Monday, April 30, 2012

Ibanez recommendations (Swee Lee Katong SALE 1-5-2012)

I was at Swee Lee Katong today to take a look at what's for grabs tomorrow. In my honest opinion, only the Ibanez selections are worth the trouble, I have a few here for your considerations (if you have not made plans to catch The Avengers instead). First up is the RGR321 you see above- it's still the standard to beat when it comes to a no-frills performance without the locking bridge hassle. It's the most affordable Ibanez in the Standard selection, keep that in mind.

ART100 for that LP-like moments. Close.

This is from the fresh shipment, it's this year's revised RGD model, the RGD421. If you are keen on some detuned bits without compromising string tension (Reminder: 26.5" scale length).

The S1XXV is available as well BUT it sports a NETT price so only a 10% discount for this one- still worth it considering it won't around for long.

For those of us who would be out for some R&R moments tomorrow- happy holiday!
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April is a dreadful month for me (every year for that matter), glad that it's spewing its final bits of bother.

Last chance

Gentle reminder- today is your final chance in getting the UNO Warzone II for a discounted price; the SV JCube opening sale ends today.

S-Series spotted

Was at Marina Bay some days ago, saw someone doing sound check at the Esplanade outdoor stage; S-Series spotted.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DT tix @ Inokii

This is a message from Inokii- 2 discounted tickets are available for CAT 2 seats (first row) if you are interested. Please call this number: 6-836-7657

Won't be here too

If you like the PGM401, then be informed that it won't be offered here any more. Yes, it's still in production but it won't make its way here. It seems that our market will only receive the Chinese Fireman & the PGM3. Kinda depressing to know these things...

Friday, April 27, 2012

RGA - EMG

The exclusive treatment continues- the RGA42 models in the USA get a pair of EMG pickups (81 - 85) & they did away with the active EQ switch. *Darn*

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Suffocation (at work- me...)

Suffocation- performing here today, gonna miss the show due to work commitments. Wishing them a smooth & incident-free performance. Effigy of the Forgotten was to many of us metal heads & guitar freaks alike, one of the best heavy music committed to record- at least for me. I'm not one to give excess salutations to bands because they play heavy music; without quality, it's forgettable. Salute!

Aura Noir: Out to Die

When my friend, Zahid, introduced me to Aura Noir years ago (Black Thrash Attack- before I was married, come to think of it) I thought those lads were trapped. Uniquely trapped between black metal's bleak life philosophy & thrash's bold self-appeasement. It's not exactly refreshing, this genre, but interesting. You couldn't separate the elements clearly but upon listening, the difference were there for discerning listeners. Fast forward 2012, Aura Noir's back, more so for guitar alchemist, Blasphemer. Yes, it's the same Blasphemer who used to brew Mayhem's music. All due respect to the band, I gave 2008's Hades Rise a miss due to Blasphemer's absence- the guitar appeal just wasn't there for me. But Out to Die is something else, not to say that Blasphemer's presence made the entire difference but the guitar arrangements here are more focused & delivered with that authoritative swagger befitting of Aura Noir- one of metal's most self-observing bands, delivering music for music's sake. 

Any excessive guitar twiddling here? There were occasions but not too self-indulging. Blasphemer & Aggressor dished out the guitars on a balanced platform but those detailed phrasings (Trenches/ Fed to the Flames/ Out to Die); that's Blasphemer's authority making the music attention-grabbing. But this is Aura Noir, not the spotlight return of Blasphemer, mind you. He was absent in the previous offering due to working commitments & residential issues not dimensional differences between the members- let's make that clear.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

LTD: H-308 rear view

I'm really delighted with what LTD did to the H-308's back- the sumptuous bevel for both upper fret access as well as ribcage fitting get my thumbs up. I am of the opinion that the treble-side cutaway bevel complements set/through-neck type construction more than a bolt-on. However, if the manufacturer designs the bolt-on to mimic a set/through-neck dimension, it'll work as well. A case in mind would be Ibanez's S920/970 models.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Voros' etching

This Schecter belongs to Attila Voros, I thought it looked disturbingly fabulous! The guitar's rear was devoid of finish (or he might have stripped the original finish) & those things etched there. Anyway, this is a clip of Voros & Loomis trading solos:



LTD: H-308 (body- side view)

Here's a look at the LTD H-308 body from the side. Contrary to popular belief, coping with the 8-string manifestation means re-engineering the body to a revised thickness to deal with added weight. 

