Archive | GEAR REVIEWS

Small Space, Big Tone: Best Grab & Go Guitar Gear

At Mass Street, we hold firm to the belief that you can make great music, no matter where you are. This month, we take a look at the best compact, grab & go setups to help you get the most from your music in situations where you might not have the luxury of a dedicated jam space. Whether you’re stuck in a cubicle at the office, in a tiny dorm room, or your lawn chair on a last-minute camping trip, we’ve got the solution. All of these rigs offer a compact setup, real value and quality, and feed your need for playing no matter where you are.

Business man playing guitar in his office

We’ve got plenty of ways to help you get the most from your gear when space is tight.


Gear for the Office Shredder
The cubicle requires a few unique considerations when planning an office based rig. Best case, you have to make sure it’s small and quiet. Worst case? You have to keep it completely hidden! This low-key, under-the-radar setup will have you rocking the office – uh, we mean, “working”, in no time.

At a glance:

Fender Mustang Mini Amp
This 7-watt amplifier is the perfect desk – or desk drawer – amp. Weighing in at just over 7 lbs, its handle doubles as a tilt-back stand, and it runs off an AC power supply or six C batteries. Plus, the Mini includes twenty-four onboard presets, eight digital amp models, and twelve digital effects that can be customized via its USB connection and included FUSE software. How’s that for giving off the illusion of work? Not to mention, it has an on-board tuner, just in case your coworkers are listening, and a headphone jack, just in case you don’t want them to. $129.99

Fender Mustang Mini Amp

Huge sound, yet hardly bigger than a coffee mug. Now that’s office friendly.


Squier Mini Strat
What better guitar to match your Fender Mustang Mini amp than a Squier® Mini Strat? The smaller (3/4 size) scale makes this the perfect size to stash under your desk if the boss comes asking for those TPS reports, and it won’t get in the way if you actually have to get some work done. These Mini Strats are small, but sound and play quite well, especially after a free setup from one of our in-store luthiers. $99.99

Squier Mini Strat electric guitar

Shown here in actual size! OK, just kidding, but this thing is seriously Mini, and seriously awesome.


Shure SE315 Earphones
Talk about discrete! You can plug these tiny, clear earphones straight into your Mustang Mini amp so you can rock out without bothering your cube mates, and stash them easily when you need to. And the 64” wire gives you plenty of length to move around if you’re really shredding. Warning: these are sound isolating earphones, so the chance of your boss being able to sneak up behind you is high! $199.99

Shure SE315 Earphones

Rock out to your hearts content without anyone else in the office hearing you. Warning: they can still see you, though.


Gear for the Dorm Room Acoustic Duo
Not only is the dorm room a very tight space, it’s shared space. Assuming your roommate is capable of throwing down on some riffs too, here’s a super solid, two-person rig that can easily fit between piles of laundry and dusty textbooks.

At a glance:

Fender CD-140 SCE Acoustic-electric
This Fender CD-140 SCE dreadnought crams a ton of features into a great sounding, durable guitar. You get great tone from the solid Spruce top and Mahogany laminate back and sides. But what’s more, it has a Fishman pickup system with an active on-board preamp so you can plug it in for a bit more volume, versatility, and recording abilities. This has a built in tuner too, so you know you’ll be spot on. $299.99

Fender CD-140SCE Acoustic-electric guitar

It’s acoustic. It’s electric. It’s priced right for students. And it sounds pretty darn good, too.


Fishman LoudBox Mini Acoustic Amp

Twenty pounds and only about 14 inches wide, this amp gives you 60 watts of beautiful acoustic tone, without taking up much space at all. The best thing? It has a second channel input for a microphone. Essentially, you could have your Fender CD-140 SCE acoustic plugged in to channel one, and a mic for your roommate plugged into channel two, either for vocals or for micing a non-acoustic/electric guitar. Jam away, until the RA says enough, or crank it up in the common room for an impromptu show – this Mini amp is seriously that powerful. $362.95

Fishman Loudbox Mini Acoustic amp

Plug in your acoustic-electric guitar, a mic, and your set to take the college scene by storm.


