The Maestro Jukebox Timeline

1962-2022

Our brilliant gadgets empowered talented artists to shape the sounds of the last half century.

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The Maestro Jukebox Timeline

Maybe you've never heard of Maestro. But you've definitely heard Maestro. Starting with that opening riff of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," our pedals and effects have been used by the world's best producers and musicians to shape the sounds that defined entire decades.

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1962

Maestro introduces the Fuzz-Tone FZ-1 pedal

When Maestro first debuted with the FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone, in 1962, no one could have predicted its trailblazing success. By that time, Gibson, then operating under parent company Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI), had already used the Maestro brand name on accordions, accordion amplifiers, and the legendary Echoplex Tape Delay. When the FZ-1 was released, the guitar pedal market was nonexistent, and this odd effect, intended to conjure something resembling a horn sound, fell largely on deaf ears.

1965

Keith Richards plays the Fuzz-Tone on The Rolling Stones' "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction"

But then Keith Richards came along, and the Rolling Stones guitarist used the FZ-1 as a demo track on “Satisfaction” to signal how and when a horn section should enter the mix. “But he never meant for the part to be used on the final recording,” says Phil O’Keefe, Senior Editor, Gibson Brands. “It was strictly a demo. He thought, well, this is what we want the horns to do... Then that scratch track winds up on the final version, and ‘Satisfaction’ turns out to be the song of the summer in ‘65.” Gibson sold every FZ-1 in stock. It was really the first commercially successful pedal,” O’Keefe continues. “And it set the entire pedal world into motion.”

Soon after Keith Richards' iconic riff, the next prominent use of the FZ-1 pedal is Tommy Tedesco playing on the decidedly hokey theme song to the television show Green Acres — an early indication that this new sound would work its way into many genres.

1967

Pete Townshend of The Who plays a Maestro FZ-1A Fuzz-Tone at the Monterey Pop Festival

Within a few years, the fuzz was familiar to fans of rock and roll. Here, Pete Townshend of The Who plays a Maestro FZ-1A Fuzz-Tone at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

1967

Doors guitarist Robbie Kreiger plays Fuzz-Tone on "My Eyes Have Seen You."

"I used a Gibson Maestro fuzz pedal for the solo," Doors guitarist Robbie Kreiger told Guitar Player magazine. Not that it was much of a choice. the FZ-1 "was about the only effect we had in those days."

1967

Maestro introduces the BG-1 Boomerang Wah pedal

For Christmas shoppers in 1967, the new Boomerang Wah pedal was advertised as "the latest in electronic sound." The foot pedal looked like the accelerator of a muscle car, and it bent notes and chords into a round, wide "wah" — or "WOW," as this store in Tampa, Florida, described it.

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1969

Tony Joe White plays Boomerang Wah on "Polk Salad Annie"

Tony Joe White played the Boomerang Wah on his bluesy hit "Polk Salad Annie" — though with a lighter touch than many of the funkier sounds to come.

1969

New parent company Norlin takes over Gibson and hires Tom Oberheim, inventor of the Ring Modulator

Norlin replaces CMI as the new parent company of Gibson, and they approach legendary engineer Tom Oberheim to join as a manufacturing contractor. The company soon begins marketing Oberheim’s ring modulator as the Maestro RM-1A.

Oberheim's device produces an eerie, otherworldly sound perfect for science fiction. Film composer Leonard Rosenman employs a ring modulator on the soundtrack to the 1970 movie Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

1970

Maestro introduces the PS-1 Phase Shifter

Synth Pioneer Tom Oberheim begins designing and manufacturing electronics for Gibson in Santa Monica, California. His Maestro PS-1 becomes the first commercially available phase-shifter, and creates a new sound that defines the early 1970s. Like the Fuzz-Tone, Guitar Player magazine cites its introduction as one of the "101 Greatest Moments in Guitar History"

1971

Charles “Skip” Pitts plays the Boomerang Wah on "Theme from Shaft"

What was subtle shading in the hands of Tony Joe White becomes bold strokes in the hands of Charles “Skip” Pitts, who seems to inaugurate the 70s with this Boomerang Wah-laced guitar on Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft."

The Maestro BG-2 pedal Pitts used on that track is ensconced in the Stax Records Museum in Memphis, Tennessee — alongside other Gibson relics including a Les Paul that belonged to Pops Staples, Little Milton's ES-335, and one of Albert King's Flying Vs.

1973

Anthony Jackson plays a Maestro Phase Pedal for the distinctive bassline on the O'Jays' "For the Love of Money"

"As I recall," Jackson told Bass Player magazine, "it was my decision to use a pick and my Maestro Phaser pedal. I knew what they were trying to do, which was to make the 'For the Love of Money' concept into something they could continue to run with. That never really happened, partly I think because playing with the pick and flange was simply more involved than slapping, which people were able to emulate fairly quickly and easily. You need to learn how to use the pick really well to pull it off."

