Friday, December 31, 2010

New year eve ritual...

I don't attend any new year countdown events, I don't watch such shows on TV either. On New Year's Eve, I watch Entrapment obviously for its new year setting. Thereafter, if I am still well awake, I'd usually do some reading or play guitar but being incapacitated in the mean time, the latter occurrence is rather remote.

While I was in Malacca some years ago, I took a boat ride & the guide told me the river scenes in Entrapment were actually in Malacca, not in Kuala Lumpur. So now you know.

Happy New Year!!

My sincere best wishes to all friends, acquaintances & visitors to this blog- I keep blogging because you keep reading. Apologies if I have offended anyone in the process, in any case, there were no intentions to do so- that's not what this blog is all about.

May 2011 be a splendid year for all of us- thanks, once again, cheers!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's not yours, be more mindful

Two weeks ago, I was at SV Guitars trying out a guitar (which I finally bought) when two gentlemen-  teenagers I believe- came into the store in haste. One of them got very excited upon seeing a bass, maybe it was his desired instrument; we very much understand such anxiety. He decided to handle the instrument himself while the SV staff were busy attending to other customers. I was appalled by the way he did so, knocking the instrument's headstock against the wall in the process. I stopped testing the aforementioned guitar at that moment & looked at him. I also intended the environment to be quiet enough so that the sound of a dropped & damaged instrument would be clearly heard. But he decided to to return the bass to the wall hangar when it slipped. Fortunately enough, he caught it at the final moment because if that wasn't the case, my blow to his face would be generous. Orange t-shirt & a cap, I still remember clearly how he looked like. On the way out, he gestured a sorry to me, so he finally knew his every move was under scrutiny.

Is it too difficult for us to understand the fact that musical instruments are fragile? Are we not educated enough to be mindful of property which are not ours because any damage done would render us liable? We keep reading time & again of how some music stores manifest an untoward surveillance when we are in the premises but we seldom read about brainless people walking into guitar stores thinking they are beyond sensible behaviour & it's perfectly acceptable to do so because the customer is always right. I still think the customer is right when he's right but when he's wrong, he's wrong; it's that simple.

If you need to handle any instruments in any stores, please get permission to do so.

Putting paper to task

You have to give it to the Gibson people for making life miserable upon the mockery of their product design. They are currently victorious having put the Paper Jamz company on an injunction pertaining to the Gibson-alike products, a pair of which are seen above. I'm not implying the Gibson people should let  the copy cats off scot-free but it's wiser to collaborate on such commercial matters because they did so for the Guitar Hero occasion.

Anyway, there are other copy designs by Paper Jamz, not just the Gibson-alikes as evident above; Marshall anyone? The rest of the manufacturers aren't suing the daylight out of Paper Jamz but we would never know for sure. Recall the December 28 entry where I was heading to Isetan (Scotts Road)? Well, that's actually to check out the Paper Jamz there. It's on SALE by the way, if you are interested to jam with your juniors come New Year's Eve (happening soon, yes?).

Maybe you can take some time to hear the action first... before buying them for the novelty.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Suffer the finger

Accidents happen & it happened last night. I was fixing a leaking tap, a harmless task but not when sharp edges lurk in dark corners under the sink. I was unscrewing the tap when the wrench slipped & my finger went into a sharp gap. I'm rather oblivious to pain so ignoring this mishap happened naturally. It's only after the task was completed that I saw my index finger covered in blood. After a quick wash-up, I noted the cut was rather deep. So off to the nearby clinic it was & the doc stitched me & referred me for X-ray since there was a notable swelling at the joint as well; there might be a fracture. Doc's order: No index finger activities for 7 days which is equivalent to no guitar playing till next year. SIGH.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cry- the greatest

I was at Borders book store yesterday, it was an unintentional stop, really. I was heading to Isetan at Scotts Road coming from ION orchard, so the safest, most law-abiding way to get across, was via the underpass & Borders happen to be in the way. I happened to come across an unwrapped Guitarist magazine, December 2010 issue which listed 'the 101 best stomp boxes of all time, ever!'. According to the magazine, Dunlop's Crybaby Classic deserved top spot with Ibanez's TS-808 Tube Screamer coming in second. I was searching for the proverbial metal distortion which made it on the list but none did. That's interesting isn't it, 101 pedals up for accolades, none of them was an intense distortion unit.