Weight is a touchy issue here since the body has to keep up with the neck/ headstock offset, otherwise, the guitar would neck-dive like the proverbial Gibson SG.

But the good folks at LTD got it right, or should I say, figured out since the body isn't excessively thick in this aspect.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Charvel: Control cavity

Here's a shot of the Charvel San Dimas Style 2 HH control cavity. This was after Beez's push-pull switch installation. Charvel's finish is incredibly neat & tidy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Charvel: Spring cavity

This is how the Charvel San Dimas Style 2 HH whammy spring cavity looks like; very tidy, well-finished. I compensated the springs tension before I played it today as the string action was lowered last night (while watching Spurs being defeated by QPR).

Selling: ESP bag (SOLD)

Selling: ESP guitar bag as seen above (Original price: $80)
  • Condition: 9/10 (a few days old)
  • Self-collect: CCK MRT station
  • No reservations/ No trades
  • Queries/ confirmation: dark1349@hotmail.com
  • Selling price: $69 $60 (final)
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Still available for sale:
  • Gibson pickups: 490R/498T
  • LTD: H-351

LTD: H-308

The new member- LTD H-308. I thought that I'd be staying away from 8-strings for a while (till something worthy comes by) but the H-308 here is too appealing to ignore. I put it down to the great craftsmanship & tone (I'm not quite an EMG fan but I embrace good tones regardless of the implements). Not forgetting the standard 25.5" scale length so it feels different from my Schecter & Ibanez 8-strings.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jeff Loomis: Plains of Oblivion

Time to say something about this album since I've reached that settling in stage after repeated spins- I think. Jeff Loomis set a very high standard in metal guitar technicalities when Zero Order Phase came to the fore. There are very few metal guitarists fortifying their finger gymnastics with memorable grooves- this is important because Loomis propels tunes not just blocks of solos. It's also an uphill climb trying to out-do Zero Order Phase, many listenings later, we should realize that Loomis isn't trying to surpass his previous efforts here, he moves on. As such we don't quite hear tracks trying too hard to impress, all the numbers are well-penned & balanced in terms of appeal. Guests musicians in this album:
  • Marty Friedman: TRACK 1 Mercurial
  • Tony MacAlpine: TRACK 2 The Ultimatum
  • Chris Poland: TRACK 6 The Continuum
  • Atilla Voros: TRACK 5 Requiem for the Living
  • Ihsahn: TRACK 7 Surrender
There are 3 tracks with vocals, in addition to the Ihsahn featured song mentioned above, Christine Rhoades did superbly in Tragedy & Harmony (TRACK 4) & Chosen Time (TRACK 8). Don't expect an Arch Enemy type vocals here, it's more Ava Inferi than anything else. 

I'm still listening to this release, paying special attention to Mr. Loomis' phrasings & riffing ideas. He's much overlooked in this aspect because to the rest of the world, Jeff Loomis was Nevermore's Mr. Technical but to me, Jeff Loomis is a musician, first & foremost.

