Thursday, December 31, 2009

Which blues?

Was in the guitar store today, a chap was looking for a BOSS Blues Driver...

... but pointed to Marshall's Blues Breaker II instead.

If he had bought the BBII, went home, discovered the error, who's to blame? This is why it's important to know what you are buying to avoid such incidents. There are so many ways to prevent this omission; write it down on paper, store the image in your cellphone, ask a friend along, etc. It just takes a bit more effort on our part, as buyers, to prevent such a regrettable outing.

I did alert him of his error.

Understanding overdrive

The overdrive effect, in its most fundamental understanding, is a device which increases the gain levels of your guitar input so that there will be a driven output at the amplifier. The understanding here is that the typical overdrive unit does not drive your signals upon receiving them but adds on more so that the drive would finally take place at the final destination; your amplifier. The overdrive produces a very mild effect, much typified by the grand daddy of all overdrive units, the Ibanez TS9.

It is, in this light, used as an enhancement for an already overdriven amplifier for a pile-on effect so we hear an increase in intensity. It can also be used as a primary source of overdrive to add minimum levels of drive for one's guitar tones, as superbly illustrated by the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Why is there much confusion between the overdrive & the distortion effect? This is simply because many overdrive offerings today are varied in their intensity grades, sometimes overlapping into the distortion capacity. We'd be thinking why an overdrive unit like BOSS' OD-2R for instance, has so much drive when the basic understanding of this effect unit simply states it to be a polite effect in terms of its intensity. There is much argument over the overdrive understanding but let it be known that it is one which enhances gain in order to produce a drive effect, not a driving effect per se.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Screws, knobs...

My RG1550, nothing new...

New are the knobs & pickguard screws:
  • Locking knobs: As depicted above, I prefer these knobs for security; they won't come undone & promote better grip
  • Flathead screws: For a flushed feel, no protrusions. The old ones were rusty so I replaced the whole set
The Seymour Duncan pickups in this guitar:
  • Neck: Full Shred
  • Mid: Classic Stack
  • Bridge: Screamin' Demon trembucker

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Skull pedal

Are you tired of that regular-shaped stomp box of yours? Maybe the Skull Crusher pedal here would interest you- lights come on when you step-activate the pedal. Cool. Have not seen one here... wonder if anyone would bring this in... Oh, it promises some skull crushing distortion too so it's not all looks.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ibanez: RGT6EXFX

Ibanez's RGT6EXFX is avaialble here (finally) but a little late because it made its presence felt much earlier everywhere else... but here. I had plans to buy this guitar actually but the enthusiasm to see this acquisition met had been quelled by... abviously, the lack of funds (in the mean time). The asking price of $1.7K for such a simple guitar is a little excessive but after playing it in person, I have to say it's a good guitar, enough to make me feel different upon handling it.

Besides the EMG 85s you see in there, the RGT has a neck-through construction (The 'T' in RGT stands for 'through neck'...). The all access neck means one requires no struggling to reach the upper frets, this is a psychological plus point considering the Wizard II neck profile on offer here isn't quite inviting if you are an Ibanez purist & the lacquer overcoat makes it feel fatter than it should be. The active humbuckers play an important part in making the tone incredible (if you worship at the altar of intense distortion, of course...). These factors coupled to make the RGT6 a solid performer. The RGT6 has another incarnation, the dual-action whammy bridge version but I feel this fixed bridge version is more worthy- simple, effective & to the point. Remember this: Sometimes, the good things in life are simple.

Availability: Swee Lee Co
List: $1,700

PS: Princess, maybe you can bestow some of your wealth on me to acquire this guitar... em, princess... are you there at all? Hmmm...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wooden liability

November 2009: Gibson USA was investigated for an alleged possession of illegal rosewood. The manufacturer is answerable to the evidences citing the illegal acquisition of rosewood from Madagascar via Germany. FYI Madagascar is the primary exporter of rosewood with 47 species on offer but the government recently went down hard on illegal logging. The trouble here is actually the contravention of the Lacey Act (1900) forbidding US companies from importing such wood type from Madagascar. Ironically, Gibson's Chairperson & CEO is a leading member of the Rainforest Alliance who is currently on 'leave of absence' until the conclusion of this investigation. The guitar you see here my friends, is a Gibson product impressing the manufacturer's commitment in the aforementioned alliance; the Les Paul Studio, Smartwood edition.

