Monday, June 30, 2008

GHS: Santana

I had this GHS set in my LP Std lately; not that I believe it would Santanarized my tone (no such miraculous presence to report) but the fact that I have another .0095 set to consider in addition to the Curt Mangan/ D'Addario set. The presence offered by this string set is rather substantial, if you have ever tried DR strings, you know what I'm driving at.

The highlight here is the strings' ability to eliminate the trigger of natural harmonics (no worries, you can still pinch them at will) at very high gain/ drive settings. This would be beneficial if you like your tone smooth & round especially in the top end; some of us would like our tone not to end off in a squeal.

Durability- the Curt Mangan brand name, in my books, is still the standard to beat when it comes to treatment-free (no fancy cryogenics or Cutex-like coating) endurance.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Krypt: Preludes to Death

I am currently listening to Krypt (Left: Nag/ Right: Desecrator) who aren't new to the scene, the duo being former bandmates in Tsjuder (split). When the latter band broke up in 2006 (Desecrator left before this took plae), I thought the genre lost some capable performers but it's good to know Nag is still in this music business because he is one of the better writers music-wise. Preludes to Death contain some of the better traditional BM music Norway has to offer, featuring slower numbers done in good taste.

Due to the theatrics, religious digressions & that sheer repulsive vocals, BM musicians are written off even before their music gets evaluated. It is understood that the nature of the music remains repulsive to the average lay person but the human psyche, despite some education, still judge people by their looks & anomalous practices- the reason why conflicts occur.

Ltd: M-50

The LTD M-50 is definitely a recommended guitar in my books for beginners & players looking for a subsequent purchase for back-ups. In fact, it's a wonderful player for people who would want to own a guitar with all the good fundamentals & no flash. This year, the M-50 is made in China which shouldn't be a cause for alarm because the fantastic build & tone are 100% in tact. In fact, the good Chinese production includes string saddle action adjustment screws which do not protrude to jab your picking hand.

Wrap 'em round

Of course, I'm not the only dweeb who wraps his Les Paul strings round the stop tail. Joe Bonamassa here does this as well (click pic for better proof). I didn't do so because of him, though- it's purely coincidental. But Bonamassa rocks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The double

There are FX units out there capable of producing a doubling effect where the output generated gets doubled either in unison or in actave displacement. Some of us get inspired to play by hearing such technolgy in use. I was moved to experiment on this doubling effect by plugging my hollow-bodied Ibanez AF105 into my Pocket POD. The driven output volume was tweaked to match the guitar's inherent acoustic volume; this effect alone is enough to trigger some ideas & make me play differently in terms of technique & notes selection.

The environmental guitarist (Part 2)

D'Addario isn't an estranged name in the guitar string domain; many of us would have tried them on grounds of affordability more than anything else. If you bought an Ibanez guitar lately, be informed that it's equipped with D'Addario strings back at the factory; those colour coded ball ends are unmistakeable.

I'm not a big fan of this brand name chiefly because the strings could have lasted longer. However, I make it a point to buy D'Addario, as observed in this pic, the manufacturer uses less paper for the packaging. The one & only plastic bag included is properly sealed to prevent pre-purchase deterioration- superb! On the fipside of the paper package is this claim: ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY SET, USES 75% LESS PACKAGING. Thank you D'Addario, for doing so.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New bridge

To many Gibson fans, the Les Paul in whole is a sacred guitar; parts replacement is heretical. Well, I have no obligations to retain Gibson parts which don't serve my needs. This would definitely hurt the guitar's re-sale value but I've never bought a guitar with the intention of re-selling them.

