It pays to learn how to make basic adjustments and tweaks to your instrument. Otherwise, you end up spending a ton of money to have someone else do minor work you could have done yourself with a little time and patience. It also pays to have the right tools for the job. For this Dunlop Strings Tip of the Week, we want to let you know about a company called Cruz Tools.
They make great tools for guitar players, bass players, and drummers (they also make a ton of motorcycle tools, which we think is pretty awesome). Here’s a look at some of the Cruz Tools gear we have here at the shop. We use each of them all the time.
1. Jack and Pot Wrench. A great tool for tightening instrument and amp jacks.
2. Standard Driver. This is a great tool to have if you own a vintage instrument that requires you to remove the neck to adjust the truss rod. The tip fits fully into the slot to minimize slippage and improve torque.
3. Guitar/Bass Multi-Tool. This is a Swiss Army Knife for guitar and bass players. It’s got four metric and three fractional hex keys, two Phillips screwdrivers, a 2.5mm slotted screwdriver, and ruler so you can check your action. Really worth keeping in your gig bag at all times.
4. Bass Player Tech Kit and Guitar Player Tech Kit. Practically every tool you need to work on your instrument.
5. Cheater Driver. Like the Standard Driver, this is great for owners of vintage instruments. Its small tip lets you get in and make minor adjustments without having to remove the neck in most cases.
If you want to treat your instruments right, go with Cruz Tools. Their stuff is the real deal, high quality and purpose-built. Note: Always be cautious when working on your instrument—chances are small that you’ll do any damage as long as you are patient and pay attention to your doing. Don’t try to rush anything.
Now, let’s have a little fun. We’ve got one spare Guitar Player Tech Kit and one spare Bass Player Tech Kit. Share a setup horror story with us in the comments below, and we’ll choose two people at random to receive one of these gig bag must-haves.
Twenty years ago, Jimmy Dunlop and Sam McRae created the 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah in response to 15 years of artist requests and feedback from guitar players. This pedal gave guitar players control over their wah wah sound for the first time ever allowing players to tweak the most important wah wah parameters and make the Cry Baby sound their own.
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the wah wah experienced a comeback thanks to its masterful use by thrashers such as Kirk Hammett and grunge rockers such as Mike McCready. This renewed interest motivated Dunlop to develop a Cry Baby wah wah that was better suited to a time when guitar players were becoming more involved in shaping and personalizing their sound than ever.
“I was doing artist relations at the time, and the 535Q was a result of listening to all of the guys I was working with and trying to come out with something that would satisfy them all,” Jimmy Dunlop says.
“Jimmy asked me if there was any way that we could make the Cry Baby a little more versatile,” says Dunlop Senior Engineer Sam McRae. “I said, ‘Yeah, we can vary the range.’ He said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Sam then designed the 535Q’s first innovation—a four-position Range Selector control. To get each position just right, he and Jimmy tested various wah wahs and chose the four sweetest sounding pedals across a range of frequencies. In later years, two more positions were added, and now the Range Selector has six positions. Each position is based on the unique tonal characteristics of the best sounding wah wah pedals we could find.
Once Sam gave the 535Q its signature tonal variation, he added a Variable Q control, giving players control over the behavior of the wah wah effect. This control allows you to take the 535Q’s response from an extremely sharp quack to a fuller broad bandpass sound with the twist of a control.
Sam rounded out the 535Q’s features with a switchable boost that can add up to +18dB with its Volume control. The boost was necessary because, at lower Q settings, there is a reduction in output volume. To compensate, we added a very low-noise Class A op-amp.
“We just boosted the whole circuit,” Jimmy Dunlop says.
The 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah hasn’t always existed in its current form. We’ve already mentioned that its Range Selector switch has evolved to include six positions instead of the original four, but other changes have taken place of the years. When it was first released, the 535Q ran on 18v power, and all controls except for the Range Selector were located on its bottomplate. Later, in response to player demand, we moved those controls out to the sides of the pedal and switched to 9v power. Some players still prefer the original 18v version for its higher headroom and additional harmonic content, such as Adam Jones from Tool.