Shred guitar recommendations: Others (Part 3)

ESP's range of affordable reproductions, the LTDs, are great guitars to own. Like the Fender reference, we need to be mindful of the production standard & feel differences. The M-50 depicted above is one suitable for speedsters out there in terms of feel. Do not be too enthusiastic with the cleans offered here (like many other budget models), the humbuckers are there for all-out distortion.

Schecter has a wonderful offering in their C-1 range. These are praise-worthy in their QC standards & the playability couldn't be any better. The manufacturer also included a well-beveled pair of cutaways so we won't be deprived of the upper fret reaches. As these units are set-neck in assembly, the sustain is above-average given the right dose of distortion, of course.

This is perhaps Cort's proud offering to such an extent that Neil Zaza has his signature model blueprints based on it. It is very much like the C-1 model above in terms of features; a set neck model, dual humbucking & string-through-body but the neck dimensions here are a little wider & slimmer, making the Katana (KX-101) a natural appeal for fast playing proponents. The body's curved top is also more accentuated, making it very arm-friendly when you play both sitting down/ standing up. The bridge is one genuine Tone-Pros locking unit so it won't be displaced when you unstring the instrument & the pair of Duncan '59 & JB there makes it a winner in terms tonal appeal. On a personal note, I feel this guitar is very under-rated because of it's brand name- CORT; something that everybody recommends when you are after a cheap alternative. The KX range is a a make-do model by any means.

To be cont'd...

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I was in town yesterday, didn't know Ibanez & Marshall were in league with Dulux paint...

Hey, dad! (Part 12)

Hey, dad! According to my computer here, your blog has more than 300K hits, wow! I think you have to thank all the visitors out there for making this happen. I know there's nothing too special about your blog, just some personal reflections but people do read them anyway. Thanks for including me in it, this way you can see me grow... you're not gonna quit blogging any time soon, yes?


I do not own an acoustic guitar so for some unplugged tones, I have my Ibanez AF105 to address my needs.

Everything's great with this guitar less the humbuckers it's equipped with- no, not the tone but the fact that it's nickel plated. Nickel will oxidize/ fade over time (as depicted above) to give you that wonderful vintage look but you can't restore the shine with the common metal polishing fluid/ cream. This relic effect will be accelerated if it comes into contact with chemicals commonly found in industrial glue.

You'd be wondering why your nickel plated hardware fades off rather quickly when all you do is keep your beloved instrument in its hard case- that's because it comes into close contact with your case's inner lining & 'digs' into the furry material, leaking the glue that binds it to the shell. That's why...

Shred guitar recommendations (Part 2): Others

The Squier Deluxe Hotrails was one of the later models introduced by the manufacturer this year. As we know it, the Squier brand name is licensed to reproduce the Fender models but do not expect on par performances in terms of feel & tone. The guitar depicted above is highly recommended for players in search of the Fender C-profile neck feel but can't quite come to terms with single colis. The Deluxe HR offers a trio of drive-friendly Hotrails (under license by Seymour Duncan, do note these are NOT the real Seymour Duncan Hotrails model, but derivatives) pickups with a very inviting feel for us shredder dweebs.

If you can still locate the Kramer Striker model, do give it a real consideration. The neck profile is a very attractive in-between feel; neither too thin nor too thick + repulsive. The highlight here are the Quad Rails humbuckers (a humbucker in a humbucker... gee that's quite an over-dose, Mr. Kramer, sir...) which sound unique to the discerning ears. The QC of these models are also commendable.

Jackson's JS models are made in India but it's a far cry from the previous cohort which were quite haphazard (QC-wise) upon close scrutiny. I've personally tried the entire range of JS series & the JS1 gets my vote for its simplicity & good tones. Do give the D-profile neck a test if you are keen, it's more outward in feel than Ibanez's Wizard II make which are quite substantial in feel but not repulsive. The pickups may be too bland for some of us, especially when one plays lots of cleans.