Gibson plates the Les Paul Standard hardware with nickel. This metal would age gracefully over time, giving the instrument a much desired relic look which many LP fans would want to achieve with theirs, the reaosn they don't react well with polish fluid/ cream (so stop doing so, you can be more dilligent with other parts). I've replaced mine with a Gotoh unit because the tarnish on the original ware was an eyesore but the chief reason here was that I wanted to experiment with a lighter tune-o-matic unit (this bridge is made from zinc) in an attempt to enhance tone. This philosophy isn't new, it's adopted by Paul Reed Smith in many of his instruments in the belief that lighter hardware would enhance resonance as the instrument's vibrations are transferred to the body/ neck more readiy & not hindered by massive parts. Doing so would also mean that the overall mass of the guitar would be affected & the tone expected would be one with accentuated midrange.

I'm definitely not one to fall for such technicality too easily but I do own a PRS McCarty & the hardware on board are indeed light-weight units; this guitar sings better than many others in my collection which are of comparable specs. In this light, the tone coming from my LP Std with the lighter bridge has added clarity with the signature Les Paul bottom end thunder still in tact. Good for me.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

That sticky problem

This here, is my Les Paul Standard. The strap buttons have deteriorated (click pic to see the tarnish/ corrosion). People seeing this would accuse me of neglecting my instrument but I've been eqully passionate about guitar maintenance as much as appraising, playing & owning them. So what might be causing the problem?
This guitar is kept in its hard case, the interior of which is lined with 'fur' (by default) for cushioning & scratch prevention. The protruding parts of the guitar or the ones forming a tight fit against the fur would cause the glue, which is responsible for attaching the former to the hardcase shell, to bleed over time. The glue is the culprit here.
The next time you open your Gibson hard case (or any hard case for that matter), feel the lining for glue seepage; it's best to line those sticky parts with cloth/ other fine fabrics.

Everybody- Take That (& shred)!

Ok, here's my occupation for the last few days or so: I've been listening to Take That. No, I'm not a big fan of theirs; I'm into the music. Why?

The songs here are guitar devoid, well, there are bits in some songs but generally, they are synth laden. If you think you are that great with your guitar (because it strokes your ego), attempt to fill in some guitar phrases in any of the songs. So you are not that great after all, yes?

There are too many of us who think we are good but given something non-staple to play along, we are probably fumbling fools in disguise.

Repeat yourself!

It's the pedal weekend for me; actually it's one of those days when I get bored stiff...

Anyway, for those of us who play alone most of the time, it's rather interesting what a loop pedal could do to trigger fresh ideas. Simply record a phrase, loop it & challenge yourself to play something interesting to overcome that bland background. Pictured above is my BOSS RC2 (Loop Station), a very fundamental looping unit, nothing fantastic.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Zoom: FP01

This is perhaps one of the most unglamorous pedal I own, it's a volume unit, Zoom's FP01 (made in Italy). I bought it 10yrs ago & as evident, it's in pristine condition. I'm recalling it from retirement because my noise reduction unit (Carl Martin) had been put aside since its battery ran out & I prefer cutting off signals to the amp when I pause during play rather than depend on an NR unit to keep things quiet.

The environmental guitarist

I own many guitars. As I play them often, there is a need to replace the deteriorated strings which entail the generation of much paper waste in the form of unwanted guitar strings packaging/ envelopes. The quantity of waste you see above is about a third of what I discard almost every month. I make it a point to accumulate these recyclable trash & bring them to my workplace where a recycle bin is ready for the taking.

I urge you to do likewise. Many town councils in our neighbourhood as well as the commercial organizations today are making the effort to promote environmental awareness. They provide collection bins for recyclable materials within our reach. It's only fitting that we make an effort to show that guitar enthusiasts like us do care about the environment.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Polishing your guitar

Wiping down after play is an encouraged practice; our body fluids corrode the metal parts of our guitars & electronics. There are many of us who invest in a polish fluid & we often pump it direct onto our guitar bodies. This should be avoided because the fluid, despite being negligible in amount, might be forced into the cracks/ crevices/ gaps/ holes of out instruments & would accelerate parts deterioration. We should spray an adequate amount onto our polish/ wipe-down cloth & then apply it to the guitar's body. This way, the chances of such fluid seeping into the innards of the instrument are reduced.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alice & Clayton

If you take a closer look, the above picks are not your favourite Dunlop Stubby units, these are Alice picks. They are made exactly like the aforementioned (stiffness/ dimension/ thickness) but upon close scrutiny, are a little lighter; not too telling if you handle the 1mm/ 2mm ones but the 3mm version. You'd suspect if these are OEM items after all...