The 535Q has become our flagship Cry Baby pedal, and its roster of users has grown since its inception to include a diverse selection of the world’s top musicians, from Soundgarden and Tool to the Allman Brothers and Prince.
“Back when we were recording Scenes From A Memory I discovered the 535Q pedal and have been using it in the studio ever since,” says John Petrucci. “You can hear it on the main riff in the song ‘Home’ off that album. I just love the deep, throaty character that the 535 delivers.”
“The 535Q really changed everything for a lot of players,” says Art Thompson, senior editor at Guitar Player. “It really gave them that ability to truly personalize the wah. I think that was the most adjustable and flexible wah you could buy at the time.”
To learn more, and see a demonstration of the 535Q’s features, check out our 535Q Wahisode below.
In a new series of instructional demos from Dunlop, we dive into the nuanced performance points of the Way Huge Electronics superstar models. This week: Our man Tal goes in depth with the Way Huge Aqua Puss and Supa Puss Analog Delay pedals, exploring the slapback and feedback options on the Aqua Puss, and the Tap Tempo and Subdivision features of the Supa Puss; and gives a full overview of the Ring Worm rig modulator…
BONUS: We dug into the Way Huge archives and pulled out four sonic treasures—vintage and/or unique Way Huge pedals that Jeorge Tripps has inspected, cleaned up and autographed—and we’ll be giving one away each week throughout the month of December. This week, we’re offing up the classic Way Huge Blue Hippo Analog Chorus!
This aqueous effect is famous for the incredibly diverse range of lush, liquefied sounds it delivers through its simple two-knob interface. With the Rate and Depth controls, you can go from slow, mildly dampened tone-widening to full-on modulated madness at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. And no matter where you set the controls, the tone and character of your guitar remain fully intact.
ENTER TO WIN: Use the comments section below to ask Jeorge Tripps a question about Way Huge effects—the line’s origin, his approach to design, tonal inspiration, whatever! We’ll select a few questions for Jeorge to answer, and post those here on the blog. One lucky question-asker will be randomly selected to take home this rare Blue Hippo!
About Way Huge: Launched in 1992 by Jeorge Tripps, Way Huge Electronics quickly created a buzz among southern California guitar players and began to define the boutique effects market. In late 1999 with 15 models, the company closed its doors as Tripps pursued other opportunities to hone his skills as a designer. As Way Huge exited from the market, the demand for the products soared, driving online auctions well into the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. In 2006, Dunlop welcomed Tripps and Way Huge into the family. Finally, Tripps was able to make Way Huge Electronics the way he had always envisioned, with a dedicated design team and production facility at his fingertips. Since then, Dunlop has helped Way Huge Electronics bring their hot-rodded vintage tones to the mass market at an affordable price.
Got a volume or tone pot on your guitar that scratches when you move it around? It’s probably just dirty. For this Dunlop Strings Tip of the Week, we’re going to show you a quick and easy fix that you can do yourself.
First, get yourself a can of DeoxIt Fader F-Series spray. You can get it at hardware stores and certain Guitar Center locations.
Next, open up your instrument’s control cavity. We’re working on a p-style bass, so all we had to do was unscrew the pickguard. Now might be a good time to put an old t-shirt or towel on top of your guitar to protect the finish. We’ve never had any accidents with this stuff, but better safe than sorry.
Now, locate the offending pot and aim your DeoxIt spray nozzle into the gap that faces the pot’s lugs.
Get in as close as you can, inside the gap if possible. Two quick sprays should do the trick. After that, twist the pot’s knob around so that the cleaner/lubricant gets worked in across the sweep of the pot. Plug in your instrument and move the pot around to see if it’s still scratchy. If it is, wait a little while and repeat this process.
