So what exactly is
Like the capo and slide, the Jellifish is a mechanical tool for
your stringed instrument. (Although the Jellifish was originally
designed with the guitar in mind, we have many bass, mandolin and
banjo players among our customers.) To make this new tool easy-to-use,
we designed the Jellifish to be held like a guitar pick...and, honestly,
that's where the similarities end. The Jellifish itself isn't a
guitar pick, nor does it replace your existing picks. Rather, as
one of our astute customers recently said, "It's like a $10
stomp-box!" Exactly! (We couldn't have said it better ourselves!)
Who invented the Jellifish?
The Jellifish was invented by our very own Robb Hendrickson. Like
most inventors, Robb's an interesting guy who's already lived most
of his nine lives and can always find the time to share a story
or thirty. As best we can tell, he's never been abducted by aliens
(or at least he won't admit to it), but we are fairly certain that
Robb is the only living person to have worked as an oilfield diver,
investment banker and recording engineer...all of which may account
for the abduction theories. A guitarist since the age of seven,
Robb's other interests include "any activity that isn't boring." Last we checked, this included pelagic spearfishing, solo SCUBA
diving and free-climbing, though he's also been known to jump from
perfectly air-worthy planes on occasion.
How did you come up with the idea for the Jellifish?
Why take it from us? Here's what Robb has to say in his own words:
"Just when I thought I'd reached wit's end with the sameness
of pedal effects, the growing ubiquity of ProTools® gave rise
to DSP plug-ins, which compounded my frustration because DSP effects
are, by definition, indistinguishably identical if all of the parameters
are set exactly the same. Increasingly, DSP and plug-ins have made
it a relatively simple job for the engineer or producer to cop another
artist's sound by reverse-engineering the plug-in's settings. This
is OK if that's what an artist wants, but I don't think that it's
a recipe for creating "greatness." In my opinion, going
for these "canned" sounds is a safe, CYA move, because
you know that "Sound X" was successful for someone else.
But there was a time not too long ago when what both the listener
and the artist desired was uniqueness. I think if you look at the
guitar greats you'll find that their "sonic fingerprint"
was, give or take, in equal parts compositionally unique and sonically
distinct. While I hesitate to single-out any one guitarist, the
"Brown Sound" of Eddie Van Halen comes to mind simply
because it was so distinct that others gave it a name. Consequently,
whether I'm producing myself or another guitarist, it's always been
my goal to give the listener an unexpected flavor from the instrument;
if I can do this both sonically and compositionally, so much the
better. At the risk of getting off on a tangent, I'd argue this
approach extends holistically to one's thinking during the total
composition process as well as to the arrangement and treatment
of tracks within a mix...and, often, to the ordering and interplay
of the finished tracks on a project.
So, it was with this "sonic identity" goal in mind and
the growing challenges presented by the increasing homogeneity of
DSP that the stage was set for developing what has become the Jellifish.
Somehow the idea came to me that no two slide players sound exactly
the same and this got me thinking how strange it was that, aside
from guitar picks, there were only two mechanical tools for the
guitar: The capo and the slide. This started me wondering what other
possibilities might exist and, somewhere in this wondering process,
I had an "Aha!" moment in which I realized that because
there's so much individuality in how we each use a mechanical tool,
mechanical tools and toys might be an excellent solution to the
challenge of helping myself and other guitarists individuate themselves
sonically. This led to a lot of experimenting with one of the developments
being what is now the Jellifish. (I knew I was onto something with
the Jellifish concept because other engineers who heard tracks that
were recorded with prototype units immediately wanted to know what
plug-ins I was using to achieve what we now call the Chorus! sound.)
Another interesting footnote is that during the development and
testing process, I got a lot of feedback from prototype testers
who were experiencing prolific writing periods as a result of having
this new, cool tool...which caused me to realize that inasmuch as
it forces you to think (play?) outside-the-box, the Jellifish is
as much a tool for increasing or enhancing one's creativity as it
is a mechanism for achieving sonically novel sounds from the instrument.
