Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ibanez: Reverse Iceman

Shred master Paul Gilbert has an idiosyncratic guitar at his tonal helm. What you see here is a personal Ibanez 'Reverse Iceman'- an Ibanez Iceman model, given a flip-over by the manufacturer's luthiers, to PG's specs. Do note the lower bout cutaway which is the only alteration of the original design, done out of a necessity to reach the upper frets.

It's also interesting to note PG's current preference for single coils which proves you don't need a humbucker to sound intriguing under lots of overdrive (well, Malmsteen was there before PG but Blackmore was there before everyone else...). This particular guitar was played comprehensively at the recent NAMM 08 (winter) show where the shredmeister promoted his latest endorsement- nope, it's not an Ibanez guitar but Marshall's Vintage Modern amp.

Marshall Vintage Modern (VM 2466) Review:

Speed Racer

Speed Racer is currently the movie fix in town. Unknown to many, it isn't an original but an adaptation of a Japanese cartoon (above pic). I used to watch it when I was young, back then, TV was a monochrome passtime...

My subsequent bump with Speed Racer was through the above CD which was a compilation of re-interpreted cartoon theme songs. The Speed Racer tune was covered by the grunge pop band, Sponge. I bought the CD not because of the Speed Racer attraction but this great CD featured Mathew Sweet (Scooby Doo theme song) & Juliana Hetfield (colab with Tanya Donnalay- Josie & the Pussycats theme song) whose vocals I was really into. Definitely one of my fav CDs from the '90s...

Ibanez: RG1550 (disct'd)

The basswood rant continues; the above, alien-warded Ibanez RG1550 was discontinued in 2005. I bought it a year before its bow-out from the catalogs, when the retail price was still below SGD1K. It's a definite value-for-money Prestige unit as the feel & tone on offer speak for the exalted series it hails from.
I was itching to buy this guitar simply because back then, I still did not own any maple fretboard Ibanez guitar so the feel was definitely different & appealing. The default V-series pickups made way for Seymour Duncan's Screamin' Demon (B) & Distortion (N), the mid single coil was left stock. Upon this swap, what went missing was that excessive midrange response typical of in-house Ibanez pickups, in place was the grizzly Duncan growl in the bridge which sounds very fitting for black metal stuff. The neck humbucker is hotter in output, with this in mind, I had it set up to such an extent that it sounds louder than the bridge counterpart making it perfect for lead playing- no volume pedal boosting necessary.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


What do the two albums above have in common? They both feature Edgar Winter's 'Frankenstein' tune. I was re-listening to my Overkill collection (I only own: Horrorscope/ I Hear Black/ WFO- the rest don't appeal to me in terms of guitar) when I stumble upon Horrorscope so the urge to listen to Frankenstein was always there because it's one of the very few metal instrumentals I really like. The version in Mr. Miller's Silver Rain release is a little down-tempo but it's worth having in my collection.

That Sambora ESP...

The Richie Sambora ESP SA-2 mentioned previously in this blog is actually from the LTD range, apologies for the confusion...

Music Man: SUB1 (disct'd)

The Music Man SUB series bass/ guitars were disct'd in 2006. Back then, there was a slew of lacquer-devoid models churned out by various manufacturers, the pioneer being Fender's Highway 1 series which are still in production to date. In addition to cost cutting, the lack of lacquer reduces the overall mass of the instrument hence propagating more midrange in the output. It's really a love/ hate affair among players; some love the added clarity, others lament the loss in critical lower frequency response.

Thw SUB1 HH guitar you see here is nothing too different from Fender's Highway 1 offerings; the body, headstock & neck rear are all devoid of lacquer & finished in a thin layer of overcoat known as 'satin'. The lack of a final 'skin' means the instrument is very susceptible to knocks; if you are easily perturbed by dings, do steer clear of such a finish.

Tone-wise, the SUB1 guitar has an airy midrange which would appease solo/ lead mongers. That extra bite in definition means your single note clarity is assured unless you tamper your EQ settings too much. The overall feel of those bare locations would be a welcome to those of us who simply dislike the sticky sensation a lacquer finish would result in, after prolonged playing, we do sweat don't we?
The very fact that the SUB series were discont'd is a sheer illustration of doomed production economics because the reality is, there is a limited following for such a 'unique' instrument finish. Fender did well to be there at the start of it all.
But the SUB1 guitar was one fine instrument & an affordable one indeed. It's also one of the better sounding non-mahogany bodied guitars out there.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ibanez: RG08LTD (Spring special)

The Ibanez RG08LTD Spring 08 Limited Edition is now available at Swee Lee. The transparent pickguard draws inspiration from the blooming flowers of spring (hence its name) & the pair of covered V-series pickups has that extra crunch with driven settings while remaining passive.