On the subject of picks, Claytons feature a cork ring on one side to promote grip. Great idea but the feel is acquired taste. Nothing too repulsive though...

Alice & Clayton picks are available @ Davis Guitar.

9V Battery- slight return...

Remember some time ago, I did mention Mustafa Centre not selling the 90c Vinnic battery any more? Well, they are now selling Sanyo ones for that sub-$1.00 consideration...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nachtmystium: Assassins

This is a great segue release by the American black metal band Nachtmystium, featuring the drum stalwart Tony Laureano (Angel Corpse/ Ex-Nile/ live Dimmu Borgir...). The devoted BM acts from the states are truly numbered, Nachtmystium has proven, with Assassins, that capacity speaks. The band's 2006 release Instinct: Decay saw them in the top 20 Euro BM charts at the turn of that year, this time, the band would prove to be another formidable act to beat.

However, be informed that Assassins is the band's incorporation of the doom genre but done very tastefully & would well see more fans in the camp.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ibanez: Spring Special SRX

The above SRX bass is a limited edition Spring Special; the differences between this one & its other SRX siblings are cosmetics. Nevertheless, the bass possesses a great feel & tone in terms of a bottom end boom, much to the delight of the slap-&-pop specialists. The SRX is indeed an SR spin-off with a chunkier neck if you simply can't stand the latter's trimmed neck depth. Em, those flower graphics might not appeal to the macho...

Jap Fenders = Re-issues?

  • The Japanese Fenders, if you've any experiences with them, are superb instruments in terms of craftsmanship & tone; it is very little wonder why these are not made available in the US (among other reasons)... Many of the Jap models are assigned alpha-numerics for their model designation, the above guitar is an example. People are then too quick to deem a certain model a 're-issue' by virtue of this understanding, so the ST57 is a '57 reissue, yes? Absolutely not.
  • If we take a closer look at the specs of the ST57, we note its basswood body, among other things- were Strats made in '57 sporting basswood bodies? Similarly, those pickups- a little sleuthing would reveal those aren't the single coils used way back in 1957. This scrutiny is important in light of our understanding of the term 're-issue' which, in its fundamentals would be, an item made to the exact specification of a certain historic guitar. More importantly, you'd get into legal complications selling off an ST57 as a '57 re-issue. I've nothing against the Jap Fenders, I own one (& a bass) & it's one heck of a guitar.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ibanez: Soundwave X

Not to be outdone by their guitar siblings, the Sound Wave range of bass amps (Ibanez) has also undergone an 'X' makeover. The control panel receives a top placement, there are now more tone sculpturing controls (Bright/ Hue/ Shape) which provide a quick change to your current settings.
I've just tried the 100W version featuring a 15" driver & the sound is so huge...

Ihsahn: angL

I've listened to the new Ihsahn release several times after its acquisition & I must say that he's the standard to beat when it comes to the prog concept in metal.

angL isn't quite the departure from his debut release, The Adversary but the album in whole displays added intensity & intricacy. Ihsahn's guitar playing capacity is unquestionably potent both riff & solo-wise. The level of complexity here is made palatable by catchy phrases; you can be uber prog in your music but it means nothing if it's forgetable.

It is also good to know that Ihsahn is backed by the lethal rhythm duo of Asgeir Mickelson & Lars Norberg (Spiral Architect); the drum works here are first class in terms of intensity & precision, the bass isn't about mere accompaniment either, Norberg managed to showcase his fretless prowess on more than one track.

