Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cavity peep

I make it a point every time to open my guitars' electronics cavity to see the standard of production on offer. The real reflection of quality are in places we cannot see; it's not practical really to walk into guitar stores & demand to see the innards of the instruments before buying. We simply buy the guitar after external inspections.

The cavity above is that of my Ibanez GRGR010, not much content there as the electronics are supplementing a single volume knob only. The shielding paint was rather evenly applied but the edges missed some bits which aren't crucial but could have been better to promote tidiness.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Earth hour

Earth hour- played guitar without electricity (not done at home, though):
  1. Ibanez GRGR010
  2. Ibanez TS7
  3. Korg PX5D
  4. X-mini speaker
 Last year when we switched off all lights & watched TV in the dark in participation of the Earth Hour event, my granny came out of her room to switch everything back on. This year, I approached it differently.


Ah, yes... this is one of the very desirable Ibanez RGs which is stunning but not available here: an ash-bodied RG470.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Grind dust

The arrows in the above pic indicate some powder residue not attributable to storage neglect but my excessive pick grinding. It's one of those days when I can't play lightly, the pick used was a Dunlop Stubby 3.0...

...the guitar: Ibanez RG321.

Familiar headstock outline

The Line6 James Tyler JTV89's headstock...

...reminds me of Yamaha's Blues Saraceno model. Not the exact replica but it somehow triggers this reminder.

Widdling Les Paul

Epiphone is releasing (come Musikmesse this spring) a whammy-able Les Paul in the form of this Plus Top Pro FX. There are also some extras here, among others, a pickup tapping feature.

Would the inclusion of a Floyd Rose whammy bridge comprehensively entice the average guitar dweeb out there to possibly switch camps considering the immortal singlecut design in guitardom, now appeals to us introverts who whammy their guitars? I would think the manufacturer should include more upper fret access & innovate that bulky neck-body heel to really capture a sizable group of players out there. But then again, Gibson has this revision in the Les Paul Axcess & reserves to be accessible (forgive the pun) to those out there with deeper pockets. A whammy bridge + more upper fret access isn't exactly a fresh idea, isn't it?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

LINE6 Variax: The new breed

Line6 Variax guitars of yesterday were very generic (& uninspiring) in design but that mundane look ends this year as the manufacturer collaborates with James Tyler to give birth to the above outlines. I've played the former generation of Line6 Variaxes & must say they aren't bad players at all, just that they could have been more appealing in looks.

So what's gonna happen to your outdated (look-wise, not function-wise) Variax guitars? Now seems to be a good time to let them go...

Ice 9


Summer 2010 would see the subsequent Satriani-Vox effect pedal debut, simply called the Ice 9 (remember this song from Surfing With the Alien? You weren't born yet? I see...). It's a 2-channel offering as highlighted by the flick switch there & features an estranged EQ section, an overall tone control & the BASS knob- the former is post gain, while the latter is pre-gain. The pedal retains the Satchurator's MORE switch so you know what to expect.

I would think, Joe Satriani needs no such a pedal to generate his tone as his amp range would be more than capable to handle this. Then again, some of us need a supplementary excess for that signature kick in our signal chain- I am such a person...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Marshall: JMD1 series

As it is, the JMD1 series has Marshall in the objection camp; the people who have tried it dismissed it as being too frozen digital to give decent credit to the manufacturer's brand name.

Of course, one should expect digital responses tone-wise because the pre-amp section here is absolutely digital. If you can't accept this, do not judge the JMD for what it's suppossed to be.

Having tried this amp (JMD501, the 1x12 combo version), I feel Marshall did well to clone itself. The pre-amp modules on offer are Marshall's own palette of amp offerings: JCM800/ JVM/ DSL/ etc. They sound very convincing but being digital, do not give the rightful interaction with the power section despite being equipped with EL34s in this department. The plus point here is the amp's tonal clarity, it is indeed one of the manufacturer's best. I was skeptical before but having heard it in action, I praise it for its primary duty- the provision of good (Marshall) tones.

