Tuesday, November 30, 2010


DR Neon strings are here (@ Davis GMC). They cost as much as the colour coated strings- $18 per pack. Brother Ijau, if you are reading this, the GREEN packet is on the way to you...

Schecter: Blackjack ATX C-8

Despite the downpour last evening, I went out to get my Schecter Blackjack ATX C-8. It's not my first 8-string guitar but the acquisition anxiety was the same, nevertheless. Some specs:

  • Construction: Set-neck with Ultra Access neck joint
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: 3-piece mahogany
  • Scale length: 26.5"
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Nut: Graph Tech Tusq
  • Frets: 24 jumbo
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan Active Blackout humbuckers
  • Bridge: Hipshot-8
  • Tuners: Schecter Locking
 Like all C-series, the body top is curved, accentuated by some light beveling.

The Hipshot 8 bridge is non-locking & hassle free, it looks the works, hopefully it is as lasting as the guitar's impression. The pickups on board are Seymour Duncan's Active Blackouts which churns out lots of character, definition & don't sound averse in clean settings.

Ebony fretboard, a well-finished one in this instrument. The only fretboard marker here is this 12th fret lightning arrow.

The headstock features a Tusq nut, smooth & effective. The fact that all strings travel straight to the machine heads also contributes to tuning stability. But more importantly...

...the Schecter brand tuners are locking units; better grip on the strings so they won't go out of tune. The 'W' prefix in the serial number provides owners with quality assurance, of course. Coupled with the Korean origin & the belief that you frequent this blog rather frequently, you'd know which plant handles the making of this instrument & the other brand names manufactured under its roof.

There's a little quirk to note here; the knob nearest the bridge humbucker is the bridge pickup's volume control, followed by the neck's volume control & finally, the farthest knob- the master tone control. The ATX C-8 is apparently a limited run & had been discontinued. My utmost thanks to Janet & Joe @ Davis GMC in helping me secure this guitar before its total disappearance from the catalogue.

A more detailed entry on the playability & tone offerings soon... It's a cold Tuesday morning, I just finished playing this guitar which is awaiting a wipe down before being put away. My left/ fretting hand fingers feel more muscular now after the 8-string workout. Believable? He, he...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sargeist: Let the Devil In

This is only the 3rd full length release by the band, the one which tried the least to impress but ironically, became the most impressive amongst the band's offerings. The working formula is simplicity itself- no intricate song structures here either, the arrangement could be deemed as mundane. Guitar tones are also monotonous throughout. These are indeed integral ingredients when it comes to a black metal recording, which in turn allow more focus for intensity & attack. On the production front, well, Let The Devil In could be deemed as one of the most pleasant from an outfit preaching doom & implosions. We tend to look for some landmark, unique release to keep us interested in a certain music genre only to forget the philosophy of not fixing what's not broken. Sargeist might be the genre's fulfillment this side of black metal's fringe involvements.

Paul Danial: Swing endorsement

I'm a little late at this end of the enlightenment but local guitar hero, Paul Danial (aka Paul Das), has received an endorsement deal with Swing guitars. He has a signature model in store now featuring a pair of tasteful Swing in-house pickups. It came as a surprise for me because Mr. Danial had been seen with a Gibson Les Paul as well as his favoured Fender Strat, only to have the Swing model feature a Floyd Rose bridge & 24 frets. That's quite a move away from his traditional preferences.

Planet volcano

ESP's Edwards division is offering the Horizon III guitar in a dazzling finish called Planet Blue & Volcano Red. I like the fact that the headstock finish matches the body.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I've just given the LINE6 HD units a workout @ City Music (it's yesterday actually) to hear what the buzz's about. According to the manufacturer, the HD manifestations are the company's refined LINE6 range of multi-effects, voiced to be more organic than their last effort.

The HD units feature a very user-friendly working control panel, it's like accessing your amp with some additional knobs so if you think you are too old for some digital mambo-jumbo (or too lazy for that matter), the HDs would be a different appeal. The tones on offer are more organic as promised but still lack that analogue-dynamic relationship in a non-digital set up. Despite this very minor lackluster, the HDs' on-board voicings are indeed the standard to beat; personally, I find them appealing. There's also an external loop feature in case you wish to rope in your pedals into the mix. The interface panel helps by keeping the display objective- it reflects whatever tweaks you dial in. I could safely say that the HD units are for the LINE6 lovers who could do better with less programming & more live tweaking during play. Of course, this is the best time to consider any of the models on offer since they are clearing at SALE prices, just visit City Music's showroom to hear them in action.

