“I wanna sound like (insert famous player here)…”

This is a common request we get here at Make’n Music.  “I wanna get that brown sound tone of Eddie Van Halen” or, “I wanna get that chime of John Lennon’s Rickenbacker” followed by someone else saying they want the bluesy drive of Stevie Ray Vaughn.

There’s a lot to be said about you getting those same tones.  The tones that you immediately think of when you put your headphones on and crank up “1984” or “Texas Flood” are legendary, but the problem with that is you’re missing a crucial part between what’s coming out of those headphones and what hits your ears when you plug in to your amp.

“But… but… I’ve got the same amp! I’ve got the same guitar! I’ve got the same effects! What gives?!”

In the studio, chances are that same amplifier was in front of about $7,000 worth of microphones and about $20,000 worth of outboard gear before it hit a $300 roll of analog tape and then got mixed and mastered after numerous overdubs using multiple amps.

That doesn’t mean that there’s not ways of getting those tones without sitting in a control room with your amp miced up by a vintage tube Neumann U87, an RCA ribbon mic, a close-miced SM57 and an AKG 414 about 5 feet away, it just means looking for other options to get that tone.

A lot of people will associate the tone of an artist with what they see in pictures of them performing with onstage.  In the studio this is a completely different story.  The guy onstage with a wall of name-brand speaker cabinets is cashing in his check to use those while behind that stack lies a Bogner Uberschall and an oversized 2×12 cabinet.  Why?  Because it sounds better.  Jimmy Page’s ZOSO Marshall stacks and double neck guitars were probably safely secured on a truck somewhere while some of the best tones you ever heard on Zep albums were made by a 15 watt Supro amp and a Telecaster in the studio. The Beatles used old Selmer amps at Abbey Road along with their Voxes but couldn’t take the Selmers on the road because they’d fall apart.  They had the tone though.

Chances are, when you come in the shop next, you’ll see and hear amplifiers from companies you’ve ever heard of in your life.  These are the same amps that studios and producers are buying and putting in their studios as their secret weapons for some pretty serious albums.

We’re proud of our amp selection here.  We know what sounds people are looking for and how they could be better.  Want a killer Van Halen brown sound?  Unless you’re Eddie and you’ve got a wall of vintage Marshalls and you’re MURDERING them voltage-wise with a variac, you’re not gonna get that tone.  Plus, it’s gonna be muddy sounding (hence the amount of EQing in the studio).  What about the

Freidman Brown Eye

Friedman Brown Eye?  It NAILS that brown eye tone, it’s built like a Sherman Tank and it’s drastically more clear.  Plug in and sit in front of it.  It immediately sounds like those tones you’re familiar with.  Look at Aerosmith, Foo Fighters and Green Day.  If you look hard enough, they’re onstage with them.

Stevie Ray Vaughn was pretty much the end-all be-all when it came to bluesy tone.  That thick but biting blues grit of a Howard Dumble amplifier, a Strat and an Ibanez Tube Screamer.  Dumbles have always been excruciatingly hard to find and when they are found, they go for tens of thousands of dollars (yes, you read that correctly).  For that, a small amount of people have actually played through one, so when we hear “does it have

Carol-Ann OD3 head

that Dumble type of tone?” it’s hard to show them to an amp that they’d be familiar with.  Carol-Ann Amps makes an extremely smooth and focused sounding amp line that can get that SRV / John Mayer bluesy tone but still have enough space in the gain stage to push it harder if needed.

Keep in mind, a lot of this tone isn’t just a Strat, a Dumble and a Tube Screamer, it was Stevie’s hands as well.  Give him a $100 electric guitar starter kit from Wal-Mart with negligible intonation and terrible action and he’ll still make it sound like Stevie Ray Vaughn.  That’s always the thing to realize when it comes to gear.

And don’t forget…. don’t be afraid to sound like yourself.  Maybe someone will want to sound like you one day.

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Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series EXCLUSIVE to Make’n Music!

Last week we received a massive order of our exclusive run of “Master Vintage Player Series” guitars from the Fender Custom Shop.  Now, when I mean a massive order, I mean a pallet that was 7 feet tall containing 40 guitars.

So what makes the Master Vintage Player Series special?  Teddy, the owner here at Make’n Music, has a knack for designing custom runs that borrow the best features and tones from vintage guitars while blending them with more modern features available from the high-quality building processes of today.  We wanted to have a run of guitars that not only feels amazing from the get-go, but has the modern accoutrements to keep the player happy.  Imagine a 60 year old guitar that now has a truss rod adjustable at the headstock, plays better and has more tones available. All while retaining a stock look and retaining the comfortable feel of an old catcher’s mitt, the second you put it in your hands.  Enter the MVPs.

When Teddy approached the Fender Custom Shop about an exclusive run of guitars, he worked hard with them to create something special that would appeal to those with a taste for the vintage, but also to those with the needs for modern provisions.  Every minute detail and specification of these instruments were painstakingly thought out.

Make’n Music owner Teddy Gordon with an MVP 1960’s Heavy Relic Strat (R61385) and an MVP 1950’s Heavy Relic Telecaster (MM5035)

“They’re meant to be a true modern player’s guitar with a vintage vibe and feel.  These are not just another vintage reissue or a custom version with one or two changes” Teddy says, “these are guitars that are not only great players, but you’re not paying for anything that doesn’t literally contribute to the tone or functionality of the instrument.  From the wood of the body, the pickups, the finish, the relicing, everything is there for a reason.”

Tone was crucially important to these instruments.  When choosing pickups for the guitars, Teddy spent a lot of time deciding on which ones to use for each guitar.  Stacks of pickups were looked at, alternative brands were contacted. When it came down to it though, we went with what we thought was best for the model and the era of tone that the guitar was going for.

Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player 1956 Strat Heavy Relic

For the 50’s era MVP Strats, Teddy happily decided on loading the guitars with Custom Shop Fat 50’s pickups, saying,

“The Fat 50’s retained the 50’s spank and twang but add a little beefiness to the guitar.  They sounded great but took away that inclination towards any of that bright harshness with the guitar’s ash body.”

These pickups, playing along with the ash body and the 10/56 ”V” profile (.860″ – .960″) on the quartersawn maple neck give that great classic vintage 50’s vibe.

There’s plenty of ways to add additional sounds in guitars whether it be routing out the body and putting in active circuitry, putting little dip-switches on the pickguard or adding additional gadgets to the front of the guitar.  Teddy definitely wanted to add tonal versatility, but the last thing he wanted to do was harm the classic integrity of the guitar or route anything to deter the resonance of the instrument.   By choosing Fender’s unique S-1 switch for the Volume knob, the MVPs were able to retain a stock look, as well as all the familiar tones and switching already in place with the standard 5-way.  In the 50′s and 60′s MVP Strats, when activated, the S-1 will engage both the bridge and neck pickups, giving you a rarely heard “Tele-esque” quality to a Strat (think Blackmore / Page).  The H/S/S MVP Strats loaded with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge position utilize the S-1 switch to split the coils, giving you the flexibility to go from screaming ‘bucker tones to that beautiful, glassy single-coil chime with the flick of a button.

New Old Stock vs Heavy Relic finish packages

We happen to be big fans of the Heavy Relic guitars here at the shop. There is just something about a guitar with half a century’s worth of road-worn wear and tear that makes it instantly comfortable while conveying the vibe that it must play and sound great. Fender does a great job replicating that wear with the Relic process and these guitars are especially crusty. We do realize that pre-aged, beat to snot guitars are not for everyone, however. That’s why we also spec’d some very special New Old Stock (NOS) versions of the Master Vintage Player Series Strats and Teles. These NOS models feature all the same custom specs and tone as their Relic counterparts, but they have the look of a brand new instrument. Shiny chrome hardware, a glossy Nitrocellulose Lacquer finish on the body and a special, gunstock oil finish for the neck keeps the feel of natural wood without all the dirt and grime found on the Relic.

Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series 1960 Strat NOS

With the 60′s Strats we wanted to go after the best tones of that era and offer a phenomenally comfortable instrument. The Alder body guitar is fitted with a dark rosewood fingerboard attached to an oval C, SRV #1 Tribute Strat neck profile (.825″ – .945″). These are loaded with the Custom Shop John Cruz Limited pickups which work perfectly for the tone of this guitar. Teddy had this to say:

“The Cruz pickups had that hotter output of something like a Texas Special but a little bit more top end sparkle.  It almost sounded like the perfect combo of a Fat 50 and the ’69 pickups.”

HSS 60’s Strat

Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series 1960 Strat HSS

For the H/S/S MVP 60′s Strats, Teddy decided on a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker in the bridge position. The JB is an Alnico 5 pickup and is one of the most popular pickups on the market today. It also blends perfectly with the Fender Custom Shop Fat 50’s and Custom Shop ’69 singlecoils in the neck and middle positions, respectively. The aforementioned S-1 switch splits the bridge pickup and works remarkably well at replicating a sparkly single-coil tone.

Fender MVP 1969 Stratocasters (NOS and Heavy Relic)

The MVP 1969 Strats came into play when we wanted to expand the MVP lineup beyond the typical 50’s and 60’s Strats and Teles. By loading up a lightweight alder body with two Custom Shop ’69 pickups in the neck and middle position and a Fat ’50s in the bridge, these guitars are willing and able to give that “Star Spangled Banner” Woodstock tone. Of course the modern flexibility of the S-1 switch and an adjustable, “Bullet” truss rod at the nut are great features as well.  In terms of keeping with the look, the super-cool oversized headstock adds the perfect vibe of the era of these guitars.  These are also available with NOS or Heavy Relic finishes, all in Olympic White, just like Jimi’s.

Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series Heavy Relic 1973 Stratocaster

The 1973 Strats features the same exact setup as the 1969 models-  Same pickups, same big headstock, S-1 switching, etc… but with the exception of some  additional finishes and a Rosewood fingerboard option.

Fender Custom Shop MVP Teles (50’s NOS with humbucker in back, 60’s heavy relic in middle, 50’s heavy relic in front)

The illustrious Fender Telecaster! Here again with Master Vintage Player Series tweaks to go for the vintage vibe and ’50s / ’60s feel but with the modern player updates, just like the Strats.  The MVP Teles all include the headstock adjustable truss, as well as a few important changes unique to the Tele.  All of the bridges use Gatton bridge saddles for much better intonation as well as a special “cut bridge” that lets your fingers get to the Volume and Tone controls with unimpeded access. Custom Shop Broadcaster pickups for the bridge position and Twisted Tele pickups for the neck position (with the exception of the MVP NOS Teles with the Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbucker in the neck) provide a modern take on classic Tele tone.

The 50′s Teles feature quartersawn Maple necks with a 10/56 Soft V profile, while the 60′s Teles have the dark rosewood fingerboard and an SRV #1 Tribute Oval C profile.  Like all the MVP Strats and Teles, they also feature 6105 frets, a 9.5″ radius and a 1-11/16″ nut width.

When it all comes down to it, the Master Vintage Player series is something that will grow with you over time.  It’ll fit in your hands better, it will sound better over the years and it’ll make you a happier player.  There is nothing’s wrong with that!

Keep in mind, what’s on our site isn’t your only option.  If you want to find the MVP of your dreams but tweaked exactly how you want it, that’s never a problem.  We have an exceptional relationship with the Fender Custom Shop and would love to see you happy.

See our full inventory of Fender Custom Shop guitars

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Another customer happy with a custom made Tom Anderson guitar!

