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When guitar-driven rock ’n’ roll took over the music scene in the mid–1960s, the era’s trailblazers were equipped with Herco’s original nylon pick. By the end of the decade, nearly every guitar player was using them. Their smooth feel and warm sound appealed to the pros who were recording hit records and playing on the world’s biggest stages, while their widespread availability made it an easy choice for anyone wanting to learn to play rock guitar.

 

The list of greats who have used Herco picks over the years is extensive, and it includes Jimmy Page, Joe Walsh, Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy, Pete Townsend, David Gilmour, Don Felder, Tommy Bolin, Rory Gallagher, and Gary Moore. The popularity of those picks endures today, with some artists—such as Keith Urban, Steve Jones, Gene Simmons, Billy Duffy, Troy Van Leeuwen, Don Felder, Eddie Van Halen, Nikki Sixx, and Madonna—having their own custom molds.

 

Now, for the first time in years, the classic Herco nylon pick is available to guitar players once again in the form of the Vintage ’66 Series. To resurrect this iconic tool faithfully, we had to get right to the heart of what made the originals so great.  How did we do it? Dunlop pick guru Jimmy Dunlop gives us the details.

 

What inspired you to bring back the original Herco pick?

Jimmy Dunlop: Last year, we discovered several pick molds had been stashed away in storage ever since we acquired Herco 20 years ago. When I realized they were the molds used to create the very first Herco nylon picks, I immediately knew that I wanted to recreate that classic pick magic. The problem was that the molds were just not in a condition to produce picks to modern standards.

 

So how were you able to capture the spirit of those picks?

JD: Even though they were unusable, they gave us some very valuable insights into the design process. To fill in the gaps, we gathered up as many vintage Herco nylon picks as we could and played and studied them relentlessly.

 

After that, we analyzed the pick material itself. Simply put, nylon is made differently today than it was 40 years ago, and that difference bears out in the sound and feel of a pick. We had to tweak a number of different parameters, but I worked with product manager Frank Aresti and the rest of my team to come up with a formula that perfectly captures the tone and feel of that old school nylon—it’s virtually  indistinguishable.

 

Through all this analysis and experimentation, we arrived at the Herco Vintage ’66 Series, and we couldn’t be happier. Even our pick experts were at a loss to tell them apart from the originals.

 

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Top: Original Herco nylon picks. Bottom: Herco VIntage ’66 Series.

 

 

How is the Vintage ’66 Series different from the Flex Series?

JD: There are two important differences between the Herco Flex Series and the Herco ’66 Series. The first has to do with grip: the Flex picks have a grip on both sides, while the Vintage ’66 picks have a grip on one side. Grips add stiffness to a pick, so you’ll notice that the Vintage ’66 picks are more flexible—just like the originals—than the Flex picks.

 

The second important difference brings us back to the old nylon versus new nylon thing. Because the Vintage ’66 picks are designed with the characteristics of the older nylon style, they have warmer sound and a smoother attack than the Flex picks.

 

Ultimately, the Vintage ’66 Series was created so that you can get everything you love about your vintage Herco nylon picks without having to take your collectibles out.

 

 

What type of player should check out these picks?

JD: Plain and simple, if you want the classic warmth and smooth attack that you get from collectible vintage Herco picks, the same picks used by rock and roll giants to write music history, then the Herco Vintage ’66 Series is for you.

 

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Check out some of our custom Herco artist picks below, and just below that, be sure to watch our interview with the Cult’s Billy Duffy, where he recounts his first Herco pick experience.

 

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Category: Picks

February 2, 2015
Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller

 

Dunlop kicked off 2015 at this year’s NAMM Show with a 50th anniversary celebration and a slew of new products.

 

Tons of people came through our booth to check out the new gear and see many great Dunlop artists—including Marcus Miller, Charlie Parra, Eric Gales, Wojtek Pilichowski, Javier Reyes, and Marty Friedman—perform and sign autographs. Marcus Miller and Marty Friedman each had the place jam-packed during their respective appearances. Some other friends who stopped by included Troy Van Leeuwen, Billy Duffy, Paul Gilbert, and Bryan Beller.

 

On the gear side, the unquestionable star of the show was the Cry Baby Mini Wah, which won NAMM’s Best in Show award, but all the new stuff—from the MXR Iso-Brick Power Supply and the MXR Bass Distortion to the Band of Gypsys Fuzz Face Mini Distortion and the Way Huge Saffron Squeeze Compressor—got huge amounts of love from all the great people who came through.

 

And to top it all off, founder Jim Dunlop was on the show floor to shake hands with players from around the world who thanked him for his contributions to the craft of music.

