Thursday, September 21, 2017

CITES grip: Ibanez

With immediate effect, the Ibanez models you see above are now equipped with pine fretboard instead of its previous rosewood incarnation (T-B):
  • RC220
  • SA160
  • SA360

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Peavey: 6505 Piranha

The 6505 label has a marked legacy. At the very least, it's renowned for perpetuating some of the best tube drive in the industry after a certain Van Halen parted ways with Peavey. The Piranha manifestation of the 6505 is a partial tube variant, running at 20W. Sporting two channels, the CRUNCH is a pseudo clean voicing, breaking up at higher settings. The clean headroom available depends on the amount of gain one dials up. The LEAD channel is a high gain menace, as metal as it gets, no compromise. 

Before we proceed with the appraisal proper, the Piranha is by no means a scaled-down version of the 6505 for a simple reason- it's not a full tube unit & not duplicating that technology per se. The pre-amp section is driven by a single 12AX7 tube & the rest runs on a solid state blueprint. 

The cleans here are mediocre at best despite the tube warmth. I've heard some other solidstate amps out-performing this one in this aspect. Things sound a little more appealing if you factor in some chorus into your signals. Single coil pickups simply couldn't make the tone any more appealing, sad to say. Moving on to the driven goodness, let's remind ourselves it's not the real 6505 in action. Overdrive sounds raunchy in all setting & the solitary EQ knob couldn't quite refine any deficiencies across the frequencies. If you wish to hear more bass, this could be had but it doesn't cure the dreary top end. Same goes for more treble, no mushy low frequencies could be addressed while you're at it. 

The Piranha is rather accommodating when it comes to handling external pedals but that's more so for the CRUNCH option at about 50% gain setting (no break up heard). Even the loop option (seen above, the Piranha's rear panel) lends itself well to pedals, drive/distortion ones included. The LEAD channel on the other hand, reacts best with boost type units. Overdrive & distortion do not supplement the amp's default voicings. A successful formula on the other hand is the employment of active pickups. That's right, the instrument's high output pickups are more successful here. 

All in all, the 6505 label here is a misnomer- there's no true 6505 tones to be heard. We hear a hybrid technology in action which defies categorization; it's neither the sublime 6505 high gain menace nor the great solid state grit coming from a Peavey Bandit (among others). On that note, if you are a fan of raunchy amplifier overdrive that guarantees to fuel the most intense of punk & hardcore tones for that matter, this is it.

All in all, the manufacturer is treading a messy path by calling the Piranha a 6505. Granted it's a clever labelling through product differentiation (by adding the Piranha label there, of course), it leads to confusion & misrepresentation. In view of the 6505 affiliation there, the Piranha is an underwhelming performer with very limited options in tone tweaking should things go south in terms of expectations. However, it does let loose some of the crustiest overdrive coming from a hybrid format. Here's hoping that there are further developments in the works, otherwise, it is simply living in the shadows of the 6505 label.

Rating: 69%

Peavey: 6505 Piranha (storage/carry bag included)
Availability: Guitar Workshop

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Forte Custom

Very much acquired taste for many of us- referring to that extended cut away there. This is to accommodate the 27th fret reach which isn't new for Ibanez. (Seen above: Ibanez Stephan Forte Custom)

The defunct RG550XH had 30 frets & feature a deep cut away for that extra reach.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gibson: 2018 (3) HP

We're still in the Gibson 2018 clutter but the LP Standard you see above is a 2017 model. It's an HP Standard. Meaning, you get that supposed 'upgrade'- metal & adjustable nut plus a set of robot tuners. All this with the higher tier bling that justified a higher price tag.

Here's the 2018 version. The immediate difference- no mounting rings for the pickups. With the cryo frets as the 2018 feature in many other upper tier models, it means that the prices are not gonna come down. True enough, the 2018 HP model is USD420 dearer than the current version. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Price watch: As much as

These Ibanez Prestige RGs sport the same price tags. That's right, different number of strings but the exact prices for you. Other online references- the 6-string version costs less (duh). 

Cryo cable

Dean Markley's Blue Steel strings, perhaps the most well-known, easily accessible, rather affordable temperature tampered strings which many of us would have tried. DM now has Blue Steel cables, that's right, cryogenic instrument cables. The objective of nitrogen blasting the cable is to produce more definition or clarity in the treble & bass range. Unlike the strings, our tone travels through cables & get affected rather significantly till it reaches the speaker end. However, the audibility of such a reaction remains to be different for many people; some hear it, some don't. Here's hoping this Blue Steel difference will get here soon & maybe be on the more affordable side of prices.