Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Hits and misses (4)

Hit: The amazing Thomas Leeb was here for a captivating performance. He signed my CD as well.Mua ha ha ha ha ha!!

Miss: Dark Funeral went round the world including Malaysia & Indonesia, bypassing Singapore in the process. Maybe the map of the world suggested this island was part of Peninsula Malaysia because its northern perimeter looks like a perfect fit to Malaysia's southern-most fringes (go ahead, cut the shapes out & do a jigsaw matching). Either that or the island presented itself to look like one of Indonesia's fragmented islands. But that shouldn't be the case because the band was here before, aeons ago when I was serving the nation & had to miss the date because of sentry duty back in camp. How could I forget such things, yes? Bummer.

2012: Hits and misses (3)

Hit: Ibanez's 25th Anniversary RG1XXV. OK, so it was a little wishful thinking on our part- that Ibanez would kick start 2012 with a bang considering their most iconic guitar model, the RG, celebrates its 25th year of production. It was a bang alright, but coming from a small gun. The RG1XXV was given the Premium treatment & with the set of DiMarzio IBZ pickups in there, it's a value-for-money instrument.

Miss: Ibanez's 25th Anniversary RG2XXV. This is the final model under the Anniversary offering & it sure looks... ordinary. In fact, after giving it a go, I'd say it's indeed ordinary, so ordinary that it retails for as much as the RG350, a non-Anniversary model. If you'd like to amuse yourself with some matching coloured fretboard markers, go ahead. But with all due respect, it's not a dud.


I had a fresh set of tuners for my Ibanez V50J, nothing exorbitant, in fact, its a generic brand set. The fact that they are new, more functional & responsive, that made the difference.

While I was at it, I gave it a fresh set of D'Addario  bronze strings as well, this one has a wound third. I'm more confortable with a set of .010s in this scaled-down guitar.

2012: Hits & misses (2)

Hit- Duncan's 59/Custom hybrid pickup is a great addition to the fold; nothing really refreshing here, just a successful surgery of two already established pickups, housed in a single unit. It's not the manufacturer's original idea either, it's a product of one of the fans' tinkering. I'm happy with this pickup namely because it lives up to its fused reputation; in part a sweet clean player but a staunch distortion proponent given the drive settings. And then some great harmonics.

Miss- Shred meister Paul Gilbert showed everyone yet again what he could do with the guitar, a trio of single coils at the helm, mind you. However, with this one, he's putting a stop to the firm belief that he's abandoned his singing & song competency to splatter scary notes in your face full time. The shred is still there but it's riding on what Gilbert wanted them to do; to help manifest his ideas, mainly. It's a wonderful release this Vibrato album but it tested my patience in terms of guitar embrace. Nice, just not my type.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: Hit s & misses (1)

As we flip the final pages of 2012, some of us are tempted to back-track & refresh those highs for the year. We would also like to give the rancid encounters a last look to remind ourselves that everything isn't that sweet as we went along. Here's my edition of 2012's hits-&-misses, strictly personal, of course. Feel free to disagree.

Hit- The new Marshall DSL series. Re-vamped interpretation of the manufacturer's defunct JCM2000 DSL series only this time, with a more snarling drive section & then that spanking clean. This isn't an instant hit of course, it's made in Vietnam but that speaks very little of the actual performance on offer. A re-booted stellar performer for lesser asking price- why the heck not?

Miss- Commander Vai is someone I look up to regardless of his artistic directions. His phrasing & arrangements are simply sublime, so when a release like this comes my way, I takes a little more reach into my deeper understanding to accept what took place. There isn't any sublime messages on board, but a different manifestation of Commander Vai's music which is off tangent to my preference. A respectable release but not for me.

Sub-surface rot

Beyond our clear observations, our instruments' parts/hardware are deteriorating. We wouldn't know this until there is a need to remove them for some reasons. Do not blame the manufacturer, these are expandables, they have a good life then they 'die'. Above: Neck bolt screws (R)/ control cavity cover screws (L) from my Jackson DKMGT; rotten, removed & disposed.

Final Sunday of 2012...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Marshall...

Got mine :-) It turned out to be the final acquisition for 2012...

MI Audio: Flex Smartamp

Come 2013, MI Audio will have this amp as their flagship release; it's a hybrid digi-tube amp.