Marshall JMD501
List: $990

Gus Eclipse

Gus G, the new guitar slinger for Ozzy, has a new signature model out this coming spring. Unlike his former protrusive body shaped guitar, this new release is simply a personalized Eclipse model featuring a 25.5" scale length instead of the traditional EC 24.75" & it's an LTD. What makes this guitar unmistakable is the flame fretboard markers, a signature of sorts, exclusive to GG.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ibanez 2010 Spring Special Edition

Ibanez will be releasing a few Special Editions to commemorate the coming of spring this year. In addition to the white GRGR010 which I bought, the above GAX010 (above) is another. The guitar features distinctive red claw marks which are... hype. This one lists for as much as the aforementioned GRGR & is not a bad player at all. The only gripe here is the Powersound humbuckers on board which are not the pickups to look forward to for some good cleans.

Not to be forgotten, a bass inclusion in this line-up; the ICB010LTD. The shark body graphic is complemented by the shark tooth fretboard markers, rather invisible because they are black.

...insomnia. Excessive worrying, I guess.


Do you know Jeff Waters? Listen to Annihilator's releases (especially Alice in Hell & Never Neverland) to hear how good Mr. Waters is with his instrument. I feel this Epiphone signature V is a rather belated tribute to the great guitarist, he deserves a Gibson, really.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Naturally SZR520

If only this Ibanez SZR520 in natural finish is available here... one of the most pleasant hues offered by the manufacturer.

Ibanez: Discontinued models for 2010 (SZR)

WEF 2010, the SZR series are removed from the manufacturer's offering. This means, Ibanez has no more mid-priced, set-neck, non-whammy bridge model for our consideration. The SZR was the successor to the discontinued + fantastic SZ model. Despite being quirky in looks, the SZR did what the SZ models had to offer- chunky bottom end with ample definition in the mix. The 25.1" scale length acted as a bridging reference for us Fender (25.5") & Gibson (24.75") fans.

We now see where the manufacturer is going with their current production. This year, the RGA range has taken the limelight.

Ibanez: RGA8

While I was trying the AMF73, I managed to try the Ibanez RGA8 as well which is in my consideration list for 2010. As the RGA8 is not a Prestige model, the price difference between this guitar & the RG2228 was rather marked; it's almost half the list price of the Pristige model!

There's much tonal difference between the RGA8 & the Prestige RG8; the former's active humbuckers are less defined in terms of single note clarity, as opposed to the latter EMG units. These also sound rather fuzzy at the higher fret registers when loads of distortion are dialed in. The RGA8's neck is also devoid of the Prestige treatment but it's not an alarming deficiency, still very playable considering its width on offer & the thicker Wizard II profile (still much thinner compared to other guitars). The active tone switch there is unnecessary, one cannot hear a real difference between the 2 modes, I'd rather the guitar sport a regular, tone knob like the RG8 for a wider sweep.

After this experience, the RGA8 is a no go for me. Don't get me wrong, it's not a dud, it just doesn't appeal to me. Some of us might just be enticed by the price per se, thinking an 8-string is within your reach but then again, do try it in person before deciding- please do.

List: $1,665

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heart snatcher!

As suspected, the Ibanez GRGR010LTD is this year's spring special, to be released at the Musikmesse event. So I bought the guitar before it's released...

Ibanez: AMF73

I tried this guitar out recently (can't remember when exactly, getting old...), it's new for 2010 (Ibanez AMF73). As it presents itself to be a semi-hollow guitar, we'd think it's unmistakable in its acoustic tones but the rather thin body doesn't do it justice in this aspect. It thrives on drive/ distortion & you can obtain some of the smoothest blues crunch with this one. The satin finish (neck included) has to be the highlight of this guitar- supplements fast runs, definitely. List: $856

Monday, March 22, 2010

Favourite album (Part 1): Truth in Shredding

I do not have a particular favourite release, but Truth in Shredding is definitely one I keep listening to. I didn't know this existed, borrowed the original pressing from an ex-colleague when I was still working in a hydrographic office at World Trade Centre in the early 1990s- yes, it's still known as 'World Trade Centre' back then.

This album featured 2 very distinguished guitarists. One was this 'Thunder From Down Under' but we know him as Frank Gambale, the sweep picking sage.

The other fretboard deity was Allan Holdsworth, whose command of the instrument would leave you feeling extremely unaccomplished if you think you are proud of your attainments in the mean time.

I wouldn't have thought two people, both masters of their respective trades, would have done superbly in the same recording. There was no competition, both players were there to complement each other & the listener would be thoroughly impressed whenever one of them stepped up to showcase their ideas. The most prominent highlight of this release was its lack of memorable flash; there wasn't any one moment which outshone the rest. I thoroughly enjoyed this release & it serves as a reality check; every time I feel I am on top of the world with my playing, then I would listen to this & it would keep my reservations in check.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Phoenix LTD

Come spring 2010, ESP will launch its LTD version of the Phoenix model. The fact that this is happening, implies some marked interest in this design.