Watching The Godfather, one of my favourite movies. There are some lines in this movie which kept ringing in my head from time to time. One of them is I'll make them an offer they can't refuse. Marlon Brando was spectacular & he got away with some of the most memorable mumbling & slurring to date.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Selling: Marshall MG10

This amp was actually reserved for an acquaintance who wished to buy it for her spouse but they have other plans this December... So I'm letting it go for $85 if you are interested. Otherwise, do tell me why I should let you have it for a lesser selling price.

Ibanez 2011: Possible additions

The following Ibanez instruments are available in the Japanese market. There are no indications these are the 2011 servings but the fresh features in them simply hinted 'new'.

SR4500E: This is a stunning Prestige SR bass, elite features all round & more tone controls at the helm.

AFS77T: There's the new transparent pickguard seen here again, not to mention the fresh ACH pickups & that new cross block headstock motif in place of the traditional lightning bolt for the Artcore series. Unlike the Edge whammy bridges, the ART birdge are a little wanting in terms of effectiveness. Black binding on a white body- cool, this one...

ASR76T: A racing stripe AS body; how about that?

RG8527Z: The J-Custom range gets a 7-string addition. Of course, the chances of this making it here is very remote.

Word has it, Ibanez has introduced a fresh tier of instrument. We have the standard models & the Prestige offerings in the catalogues but come 2011, there will be the Premium series; models which sit in between the aforementioned tiers. I'll update them here as the soon as the confirmation comes in.

Another availability frustration

So here's another Ibanez model which is NOT available here; the ASR75V. Note the pickups there- those are not humbuckers but a humbucker-sized single coil, something in the lights of Seymour Duncan's Phat Cat/ Tesla's Opus 2 models. *SIGH*

Ladies & gentleman, until further confirmation, the ASR75 might very well be a 2011 addition, owing to the new pickups, bridge, pickguard & the missing lightning bolt motif (on the headstock) which is a standard indicator for the Artcore models.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bits storage

I used to keep my small spares in (small) zip-lock type plastic bags & tuck them away in my book cabinet. That wasn't a good practice because:
  • I can't collectively see what I have
  • Zip-lock bags don't last because some of the spares are sharp-edged/ pointed
So I resorted to buying the compartmentalized storage container (as above) which is perfect for screws, washers, bolts, etc. $2 @ Daiso.

Headstock finishes

Some time ago, while I was in one of the guitar stores here, I overheard the frustration of one Ibanez fan who was wishing for a matching headstock-body finish for the RG3550 as seen above. Everything was so right for him less the black headstock.

The RG3250 in Japan sports a matching body-headstock finish. It's rather unfortunate that such a desirable model is available elsewhere but here. Ibanez should offer a limited availability for its regional exclusive models instead of having none at all in foreign markets. The body-headstock finish should also be matching for more models as this proves to be more desirable for many of us; we want more uniformity in our instruments' finish. This is why we subconsciously embrace black guitars- because the black headstock matches the body.

Wish it was back: Yamaha Weddington

The Yamaha SG isn't the only non-bolt-on guitar from the manufacturer, the Weddington was another offering but in a singlecut format. If you talk to players who own or have tried the Weddington, chances are, they won't have anything bad to say about these guitars. Many deem the Weddington to be the 'improved' Les Paul with no tonal compromise. The key highlight here would be...

...the instrument's neck heel. There's virtually no neck heel to be seen (or felt) as that portion of the instrument was well beveled to give the player maximum comfort & access. Yes, if only our beloved Les Paul refiners are bold enough to have this feature as a standard revision (oh, there's the Les Paul Axcess, you say- but that's not a standard production...); there would be a sizable group of us who would play our Les Pauls more often because we'd be happier people.

