Combining Summers’ love for guitar playing and photography, Fender’s latest signature model is finished with a collection of monochrome photos taken by The Police guitarist himself. Built by Dennis Galuszka in the Fender Custom Shop, this Stratocaster’s two piece alder body has a NOS urethane coating over the images, and a maple neck and fretboard. Other highlights include a red camera dot on the 15th fret, Summer’s signature engraved on the neck plate, and a C-shaped neck based on the ’63 Strat design.
Not so good news, this guitar is going for $12,500. That’s insane, and even though I am a huge Summers (and The Police) fan, I think this guitar will end up being wall art on some guitar collector’s studio instead of in the hands of an avid player or fan. Still, it certainly caught my eye, and it is worth a quick look!
Huge thanks to Ed for making all these great Osiamo product reviews happen!
How it Works and Final Score: 8.7
I have to start this review out by saying that this pedal should not sound different than the ODR-mini logically, but honestly, the ODR-1 sounds SOOO much better than the mini. It features the same three, simple controls: drive, spectrum (tone), and level. The pedal is German engineered, Chinese made, and covers a wide range of tones from thick distortion to more touch sensitive, natural overdrive. Furthermore, the remote control jack switching systems means you can control the pedal remotely, via something such as a footswitch or control board, for players who route all their pedals into racks, and then control from the stage. Or, if your guitar tech controls your effects, but you still want the pedal onstage, this input makes that possible.
The sound is great, I’m impressed that the pedal earned the distinction as Nashville Guitarist’s #1 overdrive pedal, but I’m sure it has something to do with the mix of sound quality and durability. The spectrum knob works much better on this pedal than the mini, I don’t know, maybe I got a dud of a mini, but you could really dial in humbucker tones, single coil tones, and incredibly levels of clarity using the knob. The drive control goes from searing distortion, similar to some of the more tame Boss DS-1 tones, to cranked tube amp simulations favored by blues, pop, and country players. It certainly sounds versatile, and I would love to have this on my board.
I’m a huge fan of pedals that have this type of build design, with one large, flat pedal instead of a single footswitch. I feel it makes the pedal more durable, something Boss has shown to great effect, and I feel I have more control over it, aka, there is no threat of me missing the footswitch in a dark club or basement (or while drunk). If that many of the music capital’s guitarists trust this pedal, than I am sold as I’ve seen nothing that would contradict that on my end. I have put a bit of a beating on it so far, and it just keeps coming back for more. I trust it.
For $99, you really can’t get much better unless you want to just use a run of a mill distortion pedal. Many of my comments on the ODR-mini are just not true for this pedal, it feels sturdy, it sounds almost boutique, and it actually is a great value here. It has way more bite than a Boss Blues Driver or Tube Screamer, but it isn’t quite a distortion pedal either. I like it a lot, and hope one of these finds it way back into my hands soon.
Huge thanks to Ed from Osiamo for sending this for review!
How it Works and Final Score: 7.7
The ODR-mini is the smaller, more pedal board friendly version of its big brother, the Nobels ODR-1. Capable of going from overdriven tube amp to crushing distortion, the ODR-mini is a versatile, if unspectacular overdrive option for your pedalboard. Three control knobs allow for tone shaping with fairly simple parameters. Drive controls the level of the gain, while level controls the output volume of the mini pedal. The true bypass pedal also features tone control that is labeled as “spectrum” but is essentially normal bright/dark contour.
The ODR-mini’s best feature is that it is a strong sounding overdrive in a compact package. Before I get into everything I love about this pedal, I have to say that for the price, it is basically just an average overdrive that isn’t any cheaper than more trusted pedals such as the Tube Screamer. However, it sounds straight up good through a clean tube amp, especially with the spectrum knob at the 12 o’clock position. The drive is able to provide a great range from subtle dirty tones for country and pop to searing leads for rock and blues. I found the spectrum control to be a bit too bright for single pickup guitars when cranked, but otherwise all other control parameters were great and easy to adjust. The output was especially useful for breaking up my Vox AC15 when the gain was turned down for a real touch sensitive, and natural tube sound.
I’m always a bit more skeptical of mini pedals when it comes to lifetime, but this one seems to be an exception to the rule as it feels really solid and well put together. Furthermore, because it takes up so little space on the pedalboard and is affordable, I wouldn’t have any concerns about using it live or taking it on the road. Lastly, the pedal was quiet through my pedal chain, no buzz or hiss, except for at really high volumes, which is understandable. I have very few concerns about slapping this on my pedal board long term, and would trust it for live shows. While it doesn’t have the track record of my tube screamer, I’ll be watching these pedals closely going forward.