Octo

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8! Plain strings are a little tarnished, had been playing this for the last 2 days or so :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New CDs

Just got these new releases:
  • Job for a Cowboy: Demonocracy. I used to ignore these guys, namely because their earlier albums were devoid of solos. I thought they weren't as competent as guitar players, banking on intense riffing to get by until I watched some clips of Ravi & Bobby giving guitar tutorials. Subsequently, Bobby was the cover artist for the Ibanez 2011's catalogue so that meant much to me. Sadly, Bobby & Ravi are no longer in the band but Alan Glassman & new shredder Tony Sannichandro did extremely well to propel the band's establishments.
  • Jeff Loomis: Plains of Oblivion. The highly anticipated 2nd release by Loomis; not as cutting as Zero Order Phase but there's much thought in this product. Loomis' collaboration with Ihsahn in Surrender is fantastic to say the least.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Beez, working

Beez working on my Charvel, took him 7min...

... to instal a push-pull coil split selector in there. He did it while talking to some friends who dropped by the store. I think he could have done it with his eyes closed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Charvel: San Dimas Style 2 HH

I've chosen Charvel's San Dimas Style 2 HH among the ones offered for clearance at Swee Lee (BB branch), I picked this one especially because I deem it as the best among the crop. I've told myself to steer clear of Floyd Rose bridges but that's not a pressing consideration, even the red finish & Tele style body/ Strat headstock outline did not bother me. All I need to know/ see is that this San Dimas is a top drawer in terms of QC & tone.

The pickups in there are Seymour Duncans; JB (bridge) & '59 (neck); no strangers to me. Their chemistry aren't exclusive though, the guitar's alder body & maple fretboard did the rest for ear candy. I've heard too many guitars sporting a Floyd Rose bridge & Duncan JB pickup sounding thin in the lower frequency but not this guitar. The key contributor is definitely its overall weight- enough to make those pickups sing.

The guitar features a 3-way Les Paul style toggle switch & a solitary volume control, the very 'open' tone is a wonderful encounter for those of us who do not wish to be bothered by mushy distortion.

See those washers & bolts in the package? That's the necessary supplement for the Dunlop StrapLock; yes, it's the default strap hardware for this guitar. Oh, the tuners are Grovers.

If you are looking for something worthy which require very little/ no mods to service your needs, the current range of San Dimas on clearance offer (@ Swee Lee) are highly recommended. The QC is praise-worthy & the tones are definitely above-average.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New...

New addition :-)

Charvel clearance @ Swee Lee

Swee Lee BB branch is currently holding a Charvel clearance promo, So-Cal & San Dimas models are available, some prices (final) for your considerations:

  • Made in USA: $1,150
  • Made in Japan: $1,050
With every purchase:
  • Hard case/ bag, depending on the model
  • $25 worth of accessories FREE
Some other price references if you are thinking too hard about this offer :-)
  • Manufacturer's SRP: USD1,169
  • Popular online price (pre-shipping): USD899

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blue Ranger

I will somehow discover some under-rated gems from the Carl Martin range of pedals, this Blue Ranger overdrive is one of them. It's voiced to manifest a brute, blues-type crunch but come to think of it, it's pretty much in line with what BOSS' Blues Driver has to offer. I hear more bite from it, more saturation in there as well. Currently, I'm in the mood for a non-metal distortion/drive, I have my personal favourites- CMat Mod's Butah & Fuch's Plush Cream; these 2 are awesome stuff (for my applications). 

The BR works well as a stand alone pedal, enough standards to rival BOSS' Blues Driver, in fact, it's a little more intense in terms of the drive voicing. Being me, I have to try it with a booster/ in a stacked setting & the BR did well in both applications. The booster unit comes before the BR & it did well to give me more of the inherent drive. The BR's great paired up with your amp's dirty channel but for those of us with FX loop in our amps, it sounds more authentic through that, coupled with whatever amp drive you have.