What we have out there right now are many LP-alikes which are fairly successful in penetrating the market to offer us alternatives to the arguably costly Gibsons. Yamaha could join in by reviving the Weddington but the AES models are out there to address the situation in the mean time, tough isn't it? But I really wish the Weddington was back because it'd prove to be a desirable alternative to that singlecut guitar & a good instrument per se.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rosewood neck

There are some of us who refer to a guitar neck as a rosewood neck when in fact the rosewood bit is only the fretboard reference. They even do this in guitar magazines so the mistaken reference would be thought as correct by the readers. So what's with the EBMM Albert Lee HH model above?

It's one of those very few guitars sporting a rosewood neck as evident above. Now this, is the correct 'rosewood neck' reference.

Die Hard ritual

I'm in the midst of watching Die Hard...

...Die Hard 2 will follow suit. This is my X-mas eve ritual actually, have been doing this for a few years already. Why? Because both Die Hard settings were on X-mas eve... he he... FYI, I have my bass with me- playing while watching never hurts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Swing: MG-103

Mike (SV) told me Swing's M-103 is one of his in-store favourites due to its simplicity. I was at SVG yesterday to give this guitar another go & it's simply good (no pun intended). The instrument was well set up which contributed a lot to playability & if you like what Ibanez has to offer in terms of neck profile, the M-103 will have something for your pleasure. However, I'm of the opinion that the manufacturer had the right pair of humbuckers in there, Swing's own Dual Max pickups did well to accentuate saturated distortion for some good definition but they are not to be well-liked in clean mode. Nevertheless, it's not the reason to be ignoring this good player. The M-103 is available in red & white finishes as well.

List: $450 (10% discount still applicable @ SVG sale)

StarGazer: A Great Work of Ages

AC/DC & Inxs are probably the most well-known super star exports from Australia. For us guitar-inclined dweebs, we know Frank Gambale & Brett Garsed to be the other reason why we look Down Under. StarGazer is a secret export of sorts, well-kept under the radar only to be discovered by those who bothered. In my books, this trio of death metallers rank up there with Cynic & Atheist (among others) as the proponent of intricate intensity. I was introduced to this band by my childhood friend, Zahid, in the late 1990s where we would sometimes meet to swap CDs at the neighbourhood McDonalds late at night- those were the days. I clearly remembered it was the StarGazer/ Invocation split release.

There's no simplicity in A Great Work of Ages (also the third track of Mayhem's Ordo Ad Chao release- coincidence?), lots of intricate riffing & phrasing. The bass work here is particularly outstanding, it doesn't stand in the band as a mere rhythm anchor but another prominent instrument to underscore the music in whole- the reason you hear bass solos & tapping frenzy all over. The music is also a tight composition from beginning to end. If you like your death metal simple, then this isn't one to look forward to. I only wish the guitars had more solos or licks to make the music more complete but A Great Work of Ages is not merely a continuation of the band's previous effort but the deconstruction & re-engineering of the music.

Orange vs Mallory

I'm an avid Orange Drop fan. Heard good tones coming from its application & didn't look back ever since...

...but I'm always open to options, never to shut out the competitor just because I embrace a certain product or brand name. I've acquired the Mallory cap after talking to a bass player who has one in his bass. He asked me if I fancy an overall brighter tone for my instrument even after having the tone pot turned down some notches. My reply was a practical response- some of the instruments I possess will benefit from such a tonal manifestation so I decided to give the Mallory a try but had misplaced it for nearly a year. That's how it is with my grey cells these days; unless there's a specific documentation to help me locate some things, I'd most probably forget where they were placed in the first place.

Anyway, I'd like to share the performances of these capacitors in anticipation of such queries, knowing there'd be interested parties, of course. The Orange Drop will benefit those of us who prefer a wide tonal sweep; from very bright to very woolly. The Mallory on the other hand, introduces the woolly factor in liberal doses only. That would mean the Mallory has a limited tonal application, yes? It all depends on the intended application. If your instrument is inherently boomy sounding, the Mallory would help attend to some balance so that your tone won't mud-out once you put your tone knob into action. Maybe that's the reason why the bass player I talked to has a Mallory in his instrument- to ensure the bass benefits from some brightness since churning out bottom end isn't a problem.

