Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beherit: Engram

Engram is the industry's accolade to Beherit's black metal involvements. It's deemed to be the worthy successor to Drawing Down the Moon.

If you were expecting a stellar release by the band because reviews everywhere are tagging superlatives to it, be mindful it's a black metal medium where 'fantastic' is readily someone else's 'regretable'. However, we need to keep Engram in context, in planet black metal, this is indeed a release worthy of praise. Marko Laiho & company took their time to draw inspiration from Burzum et al to give us this haunting collection. Please excuse the Gothenburg-esque guitar tone (think: Entombed/ Dismember)...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hendrix desecration

This is the current uproar- Gibson is releasing a Jimi Hendrix guitar in the shape of a Strat...

... which is also offered in a packaged deal, a very affordable offering... attractive to beginners, maybe- provided they know this belated south paw guitarist who shook guitardom in his time, but that was when our fathers were hippies.

In his lifetime, Hendrix did play Gibsons- Flying Vs, SGs & occasionally, flipped over Les Pauls. It would be more respectable if the manufacturer takes pride in re-issuing the aforementioned guitars as opposed to the strat-alike production item depicted above.

You'd ask yourselves, why would Gibson, one of the industry's behemoth brand name, stoop this low- would you buy this guitar or invest in a Fender in the name of Hendrix adoration?

Smash the LTD

Would I smash my LTD? Not a chance...

Had the opportunity to play my SMASH S2 recently, but my LTD M-53 was lurking to make sure I return to something I am very familiar & comfortable with. Would one guitar replace the other? No- they are too different in terms of tone & feel.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Triple screamer!

Yes, it's a trio of Ibanez Tubescreamers working in tandem & doing me good! You might say it's sheer overkill & unnecessary but I value the final tone manifested by this line up. I hear a thick drive response unlike a solitary TS unit in action & with added (picking) sensitivity which only a metal-type distortion could give. The noise gate is necessary when employing more than a single drive/ distortion pedal to help curb the excessive hissings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I kinda miss my Ibanez RX which I've sold off quite some time ago, the body was riddled with stickers. Therefore, being the sentimental person I am (oh, really...?), I have assigned my Smash S2 to be my current stickers host, as seen above.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Double screamer

Yes... I enjoy drive/ distortion overdose; gives me that extra ease in picking, harmonics triggering & more importantly, less lethargy...

What you see above is a screamer overdose; the (Ibanez) TS7 kicking the Ts9 into action because individually, these pedals are wimpy, they don't possess the beef to give you that drive assault. I enjoy putting TS units together, there's this creamy output which isn't quite available from any individual TS pedal. The pairing also helps reduce midrange hump which is a major gripe with many TS users.

Transparent screamer

My Cool Cat Trans OD had been boosting amps & other pedals, it's time I give it a boost (courtesy of my TS7)... The coupling above wasn't regrettable, I get a thicker OD voicing without sounding harsh/ distortion-like. It's closer to a driven tube amp voicing than any other pedal combination I've tried but it's still not as authentic, I still don't get that guitar volume-OD interaction unlike a straight through plug in. Nevertheless, it's great interaction between these two pedals...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Floyd Rose

Many of us are aware the 'Floyd Rose' name refers to a (locking) guitar bridge capable of lowering & raising (vibrato) the generated pitch. Floyd Rose is itself a brand name, it is not referring to the component's technical capacity. However, we conveniently refer to 'Floyd Rose' as a bridge type instead because many of us find it a chore to explain what this hardware is capable of. The product reputation is such that the brand name itself comprehensively explains what it does.

There are many guitars out there equipped with a dual action bridge ala Floyd Rose but they are by no means a product of the brand name. Ibanez's bridges in many of their guitars feature a Floyd Rose derivative which equal the former in function & features, if not furthering the details of the original. The Edge model (pre-2003, currently discont'd except for selected models), depicted above, is a very close spin-off which allegedly exceeded the Floyd Rose version in selected attainments.

I am not trying to polarize players into believing in brand name superiority, but let's be careful when we tell others we are off-loading a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge when what's in store is a copy/ derivative unit instead. This may be trivial to many of us until the situation takes a legal turn...