The amp face you see there is actually a touch screen which functions like the controls of an ordinary amp (duh!) except there's no turning of knobs, all touch & tap. This is the digital section of the amp, it also allows the user to custom set/ pick their amps of choice, coming up with their own unique concoction along the way. I think we're familiar with this nature of amp voicing if we subscribe to iOS technology. 

However, the manufacturer reminds users that the Flex is an 'all-analog path' tube amp leaving only the controls being triggered by digital responses. The dichotomy all along had been the digital technology interference with the traditional tube amp voicings, tampering it in such a way that the output becomes a very calculated response lacking in dynamics & real-time chemistry. 

OK, let 2013 come & we'd see if this freshie is up to the mark, no use being bought in by the sales pitch.

Gibson: SG Standard (4)

Showing you Gibson's inner self, so to speak. This one's my Gibson SG with the pickguard removed. The true worth of good production is the hidden parts. If the manufacturer is serious about QC, the covered parts shouldn't be 2nd rated & with Gibson- plain to see here- it's all good.

Moving on to the control cavity, we see an equal measure of neatness. Perhaps we can be critical about the surface presentation; why didn't Gibson level it, make it smooth to the touch? If the body surface receives stellar treatment, shouldn't those parts be treated equally? You'd see Japanese manufacturers giving more attention to such situations with the higher tier models & this is the reason why, at a certain point in time, the industry looked east to understand the standard. But Gibson did fine here.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bending Les Paul

This Gibson Les Paul will be available come 2013- the LPJ B-bender. It works like the other B-Benders out there; the B-string tension is controlled by a spring connected to the top-side strap button. It's a note-worthy introduction & I prefer Gibson engaging in this type of offering as opposed to the usual regurgitation of Les Pauls. But we know how the manufacturer keeps its heritage (design & all) philosophical.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Familiar face?

Please look at the arrowed pic above (music school poster I came across recently); does that image look familiar to you? Does this mean that it's a universal guitar icon, perfect comprehension for everyone?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ultra V!

Some of us might be familiar with this chap- Ultraman 7 or Ultra 7 as he's referred to. He's not in any bands (not that I know of) but...

...he has a Flying V to his name- ESP's Flying 7.

Single is good

Spent some time with my GIO today. It's called, 'Working with limitations'. Sometimes I find it difficult to conjure some original ideas & it's times like this I am grateful for having the GRGR010LTD here with a single pickup to prove my worth. You are more productive working under pressure.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ho, ho ho!

It's midnight! To friends & blog visitors- season's greetings! Gonna play guitar all day (hopefully)!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Poll: Year-end shopping

Once again, thank you for taking part in this poll. This is a clear indication of our year end shopping habit, majority of us are out guitar-hunting. Effects shopping takes second place. While stores here are expecting a no holds barred gear shopping at this time of the year, we note that some of us are calling off our purchases due to unforeseen circumstances. While the demand for bass here represents the minority participation, let's not forget the fact that this is a guitar blog, I may have missed the sizable camp of bass players out there.

RIP: Mike Scaccia

Just read about the passing of Mike Scaccia- RIP.

I first heard Mike play in Rigor Mortis (back then it was cassette tape), one of my early exposure to extreme music. Then Mike was recruited by Al Jourgensen into Ministry but his playing intensity didn't suffer some expected commercialization. Respect.

Good tribute

This is Gibson's Tribute 70s Les Paul headstock, front & rear view. Staying true to its 70s attribute, we note the headstock's slightly wider dimension, more obvious if you look at its fore face. Love or hate that; it's the 70s. 

Now as we look at things at the flip side, note the volute which is absent in many other Gibson headstock construction. I like this feature because it strengthens the neck, in fact, I feel it should be made standard in all of the manufacturer's instruments because we read time & again how these headstocks snap rather easily in times of calamity. However, we are talking about 'Gibson' here, the name very oblivious to modern refinements.

Ibanez 2013: RG2228M

This is a new one for 2013- Ibanez's RG2228M, 'M' for maple fretboard.

Look: EMG pickups. In terms of tone, it's no different if the guitar sports a maple or rosewood fretboard; it still sounds like... it features a set of EMGs in there. If you commit to this purchase it means, you prefer the maple fretboard feel.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gibson: SG Standard (3)

That production floor custom I featured earlier- my very ordinary Seymour Duncan JB/ Jazz combo, made special by the black covers.

