Friday, August 31, 2012

Available: RG721

Here's good news to all you hardcore followers of the RG721...

... it's available at Swee Lee now, price as depicted above. :-) Price check:
  • Bentley Music (M'sia): RM2,450 (SGD982)
  • Swee Lee Co. (S'pore): SGD980
  • Online: USD699 (before shipping charges)
PS: Happy end-of-August, everyone...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

High gainer(s)

Some days ago, I was @ SV to try out the MINI High Gainer pedal but since both versions are in stock, I had a go at both of them. Both pedals serve the common intention of dishing out hotter-than-standard distortion without breaking into the metal boundary. Some of us prefer this kinda voicing because it prooves to be more dynamic than the typical heavy metal type distortion. It gives us both the crunchy/intense modes just by dialling in the desired GAIN amount. However, do note that the MINI High Gainer has a more protrusive treble response which remains flagrant even when the EQ is dialed in to snub that top end. If you are on a budget & wish to own the MINI version, be sure to offset this with a good post-gain EQ. Otherwse, go with the standard size High Gainer featuring a more charismatic EQ section (despite being 2-band)- from FAT to SHRIEK, it's all there.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Small wonders

Not too long ago, we were 'commissioned' to be a rhythm-&-bass back-up for some community singing. I managed to hook up my Samick Corsair Mini to a 15W Ibanez SW amp & it was beyond my expectations, really. The tones were rather commanding in view of the equipment size, so never dismiss your tools for their less-than-average manifestations; it's about what they can give you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

American vintage

Fender's new is old. Their latest range of American made guitars are inspired by the vintage models hence the 'American Vintage' series. As the name implies, you won't find anything refreshing in terms of details & specs but it's a good expeience to re-live the feel & tone of past makes without breaking the bank but the offerings in this range are beyond mid-price (Think $2.5K & beyond...) The '59 Strat (above) is interesting- rosewood board & a D-pofile neck. Nice.

Ibanez: RG920M

One other note-worthy Ibanez making its debut at Swee Lee is the RG920M. Maple fretboard- that's right + a couple of DiMarzio IBZ humbuckers. A fancy model? Not really, just a fancy quilted maple top for some eye candy. At test time, prices are not available yet but it should exceed $1K, just by a tad, that'd be my guess.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Quit whining- we now have a good range of mid-priced Ibanez models with different body wood to choose from. Above pic: (From top to bottom): RG370 (basswood)/ RG470MHZ (mahogany)/ RG470AHZ (ash). They feature the same hardware & bridge type (EZ-II thumbs-up!) so these pretty much give you a fair comparison across models. Price-wise, they are also in the same bracket. The RG470 models are pending price listing but inferring from the tier they're from & the features on board, they shouldn't exceed $800.

I'm expecting this comment: Basswood so there's more bass in there, right? :-/

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ibanez JCs

It's a good summer over at State-side; Ibanez's J-Custom finally made it there- RG20126...

We have our J-Customs here before but the RG8420 is new at Swee Lee's BB showroom.

It's interesting to see that Ibanez had given them different model references because by the looks of it, they are identical. However, the difference lies under that maple top; the RG20126 sports an alder body while the RG8420 is mahogany. Cult Ibanez fans would be a little annoyed not seeing DiMarzios in these top tier models (both guitars featur Duncan's C5 (B) & Jazz (N). I'd reckon they'd wait for other models to come by.

I've tried the RG8420 a few days ago through a tube amp & it's one heck of a player. No, not because it features my preferred pickup brand but because it's a well-made, good-sounding instrument in its own right. I'm not keen on one though due to that vine inlay as it alludes too much to the JEM; I'm not into elaborate fretboard markings so I'd give this one a miss.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Selling: Jackson JS20 (SOLD)

This guitar was offered without pickups not too long ago but I've re-installed the Teslas in there:
  • Neck: VR-2 VR-1
  • Mid: Plasma 1
  • Bridge: Plasma 7
Do note the 22 frets- it's not from the latest batch of 24-fret models. It's also a little heavier than the current JS models. Guitar had been set up for a low action setting.