Thanks to the Swee Lee BB showroom management for this pic.

LTD: Part 2

A better capture of the LTD models mentioned previously. Thank you Janet for reading my entries & providing this pic!

PS: To Sg dealers out there reading this blog, if you need some product propulsions, please let me know (e-mail me, thanks!)...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Godflesh: Justin Broadrick

Justin Broadrick is another Fender player who picked the brand name up by choice, not by commercial coersion. Interestingly, his tone is removed from the sonic superiority associated with the Fender brand name. If one listens to any of the Godflesh releases, Justin's tone has an excessice amount of upper midrange, quite devoid of the lower frequencies but this is all in light of the insdustrial nature of his music. It is also a leeway for his bass partner, GC Green (also a Fender enthusiast), lower end rumblings to be heard in the mix.

The reason why I'm hooked on Godflesh's music is the band's ability to indulge in non-metal manipulations (drum machine employment is metal blasphemy, yes?) yet sounding very metal at the end of it all. It just goes to show that aggression, by any other means, is about impact.

Peavey: Studio Pro 112

At the solidstate (ss) forefront, the Peavey brand name remains formidable. It wouldn't be too far fetched to say that the manufacturer is the leading solidstate developer, churning out countless, superb-sounding, non-tube units. The manufacturer is indeed well known for its tube emulating ss units, the pristine manifestation (drive-wise) can be well heard from the 12" driver equipped units. The Studio Pro 112 depicted here (discnt'd) is one such amp. The clean tones coming from this amp is above-average, positively devoid of that flat response coming from many non-tube units. The different drive modes on board would please the crunch fans as well as the intense distortion-inclined among us. The drive here gets more organic once the user turn its volume up, not-quite like how power tubes react once the aforementioned knob is cranked but the difference in tonal output made its presence heard. As it is no longer in production, if you are keen on a no-nonsense amp on days when you find hooking up pedals is too cumbersome, the Studio Pro is it. If you chance upon one clearing for a good price, do give it a sound consideration (forgive the pun).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Paul Gilbert: Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar

If you're an Ibanez fan, you must know who Paul Gilbert is, otherwise you're not worthy... The elitist sentiment aside, this is perhaps the mandatory purchase this 2008 if you live & breathe guitar 24-7.

Silence Followed... is only Paul Gilbert's sophomore all-instrumental release following the very intriguing Get Out of My Yard. I wouldn't say the shred master has raised the ante for this one, neither is it an advancement of its predecessor; it's just a different focus this time round. For starters, there isn't any blazing, opening lick. On the contrary, all the finger gymnastics are specified well into the intial track, so there is a need for patience when listening commences.

You can expect the usual mind-boggling, fret melting finger-works in this album, in fact, if you have been personally dissecting Gilbert's phrasing, you'll hear recycled licks aplenty but how he used it to propel fresh ideas, remains to be the learning point for every PG tune.

The most refreshing higlight of this collection of tunes is the inclusion of slower numbers which underscores Gilbert's melodic control & not just being a one-trick speed pony (I cannot tell a lie/ I still have that other girl).

Finally, to the tone-mongers out there, I leave you with one word which might sway your current tonal allegiance (amp-wise) because it makes its presence heard (prominently, indeed) in this release: MARSHALL

LTD: Alexi-200

I chanced upon this guitar a few days ago at Davis & gave it a try...

We know too well that an endorser model (regardless of the brand name) is full of individual quirks which may put us off because these aren't the specs that we would like to have in the first place. Nevertheless, such details wouldn't make the guitar a lesser performer unless they prove to be a hindrance when in use. The primary quirk with the LTD Alexi-200 here is its solitary humbucker which would kill tone enthusiasts because of its limited application. But keep in mind that some of us here prefer only a single pickup in our guitars because that's all that we ever need.

The guitar in question is an exceptional player in terms of playability & tone. The neck here would please those who embrace thin profiles such as Ibanez's Super Wizard make. The humbucker would surely get the approval of drive enthusiasts more than those in search of pristine cleans (duh- you would seriously look forward to cleans when trying this one?). I'd wish more V-type guitars would feature that slight but wise treble-side cutaway for upper fret access.
If you are looking for an affordable V-body unit & wouldn't mind individual touches in terms of features, this one's recommended.