To be cont'd...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Urgehal: Ikonoklast

It is a serious proposition that one of your bandmates insists on dressing up as Hellraiser's Pinhead; in addition to the higher propensity for injury, this could be seen as a paltry attempt in drawing attention...

However, theatrics & visual entertainment aside, once you spin Urgehal's latest offering, Ikonoklast, it's proof that the Pinhead manifestation is merely an artistic expression pertaining to the band's nefarious nature. Enzifer & T Nefas are capable guitarists, the riffs offered in this release are above average, the solos very tasteful in punctuating the music. Careful listening would reveal the capacity of these players, they are technically adept in their expressions but enough said. I guess, if you are not a fan of this music, however exalted the players are, they won't be as appealing as Vai & Satriani but that's the standing in the other guitar planet. In planet black metal, appeal is measured with another yardstick, not used by the average music critic of course.

Mangan Steel

Gave my RG321 a cleaning up:
  • oiled the body
  • cleaned fretboard
  • polished frets
  • re-string: CURT MANGAN .009 Steel set
What's the thrill of having a set of steel strings in one's guitar? Steel gives off a bright tone but this lasts while the freshness is in tact. It's also a little stiffer in feel, very rewarding for players who attack their guitars the moment they plug in (especially if you prefer thick picks). Curt Mangan is currently my preferred string brand as it's able to retain the feel & tone despite wearing out. Magic? Maybe but I guess it's the Ernie Ball mojo rubbing off the man- he's an ex-Ernie Ball employee FYI but let not this credit patronize the very fact that CM strings are superb per se.

No tune-o...

It's been tough for me for the last few days or so (not guitar related), maybe it's psychological but I can't seem to play any guitars with tune-o-matic bridges, well. The above are guitars played for the last 5 days or so (Smash S2 & Squier's Duo Sonic), as you can see, no tune-o-matic assembly here...

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Managed to take a peek at my Celestion Seventy 80 while cleaning my cab today...

I simply love these drivers as they sound right with any set ups but more importantly, they serve my ultra distorted tones very well; that's my staple tone... Many of us would look at the cab's brand name while choosing our goods but I'm interested to know what drivers are inside, this will make/ break my tone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thank you BGW Guitars

Dear Mr. Brendon, my friends & I would like to thank you for your kind gesture; we've received your greeting card & the complimentary pack of (Planet Waves) fret polishing cloth. We believe you are a nice person, remembering others during this festive season & it's not just about the business, isn't it? We wish you all the best come 2010! Bye, bye!

Ibanez 2010 sneaks (Part4)

There will be another 8-string model in the catalogue as depicted above. Maybe the manufacturer should give us an EMG alternative, yes?

It looks like Chris Broderick is also getting into the 2010 heat but it's doubtful if the guitars depicted here would become standard production models...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Graasroots: G-LP-50S

Some of us aren't really interested in the real (Gibson) Les Paul, we are more appreciative of copies which mock the real deal, especially the impressive ones with alluring asking prices. I've recently re-tried the Grassroots G-LP-50S at Tymusic not because I'm an ardent LP fan; I find LPs difficult to play; they tend to muck up at the neck humbucker & really leave single notes definition much to be desired. However, the G-LP-50S sports a very appealing neck profile unlike the default, bulky LP necks of the originals. It sports this slim neck dimension but unlike Gibson's slim tapered '60s make, there's more width here to make the Eastern replication a signature presence of sorts. The overall craftsmanship of the Korean G-LP-50Ss are above average & do not manifest the haphazard craftsmanship of tired factory hands.

These guitars are currently on sale at Tymusic & they are recommended for us dweebs who embrace the LP outline & construction as a very charming handiwork.

PS: Thanks Tymusic for the hospitality! :-)

Grassroots G-LP-50S
Avaiiability: Tymusic
SALE: $499

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mor Dagor: MK. IV

I still remember borrowing CDs from my childhood friend, Zahid (we're still keeping in touch), way back in Y2K because at the turn of the century, guitar playing took a tedious embrace for the mundane; the celebration of one's limited abilities playing the guitar as manifested by the whole grunge movement, was still spilling over & music was as drab as it could be. One of the CDs I received from Zahid was Mor Dagor's Bloodstream. I wasn't a fan of black metal back then because of how singular the guitars sound like & often punctuated by bad technicalities but with Mor Dagor, I was extra patient.