Selling: Jackson JS20 (discontinued)
  • Condition: 8/10
  • Bag included
  • Tesla pickups as specified above
  • Other mods: Push-pull coil split switch for bridge pickup/ Sprague Orange Drop cap for tone pot
  •  Self-collect @ CCK mrt stn
  • Confirmation/ queries:
  • No reservations/ No trades/ No installment considerations
  • Price: $320
 Guitar SOLD: 5th Nov 2012. Thanks! :-)

Ibanez: RG2XXV

One of the current highlights (forgive the pun) at Swee Lee's BB showroom is the Ibanez Anniversary RG2XXV. Like the S1XXV before it, it's a novelty commemoration; there's nothing special about this guitar save for the fact that it's been given an anniversary assignment. I'm not being too dismissive of this one, I believe I'm giving fair warning to prospective buyers who would be checking it out in the hope of discovering something new- please approach this one like any other RGs currently out there. Maybe you're discovering neon pink/ yellow & going head over heels over it, well, good for you.

Ibanez did a wise thing by pricing it in the same bracket as the standard RG3XX models, so someone shopping for an RG would be a little swayed by the fact that for the same amount of money, he could own a limited production model instead. Despite my obvious belittling of its reverence, it's indeed a worthy player as far as QC & playability go. In fact, I'm recommending it to those of you who are truly considering a virtuous RG to invest in, I'd say go for it- ignore the loud colours, of course.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Set-up: Peavey Predator EXP 1 (Part 2)

It's kinda obvious that the over-projected bridge was due to a tension imbalance between the strings & springs. The guitar required reinforcement in this aspect so it was given an additional spring. 

A quick re-tune, some turns of the screwdriver to ensure the bridge stays put where it should be & the EXP 1 is good to play. Hope Mr. Wong is a having a shredding good time with it :-)

Ibanez RG470MHZ

Was out guitar testing yesterday :-) Ibanez's RG470MHZ is now available at Swee Lee (BB) branch (pending price listing). Simply love the gloss-free finish. The guitar per se is a lively, bright-sounding unit, well-made as well.

We'd be quick to dismiss this guitar as bass-deficient but keep in mind the nature of its manifestation- the dual action locking whammy bridge + gloss-free body are crucial factors in accepting what it is capable of doing. If you are keen on the build & playability but put off by the tone (this happened to me)- the pickups have to go, unless you are a firm believer of the INF pickups.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Set-up: Peavey Predator EXP 1 (Part 1)

My colleague, Mr. Wong, purchased a Peavey Predator EXP 1 recently. He decided to assign this guitar to a drop-D tuning (E-B-G-D-A-D high to low) so a thicker E string was incorporated to compensate the tension. He brought this guitar to the office for a second opinion in terms of set up which I gladly obliged (I need the practice, remember?). My concerns were:
  • Bridge alignment: Often after such tinkering, locking dual action bridges would often be misaligned (not too severe, though) & this would affect tuning stability. 
  • Action: Having thicker strings on board would mean a change in neck tension (albeit detuning the instrument) which would affect the neck's straightness + string action + fret buzzing.
As you would've noted by now, the effects of incorporating a slight change into your guitar would entail many considerations so it may seem to be an easy job to the uninitiated- it's anything but.

My approach to this procedure is to check for 3 main tell-tale signs:
  1. Look at the bridge
  2. Check the neck
  3. Check tuning
From the pic above, we note the bridge wasn't sitting level with the body's top surface so it meant the bridge needed a re-look in terms of spring tension.

A quick neck check for straightness- capo the first fret, press down the strings at the final fret (in this case the 24th fret) & note the gap between the fret crown & the strings, at the neck's center portion. This Predator had been well taken care of in this aspect, the neck sports a straight profile. However, it means nothing in terms of preferred playability- some of us don't fancy a super straight neck pertaining to the action & how the notes choke out upon bending (radius considerations, my friends...).

After 3 tuning attempts, the higher E & B strings always ended up sharper than the rest of their counterparts so it told me once again rectify the spring tension. Yes, that's a pink KORG Pitch Clip in action.

To be continued...

Selling: Wasburn X-50 (SOLD)

My colleague Mr. Wong is selling away his Washburn X-50, as you can see above, he's brought it to the office for some assessments...

