquired and divested business units over the years. The great-grandchild, if you like, of General Tire that still manufactures this type of covering is Omnova Solutions Inc, which is still based in Ohio, although earlier this year Omnova itself was acquired by UK based multi-national, Synthomer PLC.
     
    The Tolex trademark appears to have lapsed in 2005 and I could not find Tolex itself listed as an Omnova product today, at least, not exactly. You can trace the family tree though to current Omnova brands Nautolex, a fabric covering for marine applications such as boat seating, and Boltaflex an indoor upholstery fabric.
     
    So, what actually is, or was Tolex? I could not find any patents associated with it and it has been variously described in the trademark history as ‘coated fabrics’ or ‘plastic sheet and film material’ so it really is just an old, expired brand name for plastic upholstery material. These days, the word Tolex is used only by old guitar players that still use vacuum tubes, germanium transistors, and other such relics, long consigned to the trash can of history by younger, wiser folk.
     
    Plastic upholstery, or coverings, are often designed to look like leather hence sometimes called leatherette, or faux leather. Presstoff was a faux leather made from paper pulp invented in Germany in the 19th Century and used commonly during WWII since genuine leather was rationed. Other brands such as Rexine in the UK and then Tolex in the US followed up on this idea. They were water resistant, cheaper and often more available than leather, so it made sense that they would be used in automobile upholstery and for book coverings even after the war was over.
     
    Some early guitar amps from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s such as the Harmony 8418 were covered in actual leather. Leo Fenders first ‘woodie’ amps from early 1946 were hardwood, switching the use of a Tweed luggage covering material in early 1947. The first two tone leatherette covered Champions appeared in 1949. Fender describes the first use of the brand name Tolex material in 1959. Leo Fender is known today as a master of cost optimization and for making the most out of what materials were available at the time. We can see this in the move from hardwood, to tweed, to Tolex. Like so many other things in the electric guitar world, our Tolex covered amps and speakers have a direct line back to Leo Fender.
     
    When we talk about Tolex today on modern products, we are no longer describing the brand name material from General Tire used on those early amps, but something similar from a variety of different manufacturers. It’s usually a fabric backing with vinyl or other plastic bonded over it, but it could be just a plain plastic material.
     
    Some amps and brands are practically defined by their Tolex. When I think of an Orange TH100 or a Marshall Silver Jubilee or a piggyback Fender it’s the color of the Tolex that sticks out in my mind. Fortunately for us, there are a large number of different amp coverings available today from the vintage browns and blondes through alligator and snakeskin to even carbon fiber. None of them are actually Tolex any longer. That is, until someone decides they want to try and resurrect that dead trademark. Any takers?

  • The Origins of the Electric Bass

    Many guitarists have likely thought about the origins of their instrument and where it came from. The modern electric guitar is a very popular and important instrument after all, and music would be very different without it.

    While thinking about the electric guitar, many musicians overlook the electric bass guitar; an instrument that has an interesting history, and is also quite significant in music!

    In the 1920’s and earlier, before bass guitars existed, musicians relied on a string instrument that resembled today’s double bass (a cello-like instrument) to play the bass parts in their music. These instruments were massive, which made them quite a challenge to carry around, and they were rather quiet compared to the other instruments, especially as electric guitars started becoming more widely used. Thus, the need for a smaller, louder bass instrument was born, and inventors began coming up with ideas.

    And thus, the first prototype of an electric bass was born, created by Lloyd Loar. This prototype was, however, poorly received. It never made it into production, and Lloyd ultimately left Gibson the year he created the prototype. Luckily, however, this was not the end of the bass guitar.

    In the 1930’s, the idea of the electric bass was revisited by Paul Tutmarc. It was called the “Model 736 Bass Fiddle” and heavily resembled the bass guitars of today; it looked different, but was played the same as modern bass guitars. This instrument was not that popular and did not get that many sales, but it was an important invention that opened the door to the creation of modern bass guitars.

     

    Several years later, in the 1950’s, Leo Fender would create the very first modern bass, the “Precision Bass”. The body of the instrument resembled a Stratocaster, and became extremely popular among musicians. It was much more portable than the double bass was, and it was also much louder, allowing it to be heard better. This instrument changed the way that bands played forever, and for the better.

    Other inventors soon saw the popularity of the Precision Bass, and began to create their own versions of the bass guitar. As rock music exploded in popularity, this led to further innovations in these instruments over the years.

