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This Week’s Favorite: blueSky – “Blackstar” from Ben Monder

Strymon blueSky Favorite Blackstar
New York based guitarist/composer Ben Monder has released six albums of his own so far, and has appeared on over 200 albums as a sideman. Most recently, Monder was an integral part of the sound of David Bowie’s critically acclaimed final studio album Blackstar, playing all the guitar on the album (aside from the parts Bowie played himself).

Last month’s issue of Premier Guitar featured an interview with Ben along with bassist Tim Lefebvre, who played bass on Blackstar. In that interview, we at Strymon enjoyed learning that the chime-like, upper-register guitar accents Monder played on the title track of the album were recorded using the Shimmer mode on a Strymon blueSky Reverberator. Ben was kind enough to talk with us a little about the tone and to share his settings with us.

Ben Monder
photo credit: John Rogers

Ben says:

“I am using the blueSky primarily for the shimmer effect along with the plate reverb. I discovered the sound by accident while I was just experimenting with what the various knobs/switches did, as originally I had borrowed it from a friend and didn’t have the manual.  On ‘Blackstar,’ I’m using it on the main chordal pass on the title track, and I also use the effect on the atmospheric overdub on the tune ‘Sue.’ The mix and decay are set depending on how prominent or subtle I want the effect to be. In these cases, I am using blueSky for the shimmer effect, and a second reverb for the main/traditional reverb effect. This shimmer effect often evokes a reaction like ‘what is that thing that sounds like a string orchestra playing along with you?’ or something like that.”


In the video below, one place in the mix you can hear the tone pretty clearly is from 0:57 to 1:07.


Below are the blueSky settings that Ben uses on “Blackstar.”

Ben Monder Strymon blueSky

Ben performs original music internationally with his own quartet, trio, and in an ongoing duo project with vocalist Theo Bleckmann. You can keep up with where he’s playing next on his Facebook page, and visit his web page at:



Made your own tweaks to these settings? Are there other preset/favorite types that you’d like to see in upcoming blog posts? Let us know what you think. Thanks!


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