Friday, November 30, 2012

Poll results: Fuzz

Once again, thank you for participating in the fuzz edition of the poll installment. I'm trying to 'see' how's the fuzz climate like here. The fuzz, unlike its close relatives, the drive & distortion, doesn't command an immediate following. The way I see it, it's largely due to definition; the lack of clarity & the propagation of sonic sludge, especially in the lower frequencies, would put players off. I find the fuzz rather repulsive but over the years, I appreciate its application despite not favouring it for my kind of playing. If you own a fuzz unit & totally hate it- keep it. Over the years, as your ears become more attuned to drive & distortion, especially the ones which are tube-based coming from amplifiers, you'd understand what the fuzz has in store for you- warmth. You won't find this degree of warmth with your typical overdrive or distortion units due to different clipping responses as well as the lack of transistors (or the lack of specific ones in there).

This is my recommendation quickie, definitely not exhaustive, but an arguably sufficient intro to what a fuzz can do in terms of application, mind you, not immediate appeal:

  1. Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff Despite being an EP & recorded in the early stages of the band's career (also notwithstanding the fact that the album was named after 2 of the industry's most celebrated fuzz pedal names), this is, in my opinion, the best intro to all things fuzz. If you are a fuzz fan & you know nothing about Mudhoney or Superfuzz Bigmuff- you are probably a nobody.
  2. Paul Gilbert: Fuzz Universe OK, the name suggests the obvious but take note of how the fuzz could be applied tastefully to shred.
  3. Korn: Self-titled debut And this is how the fuzz could be made relevant to tunes which are peddled by the 7th string.
  4. Sepultura: Roots The Sepultura chaps bunked in the same recording studio as the Korn chaps & decided to use the same effects to different results. So this, essentially, is a bold statement of intent- it's how you use the fuzz.Very metal fuzz, this one.
Happy weekend, every one. Happy last-day-of-November as well :-)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Meeting nobody who is actually somebody

Yesterday, I met this gentleman at Swee Lee. He's a nobody. That's before you know who he is.

He's referred to as 'Richie-san' by the Swee Lee chaps. Mr. Richie is actually one of the directors at Ibanez back in Japan. I appreciate what he is doing; he goes round the world to see how the Ibanez distributors are doing, talk to them, get good feedback from them & accept opinions & suggestions. Even from someone like me.

I managed to talk to Richie-san thanks to an introduction by Mr. Brendon at Swee Lee Bras Basah. It was an enjoyable few minutes because he knew exactly what I was talking about in terms of instrument details. This is the type of person every manufacturer should have (I'm sure there already people like him employed by the big names in guitar) in their boards.

Some issues discussed:
  1. Ibanez Premium series- Mr Richie was asking how's the reception of the Premium series here in Singapore. I have no exact figures to relate to (because I'm not a Swee Lee employee, obviously). I told him frankly that when it comes to Ibanez, players would like to see a 'package'- good workmanship & impressive electronics/hardware. The Premium series did well in terms of QC but the hardware & electronics are somehow a little 'restrained' to keep costs down. At this price point, players would definitely want a more appealing spec. The other put-off was definitely the 'Made in Indonesia' tag.
  2. Lower tier Prestige series- From where he was standing, he picked up an RG1450 & asked how's the reception of this guitar. Is it more desirable than the Premium models since they are all in the same price bracket? This showed how versed he was when it comes to product knowledge, so for someone of his stature, he's definitely one not to mess with. I told him the RG1450 is a compromised model, it's supposed to be a Prestige offering but it's featuring a semi-defunct bridge (Edge Pro) & not everyone is a fan of a satin finish guitar. These he took note of.
  3. What's your favourite Ibanez guitar?- Mr. Brandon told Richie-san how many Ibanez instruments I own & this entailed into the naming of my favourite, trustworthy, treasured pick- it's my S540, definitely. He was quick to say that it's an old model but I told him the older S-Series (as well as other series in the same era) were 'honest' offerings; preferred wood (mahogany), impressive electronics (the older Quantum humbuckers in them were American made by DiMarzio) & that superb Edge/Lo-Pro Edge bridges. These are tried & trusted specs, they worked & appealed to many Ibanez fans & we are still upset because these features (not all of them) had to be done away with- seriously, we know it's down to cost. We need to take the cue from Vai & Satriani, 2 of the most respected & long-standing Ibanez users- they still prefer their original Edge bridges so why should we differ?
Mr. Richie-san thanked me for my time but I really hoped he would make his subsequent visit offical; maybe Swee Lee could organize a mini dialogue between the directors & Ibanez fans here which would be fruitful for both camps, I'm sure.

