Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Error: Telecaster?

Swee Lee Co. is having a Fender clearance sale in the mean time (online deals only, selected models), please note the error as indicated above (ditto the red Strat). Nevertheless, discounts are good, you should check it out: CLICK

Edit: Swee Lee are working on the revisions, errors to be rectified ASAP :-)


Before the close of 2013, I managed to have a go at this E-II guitar you see above. It's nothing new, many would agree, a singlecut in the image of a certain Gibson model. This is not an appraisal in likeness but a taster of sorts from the E-II range, ESP's offshoot label, a necessary rearrangement, following the manufacturer's part shift to the USA.

But there's nothing unusual to document, the EC-I is an ESP by any other name. The ESP 12th fret inlay is a reminder of its pedigree lest we are too bothered by that other label at the headstock. The plus points of investing in an ESP or an E-II in this case is its impeccable QC. It's putting money into a standard production model with a very custom-like workmanship. The EC-I is rather lightweight & this would be the talking point for buyers who handle this guitar in the hope that they are cradling a Gibson due to that very familiar outline. Whatever subtle tones you hope for is thwarted by the EMG humbuckers in there. Please hear this guitar/ the EMGs in action through a 12" driver equipped amp to experience the power of distortion. The neck profile isn't a Gibson as well, it's nothing similar I should stress but you get a good playing neck, nothing too thin or too bulky, a very working class feel for all sorts of fretboard tricks (if you have any to manifest, he he...). Every E-II guitar is made in Japan & comes with a standard ESP hardcase.

E-II: EC-1
Availability: Davis GMC
Price: $2,200.00

Monday, December 30, 2013

Message from Beez

Here's a message from Beez- He will close early on New Year's Eve, definitely by 4.00PM & will take a break on 1st Jan 2014. Business as usual on 2nd January so if you have plans to send your instruments to him for some mileage checks or other, do take note of the business hours. Beez wishes all customers/ friends a very Happy 2014 & thanks all for their support.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Edwards: Conclusion

I had been holding back this info but as 2013 draws to a close, it's time to stop being emotional & look ahead & accept changes. As part of ESP's gaining ground in the USA, the Edwards name will cease to propel musical instruments for ESP come 2014. That's sad because this name had been putting ESP in good stead for less money. It's an economical emulation of the ESP name without crucial compromise unlike what the LTD names stands for in terms of commercial alternative. We are actually a lucky lot because these Edwards are for domestic circulation in Japan only, special arrangements were made between ESP & selected distributors to have them made available elsewhere.
Edwards make good stuff.Will miss them. You know, it might be a good time to re-look at whatever Edwards there are out there & act accordingly.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Selling: Veelah V1-OMCE (SOLD)

To clear: Veelah V1-OMCE, 8-days old, bag included. Some specs: Solid spruce top/ mahogany sides/ Fishman IsysT preamp (with tuner).
  • Selling: Veelah solid top electro-acoustic guitar
  • Slightly more than a week old (bag included)
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Queries/ confirmation: subversion.sg@gmail.com
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Price: $200 (final)
SOLD as at 29-12-2013

PRS: Marty Friedman SE

I do not wish to dwell too much on this but despite his personal respect & accolades for PRS, Marty Friedman gets an SE version for his signature model. Sheesh...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ho, ho, ho 2013!!

Season's greetings to all & for those not celebrating it in a religious sense- you deserve a break! Amidst the festive atmosphere, I start work in 2 days' time so there's a tint of gloom in there. *sigh*

Monday, December 23, 2013

Re-string Monday

I'm the sort of person who will not hesitate to try different string brands, acoustic versions included. Unlike the solid body electric where string tone gets diluted by the pickup performance, one can hear the tonal influence of string in acoustic guitars directly. We judge the string performance based on this standard in addition to feel. These days, strings get scrutinized for their durability as well. Back when I was starting out, I scrutinized them for their prices as well but this is the least of my concern now. 

The Pyramid set you see here is a .010s but it has a wound 3rd & ends with a .047 for the low E. The wound 3rd here means you have more bronze in your tone so it'll be a tad crispier. The .047 for the low E adds a wee bit more bass for your low notes but it's only .001 thicker than the traditional .046 in a set of .010s so the resultant more bass is rather negligible but still appreciated by those of us with fox & bat ears sensitivity :-)

Pyramid strings (acoustic) are available at SV Guitars.

Acoustic strings I've tried (as at 2013):
  • Ernie Ball Earthwood series
  • Darco (Martin)
  • Fender
  • Elixir
  • SIT (CRT series)
  • D'Addario/ D'Addario EXP
  • Gallistrings (Lucky Star series)
  • Acoustic Science
  • IQS
  • Kerly (Earthtones series)
  • Dr. Duck
  • GHS (Silk & Bronze series)
  • Dean Markley (Vintage Bronze series)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Round the post

These are posts from non-locking tuners (machine heads to some of us). Note the number of string turns.