 

As always, it was great to see old friends and make new ones. Check out the photo gallery below for a look at some of what went down last weekend. For more information about 2015 releases, including availability, keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and right here at www.jimdunlop.com.

 

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Category: Dunlop In The News, Events

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In 2015, we’re celebrating our 50th Anniversary—50 years producing high quality, reliable tools that help players express their musical vision as clearly as they possibly can.

 

This year is no different. We’ve got a ton of new gear this year, and we’re debuting it all at the 2015 NAMM Show, which kicks off today at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California. Are you going to be there this weekend? If so, come on over to booth #4568—you’ll be able to demo our new electronics, as well as some of the classics, and catch some great performances and signings from Dunlop artists.

 

Here’s the Dunlop booth artist performance schedule:

 

Winter NAMM 2015 Artist Performance Schedule

 

Friday Jan 23rd

 

11:30am   Leonardo Guzman (Guitar)

 

1pm          Josh Martin (Guitar) & Ryan Donald (Bass) – Little Tybee

 

3pm          Marcus Miller (Bass)

 

5pm          Eric Gales (Guitar)

 

 

Saturday Jan 24th      

 

11:30am  Jose Macario Tovar (Guitar)

 

1pm         Chris Letchford (Guitar), Travis LeVrier (Guitar) & Mark Michell (Bass) – Scale The Summit

 

3pm         Wojtek Pilichowski (Bass)

 

5pm         Charlie Parra del Riego (Guitar)

 

 

If you can’t make it to the show, be on the lookout for NAMM demos and previews from your favorite gear sites. Here’s a sample of what’s coming in 2015:

 

Cry Baby Mini Wah
Marcus Miller Signature Super Bright Bass Strings
MXR Iso-Brick Power Supply
MXR Bass Distortion
Super Bright Guitar Strings
Way Huge Saffron Squeeze MkII Compressor
Herco Vintage ’66 Nylon Picks
Jacquard Straps
New Primetone Sculpted Plectra shapes and gauges
50th Anniversary Gold Nylon Pick
Ultex Thumbpicks

 

And of course, we’ll be serving up a ton of content as these products come out, including our famously cool video demos, informative content on the Dunlop blog, and a whole lot more. Keep up with new releases by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and of course, right here at www.jimdunlop.com.

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Category: Accessories, Cry Baby, Dunlop Electronics, Dunlop Straps, Dunlop Strings, Events, MXR, Picks, Way Huge

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Dunlop has provided musicians with so many amazing tools for so long that it’s hard to remember a time when that wasn’t the case. It’s also easy to forget that this company doesn’t just have a man’s name—it was actually named after a man. And 50 years ago, that man was perceptive enough to see a need in the marketplace, smart enough to be able to design and build a product to fill that need, and fearless enough to think that he could sell that product to millions of musicians. It was indeed that fearless and adventurous spirit that brought Jim Dunlop to the US from Canada in the 1960s. As part of our 50th anniversary celebration, Jim and his son Jimmy sat down with us to talk about our company’s beginnings and most important milestones.

 

The Guitar Capo: A New Beginning

“I got a postcard from a friend of mine,” says Dunlop. “It had a picture of a bikini-clad lady and said it was 90 degrees in Muscle Beach. It was 12 degrees below in Ottawa. I decided I’m getting the hell out of here. So we packed up. My wife was seven months pregnant at the time. To get across the border, you had to prove you had $1,600 in your bank account. I only had $600 in the bank at that time, so I went straight to the credit union and borrowed $1,000. Then I went to the American consulate general in Montreal, showed them the $1,600 in my account, and they stamped my papers and said, ‘You’re free to go.’ I went right back to the credit union and paid the $1,000 back in full, and we crossed the border with $600 and a final destination: San Francisco.”

 

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Dunlop began working as a machinist by day to support his growing family. Almost immediately, however, he started creating products for guitarists in his spare time. “The president of the company where I worked played guitar, same as I did. He wanted me to make what we called a VU-Tuner. It was placed on the top of the guitar and it had a reed that vibrated sympathetically with the low-E string.” That product would evolve into the Vibra-Tuner, which Dunlop would pitch to music stores and guitarists on weekends. Despite the fact that there was nothing on the market quite like it, it was poorly received.

 

“At that point, I was losing money. One day, I was in San Francisco trying to sell it to a guy and he told me there was a need for a good 12-string capo, and I decided I was going to make one. So I came up with the design and patented the overstretched knee, or Toggle capo. I started making them on my own, with my wife. That’s the capo that became the 1100, as we call it now. Pretty soon I decided that it needed more adjustment, so I patented another capo with an adjustment at the end of it. We called that the 1400, and it also worked really well.”

