Friday, April 30, 2010

Ninja EQ

The Ninja's tonal forte is its dual EQ section. You'd benefit from this amp by setting both sections in neutral markings as a start. Work with any one of the EQ sections first, boost/ cut whichever frequencies to your fancy. Use the other section as a flat booster, ie. raise or lower all frequencies together/ simultaneously & hear how marked the tonal changes are. You can also replicate one section's settings in the other, to hear more of what you fancy. I just wish this amp has reverb to make it sound more lethal not that it's a tame puppy to begin with.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dave Zero

Here's Dave Mustaine's new Dean guitar, aptly called the Zero. It seems the Explorer outline is a timeless design appeal. It's one of those radical but acceptable look we love to own.

Hey, dad! (Part 28)

Hey, dad! Thanks for letting me enjoy your Randall... box! He, he...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ninja encounter

Randall's Ninja Combo is a great low wattage (35W) amp to own. If you are a distortion fan, the Ninja will reward you with that intense on-board distortion. If that isn't enough (to some of us, it isn't), the ready drive booster there is akin to adding a mild drive type booster to beef the tone up- I absolutely favour this feature. It would mean I can plug in straight into the amp, no other pedals necessary. Note: The amp comes with a 3-pin plug version.

The other important feature here is the amp's closed back cab, meaning- you'd hear a full, low-end enforced tone with humbucking guitars. I have always considered this amp to be one of the best value-for-money combo. Ignore the Mike Amott association as he's no longer the brand name endorser. The other implication here is the fact that the Ninja is discontinued. The last time I enquired, this amp was out of stock. I believe this is the last batch of Ninjas here so it's no turning back for me.

Randall Ninja (discontinued)
Product availability: Davis GMC
Nett: $250

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ibanez: Talman acoustic

Tried the Ibanez Talman acoustic recently. This would appeal to players wishing for an acoustic with an electric solid body's neck profile. The instrument's acoustic projection isn't as rich when it's unplugged so be warned.

Ibanez Talman acoustic
Product availability: Swee Lee Co.
List: $474

Monday, April 26, 2010


Great! Tesla's Opus-2 pickup is another option for us who wish to have a single coil tone in a humbucker-spaced cavity; definitely looking forward to try this.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The CMATmods brand name started out as a hobby pedal modding by Chad Matthews but as it is with this indulgence, one tends to discover & want to manifest one's own ideas & reinterpret popular/ current offerings. The Butah pedal is a delicate drive generator, in the light of your fav Tubescreamer & BOSS OD3 units but what's the diff here?

I'm not much of a pedal person, I believe there shouldn't be anything in between the guitar & amp to rob one of this pure chemistry. The Butah is a very polite drive unit & has very little in store for a distortion-mad person like me so it serves me as it is- that crucial jangler for single coil tones. Yes, single coils, quasi-clean, save for the input of this gentle enhancer.

Say, are you that fanatical single coil proponent always bursting your head trying to figure out how Stevie Ray got that clean but driven tone from his Strat? Unlike SRV, we do not have the luxury of pairing up a TS10 with the Fender Twin to get this done. The Butah lets your single coil tones through & adds that signature jangle without the worry of having a magnificent boutique tube amp to let all this through. This is the very reason why I bought this pedal. A very rewarding purchase, indeed.

What the Hex...

Another signature LTD guitar available @ Davis GMC, the Hex-7, the preference of Behemoth's Nergal. There's a pair of genuine EMGs in there & the implication of an absent tone control has a clear implication- this guitar is quite singular in this department.

LTD Hex-7
Available @ Davis GMC
List: $1,600

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hey, dad! (Part 27)

Hey, dad! What's inside this box?

Triptykon: Eparistera Daimones

It's the end of Celtic Frost as we know it, internal conflict bled a cancerous relationship between the band members & the chapter was closed,

"Celtic Frost are dead forever; we've had our chance, we blew it & we have to live with it."

Thus spoke Tom G Warrior but his music lives on in a different manifestation. 2006 saw the final Celtic Frost release, Monotheist. Warrior's new formation, Triptykon, is a natural successor as evident in Eparistera Daimones. The Monotheist overtones are evident here, by that I mean the music as well as recording blueprints. If you are expecting any old-school Celtic Frost/ Hellhammer re-hash, it's actually the regurgitation of Monotheist which is more apparent. What can you expect? Warrior's music is a hateful dronescape, the canvass for his deep frustrations & lashing out. Guitar fans, do not expect any fretwork showcase, the tones on display here are harsh & judging by the sound of it, straight-to-mixer recording was employed. Music-wise, Triptykon is a continuous definition of what Warrior intended it to be, the proto-black beast carrying the genre's heavy definitions with liberal inclusions of doom- the mammoth, 19min concluding number is a fine summary of this release's adventure.


