The Schaller Fine-Tuning Stopbar Tailpiece Upgrade Extravaganza Review!

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The Schaller Fine-Tuning Stopbar Tailpiece Upgrade Tuning Masterpiece on a Budget!

I record music with a dizzying array of instruments almost every day of the year. It’s part of my life force: create; express; make impressions of sounds with lots of different tools and instruments. One of the things that is very important to me as an artist is tuning. If one records a one-take solo, some wiggle room can be OK for a recording – a guitar can drift a bit in its tuning during the recording as long it is not drastic or irritating. On the other hand, once one starts recording multiple tracks with the same instrument over a period of an evening, the tuning drift can be quite annoying, as the creative process becomes all about re-tuning and re-playing.

In addition, not all guitars (even not all super-well-made guitars and basses) intonate properly or are even easy to tune. As much as Grovers have meant to me for the past 4 decades, even the little Mini Grovers on 6 inline headstocks or 12-string headstocks can be a real hassle to tune just right. The ratio is too low, they’re too close together, and the tiny buttons don’t have a lot of smooth travel to get micro adjustments. This isn’t a ding specifically on Grover! It has to do with small tuners with low tuning ratios in cramped spaces. I’ve been tinkering with tuners and tuning in my recording studio for more than a decade now. I’ve gone from all Grover modern to trying a HUGE number of locking tuner brands and models to tailpiece and nut adjustments.

So what’s the point of this review? The most important part of tuning for recordings is getting the temperament and sweetening of a guitar’s innate tuning JUST RIGHT so different instruments can play nice together in the same piece of music. It’s astonishing how a little tiny fraction of fretboard length in front of the nut or a tiny fraction of an inch of the bridge mounts or saddles can completely ruin an attempt to record two instruments together.

That’s where fine tuners come in! My Floyd-Rose-equipped guitars already have fine tuners and lots of adjustability (and rock-stable tuning!). They are the vast minority of my instrument library, and Floyds just aren’t a good thing to do to guitars not built for them. In addition, my baritones and basses just don’t “Floyd.” With that said, there are stop-tail fine tuners out there for 6-string guitars. Several brands have made attempts at making fine-tuning stop bars, some with more success than others. I love the Gibson TP-6 tailpiece: it’s not as inexpensive as I would like, but it works great. I have several and use them frequently.

That’s where the most recent iteration of the Schaller Fine-Tuning Stopbar Tailpiece comes into play. They’re great, and they’re relatively inexpensive. And I can install them without modifying my stoptail-built Gibson at all! Read on…

zZounds does not have the Schaller Fine-Tuning Tailpiece, but they do offer a variety of fine Schaller products.


Quick Opinion:
Honestly, I have seen them for years, but haven’t come to the point of buying some until recently. A stand-up guy on eBay and Reverb sells Schaller parts as an authorized retailer and gave me a good price on a box full of them. I couldn’t be happier! These things are amazing!

If you have a Gibson Stoptail guitar, try one of these! Especially a Firebird or Explorer – these make tuning the 6-inlines a real breeze!

You can read the official Schaller page for these fine fine-tuning tailpieces here on the Schaller.com site. (opens new window)

Features:
The simplicity and function of the Schaller Fine-tuning Stopbar Tailpiece is stunning. They work with existing Gibson USA stop bar tailpiece studs and are just as easy (or easier) to string than the originals.

Here’s what you can expect when you buy a Schaller Fine-tuning Stopbar Tailpiece:
* The tailpieces come in a wide variety of finishes including nickel, chrome, gold, copper, and black chrome – as well as brushed finishes
* The tailpieces come in a nicely-done safe-padded box with two body studs, two mount screws, and the fully-assembled tailpiece
* Each unit has its six fine-tuning wheels ready to go – just back them out to about 3/4 the way out and drop it in
* The string ball mount is very easy to use (nothing as hard as the little posts on a Bigsby trem, for example – just push in the ball and add tension)
* The Schaller Fine-tuning tailpieces I’ve installed have been directly easy to replace in each Gibson I’ve tried. The two mounting screws have a thread that works with your Gibson’s original stop bar studs already in the body. I haven’t yet had to pull the studs out of the body and replace them with the Schaller-supplied ones (NOTE: you might have a Gibson in your AXE-enal that has different threads. I can’t account for absolutely all ages and types of Gibson stop tails)
* The fit and finish on all of the Schaller Fine-tuning tailpieces I’ve used has been flawless. Great fit on all threads and edges, the finish is really well-done

zZounds does not have the Schaller Fine-Tuning Tailpiece, but they do offer a variety of fine Schaller products.