If, after that, your pot is STILL scratchy, it may be damaged rather than dirty. If that’s the case, you’ll need to replace it. The type of scratching associated with a damaged pot is usually sharper and more persistant than that caused by dirt, which tends to decrease after you start moving the knob around.
The MXR Custom Shop is the place where our team of master pedal builders pushes analog circuitry into unexplored territory. They mod classic MXR circuits for added versatility and reengineer rare, extinct circuit designs to sound better than ever. The Custom Shop is also the place where unique and esoteric requests from artists are incubated and explored. In every situation, the Custom Shop team strives to uncover fresh ways to deliver the unmistakable tones of all-analog circuitry.
MXR Custom Shop effects are designed for discerning players with unique and specific needs—players who know their gear inside and out and carefully consider every part of their signal chain, from guitar output to amplifier input. Likewise, the Custom Shop’s master pedal builders consider every component and circuit board layout choice with the same discretion, ensuring players with refined tastes and finely tuned ears get the tools they need for their own sonic exploration.
The Joe Bonamassa FET Driver captures the rich, creamy sound of an overdriven tube amplifier by cascading an op-amp gain stage into a FET stage. With this pedal, you can thicken up your lead tone with musical, amp-like distortion and sustain without the fragility and inconsistency associated with tubes.
“This pedal glued the loose ends of my rig together,” Joe Bonamassa says about the FET Driver. “It’s very focused and very fat, and it cuts through without being too bright. That’s a hard sound to achieve.”
The Micro Amp+ combines the classic boosting and tone-sweetening capabilities of the original Micro Amp with a specially-tuned EQ section and low-noise op-amp. You can unleash just as much gain with the Micro Amp+ as you can with the original, but now you can finely sculpt the sound of your boosted signal.
So how do you get your hands on one of these pedals? They’re available exclusively through a network of hand-picked “pedal mecca” stores with staff who know gear inside and out. Check the PDF below for a list of MXR Custom Shop-qualified stores and find one near you.
Sometimes you just want to change up your tone or playing style, but you don’t want to go so far as to invest in a new pedal, instrument, or amp. For this Dunlop Strings Tip of the Week, we’re suggesting two easy, inexpensive ways you can experiment with your sound.
1. Try different strings.
Strings don’t get as much emphasis as they should when it comes to their importance to a guitar or bass player’s overall sound. Try a different gauge or string material for different tone and playability. If you’re a guitar player and you use Nickel-Plated Steel—aka Nickel Wound—try Pure Nickel for a warmer tone and slightly smoother feel. If you’re a bass player and you use Nickel-Plated Steel, try Stainless Steel for a brighter sound.
2. Try a different pick.
If you use a pick to play guitar or bass, your pick is the first point of contact between you and the music that comes out of your amplifier. The shape, material, and gauge all have an impact on the way you play and how the notes sound when you hit the strings. Use Tortex? Try Nylon or Ultex for a totally different sound and feel. If you use a standard pick shape, try a Jazz III shape for the speed and precision or a triangle shape for more control.
How do you experiment with your sound on a budget? Let us know in the comments below, and come back next time for another Dunlop Strings Tip of the Week!
The debut of the brand new MXR Bass Preamp created quite a buzz at this year’s Bass Player Live! show. With its small footprint, tonal control, and low-noise DI, this pedal had players of all levels clamoring to be first in line for MXR Bass Innovations‘ latest release. Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), Jimmy Earl (Jimmy Kimmel Live), Marty O’Brien (We Are The Fallen) and upright bass phenom Miles Mosley are just a few of the A-list players chomping at the bit.
In addition to our booth space in Room 3 with Aguilar Amps, Spector Basses, Zon Basses, and Blast Cult Basses, MXR Bass Innovations was well-represented by our artists at several clinics throughout the weekend. Rhonda Smith, Miles Mosley, and Nathan East gave demonstrations full of information that’s useful to players of all levels.