On a personal note, it's more fruitful for you to visit the store on a weekday instead when there is a lesser probability of being in the same room with old geisers who are more inclined to boss around during try-out time instead of making an actual purchase.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No cab

I was at City Music's year end sale earlier today, wanted to get a 1x12" cab but the Vox V112TV isn't to be sold separately. So I went home empty handed. No dissent on my part as the good people at City Music explained they had more heads than extension cabs in their inventory in the mean time.

Anniversary PAF

Really, I didn't have the primary intentions to buy stuff from the Swee Lee (Katong) sale but I was in the neighbourhood for some satay. Thought I just swing by to witness the occurences.

Saw the above pickup & bought it. Itching to try another (DiMarzio) PAF humbucker since it did wonders the last time I tried it (in my Ibanez RG560). The Anniversary PAF is a low-power humbucker but featuring an Alnico 5 magnet- that's an interesting start isn't it?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sale: City Music

This is the SALE I always go to, every year. It's one of those month-long SALE which we appreciate because our pay day might be later than the SALE commencement, he he...

Big expectations from the small stuff

What is the objective of putting our money on practice-grade equipment knowing the limitations?

In our quest for the tone, we embark on upgrade funding. We purchase more costly gear in the hope that the quality implied by the price tag would manifest an increasing return. But this is not a sure formula because the boutique gear we purchased remains to be boutique in name, the feel & tone of it all are simply wrong for us. We faltered in the belief that what works for others would do so for us. Is this a call then, to abandon ship & plunge into cheapo waters? 

Not exactly. This is reality check. I read elsewhere people getting stunned after hearing the lower end equipment giving big time fulfillment to the owners. Need we remind ourselves how Rhoads got the job with Ozzy after auditioning with his small, forgetable amp? What do we see from this legendary episode; people getting big time slaps from small time equipment? That might be the obvious but what we failed to see is the individual brimming with confidence performing with equipment which works, regardless of how belittled it might be.

The final weekend of November starts tonight. The last few days of 2010 are upon us.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

SWEE LEE (Katong) SALE (Nov 2010)

Fellow bargain hunters, please be aware of the following sale happening tomorrow @ SWEE LEE's Katong branch. Do click for details (take note of entrance fee).

It's a weekday sale, so if you are bound by your office-hours employment, you have till 8.00pm to grab your desired gear.


If there's fame to your name...

...others will seek your association. No prizes for guessing the endorser of the products above.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back to... (3)

I'm still back to playing my Ibanez guitars, this time it's the (discontinued) Chinese SZR520. Despite being more educated, the players today still dismiss guitars by virtue of its country of manufacture- it's Chinese, it has to be bad. They compound this misery by associating one badly manufactured Chinese guitar with another despite the different brand names. I find the Chinese SZRs to be impressive. It's one of those guitars out there with the 'correct' pickups installed. 

I feel Ibanez made a mistake by discontinuing the SZ/SZR series as the manufacturer's set-neck representatives in the market. The current fort is currently flanked by the Darkstone series which have yet to make its debut here. *sigh*

Krieg: The Isolationist

We would have thought Blue Miasma was the closing chapter for Krieg. But as it is, Imperial had brought the outfit back to life bringing Leviathan's Wrest into the recording process- we do remember Wrest for his drumming efforts in Nachtmystium's Addicts. So the expectation here was naturally a more wretched Krieg with a shroud of signature grimness, bearing the Leviathan brand black metal which the industry, on this side of the pond, had come to respect. That's quite the case with The Isolationist but Krieg remains to be Krieg in essence- the force which delivers black metal with unpretentious urgency. The fresh element in this release has got to be those blips, blurbs & tweets adding a pinch of cosmic perspective akin to the ones heard in Nachtmystium's Assassins but done in limitations & good taste. Krieg continues to fly the black metal flag high in the United States of America.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back to... (2)