  • Model: LTD Alexi-200
  • Availability: Davis GMC
  • List: $800

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ibanez: RG7620 (disct'd)

Some people have issues with basswood; for me, it's anything that works because it's what ultimately comes out of the amp (speaker) that matters. I've been getting good results with basswood, especially with my RG7620 (disct'd) here.
Touted as a soft, ding-prone & cheap, basswood is often deemed as a second class resident in guitars; many would cite mahogany/ ash as superior tonewood. It's inevitable that basswood's economical nature would entice the manufacturer to make it a favourable working material in terms of production costs, as such, basswood is used in mid-priced guitars which often manifest production inconsistencies. However, select basswood are also used in upper-end guitars as documented in Suhr's catalogues & we have the Ibanez Universe to prove the critics wrong.
I own many basswood guitars across brand names, but many in my collection are Ibanez models. Throughout the years, what I hear from my basswood guitars are great pickup tones; it seems that this tonewood permits the manifestation of the pickups' voicing rather than being a blanket to the sonic delivery. My RG7620 here fortifies the default DiMarzio's lower end frequency focus. I often hear an excessively polished top end from the aforementioned pickup brand, at high gain/ drive settings, but not from this guitar. This is the reason why I choose to keep them in-tact & not swap them for Seymour Duncan units, which I favour.
Rather than being more appreciative of the overall tone on offer, many of the fledgling players today choose to compartmentalize tonewoods into the respectful/ hateful category.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Level 42: Live at Wembly

This is a 1986 footage of the band before the Gould brothers parted ways. Besides being a big fan of Mark King's bass playing, the spectre of how good Boon Gould was as a guitar player haunted me for years because he was purportedly an amazing musician but his authority in terms of guitar-playing in the albums weren't there as proof. However, this recording proved the works as Boon was liberal in his guitar inputs, many tracks had excessive guitar contributions instead of the sporadic presence in the albums. Mark King was at his level best (forgive the pun) & his slap technique was something to behold- the reson he continues to inspire me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

LTD: More new stuff @ Davis

There are more new LTD guitars over at Davis. The above pictured signature models are definitely worth owning (disregard the endorser's associations, these guitars are good instruments per se). Pic L-R:
  • Michael Wilton MW-600
  • George Lynch Serpent-600 (the serpent model has been permanently withdrawn from the ESP range, you only get the LTD manifestation WEF 2008)
  • Jeff Hanneman JH-600 (the latest version featuring revised fretboard markers)
  • Will Adler WA-600

Orange: Tiny Terror combo

The good people of Orange amps introduces the combo version of the menacing Tiny Terror amp. The Celestion V30 12" driver in there is an indicator of how serious the Orange people are about tone.

Monday, April 14, 2008


There are some new LTD guitars at Davis currently, thusfar, I have managed to try this splendid FX-260. The FX series is a fusion of the manufacturer's Forest model (neck) & its explorer-like EX body (hence the 'FX' prefix).

The visually captivating finish here features a mahogany body & a spalted maple top, hence its 'SM' suffix. The technical tagging aside, interested parties need to know the guitar is satin in nature so if you simply cannot avoid knock-free movements (knowing the klutz we are at times, especially during live shows) while handling this one, do reconsider your options.

For the rest of us who dare to venture into the satin finish domain, the sheer feel of this guitar is a subliminal influence for you to play better; especially yours truly here who can't get along with a set of .010 string gauge (the factiry equipped gauge of the strings here), there were no complains. The tone on offer has its driven inclinations in humbucking mode as the pickups were conceived to manifest high gain/ drive better, despite being passive (don't let the covers fool you). However, there were sweet moments when the coil split feature was activated, you might end up playing blues cradling one of the most protrusive guitars this side of BC Rich. In this mode, the cleans are much more acceptable as well.

To make it more enticing, the guitar lists for $680- recommended.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ernie Ball strings: New packaging

I'm sure ardent guitar fans out there would agree how good a fresh set of EB strings are; the crisp simply adds to feel & tone, that's how we got addicted. There are also many of us who simply felt cheated after bringing our beloved strings home only to discover them being rusty. In the recent NAMM 2008 event, the manufacturer had announced a sealed packaging for us eager fans to ensure string freshness would not be compromised at the point of sale. This is indeed good news for us but it begs the question: Why did it take too long for such measures to materialize?