These are my 2 most played guitars of late:
  • Ibanez RG321: This is my no-frills RG. I keep coming back to this guitar for these fundamental reasons; (1) feels good (2) sounds appealing. It's equipped with Duncans- Distortion (N) & Custom (B). Some friends deem this combination rather foolish because the Distortion is more ferocious in the neck position but my intention was for my solos (usually done with ths pickup) to be more pronounced & I'd like clarity here as well.
  • LTD M-53: I have this guitar out on the stand while playing others, I usually stop playing whatever guitar's in hand & starts playing the M-53. This is also one of my few guitars with default pickups in tact, the set-up was also superb right from the start, there were no further tinkering done- a reminder of how some of the lower-priced guitars could be so right if we look hard enough. We must also not be dismissive of the lesser instrument before we know what's in store for the money.

Gilbert's other RG

This is the other Paul Gilbert guitar to appear this year but not in production. It's an SSH model as oppossed to the current dual humbucking PGM401. It features the traditional block heel joint as well...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eid Mubarak

It's the eve of Aidilfitri... as the twilight of Ramadhan trials off to usher in the blissful Eid, I never fail to ponder whether I would see through another festive season in time to come...

To all Muslim acquaintances & visitors to my blog- wishing you a blessed Eid. Please pardon me if I have offended you in any way, intended or otherwise.

Driving hyde!

My VS' Son Of Hyde is one of the most rewarding distortion unit I own (it might not be so for you, it's ok... you are not me) due to its grittiness. Today I had the chance to pair it with the Cool Cat Transparent OD, on other days, I usually coupled it with my TS7. The result was a thicker, overall distortion voicing. This pedal would be more rewarding with an external bass control knob...

No whammy!

Just installed 2 more springs in my LTD M-53- I don't whammy, I don't intend to either.

Rob Balducci... nice new guitar

Rob Balducci, perhaps the industry's most restrained shredder to date (but very tasteful playing, mind you) has a new personal custom Ibanez to show. There are no further details in the mean time but it's interesting to see an increasing number of renowned players opting for a non-dual action, non-locking vibrato bridge. Also, these chaps opted for non-locking nuts as well, Andy Timmons & Paul Gilbert are two others on the list. Mr. Balducci's new guitar looks stunning. It also makes the reverse Ibanez headstock very inviting...

Speaker cable

I recently went hunting for a speaker cable, I wasn't looking for a boutique brand name, just something that works & found the 12ft KI Audio (Korea) brand name @ Davis. The length was definitely excessive- why would I need a 12ft unit for a simple head-cab attachment? So I took it too BEEZ & he extracted 1m from the original length & that certainly made my day.

Of course, thumbs up to Beez for the excellent workmanship!

PS: Thanks darling for coming along... :-)

Morning practice

Can't sleep... have been playing since 6am... a simple set up as depicted above... ampless, of course, save for the mini speaker.

IT Warlock

I was surfing the net to perhaps discover innovative guitar design integration (we can't actually reinvent the guitar, can we?), BC Rich's IT Warlock is quite a piece of work.

The hidden genius is seen at the rear of the instrument where that virtually seamless neck-body joint is simply a jigsaw type attachment. The manufacturer calls it the IT (Invisabolt Technology) & it's an idea that works. Besides the sheer novelty, tone-wise, running the neck down the body this way- directly under the pickups- emulates a through-neck resonance. However the benefit is subjective, you either hear it or not. Nevertheless, having an all access heel at this part of the instrument is very inviting...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dimmu fragment

The above members of Dimmu Borgir have been expelled from the band. The collective voices of the remaining members cite the following issues attributable to the necessary termination:
  • commitment issues
  • song-writing ownership
  • irresponsible intoxication
  • album sales

among others...

Whatever it turns out to be, I'd certainly respect the music more so than expected human antagonism. Hopefully there'll be no absolute termination of the band...

Power of three

Which three? Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, to perform here (@ Esplanade) on 5th Dec- part of the MOSAIC programme. Looking forward to this...

PS: Darling you are game for it, ya?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lava cable

Bought: Lava cable
Where: Davis GMC
How much: $48.00 (12ft)
Not included: Rainbow lizard (as depicted)
Performance report: Coming soon...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ibanez: RG8570

Yes, the J Custom is made available here in the mean time, but in a very limited quantity. The RG8570 you see above is the only model currently available (limited finish options as well) through an authorised distributor, I managed to try it last week.

It’s beyond doubt the guitar is a wonderful piece of material craftsmanship. The feel of the neck in particular is very inviting; it’s a hybrid of freshness & that typical broken-in, relic touch. It’s definitely shred-worthy as I’ve discovered.

The pickups on board are DiMarzios, a trio of Tone Zone (B), True Velvet (M) & Air Norton (N) would attend to your tonal needs. Under loads of distortion, these sustain very well & manifest that typical creamy DiMarzio voicing we love to hear.

There’s this bit of alchemy that makes the J Custom different from the Prestige range. It’s attributable to the overall feel & tone of the instrument as you play it in your hands. The asking price of this guitar is steep: $3,599.00 If you are into aristocratic possessions, the RG8570 will serve you well. If you are into some charming overdriven tones, this one has plenty as well.

Personal reflections
I respect the J Custom series but its features are excessive in terms of looks, I don’t value instruments this way. I dislike vine inlays in any manifestations, I prefer boring dots instead. I also do not favour the DiMarzio voicings; don’t get me wrong- I own some instruments with these pickups on board but I guess they are not ear candy for me. Right now, the J Custom is quite the least desireable guitar on my list…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ibanez: Addy Rasidi's clinic

Ibanez: Addy Rasidi's clinic
Venue: Swee Lee Katong showroom
Date: 12th Sept 2009
Time: 4.00pm
Ticket: $8.00

I was at Addy Rasidi's Ibanez clinic last Saturday because I am a fan of talent; Addy's one of the most talented players here, his current solo release, Divine, is proof enough.

The event started out rather cautiously & it remained as such throughout. It's largely attributable to the fact that it's Addy's debut clinic & his low pedagogic capacity admission. Nevertheless, it was informative in whole, the sharing was done in variety to keep the event tasteful. Well, it kept me listening...

I'm still wondering whether we can look forward to the unveiling of his signature model after all because Addy was hinting the fact that he is very much appeased by his J-Custom model & there was no mention of any signature version for immediate release. Hopefully he didn't disclose this to enchant his spouse for getting the guitar for him. Ok... just kidding :-)

PS: Thanks darling for keeping me company, hopefully you have more time to do so for more guitar clinics to come... :-)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

LTD M-53: Mine!!

I truly believe in the (LTD) M-53. It's a good guitar through & through. Despite its entry-level status, I enjoyed what it has to offer in terms of playability & tone. I am also not one to cast aside a good guitar regardless of its make.

The pickups on board the M-53, nevermind their in-house nature, are brilliant to say the least. I can't rule out the fact that my amps played a significant role in making them sound above average; the single coil units, in particular. I seldom retain factory-default pickups but these gems are for keeps. Definitely.

The manufacturer also included a bevelled (as arrowed in pic) section at the bolt-on area which promotes upper fret access but not markedly. I believe that the fretting hand posture does not benefit from such allowance as much as having a real recessed area pertaining to the block structure itself. Nevertheless, the guitar per se is a wonderful production piece.

All in all, the M-53 is my 36th addition to the family & a lovely one indeed. It's very inviting feel & tone-wise. It is proof enough that good instruments don't cost us a bomb these days, I can't say this was true a decade or so ago.

PS: Thanks to Janet & co. (Davis GMC) for letting me have a go at this guitar (& enduring my eccentricities while doing so)

PPS: Thank you darling for the excellent consideration. Every time I play this one, I have you in mind closer than ever. I can't thank you enough... :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009


Mike Amott (Arch Enemy/ Carcass) has his signature Dean model finally out, it's called the Tyrant to tremble all you geeks in your pants while you are simply looking at this guitar.

The new hawk

Gibson has recently reincarnated their Nigh Hawk model (above pic)...

The previous incarnation saw the manufacturer included a slanted humbucker in the bridge position which was the major issue with users- what if they dislike the default pickup (we are not obliged to like Gibson pickups, yes?) & wish to have their preferred unit there? Which other manufacturer produces such slanted make?