I'm also not ruling out the fact that some of us can't really tell the difference after hearing these capacitors in action.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wish it was back: Heartfield Talon

Fender did a take on the super-strat theme which was an excellent effort. There wasn't any 'Fender' decal on the headstock because the HM Strat, which was the prior effort to this guitar, saw a comprehensive death- when one deals with 'Fender' shred appointments are put offs rather than attraction. The Heartfield Talon guitars were allegedly a tweaked Ibanez to many fans.

The Talon's high profile ambassador was Vinnie Moore who used the guitar in his Meltdown album. But despite this backing, the Talons couldn't get a hold (no pun intended) on the shred guitars market & were discontinued in the mid-1990s. Hopes of resurrecting this guitar is rather remote now that Fender has taken ownership of Jackson guitars so all shred manifestations by the aforementioned manufacturer has a current avenue.

But I wish this guitar was back.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ibanez: SA1260... the deviation

It's another pickups overhaul, this time my Ibanez SA1260 received some significant make-over. The default pickups were retired for good & as you can see here, the cavities are some of the neatest the manufacturer has to offer.

No whammy applications with this guitar so 5-springs in there, as usual.

The reason why this post is tagged as a 'deviation' is evident in the pic above; I chose to have a Mallory capacitor instead of the usual Orange Drop routine. I was doing some spring cleaning for the last few days or so & discovered I had a Mallory stashed away in one of my guitar bags. The numeric on it had faded & I thought it should be used as soon as possible before some further deterioration takes place. I also had the volume & tone pots replaced; despite the guitar being very new, the pots were stiff. All these done at BEEZ's.

Finally, a fresh set of GHS .009s in the guitar & my preferred action set up. Played this guitar after watching CSI last night for quite some time. The other reason why this is a 'deviation'- DiMarzio pickups in here. Despite being a hardcore Seymour Duncan fan, I digress occasionally as a check of sorts; I don't mind having other brand name pickups in some of my guitars as a tonal reference. The newbies here are:
  • Neck: DiMarzio Area '67
  • Middle: DiMarzio Area '67
  • Bridge: DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary

Deathspell Omega: Paracletus

Some say Deathspell Omega is peerless; no other bands come close to what this band does for black metal. That's honest reverence for a group of musicians who don't take pride in telling the world who they really are. That's quite a shame because they are exceptional in their own right, the drummer especially but being mysterious this way is highly respectable. You choose to be selfless & let the music do the talking; definitely what I'd do for this music genre (if given the chance, of course).
Paracletus is a fusion of Fas- Ite's intelligent aggression & Si Monumentum's calculated phrasing (check out these prior releases if you have not). It's another artistic interpretation of black metal, taking the genre's formlessness into twisted control. The guitars here did not oblige to regurgitate the grinding low end of everyone else's black metal, in fact, the tone sounds fried but it's the correct depravity for this music. Deathspell Omega bends music at will. Listen to Pracletus.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Worthy quote: Jimmie Vaughan

According to Jimmie Vaughan:

I play the guitars I own & enjoy driving my cars. I'd never buy anything for an investment.

As such, Mr. Vaughan didn't hesitate to replace the worn necks of his guitars, even if they are worth more than the house you are currently residing in; his '58 Strat had seen at least 5 neck replacements, while his '62 sports a Schecter neck.

Regardless of how Frankenstein-ed his guitars are, they are still worth... too much.

Swing: MG-505

I was at Standard Value yesterday, away from the rain. It's a spares hunt but I ended up trying some guitars, one of which is Swing's MG-505 you see here. I think we are all too distracted by the Strat-alike Swing models, the MG series are largely ignored. The 505 is essentially a rock guitar, the Hearbreaker humbuckers in there are distortion inclined. The neck profile is a little strange, if the intention here is to induce speed-playing then the neck would make sure you remember to put lots of bends & feel into your fretting; it's a sumptuous C-profile (rounder than the average Fender make) with much Gibson meat to it invoking a (Fender) Jeff Beck feel. The other feature I noted was the amount of wood behind the bridge; there's much more material there which induces more sustain & low end punch.Coupled with a deserving amp, the 505 is a great guitar to own.