Roland R-05 Digital Recorder

You and your roomie could be the next big thing, but no one will ever know unless you have recorded proof. Enter the Roland R-05 Digital Recorder. This is super compact, really easy to use, affordable, and you get enhanced recording and editing features. Use the built in mic, or plug right in. Either way, it records directly to an SD card. And if it doesn’t instantly propel you into rock stardom, it’s also great for recording lectures and class notes. $199.99

Roland R-05 Digital Recorder

Record all your jams using the built-in stereo mic, and it’s perfect for recording lectures, too!


Bonus: Dorm Room Decorating Tip – String Swing Guitar Wall Hanger

Forget posters and a bulletin board. A dorm room with guitars hanging on the wall is much cooler. These wall hangers ($12.95) are well-built, priced right, and are easy to hang – we use them throughout our store. Cinder block walls or worried about losing your security deposit for drilling holes? Try the Fender Folding Electric Guitar Stand instead. ($19.95) Equally cool, no install, and super portable.

String Swing guitar wall hanger

A dorm room adorned with guitars on the wall is too cool for school. Seriously, it might make it hard to get to class on time.


Gear for the Great Outdoors
Chances are, you won’t be the only one slinging an instrument or two at the weenie roast. Especially if you’re at Winfield or another music festival. The least you can do is try and sound great, without having to pack your entire setup. Here’s a look at some camp-worthy gear that’s easy to haul, durable, and downright fun. Kumbaya!

At a glance:

Makala MK-B Baritone Uke
Everyone will be bringing a guitar, so why not be on the cutting edge of cool and bring a Ukelele? This Makala MK-B Baritone Uke is a great option since it’s tuned to the 4 highest strings on a guitar – D, G, B, E – so you can jump right in like a pro. It’s durable and built for the long haul, but also affordable at just $81, so you ‘ll still have money left over to stock the cooler and grill.

Makala MK-B Baritone Ukelele

This baritone uke is perfect for a camping trip. It’s like Guitar Hero, without the luxury of electricity.


Gretsch Broadkaster Resonator Banjo
There’s nothing like the sound of a banjo echoing through the woods. Beautiful, and only somewhat creepy, depending on how far from civilization you are. This 5-string Gretsch Broadkaster has classic banjo tone in spades. The Mahogany resonator and rim help it project like a champ, too, so you’ll be heard over the crackle of the campfire easily. It’s not one you’ll want to leave exposed to the elements if you don’t have to, so consider adding in a Boulder Cases Alpine Resonator Banjo Gig Bag ($54.95) to protect your investment. $419.00

Gretsch Broadkaster Resonator Banjo

If a banjo plays in the woods, and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? If it’s this resonator, it does, and it sounds great.


Harmonicas
and Kazoos
How about sharing the music? Forget the flashlights and bring a couple $5 Kay Chicago Blues Harmonicas, a couple of $.95 Hohner Plastic Kazoos, and you’re set. Until it’s time to find more wood. Then you might actually want that flashlight.

Kay Chicago Blues Harmonica

Campfire, in the key of C#. Who’s ready to jam?


Snark All Instrument Clip-on Tuner

This little Snark Clip-On Tuner has a full-color display that rotates 360 degrees, making visibility simple on any headstock – even at night, in the woods, after the fire dies down! It offers precise tuning and can tune just about any stringed instrument – ukes and banjos included. It even has a built-in tap tempo metronome, which is great for keeping everyone in time, or for keeping everyone awake if you want to be “that guy”.

Snark all instrument clip on tuner

If you’re goanna play all night, you best be in tune. This lil’ clip on tuner makes it easy.

So whether you’re working hard, studying hard, or hardly doing either, these are some great options for ensuring you’ll have music to get you by, no matter what. Ah, we almost forgot. Wherever you are, make sure to also keep your Mass Street Music mug full at all times. Because coffee is almost as vital as music!

Mass Street Music 60 Cycle Buzz coffee and mug

Mmmm… Coffee.

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5 Best Pedalboards from Mass Street Music Staff

 

We love effects pedals at Mass Street Music – it can be a fairly inexpensive way to change up your sound or…it can become an addiction. From classic and essential pedal tuners to the candy colored innovations from Kansas City’s own JHS Pedals to Mission‘s utilities to the mad genius of Strymon, we’ve got ’em, we use ’em and yes, we are addicted. Everyone here at the store has very different boards so we thought we’d give you a closer look at what drives our diverse sounds – and we’ve got a video for each.

