Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Silky smooth

April is here. A quarter of 2015 had zipped by just like that. Time flies but we always failed to see it take off, the reason why we are left behind.

As you know, I'm no fan of signature guitars but I can live with other signature products. Pickups, strings & effects units are OK with me. This is the signature Allan Holdsworth overdrive pedal (JRad) & it got me interested because it brings me closer to the master's very smooth overdrive tone. It's so silky smooth, it's indeed one of the means to getting good legatto phrasings done. We can't fully emulate AH's tone for a simple reason; we are not AH. We might have access to his instruments & other gear but we need to be the man to sound like the man. That aside, I like what this pedal has to offer, a very smooth drive voicing, very removed from the rock front. It is rather self-sufficient in terms of gain structure as it features a booster function on board. This means the pedal retains the drive voicing while manifesting increased saturation. Perhaps the master himself can convince you of some performance notes:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Takamine: GX18CE

What's your take on smaller bodied acoustic guitars? Are they a serious tone contender, instruments for musicians with an ailing back, kiddy alternatives or simply the manufacturer's attempt to swell their coffers? Whatever they may be to us, they are undeniably functional. Takamine's G-Series Taka-mini instruments are scaled down guitars, manifesting a 3/4 body dimension unlike the  smaller-bodied travel-type models (Think: Martin's Ed Sheeren model).

The instrument you see above is the GX18CE featuring a solid spruce top & mahogany back & sides. It also includes the TP4T pre-amp on board for plug in moments. I've never come across a Takamine with shoddy workmanship, this one included. I gave it a thorough visual inspection but it has no adversity to justify it's rather entry-level price tag. 

The GX18CE is one loud guitar in its unplugged nature despite its 3/4 manifestation. If you have reservations in this regard, this is an assurance for you to re-consider. Unlike a travel-size player, a 3/4 instrument offers a more ideal elbow placement. This isn't crucial for strummers but for the fingerstyle dweebs out there, it helps deal with leverage issues. The default action will get those acoustic shredders going but it's not the lowest I've come across (I've played some Yamaha with lower action). Due to it's spruce/mahogany combination, the unplugged tone is leaning towards the bright side but if you wish to employ the GX18CE for your subtle, fingerstyle moments, employing the on board EQ is a ready discourse.

All in all, this GX18CE is a pleasant surprise tone-wise considering it's not a full-sized acoustic. In this light, it offers those of us who struggle with handling issues, a more comfortable take on playability without sacrificing good tones. On a personal note, I'd recommend this to those players who want a big sounding instrument (in terms of volume projection, not depth) but with a more subdued physical outline. With this episode, the future looks good for guitars of this nature because it's in no way a compromise; a 3/4 being does not equal to 3/4 goodness. Especially for Takamine, the standard remains above average.

Rating: 85%

Takamine: GX18CE (3/4 NEX type body dimension)
Availability: Davis GMC
Price: $385

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pushing the driver

These two go well together. In fact, I tried them both together at the store prior to purchase. They are complementary in this exact arrangement.

The NUX OD-3 is a surprisingly polished mild driver. By virtue of its colour alone, you know what the OD-3 is offering tone-wise. There isn't any pronounced midrange hump heard so if you wish for that reproduction on a budget, this might be a let-down. I view the OD-3 as a very shrewd follower of Fuch's Plush without sounding too familir. Artec's gainer boost on the other hand, is a smooth operator, not by default though, but by engaging its 2-band EQ. The gain on tap here is rather intense but in a good boost kind of way, not as a definite drive source.

Now, cascading the OD-3 into the GB is a polished affair. The OD-3 requires a booster unit that complements its silky voicing & the GB does just that if you turn the treble control down & start with the bass control at noon position. Turning the gain control Eastwards wasn't as impressive as bringing the volume up, mind the additional treble while you're at it but there's always the treble control to keep things in check. The overall voicing is one of smoothness- think Alan Holdsworth & Tom Quayle- without sacrificing saturation & harmonics richness. All for less than $160- now isn't that a steal?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Farewell to the founder

I have a little transistor radio in my shower. The purpose of switching it on every morning is to check time; as each song lasts for 3-4min, it would be a gauge of how long I've spent time in there. If I hear too many songs in a single session, there is a high chance that I'm late. So on that fateful morning, 23rd March 2015, no songs were heard when I switched my humble little radio on. I asked the Mrs to check if Lee Kuan Yew had passed away & that was the case.

I'm not into politics but I did make a point to hear Mr. Lee speak because he is one of the most forceful person I've come across when it comes to verbal delivery. I've since stopped watching the National Day Rally on TV simply because Mr. Lee isn't the one talking any more. That's as much opinion I have on him when it comes to character. Yes, the country had benefited tremendously when he was in office as the PM. This is the very reason I can easily travel to the guitar stores today without much issues because the transportation system in its entirety does the citizens much good & commercial entities trust the authorities enough to set up their businesses here.

As we bid farewell to him today, pay tribute to his contributions. I know many people out there do not find his ideologies too agreeable, you can express your disagreements when he's around to defend himself. Doing so after his passing is cowardly. RIP.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Acoustic Saturday

It's an unplugged Saturday. I think I'm exhausted by the occurrences of the week thusfar, was in foul mood most of the time was feverish on some nights. I think the acoustic moments helped inject some balance.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gaining & boosting

I've been playing pedals lately. A pedal revival is not happening at my place because I own pedals all along, just that I don't feature them in my line up unless it's necessary. This here is a very affordable Artec boost pedal. If you are into clean boosting, most probably, this one isn't favourable. In addition to a mark up in volume, the pedal offers some servings of drive due to its high gain nature. The 2-band EQ you see there are unnecessary but they add some dimension to tone & I bought this pedal due to just that. In its entirety, the GB can offer the fusion-type player some of the smoothest drive (think Alan Holsdworth/ Tom Quayle) if s/he chooses to cascade a mild overdrive unit into it. Sweet.

The Artec Gainer Boost pedal is available at both SV Guitars & TYMC.