Nevertheless, there would be critics saying Ihsahn had sold out in terms of his black metal commitment but both his releases thusfar were not black metal in their entirety, yes they do contain the BM fundamentals but these are peppered in context.

Peavey: Envoy 110

Peavey's Envoy 110 is one of those 10" driver equipped amp that I like. I may sound like a broken record but Peavey is indeed the forerunner in solidstate technology; the amp's ability to emulate tube warmth is impressive.

Despite having a 10" driver in there, the amp also sounds very balanced/ full. There's much delight even when plugging in entry-level guitars. These are other highlights to note:
  • Boost feature: For all you distortion/ drive warlords, if you don't do pedals in your set-up, the boost function ensures more thrust in your driven setting
  • 3 drive modes: There are 3 voicing options for you to mess with; you scooped mids metal geeks- you aren't forgotten...
  • Low/ High input: Amp features 2 input types to further mould your tone voicing. If you are pedal obsessed, choose the lower input option so the final product is a manifestation of your effects capacity

BBE: Two-Timer

  • I'm not a delay fan but this BBE Tw0-Timer is too tempting to ignore...

  • The pedal allows the user to operate 2 delay types simultaneously; this should conjure some psychedelic moments for all you atmospherics geek with all the analog goodness to boot.

  • The idea here isn't fresh though, even the manufacturer admitted getting major inspiration from the discont'd BOSS DM-2...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bag talk: CNB

The CNB bags for musical instruments are rather unheard of unless you are one to specifically hunt for a well-padded unit to protect your instrument in storage or in transit. I was looking for such a bag & came across the CNB brand name which offers superior padding to such an extent it makes carrying logs like the Les Paul very manageable. Read on, please...

As you can observe, in addition to the generous compartment inclusion, the bag in question is very well-padded at the rear, especially the straps. This means the carrier wouldn't be poked by the instrument's hard edges while on the move. I especially like the netted surface because this design dries sweat faster- so you thought it was mere design, eh?
That small, outer-most compartment is actually detachable & features a rear loop for your separate use; you can belt it up for additional personal storage. You'd thought that it's mere novelty but small compartments are more ideal for fragile accessories like tuners & such so that these items stay put & not move about while in transit only to end up with cracked display surfaces (because they knock against your cable tips/ pedals/ etc.).
But the utmost importance here to me, is the bag's inner features:

  • Velcro-type strap for the guitar's neck security
  • Waterproof inner lining
  • Layered protection on the bag's cover sleeve to withstand string scratches.
  • That minimal but important inner pocket for the instrument's body insertion to further secure your prized possession. A good bag ensures minimal/ no instrument movements; it virtually hugs your guitar all the time

It's futile exercise to give excessive praise to any brand name because chances are, it reflects personal preferences but the CNB bag gets my absolute thumbs-up in terms of design considerations, durability & value for money.

CNB bags are available at Davis Guitars.

PS: Guitar featured above- Edwards E-LP92-SD/P

Custom's random check...

It's rather normal for fans to wear their band's t-shirt as a gesture of affiliation; it's absolutely harmless but be prepared to be scrutinized if your favourite band has a certain inclination for the perverse... Was the band Carcass affiliated to morbid death as its name implies?

Anyway, I got stopped at the customs yesterday upon arrival here because they were conducting a 'random' check but reading between the lines, I knew I was stopped because of my t-shirt; scores of caucasions with tattoos on their arms & gentlemen in suits who were very mafia-like, were not subject of this check. They made me open both my knapsack & sling bags asking me the nature of certain contents, I complied & told them what they were: soiled underwear, underarm powder, spare diapers, packets of crackers, etc. The one that got to me most was when I was quizzed the contents of a plastic container which was chocolate milk powder for my baby.

"It's chocolate milk powder for my baby there, behind the glass panel," I duly answered, pointing to the agitated spouse & daughter but the officer didn't even turn around to confirm. This was disrespectful because I was asked to account for an item but you didn't even look when I was explaining...

