Sunday, May 31, 2009

Value-for-money SEMIs

Rally Neosound
Samick Royale 1

Those of us hunting for affordable & good sounding semi-hollow units now have the above, well-constructed models to consider:
  • Rally: Neosound (List: $380, Standard Value)
  • Samick: Royale 1 (List: $380, Davis GMC)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The SMASH lure...

The SMASH series of guitars (by Swing) never fail to impress me in terms of tone & playability. I was at Standard Value recently to purchase some accessories & I couldn't help but give the S1 another test-drive. The instrument in whole is an impressive player, through a deserving amplifier, it sounds incredible. The maple fretboard version has a more defined top end bite which a typical Strat player would love. I own the ash-bodied, rosewood fretboard version which sounds very impressive under lots of drive & I could hear the difference between these models. However, it's rather self-defeating advocating this to the masses because the general mindset is that, if the name on the headstock doesn't mean a thing, it's rubbish.

This is especially true for the impressionable youngsters out there who are starting out. I'm not blaming them for treading the Gibson/Fender path because these are indeed formidable names in the industry but there are other impressive alternatives which should be considered. The paradigm shift has not occurred... yet?

Fender Road Worn '50s Strat

I was at Swee Lee just days ago to try out the much heralded Road Worn series (I tried the '50s Strat), new by Fender this 2009.

  • This guitar is a relic on a budget (not quite the savings, though...) , the manufacturer has touted it be more toneful on grounds of condition- the worn in attributes allegedly make the guitar more soulful than any other unseasoned instrument.

  • Feel-wise, I really did feel the worn out surfaces on the body & neck areas; akin to handling an unfinished chair, fresh from IKEA. This is strictly a love/ hate affair, some of us welcome this rawness, others deem it repulsive. Nevertheless, it doesn't get in the way of playability unless of course, some of us get too affected by it that we break down. Be informed that the neck profile here is a mild V, unlike the contemporary Fenders we love to handle.

  • In the tone department, the default pickups are Fender's own Tex Mex units. As I am an all-out-distortion fan, it's rather disappointing that the single coils here can't do metal to save my life but on hidsight, the Tex Mexes weren't conceived to address this need. One can dial up a very feel-oriented blues crunch from this trio & that's pretty much the forte of this guitar. The cleans are Fender's typical, signature, crystaline twang but with less top-end bite, reflective of the vintage theme of this series of offerings.

It's a good instrument to own, the asking price could be more attractive...

What: Fender Road Worn '50s Strat
How much: $2,685 (list)
Where to get: Swee Lee

PS: Thanks ADAM TEOH @ BB Showroom for the try-out invitation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I usually do not attach my noise gate between the PPE & Cool Cat overdrive because the background noise generated is not annoying... nevertheless, it's getting to me... so today it's there to preserve lucidity.

Body of evidence

In a move to protect its intellectual property, Fender has recently attempted to register its Stratocaster & Telecaster body design but failed on account of its inability to indicate source. It's interesting to know that a 5-year litigation cited the following manufacturers contravening the iconic body designs:
  • Spector
  • ESP
  • Sadowsky
  • Lakland
  • Peavey
  • Warmoth
  • Schecter
  • Tobias
  • Suhr
Adding insult to injury would be the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board of the USA's conclusion that the (Stratocaster) guitar' s design is so generic that it is depicted as a default design for a typical electric guitar in a dictionary.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bag for SOB

Those of you who wish to purchase the SOB, please be informed tat there is a ready bag for it but sold separately: $45.00

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New LTDs

Musikmesse '09: Some new LTDs on offer are signature models. The above are signatures for Dimmu Borgir's Silenoz (Okkultist) & Galder (Shadow).

Behemoth's Nergal also gets his 7-string: LTD Hex-7...

It seems that ESP is closing in on the black metal forerunners to propel the brand name; recall 2008's Satyr (Satyricon) joining the camp...

The twin menace

The other X-Mini capsule speaker I own is the X-Minimax version which I do not prominently mention here.

It's actually a 2-in-1 unit, the whole can be detached to reveal two halves. I would usually deploy them as depicted above, one of which would be in 'more-bass' mode.

Any tonal difference from the regular, Gen 1 version? None; the reason I don't mention it here as often.

Rich brothers

It seems that the BC Riches I own both sport a single humbucker. I get people telling me these are unworthy instruments, very restrictive tone-wise due to the solitary pickup at the helm but I repeatedly tell them everybody's tonal needs are different, some of us do not need excess, we need what gets the job done.
  • ABOVE: Son of Beast
  • BELOW: Space Face Ironbird

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I have always looked up to Morbid Angel's Trey Azagthoth as one of the more formidable players in the death metal scene; he is surely one who doesn't forsake technicality for intensity.

Azagthoth is currently endorsed by DEAN guitars & is seen here with a one-off Razorback model.

Level settings for dummies

Here's a sure way to remember you pedal settings; it's the Vinnie Moore way (that's his pedal board you see above)- just apply duct tape on the pedals in use, mark it down with a marker. Done. This way, your indicated settings are your default settings, you can tweak all you want without forgetting your initial settings.

Friday, May 22, 2009

MXR: Fullbore Metal

I'm attracted to very few distortion pedals mainly because I'm an amp person, I prefer the amp's drive as it interacts immediately with the guitar & remains true to the instrument's inherent responses. Nevertheless, I do get enticed by some pedals time & again & the MXR Fullbore Metal looks very inviting as it deals with my kind of distortion- very intense.