These are posts from non-locking tuners. There are obviously more turns seen here.

I recently came across a guitar sporting locking tuners but the owner wrapped rounds of string at the posts & when queried, the answer was, "To promote grip."

FYI, if the tuners are of the locking variety, there is already a mechanism in there to grip/clamp the strings, to make them stay put so there will be no slippage when you tune your instruments. The non-locking version requires more turns round the posts to emulate this grip. If you insist on doing rounds of strings there for the locking version, to put it simply, you don't know what you are doing. So how much string length is good for the locking version? My simple answer to this will be: Enough to address any sharp/ flat responses during tuning. From my personal experience, one round is enough. :-)

PRS S2- 2 more for 2014

This is good news indeed, something that would make someone like me look forward to 2014- PRS has 2 more models to be added to the S2 series: Singlecut/ Custom 22. I was actually looking forward to the S2 Starla but was let down by the fact that there's a Bigsby B50 bridge in there so this is awesome (news).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yamaha to own LINE 6

This is definitely an interesting development- Yamaha Corp. is acquiring LINE 6 Inc.

To the less senior members in this music community, Yamaha isn't a total daft when it comes to digital technology in music, they had a go at digitizing effects processors & amplifiers not too long ago (like the last decade), in fact, many of us might still be in possession of the equipment seen above, stashed away somewhere in the house. In my opinion, things didn't move on too well here because as far as development is concerned, it was virtually invisible.

This was despite the fact that Yamaha had some formidable names under its DG technology, some of whom can be seen in the ad above. This acquisition would signal a turn for Yamaha as a player, maybe not so much of a force to be reckoned with when it comes to guitars (oh please, Yamaha, you gotta bring back the Pacifica glory days...), but as a recognized entity in pro-audio equipment. 

As far as the business end goes, Yamaha is letting LINE 6 run its show with no change in the management organization. Back home here in SG, we can expect to see Beat Spot & City Music fusing business ideas, hopefully to our (consumer/buyer) benefit. Let's keep a close watch come 2014, shall we?

Friday, December 20, 2013

PRS: Archon

Just when we thought things are simmering down to a close, PRS announces the release of its high gain amp, the Archon. The manufacturer promises a good balance between sparkling cleans & aggressive overdrive which I think is important. Many a times, we see amps majoring in intensity only to fall short of good cleans. Maybe this might signal the turn of things to come as far as amps are concerned; models with excellent cleans & drive modes so we don't switch allegiance to other brand names should we embrace one for its specific offering.

You might not be a fan of the players featured in the clip above but that's not the point, do listen to the tone coming from the Archon, that's more pressing.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ola Solar

Shred/ metal stalwart, Ola Englund, has his series of Washburn guitars released recently.

As you can see here, the Solar series of guitars feature Seymour Duncan pickups & a choice of 2 fixed bridges to consider- the Evertune or Hipshot. A 7-string version of each guitar is available. Some of us are not too keen when it comes to that headstock outline but this should not stop us from acknowledging the instruments' goodness after personal evaluations.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Orange in the case

When the year draws to a close & you have fulfilled your purchase intentions, you look back at what you have & think of ways to better address some needs.

I have basically closed my accounts for 2013 so some funding goes to storage provisions. My Jackson DK2T was given a deserving resting place; a GATOR GC-ELECTRICA-A hard case. As you can see above, it sports a universal headstock compartment space so it will accommodate many designs. I'm also making it a point to avoid buying fibre-type cases for a simple reason- they attract mold.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Sometimes, the biggest gesture comes from the little guys; strings&beyond is an online guitar accessories store & the reason I popped by- pick hunting. I purchased a coconut shell pick you see here & the note included there (on the DO) just made my day.

So here's a salute to all the SMEs out there- you guys make the difference!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

EVH: Wolfgang Special

This guitar bears the initials of one of the most (if not the most) iconic guitar slingers of all time. Since his involvements with the Music Man brand name, Van Halen had settled with this rather stable design for his guitars; one which features simple cutaways & a non-6 in a line set of tuners. This is the latest addition to his line up of preferences & it's one not made in the USA; the Special is made in Japan. 

I had the opportunity to try this guitar out recently & was first stirred by the weight of it; it's light. Despite the massive hardware there, the Special is one which would please newbies or senior players concerned with having to lug around a heavy (musical) implement. This was made clear by the manufacturer as the guitar is crafted from a lighter basswood grade & features a laminate top as opposed to the full 1/2" maple which adorns the American counterpart. All in all the guitar was a pleasure to handle, made very desirable by the unfinished neck (& gloss-free). However, the bridge humbucker in the audition model, I'm confident to say, wasn't equipped with an F-spaced humbucker so the E & B strings alignment was clearly off.