 

The reactions to the first Dunlop capos, from players and store owners alike, were immediately positive. One particularly influential store owner/luthier was Berkeley’s Jon Lundberg. Lundberg was one of the leaders of the thriving Berkeley guitar-building community and was the go-to guy for acoustic guitar repair and history during the ’60s folk explosion. He regularly purchased capos from Jim Dunlop and, in a conversation during one of those visits, Lundberg would say something that would end up changing Dunlop’s life forever. “He told me he wanted me to build the old National metal thumbpick, because they weren’t making them anymore. So I did, and he bought them.”

 

The Guitar Pick: Discovery & Revolution

A seemingly offhand comment from a Berkeley repairman would start a chain of events for Dunlop that led directly to what we know as Dunlop Manufacturing, Inc. today. More and more prominent players began using Dunlop products, allowing Jim to further expand his line. Drawing on input from guitarists, a keen eye for needs in the marketplace, and his machinist’s sense of precision, Dunlop gave players greater options than ever before in their choices of tools.

 

“I really just wanted to make something that musicians would use. I got a patent on a fingerpick that was rounded at the cuticle, and I made that in six gauges. When that was successful, I decided I was going to make flatpicks, and I started by making punched celluloid. You could only get heavy, medium, and light in those days. I was looking for something to set me apart, so I decided I was going to make nylon flatpicks in six gauges, from .38mm to 1mm—anything from a really light one to a really heavy one. Nylon picks were a big success and we still sell them to this day.”

 

Dunlop would capitalize on the success of his nylon picks and begin exploring different shapes, thicknesses, and materials, and in the process transformed not just the marketplace, but the music world as well. Ever the student of players’ needs, and driven by a desire to evolve the nylon pick, Dunlop continued to research how the tools of the trade might be improved. “I read every issue of Guitar Player Magazine and found the parts where guitarists said what pick they used. I took that information, which was mostly about the shape, and I put it all together and came up with the Jazz I, II, and III. I managed to hit a home run with the Jazz III, because we’ve sold quite a few of them.”

 

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Rather than sit back and ride the success of his pick line, however, Dunlop forged ahead. The holy grail of plectrum material, real tortoiseshell, was no longer available, and no one had come up with a suitable substitute. Dunlop began experimenting with a material that he would name Tortex®, and it would go toe-to-toe with nylon in popularity until it became his top-selling pick in the late ’90s. Harder than nylon, more durable than celluloid, flexible but with great memory, Tortex was a game-changer. After the pick’s release, world-dominating bands like Metallica, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and many, many others would all use Tortex exclusively. If the Jazz III was a home run, Tortex was a walk-off grand slam.

 

The Dunlop guitar pick line would continue to grow and expand, with more shapes, colors, graphics, textures, and materials. New additions include Delrin and Ultex® picks, as well as the Primetone™ series, which takes Ultex material to a truly state-of-the-art level with hand-burnished, sculpted edges. And every part of the line embodies the respect for the player, attention to detail, and sense of exactitude that Jim Dunlop put into his very first pick.

 

“I think one word that sums it all up is consistency,” he says. “You’ve got to be consistent because when a guitar player goes to a store and he gets a pick, he wants to get the same pick he got the last time. If he went for 1mm, it should be exactly the same as it was before, and I try to do that. I try to build consistency into everything in the product line. That’s the name of the game.”

 

The Guitar Slide: Keeping an American Tradition Alive

If you think about how Jim Dunlop approached pick making—recognizing needs in the market, applying precise manufacturing specs, providing guitarists with more and better options, and exploring the tonal nuances of various materials—it’s clear that he followed the same M.O. when he got into the slide business. After producing pedal-steel tonebars for Ernie Ball, Dunlop heard of a glass slide company that was for sale and he acquired it. At the time, there were very few sizes and thicknesses of slides available. That would soon change.

 

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“All the previous measurements were in inches. We used millimeters for everything and added a wider range in each category, including different thicknesses of glass—thin, medium, and really thick—and different gauges of glass for different sounds. Like we’ve always done, we tried to get to the heart of what the product is and then expand in every area. We started with clear glass slides and then went into brass slides, stainless steel, concave, ceramic, and porcelain.”

 

Today, Dunlop Manufacturing is truly one-stop shopping for slide players at every level, with more sizes and materials to choose from, plus signature slides for the world’s top players such as Billy Gibbons, Derek Trucks, Joe Perry, and more.

