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Author Archives: Zac Childs

The MXR Custom Badass ’78 Distortion

Company Hot Rod
 
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Dunlop Custom Badass ’78 Distortion Price: $79 Info: jimdunlop.com Custom Badass is a new division of MXR that offers the company’s engineers’ hot-rodded takes on popular designs. Packaged in MXR’s classic small housing, the ’78 Distortion is a bit lighter and has a more squared look compared to most MXR units. It has 1/4″ in/out […]

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Rybski Cougar

Wild Cat
 
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Rybiski Cougar Price: $3,850 Info: www.rybskiguitars.com. Before moving to the United States, Rybski founder Slawomir Waclawik repaired and built upright basses and violins for top jazz and fusion players in his native Poland. With newfound digs in the States came a newfound focus on crafting cutting-edge basses and guitars alongside builder Benjamin Harrison. Though the […]

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J.D. Simo

Tele-Free Trio
 
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J.D. Simo moved to Nashville seven years ago and quickly landed in the coveted hot spot as the lead guitarist in the Don Kelley band. After four years playing four nights a week in Nashville’s lower Broadway district, Simo took a hard left, forming a power trio that bears his name (with bassist Frank Swart […]

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Widman Set Neck

An Eye For Detail
 
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Widman Set Neck Price: $3,900 Info: widmancustomelectrics.com. John Widman is a custom guitar builder whose artistic leanings began while he worked as a graphic designer and photographer. After building bolt-neck instruments using off-the-shelf parts, he began crafting instruments from scratch, and recently introduced the Set Neck. A chambered single-cut, the Set Neck is built from […]

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3rd Power Amplification’s Solo Dream 1, Solo Dream 4, and Switchback 112

Dream Babies
 
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3rd Power Solo Dream/Switchback amps Price: $1,899 (Dream Solo 1 combo); $1,699 (Dream Solo 4 head); $699 (Switchback 112) Info: www.3rdpower.com. Recording/touring guitarist, studio engineer, and industry veteran Jamie Scott made the metamorphosis into amp designer by learning to repair and modify Marshall heads. He quickly realized that he wanted amps to sound full, responsive, […]

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The Pigtronix Envelope Phaser 2

Sophisti-Phaser
 
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Pigtronix Envelope Phaser II Price: $249 (street). Contact: Phone (631) 331-7447; Pigtronix.com. Pigtronix effects are known not only for their tones, but their sophistication. So it’s no surpise that the Envelope Phaser II has a potentially daunting array of control knobs and switches, some with familiar names (Sensitivity, Depth, Speed), others less common (Resonance, Staccato, […]

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The Budda Twinmaster

Return of a Boutique Legend
 
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In the early days of boutique-amp building, there were but a few contenders on the scene. One of the strongest amplifiers in those days was made by Budda. First released in 1995, the company’s Twinmaster presented 18 watts of raw tone that made it a no-brainer buy for many, and it soon found its way […]

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The Victoria VIC 105

Raw And Responsive
 
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Victoria VIC 105 Price: $1,495 Contact: Victoria Amp Co.; phone (630) 820-6400; victoriaamp.com. In the 1990s, Mark Baier put himself on the map making quality reproductions of choice ’50s tweed-amp circuits. For the last decade, Baier has broadened his amp line with models that are not reproductions, but the product of his own fertile imagination. […]

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ValveTrain 205

Five Watts, Just So
 
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Rick Gessner is a tweed amp enthusiast who has more than made a splash since entering the fray in 2005. His versions of tweed-era Fender classics (with subtle refinements), along with his Spring Thing reverb unit, have been making waves with players from Pat Travers to Brad Paisley. The ValveTrain 205 is Gessner’s interpretation of […]

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Victoria Regal II Amplifier

Tube-Swappin' Time
 

Mark Baier launched the Victoria Amplifier Company in 1993, intent on reproducing the tones and aesthetic style of the great tweed amps of the late 1950s. He began twisting these classic designs into exciting variations that still pay homage to Leo. One example of this new direction is the Regal II, a vintage-Valco-meets-Fender-inspired amp with […]

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