1973

Isley Brothers use the PS-1 on "That Lady"

The Phase Shifter powers the spacey groove on the Isley Brothers inquisitive homage to mysterious beauty.

1974

Brian May of Queen employs a Maestro Echoplex on "Brighton Rock"

The Echoplex tape delay was first released by Gibson under the Maestro banner in 1962, but it enjoyed fresh fame among guitar bands of the 70s, such as Queen and Rush.

1974

Alex Lifeson of Rush uses multiple Maestro pedals on the band's debut LP

Alex Lifeson of Rush uses a Maestro Phase Shifter and an Echoplex, among other effects, to achieve the band's signature sound on their self-titled debut record.

1975

Moog replaces Oberheim as designer for Maestro

Having acquired synthesizer and effects brand Moog two years earlier, Gibson's parent company, Norlin, puts Robert Moog in charge of pedal design for Maestro. Matt Koehler, head of product development for Gibson, says "When Moog comes into the picture, he designs unique circuits with a specific take on a fuzz and a phaser. And he pushes the limits of sonic development in his own way.”

1975

George Harrison plays Maestro Phaser on "This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)"

George Harrison, who'd used a Fuzz-Tone in the Beatles era, turns up the Phaser on "This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)"

1975

Waylon Jennings plays PS-1 on Dreaming My Dreams

Waylon Jennings made the Maestro PS-1 work for his outlaw country sound on the album Dreaming My Dreams, perhaps most prominently on the song "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way."

1976

Melvin "Wah Wah" Watson's album Elementary

Renowned session guitarist Melvin "Wah Wah" Watson used a room full of Maestro on his own album *Elementary,* including a Maestro Universal Synthesizer System, an Echoplex, a Maestro Sample And Hold Unit, and of course, the Boomerang Wah.

1979

Billy Gibbons plays a Ring Modulator on ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses"

In a Guitar World article, lead guitarist Billy Gibbons revealed that he used a Marshall Major amplifier and a Maestro Ring Modulator on this song, from ZZ Top's 1979 album Degüello, and that the amplifier had a blown tube during recording which added to the tonal character of the song.

1979

Gibson ceases production of Maestro electronics

By 1979, Norlin, in financial distress and struggling to retain its footing in a changing and growing industry, ceases production of all Maestro products.

Maestro, the brand that quite literally put guitar effect pedals on the map in the 60s and then led the industry’s expansion into new sonic territories in the 70s, went dormant just as the pedal explosion kicked into overdrive in the 80s and 90s.

1986

Norlin Sells Gibson

Parent Company Norlin Sells Gibson to a group led by Henry Juszkiewicz and David H. Berryman

1996

Los Lobos' David Hidalgo solos with a Maestro Parametric EQ pedal

Almost twenty years after the brand went dormant, vintage Maestro effects remain in use among those in the know. On the solo for "Mas y Mas," for instance, Los Lobos' David Hidalgo plays an early 70s three-pickup Les Paul Custom and an "old Maestro Parametric EQ pedal with those big knobs on the sides that you can work with your foot," he told Guitar Player magazine.

1998

Jon Spencer uses a vintage Maestro Octave Box to play a mock bass line on "Calvin"

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is a band without a bass player. But Spencer plugged into a vintage Maestro Octave Box to play a fat and dirty mock bass line on songs like "Calvin."

2003

Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys plays a Maestro fuzz pedal on Thickfreakness

Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys often played a ‘73 Maestro fuzz MFZ-1 in the early 2000s to get the growling blues sound of their early Fat Possom records releases.

2016

Maestro fuzz effects on Childish Gambino's "Redbone"

Producer Ludwig Göransson uses the fuzz and octave effects from a vintage Maestro G-2 Rythm N Sound unit on the guitar track of Childish Gambino's "Redbone."

2017

Adrian Quesada shows off an MFZ-1 Fuzz pedal and Maestro Echoplex

Guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada, before forming the Black Pumas with Eric Burton, showed off his #maestrofuzz and his #maestroechoplex on Instagram. Hear him put his effects to work here on the Look at My Soul:

2019

Seratones guitarist Travis Stewart wields an old Maestro fuzz pedal

Forty years after the brand goes dormant, bands like the southern soul rock band the Seratones are still finding vintage Maestro pedals. "I think that's just a really badass kind of a sound," Travis Stewart told Guitar Player.

2022

Gibson re-launches Maestro

A newly reinvigorated Gibson relaunches Maestro with an all-new line of five effect pedals. The Maestro Original Collection includes a new Fuzz-Tone FZ-M, reminiscent of the instantly recognizable tones of the first-ever Maestro pedal, the much-mythologized FZ-1. Alongside it, the Ranger Overdrive, the Invader Distortion, the Comet Chorus, and the Discoverer Delay.

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