This tiger-like LTD guitar is the more affordable version of ESP's M-1 Tiger, one of George Lynch's signature models. The GL-200MT features a lonely humbucker (ESP's LH-50 model) & volume knob so it's constant limitations against your playing capabilities. The tone is kept bright by the maple fretboard as seen here. Tonal variation is still possible via knocking off the volume knob in preferred decrements but you'd lose drive along the way; this is an expected trade-off, seasoned players will tell you just that. However, the GL-200MT is a joy to play as the feel is much above average, only the tone here would make or break the instrument preference. Recommended but not for the fussy.

Product availability: Davis GMC
List: $750
*PS: Thanks to brother Manan for the assistance & Janet for the hospitality.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ov Hell: The Underworld Regime

This is a fresh release from the duo known as Ov Hell, who actually are:
  1. Shagrath (all vocals)- Dimmu Borgir
  2. King (bass)- Ex-Gorgoroth
But not so fresh is the music- don't get me wrong, it's still lethal black metal from these key individuals of the music genre- we know who they are, we know what to expect. You'd swear you hear Gorgoroth in this offering simply because King wrote much music prior to his departure from the aforementioned band; that signature gallop riff is unmistakable. What you would enjoy from this collection of tunes is the menacing delivery. Much black metal out there, especially today, are watered down by time; as a BM band progresses, majority see the turn to palatable ear fodder rather necessary. I enjoy this release despite the sombre reviews everywhere.

Ibanez: RGD320 mods

No, I'm not sick & tired of my Ibanez RGD320 (not yet, maybe...), I am making sure it serves my needs. As you can see, I have the Orange Drop cap in there...

The pickup selector is now 3-way (Allparts) & I have a pull-push pickup coil splitter which doubles up as the tone knob.

Pickups are still Ibanez's default VK humbuckers & that's about it. Loving my RGD320. Harold the helicopter isn't part of the mod, of course.

Who else but Master Beez- the person responsible for the above specs revision. You can click the link on the right to look for Beez for similar mods.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

LTD Dimmu Borgir

These 2 LTD signature models are available @ Davis GMC:
  1. TOP: LTD Okkultist (Silenoz) List: $1,500
  2. BOTTOM: Shadow (Galder) List: $1,600
Conceived to the specs of the respective Dimmu Borgir guitarists, both instruments feature a satin finished body. Davis GMC is bringing in more LTD models; slowly but surely.

Worthy quote: Pete Townsend

Do you know Pete Townsend? He's that guitar smashing lad from The Who. If you've been watching CSI on TV; that's Mr. Townsend's music you hear playing in the background. The pic above shows Mr. Townsend accompanied by some Fender amps- these are the Vibro King model, here's what he has to say about his loved ones:

"The Vibro King sounds more like an early Marshall amp than a new Marshall amp. They are great amps, but require quite a bit of maintenance, tube biasing, etc. I mix 10" & 12" speakers in two cabs."

That last bit from Mr. Townsend is crucial because Fender's Vibro King is a 3x10" unit by default. If you hear something different or more commanding from Mr. Townend's version, now you know why.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rampaging QC

I was out & about, trying to get myself a belated present which is an alternative good reason for staying out & coming home late. Anyway, I saw the G&L Rampage, Jerry Cantrell model above. Being a sucker for guitars with a solitary humbucker, I took interest in it as it is $990 (rather affordable at this point in time of my life...). A closer look revealed misaligned strings (against the pickup pole-pieces) so it was a NO. I wonder if:

  1. It's the manufacturer's omission in including a Duncan Trembucker version when the Kahler bridge doesn't require such a pickup manifestation (maybe) or,
  2. this guitar is a second model, meaning- it has a non-life threatening defect but would sell anyway...
I really don't know. What I know for sure is, I won't be buying it.


The Ibanez RG/ RGA models are not the only 8-string models here, Davis now has the LTD FM-418 for your considerations. If you are not agreeable with the RG/ RGA scale length (27"), the FM-418 offers only 26"- it's 0.5" shorter than the ibanez RGD model, so you know what to expect when you try this mammoth.

LTD: FM-418
List: $1,450
Availability: Davis GMC

Goal guitar

This, my friends, is the official World Cup 2010 guitar, a FIFA-ARIA collaboration. The single humbucking guitar features an on-board amplifier, powered by a 9V unit. If you look closely, the black pentagon football patch there is the amp. Wonder if Adidas has anything to do with the three stripes at the headstock...