Playability
I can now tune to the cent on even my most stubborn of Gibson stoptail guitars. It’s easy to do, and works very quickly. The simple lever-based mechanism in the Schaller tailpiece is very efficient and effectively has a huge ratio between turns and tuning: that is, it allows for VERY fine tuning with a simple turn of the thumbwheel on a given string. I’m very happy that it works so well!

Also, unlike the Gibson TP-6, the FEEL of the stopbar under the palm is VERY smooth and doesn’t feel rough at all. It’s a pleasure to play and use.

I can even do little twists of the thumbwheels and make micro adjustments in-between measures when there is enough of a rest in the track to reach down and tweak things. This just doesn’t happen with lots of different types of tuners at the headstock.

Sound
One concern I think many guitarists have made about multi-part tailpieces (as opposed to a single-piece forged or cast tailpiece) is that the different component can reduce sustain and proper decay of a given note. To be honest, I have not found this to be the case with the Gibson TP-6 or the Schaller Fine-tuning tailpiece. On my neck-through 2010 Firebird V (“standard”), I have not noticed any reduction of sound or sustain.

If one were to measure actual open-note sustain with scientific instruments, it might be that some ultra-tiny amount of sustain is lost, but to be honest, in practical terms, I can’t hear or feel a loss of sustain. The sound is just fine on the instruments on which I’ve installed the stop bar. I really love having them in my retinue.

zZounds has lots of awesome things in their inventory, and they guarantee what they sell!

Wishes and Wants
I don’t really have any substantial wishes and wants for the Schaller fine-tuning stop bar tailpiece: it’s affordable, easy to install, doesn’t alter the instrument, and really does a great job without messing up the sustain.

The Gravity Guitar Pick Review: Set fire to your sound and your technique!

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The Gravity Guitar Picks Experienced Review

I like to change the sound of my music from one recording to another, and particularly from one album to another (I have recorded 15 albums to date now…). This often entails different instruments, different recording gear (or recording techniques), different ambient work, and different accessories.

Yes, accessories… Strings, Picks, Mutes, and more. This review addresses a great find in the accessory world that makes a big difference in the sound of my recordings – while adding better playability for most of my pick-based technique.

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This review is about the wonderful line of picks from the Gravity pick company. These picks are high-end picks at a moderate price, and have lots of options to make most pick-style players happy. And for those who are prone to floccinaucinihilipilification of arcane terms applied to everyday objects, Perfectly Purposeful Pleasingly Playable Popular Plectrums…

Buy some today. You’ll be very glad you did. To know why I think so, read on!

The pick pictures in this review are of picks I’ve used extensively. The Classic, Razer, Edge, Sunrise, and Tripp have all seen play time in local acoustic gigs and in TWO of my most recent albums Halcyon Lullabies and the yet-to-be-released North by Northwest. To hear the direct influence of some of my favorites, listen to Halcyon Lullabies tracks Maggie’s Tone Poem (my red Razer XL), The Wandering Soul (my orange Sunrise), Evenfall three instruments with different edges of my blue Tripp XL, and Herman’s Song – a Father’s wish (a requiem for Maggie’s dad) for my blue Edge.

Why Gravity Picks are Great! (For the short attention span and executive summary types among us)

They are durable, affordable, and really comfortable.
My Biggest Reason(TM)? They sound wonderful. Since I gig with them and record with them, their consistent quality and consistent sound amongst identical picks is really great. Some premium picks are like different woods in the same guitar shape: you have to try lots of them to get the one that sounds the best. With Gravity picks, the sound is comfortably consistent and reliable. I need that when I flip on the mic pre or the DI.

I haven’t met a Gravity pick I don’t like. I’m hoping to buy a Gold and some new Thins soon so I can upgrade my pick arsenal.