In addition to the beautiful quilt top finish, the guitar also features the Buzz Feiten system as well as a set-neck construction. It's currently set up for a low action application, a bag is included in the purchase. Interested parties to get back to him through this number: 9-6-44-837-5 (Price: $350)

The guitar is in excellent condition, plays well & it gets my thumbs up for value-for-money.
 Item SOLD as at 1st Sept. Thanks :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Selling: Squier J-bass (SOLD)

Beautiful Squier VM Jazz bass for sale (bag included). Interested parties to contact Mr. Faizal via e-mail: Asking price: $400 (slightly neg). I was there at Beez's when Mr. Faizal sent it for a set-up, managed to handle it briefly- great bass for the money. Bag included :-)
Update: Bass SOLD as at 24th Aug.

Stunning Premium

Come... let's take a look at what's NOT (regional exclusive) gonna be available here but it's out there anyway- Ibanez's screaming RG721. The eye candy is largely attributable to the guitar's sonokeling top- that's rosewood to the rest of us. What we have here in our market is the (aguably boring) RG821, while the Americans get the RG921  (the RG821 + a quilted maple top).

New bird

Jackson's got a new bass out- Kelly Bird, that's the name...

... maybe there's a reason to that name after we have another look at Gibson's bird.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eid 2012

Wishing all Muslim friends & blog readers a Salam Eid-Ul-Fitr; taking this opportunity to seek pardon for all my unbecoming remarks & other crude behaviour- if I have offended you in any way, please forgive me. I would also like to thank you readers in general, Muslims or otherwise, for coming back to read my entries- hope they have been useful. Stay safe everyone, enjoy the extended weekend.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


These days, pedals like the Giggity here interest me; it's a pre-amp detailing unit. It helps your pedals-laden set-up sound more organic, in other words, it makes your overall tone more amp-like. The situation with many of us here is that our amps lose lots of its inherent goodness after we attach our pedals to it- it's inevitable. What we need is to address the details, we shouldn't tinker with the levels of our drives, distortion, modulations & delays any further; we need to prep-up the amp details to make our tone more appealing.

The Giggity isn't available here yet, check this space for product availability soon :-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Arete 3 Star

News indeed- GJ2 has a new line of no-frills model called the Arete 3 Star as seen above. If you don't fancy a Floyd Rose bridge equipped model, this one's for you- it's definitely for me. The bridge here is a traditional whammy unit by Bladerunner (Super Vee) & to keep things affordable, a bag is offered in the purchase package (instead of a hard case). Something to look forward to... :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

For SALE: Mono M-80

For SALE (on behalf of a friend): Mono M-80 bag, 9/10 condition, less than a year old. Asking: $170, please e-mail Marcus:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stain- gone...

Remember the cleaning fluids I mentioned? No? Here: CLICK ME

This is proof of their worthiness:
  • Left: Fret's slight corrosion
  • Right: After treatment- the fluid is strong enough to remove light stains/ rust

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


This is a fresh release. If you are a recent FX fan, then the ADA name won't jog any memory of a glorious FX era- the '80s! Yes, it's that shredtastic time in guitar history when speed is it. ADA was there to propel tone the digital way but things are rack-mount & not that portable or bedroom friendly compared to the offerings of today. The GCS-2 you see above promises to be affordable & manifests some desirable tones in use with both valve & solidstate technology. As the label implies, it's a cabinet simulator, so if you think you have your pre-amp settings/ effects all set, the GCS-2 should complement your tones.

Here's proof of that ADA-guitar greatness association :-)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beez interlude

If you are lucky, while waiting for your guitar to be fully set up by Beez, he would sometimes break into an interlude- the pic here shows Beez, while waiting for the neck adjustment of a guitar to set in after a bowing tweak, playing Holy Diver. Wish you were here... but you can still catch him in action, click this link: BEEZ DIVER

Lame cable

This cable is a familiar item for us Ibanez owners; it's complementary with our instrument purchase. Nothing wrong with it, it works... but not for long. It begins to crackle after repeated use & the plug end would give way rather easily- no contact at times. If you have handled one before, you'd know how soft the cable is which is not a good sign- it offers very little protection for the innards. That's why it gives way over repeated trampling; the nature of an instrument cable is such that it's bound to get trampled on when in use so it should offer some protection/ resistance in this aspect. Oh, it's not a low-noise performer as well, if you run many pedals in your signal chain & utilize this cable at the end of it- be warned. The same could be said if your amp isn't equipped with a 3-pin plug, this cable kinda amplifies the ground hum.

