Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where have I seen that headstock before (Part 2)

Paradise Guitars, a custom-based instrument manufacturer, recently released a Jason Becker tribute model.
But the headstock could have been more original...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Duo-sonic, this way comes...

See this guitar? I'm counting the days till it gets here... watch this space.

Rosewood Eric

Hmm... another Eric Johnson Strat this 2009, but the tone ranger prefers a rosewood fret board this time round.

The outstanding feature here is of course, the bound neck edge. It's not really apparent in this pic but Mr. Johnson instructed the pickup mounting screms to sink flushed into the pickguard.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kelly's make-over

What's done today:
  • new humbuckers installed: TESLA Plasma II
  • modified 3-way switch- Jackson had it, by default, activating the bridge pickup when it points neck-wards. I simply asked Beez to reverse this so now it's 'normal'

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Back from the dead

My Fender 50th Anniversary Strat under-went an electronics overhaul (less the pickups) recently. The knobs, due to oxidation caused by regular play, were stuck & the 5-way switch lost that detent feel. I'm not too particular with exact replacements, the purist owners would argue that I'd lose some of the tonal authenticity with non-exact substitutes but this is the least of my worries as I have faith in the GOTOH parts I acquired for this guitar, ditto the 5-way Ernie Ball switch I have in there.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Loving my Kelly

I have always wanted to own an Explorer-shaped guitar but I don't fancy what Gibson & Epiphone have to offer. This year, Ibanez's fabled Destroyer model makes a come back but after handling & knowing how heavy it is, it's a no-go for me. This year also, Jackson's JS series are made available @ Swee Lee & despite these guitars being the entry-level offering, the fact that they are well-made (not stellar, just above average) remains unquestionable. However, do keep in mind the possibility of getting a lemon from any of the selections, is very real; these are budget instruments anyway, yes?

I had a hard time choosing between the Dinky & this Kelly because both appeal to me in terms of tone & playability. There were tolerable blemishes between them but those aren't detrimental to worthiness. I went with the Kelly because:
  • I wanted an Explorer-esque outline
  • it's avaialble in white, a finish which I have yet to own...
  • also, the Kelly's outline is such that there's much elbow leeway for the picking hand
Those default humbuckers won't do wonders for cleans, I didn't buy this guitar for some sparkling cleans, mind you. All in all, the JS series (particularly this India made batch, not referring to its predecessors) join LTD's Series 50 as great, inexpensive guitars to own. No regrets on my part. Loving my Kelly.

Smash it again (2)!

I've decided to not whammy with my Smash S2 Lite, so 2 more vibrato bridge springs were installed. Is this necessary? The 2 added springs prevent the bridge from jerking up during bends, if the bridge moves, the pitch would run.

I've also installed a set of graphite string saddles (this time it's the Graph Tech version) not because it's addressing a pertinent string breakage issue but rather a tone enhancement move (adding a little more brightness in the output) & the fact that these saddles do not feature protruding action adjustment screws which are murderous to the picking hand.


This is an anticipated self-titled release (to me at least...) by the Norwegian outfit, but only Taipan & Dirge Rep remain to be the surviving line-up. The expectations are high considering the remaining drifting members are formidable individuals of Gorgoroth & Carpathian Forest. There was no disappointment in terms of intensity & the genre manifestation, however, the music is predictable in some selections but that's only because we are familiar to the musicians' delivery styles as heard in their other bands.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Jacksons

Good news for the budget wary among us, who are oblivious to the economic crunch & wanting an affordable Jackson, badly- the JS series are now available at Swee Lee. For convenience sake, I've put up all black units for this update but be informed that there are other selections to choose from (natural/ white/ etc- please enquire with Swee Lee) .

How much: $856 (list, for all models)
Made in: India

Q: It's the lowest Jackson series in the manufacturer's catalogue, so why bother?
A: The upper end guitars are not exclusively better in whole, I've come across many great units which are actually entry-level models, Smash & LTD Series 50 offerings, among others.

Q: Made in India = lousy, yes?
A: Lousy guitars are made everywhere, nothing to do with the country of origin, everything to do with QC.

Q: Any recommendations, then?
A: I tried all the models listed above, my pick in terms of great playability, tone & QC would be the JS20 Dinky & JS30WR.

PS: One of these models above would be added to my collection. Watch this space (come tomorrow)...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

VOX: Night Train

Vox has joined Orange (among others) in venturing into the lower wattage amp heads. The new Night Train 15W head (switchable to 7.5W) is currently under pre-order at City Music; glad it's coming its way here, I'm definitely interested in this offering.

The pic above shows the relative Night Train dimensions against a 4x12 cab.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Funeral Mist: Maranatha

Bands under the Norma Evangelium Diaboli label are really forces to be reckoned with especially the ones peddling black metal. Funeral Mist's Maranatha is a solo effort this year with Arioch doing all instruments & vocals but the drums were consigned to an unnamed entity. Nevertheless, the results are still typical Funeral Mist with loads of blistering back metal blasts. This release would frustrate the cult followers owing to its down-tempo venture in certain cuts, making it a manifestation of the band's other musical capacity & not exclusive to speed-ridden ideas.