Sound

The different edge finishes give you striking combinations of attack and release – even amongst acoustic and electric guitars. I’ve found that the smoother edge sounds nicer on acoustic, particularly with coated strings. The more course edge gives REAL bite and mix-cut-through for electrics, particularly when you’re playing with low gain or low distortion.

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The sound of these picks is superb. That’s the 75% of the reason why I love them so much.

I can get really great warm sound with the super-thick smooth-edge picks and get nice bright attacks and releases with the thinner picks with the rougher edges. There’s a lot of variety, so there’s likely to be one with which you will fall in love!

Lots of Varieties, Grips, Thicknesses, Finishes, and Colors

The Gravity guitar pick line comes in a dizzying array of options. I’ve not found a type of pick I play that can’t be ordered as a Gravity pick. Now with the new “Thin” line of Gravity picks, you can now get down to .60mm to at least 6mm. Almost all pick varieties, from the basic Thin pick to the lovely acrylic picks to the gold series all come in a variety of styles and sizes. I won’t enumerate them all here, but I’ll bring up a few of my favorites to give you an idea of what I’ve used and what I like about Gravity picks.

Ask Chris at Gravity about pick finishing options. You’ll be glad you did!

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To Grip or Not To Grip. That is the Question

Some players love it when they find a pick with a grip option. There are several grip options with Gravity picks, including holes in the picks and engravings on the pick surfaces.
I vacillate between grip holes and no grip holes. It’s a fun feast of feelings that forever fascinates facilitation of my sound experimentations.
There are ellipse grip holes, single round grip hole, and “little round hole group”” grip holes. I like all of them.

Pick Categories

  • The new Thin Picks
  • Acrylic Picks
  • Gold Series Picks
  • Signature Series Picks
  • and Custom Shop Picks

Most (not all, mind you, but most) of these are offered in a handful of great shapes, combined with excellent size choices

Shapes

  • The Classic (The good old Fender 351-style pick shape)
  • The Striker (Great for three nice easy rounded tips)
  • The Sunrise (A top arch combined with pointy grip edges and a pointy end point)
  • The Stealth (A more triangular pick with three rounded sides, two sharp-ish grip points, and a striking tip similar to the Sunrise)
  • The Razer (One of my often-played favorites, with nice rounded grip points and a nice long sharp-ish striking tip)
  • The Tripp (What a Trip! Deceptive in shape: semi-triangular with three distinctly different points)
  • The Classic Pointed (Like a classic, only more pointy :-))
  • The Axis (My mellow-sound FAVORITE: Three nicely rounded points on a triangular pick)
  • And my absolute go-to Gravity pick
    The Edge (Not, U2’s MR. The Edge, mind you, just “Edge”)

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Sizes

  • The XL ( Great for those arthritis-hand days 🙁 )
  • The Standard (My favorite on three of my different Gravity pick shapes)
  • The Big Mini (A surprisingly nice minor difference to a Standard that feels like a million bucks when I’m playing a Floyd Rose trem-based guitar or a Fender with wide string spacing)
  • And the Mini. I like Mini Coopers (I drive an R59 these days): I like the Gravity Mini, Too.

And there are colors that coincide with thicknesses, too (depending on the style and such)

My personal favorites?

  • Standard
  • Razer
  • Mr. The Edge
  • and Tripp (great for local live acoustic gigs when I need lots of different sounds out of 2 or three guitars)

Currently, my “favorites pick tin” has a Razer with a grip hole, a Tripp without a grip hole, and an Edge with a grip hole. These generally get rotated from my great big giant pick stashes: always a few gravities in the favorites…

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Durability and Ease of Use

Gravity picks have been a real mainstay for me this past year. I still use some of my previous go-to picks (Dragon’s Heart Pure, Dunlops, Claytons, Fenders, and such): still, my wide assortment of Gravity picks has taken over much of my playing. Bear in mind that I am still largely a finger-style player – but great picks make for great sound!

When I play with a pick, I do a hybrid finger-pick style, something close to a claw or chicken-pickin’ approach. I’m comforted with the clear and precise attack of the Gravity pick combined with the sensory input and varieties of sounds I can get in combination of pick and fingers.