Fender's Custom Shop has the above Telemaster- a hybrid Telecaster + Jazzmaster guitar. People go berserk over such fusion work, they deem this a highly collectible instrument in terms of desirability. On the practical front, would there be a tonal difference here? Arguably, the different body outline would give a different tonal response; there's more wood to play with but hearing a major difference in tone is subjective. As the difficulty of coming up with fresh guitar designs gets heightened these days, putting together a Frankenstein classic might just sell.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


This pairing of my RGD320 & the Sound Drive SG612R has given me some very pleasant tones. It's simply a plug & play combination, no pedals or whatsoever in between. The lower tuning of the RGD requires an amp which can help it manifest clarity, especially for the lower bass notes. The SD does this well & so the pair is effective when put together. The Ibanez VK pickups are also to my liking; grainy sounding with drive but lots of non-muddy tones to be heard at higher volume levels.

Worthy quote: Slash

This was what Slash said recently about the guitar used for the recording of his new album:

"I used the Derrig- the same Appetite guitar I've used forever. On this record it was simple; just one guitar. I'll adjust whatever to make it right for the song. So that was it."

'Derrig' here refers to Chris Derrig who copied a Gibson '59 Les Paul which Slashed used for the recording of Appetite for Destruction (GnR)- if you've been following this blog for a while, you know it's mentioned here before (not once).

It's interesting to know what Slash used on grounds of preference, I'm saluting this man for just that. We know Gibson released a signature model based on that copy but Slash thought the Derrig guitar should make the recording because he likes what he hears from it, despite it not being the real thing.

Monday, April 19, 2010


This is an off-shoot of the VOX amPlug, Harley Benton's Jackamp. Different name, same objective. There are actually many affordable derivatives of popular products out there, just that out domestic dealers here do not find it economical to bring them here.

Worthy quote: Herman Li

Some worthy considerations by Mr. Herman Li on guitars:

"I'm not a vintage guitar guy. I'm into the instrument evolving & getting better & better with technology. That's why I've got my signature model- to make a better guitar for me to play."

I did attend Herman's Li clinic when he was here in Singapore some time back, way before Ibanez released his E-gen series. I asked him about the different Ibanez guitars made in various countries: Japan/ Korea/ China/ Indonesia. Mr. Li is not too particular about guitars being made in certain parts of the world. All he wants is well-made guitars regardless of origin so he can focus more on his playing.

JS blue maple

Joe Satriani is one of the participants in the Experience Hendrix tour in the recent 4 March, Santa Barbara CA slot. I'm not much of a Hendrix fan, maybe I just like his Fenders but the Ibanez JS model in this pic is really something of a custom make- maple fretboard, slider pickup selector & a 3-knob control set are some alien features in a JS make. Not to mention the 3 x single coil sized humbuckers in there which look unmistakably DiMarzio from afar.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hey, dad! (Part 26)

Hey, dad! Thanks for letting me try your new VOX amPlug but I still like your bigger amps, he, he...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Guitar that ate my brain

You've been wondering who the fret masters are in today's guitar playing world because the current bands are more than happy to peddle commercial hooks than display potent technicalities- it's what sells. But the following players (largely from the metal genre) are more than competent in churning out lethal licks & solos (it's the tracks listing from the album above):

01. Paul Waggoner (BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME) - "Boot Dagger Boogie"
02. Kris Norris (DARKEST HOUR) - "The Life and Times of Sir Walter Sickert"
03. Dave Martone - "Hybrid Angels"
04. Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (GUNS N' ROSES) - "Disengaged"
05. Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler (DAATH) - "The Unwavering Collapse"
06. Shane Gibson (KORN) - "Artichoke Samurai"
07. Devin Townsend (STRAPPING YOUNG LAD) - "Nerd Alert"
08. Chris Poland (OHM, MEGADETH) - "L.D.E."
09. Ola Frenning and Christofer Malmström (SOILWORK / DARKANE) - "Hydra"
10. Mike Orlando - "Stomped"
11. James Murphy (TESTAMENT) - "Six Shooter"
12. Hugues Lefebvre and Yann Mouhad (ANTHROPIA) - "Schrödinger's Cat Paradox"

So it's proven they can play but the missing chemistry here are the memorable hooks; once your playing gets too technical, listeners can't commit your tunes to memory. Great players are the people who fuse technicalities with incredible phrasing & melody. This is why people like Satriani, Vai, Gilbert et al, are on top of their game. Nevertheless, if you appreciate guitar technicalities, it's a worthy purchase. Ignore the critics.

New jack

My Ibanez's RGR08 input jack suddenly went dead. Despite some tampering, it just won't carry the signals through...

So it was off to Master Beez's who had the new (Gotoh) input jack done in a matter of minutes.

While I was at it, the Orange Drop cap was installed as well. Beez had the suitable value there as the guitar is an active unit.