Yesterday was a good day.

Different vs differentiated

Two days ago, I spent time playing my Ibanez RGA32. I wanted something different in my hands but handling an Ibanez won't conjure much difference in feel since I own more than 30 Ibanez guitars whose necks are somewhat variations of the same profile. 

But playing the RGA32 was enjoyable & I left this guitar out (of its bag) for more playing time yesterday. It's down to the tone- I simply love my Duncans despite currently messing with more DiMarzios in some guitars. Duncan's Distortion has to be my 'safe tone' reference & that's what is in the bridge position of my RGA32. It just works for all things, em, distortion related (duh!). The P-Rails in the neck is what I really appreciate- some thick, single coil tones in split mode, thanks to the P-90 section of this pickup. In humbucking mode, it's nothing disappointing, crumbs of that single coil snap could still be heard from it & that's an important contribution to definition (clarity to the rest of us). 

Buying an Ibanez these days would mean that I'm investing in an acquainted feel so it's rather pointless buying more Ibanez without making them different & putting my preferred pickups in them is definitely an effort to make them different. Different as in entirely not the same? After plugging many guitars into the same amp & having the same settings for all of them, they actually sound similar; any difference here would be slight but it's that crucial dissimilarity that makes each one of my guitar differentiated.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In LEEBs & bounds

If you think you are up there in terms of guitar accomplishment, along comes someone like Thomas Leeb to make you realize you are actually down there. This performance was a must-watch for me (despite being an electric guitar fan primarily); Mr. Leeb's capacity is simply stunning after witnessing his Desert Pirates performance on YouTube. I am primarily captivated by any individuals who put 100% focus in their engagements & give off that extra bit to define their technicalities (so that they won't tread the earth a copycat); this is why I am all ears to players like Mark King (bass) & Dave Weckl (drums).On this note, I find it rather disturbing that someone from the audience actually told him to play 'normally' (of course, it was done in jest, but still...); if he ditched that percussive incorporation altogether, then it's not Thomas Leeb anymore. Imagine asking a crab to walk 'normally', moving sideways isn't an option. Tsk, tsk...

Coming back to the performance proper, it was an entertaining evening to say the least, with Mr. Leeb dishing out his original numbers, not forgetting his rendition of some popular tracks which included Van Halen's Jump. He was also there to address some technical queries about his playing & instrument. A true professional will not hold back on all things educational & Mr. Leeb had nothing to hide; his sharing was rich & inspiring. I personally thought he was gonna showcase his Lowden but hey, it's a Cort clinic & that Parkwood he used was more than competent in manifesting his music.

So Mr. Leeb, sir, if you are reading this, thank you for a beautiful evening of music & making us forget that we need to haul our asses off to work the following day. The rain didn't help either but all was forgotten for an evening of stunning guitar showcase. My Mrs is by no means a guitar fan but she enjoyed the music (it's something we hubbies could tell).

Someone wants to know where he could listen to Fishbowl because it's a new, unreleased track by Thomas Leeb, please enjoy this:

Thank you: Cort & Swee Lee for making it happen.
PS: I'm that chap who wished you a safe journey & to be home for X-mas. I think your little girl needs you more than a new pair of shoes... OK, maybe she needs both :-)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ibanez instalment

You can now acquire Ibanez 25th Anniversary models on hire purchase as well- happening at Swee Lee. Models include: RG1XXV/ RG2XXV/ RG3XXV.

The Leeb guitar

This is happening later today @ Swee Lee BB showroom- no entry charges. You would want to be there after watching this clip:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

LP instalment

You wanna buy guitar on hire purchase? It's possible @ Swee Lee. However, the offer ends today, hope it's not too late to let this be known to those in need of a Leas Paul (Epiphone)...

Sale: City Music (2012)

Sale starts tomorrow, but if you've been to the store, they good City Music chaps had the sale prices going for days already.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Worthy promo

Davis GMC is having a Majik Box promo in the mean time- all models going for 5% off list price.

Got new CDs?