Here’s a message we got recently from a recent customer, John Flaherty, regarding a custom made Tom Anderson that we helped him spec out and get ordered.  We get a number of happy customers leaving our shop on a regular basis, but for John to write us this email just goes to show that we’re more than just a guitar shop. Just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for a beautiful, beautiful guitar.  About a year ago I had dropped into Make’n Music and played a Drop Top Classic that blew me away.  I had to work it out with the boss at home but she understood how rarely I get that knocked out by a guitar and gave me the go ahead to buy it.  Three days later I was back at Make’n Music and it was gone! Sold! Completely bummed me out for weeks.  I kept watch on their website and every time a new Tom Anderson came in, I ran over to check it out and while each was outstanding, none affected me the way the one did.  So finally the folks at Make’n Music (thank you Griffin!) helped

(The original guitar that John fell in love with)

 me track down the particulars on that one guitar and ordered one just like it.  And ?  And it is absolutely beautiful!  I was a bit nervous taking it out to a gig but guitars are meant to be played so I took it out the other night and it blew me (and every other guitar player in the joint) away! An amazing range of tones, fantastically easy to play and beautiful to look at.  So thanks again for making such a wonderful instrument!  All the best, John Flaherty John, we’re happy you’re happy!  It’s always fun to open up a guitar case when you know it’s a guitar for a customer and the guitar far exceeds expectations.  Tom Anderson Guitars are truly some of the most incredible pieces of work out there, John’s guitar being no exception.

Custom orders from Tom Anderson are our SPECIALITY!

Use the simple form as a guide.

Tom Anderson Custom Guitar Quote Sheet

Just open it up, choose your specs and save the file.

e-mail it to us here for pricing.

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I’ll never use an effects pedal!

The Maestro FZ-1. The pedal that launched rock ‘n roll.

A number of you guitarists are purists.  Guitar, cable, amp.  That’s it.  The idea of putting something else into that chain is “impure” or “a waste of time.”  They see their hands as their effects.

I’m here to talk to those who are vehemently against effects.  Those who say “I’ll never plug into one of those boxes, those destroy your tone.”  The idea of the effect pedal is right in the title of that little box.  It’s an “effect.”  It’s something to enhance your tone, something to embellish your playing for the second that you have it on.  It’s not going to destroy what you’ve created; it’s going to complement it.  It’s that bottle that the sommelier brings to the table to drink with your dinner.

I think that a lot of people who try out effects for the first time don’t realize that these little boxes are not there to be on the whole time.  They’re not there to replace the allure of your amp’s beautiful tone; they’re in place when you need them for that one moment to shine.  That one singular moment when you need to turn a head in the room and have someone go “wow… what was that?”  They can help you put more of a fingerprint on your overall playing and tone.

Now, let’s take a break for a second.  I’m not talking about running out right now and getting a Flaboguster 9 billion with USB output and digital reverb, I’m talking about starting with something subtle like a simple clean volume boost.  Kick it in when you need a boost for soloing or use it to hit the front end of your amp for a bit more saturation.  The Xotic RC booster is a beautiful clean booster.  It’s simple, it allows you to get the exact tone you want and then it’s there when you need it.  It’s not a box filled with a rat’s nest of wires, digital circuitry, multiple circuit boards and the like.  It’s just a well built, solid thing that works exactly like you need it to.  Most of the people building these pedals know EXACTLY where you’re coming from when it comes to tone.  The last thing they want to do is muck up your sound.

Overdrive pedals are another simple addition to look at.  There’s a multitude of OD pedals on the market that not only are a beautiful addition to your amp’s sound, but can also play off the tone stack circuit of your amp.  Again, the pedal isn’t there to replace the sound that you’ve created with your amp and your guitar; it can fit into that pocket as well.  These are there to give your amp the growl you’ll be looking for when it’s cranked, but at a much more reasonable level.

One of the most popular and flexible pedals is Plush’s Cream pedal.  It’s simple as simple gets. It’ll work as a clean boost if you need it, but if you want to add that slight bite to your tone, it’s there as well.

Fulltone’s OCD is another one in the same category.  These are both pedals that will give you the meat and potatoes you want when you kick that switch on, but are still are extraordinarily amp-like.  Roll back the volume and it’ll still have that dynamic range and will clean up just like a pushed amp will.  There’s a reason these are two of the most popular overdrive pedals on the market right now.