I understand the fine safety procedures currently in place after the escape of a certain terrorist here but is it one totally devoid of apathy? Singapore Customs: I understand your protocols but I have no obligaitons to like them.


The speed merchants in the death metal scene are largely chaps who consider guitar technicalities secondary. However, there are formidable players in the circle who shred & grind equally well but these are numbered. One of my fav players in this light would be Destructhor who came out from obscurity when he became a member of Zyklon (featuring Samoth & Trym of Emperor) & you should very well check out what he did for Myrkskog to know where he stands in terms of guitar playing. the big deal here is that his sweep arpeggios are staple in his riffs as well as solos. He's also in the precision school of guitar assault where one can simply hear the absence of sloppiness in his playing. Perhaps this is the reason why he was drafted as Morbid Angel's latest live guitarist (June 2008).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gibson LP Std: Tuner swap

This is my LP Std, the original tuners were Gibson's own Deluxe Kluson-type 'tulip' pegs. These do not hold tuning well so they were duly replaced by Gotoh's Magnum Locks, identifiable by the slit-top machine heads. I have played the guitar in question for 1 hour after the new tuners were in place & the tuning retention was so much better.

The good people of Gibson would have their reasons for including non-locking units in their instruments but having paid so much for a Gibson in general, one would expect some considerations for the above-mentioned issue.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dava pick: Master Control

This is another Dava pick which I got recently- if you prefer a non-rubber grip but works better with dents/ surface depressions instead, the Master Control model is just that. The stiffer tip, as with other DAVA units, promotes precision. However, if you can't come to terms with a synthetic feel, holding this one is like having a fragile prawn cracker between your fingers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

ESP: Eclipse II FM

I took too long to buy an ESP, really. After much procrastination, I went with the Eclipse II sporting a pair of EMG pickups when clearly, I am not a fan of the singlecut body design as well as active pickups. I also specifically chose a satin finish body/ neck.

As the Eclipse isn't a Les Paul clone per se, the guitar in whole, has more likeable attributes (to me) so the 'restrictive' body outline was disregarded. The tone in general is a typical EMG voicing; overpowering in drive mode, quasi-uninspiring when played clean but I didn't buy this guitar to emulate Fender's sparkling cleans.

If you look forward to acquire this guitar because you want a non-Gibson Les Paul alternative, then you're wasting money. It feels quite removed from the typical Les Paul chunk, notably due to its much thinner body & a different neck profile; more Fender-like dare I say. Same goes for the tone.

The Eclipse II is equipped with Sperzel locking tuners & I find this very important in checking tuning stability; throughout my years of playing, I noted that guitars with a non-straight nut-to-machine head travel are less reliable when it comes to tuning retention, even with a well-cut/ lubricated nut. Locking tuners definitely help in this department & having the Sperzels here is a wise move by ESP.

I also applaud the rib-cage chamfering which promotes a better (human) body to (guitar) body fit. The edges of the Les Paul & Telecaster bodies (typically) would dig into the player over prolonged play; some of us can adapt to this discomfort, but for the rest of us who can't, this inclusion is a godsend.

This guitar is proof enought that, if considerations are given to a well-made guitar, despite its outline, it would be a sheer attraction.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mayhem: Blasphemer (Part 2)