I have not acquired it yet as it's very new in the market, fresh from the recent Frankfurt Musikmesse 09 showcase.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hey, dad! (Part 6)

Hey, dad! I think I can be friends with your Beast Jr but he must get his own pacifier, ok?

Ibanez S2009SC

I have always liked natural body finishes, as such, I find the S2009SC (above) stunning. However, the chances of getting it is very remote as only 10 units were made as this year's exclusive production model. Be informed that the body is made from camphor, the scent of which we are all too familiar with. It's an active ingredient in this product, chances are, your mum might have rubbed some on you:

Monday, May 18, 2009

You, son of a...

I procrastinated buying this guitar (aka the Pitchfork of Death, in my books...) at the twilight of 2008; when I returned to Davis GMC to give it a second audition before parting with my hard earned cash, it was gone. But that's not the case this year...

The BC Rich Son of Beast is actually a scaled down Beast, featuring only a single humbucker. It's a limited performer per se but it's not a hindrance to players who are fully aware they are working with an eccentric performer. This is my 4th single pickup guitar. On certain days, I thrive on limitations. This just brings out the creativity & focus in me.

The Beast headstock is visually intriguing but is a hindrance when one works with the 3rd/4th string tuner; the upper protrusions would snag your movements. But that gaping, pincer-like design is really good for placing toys with flapping ears like the one above.

It works on the flip-side as well...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The bigger menace (Part 3)

One of the great new features of the revised X-mini speaker is its ability to either attach its previous incarnation to itself (as shown above) or accept another of its kind, to give the user a wonderful stereo experience. As you can see, I've attached my red, first generation version to its contemporary sibling. Sonic bliss!


For those of us who play outdoors for inspiration & require the need for noise exclusion, Samson has this cool noise canceling headphones which ensure you only hear yourself. I can vouch for its effectiveness because when playing at McDonalds during late nights, surrounded by juvenile blabber, they effectively turn into live mimes. Thank goodness.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quick Report: The Kerry King Beast V

Was at Davis today to try out some new BC Riches, the above Beast V was one of them. Here's a quickie:
  • QC: Great for the money, especially for an entry-level unit like this. Expect some finish stains at the neck/ headstock area, the test model had some at the nut's flip side.
  • Playability: Neck profile is grab-friendly, nothing shred inducing. the Beast cutaways make this V-type guitar the most playable in a sitting down position. Default action isn't exactly immaculate.
  • Tone: Despite being basswood, the guitar is rather hefty. The default tone is bass inclined which isn't appealing if one is looking for some clarity under lots of drive/ distortion especially from the neck humbucker, nevermind the BSDM models which the manufacturer touted to be above-average. Great guitar to get if you peddle bass notes.

BC Rich The Kerry King Beast V

  • List: $380
  • Availability: Davis GMC

Yesterday's purchase

Was at Davis to pick up my reserved (Seymour Duncan) pickups, then proceeded to Funan Centre to check out some computer hardware. Saw a Gateway notebook clearing at a good price; bought it. It was an expensive Sunday outing indeed...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The bigger menace (Part 2)

The upgraded feature in the current version of the X-mini speaker is its build-in audio cable. Unlike the previous incarnation, the wire remains attached to the speaker & can be tucked in neatly when not in use.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gibson: Raw Power

I'm not a Gibson fan, but some of their quirky offerings do appeal (eg: Les Paul BFG), the latest incarnation of the Raw Power series (see above) sport maple fretboards which appeal to me per se. Some time back, I was contemplating the Zakk Wylde model which featured a maple fretboard/ neck as well but the price tag was prohibitive + it reeks of the endorser's quirks- I'm never a fan of a signature model.

I did talk to the Gibson official distributor here earlier today- no news of the Raw Power availability here just yet. It might debut in time to come, though...

FYI: The Raw Power series was manufactured for a period of 2 years: 2000 - 2001.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tribal Explorer

This is something we don't see too often- a whammy bridge in a Gibson guitar (2009 Limited Edition Gibson Tribal Explorer). Let's face it, which 'normal' person would be very enthusistic with such a contraption in a 'Gibson'?

Ok, maybe Neil Schon...

Beast V

The above guitar is the new Kerry King signature offering (just one example, there are others in its series...), as implied by the name, it's an amalgamation of the manufacturer's (BC Rich) V & Beast models. Some of us might find the protrusion really enticing but I feel it's not visually pleasant... However, if these horns contribute, in any way, to the instrument's playability, I'd be keen to own one. Just have to try one when it gets here, yes?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Axis of Perdition: Urfe

The Axis of Perdition, for want of a better adjective, has been described by barren minded journalists as an 'urban' black metal outfit. The association isn't entirely off tangent as the band itself is devoid of diabolic associations in its entirety. Urfe continues dishing out that industrial decay which perpetuates spiritual torment; the very music signature of this quintet.

Urfe is a 2-disc offering, Part 1 (Grief of the Unclean) being a spoken word indulgence which is (with due respect) downright boring. The music here is limited to background accompaniment. This might be the band's exercise in patience probing.

Part 2 (The Great Unwashed) is where the real music is but do not expect anything more than extensive sludge work, very much appealing to us doom mongers. The guitars remain to be fuzz laden, nothing excruciating in the likes of the genre's Norwegian flag bearers but we are again reminded why the lazy journalists tag the urban brand to this band. If you like some sloth-like black metal with lots of unevil indulgences, Urfe is a release to check out.

The bigger menace

You might have read my praise for the X-mini capsule speaker back in 2008- how it complemented digital guitar devices; well this year the manufacturer upgraded their ware as depicted above (the right, black unit...).

Watch this space for tone appraisals.