Gravity picks last a LONG TIME.

Go to the Gravity Custom Shop page here to design your own combination!.

Price and Quality

The price of all the different echelons of Gravity picks is very reasonable. From the very inexpensive Thin Pick to the moderately-priced but very premium Gold Series – Gravity is a great choice for picks. I think of them as Premium Boutique picks at an everyday price. With so many players entering the Great Pick array, Gravity is in the very sweet spot of Excellent quality and playability at an Excellently low price.

The variety pack at http://gravitypicks.com/products/packaged-deals?variant=1399124483 is an excellent place to start. For about $30 you can get your hands on a bunch (Eight Premium Picks!) of excellent plectrums at a very nice simple price.

Buy some. Play them all. Feel the joy of a great pick that feels great too.

Wishes and Wants

I think it would be a blast for us to be able to upload a graphic to the Gravity site and order a pick with the graphic etched on it. I am aware that there are technical and legal challenges with this approach – it would just be a lot of fun.

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Have fun with Gravity!

The Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal: One to Many, Many to One

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The Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal: One to Many, Many to One

I’m a musician and a recording artist. I’ve always been in search of new ways to make sound with my instruments – and new ways to record unique and fulfilling sounds from many different types of instruments. Some things one tries when searching for new sounds is to use effects pedals, another might be using different tubes in a pre-amp or amplifier. There are nice upgrades in guitars, basses, gear, and rack-mounted gear that really change your sound.

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But sometimes, something VERY simple comes along that lets you truly turn your playing and recording on ear. The little tank-built Morley ABC Switch box is a surprisingly versatile tool that really makes your setups incredibly flexible and easy-to-change. This review is about my journeys with my four-year-old Morley ABC boxes (I am buying a second one this week!) and the wonderful things they’ve brought me.

You can see more information about the Morley ABC Switch box here at zZounds, my favorite internet gear seller (my sponsor, too). If you click here and buy stuff, I can write more reviews!

Quick Opinion

Buy one or two after you read this review. You’ll be VERY glad you did!
I am not hard on my gear – but I do use what I own. And when I brought the Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal into my life, it became something I use EVERY day. It started with being a way I could play through three amp stacks at once – and then it evolved into a recording tour de force for my home studio. WOW. Amazing, simple, durable, quiet, efficient, well-made, inexpensive, and downright fun!

Please read on: I’ll tell you why I took the time to write this review and to help spread the word for this wonderful little box from a strong instrument gear brand!

Durability and Ease of Use

I bought my first Morley ABC Switch Box Pedal out of necessity. I wanted to have a few different amps in the house (and later the garage), and I didn’t want to have to have redundant pedal setups or spend time playing with cables when I wanted to go from my Marshall to my Fender to my VOX. As time went on, I was even experimenting with combinations of one, a pair, or all three. This little box makes it all just a click away!

Durability? My first Morley ABC Switch Pedal sat in the garage for a couple of years, with little climate control and LOTS of use from LOTS of different players. Just bring in your instrument (bass or guitar or ?), plug it in to the right-most ¼-inch jack, click a few stomp buttons and you get lots of different amp sounds all at once!

Want to see more about this awesome pedal at the Morley site? Click here.

It’s only a quick change to have three instruments punching down to one amp (not something I recommend very often, folks!) – and all the pushing, pulling, stepping, re-wiring that went on with that little blue Morley box was amazing. In the recording arena, I often have signal that’s 3-to-1 or 1-to-3 when it comes to computer input gear (read below), signal chains, and more. And it still looks almost new, and it works FLAWLESSLY in its fifth year!; This little metal stomp box is amazingly durable. it has taken everything that has been thrown at it and it still is the quietest (heavy-duty metal push-push switch-noise wise) stomp box I’ve ever owned and still to this day creates no discernible circuit noise.

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It’s incredibly easy to use. You have three switchable ¼-inch jacks, A, B, and C. You have one 1 ¼-inch jack on the right-most side of the pedal. The pedal doesn’t care if you want three ins to one out or three outs from one in. It works flawlessly in both directions.

Believe it or not, you can easily daisy-chain more than one of these little ABC boxes and do some pretty amazing things without any discernible signal loss. Just draw your ideal setup on paper, follow the cables with your diagram, and Poof! Many-to-Many signal chains!