Obviously, tone purity is extraordinarily important.  These little metal boxes have come a long way since the little dinky aluminum boxes of the 60’s and 70’s that would genuinely destroy your tone.  The way a lot of those older circuits would work, your guitar’s signal would go into the pedal, through all of the guts of the pedal and out into your amp… even when the pedal was turned off!  That was what was affecting the overall signal and may be what the association of “impurities” and “tone-sucking” had come from.  A good majority of the higher end pedals these days (and I’d venture to say closer to 95% of the ones that we carry here at Make’n Music) contain true-bypass switching.  So what does that mean for you?

Imagine a corn maze with a beginning and an end being right next to each other.  You go into the maze, you walk around for a little bit and then you come out.  That is what happens when an effect is on.  Your signal goes through a few transistors and resistors for the effect and then comes out the output to go to your amp.  Now, flick the pedal off.  You’re not going through the maze; you’re walking past the maze entirely.  Guitar, cable, (pedal), amp.  It’s as simple as that.  No extra circuits to run through, no crazy wires, just your normal connection.  Your guitar just sees the cable’s signal, all the way through.

There are those players out there that love pedals.  They love the way an Xotic BB preamp sears through for leads, they love the way that their Diamond Chorus gives them just the right amount of shimmer when they need those arpeggiated clean runs, and they love the way that their Fulltone Clyde wah gives them a leg up when they need to accentuate a part in a song.

If you think about it, there are plenty of things that could be referred to as an “effect.”  The type of wood on your guitar affects the overall sound of the resonance, whether it is a darker or brighter tone.  The types of tubes in your amplifier affect what hits your speakers.  Change to a different set of tubes and you’ve already made your tubes into an “effect.”

I can’t stand here and say what the “best” pedal is, because that doesn’t exist.  It’s in the ears of the beholder.  One person’s best may not be the next person’s best.  I can, however, stand here and say that as the resident effects junkie in the store, I do love the way that a guitar into an amp sounds, but I can also say I love the challenge of hearing a new tone and figuring out how to use that as a musician and how to play off the tone I’ve got in front of me.  Using a volume knob as an effect into a cranked up amp is one thing, but using that volume knob into a cranked up amp, hitting that clean boost for more sustain and then getting instant sustainable and controllable feedback is something that’ll always put a smile on my face.  I hit the switch and I’ll always know it’s there waiting for me.  Plus, you can always call us here at the shop and we can help you figure out where to turn.

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The winners have been contacted for the 25 Most Iconic Guitars contest!

Thank you to all that entered our “25 Most Iconic Guitars” contest!

We have contacted those people who won our “25 Most Iconic Guitars” contest (a number of you had PERFECT scores!) and they will be receiving one of our super comfortable and killer looking Make’n Music t-shirts!


We’ll be having more contests in the future including our current contest to win this BEAUTIFUL Fender Pawn Shop ’72 Telecaster!

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25 of The Most Iconic Guitars

25 of The Most Iconic Guitars

There are guitarists that are so recognizable by their performances that the second you hear them, you know exactly who the player is.

Eddie Van Halen’s tapping “Eruption,” Clapton’s outro to “Layla,” Prince’s killer opening to “When Doves Cry.”  That being said, as recognizable as some of these players are, their instruments have also become as recognizable.  Make’n Music presents a game for you.  The slideshow below shows 25 of some of the most iconic guitars.  Guitars that will give you that same feeling of seeing that guy you went to highschool with but can’t pinpoint where you know him from.  Put in your answers and the lucky few with the most correct answers will receive a Make’n Music t-shirt!  Contest ends 10/15/12.

Thank you to all that entered!  We have contacted our winners!

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Make’n Music will be closed on Memorial Day. MakenMusic.com will be open though!

This Monday, May 28th, Make’n Music will be closed for Memorial Day.  MakenMusic.com will be open the whole time though!

To all our troops, veterans and reserve members of our Armed Forces, THANK YOU.  If you see someone in the Armed Forces, this weekend give them thanks or buy them a beer.  They deserve it.

We will be open on Tuesday, May 29th at our regular time of 11am.

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