Day 2 of cradling the familiar. It's my Ibanez RGR08LTD once more but this time it's plugged into a smaller amp, a practice-grade unit. Some of us, once accustomed to a preferred amp, would be affected by a compromise but my rapport with my instruments ensure a consistent delivery despite settling down with an alternative ingredient in the set-up. This often happens in guitar stores, yes? We bond with some guitars we test out but they somehow make us plug into an amp which we'd rather avoid. However, because of the aforementioned bonding, we don't falter in our delivery.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The PRS SE Zach Myers singlecut guitar is currently on sale @ Davis' sale venue: $200 off the list price. The quirks here are namely the instrument's sparkle finish & that 3-humbucker offering. These considerations aside, the ZM is a solid player, great chunky boom from the bridge pickup, not trailing into some muffled tones if coupled with the right amp. This is also one of the SEs out there to feature an adjustable stop-tail piece.


I'm disclosing this sale here first, before I do it elsewhere... My CRATE GT412ST 4x12 cab is for sale: $339

Condition: 8.5/10
Driver size: 12" Celestion Seventy 80
Self-collect, details to be disclosed upon agreement.

If you are interested, do e-mail me...

Back to...

After days of distractions- singlecuts, single coils, bass- I'm back to playing Ibanez. I was in the mood for some excruciating distortion so the RGR08 was the natural selection, plugged into my Marshall JVM... I guess I am too accustomed to the Ibanez's form & feel, having something familiar in hand really helped in terms of accuracy & inspiration. 

In less than 10 days, the 2010 closure will set in. I would want the year to end quickly for its bitter moments in the hope that the new year has some other promises in store for me. It's much like buying a new guitar; we hope its fresh presence will open up new hopes for us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pedals vs Multi-FX

That time of the year is coming, where employers across the land would bestow extra remunerations to their hardworking employees in appreciation of the hard work they put in. Friends are asking me if they should spend this extra cash on effects pedals...

...or get on with a multi-effects unit.
The answer is quite simply: Whichever suits your needs.

Consider the benefits of having either set-up in your applications. If you are the type of player who need only some effect types to supplement your tones as you do NOT require the rest; you are better off with individual pedals. This selection would also means you get to choose a preferred brand name which offers the best appeal to you & not conform to only one brand name offering. Having a multi-effects unit on the other hand, addresses simplicity. You get everything in front of you & possess the option to programme your wants & switch off the rest for some other applications. Some of us feel good having extras for future experiments rather than not having any to begin with; it saves the trouble of having to buy an add-on to our effects line-up.

Panzer LEASHED division Singapore

This is the revised ticket for the Marduk date here- it WILL go on but it's now M-18. All potentially blasphemous insignia & graphics had been removed from the ticket's presentation but then again it's still the same band playing here. In this day & age where education serves to manifest intellectual judgment, it won't remove preferential embrace by the authorities- gyrating females on stage are allowed but damaging acts by fully clothed people need to conform to performance dilution.

So how does the previous ticket incarnation look like? Click here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Return of the hawk

The good news: Gibson's Nighthawk is back with a very tempting lipstick singlecoil pickup in the mix, as seen above...

The not-so-good news: It's a limited run *sigh*

Is the Nighthawk an affordable take on the immortal Les Paul? No, it sounds more SG-seque but I've always wanted to try a Gibson without the tune-o-matic bridge...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Atheist: Jupiter

Got my Jupiter yesterday... :-)

It's a come-back release of sorts but half the original line up made it for this release (Shaefer/ Flynn). Ardent fans would be assured of the music's intricacy which, for the lack of better vocabulary, is deemed as Math Metal (Science Metal, Biology Metal... what else?). Others would classify this music to be progressive but what constitute the definitives of such categorization remains to be hazy & subjective. I'm definitely into the guitar works- so much guitars yet the aggression remains in-tact. However, let's kep in mind that Cynic & Spiral Architect, among others, are also plying this trade, so the release in whole doesn't sound too refreshing. Definitely one of the superb releases of 2010.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In need of juice

Last evening's play was met by a minor scare when my volume suddenly took a dip then died. Silence. The amplifier giving way? Guitar giving way? What was it? My amp's LED was still burning bright, so were the LEDs of the other pedals in use. My first diagnosis was the guitar since it has no light indicators to imply its working condition. A straight through plug in revealed that my amp & guitar to be in OK condition. So I had to test each & every pedal in use; the culprit was my Cool Cat chorus. Strangely, the dying battery still had enough power to keep the LED going.