Price and Quality

The price of this little blue Morley ABC Switch Pedal stomp box is one of the easiest parts of this review. They’re less than $100 US in most retail outlets. It’s worth every cent and will last pretty much until the next EON (YMMV). The price is definitely just right, although five years later I would probably be just as happy had I paid $125 US or so back then. It’s flawless.

Quality? The Morley ABC Switch Box stomp pedal is made strong enough to withstand the heavy stompers of some local metal-music heads that have used it. It has withstood HUGE temperature fluctuations, endured well-below-freezing temperatures and well above 100 F degree temperatures. it has withstood LOTS of drops (from six feet or so). it has been slammed around in pedal cases, trunks, hatchbacks, and on stages. It has been around cat fur and garage dust and high humidity and low humidity. After a simple wipe-down, it looks almost new, and it BEHAVES as if it was just brand new!

The Morley ABC Switch Box stomp pedal is my OFFICIAL switcher box. I’m good to go for a lifetime with mine!

It really does help me if you click on a sponsored link and buy your gear from my favorite vendor zZounds… Click here to find great gear to feed your GAS!

How have I used mine?

Interestingly enough, the Morley ABC Pedal truly is only limited by your imagination in the ways it can be used. I’ve used mine for two very specific purposes (mainly): playing through 1, 2, or 3 amps (in different combinations) from one guitar at a time (this gives LOTS of tonal variations!); and creating signal/effects/pre-amp chains that send the signal from one guitar through different chains to different inputs in computer recording input devices hosting multiple ¼-inch mono inputs.

In the early days of using my Morley ABC Switch Box, I primarily used it to experiment with and enjoy playing through multiple amps at once. I often played through combinations of a Marshall, VOX, and Fender amps, each with its own pedals and signal chain. It’s amazing what you can do. In addition, when playing one of my Rickenbackers with Ric-o-sound, I was able to have one output jack going to the Morley and the other going to yet a fourth amp.

It’s amazing what you can do with a few amps in your garage, a Morley ABC switch, and pedals with multiple outputs. Here’s a fun one: Guitar in; A to a Marshall with no effects, just clean gain; B to a Fender solid state with a pedal setup signal chained; C to an Electro-Harmonix Sitar pedal with the primary out to my old VOX and the Sympathetic output to yet a fourth amp, an Egnater tube amp I used to own. WOW. Imagine the multiplicity of chorus, phase, special features, and amp sounds coming from one guitar all at once!

More recently, I’ve been using my Morley ABC Switch stomp pedal to broaden and enrich my recordings from my electric instruments. I’ve got two rack-mounted multi-channel computer interfaces and three small effects chains, with three channels running through NICE tubes in good tube preamps. I plug the guitar into the Morley ABC, and A goes through lots of pedals to one tube preamp channel, B goes through a Seymour Duncan Pickup booster pedal to another tube preamp channel, and C goes through a funky old Danelectro chorus pedal into a tube compressor and preamp rackmounted device. All three go to the back of one or both of my computer input channels. Sometimes, to throw in some spice, I have two-channel pedals in my chain: Since my computer input devices are 8+ ¼-inch mono input channels, I actually have the second output of my chorus pedals and my Sitar pedal all feeding to the inputs. In some setups, I’ve got 7 individual channeled inputs from my guitar into my recording.

Most of the time, I’m just running one or two channels through my good tubes for the recordings. It is awesome, however, to make entirely new sounds in my recordings with the simple click (or three) of my Morley ABC Switch.

There are other great Morley products, too! Click here to see lots more at zZounds! They guarantee you’ll love your gear!

There’s another useful way (of the many) to use a Morley ABC: One ¼ instrument input going out to two amps with A and B, C going to a tuner pedal or tuner rack component. The tuner can be on all the time without causing any signal interruptions or noise in the actual amplified channels. Nice!

Wishes and Wants

Honestly, I don’t think I have any wishes and wants on this gear: the Morley ABC Switch Box stomp pedal is JUST RIGHT and is the F-150, the Cadillac, and the Mercedes of stomp-switchers. I like it just like it is.