 

Cry Baby: Legacy & Innovation

Into the ’80s, Dunlop Manufacturing was primarily associated with the folksy side of the guitar market, offering slides, capos, and picks to players. Driven to grow his business, Jim Dunlop caught wind that the iconic Cry Baby® brand had become available. “The pedals had been off the market for six months,” he says. “Dealers were unable to get them in their stores. We wanted to bring them back.” Dunlop sought out the right people to contact, figured out who he should make an offer to, and leaped into the deep end of the guitar effects pool by acquiring the hallowed wah wah pedal brand. That fearless move forever altered the trajectory of the Dunlop company, not to mention the entire music business as well. Dunlop’s son, Jimmy, was on the scene for the transformation.

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“It changed the whole direction of the company,” he says. “It was very uncharacteristic of the products that we were working with at the time. You’ve got this guy who was a machinist, who made accessories like slides and picks and capos, and he just jumped right into the number-one-selling electronics product of all time—the number-one pedal of all time. There was no caution, no hesitation, and the word ‘failure’ was not in his vocabulary. He just said, ‘I don’t know what it’s all about yet, but I’m going to figure it out.’”

 

That ability to see an opportunity and make it work is a recurring motif in the history of Dunlop, and it never proved more successful than with the Cry Baby acquisition, although it wasn’t an easy transition. For the Cry Baby line to grow into what it is today, there were technical and logistical hurdles that would need to be overcome.

 

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“It was a great opportunity to introduce a level of consistency that never existed before,” says Jimmy, “and take the Cry Baby line to a whole new level. To this day, we constantly examine every component—whether it’s potentiometers, switches, inductors, you name it—and look for ways to improve them. It seems like a really easy product to make, but it’s actually very tricky. You have to remember, when Hendrix used it, he would go through six or seven Cry Baby pedals before he’d find one that sounded right to him, because the inductors were all different. It took a while to get it right, but we never stopped working at it.”

 

Dunlop clearly got it right—by assembling a state-of-the-art engineering team and consistently securing top-quality parts from vendors—and the results are apparent on recordings and on stages in every style of music. The Cry Baby sound is a crucial part of the soundtrack to our life, and you need only look to the Cry Baby signature artistsJimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde, Kirk Hammett, and Jerry Cantrell—to see how important this pedal is to musical expression. In the words of Jimmy Dunlop, “Cry Baby is it.”

 

The Jimi Hendrix Series: The Voice of an Icon

The Cry Baby acquisition firmly established Dunlop as an electronics company. Soon enough, an opportunity would present itself that would not only expand the pedal line, but also transform Dunlop’s relationships with artists all over the world.

 

“We were asked to release a hot-rodded wah pedal in Japan, and we decided it should be based on Jimi Hendrix’s tone,” says Dunlop. “He’s the most important guitar player to ever step on a wah pedal, so we modified a wah to Jimi’s specs. At that time, lots of people were putting his name or likeness on products, but they weren’t properly compensating his family. We didn’t want to do it like that. We wanted to do it the right way.”

 

Jim Dunlop connected with Hendrix’s father, Al, and informed him that Dunlop wanted to release a wah pedal with Jimi’s name on it, and the company intended to pay Al for every pedal sold. With that relationship solidified, Dunlop’s natural curiosity and resourcefulness led him to explore the other elements in Hendrix’s tonal recipe.

 

“We figured, if the most iconic and influential guitarist of all time used a product, that was a pretty good recommendation. We initially set out to just make a Hendrix-modded wah pedal, but that got us looking at his whole effects chain. It led us to the Fuzz Face® Distortion, then the Uni-Vibe® Chorus/Vibrato, and the Octavio® Fuzz. Those products were all out of production. You couldn’t get them, and they’re all amazing effects.”

 

Still motivated by a determination to grow his business and meet musicians’ needs, Jim Dunlop consulted and partnered with industry experts who were intimately familiar with Hendrix’s tone and the circuitry of his pedals to recreate these famous products. Dunlop is now unquestionably the caretaker of the Hendrix signal chain, and it’s a role that the company takes very seriously. Players all over the world have responded in droves, using fuzz, wah, and every other Hendrixian effect to fuel countless hits.

 

MXR: Rebirth & Renaissance

With the famed Hendrix signal chain under its belt, Dunlop was now a major player in the electronics game. After a brief time, the company would take on yet another classic line that was lying dormant: MXR®. In the ’70s, it was virtually impossible to find a hit record or a famous guitarist that didn’t have an MXR pedal associated with them. Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, the Rolling Stones, and many others stomped on brightly colored MXR boxes to power their classic tunes. But the ’70s turned into the ’80s, styles changed, and what had been cool was suddenly out of fashion. MXR was languishing, but Jim Dunlop recognized the legacy that MXR had built and saw the potential of this storied brand.