ESP: Richie Sambora

This here is Richie Sambora's signature model ESP guitar, a far cry from his Fender in terms of looks/ outline. I'm not here to highlight some mid-life crisis embrace of delinquent designs; if it works for the player, it works, regardless of the implement's outlooks. Too many people simply associate the guitar's appearances with general expectations (Eg: BC Rich is a more worthy guitar for black metal than Fender...).
However, a noteworthy detail would be Mr. Sambora's pick of basswood for the body material- a player of his standing could easily dictate tonewood at his disposal but he chose basswood. Respect.

Leviathan: Massive Conspiracy Against All Life

I have always had a personal consideration for US Black Metal; bands like Absu & Krieg prove to the European pessimists that there is a noir stronghold at the other side of 'the pond'. Leviathan here, is a one-man show featuring Wrest (pic)

2008's Massive Conspiracy Against All Life is only Leviathan's third full length release since the churning out of countless demos since 1998. This 7-track album is not for fans of the impatient & BM converts as the individual responsible for the music (he's the only one in the band...) had chosen to stay on track with the depressive, soundscape-laden music of which Xasthur is a champion of. Nevertheless, the overall music does include moments of accelerated anger but these are indeed numbered.

In context, Massive Conspiracy Against All Life offers nothing too deviant in light of its preceding release, Tentacles of Whorror. I personally feel the album has taken a turn for the excessive sonic abrasion (those countless hissing, phasing, et al) which was done rather excessively, making it a bore at times. A release for the cult-follower this is, easy litening it is not (was black metal easy listening to begin with?).

Laney: LC50

There's something about the Laney tube drive that makes me dislike it; it sounds half-baked, regardless of the various models on offer. Nevertheless, I was made to play it again just days ago while trying out Ibanez's new Iceman IC700...

I was kinda upset having to plug the guitar into the LC50, the brand name aside, if it's something one dislikes, it becomes abominable & having to hear it in action is a torture. However, knowing the repulsive, half-cooked drive nature on board, I duly plugged in my miracle worker to help me boost the overall drive performance- the Guyatone OD2+ & the result was all smiles.

This is one of those amps out there which would manifest more appeal once you give it a drive kick; relate how you perform better once you down that can of Red Bull. On a personal note, I became more spirited after taking a peek to see the default drivers in the cab: none other than my fav Celestion Seventy 80!!

Nevertheless, the LC50 loses out in terms of price appeal; would you pay >$2K for a 50W, 1x12 combo?

PS: Pictured here is the former LC50 design, visit the manufacturer's website to see the revised LC50 look.

EHX: Metal Muff

I'm definitely a fan of intense distortion but my primary reliance are my amps' on-board drive. I hear better guitar-tone manifestation when I employ a straight-through set up but on days when I get bored, my pedals get me by creeping time...

Electro Harmonix has been too well known for its fuzz-type tone association, if you are a fuzz fan, the Big Muff is definitely an entry in your register. However, the manufacturer has a derivative of the fuzz which serves the proponents of intensity (aka: Metal) which are worthy of your set-up: the Metal Muff.

The primary incarnation consists of a 3-band EQ & an added feature which spikes your top end; the TOP BOOST function, as the manufacturer calls it. Before you ditch your current metal-type distortion, be informed that the Metal Muff still contain the fuzz quality in its overall voicing but it is in peppered amount because if you wish to acquire a fuzz-type drive, the Big Muff is still the way to go.

I have since bought the other 2 derivatives of the MM which are the MINI & Pocket MM; variations of the same theme, you could say that. In addition to the novelty factor, these other versions would serve to appeal to players who simply do not need the TOP BOOST function but are hooked on the original's distortion voicing. So for those of you in search of an alternative pedal to propel your metal, the MM could just make your day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

List: Amplifiers

Unlike guitars, my amps came & went. There is a lesser urge for me to retain amps which are less frequently played, I tend to stick to the ones I like hearing rather than owning a few for the sake of variety. This may soon take a turn I guess, as there is lesser urge for me to own guitars these days. Anyway, a reference of my possessions:

Current possession:
  • Marshall: JVM410H
  • Marshall: MS-4 (pocket amp)
  • Fender: Mini Twin
  • Peavey: XXL 212 (pictured above)
  • Sound Drive: SG612R (head)
  • Epiphone: Valve Jr (head)
  • Ibanez: Sound Wave 20
  • CRATE: GT412ST (4x12 speaker cab)

Used to own:

  • Peavey: Rage108
  • PARK 1x10 combo (Park was, once upon a time, Marshall's subsidiary brand name...)
  • Marshall: DSL401
  • Marshall: MG15 MSII
  • Marshall: 1922 (2x12 speaker cab- pictured above)
  • CRATE: Power Block
  • Peavey: Ultra 112 (head)
  • Sound Drive: SG-612R (1x12 combo)
  • Fender: Tone Master 4x12 speaker cab
  • Ibanez: ValBee
  • Ibanez: SW35
  • VOX: DA5