PS: Blue plush bird not included in package :-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The classic SA

Ironically, Tech 21's new pedal is a classic- Sansamp Classic. At some point in time, we tone tinkerers came across this pedal & would be hooked on the simplicity it offered. It's not one of those truly original pedal but the emulation manifested are convincing & useful, something many of us gigging dweebs would appreciate- we need voicing variety. Look carefully at the pedal above, it allows for 3 applications- Lead/ Normal/ Bass, now, isn't that wonderful?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Naglfar: Teras

Naglfar has Teras for us after 5 years since their last emergence. No let-down here, just business as usual for this BM band. This is one of my go-to bands, the music stood firm since the band's beginning, even after the departure of notable vocalist Jens Ryden. In this release, they are without a permanent drum, all skin beatings were laid down by Dirk Verbeuren, maybe he should consider settling down with the band... Fans of Sheol will miss much of the relentless pace in the songs, they are indeed heard in Teras but we hear the band playing in a resolved atmosphere this time round.

A little side-tracking here, guitarist Andreas Nilsson is endorsed by Salmath guitars...


... & Marcus Norman is endorsed by Manne guitars. You thought you've heard them all, no?

On that note, here's a Manne 10-string model.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Meshuggah: Koloss

I get nauseated by 'djent'... people actually believe it's a legit genre categorization (they fell for 'nu-metal' didn't they?). But we can't deny that Meshuggah triggered this understanding. The chaps simply lay waste to proper timing & traditional phrasing to invoke a catchy groove, something memorable beyond the confines of establishment. Koloss here is Meshuggah's 8th full length release (including the Nothing ver 2006 release) & it still manifests the band's propulsion of technical arrangements. You will appreciate Meshuggah's brand of heavy music once you sit down & attempt to figure out what they play & how they play it. 

Koloss is a direct delivery of all things heavy & thought provoking, the scary thing is, Meshuggah's execution of it all seems to hinge upon very little effort. Every time I listen to Meshuggah I can't really make out the ending of certain phrases, let alone figuring out why certain riffs are played only once throughout the song but music is art. The artists bend & twist forms to suit his creation, it's nothing too different with music. Koloss' overall tempo is that of deliberation, nothing is hurried because that's not a sure formula for heavy music. The only tempestuous song in Koloss is The Demon's Name is Surveillance beyond that, we get to hear some fine interpretation of contemporary heaviness. Please bear with the final track, The Last Vigil, which is an instrumental, it's not the shred type, mind you, just a celestial conclusion to this album, executed by Marten Hagstrom. If you purchase the deluxe pack, you'd get to see the making of Koloss in the DVD included (also comes with complentary Koloss T-shirt) & the band debating where The Last Vigil should fit into. You'd also get to catch a glimpse of the guitars in the studio, including a passing show of an 8-string Ibanez Iceman. Great release, this one. Remember, there's no djent, just Meshuggah & the music thereafter.

SGR by Schecter

SGR guitars by Schecter are now available at Davis GMC. These are very much what the Ibanez GIO & LTD have to offer for their respective sister brands. I see good workmanship & an overall value for money in this price bracket. The models you see here are the C-1 (black) & Solo 6 (red), $280 each. If you aren't too fussy with budget pickups (you shouldn't be, otherwise you'd be considering other models up the tier) this one's a great player. Do not expect great sounding cleans, of course but it's nothing atrocious.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Selling: LTD H-351

Yes, I'm saying goodbye to my LTD H-351, it's barely half a year since I bought it. I have other plans still in the LTD selection but not a set-neck/ neck through make. Please note the original price of this guitar: $850

  • Selling: LTD H-351 (bag included)
  • Condition: 9/10 (5mth ownership/ no mods)
  • No reservations/ No trades
  • Self-collect @ CCK mrt stn
  • Queries/ confirmation: dark1349@hotmail.com
  • Asking price: $599
 Thanks for reading :-)

8-string guitars: Scale differences

Everytime I hear or come across someone who wants to invest in an 8-string guitar, I'd ask him for his preferred scale length (distance from nut to bridge NOT how long the guitar is, mind you). Why is this crucial? Assuming you are employing standard tuning, the tension would be different. For an 8-string model, the thicker strings would manifest quite the difference if you A-B test it with another brand name guitar with a different scale length. The above is a summary of 3 popular models sporting the differences; Ibanez's RGA8 has the longest scale length of 27" which is 0.5" longer than their RGD make. The Ibanez would manifest the tightest feel in this line-up. Schecter's Hellraiser 8 sports a 26.5" version, making it an in-between offering, followed by LTD's H-338 25.5"; this one is the 'normal' member here. 