After Mayhem's performance, I made it a point ot talk to Blasphemer during the autograph session. The crowd who stayed behind to do so was small so after Blasphemer put marker to poster, I lingered on for some music-related talk...
He actually has partial endorsements with BC Rich & Ibanez but isn't too particular with the instrument's brand name or parts detail; as long as it's good enough (in terms of feel & tone), he's game. This might be the reason why he didn't mind the back-up Washburn when his Warlock's string snapped during the show. After it was re-strung, he chose to stick with the Washburn (respect!!). His firm fav remains to be his Warlock which, prior to the Singapore date, had seen a neck replacement.
On a personal note, I'm of the opinion that Blasphemer has a knack for individualism/ distinction; I was like four/ five persons back in the queue when he spotted my t-shirt & shouted that it was nice & wanted to know where I got it. I was taken aback actually, believing that I had somehow gotten myself into a merchandise piracy quagmire but it turned out to be otherwise. He was actually appreciative of the fact that I actually spent money to have the Wolf's Lair Abyss promo poster printed- effort reflects dedication; so I found out.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

New LTDs @ Davis

Tried these LTD guitars @ Davis today...

**LTD M103FM (List: $420)

  • maple fretboard is the highlight here; grab-friendly yet very shredable
  • very impressive default pickups, especially the single coils
  • superb QC for the money

**LTD V-200 (List: $550)

  • the most full-sounding V-type guitar i've come across (in this price bracket)
  • humbuckers are great drive performers
  • QC: as per M103's

Marduk: Blood, Puke, Salvation

Just finished watching Marduk's Blood, Puke, Salvation. The 2 DVD set offers live coverage of the band's 2005/06 Deathmarch shows. These are also the final showcase of exceptional Drummer Emil Dragutinovic before he parted ways with the band.
It is heartening to see Morgan playing his Fender Strat on many of the tunes, proving time & again the guitar's worth to the musician, regardless of its brand name & the music genre it's intended for. The overall production here's worth the asking price.
The interviews with Morgan & Mortuus revealed much info on why certain imageries were used for the band's album cover, inner sleeves as well as live decor. We understand, through this sharing, the depth of the musician's knowledge pertaining to the culture the band propagates. Mortuus on the other hand, shared much insight on his acceptance, confidence & commitments to Marduk considering his Funeral Mist being one of black metal's most formidable cult act.
Nevertheless, there include a narratorless 'background' footage which is actually a clip of a cemetary excursion; besides the haunting element it manifested, the relevance of this media is rather questionable.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Beez did a cool thing with his Marshall ZW Micro Stack- he modded the power indicator light to blink red & blue throughout play. This does nothing to tone, of course, but it makes you seen. SO all you attention seeking dweebs, this one's for you...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Gibson BFG: Pickup swap (Part 2)

The new Duncan in my BFG is the SH-15: Alternative 8. Have managed to try it with 1 amp in the mean time. More tone report in time to come...

Fender: Aerodyne J-bass

How many times have I tried the Fender Aerodyne AJB? Many times. I tried it again yesterday & it was still as irresistable.
You might be too critical with the basswood body but this bass has the top-notch feel & tone which would make the American models too excessive in terms of the list price. Please do not expect the vintage nuances coming from the AJB because the curved body top screams contemporary, so do the pickups. For those of us who are staunch Fender fans but would want something more up to date in terms of feel & tone- highly recommended.

Gibson BFG: Pickup swap

The Gibson BFG Les Paul is equipped with the manufacturer's Burstbucker (BB) 3 humbucker by default. This pickup is the highest output model in the BB line-up so it's conceived to manifest loads of drive in addition to the classic nuances when one knocks off some volume on one's guitar. Regardless of the enticing nature, the BB3 is not my kind of pickup.

So it's duly removed from the BFG; note the generous wire length the manufacturer included.

The cavity of the bridge humbucker actually includes a metal plate mounting for the pickup simply because the BFG had been chambered in its off-centre region; there isn't any wood to screw the pickup into...

There is a new Seymour Duncan in place of the BB- stay tuned to know which model I've chosen. Of course, it's an all black unit, I've no obligations to preserve the original zebra finish theme chosen by the manufacturer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

RIP: Bo-Diddley

Greatness is:
  • When you have a Gretsch guitar named after you
  • When you get away with the most un-guitar shaped guitar

Rip: Ortha Ellas Bates aka Bo-Diddley (1928-2008)