I am a fan of the music till today. I believe Mor Dagor consists of some of the most talented minds in the aggressive music industry as evident in the music. Riffs are varied & efforts were made to manifest creativity as opposed to the obligatory buzzing of distorted guitars. The band's latest release, MK. IV, perpetuates this salutations but the guitar tones here are a little disheartening, reminds me of the rather absurd tonalities of Deicide's Once Upon the Cross (ok so you like that one, huh? maybe you like listening to bees buzzing in jars...). The bass in this release is more upfront & plays a rather commanding role on some tunes. The final track fades into a night time atmosphere complete with creaking cicadas & ... country singing?? Intriguing but true...


So which tuners do I use? As above:
  • KORG Pitch Black: I need a tuner with a strobe function for intonation adjustments (to increase the degree of accuracy) & something that can serve me in my effects chain without being too obnoxious in appearance. The Pitch Black has it for me in this light & it's reasonably priced as well. The PB allows me to adopt silent tuning & it conjures a haunting presence in dark performance venues; imagine people looking at your pedal board & not expecting to see the PB (because it's black- duh!) & suddenly when they least expected, you step on an 'invisible' presence & it brings your wayward guitar back in tune... Evil! Ha, ha, ha!
  • SEIKO STX-1: I also need a tuner which can serve me without the need to plug in, so the clip-on STX-1 is my pick because it responds well & features a good display panel.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ibanez 2010 sneaks (Part3)

OK... so we thought the RGD blundered by not having a tone control in there, yes? Well, the mid-price, non-Prestige version did well to feature that & we see a new generation of fretboard markers here (ugly/ cool?). Interestingly, the manufacturer excluded a string retainer over at the headstock/ locking nut area which is a smart move in terms of production costs. Typically, guitars in this price bracket gets an Edge III bridge.

No, the RG7321 isnt's extinct, it gets a new bridge...

Let's just hope the manufacturer brings the RG321 back to the regional market as pictured above, come 2010, it gets a new bridge as well.

The RGR321 is still here, also a new bridge for it.


Steve Vai on way Ibanez is the guitar for him:

"When I was younger I had Strats & I love Les Pauls and Firebirds & all that stuff, but none of them could deliver the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the way I play."

When we choose an instrument, we sometimes do it in haste for many reasons (I'm guilty of this myself) but there is a need to assess the value of our selections because the instruments serve our needs & personal quirks as crucially highlighted by Commander Vai above. We often let the brand name get to us, the very fact that well known professionals swear by these names further heightened our desires to want one very badly. Nevertheless, the pertinent question to ask is whether our wants would serve us personally. We must be objective & have this in mind when buying an instrument. Disregard the brand name & embrace the one that has something in store for us in terms of feel & tone. I personally deem these considerations crucial.


I've been following Maniac's musical development since his departure from Mayhem; his new band is Skitliv. Maniac is one of the genre's thoroughly disturbing geniuses around, very provocative yet captivating. I'm also currently keeping tab of black metal/ extreme music's guitar proponents who are not using pointy, obtrusive guitars- it's not a must isn't it? Your music remains evil because it's your nature; satan doesn't live in your guitar (or your amp & effects pedals for that matter...). Maniac prefers a (Gibson) Firebird instead.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hey, dad! (Part 11)

Hey, dad! Can my buddies here help you re-string your guitar as well? Please?


Remember Godflesh's Justin Broadrick toting a Fender? His JESU days of late, saw him with the Schecter 7-string instead...

Cort metal

While the legion of black metal proponents are busy equipping themselves with pointy, evil guitars, Abgott's Agamoth is more than happy with a Cort (he has an official endorsement, mind you...).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ibanez 2010 sneaks (Part 2)

Come 2010, expect 24 frets on all S-series model, including the 7-string version.