The pedal is fairly affordable as a sub-$100 option on a crowded market, which limits its ceiling a bit here. With so many great options out there, it is hard to stick out, even if it is a great pedal. Overall, I think the pedal would be incredibly popular if it was more well known, as many pedal buyers tend to trust tried and tested brands or truly boutique (and overpriced) pedals. But if you’re looking for something small, compact, and reliable, the ODR-mini is a phenomenal option, worth every cent.
Huge thanks to Kazu and the Arai & Co company for sending this great guitar, it is one of the coolest ones I’ve ever reviewed!
Overview and Final Score: 8.3
The Aria Retro-1532 is by far one of the most unique and visually inspiring guitars I’ve ever reviewed. Despite the humble price point, it actually sounds delightful. The guitar features a 3-tone sunburst finish over a basswood body with a maple neck and Techwood fretboard. 21 frets grace this 24.75″ scale length guitar, giving it a comfortable, shorter feel, almost like a souped up Fender Jaguar. Two VLS, half covered single coil pickups provide not just a unique look but a unique sound that recalls those classic ’60s big single coils found in Tiesco or Supro instruments. The slanted neck pickup is a great touch too, both visually and sonically.
The pickups are controlled by a familiar volume, tone, and 3-way selector switch, making this a fairly straight forward rock machine. A tune-o-matic bridge leads to a Jazzmaster-style tremolo system, adding further sonic options. The offset body will likely attract many Fender fans looking for a Jazzmaster or Jaguar body, but the smaller scale length should also appeal to Gibson-style players looking for an outside the box addition.
Most of the sounds that come out of this thing are really unique, much more than the more traditional single coil sound Aria’s DM-01 provided. The VLS pickups have a bit more output and crack then traditional single coils, because of their huge size, which gives all three settings a great distorted tone. At lower volumes, the cleans still shimmer and chime, especially out of the bridge and middle position, while the neck takes on an almost humbucker-like sound that is great for blues, jazz, or even atmospheric sections.
The addition of the tremolo arm especially helps make this guitar sound great for more modern indie and pop sounds where guitars may go from shimmering ambience to full bodied chords in seconds. The bridge pickup is your best bet for more of these bright sounds, while also sounding great for overdriven, tube amp garage rock with the tone just slightly rolled off. Overall, vintage single coil sounds abound in this fine guitar, and I think it adds a really quirky option to my rig for the studio or live performances.
This guitar’s playability far outperforms both the sound and price of this guitar. First off, the heavy gloss finish on the neck feels great, to my hands it makes the guitar’s neck much faster to move around on and more comfortable to play for long periods of time. It’s almost like a high end lacquer finish, and greatly out competes the DM-01’s raw-feeling neck. From there, the tuning stability is really great and the guitar has yet to move more than a bit out of tune, even after a few hours of going at it. The frets are comfortable, and while not specified, feel like medium-jumbo, and none of the edges were sharp or poorly cut.
Finish & Construction: 8.5
The finish on this guitar is beautiful and really well done, and there was no damage from shipping. Overall, the finish just doesn’t feel cheap, which is not a very specific definition, but sometimes you just know it when you feel it. So much of a guitar’s appeal to each individual is feel anyway, so I have to give the Retro-1532 props for feeling great, sounding, great, and being an overall inspiring instrument. I already raved about the neck finish and the whole neck and headstock are really the highlight of this guitar. There were no apparent flaws in any of the construction, the 3-way selector worked, the pots worked, though the tone didn’t have great spread, but that’s expected in this price range. It is both stunning and well built for a Chinese-made guitar that retails for $300.
Aria’s Retro-1532 is not just one of the most affordable guitars out there but it is probably the most affordable AND interesting guitar I’ve ever played. Often when I see instruments like this, I say to myself, wow I’d love to have one but I can’t justify spending the $500-$1000 for an Eastwood or Danelectro I’ll only use for a few songs. With this guitar being this nice at this price, it makes it incredibly accessible for those who want something sonically and visually different. I’m a big fan and can’t wait to work this guitar into my rig.
Weezer woke up everyone up early today to announce their next album, Van Weezer, will be out May 15th for the whole world to hear. As the name suggests, the album will be heavily ’80s shred-rock inspired and should be a return to form in some ways for the band. Weezer has always had a tinge of metal, shred, and party rock in their music, take the songs “Dope Nose”, “Undone (The Sweater Song)”, and “Back To The Shack” for example.
In addition to announcing the new album, they also shared the album’s first single, a finger tapping good time named “The End Of The Game”. The band also released an ET-like video for the throwback rocker and many fans of Weezer’s crunchier, louder, guitar driven records will rejoice. Check it out below!