Ritter: Simple + Good

If you are looking for a simple guitar bag to transport your guitar, nothing too excessive in its padding feature, Ritter's RJG300 would be a good consideration.

It's a compact guitar bag with very little room for your instrument to move in, it holds your guitar securely. However, do note the single sling strap feature which might not click with your ideals.

Inside the RJG300, there is a neck strap holding the guitar's neck (in this case my RGA32) in place. So there you have it, a simple guitar bag for simple tasks. How much? List: $14.60

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I hate myself for loving you

I hate myself for loving you- this was the most prominent Joan Jett song not just to me, but to many of us. Gibson & Fender continue to churn out signature models while waiting for some fresh ideas to come their way. They need not worry about anything new though, the Strat & Les Paul are time-defying designs which would continue to sell... Anyway, the above guitar is Joan Jett's signature Melody Maker. Quirky.

Hey, dad! (Part 20)

Hey, dad! Thanks for letting me open & close your ESP guitar hard case all day. It's time for my apple break... yum, yum!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Club reverso

Here are all the Ibanez guitars I own with reverse headstocks (top-bottom):
  • GRGR010LTD
  • RGR321EX
  • RGR08LTD
What's the hype with reverse headstocks? There is this belief the longer string length of the bass strings after the nut, give the instrument a looser low-end respond. Also, it's a relationship with the tension there due to it's less acute dip to the machine head opening.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Burzum: Belus

Do you know Varg Vikernes?

Perhaps the pic above might jog your memory- Varg Vikernes was Mayhem's Count Grishnackh (left), convicted murderer of Euronymous (right) & arsonist. There's too much affliction when it comes to the man's blackened past (no pun intended), best understood when one is privy to both sides of the story, not just the media exposure.

Belus is an 11-year wait, a Burzum release quite unexpected as we perceive Vikernes' withdrawal from the music scene owing to his controversial persona, much touted by the media to contain racist inclinations. In fact, Belus is a censored replacement for the initial release title of  The White God (Den Hvite Guden), which, according to Vikernes is a reference to The White God of Europe aka Apollo/ Baldr/ Belobog, among others. What can we expect from Belus, a propagation of Burzum of yesterday? Much so & then some. Varg Vikernes made a conscious effort in propelling music as opposed to personal attention. He made it clear in a recent interview that music is first & foremost, the industry's label of his manifestations as black metal is really dead end labeling. However, upon hearing what Belus has to offer, black metal is an inevitable tag but this is signature Burzum where vexatious atmospherics take control. The concluding track, Belus' Return, is virtually a looped phrasing where subtle differences are peppered in as the song plays on, only discernible to the discriminating ear- that's how atmospheric things get in this collection. All in all, Belus draws its parallel to many unhurried black metal song structures akin to what Trelldom & Khold has to offer (citing 2 of many out there); with a judicious concoction of doom. I give Belus my thumbs up.

Insomnia... loving the lack of slumber.

Running in the family

Here's the break down of the above brand names:
  • ESP: Japan's best selling guitar brand name
  • Edwards: ESP's subsidiary company specializing in popular copies, outputs are namely for the domestic Japan market
  • Grassroots: The more affordable versions of what Edwards has to offer, it's akin to Fender's Squier & Gibson's Epiphone offerings

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flasback '90s: Zooropa

I'm not a U2 fan, I only own Zooropa because of its laid back concept & sample dabbling. There's a limited rock band enticement here compared to other releases like The Joshua Tree/ Rattle & Hum, that's why it appealed to me.

I remember having the cassette tape version in my Walkman & set it to infinite auto reverse mode while cycling from one end of East Coast Parkway to the other, waiting for the sun to set. That was some of the loneliest moments in my life.

An 'S' of a difference...

Was browsing through Ibanez's Japanese catalogue when I noted the S320, which is also offered here in S'pore.

The market also offers the S420 which is the S320 in every sense, so why would Ibanez offer 2 of the same guitar & gave them a different model number? It took me quite a while to note the absence of a string retainer behind the nut of the S420 which differentiates these 2 fine instruments. Would anyone out there be mindful of this mere difference & make a conscious choice accordingly? We continue to wonder...

Insomnia... insomnia... insomnia...