Melechesh: The Epigenesis

This is the second release without the sage drumming of Proscriptor (Absu), which does fine but the initial few tracks were a notch down in terms of intensity. The overall release reeks of middle eastern scales, voicings & other peppering which subconsciously bring us to Nile & dismissing this band as second best. That's unfair since the music of Melechesh does not conform entirely to death metal. Be very patient with the instrumental tracks, When Halos of Candles collide/ The Greater Chain of Being, images of endless desert stretches, cud-chewing camels & shisha-puffing oil barons are sure to pop up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Carl Martin Vintage (Yeah, right...)

These are my Carl Martin pedals, sold the rest so I'm down to this couple:
  • DC Drive
  • Crush Zone
The manufacturer deemed them as vintage grade but the voicings are contemporary; no time-traveling here. DC Drive is a self-boosting unit, it eliminates the use of another pedal to boost the drive servings as there is an integrated boost feature. The Crush Zone screams metal, it loves drive supplements because it's not (BOSS) Metal Zone grade; very crunchy but intense so don't expect any (BOSS) DS-1 voicings either.

The Carl Martin chaps are also serious about product packaging as seen above; a (tough) plastic & foam side guards make sure the pedal doesn't wobble in the box.

Salam Eid Ul-Adha

It's that time of year when people of The Faith are reminded of the value of sacrifice; the day when Abraham raised his blades, ready to strike his son only to be replaced with cattle. That readiness to labour for the benefit of others, under Commandment & free from compulsion, is priceless. That readiness should be imbued in us for the assessment of the Creator, not for the benefit of a fellow mortal.
Speaking of sacrifice, I'm assessing how much sacrifice I manifested each month to address my guitar activities. Funds are allocated to necessities only & some apportioned for family leisure, the rest are considerations for gear. There's no compulsion to acquire something new every month, that's not a wise application. I'm doing fine in the mean time, there aren't moments of dire straits or even the need for loans. Yes, there were credit card usages but there were no overdue bills thusfar. So far so good.

Wishing fellow Muslims a meaningful Eid Ul-Adha.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


A glimpse of the Frank Gambale associates to come; his signature Carvin guitar & amplifier- DV Mark (a division of Mark Bass amplifiers).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Body bevel

Another good reason for considering Fender's Blacktop HH Telecaster- the rear body area features a rib cage bevel. It's a minor enticement but for many of us, spending hours with the Tele strapped on, this consideration is a thoughtful inclusion.


Days after I updated my wah tally, I've added another to the fold- Mini Morley Wah. Before anyone asks how different this is  from its bigger siblings, the answer is: To my ears, it sounds very neutral, not inclining towards any tonal manifestations of its bigger family members. The advantage here is its size; (more than the tonal appeal) it fits better into pedal boards, the canned drink above shows the relative size of the pedal. List: $99 (Davis GMC).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Barchetta experience

 A few days ago, I was at Davis GMC (as evident from the entries here) & decided to give the DBZ guitars a try. I have been ignoring them largely because the headstock outline together with the body beveling details made them queer looking. But I understand Mr. Zelinsky doesn't want to digress too much from his Dean designs since he's not with the company any more. A leftist design had always been the Dean signature so the DBZ manifestations here could be considered as 'normal'.

I just wanna share how good the DBZ guitars are, I'm particularly attracted to the Barchetta model you see above but could do without the Floyd Rose bridge. The neck also sports a V-profile- very much to my disliking on Fenders- but they are somehow acceptable with this DBZ. This guitar is also another stamp in the good books of Chinese production; the details are all well above average & deserving of the $670 list price. I had the opportunity to plug this guitar into a Marshall MG combo (30W) & the in-house humbuckers just sing in both clean & driven settings. Hmm... time to talk to Janet about the non-Floyd Rose models...