The different scale lengths would necessitate string gauge consideration, fitting a .65 8th string in the Ibanez would manifest an acceptable tension but try that in those 2 other guitars- it'll bee too floppy & affects note definition. In terms of feel, I note the Ibanez has its bridge moved back a tad (this is after my RG2228 experience) to accommodate the longer scale length. This would mean a picking hand adaptation, that's the reason why you feel a little more lethargic playing the Ibanez especially if you chug notes by palming your picking hand at the bridge. This is the reason why I make it a point to own a Schecter 8-string, to feel the difference & very recently, I enjoy playing the LTD 8s. 

The unschooled/noobs among us would then equate the shortest scale length with the most playing ease- that shouldn't be the case. It's all about preference, if we return to the 6-string domain, we know that there is an arguably equal appeal when it comes to the Les Paul (24.75" scale length) and Strat (25.5" scale length); the Strat can't produce that dense bottom end & the Les Paul can't pull off (no pun intended) that tight snap. So all in all, it's a matter of knowing what your tool has to offer & using it in a learned context.

LTD: H308

Here's a wonderful mammoth; LTD's H-308 (List: $880, Davis GMC). The market is now swinging towards the provision of affordable 8-string guitars & the H-308 is definitely one of them. This guitar is another great Chinese craftsmanship, very tidy & well-finished from one tip to the other. It's a through-neck construction so expect loads of sustain here. For those of us who are keen, be informed that it sports a satin finish which dents easily but I am a fan of this treatment as it promotes a silky, smooth touch for the fretting hand; my thumb can't really get along with a lacquer overcoat. The EMG 808s in there are rather essential for the low notes especially if you live, eat, breathe distortion. Lastly, the 25.5" scale length would make the feel 'regular' if you are too accustomed to this on your 6s. I'd recommend this if you are looking for a little bit more delivery in terms of playability & tone & are willing to spend a little bit more to avoid an entry level 8-string. Thumbs up.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Boost kick


 I'm still refining my distortion (when I'm utilizing pedals) via the booster route, I'm trying to keep the distortion voicing in tact while giving it some catalyst to sound meaner. I got the Jet City Hi-Gain Boost a few days ago from Davis GMC (List: $95) & the label clearly stated the pedal's intent. As a stand alone pedal, the HGB should not be depended on for a refined distortion sound, it's he wrong one for such an application. It should be stacked with one of your main overdrive/distortion units or your amp's dirty channel for that matter. The HGB isn't one to give polite responses as implied by it's label, some of us would find the gain kick a little too sizzling for slight refinements.

With my BOSS Power Stack, the pedal did better as a pre-distortion boost. Once I changed the order, for the HGB to appear post-distortion, the Power Stack's voicing was drowned by the HGB. Through my Laney Iron Heart, the HGB does well as a pre-preamp function (ie: guitar-pedal-amp) AND through the FX loop. The FX loop option was of course more rewarding, letting the HGB add to the distortion fray post-preamp.

How is this pedal different from any other booster unit out there? It adds to gain in addition to merely a volume boost which doesn't make it a better pedal but a different option depending on your intentions.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Recommended buy @ SV JCube

I'd recommend this if you are planning to grab something @ SV's JCube branch since there's a 10% off: UNO's Warzone (both passive/active versions are fine guitars). Before discount: $790- you work out the math :-)

Hot head

The (Marshall) JCM900 head, making its presence felt at the Esplanade outdoor performance venue. If you wanna know how much heat your amp dissipates say after an hour of play, just place a bottle of water there, you'd be surprised.
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Obiter dictum: Just realised we are now into the second quarter of the year...