If our customers discover new sounds on their instrument and are,
in turn, inspired to create beautiful new music, only then have
we done our jobs well."
What does the Jellifish sound like?
There are 3 trademark sounds that you'll get using the Jellifish
on a 6-string. These are known as Chorus! Pluck! & Bow!
Chorus! is most often compared to the sound of a 12-string guitar
or a chorus pedal. Pluck! is said to sound like a hammered dulcimer
or music box. And Bow! is typically compared to the sound of a cello.
These descriptions are best suited to describing the results you
will get using the Jellifish on an acoustic guitar. Since you can
combine the Jellifish with other effects, especially on an electric
instrument, Chorus! Pluck! and Bow! are only the foundations, not
the limits, for your sonic explorations with the Jellifish.
For example, by using the Chorus! technique with a slide, you can
get a unique resonator-like quality from an open-tuned guitar. (The
Fender® Stratacoustic™ and Telecoustic™ work especially
well for this application.) Similarly, the Bow! technique sounds
great with some delay on a slightly distorted electric guitar.
We suggest that you launch your sonic explorations with the Jellifish
by first learning all 3 of the basic techniques (Chorus! Pluck!
and Bow!) on an acoustic or clean-channel electric guitar. You can
then branch-out from there.
Why is it called a Jellifish?
According to Robb:
"When I started looking for mechanical ways to obtain usable
new sounds from the guitar, one of the things I came across was
a drum brush. This led to some neat effects, but was a bit unwieldy.
So I started experimenting with more manageable prototypes based
off on the functionality I'd found in the drum brush, albeit in
a different form factor. As a result, guitarists who were testing
these prototypes started calling the device a BrushPick, which,
though descriptive, wasn't very clever and, moreover, is the tradename
of a toothpick sold here in the U.S.
When we decided to do a start-up venture in the guitar accessories
sector based off of the mechanical effect concepts I'd begun developing
in the '80s &'90s, one of my first thoughts was that we should
create a brand that conveyed the creativity behind our products,
which is the same creativity our products are designed to evoke
from the end user. While I have a lot of admiration for the entrepreneurs
who built the guitar and accessories brands of the last century,
I don't think there's too much inspiration in a brand that's essentially
someone's first and/or last name. Hoping that we could create a
name that would be fun and inspiring to current and prospective
guitarists alike, it suddenly struck me for the first time that
the outline of the BrushPick resembled a jellyfish. If you've ever
had the pleasure to see these graceful, lava-lamp-like creatures
in their natural environment, then you understand why their physical
resemblance and elegant simplicity was the perfect symbolic fit
for our Company. The decision to use an alternative spelling of
the word "jellyfish" allowed us to be more playful in
developing our iconic "i" logo, again evoking more of
the creativity we so strongly value."
Why does the voiceover in the Chorus! Pluck! & Bow!
videos say that the Jellifish may make guitar picks obsolete?
No doubt, the current Jellifish will not replace guitar picks any
more than would a capo or stomp-box. We're in the process of replacing
the original videos, which had to wear many hats in addition to
demonstrating the sonic properties of the Jellifish and functioning
as instructional material for the Chorus! Pluck! & Bow! techniques.
Look for updated videos and an instructional DVD in the months to
Will the Jellifish make my strings wear out faster?
Nope! The Jellifish will not damage metal strings any more than
a conventional guitar pick. However, the Jellifish may cause increased
wear on plastic coated or nylon strings. We've had very good luck
using the Jellifish on D'Addario EXPs & Dean Markley's Alchemy
strings. Use on the current Elixer strings is not recommended.
Can the Jellifish damage my guitar's finish?
As with a guitar pick, we recommend using the Jellifish on your
strings, not your guitar's finish!!! Kidding aside, when using the
Jellifish properly, this is not an issue.
How long does it take to learn to use the Jellifish?