2 more acquisitions from Inokii, a little delayed update but nevertheless:
  • Abiotic- Symbiosis What can I say but this is a stunning release, a proper LP from this Floridian quintet. Another proof that technicality doesn't get in the way of brutality if there's much thinking in the process. For fans of  The Faceless/ Job For a Cowboy
  • Paul Gilbert- Vibrato What can I say but this is a sub-par release by the fretboard maestro. I have the following tracks left on my playlist: Rain & Thunder & Lightning/ Put It On the Car/ Blue Rondo a la Turk/ The Proghorn. The rest of the tracks had been deleted because they contain vocals, not dissing Paul Gilbert for his singing abilities but they have nothing for me, to say the least. This is perhaps the fuzziest Paul Gilbert release ever, as such, Gilbert did the wise thing by not focusing on the shred but more on the melodies. So be advised if you are looking for some inspiring guitar technicalities & come across 'Paul Gilbert' in planet Google- this album is certainly not one to look forward to guitar-wise.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bass Fuzz

The EHX chaps have finally decided to rev things up in the fuzz zone for all you bassists... The guitar chaps hope that the DI out feature seen here would be incorporated into the guitar Big Muffs as well. Right?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gibson 2013: The way of the future. Pffffttt.

This is the Les Paul Tribute Future, another upcoming Gibson 2013 model. Because it's a future resident, where it comes from, players prefer protrusive tuners, the ones that virtually stick into the headstock ala Firebird. *Duh* No further comments.

Gibson 2013: SG J

This is the perfect example of what would peeve the Gibson purists- a simplified guitar made bare to appeal to the masses. The SG J will debut next year, adding to the list of affordable Gibsons so if you have that amount of money to acquire a dignified, spectacular copy, this one would make you re-consider your intentions- you'd probably save a little bit more to own a 'Gibson'.

I kinda like where this SG J is going, it's a fundamental offering which doesn't try too hard to fish the purists into acceptance. It has 2 more frets than the typical SG & the covered humbuckers there screams contemporary. However, those aren't active units, they are Gibson's 490R/498T pairing, the wooly sounding pair which might be the most Gibson-esque feature in this instrument in terms of appeal (personally, I find them annoying).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Played today...

It's a mundane Monday, there's absolutely nothing to look forward to after work ended- it was raining on my way home. But for me, music never fails to pick me up even if it means a brief 5min of play. Today's playing session was kinda regimented; it's a strict 10min per instrument:
  • LP Tribute 50s (humbucker)- First up was my LP, the objective was to get on with an annoying start, it's all about the instrument as I'm not that receptive to Les Pauls. It was a difficult instrument to play (for me) but it's the perfect pick to test my persistence. 10min of scales regurgitation, timing changes & clean tapping. Enough already.
  • Ibanez GARTB20- The bass inclusion was intentional, forcing myself to think differently after a 'difficult' start. Playing bass is also my way of appreciating cleans. I don't distort/drive my bass. The bass also helps me strengthen my right hand co-ordination, it forces my right fingers to be up to the task because I don't pick my bass, strictly fingers. 
  • Yamaha RGX-A2- One of the most enjoyable guitar I own, very ergonomic in terms of construction, makes playing very addictive. It's a nice conclusion to the session because the LP's torture coupled with the bass' non-guitar idiosyncrasies paved way for a virtually effortless guitar playing when the RGX was in use. However, the default pickups in this guitar need to go. I've already bought replacements & it's a matter of booking some tech time with Beez. That would be soon, of course. Good night :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Camera considerations (maybe)

Maybe I won't buy guitars till next year & get one of these mirrorless darlings instead (L-R):
  • Nikon J1
  • Canon EOS-M
  • Sony NEX 5R
Will hold back all guitar purchases till the week before X-mas. There'll be no more shipments by then so some decisions could be finalized...

SG 2013

You're not gonna see any more of such SG Standards WEF 2013...

This is how the SG Standard will look like come 2013; pickguard swap to make it look like a '61.

Sunday morning bass set-up

I've been holding back on this bass (Ibanez GARTB20); I've actually set it up to general specs so it felt like something I'd have tried at the shops which is kinda 'wrong'. So this morning, it received some tweaks & it felt more desirable thereafter. I basically lowered the action & reduced the neck bow. The fretboard is shiny because it was re-moisturized.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Year-end Ibanez hopefuls

It's good to see the new Ibanez models listed on the manufacturer's domestic homepage (Above: RC320).

Hopefully they'll be here soon for our year-end considerations :-) (Above: S421)...

I'd even consider the SR370... he he.