 

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Jimmy Dunlop remembers the situation at the time. “The Phase 90 has a timeless sound, so it’s always been popular,” he says. “But in 1988, nobody wanted a Dyna Comp® Compressor or Distortion+. People were into rack gear. Not enough time had passed for these pedals to be nostalgic or to come back around.”

 

It was only a short time later, however, that the line was able to truly take off. Building on the foundation of MXR’s classic offerings, Dunlop began expanding and innovating, bringing new and exciting designs to the marketplace.

 

“Once we started coming out with our own designs,” says Jimmy, “things started to happen with MXR. We were the wah people, so we released the Auto Wah. We introduced the Super Comp® Compressor. Then, when Eddie Van Halen came on board and we did the EVH 90 phaser, that was really the second coming of MXR. It’s funny, because he’s the guitarist people really associated with MXR in the first place.”

 

Along the way, Dunlop would create many successful pedals under the MXR label. “We designed pedals with Zakk Wylde, Kerry King, Slash, and Dimebag,” says Jim. “It was incredible to watch it grow.”

 

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And grow it did, with dozens of stompboxes in the line and more on the way. Classics like the Phase 90 and Dyna Comp Compressor sit side by side with cutting-edge designs like the Super Badass™ Distortion and the Carbon Copy® Analog Delay. Preserving tradition while forging ahead—that’s the Dunlop way. The MXR line is so strong and vibrant today that it’s difficult to remember when space-age digital gear residing in refrigerator racks was not only the order of the day, but seemingly the wave of the future. Fast-forward to the present day and those rack pieces have not aged so gracefully, whereas these little multicolored analog boxes are cooler and more popular than ever before.

 

“It’s weird to think about it now,” says Jimmy. “These great old gems were just sitting there and nobody was touching them. But they were all relevant sounds. We didn’t know if analog would ever come back. Digital was king. It was so clean and new, and it had become such a big part of popular music. Then the Seattle movement came, and that’s when all of the analog effects came off of the shelf. All those bands were resurrecting and reimagining tones that Jimmy Page and the Stones were getting back in the ’60s and ’70s. Once these pedals came back, they never went away.”

 

 

THE NEXT 50 YEARS

The first half century for Dunlop Manufacturing has been one of the most amazing, improbable, inspiring, rocking triumphs in the history of the music business. From impossibly humble beginnings, Jim Dunlop turned his musicianship, technical know-how, and fearlessness into a legendary company that musicians worldwide look to for accessories, electronics, and more. Through it all, Dunlop is still a family company, and our R&D and production facilities are all still in Benicia, California, with a team of more than 250 skilled and dedicated people who work hard every day to uphold Jim’s commitment to providing musicians with the tools they need.

 

The next 50 years will see Dunlop expanding on the lines of picks, capos, slides, and stompboxes. Already an accessories powerhouse, Dunlop is now branching out into the string business, with state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and support from top musicians such as Marcus Miller, Jerry Cantrell, and Zakk Wylde. In the effects world, Cry Baby and MXR have grown from a handful of authentic reissues to expansive product lines with dozens of new and innovative designs, and the Way Huge line is delivering one unique pedal after another, giving players more options than ever. Hailed by many as one of the last true rock and roll companies, Dunlop understands and reveres tradition while embracing the future—with the vision, drive, and tenacity that the founder put into creating his very first pick 50 years ago.

 

Thanks for joining us on the first part of this journey. Stick around. We’re just getting started.

 

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Category: Accessories, Cry Baby, Dunlop Electronics, Dunlop Strings, Events, Interviews, MXR, Picks, Way Huge

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Click here to learn more about the MXR Custom Shop line & find a dealer near you.


 

The MXR Custom Shop is all about sonic discovery. In their effort to explore the furthest reaches of tone, the Custom Shop team invites accomplished independent pedal designers from around the world to contribute their unique perspectives and design styles to the cause. The first such collaboration is the Il Torino Overdrive, a highly tweakable overdrive pedal designed with Carlo Sorasio, Italy’s top tone maestro. He works with Italy’s top musical acts, designing amps and pedals to suit their needs on the road and in the studio.

 

He sat down to talk with us about his entry into the world of pedal designing and the creation of the Il Torino Overdrive, a highly tweakable OD that’s perfect for guitar players who like to fine-tune each part of their signal chain.