    And that is how the bass guitar came to be. Could you imagine a world with no bass guitars in it? Music would sound completely different than it does now, and musicians would have to tote around giant bass instruments on tours. Thank goodness for the electric bass!


    Sources:
    https://www.musicradar.com/news/bass/the-history-of-the-electric-bass-part-one-the-early-days-507234
    https://guitar.lovetoknow.com/History_of_the_Bass_Guitar
    https://guitarlessonspoway.com/free-resources/an-introduction-to-electric-bass-guitar/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bass_guitar

  • 5 More Unique Instruments From Around the World

    There are so many fun and exciting instruments out there in the world that it would be impossible to go over all of them in one blog, so here is part two of our previous blog (which you can check out here) on this topic. Now, let’s dive into the world of interesting and unique instruments once more!


    Pyrophone

     

    Did you ever imagine that fire could make music if you know how to manipulate it? Well, it most certainly can! It turns out that fire in a glass pipe can make different tones depending on the air supply. These instruments were invented in the 1800’s by a man named Georges Frédéric Eugène Kastner, and they are quite rare to come by.


    Hydraulophone

     

    Since we have now seen fire being used as an instrument, we need some water to balance it out! Here is the hydraulophone, an instrument that is created with a pipe that has water running through holes on it. This instrument has a very unique and rather surprisingly beautiful sound to it, and is quite pleasant to listen to. Some versions even have electronic amplifiers on them! The hydraulophone is also a relatively recent instrument; it was first created in 2005.


    Theremin

     

    The theremin is one of the few musical instruments out there that you do not touch to play. The antennas of the instrument instead sense where the musician’s hands are and adjust the sound accordingly. Both hands are used to play the instrument, with each hand controlling something different. Theremins are used in popular music in the media, such as movie and television show soundtracks; it is valued for its eerie sound. It was created by a Russian man named Leon Theremin, and patented in 1928.


    Otamatone

     

    Of all the instruments on this list, this one is certainly the funniest. The otamatone is a relatively new instrument that was created in Japan. It is quite silly looking; the bottom part of the instrument where the sound comes out of is shaped like it is the instrument’s “head”, with two dot eyes and a mouth. To play the instrument, you open the “mouth” while placing your fingers on the metal neck. It is actually quite similar to a guitar in how it is designed and held in the hands. Check out the video above to have a good laugh at an otamatone being used for metal.


    Glass Armonica

     

    The glass armonica is probably one of the most elegant instruments on this list. It is also quite interesting to look at; it is a long, spinning device with different size glass bowls on it that create the sound when they are touched. This instrument also has quite a notable inventor; Benjamin Franklin! Also, this instrument was thought to curse whoever played it with depression because of its melancholic sounds. This was, of course, a rumor.

  • Popular Rock Albums of 2020

    This year is almost over, and 2021 will soon be upon us. 2020 may have been a strange year for everyone, but people from all walks of life still listened to and enjoyed music throughout the year; maybe even more so this year than any other. Let’s take a look at what rock albums people enjoyed the most this year.


    Queen – Greatest Hits

     

    Queen has always been a popular band that nearly everyone has heard at least once, and they still retain their popularity in 2020. Their Greatest Hits album is, of course, a great seller because people can get all of their best music in one place.


    AC/DC – Back in Blacks

     

    Here’s another great band that deserves the spotlight, with one of their most well-known albums, Back in Black. AC/DC is one of the highest-selling bands of all times, and this particular album is among the best-sellers of all time of any genre of music.


    Metallica – Metallica

     

    Metallica’s fifth album, Metallica, was their very first album to top the charts and it became their best-selling album. This album contains many of the band’s most popular songs, such as “Enter Sandman”. This album was also a bit of a shift from Metallica’s thrash metal roots; the music on this one had a slower BPM and aligned much more with the heavy metal genre.


    Five Finger Death Punch – A Decade of Destruction

     

    One of the newer albums on this list, A Decade of Destruction was released in 2017. Five Finger Death Punch is also a relatively “new” band, formed in 2005, and they are certainly worth checking out if you have never heard them. They are a great band with powerful, heavy music and most certainly deserve a spot on this list.


    Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory

     

    Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park’s first album, is also often their most popular. Linkin Park is a unique band that started off with heavy metal music, which you will hear on Hybrid Theory, and then later on experimented with many different genres and ways of creating music, making each one of their albums sound slightly different than the last. They are widely regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 2000’s.


    And there you have it, the five most popular rock albums of 2020! Were any of these your favorites?

    To check out the rest of the list on billboard.com, click here.

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