Maestro effect pedals were there from the very start. Though the innovation of the gritty sound circuit of the Maestro Fuzz in 1962 was accidental, the pedal set the tone and direction of fuzz for years to come. But don’t let that little grey box fool you. The Maestro catalog includes some of the most colorful and creative sounds you’ll ever hear.
To pay homage to this diverse set of effects released by Maestro, a once sub-brand of Gibson, we’ve rounded up three rarities that are almost entirely forgotten in gear history.
The Maestro G-1 Rhythm N’ Sound
In the early 1960s, Maestro came up with this little, bright box that was decades ahead of its time. The G-1 Rhythm N’ Sound was an ensemble in box. The pedal included analog drum sounds that tracked with the tempo of your strumming, a bass synth section that latched onto your rhythm playing to offer accompaniment, and even a basic effects section to sculpt your tone. Whether it’s then or now, the G-1 Rhythm N’ Sound is the ideal desert island gear choice.
The Maestro R0-1 Rover
By mid-1960s, music was changing and so was the gear industry. With CBS buying Fender and a few other companies on the block, including the makers of the Leslie rotating cabinet, industry competitor Gibson had to keep pace. To keep up with the gear demand generated by the new-wave sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Maestro released their own version of a rotating speaker. Unlike the Leslie, which was the size of a moderate fridge, the Rover sat as a cylinder on a stand that could easily be confused for a snare drum. Within the Rover was a speaker that actually spun to generate the phase sounds. On the exterior, a simple set of controls (volume, speed, slow, and fast) set the Rover into orbit.
The Maestro Sound System for Woodwinds
This one takes us even further off the beaten track yet, once again, underscores how Maestro was pioneering not only new sounds but applications across traditional boundaries. These days, performers and producers use guitar effects pedals for any number of instruments. Turns out, this idea is ancient. In the 1970s, Maestro developed an effect system that innovated and expanded the sounds of some of the most classical instruments of all time: the woodwinds. Though the system turned out to work far better for guitars and bass, the unit enabled synth-like textures for nearly any instrument you could mic or plug in.
Maestro pedals are iconic. Not only are they visually stunning and sonically astounding, their catalogue includes pedals that walk that delicate line of bizarre and brilliant. While some have gone down in history as cult classics, others are nearly extinct. No matter which end of the spectrum, Maestro had a way of thinking ahead while forcing others to keep up.