Eric Mardis Pedalboard

 

We have a nearly full round-up here – Ted’s “too cool” for pedalboards, Anne’s happy with gain and a master volume on her amp and Jim’s still working on a ’32 Martin, but we think you’ll be intrigued with Eric Mardis’ brilliant set up that lacks any drive pedals as he uses the distortion channel on his amp. Eric Putnam on the other hand has three drives. Boss Flynn just recently cut his board down by seven pedals for a streamlined set up that simplifies yet still gives him plenty of versatility for the variety of gigs he plays. Jesse’s board is purely for acoustic playing – set up beautifully for playing both mando and acoustic guitar. Our mad genius of the Repair Shop, Matt Harmon, has a small rig that he’s totally customized for playing along with various media – it’s pretty brilliant. Let’s get started:

Eric MardisPedalboard through Amp’s Effects Loop
Eric plays everything from country infused twang to full-on shredding to complex jazz and sweet blues, so he needs some versatility. He uses the distortion channel on his JCM900 2 channel amp, and doesn’t have any drive pedals on his board. Some pedals go to the front end of his amp to the effects loop which catches the distortion and preamp settings. It then comes back in the return and heads to the volume and delay/modulation section. His delay/modulation section is interesting too, in these pedals run in parallel loops from his Xotic Stereo X Blender – 3 parallel effects loops. The Blender has 3 sends for his Boss DD-7, Strymon El Capistan Delay and Strymon Lex Rotary. My favorite quote from this video? “…it’s on backwards/reverse, which is just for making noise basically.” Eric is playing through his ’81 Les Paul Custom with Grosh Blown ’59 Humbuckers, into his Marshall JCM900.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GzeOPTrWZ4]

Eric M’s Pedals:
Boss TU-3 Tuner Pedal
Maverick Switchless Wah
Xotic SP Compressor
Saturn Works True Bypass Looper
Boss HR-2 Harmonist Pedal
Morley Volume Pedal
Xotic EP Booster Pedal (which is almost always ON for that Ritchie Blackmore, old school Echoplex preamp circuit)
Delay/Mod section:
Xotic X Blender – controls 3 parallel effects loops, can mix wet/dry
Boss DD-7 Delay Pedal
Strymon El Capistan Pedal
Strymon Lex Rotary Pedal

Eric PutnamPedal Board
Eric P’s board is tailor made for his playing, with a his hand-converted true bypass looper (formerly an ABY box), to a pedal drive stage, to his volume pedal, which he prefers to run after the drive section so he can control volume without affecting the amount of drive. He’s playing through his  Seuf guitar and a Dr. Z Maz 18 with a Pedal Train Pro board and Voodoo Lab Power Supply.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1L0qrAGMo4]

 

Eric’s Pedals:
Wah
Demeter Fuzzulator
Boss TU-3 Tuner (also used as a buffer here to keep his tone intact)
Fulltone Plimsoul Overdrive Pedal
OD-11
Jetter Gold Standard – his primary lead tone
Xotic SP Compressor
Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
Strymon Mobius Pedal
TC Electronic Flashback X4
Xotic EP Booster – Eric keeps this on all the time.

Matt HarmonPractice and Travel Pedalboard
Matt’s board is super compact but with everything you need to plug in and use your iPad or tablet to bring up youtube or Songster to play along with or learn new material. Harmon uses a  Pedal Train board mini board with a Voodoo Lab Power Plus 2 which also powers the iPad. He’s playing his Grosh ElectraJet through a Tungsten Mosaic 9 watt amp with a 12” speaker.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPbTe2Q1yLY]

 

Matt’s Pedals:
JHS Superbolt (as a preamp, it’s on all the time! Don’t miss our video interview with JHS linked here)
Strymon Flint Reverb & Trem Pedal
Boss RC-3 Loop Station Pedal
Electro-Harmonix Headphone Amp

 