Huge thanks to Kazu from Arai & Co for sending me this awesome guitar!
Overview and Final Score: 7.1
The Aria DM-01 is a modern take on a classic vintage guitar style beloved by thousands. Based on the classic Mosrite body shape, Johnny Ramone and Ventures fans alike will rejoice at the ability to get their hands on a great playing modern update. Part of the Retro Classic series, the DM-01 features a basswood body, maple neck, and Techwood fingerboard. The 25.5″ scale length guitar also holds 20 frets alongside chrome hardware, a tune-o-matic bridge, and floating, Jazzmaster-style tremolo system.
Dual APS-9 single coils, Aria’s take on P90’s, give the guitar a distinctly killer look and tone. The two soapbars are controlled via a standard 3-way selector switch as well as a volume and tone knob. Along with the Vintage White finish I received, the guitar is also available in Black and 3 Tone Sun-burst.
The choice of P90’s as opposed to the Johnny Ramone set up, mini humbucker and single coil, really make this guitar more appealing for modern guitarists in my opinion. First off, the two P90’s are capable of a bit more variety of sound, and this guitar can go from searing lead squeals on the bridge to slapping country tones once you turn down the gain. The neck pickup is a bit muddy and notes get ill-defined, as expected with cheaper P90’s pickups that don’t have quite the brightness of Fender-style pups or the output of Gibson-esque humbuckers.
The best sounds were produced with just a bit of overdrive, courtesy of my tube screamer pedal, to push my Vox AC15 over the edge. The pickups break up really nicely and the guitar felt right at home amongst these garage rock tones. I don’t know if it is just my association with Mosrites and P90s, but this guitar really just inspired me to play noisy, classic punk and garage rock sounds, and it sounded best doing it. The pickups were fairly hot enough to rely on in a live setting, but I kept feeling myself moving towards my boost pedals, even when playing cleaner tones.
The playability on this thing didn’t quite match up with how good it sounded. There are no major flaws on this guitar whatsoever, I just felt it needs a proper setup especially when compared to some of the other guitars I’ve reviewed. The fret edges were just a bit rough, and the guitar stayed in tune okay, it overall felt very average in that department as the trem bar would throw it out of tune after a 10-20 minutes of playing. This makes it more of an issue for live use, not so much bedroom or practice players though. The action was great out of the box however, and it is overall not too uncomfortable to play.
Finish & Construction: 7.5
Overall, the DM-01 is very well put together and I found no major flaws, dents, scratches or other issues. Of course the guitar could use a set up as I said before, but that’s not a huge disappointment especially at this price. The finish looks great and seems very durable, especially considering the guitar wasn’t shipped in a case, and survived fine inside the cardboard box. The finish on the back of the neck is just a bit too thin and cheap feeling to me, and I much preferred the high gloss on the back of the other Aria I received, the Retro-1532. The wiring seemed well down when I cracked it open, and there isn’t any excess buzz from any components of the guitar, besides the slightly noisy single coils.
The DM-01 is a great guitar at a great price, coming in at just under $400. I think it fits best in the hands of garage rock fans, punk rock players, and those who like their guitars to look just a bit different. While it is a larger scale length, it might also make a great and affordable alternative to a Gibson DC Les Paul Junior. The guitar also gets extra points here because it is one of the cheapest options out there for this guitar design. Eastwood makes some great models just like this, but most are far closer to $1000 than to $400. Danelectro’s similar models also come in well north of that benchmark, like the $800 ’64 Guitar. For the money, it just plays and sounds above average and will help you stick out of the crowd, not sure you can ask for much else out of the DM-01.
A trend that has become more and more common in recent times, carbon fiber guitars are starting to become a real manufacturing option. Developed in Johannesburg, South Africa father and son duo Roger and Oliver Lambson, the Lassie is a one-piece body and neck with a maple fretboard that is then satin finished.
The through-neck design should allow for high levels of natural sustain, even if the innovate guitar design makes you question it. Coming in at 25.5″ scale length, it should feel right at home for most Fender players, and even has a “zero” fret string guide. Grover locking tuners and locking strap buttons help keep this guitar locked onto you and your preferred tuning from the time you pick it up.
Two Porter mini humbuckers, a hipshot fixed bridge, and medium-jumbo stainless steel frets round out the great features on this ultra-playable and ultra-reliable instrument. Lastly, controls include a three-way switch and volume and tone pots giving this Fender-sized guitar a bit of a PRS and Gibson-style feel as well. Be sure to check out their promotional video below for more details and check out their website for more of their story and how to purchase one of these beauties.