And they went into my recently acquired Gibson SG. I have more love for my SG after these were in there. Did I just devalue one of the most iconic electric guitar in history? It would be a sad day if I did not do anything to a guitar which needed to be tailored to my spec- it reflects bowing down to conventional acceptance; not my philosophy.

Congrats... Lions!

Congrats to the Singapore Lions for winning the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup.

I watched this match last night not with bated breath but with a healthy dose of dismay as to the team's lack of propensity to score. But that was not the plan, the plan was to listen to the winning instruction & it was the need to defend. So last night, the nation subconsciously cheered the team's defensive performance which went wayward just before the half-time break. That didn't matter, of course, the team continued to dispense back line abstinence & that worked. Phew!

So the team won, we deserve a holiday for this record-breaking feat. With this government- in our dreams...

Gibson: SG Standard (2)

These are the default pickups in my Gibson SG Standard- the 490R & 496T. As you can see, they had been removed from the instrument. Gibson fans might like them for their rounded, creamy tones (especially the neck pickup) but they are not my kind of pickups.

Once again, the Gibson pots & PCB. If your Gibson is a post-2010 model & isn't one to recreate a vintage original specification, it will be fitted with one of this. It makes perfect manufacturing sense in the production line when things would get a little speedier with a ready PCB inserted into the guitar body & final non-solder pickup wires attachment, but if you choose to mod your electronics selectively, you have to forgo the entire assembly. Bummer.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gibson: SG Standard (mine...)

Occasionally, I will acquire something not really to my preference but a worthy inclusion in my tone arsenal. The 'Gibson' brand name is an indisputable icon when it comes to tone & that's not just for show. The instrument presents itself to be of certain indigenous character, well-vouched by people in this industry. So I thought, since the SG Standard is given a cosmetic make-over come 2013, I'd spend some good money (since there are no more Ibanez/ ESP distractions in the mean time) to own one pre-2013 model & this cherry-finished version was it.

That said, I am not obliged to embrace & forgive the manufacturer's instrument-making philosophy; I still deem the SG a forgiven reject (that neck dive, let's not get into that) but it's something I can live with.This isn't my first SG, mind you.


Got 'em! My 'custom' Duncans... :-)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eillekoet: SALE recommendations

The good stuff tomorrow (among others)- pickups. Gibson's Iommi humbucker is recommended for people who love high output, extreme distortion, without the lack of dynamics. This is the reason why the Iommi model is based on an alnico base.

My other pick would be the Burstbucker Pro- lots of warmth & great drive chemistry. This isn't as ferocious as the Iommi but will please the metal chaps out there who wants a ready pickup for cleans should the need arises.

Schecter: Omen 7 PU cavities

I'm just happy with how the Schecter people treat their PU cavities; even for a the lower Omen series, there's no compromise on QC. Thumbs up!

Eillekoet: SALE

This is happening this Saturday, 22-12-2012. The discounts are time-based, as indicated above :-) All transactions- cash only, please note. Cick the store link (left column) to check what's for grabs.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ibanez 2013: RG2721

This is the 2nd Ibanez RG to feature the Tight End R bridge; RG2721. Yes, that quilt top is gorgeous but this 2013, Ibanez makes it clear their tops mean serious business. In addition to a captivating laminate top-most layer, selected models feature a 4mm cap so we get 3 layers of serious considerations for the money. In this RG2721's case: 1) Mahogany body 2) Maple cap 3) Quilted maple laminate.

Schecter: Omen 7... TESLA-rised

Ah... my Schecter Omen 7 is back to life. Recent ailments:
  • Dead pot
  • 3-way pickup selector- unreliable contact
Sent it to Beez for parts replacement. The selector issue was no surprise, other Schecter owners related to me how theirs couldn't maintain a good contact despite have them sprayed (with contact spray) countless times. My advice to you- get it replaced, it doesn't cost much.

While I was at it, I managed to swap the pickups with a pair of TESLA Plasma 7s- yeah! I love how these sound in this guitar; lots of distortion clarity + a little surprise in the cleans :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Effects discounts

Davis is having the following discounts if you are out gear shopping:
  • Bogner pedals: 13% off
  • Electro-harmonix pedals: 10% off (majority)

Glitter, glitter...