Boss FlynnVersatile Custom Pedal Board
Flynn pared down his bigger board to just the essentials. From the Boss DD-20, to the lush trem and reverb of the Strymon Flint, John’s board suits his versatile needs for singer/songwriter, session work and leading worship. If he could have only one pedal, it’s the Xotic AC Booster. He has more boost pedals for various purposes than any staff member at Mass Street. John is playing his Grosh ElectraJet through a Dr. Z Maz 18. His board is a custom Helweg Pedalboard.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llejdKSmi34]

 

John’s Pedals:
Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Junior
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Xotic RC Booster Pedal
Exotic SP Compressor Pedal
Strymon Flint Reverb & Trem Pedal
Xotic AC Booster (the one pedal he won’t live without!)
Demeter Fuzzulator
Boss DD-20 Delay Pedal
Xotic EP Booster Pedal

 

Jesse Braswell RobertsAcoustic Pedal Board
Jesse has a custom acoustic pedalboard he made, outfitted for live gigs from small cafes to large stages. It’s set up for mando and acoustic guitar and suits his needs perfectly. Jesse is playing his Eastman Parlor guitar through a Fishman Loudbox Mini acoustic amp.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yN-aPs5Jq4]

 

Jesse’s pedals on the Mando side:
Boss TU-2 tuner
Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Junior
Radial JDI
Pedals on the Acoustic Guitar side:
LR Baggs Venue DI
TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb Pedal
TC Electronic Nova Repeater Pedal

 

If you have specific pedalboard needs or just want to know more about any of the pedals we’ve mentioned, give us a call at 800-747-9980, email us at info@massstreetmusic.com or check us out online at massstreetmusic.com. Better yet, stop by our store in Lawrence, Kansas and plug a few of these great pedals in.

 

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Leo Posch Guitars at Mass Street Music

We’re very proud to be carrying the exceptional instruments of Kansas luthier and independent guitar builder Leo Posch! He only builds about 20 guitars in one year’s time, crafting each with a respect for and in-depth knowledge of vintage 20s, 30s and 40s instruments (see  current guitars here and sold gallery here). He honed his wealth of knowledge repairing instruments for more than 25 years – some of which were spent as the manager of Mass Street Music‘s own Repair Shop more than a decade ago.

Posch hand selects the woods for his guitars, preferring a stiffer wood over the simply pristine every time. He works closely with the sources for his woods, who often will keep an eye out for him, knowing his preferences. He uses hide glue construction on his guitars which dries harder and is another incremental step that leads to improved resonance. But don’t take our word for it, just check out Mass Street Music Repair Shop Manager Mike Horan test driving the beautiful Leo Posch OO-RW:

For his ‘sunburnt’ finishes, Leo hand applies the color before the nitrocellulose lacquer finish, letting the grain and character of the wood shine through beautifully. His natural finish guitars receive French Polish shellac before he applies the nitrocellulose lacquer. His own specific build techniques help lighten the tops of the guitars a bit so they really sing – you’ll notice the difference the minute you pick one up.

Leo also enjoys doing custom work for folks and is not afraid to try something new, which we love. Check out Eric Mardis putting the multi-scale/fan fret Leo Posch MGA-RW through its paces:

One customer requested a custom guitar built with 13 frets to the body, and Leo realized he liked the sound quite a bit, as well as the appearance and placement of the soundhole and bridge, so he created a few more guitars with 13 frets to the body including this Leo Posch NL-Maple guitar and the OO-RW.

Leo Posch NL-Maple acoustic guitar

Most of his guitars feature stainless steel frets, Ebony fretboards and bridges as well as a bone nuts and saddles. Many feature a comfortable 1 3/4″ nutwidth and 2 5/16″ spacing and all have oustanding resonance and response. Questions about Leo Posch Guitars? Just give us a call at 800-747-9980 or email us info@massstreetmusic.com

Mass St Music Luthiers checking out Leo Posch guitars in the store

Mass Street Music luthiers Matt Harmon (L) and Mike Runyon (R) checking out Leo’s guitars

 

Jim Baggett playing Leo Posch OO-RW guitar

Jim Baggett playing the Leo Posch OO-RW

 

Kansas luthier and independent guitar builder Leo Posch

Leo Posch holding the his beautiful OO-RW acoustic guitar.