I'd rather Ibanez save us some money by not offering this cable in time to come. We'd be happier with a better set of instrument adjustment tools for instance or a complementary strap for that matter.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


If you purchase an Ibanez Premium model, a multi-tool is included in the purchase as documented in the booklet above. I've talked to people who bought an Ibanez Premium guitar missing this accessory till its time to tweak the instrument then it dawned on them something's omitted . If it is not included in the purchase, do ask the seller/ dealer why this is so; there must be a reason... If they offer you an alternative, it's a reasonable consolation, otherwise, you might want them to discount the purchase price a tad. That's fair isn't it?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ibanez: RG3XXV (Part 3)

After playing the RG3XXV for some days now, I realized that the instrument is rather heavy. This prompted me to revisit my RG560 & discovered both instruments to be of about the same weight. I have no idea if this was deliberate on the part of the manufacturer- to re-create the instrument to specs- it's definitely a positive consideration. Due to how heavy it is (not excessive, of course) there's a stronger bass response & more sustain to be heard. This complements the D Activator bridge pickup for its prickly midrange.

Squier: VM Telecaster bass

This is new from Squier, something that I'd like to check out- a Telecaster bass from the Vintage Mod series. Note: Brass saddles :-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rosewood vs maple

Hey, which one is better, rosewood or maple? I've been asked this question too many times, my reply to this query would be: It's a matter of preference. Rosewood & maple posses different physical qualities, the reason they provide variation in terms of tone (if you can hear it) & feel.

Brazilian, Indian & Honduran- these are the 3 primary rosewood types used in guitar making. They vary in weight hence giving off different tonal properties. Let's consider the fact that all rosewood types are sturdy, durable & porous for the purpose of this discussion. Rosewood's open pores- this is the rather crucial consideration when it comes to tone. The presence of such openings in a rigid wood type allows it to manifest a degree of brightness most associated with the lower midrange. Rosewood has more warmth in this aspect.

Like its rosewood counterpart, a very sturdy wood type, hefty as well, without sporting open pores. The industry describes this wood as having a 'quick attack', very snappy top-end frequency hence accentuating clarity.

In use
With reference to fretboard application, both wood types affect tone but many of us could hardly hear this difference. This is further complicated by electronics; our pickups, effects & amplifiers simply mask off the true resonance of our instruments. 

I'm sharing with you what I hear coming from guitars sporting rosewood & maple fretboards so it's not a concrete reference of a final outcome, just the product of my ears after listening to guitar tones since 1991...

Guitars with rosewood fretboards give off a very balanced tone once the bridge pickup is engaged; it's neither too bass-inclined nor too bright. I'd say that there's a tad more brightness to the tone but it's not excessive to the lower frequencies. As such, it has better chemistry with humbuckers which are not bright to begin with so the rosewood reinforces the humbucker's bass response while adding enough clarity to it all. The neck pickup gives off more warmth to the overall tone without being undefined; you'd hear a good lower midrange response without excessive top end bite. This is the staple tone for jazzers out there.

Moving on to maple, the bridge pickup has more top end definition to it, brighter than what rosewood has to offer. However, I find maple fretboards to be more rewarding for neck pickups as maple adds a more pronounced definition for single notes. Ditto chords (in clean mode, of course).

Bottom line
At the end of it all, ask yourself what you prefer coming from your guitar with those featured wood types. It's not about one wood being 'better' than the other. In fact, there's no 'better' here, strictly a personal preference. On a personal note, I find this consideration useful when choosing pickups for my guitars but it's NOT a sure formula. Duncan's JB for instance, has a strong midrange focus yet it sounds very commanding in guitars with maple fretboards when we tend to assume that there would be an overwhelming brightness.

Em... if you can't decide what's good for you... it's good to own guitars with both fretboard types. He he... :-)

Box drum

This is one of my rare, non-guitar purchase; a cajon. It's not a junior-size unit intended for random smashing on days when I need to be musical without coming into contact with stringed instruments. Due to its trimmed-down dimensions, no distinct bass response could be heard. The daughter enjoys playing it more than I do in the mean time.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy birthday to the little red dot

Today is our 47th National Day, so in the spirit of loving the country (love your country FIRST, whine about the government LATER), hope you enjoy this music video featuring some great instruments (the only reason I bothered).

Thumbs up to STEADI PRODUCTIONS for this clip.

Wall of stickers

Beez has this wall space full of stickers above his amps, so if you are bored waiting for your turn in queue, looking at this will help kill some time. Hopefully.