No standard

If you weren't quick enough to get hold of UNO's Standard, be informed that these fantastic instruments are discontinued. I sincerely hope the manufacturer has something else to offer in the same price bracket, not to mention the equivalent QC standards. Gee, it's like they say- good things don't last forever.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Super Vee

Ah... here's an interesting take on the dual action whammy bridge by manufacturer Super Vee.

The complementary nut which looks effective but rather bulky, the major factor which might make it a put-off.

The tail-end view shows the absence of a body cavity to accommodate this bridge; it's a ready replacement for the traditional Fender Strat. Do keep this in mind; you might knock & dent the body surface if you pull up the whammy (bar) too much.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stolen pedals alert: SUHR

Just doing my part to make things difficult for thieves- if you happen to come across the above-depicted pedals (which were stolen from Woodworkz), please refer the parties concerned to the police/ Woodworkz:

  • Riot: S/N No 2268
  • Shiba Drive: S/N No 987

ESP Special Order: Spec list

This is a follow-up to my ESP Special Order entry, a list of what can/cannot be achieved through this purchase specifications. The Special Order is only extended to the Standard Series of ESP instruments, do keep this in mind. So here goes:

  • Left-hand version of any existing Standard Series instruments
  • Change of colours
  • Request for distressed finish ('relic' finish to the rest of us)
  • Change of colours for hardware
  • Change of colours/design for inlays
  • Change of neck finish type (eg: you dislike the lacquered finish of some models, you can request for a non-gloss/ satin version)
  • Change of pickups (Seymour Duncan/ EMG)
  • Change of tuners (Gotoh/ Sperzel)
  • Change of nut type (bone/ graphite)
  • Change of fingerboard type (Ebony/ Rosewood/ Maple)
  • Scalloping of fingerboard
  • Fretless fretboard
  • Request for binding
  • Change of pickups combination
  • Change of neck profile
  • Request for headstock reversal
  • Change number of frets (maximum number to be updated)
 Not acceptable:
  • Change of body shape
  • Modifications to body/ headstock shape
  • Change of headstock shape (eg: you can't get an Eclipse headstock for an M-series)
  • Custom inlays
  • Change of original (body) graphics
  • Change of scale length
  • Additional string

Take That: Progress

Ah... Robbie Williams is back in the Take That line-up so the hopefuls out there would be expecting a rewarding come-back of sorts from these Brit Boys. But none of the original Take That vibrancy was ever resurrected since the Robbie-less release, Beautiful World, took shape in 2006. It's no different this time round either, the original Take That line-up continues to churn out melancholic numbers. The radio is currently playing 'Flood' & it may well be the strongest single from this release in terms of pop-sensibilities but it's a reminder of what was lost with Take That, not the start of a new chapter. This is an unappealing release, to say the least.

Brian Moore i91: TESLA!

Alright! This is the best time to get hold of 'em TESLA pickups since they are going for 15% discount (@ SV Guitars) & I've decided to have them in my Brian Moore i91. After the default pickups were removed, I was rather surprised the cavities interior was lacquered; it's one of the most presentable finish I've come across. Thumbs up to this!

It's the usual works for me, tone-wise; off to Beez's for an Orange Drop installation...

... & a push-pull coil split switch to complete the ritual.

The fretboard received a re-conditioning. The upper fret areas were dry but the rest of the piece was OK.

Finally, a fresh set of GHS .009 set for the i91. The TESLA pickups in this guitar are:
  • Bridge: Nitro
  • Middle: VR-1
  • Neck: Plasma III

Super glue = knob cure

So you have some favourite knobs which are coming off your guitar pots because the grooves are no longer good to hold them there. Don't throw these knobs away, you can 're-groove' them for subsequent use. 

Purchase a tube of super glue, the Alteco 110 brand I'm using above costs $1.50 for a pair- cheap, eh? But it's good for the job & it lasts in the tube longer than some other budget brand names which dries up regardless if you re-cap your tube. Squeeze out ample amount of super glue & line it along the groove wall, leave it to dry- go for a coffee break, visit the loo, do some sit ups or leave it undisturbed overnight- in other words, give it ample time to dry. You don't want to re-attach your cap when it's still wet. Ta-da! Your old, worn out cap, is ready for re-use.