041 | Sound Stone: A Closer Look at this Affordable Guitar Sustainer | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 41 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. We're exploring the renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape but for today's discussion we're not going to be talking about a pedal, but we are going to be talking about a guitar sustainer. And that is the Sound Stone by Merkaba Electronics. This is an affordable sustainer. That's fun to play, and we can't wait to unpack it on the other side.

Hey everyone Scott Schwertly, and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you guys today hope you're having a good one. Today we're actually going to switch things up a little bit. We're not going to actually be focusing on a guitar pedal for today's discussion, but rather we're going to be focusing on a very affordable guitar sustainer specifically, we're going to be talking about the Sound Stone by Merkaba Electronics. This is a fun one. It's a really great instrument if you want to kind of have sort of an entry point into guitar sustainers, and yeah, we're excited about talking about this one with you guys today and sharing what it's all about.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I've gotten the chance to mess around with it this morning. Well, we recorded this on Tuesday morning, so I had to run out, get the nine volt battery. Cause it doesn't come with one and been messing around with it, trying to figure it out. And yeah, it's pretty cool. Like it does the sustainer EBow-ish thing pretty well.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. So on that note, since we're going to be talking about a guitar sustainer, it's probably good to pay homage to really kind of the grandfather of guitar sustainers before we get into the specifics of this one. But obviously we have to, have a special nod out to the EBow which is kind of the standard. When you think about guitar sustainers, if you're not familiar with the EBow, this is basically a guitar sustainer that was really brought to life as early as 1969, it was introduced to the public in 1976, eventually patented in 1978. And the founders there at Heet Sound Products basically brought it to NAMM and yeah, the rest is kind of history.

So when you think about guitar sustainers, and just that ability to get that almost infinite sustain when you play any note again, when I think about songs that typically have this "With or Without You", I know The Edge from U2 typically likes to use it. So you can really hear that sustain pretty clear in the beginning of that song. Other people that have used this, everybody from Paul Stanley of KISS to Billy Corgan, to Jonny Buckland of Coldplay. Just that again, infinite sustain again, thinking about some of your favorite songs that have that. That's really what the EBow, we're really sort of, again, the grandfather sustain here really what that is all about. So the Sound Stone is just another option. It's just another thing to kind of get you into that guitar sustainer world, but at a very much more affordable price.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I remember using an EBow for the first time and when I used it, I was like " I think this is supposed to be just like using a bow on a guitar" which it's not that at all. That's why it was originally invented, but I really don't think it did that instead, it kind of created its own thing to where now it's kind of infamous for having that, like you were saying, infinite sustain and been made famous by, like you said, U2 and people like that. So it's a really cool type of product. It's a really cool thing to have in your arsenal to be able to use the creative parts. And the sounds stone really helps you to get into that sustainer world without the really expensive price tag.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah I mean, it's an incredible difference as far as price. I know the EBow typically I've seen it as low as $100 to, I think some people even seen it, 150, 160 bucks. I don't know what the current price point is on it, but let's just go with a hundred or a little bit more, this the Sound Stone you can, like you just mentioned Eric, it's a great entry point, low price point $35. I mean, so that's not bad at all if you want to at least get into this world of guitar sustain. So yeah. Not bad at all. That's like a dinner out with your girlfriend, boyfriend, you can, salvage that dinner and get yourself a Sound Stone. So yeah, a reasonable price to have something to add to your arsenal. Well, let's go ahead and talk about the Sound Stones roots and kind of where it comes from.
It's actually got kind of just a fun, interesting story. I love supporting small businesses and startups, obviously Siren Pedals we're a startup as well, but Sound Stone is essentially comprised of three people, specifically two brothers it's based out of Austin, Texas. I don't really think they've been around that long. And so they're new on the scene and it's fun to support not only a small business like this but also obviously Austin is a very creative town just like Nashville. And so it's fun to know that whatever revenue they're generating is supporting the Austin music community and all the good work that's coming out of that city.

So yeah, it's just fun to be able to contribute to a project and a business like this. And I wish them all the success in the world, hopefully this product takes root in the broader community.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah I think it's cool that, I mean, you see all the time companies like us are breaking into the pedal scene, which I feel like is a little more straight forward as opposed to the Sound Stone is, they're stepping into an area where typically only large companies have stepped into. So it's really cool to see. Just a small group of people get into the sustainer world and more of the guitar, accessory world, as opposed to other areas of the music industry. So it's really cool to see that and cool that we're able to talk about it and support them in it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, definitely. So I'm excited to see how this product to gets absorbed by the larger community and again, just wish them all to success in the world and yeah. Excited to have it in our hands and at least a test out for you guys today. So yeah, let's go ahead. And on that note, let's just talk about things that we've observed and things that we like and dislike about this product. And then we'll, we'll go from that right into our sample for you guys.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, so the first thing I noticed is, well, this is such a small thing, but I just wish it came with a battery cause you dropped it off for me yesterday and I picked it up and I'm like "Wait, there's no battery, what am I supposed to do with this?"
So I kind of wish it came with a battery, but that's just stupid stuff. But I actually, I really liked the form factor of it. It's just kind of a block as opposed to the EBow has the weird arm thing and it kind of doesn't fit in when you go to store it, there's no good place for it. Whereas this is just a little rectangle it can fit in your guitar case or pedalboard case or wherever you really need to throw it. And the other thing that I really like about this is again the affordability of it, because there's nothing really in that price range that can do the same thing that this can do. So it's really great if you're just trying to get into that world.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah I mean, it's definitely, again, really great entry point. And what I love about it too, is I actually, haven't tried this personally on an acoustic, but based on stuff I've seen online, it looks like people have tried it with their acoustic guitars and it works great there. Obviously it works great with electric guitars. That's kind of its true purpose, but also works great with other pedals. So whether you're using delays, reverb courses, it blends well with that environment. So again for that low price point, you get a product here that plays nice with so many other things.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Well I know for me in order for me within the first... Obviously I've only been messing around with a very couple hours, so I could be just not as comfortable with it, but there were a few quirks as far as like getting your tone to swell in as opposed to just a really sharp start and things like that. But I found that I was able to use it in the context that I would use it in like a more ambient kind of drone thing.