If you can use a guitar pick, then you already know how to use the
Jellifish. If you have a broadband connection, see for yourself
on our "Hear It" section of the website. In our experience,
we've seen people master the Jellifish in anywhere from minutes
to days, depending on one's general level of proficiency with the
Do I need to use special strings with the Jellifish?
You can use the Jellifish on any metal guitar string. However, using
the Jellifish on plastic coated strings can diminish the coating's
useful life. As mentioned above, D'Addario EXPs and Dean Markley
Alchemy strings have coatings more compatible with the Jellifish
than do other brands, should you prefer coated strings. We don't
recommend using the Jellifish on nylon (a.k.a., "classical")
strings as there is no sonic benefit.
Will you offer the Jellifish in any other colors?
The Jellifish is currently offered only in Blue Diamond. Two other
colors have been available on a very limited basis. These Jellifish
are known as "Firecoral" (pearlescent, soft Pebax with
yellow-and-orange logo) and "November Salsa" (clear Lexan® with yellow-and-orange logo). If you have either of these Jellifish,
congratulations, you've got a collectible. We have about 9 other
colors that will be coming out during 2004 on a limited-edition
basis. To be among the first to know as these become available,
be sure to sign-up for the Jellifish newsletter.
Have you thought about making an unwound Jellifish?
We have thought about all kinds of Jellifish and our R&D lab
is in the process of testing many variations. Expect new models
with a number of different string choices to be released during
2004. In the meantime, let us know what kind of Jellifish you would
like to see.
Is the Jellifish sold in any retail stores?
We are in the process of branching out into local retail music stores.
Click HERE to see if there is one near you. Soon they will only be available at your local music retailer. If you'd like to see your favorite dealer carry the Jellifish, please
have them contact us.
How long will each Jellifish last?
This, of course, depends on how often one plays and upon proper
use of the product (e.g., Pete Townshend-style windmills are definitely
not recommended!) To get the best sounds out of the product, a lighter
touch is better, and to the extent that you pick or strum lightly
with the product, it will last considerably longer. We also find
that the guitarists who have become intense users of the Jellifish
over the past year report that their proficiency has increased over
time along with the average life expectancy for each unit. Among
these heavy users, we're getting reports of each unit lasting between
1 and 3 months. Several of these guitarists are using the product
on a daily basis either live or in the studio.
What's so cool about the Jellifish?
Everything! The Jellifish is designed to change the way your guitar
sounds. And, like a any new guitar toy, it will cause you to be
inspired. That means fresh licks and song ideas. Check out the "Hear
It" section of our website to learn more!
What's the Jellifish made of?
We get so many inquiries about the engineering and design of the
Jellifish that we've added THIS PAGE to the site. CLICK HERE to learn more
about Jellifish R&D.
When are you redoing/updating the website?
We've been making constant changes to the site since November 2003 and have
added a lot of new content to the site since that time as well as making the
site more 56K-friendly. To see what's planned for the site in the
not-too-distant future, CLICK HERE to visit our SITEPLAN.
Is the Jellifish easy to use?
Absolutely! If you can use a guitar pick, then you already know
how to hold the Jellifish. Mastering the 3 basic techniques will
take somewhere between a few minutes and a few days depending on
how accomplished you are on the instrument.
How much does the Jellifish cost?
$9.95 on the website + ($2.00 Shipping and Handling for every 4 units). The Retail Store price is $12.95.
Isn't the Jellifish expensive compared to guitar picks?
Perhaps a better question would be "Isn't the Jellifish inexpensive
compared to a stomp box?" That's because although it looks
like a guitar pick and you hold it like one, that's where the similarities
end! The Jellifish is best thought of as a hand-held effect device
that will allow you to create new sonic textures. And, because it's
interactive, the Jellifish will stimulate "outside the pick" thinking that leads to the creation of new licks and songs.
Do I need any other equipment to use the Jellifish?
Nope. Just your axe and a little imagination!