John Scofield: Combo 66. Sco is back & his masterstrokes are all over. New for this release, the inclusion of pianist Gerald Clayton. Sco is jazz but his approach is highly unformulated & entertaining. If you can't muster the discipline to sit through a serious but offbeat take on the genre, this might be the time to try.
Alex Skolnick Trio: Conundrum. It's definitely not the metal Alex Skolnick plying his shred stuff in a trio format, so be warned. Like Sco, this is a lesson in skills & mastery, nothing too extravagant to warrant an individual acclaim by any of the members. Why jazz? Alex Scolnick is a schooled jazzer, it's as simple as that. I might be wrong but hearing what's on offer, Skolnick is stretching a hollow body for most numbers. Great release for me, personally.
I'm kind of going through a BOSS renaissance moment. This is my second NS-2, the first one was a very frustrating episode that took place in the late 90s. I bought it in the hope of checking my then set up which consisted of an unearthed Fender Bullet amp, a Zoom 505 & a BOSS Metal Zone (MT-2). The background hum was terrible, the amp was largely to blame for that plus the fact that the aforementioned Zoom multi-effects pedal was powered by a 2-pin adaptor which extended the noise annoyance further. I enjoyed playing through this set up though, just that the extraneous noise needed to be tamed.
Enter the NS-2 which, to my dismay, added to the noise factor. OK so it did kill the earth-related noise issue to a good degree but introduced another form of humming which was more tolerable but what the heck! The label said it's supposed to contain the noise altogether but there's a trace amount of humming still going on. I tried switching to battery power for a while but the noise was still there. The irony of buying something to address an issue which turned out to be an issue itself. So I got rid of my first NS-2, sold it to someone who is electronics-savvy & told me he could fix it & designated it for his personal use. I sold it for peanuts & moved away from the idea of having a noise gate unit of the pedal kind till the turn of the century where more choices were available in the stores & the fact that cyberspace information was there to school me in on signal-related noise management.
So today, I have with me, my second NS-2 which I hope to be keeping for old time's sake. I have plans to acquire a few more BOSS pedals because these were the standard to beat in the stomp box realm for a long time & they still maintain this reputation of sounding great & lasting till the very end.
Ibanez just did a homepage clean up & it now features a search function- cool. We welcome this user-friendly feature. Ibanez might not be the first to do this but we hope to see more guitar sites with user-friendly options; it's a sign of awareness.
This is probably a lost cause but I'm into it anyway. The Jackson minion series are shorter-scaled instruments predominantly aimed at the smaller, younger players. Over time, similar instruments of its ilk are embraced by adults as well who see the potential of less hassle while on the move.
The Jackson range currently sports two guitars, the Dinky you see above & this very attractive RR. I believe the RR, in this manifestation, will attract more players as it becomes less wieldy. I would certainly advocate for these to be available here.
Ditto the bass; a more manageable spec, a sure invitation to try. However, they are still unavailable here since its official release in Winter NAMM 2016.
The thing is, we have the Ibanez Mikro instruments available here.
We even see the Paul Gilbert version here.
Of course, rounding things off with the Mikro bass. Of the three Mikros you see, above, I find the bass version to be more desirable than the guitars. Even the Paul Gilbert association doesn't make it a notch above its non-signature sibling. The non-angled headstock there affects tuning greatly plus the fact that both instrument's nut slots were not quite up there in terms of presentation. So I might have come across the lesser models while trying.
We have, where we are, a limited scope for instruments of this ilk to stand out & really be tested in terms of performance & revenue generation. It's partly down to unfamiliar territory- if you were the distributor, which brand name would you choose to ensure stocks don't turn dead over time? Behind the scenes, we do need to consider the fact that such fringe offerings had to be included in numbers with the rest of the standard inventory- do you have adequate standard offerings to ensure the numbers add up well? I'm still advocating for Jackson's Minions to be here; it would be a good chance to kick the Mikro butts since I personally know, after repeated testing, that they could have been better. More importantly, between the Mikro & the Minion at the headstock, the Minion doesn't lower its status with a 'GIO' label.
News from the Fender camp- we say goodbye to the American Special Series come 2019. The replacements- the American Performer Series, as affordable, with upgrades.
New for this range of instruments are the pickups, vintage/modern tuners & some dandy electronics with the ability to blend tones. Good to know that these will remain in the affordable Fender tier & that the manufacturer does not introduce a further Mexican upgrade to match the Americans (OK so they did just that this year). The American Performer series will include: