Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Remembering my ex... (Part 5)

I used to own the Sound Drive 60W solidstate combo amp which sounds very tube-like with lots of warmth & clarity. This is one of those very numbered units which sound very inviting in clean mode as well; the Celestion speaker is largely attributable to this ear candy.

If you are a drive/distortion fan, you'd like what this amp has to offer. However, if you do pedals in your set up, you'd be surprised to know the clean channel's acceptance of your fav stomp boxes.

If I love this amp so much, then why did I sell it away? Simple. I bought the head version of this amp.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hey, dad! (Part 7)

Hey, dad! The guitar on the flip-side cover of Addy's album looks like yours...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Satch... moving on

We all know Satch...

We also know his amp...

...but here's what the good people from Marshall has to say in a recent quote:

Joe contacted Marshall Amplification prior to the first show at the Nova Rock Festival in Austria in order to check out some new Marshall gear. Marshall took some amps to the rehearsals, and Joe loved the tone of the JVM410H. The man himself had this to say, "I'm just looking to achieve the best guitar sound every moment I'm plugged in and that brought me back to Marshall Amps.

Addy: Divine

Despite having Addy's contact number in my mobile phone, I didn't receive any complementary album for my listening pleasure, I had to actually buy this one...

But I'm not complaining because Addy Rasidi (Addy Cradle to the rest of us in need of definite recall) had placed the little red dot firmly in planet shred with Divine. A collection of 14 instrumental tracks (with some vocal peppering on selected numbers), this LP showcased Addy's potent guitar technicalities as well as his penchant in brewing some of the tastiest ethnic tunes this side of vaigilbertsatrianipetrucci.

PS: Addy was telling me, on our previous meeting, this release would flag off his signature Ibanez guitar; I sincerely hope there's progress in this partnership.


I was at BEEZ's recently, he managed to show me his latest meddling- a modded Marshall mini stack. The amp was given an additional gain switch (as indicated by the arrow...) to make it sound hotter in the drive channel, fatter in the clean. If you are interested in this remodeling, do contact Beez:

LOOK FOR BEEZ, 50 East Coast Rd, #01-125, Roxy Sq II Shopping Centre (S428769). Tel:97732633

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Timmons in SG

If you don't already know, info above...

When Mr. Timmons was here before, I watched him play at Fort Canning Park & managed to observe some playing quirks of his which became a useful application for me. For instance, he would only activate his Tubescreamer during play & deactivate it slightly before the number ends.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Know what you sell

I was invited over to a colleague's apartment today to help check out a guitar which a friend of his was interested in acquiring. The preliminary info through telecon was that it's an American '72 Telecaster, the asking price was $800.00...

Upon reaching the destination, the guitar which greeted me was a Japanese Aerodyne Telecaster (pic above). It was, at best, in a 7.5/10 condition. The most worrying wear I came across was its rather excessive neck pocket gap, I heard the neck creaked when I gave it a slight jerk; this was rather distressing.

I'm not saying, in any way, the Aerodyne Telecaster is an inferior Fender to be sacrificing one's cash for. It's rather troubling that there're people today who would represent their assets errorneously in light of a commercial transaction. Would you buy this guitar after knowing the truth of the situation, despite acknowledging the fact that Japanese Fenders are some of the most respectable guitars out there?


2007: USD550, 000
2009: USD400,000

2007: USD650,000
2009: USD500,000

2007: USD130,000
2009: USD95,000

2007: USD130,000
2009: USD100,000

It is interesting to note the value depreciation for the above quartet of popular vintage guitars. Surely, there's this sinking feeling knowing one's investment suffered a depreciation loss but that's quite privy to collectors, as opposed to players.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Enslaved Gibson

The chaps from Enslaved are now officially with Gibson; what they have to say about this symbiosis: Loyalty surely paid off; now we have been admitted into the exclusive tribe of Gibson endorsed artists. The guitar work and sound is one of Enslaved’s most distinctive features – it can only sound like that with Gibson, as simple as that.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Planet Waves now has a fretboard moisturizer/ conditioner for all your sorry, dry rosewood fretboards. It comes in a spray-ready bottle, no bigger than one of your sister's facial/ hair revitalizing products.

When I started out, there were hardly any fretboard cleaning/ rejuvenating products out there. We resorted to furniture cleanser to double up as our care kit implements. These are perfectly alright for this measure but the chemicals in them might prove to be too harsh for our rosewood's longevity.

Sonic Rails

This is my latest commitment; the DUNCANization of my Squier Duo-Sonic.

I'm growing fond of the Duo-Sonic's 24" scale length which matches very well with the .0095 (D'Addario) set of strings. I've also been using it for some intense drive-type music hence the consideration of having a pair of humbuckers in there:
  • Neck: Seymour Duncan Cool Rails
  • Bridge: Seymour Duncan Hot Rails
The Duo-Sonic comes with a ready, full-size humbucker routing should you wish to have some of your favourite pickups in there.

Of course, not forgetting the master who is responsible for this make-over: BEEZ the magnificent. Thank you, sir!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Holy what?!

Despite not being my preferred brand name, I have great respect for Gibson because these guitars are still the standard to beat in terms of craftsmanship & tone. The Holy (pun intended) Explorer (pic above) is one of those really peculiar production which would have you dismiss the manufacturer for desperation despite the herculean goodwill of the name.

The stock thusfar

I've taken time earlier today to keep things in order (oh yeah, right...) so the arrangement of things are as above. The colourful, stacked boxes you see at the left are my CDs... My amp's cab is on castors, so it doesn't stay there while I set things up for play, I would push the amp to wherever I wish to play (less the latrine)- it's my house, anyway...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dr. Duck

I'm giving the Dr. Duck multi-purpose fluid a go. It's touted to be effective, that's the only reason why I'm interested. Upon use:
  • As a cleaning agent: Removes dirt from rosewood/maple fretboard effectively.
  • As a polishing agent: It's very oily. You need to wipe off repeatedly using a dry (preferably cotton) cloth. The shine thereafter is above what a typical polish would offer. Also great for metal parts.
  • As string lubricant: Due to the very oily nature, a mere drop is sufficient for the entire string length. Again, repeat wipe-offs are necessary to ensure the oily feel doesn't affect your playing norms.
What: Dr. Duck Ax Wax
Where to get: Standard Value
How much: $15.00

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Love the bird

I've been playing my Son of Beast too much recently; it's the novelty of a fresh addition to the line-up but today, I remember my Ironbird Space Face. This was in fact the guitar which got me started with the single pickup captivation. It sounds more aggressive than my SOB in terms of drive, the reason I still keep the default pickup in there. The neck profile is a ready rival to Ibanez's Super Wizard. I simply love this one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Remembering my ex... (Part 4)

Here's one of the tube amps I used to own; it's a 5W Ibanez ValBee, 100% tube performer sporting a 12AX7 (preamp) & 6L6GC. It's a simple amp to use & a great avenue for those of us who wish to own a tube tone without breaking the piggy.

When I bought this amp, I let the default, Chinese tubes, be. However, as I continue to play it on a regular basis, my ears were telling me there's something amiss about the amp's tonal manifestation, I desecrated the original pre-amp tube & had an Electro Harmonix replacement installed; the tonal improvement was rather marked at upper volume settings.

Why did I let it go? I have a soft spot for friends who are genuinely interested in the products I revere; there was a good offer made & I agreed to let it go for even lesser. Also, the amp was not quite able to pull off the drive intensity which would serve my (black) metal needs; adding pedals to make things happen is just not my way of conjuring Lucifer to deliver my dark arts...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Remembering my ex... (Part 3)

One of the smaller amps I used to own was VOX's DA5. It's the manufacturer's direct competition to Roland's Micro CUBE model; something very portable, has a battery power alternative & very easy to use. Despite sporting a very small driver (6.5" only...), the DA5 manifests some appealing tones. I prefer the DA5 to any other mini amps in the market back then as it featured a power reduction unit which made the amp very saturated-sounding under lots of drive (this feature is now standard in many digital modelling amps). It's still the amp I recommend if you are looking for something above-average in this price/ service bracket.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

ADA pre-amp

I was at Beez's recently, he introduced me to his 'new' amp which are actually used units of ADA & Samson pre-amp & power amp respectively. The tones to be heard from this pairing are some of the best in guitardom; you'd then understand why professionals prefer this set up which was rampant in the '80s, as well as the preferred recording amplification in pro studios.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Vinnie Moore: To the Core

Shred overlord, Vinnie Moore, is back with a new set of tunes & a fresh guitar deal. To the Core is a timely reminder of why Mr. Moore remains to be one of the forerunners of all things very fast & melodic; the precision manifested here is also very scary, to say the least. We often get too nauseated by accelerated guitar playing because they demonstrate technicalities at the exclusion of memorable melodies- that's not what music is all about. To the Core contains some of the most memorable rhythm generated by this instrument & the tasteful mix of programming while keeping things guitar inclined.

On that note, the guitars here sound very pleasant but let's be mindful that good tones include amps & every implementation in between.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Remembering my ex... (Part 2)

It's rather unbelievable that the above amp head, no bigger than your average clock radio, packs a 150W capacity. When it (CRATE Power Block) was with me, it had no problems competing with my 100W Marshall JVM; the manufacturer intended it to deliver fundamental amplification without the hassle & it did just that. My only gripe was that it should be equipped with a reverb function as standard feature.