Beez has a new homepage up & going, please click here: Look for Beez!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hey, dad! (Part 25)

Hey, dad! I'm the strongest girl in the world because I can carry 2 amps together! Ha, ha!

amPlug + cab in the house! (Part 3)

Here's how the amPlug cab looks like out of the box. The hole on top is where you insert your amPlug 'head'.

The rear is where the battery is. As you can see, there are some blocks here ensuring the cover does not come into contact with the driver. I feel this also acts as a buffer to prevent excessive rattling if you play this stack loud.

Here's how the stack is, once it's put together.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

amPlug + cab in the house! (Part 2)

If you walk into the shops to look for the amPlug stack; you won't find it as it's sold/ packaged separately. Please note the current City Music promo if you intend to buy them:

  1. amPlug Metal: $70 $56
  2. Cabinet: $40 $32
Thanks to brother Dhalif @ City Music for the great service & attention.

PS: Please refer to City Music's homepage to note the various amPlug prices.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sweeping Singapore

Sweep picking sage Frank Gambale will be here!
  • 2 May 2010 (Sunday)
  • 8.00pm
  • *SCAPE’s The WAREHOUSE Auditorium


Yamaha's Frank Gambale model features the Fret Wave system at the first & second positions to rectify tuning inaccuracy. Players with very acute tuning capacity, would tell you despite the guitar being in immaculate standard tuning, once you fret a chord, you can hear tuning anomalies for selected strings. The Fret Wave system addresses this situation.

Caparison's Apple Horn guitar features a similar rectification implement however, as depicted above, it's employed across the entire neck. It's actually a patented idea called the True Temperament system, conceived to address tuning accuracy in whole, not just selected frets. Looks overwhelming but if it works, then it works.

Little menace

I had the opportunity to try this bass combo recently, it's Ashdown's TourBus10. As the name implies, a 10W practice unit with a 6.5" driver. The EQ section is a mere 2-band (bass/ treble), together with a volume knob, things are kept simple. What I like about small bass combos are the note clarity. I also hear better definition with smaller drivers as opposed to bigger units; the bass does not need a low-end booster, it is already king in this domain. I'd (highly) recommend this to those of us starting out & in need of a good back up alike. Can a combo of this nature out-volume your drummer? If he stops playing you can... he he.

List: $95.00
Availability: Davis GMC

Hey, dad! (Part 24)

Hey, dad! I didn't know these stuff don't go with your coffee... oops!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

amPlug + cab in the house! (Part 1)

If you are wondering how big the Vox amPlug + cab is, you can see it stand up against the Marshall MS-2 here.

Marty's Jukebox

This is the latest offering from Mr. Friedman- Tokyo Jukebox, it's a cover of Japanese tunes but 100% instrumental & I'm absolutely enjoying it.

Why is that so? Because it's not a medium to prove one's worth, it's all too obvious. Mr. Friedman intended it to be artistic, the reason why he chose ready materials for personal interpretations. There are some of the most melodic guitar manipulations here, some of the heaviest/ most furious (opening track is a scorcher!) & the most orchestrated which requires some patience as the guitars do not always take centre stage. All in all, even if it's unintended or appealing to our subconsious, Mr. Friedman's technicalities would leave us asking why we even try when there are other very capable people out there...

Living on the Edge (III)

How do I re-string instruments with a locking, dual action whammy bridge? The bridge in question here is my Ibanez Edge III unit, which many owners say is a nuisance more than a creative implement but I deem it functional; neither superb nor a dud, it just does its job.

If you remove all string from an Ibanez guitar sporting this bridge, chances are, when you begin to tune (standard tuning, please) the instrument:

  1. the tuning won't hold, you keep going & the bridge tail end would hinge up more than it should, revealing the under-bridge cavity or
  2. the bridge won't come up to sit parallel to the body surface but the tuning is all done.
I'd recommend you start by wedging a flat implement under the bridge as depicted above. Be sure to align a piece of cloth underneath so there won't be unwanted indentations there...

This is the side view of the same procedure. My standard here would be to ensure the tuning tension bar under the fine tuners align parallel to the body top. I find this to be the best measure because the final product would be equal play when you whammy the bar down & up; in other words, it gives the play equal travel to raise/ lower notes.

Leave this wedging be while you tune all strings, hold/ place the guitar like you do when you are playing it. If the bridge springs tension at the rear of the body were set correctly back at the factory, as soon as your instrument is in tune, the wedge would come undone.

If the wedge stays put despite your guitar being in tune, it means the rear springs tension is greater than that of your strings'. So you simply flip the body over & loosen the tension (of all springs, not just one), proceed to re-tune the guitar. Repeat this step till the wedge comes undone as mentioned before & there you have it, your instrument is in tune while the bridge sits in place as it should be.