| Cult of Mac

Music Man Valentine is the only electric guitar you’ll need [Reviews]


guitar in case
The Valentine is so versatile and addictive you'll want to take it everywhere.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

When this Valentine guitar arrived, I took a look at it, puffed out a quiet “Hmmph,” and carried on working. Even though I’d seen photos, I was still underwhelmed by the instrument’s appearance: pale, natural wood; a tortoise shell pickguard; and the kind of doughy, conservative shape that could make even an audience of meth-fueled Juggalos fall asleep.

Then I picked it up, and fell in love.

Baseball, guitars, food and fishing: 8 Instagrams to follow right now


Tech commuter, probably.
Tech commuter, probably.
Photo: Joe Pugliese

Regardless of what interests you have in your life, there is probably an Instagram feed for whatever your proclivities might be. Into rockabilly or baseball or even stamp collecting? You can undoubtedly find a couple of interesting photo feeds.

Since searching Instagram can be a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor, we have started to do it for you. This week we bring you feeds for baseball fans, vagabonds, parents and a couple of others.

Unicorns, horror and bikes: 8 Instagram accounts to follow right now


A detail of Adam Jones' art for new Red Hare album. Photo: Adam Jones/Instagram

Instagram has become riddled with so many photos of kitty cats, inspirational sayings and kitty cats spouting inspirational sayings that it has become nearly impossible to find fun and interesting feeds to follow without spending hours staring at your iPhone. So we did it for you.

This is not so much a “best of” list as a starting point that should open your mind to what else is out there in the great big Insta-world.

Machine Crush Monday: 1976 Gibson Explorer


Ahead of its time when released in the 1950s, the Gibson Explorer fits right into the rock 'n' roll landscape two decades later. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Also in 1976, a couple of longhairs named Steve and Woz start a little computer company you might have heard of.
Sylvester Stallone becomes a Hollywood heavyweight after his 1976 boxing movie turns into an unexpected hit.
JVC's HR-3300 video cassette recorder, unveiled on September 9, 1976, becomes the first VHS-based machine to hit the market.
The humble peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, defeats incumbent President Gerald Ford.
Hot on the 7-inch heels of surprise hit Alive!, the paint-faced rockers unleash Destroyer in 1976.
The nation's Bicentennial celebration drapes the United States in red, white and blue.
One of Marvel Comics' most unlikely heroes goes solo in 1976.
Viking 1 puts a lander on the Red Planet on July 20, 1976.
The parody stickers' highly successful second run fades away with the 1976 series. Bubble gum was never so fun.
Director Miloš Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest wins big at the Academy Awards in 1976, sweeping the "big five" Oscars.

To me, the 1976 Gibson Explorer means lust at first sight, love at first feel and that rarest of man-machine crushes: an enduring passion that persists long after I plunked down my hard-earned cash.

Gibson’s luthiers prototyped the Explorer (alongside pointy siblings the Flying V and the apocryphal Moderne) in the ’50s. The space race was on, rock ‘n’ roll was coming into its own and cars boasted bold curves and sci-fi fins. The Explorer and Flying V were released in 1958, a year after the Soviets launched Sputnik 1. (The Moderne didn’t makes its official debut until 1982.)

Like the beautiful but doomed Power Mac G4 Cube, the radically shaped guitars were clearly ahead of their time: These pointy instruments, which years later would become staples of heavy metal and hard-rock style, flopped hard. Gibson discontinued both lines within a few years.

In 1976, spurred by the success of competitors’ Explorer clones, Gibson came to its senses and reissued the Explorer. The natural mahogany finish on the best of these, much like the lighter Korina of the original models, gave the strangely shaped guitars a retro-futuristic look. That marriage of old and new is coming back into fashion now as designers tumble to the innate beauty of natural materials.

Tabrider, Like Guitar Hero For Real Guitars



Imagine if games like Guitar Hero weren’t just a stupid waste of drunken time but actually taught you to play the guitar instead. That way, you could actually get some benefit from the hours you pour into practicing the game.

Tabrider is that game. It’s an interactive training app which you play with your real guitar. It looks pretty neat.

Cult of Mac Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts For Kids Edition [Updated]


kids title updated

Believe it or not, Black Friday has already come and gone. Pretty soon the Christmas season will begin, and we’ll mark this midwinter festival by getting together with friends and family and continuing to drink and eat far too much.
Meanwhile, we also buy gifts for those same friends and family members, whether they want them or not. Luckily, we’re here to help, and if you follow our festive advice, your gifts just might make it into the “wanted” category.

From now until Christmas, Cult of Mac will be putting together holiday gift guys full of ideas for the special ones in your life, no matter what their interests or your budget. Today, we’re looking at gifts for the whining kids in your life.

Fender USB Stratocaster With Dock Connector, Just $200



There are plenty of USB-capable guitars. But there aren’t many $200 USB guitars. Now, you can not only get a USB Stratocaster for the price of a terrible Android tablet, but it actually comes from Fender — albeit under the Squier diffusion brand. But whatever, right? It’s a Strat, and you can hook it straight up to GarageBand and play it through some of the sweet (not Fender either) amps.

Best Musician’s Gadgets [Best Of]



Macs and musicians have always been synonymous (not to meantion aliterative), and some of the first creators to make a nonsense of the canard that the iPad is “only for consumption” were musicians. And where music nerds go, specialist hardware always follows. Here’s a list of the best Mac and iOS music accessories out there.

Amazing Guitar Pedal Board Puts Your iPad On Stage




iPad-owning guitarists are going to love the Digitech iPB-10 Programable Pedalboard. It’s a stompbox with ten stud switches and a wah pedal on the side, all of which work with your iPad to give a range of music effects that you’d normally need a whole case of pedals to create.