Rook OD

I was at Davis yesterday & managed to try this overdrive by Mojo Hand effects- Rook Overdrive.

A positive take here is the fact that it's not a Tubescreamer wannabe; it's just there to churn out overdrive according to the manufacturer's interpretation. The GAIN control does some effective shaping of drive intensity. The mini toggle provides 3 drive voicings to suit your needs. I am a high gain/drive fan but I enjoyed the Rook Hand in its reduced gain setting (Toggle position 1), it has that great note clarity despite running on lower intensity. It makes a good booster in this mode. If you need some top-side poke, Toggle position 2 has lots of that in store. The middle position is diode-free for a cleaner boost to your tone.

The Rook OD is recommended for those of us in search of overdrive goodness per se, not a Tubescreamer clone or something along that line. Personally, I hear great lead tones coming from it in addition to some serious thickness on board, it's a matter of tweaking. Would they have one with a midrange control in time to come (for me)? Hmmm.. :-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

New CDs

OK, so I misplaced these CDs, found it like 10min ago...

  • Mike Stern: All Over the Place
  • Deathspell Omega: Drought

Ask & you will be enlightened

It seems that I've been updating Ibanez models which are not available at Swee Lee... or is that really the case? There is a batch of new Ibanez models which shipped in very recently. They are not on display yet at Swee Lee's Bras Basah showroom due to space constraints, they will be up for perusal once the store make-over is in its completion phase. If you are interested in any of the recent Ibanez models (if you are a true-blue Ibanez fan, you'd know what they are) Swee Lee will do an availability check for you with price quotes so if you don't see what you want in store, simply make an inquiry. They did just that for me, hence my acquisition of 2 recent models: RG3XXV + RG331M. 

I'm definitely not Swee Lee or an employee by any means but it's interesting to note the number of queries I received pertaining to stock queries & prices, he he...

Here's wishing everyone a good week ahead :-)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ibanez: RG3XXV (Part 2)

These are the default DiMarzio pickups in the Ibanez RG3XXV: D Activator (bridge)/ Air Norton S (neck). A quick character reference:

D Activator
It's a treble rich pickup, it was designed to be this way to manifest an accurate active pickup voicing. I'm not a treble fan but this pickup works for me when I turn down the treble over at the amp. It's a magnificent worker for distortion settings. In clean mode, it lacks warmth but gives off a great boom; not for the vintage aficionado, definitely.

Air Norton S
The ANS is a wonderful neck unit, it's one of those eccentric high output, ceramic-based performer that sounds different from what you'd expect it to be. EQ-wise, this pickup is migrange rich with lots of supporting bass response & a curbed treble response- one of the smoothest neck tone could be heard here. This is my kinda pickup, lots of midrange accentuation, lots of warmth, lots of punch without losing definition in any way.

Yes, I'm a Duncan fan through & through but I'm not averse to DiMarzios or any other pickup brands (even EMG, mind you). I just hear more usable tones from Duncans than any other brand names out there, I think it's purely coincidental; they have what I wanna hear. 

Coming back to the RG3XXV performance; I must say that these 2 are the deserving pickups in there. They bring out the best from a basswood unit coupled with a locking, dual-action whammy bridge with lots of potential to sound bad. But not this guitar. The bridge handles all out distortion while the neck gives you one of the best, contemporary neck tones out there.

Ibanez: RG3XXV

I just wanna say that I'm terribly glad I waited; the new resident here is my Ibanez RG3XXV. I nearly bought the RGR465 at Kuala Lumpur but the Edge III bridge was the final consideration. Had been playing it last evening, managed to catch the (Olympic 2012) Mexico - Senegal match while I was at it. Full report very soon.

Hmm... my last 3 guitars all sport maple fretboards: RG3XXV/ RG331M/ Les Paul Tribute 50s humbucker

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wish it was back...

This is the defunct 540S-SH, a simple 2-pickup guitar- gorgeous. You'd notice how Ibanez inclines towards the RG permutations when it comes to current regurgitation. The RG3XXV for instance is the re-incarnation of the RG565. It'd be wonderful if there are some considerations to include the S-Series reference as well. The RG may prove to be the manufacturer's tried & tested design but the S-Series is simply stealth is every way.

Sonic Twilight

Now that Sonic Youth had been laid to rest, guitarist Thurston Moore...

... had decided to manifest his sonic extension in America's black metal super band, Twilight.