The new RGD model; here's the 7-string make. Fans current dissent: Where's the tone pot?? *sigh*

For us with a tight budget but wanting a 7-string badly- the RGA model might have something for us...

Narrow Field

PRS guitars continue to intrigue me with their innovations; the above pickups are the manufacturer's own Narrow Field humbuckers. If you take a closer look, these are actually compressed humbuckers narrower in width implying a different type of coil winding application. It's a petty variation to many of us but consider the tonal differentiation it generates, that's what Mr. Smith believes in:

"...because of its smaller 'aperture' senses less of the string to give you the clear sound & bite of single-coils and the warmth of humbuckers."

Shred guitar recommendations (Part 1): Ibanez

I have some friends asking me to recommend some shred-friendly guitars:
  • which are relatively affordable
  • user-friendly (meaning: won't make beginners weep because of handling issues)
There are too many guitars out there which are shred-worthy regardless of the brand name. The conventional belief here is the acquisition of guitars with skinny neck profiles to enhance fretting hand movements- rubbish. If you are a capable player, you can shred with any guitar in hand; it's a matter of capacity. In this installment, I'd like to recommend some models from the typical shredder's default brand name: Ibanez

My firm recommendation here is the RG321. Please note it features a slim but not an excessively skinny Ibanez neck (Wizard II) unlike its Prestige counterparts. The instrument has a solid feel & possesses great unplugged mahogany resonance (a sign of a good sounding guitar upon plugging in).

This guitar, despite proving to be one of the manufacturer's best seller, has been removed from this region's catalogue offerings. However, you can still find remainder units at Swee Lee & Standard Value. Highly recommended.

My next recommendation would be the SA260. This guitar is aimed at the player who wishes for a distortion-friendly unit but would require some single coil tones in the mix. The instrument features a True-Duo humbucker in the bridge position which could be switched to single coil mode when in need. The SA neck profile differs slightly from the RG as it is slightly rounded & not distinctly flat like the RG's. The SA body also sports a curved top for a more sensuous feel during play. Do note the 2 lesser frets on offer. Also, the guitar is equipped with a whammy-able SAT Pro II bridge.

The latest shredtastic guitar Ibanez has to offer is the RGA model (in this price bracket) which is a fusion of the RG & SA guitars but completely fresh are the active pickups by the manufacturer (LoZ3). The model featured here is the RGA32 which I prefer because it has a passive EQ section unlike its other sibling, the RGA42 which sports an active control which I deem unnecessary. The active humbuckers would make this instrument tentalizing tone-wise but the tone I hear from this one is a make/break affair which would surely dichotomize the tone critics.

To be cont'd...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wampler: Triple Wreck

Hi ho, distortion fans! Searching for something rather intense in the diverse realm of distortion? Then you need to check this Wampler pedal out, it's called the Triple Wreck...

As mentioned, the pedal is rather intense in its distortion capacity but it's very capable in its lower range as well, for us non-metal dweebs. The EQ sweep is very dynamic across all 3 available frequencies; the bass offering is rather extreme, be warned.

What's that boost button for, then? It's a gain booster (Duh!) but it effectively evolves the pedal into fuzz mode, implying, no more metal applications to manifest. Think smooth, wooly, treble jabs... Don't let the 'Vintage' mode fool you into thinking it's going to be convincingly polite upon activation- it is but it's still forceful in drive definition. Let's just say it's still crunchy when that happens.

Is the Triple Wreck a 'metal' type of pedal per se? Absolutely not. If you've come across the Landmine distortion, this is its adversary. However, the Triple Wreck can pull off metal-type tones convincingly, no doubts about it. You are going to read elsewhere, the Triple Wreck being a MESA amp drive emulator (hence the name... Triple Wreck = Triple Rec? You don't get it? Then you don't know MESA...); you have to hear it in action to convince yourselves, some of us would agree, others would think it's merely an emulator, coming close to the real deal is personal & subjective. Another reminder: It's not a metal type unit exclusively. Not cheap, this one...

Pedal avaialble @ Standard Value/ SV Guitars
List: $360

PS: Can't sleep... hence the entry.