Friday, November 16, 2012

USB Strat

This is the latest from Squier- a USB direct guitar. As seen in this pic, the guitar has a USB socket that allows direct connection to the computer; no adapters necessary. Cool, yes? But the not so cool thing is, this Squier Strat is only offered through Apple Stores.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1434 greetings

New Year greetings to all Muslim friends & blog visitors- wishing you all peace & prosperity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

(Re) Discovering the half

Had some time this morning for a quick re-string: Ibanez S420 + a set of .009 D'Addario Half Rounds.

The half rounds are, well, less rounder strings pertaining to the wound units. This is gives the player a smoother, 'faster' feel but the brightness are compromised a little bit. This is the reason why jazz players love them; they give off that warmth which is a perfect complement to their hollow tones. 

What the heck am I doing having them in my non-hollow, S420? I had the Dean Markley Helix set in this guitar previously (which served me real well in terms of tone & durability), those smoother wound strings were not 'new' to me (Here: CLICK), actually. I've tried the half rounds before & they give me what the Helix has to offer, just that it slipped my mind- I've tried too many strings.

Happy Deepavali

Deepavali greetings to all Hindu friends/ blog visitors! What's everyone doing this holiday?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Game for Marshall?

That's right, Marshall will debut its first board game based on rock trivia on 1st Dec '12. When was the last time you played something which doesn't consist of a game console? The art of enjoying competitive squabbling & putting one's grey cells to work is all but lost, hopefully this one would rekindle the good 'ol times. Since it's a limited edition release, its debut here is rather slim...

Re-string: Maestro acoustic

Another one for my re-string record: Maestro EA2. It belongs to a friend (Melina, if you are reading this- hi!). The guitar was in very good shape, just needed some TLC so it received a fresh set of D'Addario .012 & a quick fretboard re-moisturizing.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


It's Saturday morning, it's always fantastic if it's away from work. Just finished playing some tunes, here's the set up:
  • Guitar: Gibson LP Tribute 50s with Duncan humbuckers
  • Pedal: CMATmods Butah
  • Amp: Marshall DSL40 Classic gain channel
It's a slightly different approach as I dialed in a tamed drive voicing- the Marshall's Classic Gain gain channel has significantly less roar & the fact that I only had it at 3. The saturation came from the Butah, the drive's almost max-ed out with the brightness in check- tone knob not even past 30%...

What's the point? It's about the ability to play like me with a less familiar set-up. I've always turned things up, way up in fact & this served me well in terms of playing technicalities but that's like wallowing in familiar territory. What if I was made to play with unfamiliar ingredients, could I pull it off or would the excuse be that lame 'it's not my set up, I can't play'?

But the reality of the situation is that we can never be our real selves when faced with a compromised playing situation but it would do us well to be prepared should the situation arise.If you can't be at your 100% best then you can try being very close. Nothing beats playing with your gear & dictating your set up, eh? 

So moral of the story: If there's no caviar, the cod roe has to manifest a near-caviar experience & you have to see that happens.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Poll: Cable length

Thanks, everyone- appreciate you taking part in this poll.

For those of us playing at home, we need not use a terribly long cable unless your amp is in the kitchen while you play in your bedroom because your kitchen has a more appealing natural reverb. Maybe.

We need to keep in mind that cable length affects signal quality but this isn't quite audible in domestic situations. Also, a short cable length would mean that you sit very close to your amp & this isn't a true manifestation of your amp's sonic capacity- you tend to hear more 'brightness' than anything else (because you are too close). A good cable length allows you to play (regardless if you are sitting down or standing up) at least 1m away from your amp, this way you can turn up the volume & this matters because the amplifier is all about volume; the more you turn up, the more 'true' your amp becomes.

Yellow fire

So the Fireman now comes in a Mustard Yellow finish. Pffftt...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Enslaved The Buried

2 more CDs from Inokii:
  • Enslaved- Riitiir Enslaved is a great band. More importantly, they have grown to become better. The music is a little richer with their subsequent releases, notably the incorporation of progressive elements while retaining their roots. This is one of the those bands I listen to for that feel good factor- because these chaps stick to their genre while showing the world they profess at what they are doing. Too many outfits of this ilk get away with noise as if noise is the pre-requisite for getting you somewhere in terms of music reverance. I like the guitars in this one as well, less fuzzy.
  • Between the Buried & Me: The Parallax II Before this album, I didn't bother with the band- I saw their stuff on the net; they are good but they are nothing special (these chaps performed here not too long ago). Until this one, of course. I actually took time to re-listen to selected tracks, noted some of the minor inclusions which really defined this release; it's a classic case of the insignificant inclusions defining brilliance. It's disrespectful to associate a band's capacity to another because it implies incapacity but I tell you what I hear in this release- the twisted genius of Arcturus peppered all over the songs, a very heavy Dream Theater plying the jist of it all & that Nachtmystium Assassin beeps, pops & tweets which boils down to Pink Floyd's psychedelia application- thoroughly enjoyable. Respect!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ibanez: AR series