This is perhaps Edwards' final new offering for 2012, the E-LP-98SD. After much thought, I'd like to own more Edwards in 2013...

The through bass

Ibanez finally offers a mid-priced, through-body neck bass, come 2013: the SRT series. Featuring a pair of EMGs in there. GAS yet?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ibanez 2013: SV

I thought the Ibanez SVs were dead & buried but heck, no. They will be re-introduced in 2013, this SV5470 here, is one of them. It features a stunning quilted maple top & a line-up of EMGs. As if that wasn't enough highlight, it features a coil split switch (volume knob). Just a reminder that when the SVs debuted, they feature the SynchroniZR bridge & that's what you see here.

Boxes of frustration

Zvex effects- a name you might be familiar with in the boutique range of guitar stomp boxes. I've had the opportunity to try the manufacturer's most intense distortion in their catalog; the Box of Metal. There are three versions available (3 different prices), please refer to the manufacturer's homepage to know why this is the case. 

The more pressing matter here is tone- what can we expect from a distortion unit which can easily get us a budget starter guitar? I tried all 3 versions & the trio manifested this fuzz-laden distortion but this isn't a bona fide fuzz unit to begin with. The manufacturer claims the BOMs give off a 'high gain tube amplifier' performance; high gain & tube were there, no doubt, but they could've done better in terms of definition. The drive voicings, together with the 3-band EQ, made the boxes rather muffled & in need of clarity. Turn up the top end, you say? But that made them sound like you are dealing with small practice amps that tried but couldn't appeal. For the benefit of the doubt, I switched guitars just to convince myself there would be other variables which were affecting the pedals' performances but sadly, that wasn't the case. However, applause to the GATE function which did very well in curbing unwanted signals between play with negligible (if any at all) tonal degradation- I definitely like that.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ibanez 2013: Goodbye to these...

The Ibanez JS1000 & UV7 will bow out this year. You have these guitars?

Ibanez 2013: RG1550

I love this- the new Ibanez RG1550 in 2013 will feature non-locking hardware (look: Ibanez SyncroniZR bridge). But... it's gonna be black only (argh!). Also: basswood alder body + default coil split switch (volume knob :-)

Things are looking good in the Ibanez camp, the LTD camp is confusing everyone with the Elite range *pfffttt*

DiMarzio-ed: RG721

Acquired some pickups lately, this pair included: DiMarzio D-Sonic (bridge)/ Air Norton (neck).

If you've read my other DiMarzio entries, you'll know that I'm not a keen DiMarzio fan but I won't exclude the good tones I hear from any pickup brands.

The DiMarzio pair you see above are in my Ibanez RG721. The D-Sonic gets my thumbs up for clarity but it has a generous bass response & the way you orientate the pole pieces affects the bass response (seriously). I like it this way as it complements heavy distortion. The Air Norton- it's something I've tried before & liked. I still like it for that midrange emphasis & warmth in the neck position, it's not as commanding in the bridge.

Beez- superb workmanship as usual!

I have 3 other guitars awaiting pickups swap, hoping to get them done over the next few days...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Foam support

I know many of you out there are frustrated by the fact that direct mount pickups require a base support & the action adjustment springs are done away with. Hunting for a suitable foam padding is quite a chore, one has to consider the material involved; it shouldn't be too flimsy (dish-washing sponge is out of the question) because if it is, it won't give you that 'springy' effect to push the pickups up during height adjustments. It shouldn't be too hard to such an extent that you are unable to push the pickups down into the cavity during installation or dent the wood (ouch!).

My approach to this is to use furniture skid protectors which are readily available at hardware stores/ supermarkets. This is the very foam attached to the base of your furniture so that when you drag/ move them, there won't be scratch marks on the floor. The adhesive for such attachments are industrial strength, they won't dislodge easily, it requires some amount of tugging to get them off, very suitable for the occasion. They come in various shapes & dimensions so it's no issue trimming them to fit your needs. As you observe above, I have trimmed them for my DiMarzio humbucker, I've also stacked them accordingly to suit the cavity depth. $1.99 for those 18 pieces :-)

SOLD: Ibanez S570B (not mine...)

If you fancy this Ibanez S570B, it's going for a superb price of $450. Guitar features a DiMarzio Tone Zone (bridge) & Breed (neck). Please contact Mr. Fabian: 82-82-239-0

Guitar SOLD 16-12-12. thanks!