ESP family

My current 2 ESP guitars- Phoenix II (top) & Eclipse II (bottom)...
  • Phoenix II: My current fix, a wonderful guitar despite it not being in a likable manifestation in my books.
  • Eclipse II: Not a fan of active pickups but I like these EMGs. The guitar's satin finish is the most attractive I've come across not in terms of visual attraction but in feel
It seems that ESP has this niche in coming up with appeal regardless of forms- I'm not a singlecut design fan, I'm not too eager when it comes to designs which ape other brand names. But ESP made them appealing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Ibanez's Xiphos model might have gotten its outline from...

 ...Jackson's Warrior. But we must remember, the guitar that started it all with this body outline... BC Rich's Stealth model.

Cant' sleep. Radio is broadcasting haunted tales, some of which are semi-comedy. Reminded me of a lunch time moment when my colleague advised me not to keep up late nights too often, because soon enough, I might hear someone play guitar in my other room... & I know it's not me. Told him I welcome any jam-moments of the spectral kind, sure beats playing with jam-mates who won't listen to you.

A case in point

Having bought a new ESP guitar recently, I noticed the label difference between the current (background) & earlier (foreground) hard cases. Also, the current hard cases are plastic, the earlier batches are synthetic leather.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Complementary pick

When you purchase the Fullbore Metal pedal, there is a complementary Dunlop Ultex pick in the package; it's packed inside the box, please do not ask for it separately from your dealer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gibson: Slash AFD Les Paul

Now that the Gibson Slash Appetite for Destruction Les Paul is launched... many of us would be enticed to own this instrument? Would it be due to:

  1. The 'Gibson' tag?
  2. The Slash guitar icon association?
  3. The irresistible visual attraction?
  4. The potential of it being a collectible in time to come?
Or do you have something better to think about?  You do? Well done.

    Suhrly basswood

    While the talk about basswood being less favourable, when it comes to guitar-making, is still active, guitarist Guthrie Govan sheds some insights when he talked to the people at Suhr guitars:

    "What I've discovered talking to the Suhr guys, who knows a lot about wood voodoo, is that the most balanced sound you can get is a basswood body, a maple top, maple neck, and some kind of dense rosewood fingerboard."

    Despite the education, there are still people out there who equate basswood with quasi-trash... tsk, tsk, tsk...


    Here's a closer look at the Ibanez GRGR010LTD's lonely pickup. It's a covered unit whose exact model number I've yet to discover but my guess is it's a covered in-house STD humbucker which works well with the amps I own. In the clean department- it could have been better.

    The body graphic in there is rather unappealing. Coupled with that candy-pink pickguard, which isn't necessary, the guitar could have been more appealing with its aesthetics.

    Still on the topic of loneliness, sometimes it is the answer to one's surrounding aggravations, especially so when nobody would listen & they insist on having it their own way.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010


    This year, Ibanez introduces a revised knob design for selected guitars- the Collet knobs. These were made to stay put & not drop out of their instruments & promote grip, they certainly look the works. Upon trying, the knobs were definitely marked to the touch & it took quite an effort to make them come off. Simple & effective.

    Ibanez GRGR010LTD

    It had been a disturbing week for me. 2 causes:
    1. Facebook: I created a Facebook account simply to keep up with friends. The posse who frequent this blog are guitar dweebs, Facebook is my attempt to keep in touch with contacts who are not guitar-inclined. However I, find it very intrusive & contrary to my approval; people have my pics up when I took pains to be invisible. I was also privy to matters pertaining to others' hobbies/ indulgences which I find not insightful & just don't want to be a part of but this baggage comes with the online relationship. It's a petty issue to many of us but to me it's a colossal bother.
    2. Work: I've been bothered by work tremendously, it's about the nature of the job, nothing to do with the volume & people I work with. I'm beginning to find very little meaning staying in this profession.
    Retail therapy- I went to Swee Lee to check out some new (2010) Ibanez models when I came across the above Ibanez GRGR010LTD; a simple, very affordable guitar. It's nothing fantastic as it hails from the GIO series & feature a very juvenile body graphic. Played it for quite a while in store & it 'healed' me. Sort of. So we went home together.

    PS: Thanks to brother Jumahat @ Swee Lee BB showroom, for much help- thumbs up bro!

    Hey, dad! (Part 19)

    Hey, dad! We are now on board your pretend ESP-guitar-hard-case school bus. Vroom, vroom!