The STARFISH and STARFISH+ Sturdy Gurdy Instrument Stands Review

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The D&A Guitar Gear STARFISH and STARFISH+ Sturdy Gurdy Instrument Stands Review

I’m a musician and a professional recording artist, as well as a guitar and bass gear enthusiast. Needless to say, instrument stands have been a staple of my life for as long as I’ve been actively playing guitars, basses, dulcimers, mandos, and more. When one is first starting out, often it is a bit extra money to go ahead and get a stand with one’s early/first purchases. We often skimp on cases and stands because we’re focused on the expense of one’s first instruments. With that said, if we continue past the beginner’s stage with our instruments, we find that certain accessories really become requirements. Stands are no exception. One only has to snap the neck on a guitar once to get an idea that leaning the guitar against an amp or on the couch/bed/chair is not the greatest idea we’ve had. Cases become important for storage purposes, but stands serve a far more daily important use.

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As a recording and performing professional, stands serve three primary purposes in my world: someplace (hopefully safe) to place/hang the guitar while I use the computer, the rack gear, or walk away from the recording desk/jamming rug for a few minutes; a very convenient place to leave out my “current” guitars out of their cases so I’m inspired to pick them up and play them whenever I get a spare moment; and an easy-access place to arrange my instruments when I’m doing a gig ( I don’t currently gig often, but this is still a consideration).

For me as an individual, I see two kinds of stands – the basic tubed variety, and the “sturdy stand.” I used the inexpensive foam-covered tubular metal stands (often selling between $9.99 and $19.99) very early on in my career as my primary stand because they were first and foremost affordable. I used these stands almost exclusively because I didn’t think the more expensive sturdy stands were really all that big a deal.

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Stands weren’t all that big a deal a decade ago – until one of my favorite Jazz Box guitars teetered off one of the tube stands and snapped at the headstock. At the point of the broken neck on my Artcore, that $9.99 stand became a VERY expensive stand. Since my transition to only sturdy stands (active and passive), I’ve not had an instrument fall off a stand since…

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For this review, I’d like to tell you about a wonderful type of sturdy stand I’ve had the pleasure of using for the past many months: The D&A STARFISH stands. I’ve hung LOTS of different kinds of guitars, basses, and other instruments on these particular stands and am VERY pleased. Read on to find out more…

Quick Opinion

Both STARFISH instrument stands are very strong contenders in the sturdy stand market! I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more.
I’ve been using sturdy stands from three prominent stand manufacturers for about the last 7 years. The first one was a major expense for my limited budget at $100 (street) – but in the end proved to be a worthwhile investment (I still have that particular stand). Sturdy stands hold the guitar better than tube stands; and they do a better job of supporting the weight of the guitar. These multi-footed broad-based sturdy stands make the possibility of a fall much less likely. The footing and weight of the sturdy stand world is significantly more substantial than the traditional $10 tube stand. And they are worth every cent more…

My STARFISH and STARFISH+ Active stands are the latest in my now fairly large set of sturdy stands. Both my STARFISH stands have held priceless guitars and cheap guitars alike, and are both in daily, non-stop use. If there was something (even small) that I didn’t like about them, they would never hold my #1 LP Traditional or my Hummingbird acoustic or my Brother’s Blondie (#5) Telecaster Deluxe (just to name three of my most important guitars).

I do not hesitate to put my favorite instruments in my STARFISH and STARFISH+ stands – particularly the STARFISH+ Active stand. I’m quite fond of them and would recommend them to any player, whether they are just starting out or are a seasoned decades-long musician.

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Please read my stand safety note at the bottom of this review.

Durability and Ease of Use

The STARFISH Passive and STARFISH+ Active stands are VERY sturdy. They are VERY well-planted. On my short-pile rug, the stands do pretty well. The stand’s materials feel solid and well-done. My two stands have been in VERY active use for many months and still look brand new. All the joints still work great, despite being carted about and thrown into the boots of cars and wagons. The surfaces still have their coating on them, and even the soft surfaces still feel even and well-made. I have not found a crack or flaw in either of my STARFISH stands at this point.