 

 

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Seuf Guitars – Kansas City’s finest electric guitars at Mass Street Music

We’ve been fans of Seuf Guitars for several years now and we’ve just received a fresh batch of these unique, superbly resonant electrics, as well as two jaw-droppingly cool basses. Dave Seuferling’s craftsmanship and attention to tone are incredible and we’re proud to be carrying this regional builder’s instruments at Mass Street Music.

 

Seuf OH20 T style guitar red

This Seuf OH-20 T style guitar is a stunner and sounds incredible – Dave’s wood selection, build and finish all add up to phenomenal tone, and the Fralin Blues Special pickups don’t hurt either!

The woods are tone tapped, the necks are just right, and Dave even makes the brass saddles on many of the tele style guitars because he prefers a better grade than is currently available. He also happens to be one of the best in the world when it comes to relic’ing guitars. While the benefits and aesthetics of relic’ing are often debated, Dave’s goal is to create an instrument that feels like it’s been yours for many years, right out of the gate – and we feel he achieves this like no other.

These aren’t scratched up and nicked – these are the real old-school nitrocellulose lacquer finishes and authentic colors (and some Seuferling magic he will never divulge that creates just the right amount of finish checking) — but what it really comes down to is tone and these have it in spades!

 

SEuf OH16 Bass

This Seuf OH-16 bass has a perfect neck, a sweet Cream finish, and is loaded with Fralin P Bass pickups

The finishes and wear are not just for looks, it’s really all about the sound and the feel. Dave also does amazing custom work as John points out this Seuf Special Builds video:

Stop by and play one, or just give us a call at 800-747-9980 — we think you’ll agree these guitars rival or surpass many high end boutique instruments, often at a better price.

Our latest Seuf Guitars:

Seuf OH-20 T Style, Red with Binding, Fralin Blues Special pickups

Seuf OH-19 S Style, White with Lollar Blackface pickups

Seuf OH-20 T Style, Ash body with Fralin Blues Special pickups

Seuf OH-16 Bass with Fralin P Bass pickups

Seuf OH-18 Bass with Fralin J Bass pickups

Learn more about this great builder:

Mass Street Music Visits Seuf Guitars

Our 2009 interview with Dave Seuferling

 

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Grosh Fat 60s Pickups – Review

Back in ’09 our good buddy and Mass Street Music alumni Brian Soden reviewed his set of Grosh pickups:

Grosh Fat 60s Pickups

Grosh Fat 60s Pickups

I’ve had a set of Grosh 60s Fat pickups in my Grosh Retro Classic for about a month now.  Hands down, this is by far the best money I’ve spent in a LONG time! These are exactly what my guitar needed. The set includes the Grosh Fat 60s neck pickup, and the Fat 60s Middle Reverse Wound pickup, and the Fat 60s Bridge pickup with a base plate.

The first time I plugged in,it was like a lid had been taken off my RC.  All of the nuances and characteristics of my guitar (and my playing!) came through the amp so well.

These Grosh Fat 60s pups are very rich and so musical. They don’t produce the typical ‘super scooped-out mids’ sound that other pickup makers tend to go for on vintage-style strat replacements.  I think going that route actually tends to make your guitar sound thin, and you end up getting lost in the mix when you play out because there’s no substance to your tone! These, on the other hand, are just right on every level.

The bridge pickup (mine has the baseplate) has a nice full tone and feel to it…definitely not thin or wimpy! Just tasty strat goodness:)  These aren’t high output pickups, which is exactly what one would want for an authentic vintage strat tone. They let more of the guitar do the talking and help bring out all of the character you and your instrument have to express!

Hats off to the crew over at Grosh. You guys really hit a home run with these pickups. When I bought my first Grosh years back, it became a turning point for me as a player and really inspired me. It opened up a door for me as a musician. I haven’t felt that way about any guitar-related purchase since then…until about a month ago when I had these pickups installed:)

Thanks for listening to me gush, but seriously…you really owe it to yourselves to check these out! -Brian Soden

Check out all of our Grosh Pickups

Check out our Grosh Guitars

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