Monday, April 7, 2008

ESP: George Lynch Super V

This 2008, George Lynch (aka Mr. Scary) has decided to touch-up his Super V model (ESP) by adding a Floyd Rose whammy bridge, a locking nut & that talon-like tip to the body protrusions. While we applaud the bold move, many of us would be having a hard time getting along with the looks of this guitar (especially the headstock outline) despite the instrument delivering one of the best midrange response out there- I've tried both the ESP & LTD versions (ESP version- top pic) prior to the SE debut & they really sounded very commanding for drive type applications.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

GHS: GraphitALL

GHS' GraphitALL is a graphite lubricant in a gel-type incarnation. For those of us who are hesitant in using pencil graphite & other petroleum-based substances to lubricate the guitar nut, know that this product doesn't stain/ harm the guitar's finish. In addition to nut slot fillings, the manufacturer recommends its application on points of string-hardware contacts.
I've been using the GraphitALL for 3 weeks now, suffice to say that it works as stated on the label. Nevertheless, it isn't significantly better than the vaseline I've been using but both get the job done. This is especially useful for non-locking nuts, nevermind if you don't whammy. It is important that the string passage to the tuner is choke free but lubricants aren't the primary remedy to such an anomaly. The primary procedure in curing choked nut slots is still filing the gaps before applying any lubricants as enhancements.
If you are willing to spend on supplements which would ensure performance enhancements for your instrument, the GraphitALL is a product that works.
Price: $9.65
Available at: Yamaha Music

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ibanez: Soundgear 2008

Ibanez Soundgear fans would like to note an update for 2008- the neck of your fav basses have been trimmed down to its original 1987 specs. This would be goods news to players who would be looking for Fender alternatives but it's not a comprehensive substitute; just different. Guitar players who can't get along with the 'overwhelming' bass necks would do well to check them out.

Friday, April 4, 2008

List: Guitar

The pic here isn't quite everything I own, but this list here is:

  • RG2228
  • RG7620
  • RG1550
  • RG2610
  • RG560
  • RG321
  • RGR321
  • RG170
  • RGA121
  • S1620
  • S540
  • SA2020
  • SZ2020
  • AF105
  • TM71


  • Mustang Bass
  • 50th Ann American Series
  • Highway 1 Strat (first Edition)
  • ST72
  • American Std Telecaster


  • Les Paul Std
  • SG Special (Faded Edition)


  • ESP Eclipse II
  • Edwards E-LP85 SD/P
  • BC Rich Ironbird Space Face
  • Kramer Vanguard
  • Squier Vintage Mod Telecaster Custom II
  • PRS McCarty
Ex-guitars/ basses:
  • Ibanez SAS36
  • Ibanez SA120
  • Ibanez SZ320
  • Ibanez RX40
  • Ibanez GAX70
  • Ibanez PF40
  • Gibson LP Studio GEM
  • Squier Affinity Strat
  • Ibanez GAXB120
  • EBMM SUB bass
  • Squier Affinity P-bass

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Seymour Duncan: Lava Box

I'm definitely not a keen fuzz fan namely due to the effect's blurring of the lower frequencies which makes bass notes chugging very unappealing (especially when you play metal). However, the fuzz fanatic would advocate the effect's cream capacity if employed with the right guitar ala Hendrix, but we each have our own preferences. When it comes to drive, I prefer clarity hence my inclination towards intense type distortion but my primary employment would be the amp's onboard drive; this I prefer.

Seymour Duncan's Lava Box is indeed the very few fuzz units which makes me smile because it is different than the average blur fuzz pedal out there- some of the 6 preset voicings on offer contain enough clarity for fans of the distortion effect per se. The default gain on offer has sufficient intensity to appease hard music fans. It also offers gratifying results when used as a booster unit primarily in conjunction with the amp's dirt.

Purists would underscore the pedal's contemporary presets' inability to conjure that sacred fuzz tone which would make Eric Johnson proud but that direction has its own breed of champions-a Fuzz Face/ Big Muff this pedal is not.

Blackwood Guitars

Blackwood Guitars is the latest addition to the healthy population of guitar stores in this island. BG offers great deals for effect pedals & guitar rarities (eg: Gibson Silverbusrt LP Custom). The ambient surrounding is really deserving for the up-market products on offer. Be sure to check it out when you next visit Bras Basah complex.