PS: Arioch is currently the vocalist for the other more celebrated black metal outfit, Marduk.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Brothers in ash

These are the current ash body guitars in my line-up:
  • Smash S2 Lite
  • Fender 50th Anniversary Stratocaster
The Fender is more than 7 times the price of the Smash but I wouldn't say it out-performs the latter guitar as much. A good guitar, in this case the very under-rated Smash, is an epitome of what value-for-money means. I constantly play my S2 for its superb playability as well as tone- to think those are budget default pickups in there. The only grip with it is its heavy ash body.

What I like about the ash bodies are the massive bottom end & top frequency clarity, making both guitars very reliable in terms of heavy rhythm (despite the Strat sporting a trio of single coils) & single note clarity for the shredders among us.

Come to Steel

Some of us feel the inherent tone coming from our strings are simply too lacklustre; we need that added brightness to make our day, especially so if we dabble in the neck pickup too much (some of us are solo-indulgent, it's all understood...). Short of trying out 'boutique' brand names, you should give the steel strings a consideration. The much added brightness is audible even before you plug your guitar into the amp. However, many of us who are accustomed to our nickel-wound set would feel a stiffer presence but it's still very playable & would not hinder your bends.

I am currently using the above brand name strings in my selected humbucker equipped guitars (currently my Ibanez RG321 & RGR08) & there's some difference to be heard when it comes to churning out those low notes for metal. This is also useful for those of us who pump up our bottom end over at the amp/ EQ pedal.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Napalm Death: Time Waits for no Slave

Can't help but think of Jesse Pintado's passing at the very mention of Napalm Death. It's rather insensitive but ND's latest offering has blistering guitars regardless of the missing counterpart. This is also the band's most punk-laden release to date, not that it is a punk-inclined release per se but the rhythm structure is of that manifestation. The arrangements in whole are tight & not devoid of great musicianship. I've been enjoying the lads' release since SCUM, to date, they are still a band whose releases I eagerly anticipate.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

When dad's not looking (Part 8)

When dad's not looking, someone used his TS7 as make-shift paper for her crayon extravaganza...

Monday, March 2, 2009

The addict's (slight) return- Part 2

Hey Dad, thanks for staying with Mum & keeping this guitar with you; I think you'd have lost this great PRS by parting ways. Anyway, your gear had zilch contribution in the conflict so no worries, ya? I'll soon outgrow this gold top, you notice? Cheer up, ok?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Absu: Absu

Absu left it to the twilight of 2008 to manifest a come-back album (self-tittled + it took them 8 years to reappear, what a wait...) which is essential, to say the least. Despite a marked line-up change (Proscriptor being the sole survivor of the original outfit) the superb musicianship is in tact. The technicality of the instrument execution here is very high standard, the guitars are absolutely commanding. If you were wondering why Proscriptor's drum technicalities are so revered, this is another proof to doubters. Black metal devotees do not look to the USA for some guiding light in terms of the genre's musicalities but Absu is definitely a beacon in dark waters. A great relase.

The Addict's (Slight) Return...

The institution which my family was founded on saw a near terminal conclusion, recently. I was seldom home & had no internet access so updating this blog was impossible. As guitar was my primary distraction, I did not want it to cloud my judgment during turbulent times so this blog took a back seat but I guess that melancholy is now a former episode of my life's journey so- I'm back...

On the night of my imminent announcement to terminate my legal attachment with my partner, I took my PRS McCarty out & decided to part ways with it so giving it a last look was a natural thing to do, it was her wedding gift to me. I'm the type who would want to sever all reminders of my bitter past, I have no qualms turning something I so dearly love into a hateful token in dire need of disposal, I guess there exists inside of me this associative dissent- I hate you so I hate everything associated with you...

I have not showcased this guitar extensively in any guitar forums because I believe doing so is a snob practice. But I consider it a revered tone generator in terms of tone. I have grown accustomed to my Ibanez guitars, this McCarty proved to be a challenge in terms of playability. The guitar has stock parts because I'm happy with the display model I tried but I requested a non-flame top, one which is preferably quasi-put off in terms of looks because I don't believe in visual attraction. So there you have it, an absolutely boring gold-top McCarty...

If you can see here, the serial number was hand-written at the factory. As PRS himself is a fan of Gibson, the neck-headstock portion does not feature a rear volute.

The PRS faux-binding (body) gets my approval because it's a reflection of a genius production technique; getting that bound look with no binding strip added.

The body rear is flat & features a sole electronic cavity (sticker added on much later). There is a heated debate pertaining to that massive neck-body heel. Some say this effectively hindered upper fret access so it's no better than the Les Paul but if you actually get a chance to play a PRS, you'd know this isn't true; upper fret reaches is still superior to an average single-cut design body.

If there's anything I dislike about this guitar is the nickel-plated pickup cover; I stopped polishing it (note the contrast between the covers & the hard tail bridge) because the tarnish would be there regardless of how much polishing is done. Anyway, manufacturers who include nickel-based plating in its hardware formula have intentions for this component to manifest a 'vintage' vibe over time- which I'm not into... However, the tone produced by this pair is absolutely praise-worthy, covering vintage-type output to blistering black metal assault; quite unbelievable but that's what to expect if you have no idea what a McCarty could do.

to be continued...