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I’m not overly rough with my gear, even down to the stands, strap, and picks I use. I like my things to last, so I do tend to be reasonable with my gear. With that said, guitar stands get knocked around A LOT when they’re put in trunks or closets or attics or even put out on the floor with a bunch of active musicians. I must say, both my STARFISH stands have held up VERY well. I’m quite pleased with them!

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StarfishPassiveYokeThe STARFISH Passive stand is very easy to use: just take the instrument by its neck, and place it into the STARFISH’s yoke. Make sure you’ve got it in the right place and let it go. With instruments long enough to touch the padding on the five sturdy legs, just put the guitar close to the padding as you release and the instrument nestles nicely against the padding on the front two legs. For smaller instruments like mandolins, dulcimers, and violins, just hang the instrument carefully from its scroll-stock and let go (with short instruments with ANY yoke stand if you “drop” it into the yoke at an angle and let go, it will swing and touch or hit the main rod of the stand. Whether or not the main rod is padded, short instruments can get dented if you are careless with your instrument.

StarfishActiveLockingHeadYokeThe STARFISH+ Active stand is a breeze, and adds an additional layer of instrument security for a nominal extra cost. The overall stand setup of the STARFISH+ is like that of the STARFISH. The biggest difference is the active, self-closing yoke in the STARFISH+ Active. This stand is weight-activated such that a clear pair of “pincers” runs around the neck of your instrument and makes a closed loop under your headstock/scroll-stock. I like this additional security because it is less likely that the instrument can be knocked out of the stand by running cats, dogs, rabid fans, or children. Although nothing is perfect, this is a really great stand technique – put the instrument down and it automatically puts its sleeves around the neck. VERY NICE. The diameter of the sleeve/pincers is pretty big around. I’ve put many different basses and guitars (both acoustic and electric) in my STARFISH+ stand with great results.

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Price

The price of the STARFISH and STARFISH+ in USD is extremely comparable with its competitors from Ultimate and Hercules. The two STARFISH stands are a very strong contender in this market space. I would definitely consider the price point on STARFISHes when making a decision to buy an Active stand or Passive hang-yolk stand.

You can take a look at the STARFISH and STARFISH+ stands here at the Heydna site: http://www.heydna.com/. The stands are available at major retailers, on Amazon.com, and through the http://www.heydna.com/collections/all store site.

How about this for great?

Some instruments aren’t all that great for working with almost any guitar stand. The STARFISH+ Active stand works with several difficult-to-fit instruments in my library:
• The STARFISH+ is the ONLY stand that I have ever used that will hold my double-neck B.C. Rich guitar. It is sturdy, doesn’t rock left and right, and actually holds the guitar in such a way as to not put undue stress on the neck that is in the yolk. In my case, when my double-neck is not in its case, it hangs by the 12-string neck in the STARFISH+
• Few active guitar stands hold old-school (narrow-headstock) Telecasters very well. Some active guitar stands actually don’t close up enough to hold a Tele at all. The STARFISH and STARFISH+ both hold my Teles quite well.
• The STARFISH+ does a fantastic job holding banana-headstock guitars like Explorers.
• My STARFISH+ comfortably holds my Wonderful vintage Maggie Valley (North Carolina) wormy-maple sweetheart lap dulcimer – even with its odd scroll-stock!

 

A note about instrument safety and instrument stand safety

An instrument stand is only as good as the way it is used. If one is careless about placing an instrument in a stand it is likely that accidents will occur with any stand type or brand. There are always environments where stands can’t protect our instruments – even the really good ones like STARFISH stands. As we move on stage or have kids and animals (is there a difference? 😉 ) bolting through the room, we stand a chance to knock over even the best of stands.
Some tips:
• Always place your stand on as flat a surface as possible
• Always place your stand out of the middle of the high-traffic paths of the room
• Always take the extra three seconds to put the instrument in the sand and make sure it’s all the way in the stand and properly positioned – even active stands can’t do their job when the instrument is thrown carelessly into the stand’s yoke
• Make sure you have a firm grasp on the instrument as you place it into the stand or retrieve it from the stand

In our liability-driven world, I must make a disclaimer: use guitar stands at your own risk. I am not endorsing any particular stand or any particular method of using a stand with your priceless instrument. Ultimately, you are responsible for what happens to your instrument.