2 Wahs

If one owns a single coil equipped guitar, the lure of the wah is a haunting one. The best wah sound comes from a clean single coil tone; that's how I hear it. The wah & distortion aren't ready compliments. Anyway, I currently own 2 wah pedals:
  1. Artec Standard Power Wah: Optic based wah unit
  2. Vox V847: The traditional wah unit & the standard to beat
Artec's APW-3 isn't a costly pedal, I bought it because it sounds good with dirt, not only clean tones. There's added dynamics here due to the presence of a tone pot. The VOX V847 is equally affordable, it's the wah tone to return to should you be sick of other offerings out there so it's a good pedal to keep. There's an ongoing debate as to which wah manifestation is the more desirable option since the optic based unit does not have the upper hand in tone generation because it's pot-free. I believe it's whichever pedal that works because there's no established superiority when it comes to tone. If you can't live with a certain presentation, simply put, there are other options out there.

Gibson Jonas

Em... anyone game for a Gibson Jonas Brothers Melody Maker? Anyone?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cool Cats

Last week, on my way home from Davis GMC, I saw these two cats sleeping the day away, oblivious to the traffic noise...

Two days ago, when I saw them again, nothing much had changed as evident here... You can check them out if you are in the neighbourhood, they are usually seen at the cross junction of Excelsior shopping centre, overlooking the fire station across the street.

Davis GMC mini SALE.

Davis GMC is preparing 2 new venues as part of their store expansion, Janet told me one would be an FX-based store, the other would be a studio. As such, they are clearing some stuff, a SALE of sorts, at one of their new venues- located next to the escalator (facing the fire station across the road) at the exit of Excelsior basement. All FAB pedals are clearing for $19...

... the Cool Cat pedals which come in a 3-in-1 combo pack; these are going for $75.

The above SX guitar is clearing for $199 subject to finish & fretboard type availability. When I was there yesterday, the blonde + maple fretboard version was available.

Marshall/ Schecter strings

The weekend has kicked in, it's a rather fast-moving November when there are things to do & places to go. Was at Davis yesterday, bought the Marshall strings you see above- so now you know, Marshall have strings under their name. The Schecter you see here is complementary from Janet, it's an 8-string set: 10 - 74. The gauge per se is rather overwhelming but i'll try them in my Ibanez RG8 which is current strung with a set of 9 - 65...

Q: What do the brand names above have in common?
A: The strings are manufactured by another brand name. D'Addario makes the Schecter set while Ernie Ball handles the Marshall set.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Epiphone: '60s LP

Epiphone has launched a series of '60s-era Les Pauls as a limited edition run (so don't expect them to debut at your dealers' readily). The manufacturer promises the correct feature-era details which, in my opinion, should have been done as a regular production offering. The current offering of Epi LPs are not accurate in this aspect. However, the cost factors might have prevented the manufacturer from doing so.

Some tone clips here...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Muff family

Here's my (EHX) Muff family. Yes, yes... I'm not a pedal fan & such, but I find the Muff tone intriguing. The reason why I invest in the variations is that I hear something different from each of them despite being another Muff unit. 

I like the Russian BM (that big black box you see there) the best when it comes to the Muff tone, it has that little extra poke which makes it more defined. 

I don't use my Muffs as a booster unit except for the NANO as it's the least muffled.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blatant piracy

I am at it again, despite the previous backlash but my concern here is primarily the exposing of fakes. This is not an exercise in proving a fake, the product concerned IS a fake. If you wish to believe otherwise because it sports your beloved brand name on the headstock, it's all up to you. I'm not here to breed any dissent either, I just don't want buyers out there to be duped.

The pic above shows a fake Ibanez JEM77FP2. It's rather difficult to tell but the cutaway would trigger some suspicions if you are already familiar with an Ibanez RG/ JEM design.

The current JEM77FP2 features an Edge whammy bridge, the model above is not an Edge unit.
We know this because an Edge bridge does not have the 'Overlord of Music' stamped on its parts... tsk, tsk, tsk.
The same store offers a fake Gibson Les Paul whose authenticity I would not bother discussing here because the store owner made this declaration:

All of my product are 100% same as the photos,
what you see is what you get ! !The products are MADE IN CHINA however with good quality and best value you can ever find. You will receive brilliant products that worth what you have paid. so please feel free to put order with us .