 

When did you first start designing pedals?

Carlo: While attending Polytechnic University of Turin, I studied electronics on my own, particularly analog electronics, using old books I found in the school library. I started out just building pedals for myself as a guitar player. The first was a Dallas Rangemaster clone in 2004, and I modded many other pedals, including ones from MXR and Dunlop.

 

I started my business in 2007 after completing my mechanical engineering degree. In 2008, I released my first amp commercially and continued to perfect the design until 2010 when I deepened my understanding of PCB and transformer design.

 

Which artists have you worked with?

Carlo: I have worked with some of the finest Italian guitar players. Some of the most important are Mario Schilirò (guitars for Zucchero Fornaciari), Giacomo Castellano (Thomas Lang, Nannini, Elisa, solo), Massimo Varini (Boccelli, Pausini, Ramazzotti), and Water Donatiello (Gerry Mulligan, Stevie Lacy, Bruno Chevillon).

 

Internationally, I have had the pleasure of work with Stef Burns and Stevie Salas.

 

Stevie and Stef, when and how did you meet Carlo?

Stevie: I met Carlo when I was playing a concert a few years back in Turin. When I arrived for sound check, he was there working with the opening act. He showed me some pedals as well as some custom amplifiers.

 

I get approached a lot by gear designers, and usually they don’t impress me, so I wasn’t that excited. But he was a nice guy, so I decided to plug into the amp he had onstage. As soon as I plugged into it, I knew right away that this was something VERY special. After that, he showed me some of his custom pedals, and needless to say, his overdrive blew my mind. I ended up both the amp and the overdrive for my concert that night and for the rest of the tour! In fact, I have used them on every European tour since.

 

Stef: I also met Carlo at a Turin gig. He had an amp that he built for me to try, and it rocked!

 

Carlo, what would you say is your specialty as a pedal designer?

Carlo: So far, overdrive and boost pedals. But I am expanding my range of expertise and am currently working on phaser, flanger and delay effects.

 

I think that, especially for a self-taught guy like me, it’s normal to start with the overdrive and boost. Simple projects that help to learn the basics. Modulation and delay, however, are more complex, and it takes more skill to avoid simply copying other designs. And these skills can only be obtained through experience and mistakes—lots of mistakes!

 

Stef: He obviously has knowledge and a talent for building amps and pedals but he also has an ear for tone so he can do it right.

 

Stevie: I meet many guys around the world who do what he does and the difference between good and great can be measured by a micrometer. Carlo has a way of making amps and effects that sound vintage/modern capturing the best of the old with a little something new in there. He has also found a way to use modern techniques to achieve this making the pedals and amps affordable without losing quality.

 

Which of his products do you own?

Stef: I have the Blues Devil and it works great for adding a singing tone to clean and extra gain to lead.

 

Stevie: I have his Il Torino Overdrive in a prototype form and some of his prototype amp heads. Over the years, I have had him do some mods to the pedal.

 

Have you worked with Carlo to develop any custom gear?

Stevie: We have worked closely on his overdrive, and we are messing with old Jet Phase type effects.

 

Carlo, which circuit designs have inspired you the most?

Carlo: Well, as I said the Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster was the first pedal I ever made. It’s a very simple circuit—just 7 components and one transistor—but it’s a pain to make t play well. When you get it, though, it’s amazing. That circuit taught me the importance of each component and how it contributes to the final result.

 

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Tell us about the MXR Il Torino Overdrive. What sound and functionality were you shooting for?

Carlo: The Il Torino Overdrive is an overdrive pedal for fine-tuners. It’s very versatile and very organic sounding at any of its settings. At first, I was searching for a Zeppelin sounding overdrive with a great touch response and a rough tone. These characteristics are still present in the final product, but we ended up with a broader, more versatile spectrum of overdrive with very nice, natural compression.

 

How did you achieve that goal?

Carlo: I used MOSFET circuitry to recreate the structure of classic tube preamps and LED diodes for their warm, open sound, and I used both local and global feedback to enhance touch response and introduce a bit of asymmetrical saturation. Rolling back the volume on your guitar will clean up the sound without reducing the overall output too much.

 

You can I was very careful to choose the right components for this pedal, particularly the LED diodes, which are very critical to the tone of the Il Torino.

 

I made the pedal much more versatile by adding a simple but powerful three-band EQ section. Each of the knobs is highly responsive across their range, so players will be able to fine-tune their overdrive sound to their liking. The last feature I added was the dual mode OD/BOOST switch, which allows players to toggle between the more aggressive overdrive sound and a cleaner sound that has just the right amount of compression and a lot of sustain.