You can work around that because you can just set a lower attack on a reverb or like I used my luminary to kind of just create that swell for me, no matter what issues I had with it. But also there's different ways you'll learn to maneuver it and just kind of work around any quirks that you find as time goes on. So overall just a really great product and I've enjoyed getting to check it out.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah it's a powerful little product that does a lot in a small size at a really great price point. So I know probably the elephant in the room is, for somebody out there who's maybe tuning this episode to figure out, they want to get a guitar sustainer and they're wondering, well "Should I just get the standard and, and get the EBow or maybe even get one of the other ones that are out there?" I know JOYO's got one, I think TC Electronic has the AEON and obviously we have the Sound Stone. I think the elephant in the room right now is, well, is this worth getting over one of those? And if we had to answer that question for you really, it just comes down to how much you plan to use it.
I mean, obviously if you're looking for the standard, the one with really kind of all the bells and whistles that has the ease of use, easy to pick up and play, we're going to probably lean towards getting the EBow in that case. I would say with this one, there's definitely more opportunity for error when using it. It's not going to be quite as, I guess, easy to use as something like the EBow, but nonetheless, if you're not super picky and you're willing to put in the time to put in the practice to get super comfortable with it, you can get there. It's just going to take a little bit more work.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah I would definitely agree with that so personally for me, just case in point, I wouldn't... If I went out and spent a hundred and some odd dollars on an EBow I wouldn't use it enough to get the $100 worth. So for me, with as much as I would use a guitar sustainer or something like that, the Sound Stone would be a good choice because less than half the price and for as much as I'm going to use it, I can work around any quirks or learning curves that I would find.

Scott Schwertly:
Exactly I think that's the big decision everybody has to come to. Cause I know for me, I don't particularly have a need for a guitar sustainer in my everyday playing. It's just for every now and then when I just want to kind of switch things up and yeah, in that case, I think the Sound Stone would be perfect for those opportunities. Now, if it's part of your everyday playing and it's just part of your repertoire of things that you do, then yeah spend the extra money, get the EBow it's going to be a better investment, particularly for more of that sort of repetitive use. But yeah, for the one off stuff, I think this is perfect for it.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah well and the other thing is for most people, even most of my friends who have bought an EBow or something like that, they get really obsessed with it for about two weeks and then it sits in a drawer for years until they finally find it and they're like " Oh yeah, I forgot I had this." So that's the other thing where it's like even if you think you're going to use it that much, something like this may actually just end up being a better choice just because over time, the newness is going to wear off and you're just not going to use it as much, but it is a really great tool just for coming up with new and interesting parts. It's a completely different way of playing. You have to think about the guitar completely different when you're using it.

And that's with any sustainer that's with an EBow, the AEON or the Sound Stone, but yeah, overall, it's just a cool experience and yeah.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah well if you guys are curious about actually hearing what this is all about and what it sounds like, and maybe you're new to the world of guitar sustain into this whole idea of infinite sustain, or maybe you're just comparing things, whether it's the AEON or the EBow and you want to see what this one sounds like in comparison, we're going to go ahead and do that now and, and give you guys a sample of what this is really all about. So we're going to get everything plugged in. Eric, what are you going to go with today?

Eric Wilson:
So I'm going to play the Tele and I kind of want to explain what I'm going to do with this. So, because I am not very well versed in guitar sustainers, I'm going to attempt to give you a sample of what it sounds like, no pedals, just a sustainer and the Iridium, whatever. And then I'm going to throw on some stuff and use it as I would use it, like in a context of, well, whatever I would end up using it for. I don't actually have anything in mind right now. Cause I don't own one. So I'm going to do that and yeah. Get it all hooked up and see how it sounds.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Well, looking forward to demoing this for you guys and we'll see you guys on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right that was the Sound Stone, really affordable sustainer. I think it's honestly a good choice for most people who decided they needed a guitar sustainer, but yeah it's cool to checkout, not something I would normally pick up at all really.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah it's a great little device, particularly if you're wanting to get into this whole world of guitar sustain. So yeah, definitely recommend checking it out. I'm not going to set you back too far.Just have something else to diversify your playing and try something new. So yeah, definitely a fun one to have.
Well, that's what we wanted to cover today with the Sound Stone, the affordable guitar sustainer again, definitely a fun device. Join us next time as we're going to be talking about one of the staples of delay, definitely, probably one of the more popular ones in the delay world and that is Strymon's TimeLine. So we're excited to be unpacking that one and our next episode, there's obviously a ton of things you can do with it. So I'll be curious to see how our demo actually goes, but definitely we're looking forward to unpacking what that pedal is really all about. It's a beauty, it's a gem. There's really not a whole lot of people out there that hate the TimeLine. So yeah, we're excited to unpack that in our next episode.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah that one will be fun. It's been on my board for a long time, so I'm very familiar with it.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Well, I'm looking forward to it and until then guys, we will see you next time. Have a great day, have a great week and we'll catch you in the next episode.

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