The Power Block had been discontinued in lieu of a subsequent model which had not appeared to date... Bummer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Marshall MG4

The new MG4 series of solidstate amps are in at Davis (substituting the former, non-digital series of MG amps). I managed to try the above MG100FX with a renewed sense of conviction; the former MG100 head wasn't a bad player, this one's just gotten better (tone-wise, of course...). Despite being tubeless, it sounds 100% Marshall without the artificial overtones. This has been a very costly try-out, I'd tell you why... soon.

Anyway, I made someone upset while trying this amp out...

Remembering my ex...

My ex-girlfriend? Nah... my ex-amp, more like it. If you have to feel good about owning affordable practice amps, you should consider Marshall's mini stack (the MG15MSII depicted above). The stack nature of this baby is a definitely visual attraction per se but when it comes to amps, tone is priority for me- this stack has plenty of attractive tones to work with.

Thanks largely to the closed back cabs, the amps sound full with lots of good bottom end to spare, please keep in mind that cabs equipped with smaller drivers (less than 12") sound very shrieky when lots of overdrive/ distortion come into play. The MG15MSII managed to avoid this repulsion, the reason I bought it.

If you have kids at home, especially the curious ones who would go very near your amp & handle it while you're not looking, be mindful that this stacked unit topples over very easily. When it was in my possession, I placed it very near the wall so the chances of it tumbling over when pushed by any Godzilla Jr would be eliminated. If you have other means to secure it, please do so...

Others in pic:
  • my 18yr old RG560
  • Ibanez TS9

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Silent performers (part 2)

It's inevitable that we addicts, have this urge to just grind/shred late at night without shattering the night's tranquility, of course. We are also cultured & educated enough to be mindful of others hence my set up above. The tone coming out of the headphones may not be pristine but it keeps me going.

My Edwards is plugged into the TS7 & Pocket POD which has a ready headphones output. Peace prevails...


If you have decided not to whammy, despite your guitar having a whammy-able bridge in there, the least you can do to ensure tuning stability is to add more springs at the rear cavity (as depicted). The idea here is to stop the bridge from being jerked up while you bend, which might affect tuning. I've decided not to whammy my Highway1 Strat hence the 5 springs you see here.

Graphite saddles

I have a set of graphite saddles in the bridge of my Highway1 Strat. There were initially Graphtech units in there but those were replaced with the Allparts version you see in the pic above. Despite the former being the more preferred brand name for their graphite related replacement hardwares, I would urge fellow guitarists to try out other brand names which might not be as well known but offer a serious performance alternative. The Allparts products certain cost less...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'm still digging into my forgotten CD collection & today I 'found' Mr. Big's Bump Ahead. Fans would revere its predecessor, Lean Into It as Mr. Big's best showcase (how can we forget that addictive intro lick to Green Tinted Sixties Mind, yes?) but I prefer Bump Ahead for its wonderful mix of instrumental technicalities & pop sensibilities.

T-Rex: Tonebug Overdrive

It's midway through 2009 & this is my first pedal for the year; yes, I'm not a pedal fan, I like a straight-through plug in, yes?

The T-Rex Tonebug Overdrive debuted only this February. It had been there all along at Davis GMC's display case but I have been on a pickup lookout so it was 'invisible' until recently, of course. I'm only keen on any overdrive unit if it's appealing when used in conjunction with an already overdriven/ distorted amp; as a (drive-type) booster function to the rest of us.

The Tonebug Overdrive, as a stand-alone unit, offers a slightly more raspy sounding tone than the average OD unit; you can say it's heading in the (BOSS) Blues Driver direction but nothing too protrusive in the upper end frequencies. It's definitely more forceful than the proverbial Tubescreamer.

What: T-Rex Tonebug Overdrive
How much: $165 (list)
Where to get: Davis GMC

Monday, June 1, 2009

Remembering Palmer

I was digging into my forgotten CD collection (largely regrettable grunge stuff...) when I stumbled upon Robert Palmer's Honey which triggered lots of memories... I purchased this CD at Stamford Road's MPH outlet, the place where I spent my lonely teenage years browsing through guitar magazines for hours. Honey featured Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt on guitars who was actually one of the formidable players I look up to back then (no, not because of More Than Words- Bettencourt's equally capable with solos as well as rhythm, that was my reverence for this chap...).

All in all, Honey contained some of the most relaxing pop tunes I've come across & it wasn't a regrettable acquisition. The year was 1994... I wonder what you were doing back then...

RIP: Robert Allen Palmer (1949-2003)

PS: Honey, if you are reading this, I remember you...