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February 08, 2017

Acoustic » Guitars » Staff Picks »

February Staff Picks

Chicago Music Exchange staff members always have the scoop on the latest new, used, and vintage gear, and we love to tell you about it all. Check out February's Acoustic Edition of Staff Picks:

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February 06, 2017

The Gear of Sonic Youth: Saluting Lee Renaldo!


If you didn't know, Feb. 3 is the birthday of Sonic Youth's Lee Renaldo.  As one of our favorite bands company wide, we thought it fitting to do a brief rundown on what made their sound so unique!

Trying to encapsulate even a snapshot of Sonic Youth's rig is akin to shoving your entire wardrobe into a piece of carry on luggage.  Sonic Youth uses a lot of gear.  I mean a hell of a lot of gear.  There have been websites dedicated to the cataloging of such, and it is an endless, dark rabbit hole.  (For more in-depth info check out the awesome Sonic Youth Gear Guide!)

That said, let’s take a quick look at some of the more iconic, and even esoteric gear selections Lee Renaldo and Sonic Youth have made through the years.  


Fender Jazzmaster

If one guitar stands out among Sonic Youth’s endless arsenal of instruments, it’s the Fender Jazzmaster.

Guitarists Thurston Moor and Lee Ranaldo’s appreciation for offset guitars is in no small part responsible for the resurgence of offsets today.  They’re flexibility in tone, tinny chime and ease of modification (who doesn’t love a mastery tremolo?) made them the perfect choice. 


Peavey Roadmaster

Thurston Moore was rarely seen without a Peavey Roadmaster Tube head and an array of cabs.  Proof that the most expensive amp, isn’t always the right one!  At 160 watts of tube power, its one of Peavey’s loudest and heaviest amps ever made.


Marshall Plexi 100 watt

On the rare occasion Thurston wasn’t plugged into a Peavey Roadmaster, he was probably tearing through one of his Marshall 100wt heads



Fender Super Reverb

Considered a classic today, there was a time when the lumbering, cumbersome 4x10 combo was deemed too much for touring groups.  Good thing Lee Ranaldo’s was modified with even heavier and larger speakers!  Be it accessibility, or the buckets of reverb built in, the Fender Super Reverb has been a mainstay in Ranaldo’s tone to this day.




Fender P-Bass

Bassist Kim Gordon had as much of a gear addiction as any of the other members.  Though she’s been known to play a variety of instruments, the tried and true P-Bass got the lions share of stage time. 



Turbo Rat

One of the more defining aspects of Sonic Youth, is their very sparse use of effects pedals.  On the occasion they did need something amps couldn't provide, Sonic Youth turned their (shoe) gaze to the Turbo Rat.


Happy Birthday Lee!  May your day be full of reversed guitar tracks, droning tape effects, and cake!

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January 21, 2017

The NAMM Show 2017 Report—Day 3

Greetings from NAMM! While we're definitely on the hunt for some serious guitars here on the show floor, needless to say a lot of our coolest finds definitely extend beyond the six-string set! That's why we're devoting today's post to some of our favorite pedals and accessories. Check out some of our photos below and stick around—you'll be seeing many of these must-have products in our store soon. 


We're totally impressed with the Roland GO:MIXER, a compact mixer for smartphones that allows users to not only record and mix audio tracks, but also record video too. We all know the perils of recording with shoddy phone audio, and for that reason love the GO:MIXER's ability to connect a mic, musical instruments or other media device—essentially offering pro sound for the avid smartphone user-slash-producer.


PRODUCT PICK: L.R. Baggs Synapse Personal P.A. System 

Quite the sonic revelation from L.R. Baggs this year—the Synapse Personal P.A. serves up a patented all-horn speaker design that projects a 180-degree waveform at all frequencies. Add an all-new compression woofer and this puppy projects some serious room-filling sound, making it perfect for singer-songwriters and artists who perform in more intimate-to-medium-sized venues. 


PRODUCT PICK: Walrus Audio Utility Pedals

With an all-encompassing selection of essentials that take up minimal real estate on your pedalboard, Walrus Audio's new Utility line of effects is absolutely worth a second look. The series includes a number of practical stompboxes in both micro and standard sizes, including a buffed blend pedal, expression pedal and volume control, tap tempo and much more.


PRODUCT PICK: Ernie Ball Paradigm Strings

Strings that never break or rust? Color us impressed. Based off the iconic Ernie Ball Slinky, Paradigm's break-resistant strings are specially treated—not coated—with a proprietary Everlast nanotreatment. They also undergo a breakthrough plasma process that prevents corrosion and wear during hours of punishing play. Available in a number of electric and acoustic gauges, they've been dutifully beta-tested by pros like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and John Petrucci to ensure these babies are as muscular as they claim to be.


As avid fans of MONO bags and accessories for years, we were excited to see the company's new line of portable, lightweight boards. Whether you own five stompboxes or 50, rest assured you'll be accommodated—the line includes five different pedalboard sizes, from Lite (14" x 5.25" x 1.25") to Large (32" x 16" x 3.5"). Crafted from one sheet of anodized aluminum (black or silver, depending on your preference), they've certainly lost some weight compared to their predecessors, which makes them ultra convenient and tough-wearing.


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January 20, 2017

musical musings »

The NAMM Show 2017 Report—Day 2

Check out some of the coolest eye candy from our second day in Anaheim, and see what's headed to the shop soon! View full article »
January 19, 2017

The NAMM Show 2017 Report—Day 1

Naturally, many of the guys at CME were out in full force getting our eager paws on some treasures for the shop. Take a peek at some of our coolest finds—many of which are available for pre-order at CME now. View full article »
January 17, 2017

musical musings »

Happy Birthday, Steve Earle: A Conversation With Colter Wall

In celebration of Steve Earle’s 62nd birthday, we caught up with our friend, singer-songwriter Colter Wall after their performance at City Winery in Chicago to pay homage to the man himself. Read on as Wall remembers his first run-in with Earle, their love of great records, and the shared no-nonsense mentality in their songwriting.

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January 06, 2017

Chicago Music Exchange Year End Round-up: A Look back at the gear of 2016

2016 was a tumultuous year for the music world to say the least. While we could go on lamenting the laundry list of artists we lost, we’d like to highlight the innovation and invention this year has brought to light. While we gear up for the highly anticipated NAMM 2017 trade show to see what the new year has in store, lets take a look at some of the coolest products we discovered in 2016! View full article »
January 03, 2017

Guitars » Staff Picks »

January Staff Picks

Chicago Music Exchange staff members always have the scoop on the latest new, used, and vintage gear, and we love to tell you about it all. Check out January's Staff Picks:

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December 24, 2016

The Ultimate Gift: A Chicago Music Exchange Holiday Story

Thank you for making 2016 memorable here at CME. Your continued support inspires us to do what we do best—further the pursuits of musicians who are as passionate as we are.

Here’s to another incredible year of buying, selling and trading gear. We look forward to sharing it with you!

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December 22, 2016

Building a Home Studio, Part 2

All right—If you're here, you've probably read Part 1 of our "Building a Home Studio" blog series.

So now, you’ve got your gear. Headphones? Check. The right interface? Good to go! A fridge stocked with PBR and your friend’s band itching to record? Plug in your laptop and get crackin'!

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