 

One of this pedal’s main features is that it has a special type of buffered bypass switching rather than true bypass. The type of buffered bypass in the Il Torino uses a Class A Low Impedance Output Driver to maintain natural tonal warmth when using long signal chains. You can’t prevent that kind of signal loss with true bypass.

 

What type of player will be most interested in this pedal?

Carlo: Players of any style, from blues to hard rock and even fusion, will find this pedal very useful for both their overdrive and boost needs. Especially those who like the sound of handmade boutique amps and like to customize their tone.

 

What’s the best way to use this pedal? Any particular guitar (humbucker vs. single-coil) and amp combination?

Carlo: The Il Torino is best used with an amp that is just breaking up. It is a subtle overdrive that doesn’t distort basic sound of your guitar, so you’ll still be able to recognize your own tone. As far as specific amps, the Plexy, JCM800, and Blackface-based circuits are the best for this pedal rather than hi-gain amps. I prefer humbucker pickups for the OD mode. It sounds great with single coils, too, but players may want to roll off the treble to balance out the tone.

 

….

 

The Il Torino Overdrive, as with all MXR Custom Shop pedals, is available now from an exclusive network of Custom Shop Dealers. See our MXR Custom Shop page for a list of dealers near you. Want to see it in action? Check this out:

 

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Category: MXR

Tip-of-the-WeekSPA

 

So you’ve managed to yank the Velcro off the bottom of your pedal, but it left behind a gunky residue. Fear not—it’s fairly easy to remove. We’ll show you.

 

Today, our guinea pig is an MXR Custom Shop Phase 99 with little splotches of mild gunkiness in all four corners of the bottom plate.

 

GooGone2

 

 

First step: get yourself a bottle of Goo Gone. You can find this stuff at most hardware stores, and even some grocery stores carry it.

 

 

GooGone1

 

Once you have a bottle, dab some Goo Gone onto a cloth. Pressing firmly, rub the Goo Gone moistened cloth on the pedal’s gunk. It won’t be long before the surface is clean—repeat as necessary until it is gone.

 

GooGone3

 

And there you have it. Gunk-free Phase 99. Make sure to wipe the surface clean with soap and water afterward, and make sure to follow all of Goo Gone’s safety precautions.

 

GooGone4

 

Dunlop Strings are carefully crafted at our own built-from-the-ground-up factory in Benicia, California. They break in fast and tune up quickly, and they hold their “sweet spot” for a long time. Just put on a fresh set, tune up, and play. With innovative wrapping techniques and custom core-to-wrap ratios, we’re moving guitar strings forward and empowering you, the player.

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Category: MXR, Tech Tips, Tip of the Week

CryBaby-HEADER

So you’ve spent some time with a standard GCB95 Cry Baby Wah, getting a feel for how its sweep works and how to season up your licks with it. You’re ready to step up your wah game, to branch out and explore different tonal possibilities. Can’t figure out where to begin your search? Worry not! We put this cheat sheet together to help you choose your next Cry Baby Wah.

 

This guide is broken down by musical genre/style. It’s meant to be a general overview and a starting point—your personal tastes and playing style will—and should always be—the deciding factor. Take a look.

 

Classic Rock

Cry Baby Classic Wah: This wah—equipped with the same Fasel inductor used in the original Italian-made Cry Baby pedals—has a sweet midrange voice that is perfect for old school rock. A classic pedal for classic sounds!

 

Vintage Hard Rock

Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah: Overall voicing is dark, meaty, and focused. Perfect for gnarly distorted leads.

Joe Bonamassa Signature Cry Baby Wah: This one has a bit of growl to the tone, which works well driven through a moderate gain tube amp.

 

Modern Hard Rock

Jerry Cantrell Signature Cry Baby Wah: Very expressive and very throaty. A knob on the side allows you to lower the frequency of the toe-down position, which allows for a lot of tone/response versatility.

535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah: This is the Swiss Army Knife of wahs. Adjustable Q, selectable heel/toe voicing, output boost—the 535Q is perfect for players who like to tweak and tailor their sound from rig to rig and song to song.

 

Blues and Blues Rock

Buddy Guy Signature Cry Baby Wah: Smooth, warm, and voiced like a bell.

Clyde McCoy by Cry Baby Wah: This our tribute to the very first wah pedal—super throaty and super expressive thanks to its Halo inductor. Sounds just as great with vintage hard rock as it is with blues and blues rock.