Fav ODs

Yes, I prefer a straight-through plug in; guitar + amp sounds immaculate, your tone sounds more unpretentious this way. If you rely on your guitar's volume knob to tame your overdrive at times, you'd appreciate this honest set up. However, my playing techniques thrive on drive/ distortion overdose- more drive/distortion means lesser picking/ fretting effort, I play faster this way & there's reduced lethargy in the mix. In order to achieve this overkill, I employ my fav pedals as depicted above:
  1. Ibanez TS7: The most uncelebrated Tubescreamer of them all, the least preferred among the purists but certainly my preferred pedal. The TS7 gives that slight but necessary overdrive addition to my fiery Marshall JVM410H; that's what it's coupled with all the time.
  2. MXR Distortion+ : I love the Distortion + for its very gritty voicing, unlike the very tame BOSS DS-1 (which I also own), the Distortion + ensures a coarse-sounding output for an all-out distortion assault. This pedal is also coupled with my Marshall JVM410 all the time. The Distortion + provides an alternative output voicing compared to my TS7.
  3. Danelectro Cool Cat Transparent Overdrive: The Cool Cat series are some of the best sounding units out there on a budget. I always employ this pedal with my LINE6 PODs as it sounds more appealing rather than pushing an already driven amp. I feel this is the case because The Transparent OD lacks a midrange control, the inherent scooped tone somehow sounds more attractive with digital units such as the POD.
  4. T-REX Tonebug Overdrive: The latest in my pedal acquisition, the Tonebug OD sounds 'different' as its voicing sits between an OD & a distortion but it doesn't get as throaty as a blues/crunch type distortion unit (eg: BOSS Blues Driver). It's best played with an amp's crunch channel, nothing too intense. The resultant voicing sounds almost fuzz-like but with more definition for all us dweebs who think the average fuzz unit does little wonder for individual note definition- especially so when we solo.

No Yammy for Gambale

I kinda get pissed after reading this from Frank Gambale's (pictured with bassist Victor Wooten, above) homepage:

"Yamaha has recently told me that they will not be making ANY artist models for the forseeable future. That means my guitar will never see the light of day. That's a pity since we already spent over a year designing and building prototypes. Not sure what's next. This economic depression we're in is becoming very boring indeed."

I've been keeping watch because FG's newer model (based on the protos, one seen in the pic above) is based on the fantastic SG make. When he was in S'pore for a clinic some time back, he expressed enthusiasm working with the people at Yamaha but the recent development implied the absence of a contractual product development. Either that or Yamaha simply can't keep up with the instrument arm of their production; they make better motorbikes & speed boats which keep the coffers afloat. Bummer.

Toasted tone!

Your eyes deceiving you? A guitar plugged into a bread toaster...?
That's right, Hottie Amplifiers actually house their solidstate amps in a vintage bread toaster housing. You can check these out @ Davis GMC.

Hottie amplifiers
List: $299
Davis GMC

Thursday, September 10, 2009


We had a work retreat somewhere in the inner reaches of Kranji not too long ago. The venue was a recreational farm, the host told us clearly there were no PA systems or any other voice projection aids to address the crowd. If we need to do so, we had to do it the Tarzan way- shout. However, we had an Ibanez TB25R (discont'd) amp lying around & it served us well, just that there wasn't enough gain on the clean channel to make the microphone work. We used the drive channel with the drive level turned down to bare minimum to avoid voice distortion.

Ibanez GRG121

I've always recommended Ibanez's GRG121 to starters for its great construction & tone (in view of the asking price, of course). This '09, the manufacturer offers this model in a reverse headstock version. The default pickups have also been replaced by covered Powersound units, unlike the previous STD models. I'm not saying the former are better tone generators by a big difference, just that they are grittier when it comes to distortion/ OD; don't think you are gonna buy this guitar for its cleans, are you?


It seems that Ibanez is rather generous in their maple fretboard offering these days; even the starter pack GSA6MJU is featuring such a guitar.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

LTD: M-53

Managed to try LTD's M-53 @ Davis today...

Sometimes, we look too hard for something affordable & impressive. LTD's M-53 is a guitar which doesn't break your piggy & sounds + plays above average. Upon handling, I was greeted by the instrument's unyielding QC. It's no hiding the fact that this one's in the lower price bracket range & constructional compromise is expected but none was detected here.

The tone of this guitar is wonderful, the in-house LTD pickups are simply attractive for driven settings but for cleans, the single coils did better. These remind me too much of my SMASH S2 pickups- very anonymous but fantastic for the money.