The booth was full of activity as we answered questions and showed off the Dunlop bass gear. We were treated to some inspired playing by great players such as Damien Erskine, Evan Brewer, and Rex Brown. It was great to get direct feedback from the likes of Janek Gwizdala on the MXR Bass Octave and MXR Bass Envelope Filter and seeing how excited he was at hearing all the sonic possibilities our pedals put right at his fingertips.
Miles Mosley’s pedal demonstration was the highlight of the entire show for us. With his characteristic attention to detail and deep knowledge of effects, Miles broke down his sound pedal by pedal and showed how he uses Dunlop bass effects to create rich textures and expand the tonal palette of the upright bass.
We had a great time this weekend hanging out with everyone, from old faces to new. The response to our products was as great as ever, with Dunlop Bass Strings and the new MXR Bass Preamp getting tons of great feedback. We’ll see you next year!
For this Dunlop Strings Tip of Week, we’re talking about fret maintenance. Over time, gunk from your fingers builds up on top of your frets and your strings create little scratches and scuffs in the metal itself. Aside from making your instrument look gross, this gunk buildup will deaden your sound and corrode your frets.
Thankfully, cleaning and polishing your frets is an easy job. In fact, you can do it the next time you change your strings. Just follow the steps below.
First, after removing the strings from your instrument, mask off your fretboard with masking tape so that only the frets are exposed—make sure the tape is right up against the frets as our example above shows.
Next, clean and polish your frets. You can use steel wool, but we recommend our Micro Fine 65 Fret Polishing Cloth. Using steel wool requires you to tape off your pickups to keep the wool’s particles from getting into the coils and creating a short.
Take the polish cloth, gray side down, and rub it over each fret until they look shiny and new. It shouldn’t take more than 5-10 seconds per fret depending on much grime has built up. When you’re done, string up and feel the difference. Repeat once or twice a month, and you’ll you keep your frets and your sound fresh.
With the last Dunlop Strings Tip of the Week, we concluded our three part series showing you how much time and money you can save yourself by investing in a multimeter. This week, we want to make a recommendation to guitar players who are interested in stringing up at higher tension.
Dunlop Heavy Core Strings were designed with thicker core wires for players who tune down but don’t want to modify their instruments to accommodate for thicker strings or lower tension. But the greater mass and higher tension of Heavy Core Strings isn’t just a boon to downtuned metal guitarists—jazz players, especially those using shorter scale guitars, might find it easier to play with greater speed at standard and semi-flat tunings while slide players might appreciate the increased resistance.
Really, any player who wants higher than normal tension without going up a few gauges should try out Heavy Core Strings—you might be surprised at how much you enjoy them.
Hey, do you want an MXR Custom Badass Modified Overdrive? We’ve teamed up with our friends at Guitar Center to offer players the opportunity to get one for free!
First, go to your local Guitar Center (or shop Guitar Center Online), and purchase any TWO of the following eligible MXR effects pedals:
- M69 MXR PRIME DISTORTION
- M75 MXR SUPER BADASS DIST
- M78 MXR BADASS DISTORTION
- M87 MXR BASS COMPRESSOR
- M101 MXR PHASE 90
- EVH90 MXR EVH PHASE 90
- M102 MXR DYNA COMP
- M108 MXR 10 BAND EQ
- M116 MXR FULL BORE
- M148 MXR MICRO CHORUS
- M169 MXR CARBON COPY
- M80 MXR BASS DISTORTION+
- M222 MXR TALKBOX
- M288 MXR BASS OCTAVE DLX
Then, click the PDF link below to download the mail-in rebate form; print it out, fill it out, and mail it to the address on the form (be sure to follow the instructions, and include a copy of your purchase receipt, and UPC codes cut from BOTH of the pedal boxes that you purchased).
Give us 8 – 10 weeks, and you’ll receive a FREE MXR Custom Badass Modified Overdrive!
It’s that easy!