 

Metal

Dimebag Signature Cry Baby Wah: This is actually our most versatile wah pedal—6-position heel/toe voicing selector, adjustable Q, boost level trim, toe down voicing trim, stereo outs. You can sculpt your tone into downright nastiness when using hi gain amps.

Zakk Wylde Signature Cry Baby Wah: Voiced around the lower mids to better complement a downtuned set up, and it pairs well with high gain rig.

 

Wild Cards

MC404 CAE Wah: This wah is great if you want to go back and forth betweeen vintage and modern sounds, which is ideal for those of you who play in cover bands. It has two different Fasel inductors and a great built-in boost.

105Q Cry Baby Bass Wah: This one has the deepest and broadest range. It doesn’t use an inductor like most wahs. Instead, it’s voiced more like a classic envelope filter, which can get very heavy!

 

Which Cry Baby Wah do you use? Are you planning on changing it up? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Category: Cry Baby

Dunlop Strings are carefully crafted at our own built-from-the-ground-up factory in Benicia, California. They break in fast and tune up quickly, and they hold their “sweet spot” for a long time. Just put on a fresh set, tune up, and play. With innovative wrapping techniques and custom core-to-wrap ratios, we’re moving guitar strings forward and empowering you, the player.

 

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out what some of our top artists have to say about Dunlop Strings…

 

 

JimRoot

 

Slipknot’s Jim Root plays Dunlop Nickel Wound Strings
“Dunlop Strings are completely versatile, brilliant and clear, chunky and searing. They endure night after night of endless touring, making them perfect for me.”

 

Munky2

 

Korn’s Munky plays Heavy Core Strings
“Whether my inspiration calls for a magnitude of force and aggression or a small spooky sound, these 7-string sets are flawless.”

 

 

MattHeafy2

 

Trivium’s Matt Heafy plays Dunlop Nickel Wound Strings
“Whether 50 or 50,000 people; 35 degrees fahrenheit of 120 degrees fahrenheit; bedroom or arena—the strings you pick are an integral piece of your voice and your musical arsenal. Choose something that can be pushed beyond the limit. Dunlop Strings.”

 

CoryBeaulieu

 

Trivium’s Corey Beaulieu plays Dunlop Nickel Wound Strings
“Strings hold up strong and give me the performance and durability that is needed to make my guitar rock hard every night!”

 

AndyJames2

 

Andy James plays Dunlop Nickel Wound Strings & Heavy Core Strings
“I’ve used Dunlop 10-46 standard strings and heavy cores for a good while now, and Dunlop have the best feel I’ve ever used in a set of strings. I’m not going anywhere else.”

 

 

EricGales

 

Eric Gales plays Dunlop Nickel Wound Strings

“I love these strings. They last long, and they withstand all of my bending techniques.”

 

 

To learn more about Dunlop Strings and Dunlop Strings Artists, check out the Dunlop Strings Official playlist on our YouTube Channel, or click play below, sit back and let the knowledge flow…

 

 

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Category: Dunlop Strings

No guitar player was more instrumental to the popularity of the MXR brand than Eddie Van Halen. Beginning with the groundbreaking “Eruption,” Eddie has continued to use MXR pedals such as the Phase 90, the Flanger, and others to create his iconic sound. The year 2014 marks MXR’s 40th anniversary, and Eddie was gracious enough to sit down with Guitar World and talk about the importance of those MXR pedals to his music. Read the interview in its entirety below.

 

 

Guitar World, November 2014 | Eddie Van Halen & MXR

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Category: Artist News, MXR

 

 

 

Tip-of-the-WeekSPA

 

Your first instrument mod should be installing a set of Straplok® Strap Retainers. Guitars and basses ain’t cheap, so protect your artistic investment—don’t rely on stock strap buttons to keep your instrument from falling straight onto the floor. Many a player has left the stage with their head hung low and a busted instrument in their hands because their strap just wasn’t secure enough.

 

Straploks

 

And it’s an easy mod to do—just follow the instructions that come with each set. If you don’t feel confident installing Straplok Strap Retainers yourself, take your instrument to your local guitar tech. If you are interested in doing it yourself, on the other hand, check out our step-by-step pictorial.

 

Dunlop Strings are carefully crafted at our own built-from-the-ground-up factory in Benicia, California. They break in fast and tune up quickly, and they hold their “sweet spot” for a long time. Just put on a fresh set, tune up, and play. With innovative wrapping techniques and custom core-to-wrap ratios, we’re moving guitar strings forward and empowering you, the player.

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Category: Dunlop Strings, Tech Tips, Tip of the Week