Artist Jeff Ritzmann always dreamed of owning an extravagant custom guitar like George Lynch’s Skull and Bones or Eddie Van Halen’s Dragon. That desire stayed with Ritzmann until 2006, when the cover of Iron Maiden’s A Matter of Life and Death album inspired him to build a guitar that looks like a tank. He did it, he says, by modifying an off-the-shelf guitar “beyond all reasonable comprehension.”
The Cowcaster is guaranteed to turn heads. That’s because it is one. The one-of-a-kind guitar, designed and built by artist Brent Gandy of Amarillo, Texas, brims with custom features — from Von Dutch–style pin striping on the back of the neck to a hand-carved bull’s head headstock — all of which are connected to an authentic bull skull.
The AO-3CE is a small-body, orchestra-style acoustic with a cutaway and Fishman electronics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top along with laminated mahogany sides and Guild’s unique arched-back body design that delivers plenty of volume. Other features include bone nut and saddle, koa roseete, pearl inlays and an included lightweight polyfoam case.
I find that the Speaker Cranker is an essential stompbox if you use a single-ended amplifier, such as the Marshall JCM 800, or a two-channel amp with a rhythm and lead channel to deliver much-needed gain for harmonics and solos. The pedal does color your sound, but in a good way, slightly darkening the tone to take out any high-end harshness.