LTD M-53
List: $299
Available @ Davis GMC

PS: My darling is thinking of getting me this one instead... hmm...

Squier: John 5

Any John 5 fanatics out there? Squier now has the John 5 telecaster for your considerations...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Swing: Jazz Studio

I also managed to get my hands all over this wonderful piece of Swing craftsmanship while I was at SV; the Jazz Studio model.

My episodes with basses are few & far between but I can't resist this bass simply because it's sheer attraction. Upon handling, it's perhaps one of the very few instruments there which I can deem as flawless. The tones on offer are simply incredible lots of definition (for all you dweebs who solo with your low-enders...) & thump on board. I simply love the neck feel/ profile; less fumbling, definitely.

However, at the end of it all, you'd be reluctant to part with $1K for a less accomplished brand name, yes? Because you worry too much about its re-sale value as oppossed to its fantastic performance as a praise-worthy tool, that's why.

Swing Jazz Studio
List: $1,100
Available @ Standard Value

PS: Darling, you like my bass-playing?

Rally: Neosound

I was at Standard Value recently, managed to try the above Rally Neosound model...

As evident in the pic above, the Neosound is a Gibson ES-335 clone at a fraction of the price. Our first impression of this guitar would naturally be that of dislike as it's a product riding on the acclaim of another well known model. However, the more sensible among us would judge this instrument by virtue of its QC/ tonal manifestation & ignore the unexplored brand name (Rally? Who the heck plays Rally?).

The guitar is a very well-made instrument per se, far surpassing other ES-335 clones in the market out there. I would say it's rather flawless in this aspect save for some uneven finish at the outlines of the F-holes but you need close scrutiny to detect this blemish.

In the playability department, the Neosound's neck profile remains inviting to both the traditional as well as the proto-shredders alike. In fact, the finish here is organic unlike many other budget models that are often blighted by a thick, synthetic lacquer overcoat.

Tone-wise, the equally uncelebrated 2H humbuckers in this guitar did well in both clean & driven (I did a 'heavy' take as well) modes; they simply sound very right & engaging if we lack the funds to replace them for some more renowned brand names (I would keep them should I own this guitar). The Neosound is indeed highly recommended for players looking for a praise-worthy instrument without costing them an arm/ leg/ kidney.

Rally Neosound
List: $390
Avaialble @ Standard Value

PS: Thanks Mike & co. for letting me put this guitar through the rigors of instrument testing

PPS: Hmm... my darling is considering getting this superb instrument for me... :-)

Blug's Vintage

You've been here before, you know how I adore Thomas Blug's music, yes? Remember Thomas Blug, no? That German chap, the Hughes & Kettner amp ambassador? No? Go Youtube him, all you supine homo sapiens...

Anyway, Mr. Blug recently struck a deal with Vintage guitars (UK) & what resulted was a recreation of his beloved '61 Fender Strat (which now costs a fortune...) which is named the Thomas Blug Signature V6. Do note the instrument's basswood body as preferred by Mr. Blug; & you thought it's a good-for-nothing wood to work with...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Nachtmystium: Doomsday Derelicts

We often go European for our black metal ear fodder, lest we forget, the scene is quite happening across the pond as well- that's the USA to the rest of us. Nachtmystium, who turned heads with their recent release, Assassins (Black Meddle Part 1), is now back with an mcd aptly titled, Doomsday Derelict.

Despite having only 4 songs on the list, I have to say these are some of the most accomplished the band has to offer. Bones (1)/ Pitch Black Cadence(4) are essential BM listenings while Life of Fire (2) & Hellish Overdose (3) remind us all of the band's recent psychedelic trip which was impressive to say the least. Some bands simply do not lose their touch while having their feet planted on other turfs of the genre. Nachtmystium is such a band.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Managed to squeeze some time to drop by Mike's new Standard Value branch @ Peninsular Hotel basement (home to countless other guitar shops... he he)

If you don't already know, SV also has selected Ibanez guitars, in addition to the Swing/ Rally/ Smash range, for your considerations.

Not to mention the good amps to complement the guitar/ bass try-outs.

SV @ Peninsular is located at: #B1-16. Thanks, Mike & Co. for the great customer service!

Thanks darling for accompanying me & enduring my peculiarities while trying stuff out... :-)