The Ibanez community is currently abuzz with the AR series talk; yes, it's the Artist series which were once defunct but their recent resurrection had many players sing praise for them. (Above: AR325)

Unlike the previous incarnation, the current AR models sport 2 mini switches near the instruments' volume controls that allow both coil splitting & coil tapping voicings. The 24.75" scale length gave them a very Gibson-esque vibe. The Jazz players out there would tell you Ibanez's Super 58 humbuckers are some of the best in the business- just ask Scofield & Metheny. (Above: AR420)

If you possess the above instructional DVD, Marty Friedman used the AR exclusively in that recording before he received his SZ-based signature model.

The clash

Happening this Saturday (5th 10th Nov): Phil X guitar clinic. If you've been watching him on You Tube, you would be keen to be there.

Also happening this Saturday, PSMS live @ Fort Canning TAB. This is a possee of accomplished players performing, there's so much to learn by watching this one.

But hey, these shows are 1hr apart, if you are a guitar fan, you'd wanna be there for both shows but that couldn't possibly happen. It'd be too much to ask the organizers to avoid such a clash (it's not their fault anyway...) but they'd be keen to know that people who'd buy the tickets are from the same pool of guitar dweebs. They'd get more attendance either way if these shows are very much separated.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Petrucci pick

Dunlop picks & John Petrucci's recent collaboration: The JP Jazz III. There is indeed a sizable following when it comes to Dunlop's Jazz III picks, so here's adding a little variety to the option.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Edwards: E-MV

Oh, darn. Edwards is slowly incorporating all those yummy ESP models into their catalog. Why is this a good thing? The Japanese manufacturing means the QC would be top notch & the fact that the 'ESP' name isn't there on the headstock despite the guitar being made by them- it won't cost as much. Guitar above: E-MV-125FR

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ibanez: Roadcore

This is the latest from Ibanez- the Roadcore series. It's not one to relive your shred/ thrash moments but it could be of use for those applications. The neck profile is more rounded, very C-type in feel according to the manufacturer. Coupled with that non-angled headstock, it' very RX/ RT in make. Also, Ibanez had chosen to resurrect the block heel, if you are used to your all-access neck joint (AANJ), this one might be a little tricky. But if you embrace all things guitar, it'll be of little hindrance (you have no such issues with your Fenders, yes?). This model was a Fall release but there was an announcement stating it won't appear State-side till further notice. Maybe it'd be a Winter NAMM debut, who knows? That headstock looks familiar, you say? Here:

Friday, November 2, 2012

James Bond: Skyfall (spoiler alert)

I gotta give it to the dweebs who wrote the Skyfall plot- splendid! If you've not been following the Bond movies, you won't miss a thing by jumping straight to this one. Also, if you are turned off by the cloak & dagger content of spy movies, this Bond instalment has the least of them all, the focus here is revenge. There are 2 deaths in this movie, very few Bond gadgets on show & a greying Bond battling degeneration because of his love for the profession. Do not dismiss the show because you are averse to all things James Bond, it's a good movie per se.

Fender Lone star: Mexican/ USA

Recently, Fender has a Lone Star model in the catalog (recent addition? I must have missed it) but at a single glance, I thought something was not right with this guitar. Upon a more detailed reading, the Lonestar in question (the latest manifestation) is a Mexican version- evident from the 21 frets on offer.

I remember trying this guitar at Swee Lee back in the '90s when it was still situated at the current Art Friend location. It was an American model back then, featuring 22 frets & those steel block saddles which I prefer. Here's that USA model in one of Fender's ads (this one taken off Fender's homepage). 

Ibanez RG331M: Oranged

Just the usual observance- Orange Drop cap in my guitar. This time it's my Ibanez RG331M.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Guitar paint job

I met Eric about a fortnight ago at Beez's. He runs a shop specializing in paint jobs for bikes/ helmets/ guitars. The example depicted above is one of his excellent outputs, I was fortunate to have witnessed the QC first hand- top notch. If you are interested/ have queries pertaining to costs, please leave him a note at his facebook page: Paint Extreme.
Happy November, everyone :-)