Tone-wise, the bridge humbucker is an all-out rocker; very gain friendly without losing definition at high drive settings. Switching to the neck, one would feel the stark difference immediately- it's much deeper sounding & has a steep inclinations to all things vintage in terms of warmth. Due to the lighter build, the guitar did not suffer from any coercion from the bottom end & balances out nicely across the frequencies despite the neck pickup manifesting its boomy pedigree. All in all, the Special succeeded in its enticements for both tonal & playability considerations. In fact, I'd guess that there would be many of us out there expressing a firm preference for the neck's 'balanced' profile- neither too thin nor too overwhelming when serious grip is in order. 

A couple of things to note: 1) The frets in this guitar are not your rocker-grade, tall & wide type, Van Halen prefers a less obnoxious selection & they are, at best, mediums with a hint of vintage. 2) The pickup selector switch was wired to Van Halen's peculiarity- the up position selects the bridge humbucker, the down position gets you the neck humbucker. Annoying, yes, but it's the man's liking & this is his guitar anyway.

EVH: Wolfgang Special
List: $1,890
Availability: Swee Lee Co.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Message from Eillekoet

Here's a message from EILLEKOET in case you are heading down to the store for some parts shopping:

Dear All,
" Our shop have Moved! Hope you all have had an awesome shopping experience with us at our shop during the past 3 years.
Thank you for all your support and keep on supporting! While we are searching for a new ideal store, you are still able to make purchases through our online store! At - www.eillekoet.com. And yes, we are running EILLEKOET from home for the time being! "
Thank you all once again!! :))) And remember to SHOP ONLINE NOW!

Swee Lee @ Star Vista

I finally managed to squeeze some time into my December schedule to drop by Swee Lee's latest branch at North Vista. This is a great plus for those of us living in the West, we welcome the presence.

If you've been to the Katong branch, the ambiance is virtually a brought over, the fittings are what you see there. Instruments are carefully arranged for viewing scrutiny & I feel this is important because that's what we do first. Trying comes later when we are agreeable with what we see. More importantly, there's ample space to move around & some dedicated floor area for trying. Do note that the inventory isn't representative of what Swee Lee actually possesses so if you don't see what you want. please do not hesitate to ask. Arrangements will be made to bring the items over for purchase agreements.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hard picking

It's human nature to associate understanding with familiarity. This is even the case to address unfamiliarity; one tries to reason by drawing on fathomable practices but that's dangerous. The validity of this reasoning remains confined within one's personal understanding & reasoning, it may well not be the correct reasoning. This retort is my knee jerk reaction to some people who dismiss others who prefer thick, hard picks as bass players. It's not too long ago that I was testing a guitar at the stores when a fellow shopper drew near to ask how I've progressed to the standard of playing I am manifesting today (which is semi-pathetic, honest) so one of the factors considered was of course the choice of picks. I showed him my 3mm pick & he went, "Oh, this is for bass isn't it?"

There are reasons why I prefer thick picks:
  1. Thick picks facilitate my playing style. This is my utmost important consideration. It even transcends the considerations for price & brand names. I'd embrace any thick picks out there that complement my playing style; most of the time, I'm playing hard-hitting stuff so that's the reason why thickness is important.
  2. Thick picks supplement energy conservation, as far as I am concerned. It sounds contradictory; how can someone who plays 1,000 notes per minute even talk about energy conservation? But it boils down to one's playing style. I need to get from one note to another very quickly so there should not be any dissipation of efforts to overcome a thin pick that flexes with every note picked. Get it?
  3. More often than not, thickness equals durability. In order to maintain my playing momentum, I need something to keep me going, endure my torturous feat till the end (of playing). I wouldn't want to pick a new pick every 10min or so because the ones I am using cannot see me through, it's a sheer indication of incompatibility.
So there we have it, my reasons for choosing stubborn picks are indeed not fueled by Satan; it's a playing quirk which I've discovered over the years. I urge you to consider the pick you choose to embrace instead of favouring the flavour of the moment. You could do worse by accepting just anything handed to you without even thinking why they should be a part of your playing. Lest we overlook, I'm reiterating the fact that this is a personal quirk, not a standard diagnosis of how things should be. Embrace the pick that you favour, don't let anyone tell you different. 

And yes, I play bass occasionally but I don't pick my bass, I use my fingers, like Jaco. :-)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Headstrong 2

The EVH 5150III does not need any pedal reinforcements as long as distortion goes but I'd like to mess with conventions, if that's what happened earlier today. I plugged in EHX's East River Drive into the amp in series so the pedal sends its driven signals to the amp before everything gets processed & heard through the driver. 

In the crunch channel, the pedal's effect is such that it brought the intensity up, if I may, to the levels offered by the lead channel. However, the voicing has the pedal additives to it, meaning, I could hear the East River Drive ringing in there so it's not just the amp roaring. Letting the pedal influence the lead channel is a case of downright distortion overdose, there's way too much on offer but that's how it is with some of us, we want to go past that limit just for discovery's sake. Due to the nature of the lead channel's distortion, the pedal is reduced to a boost function at best, very little could be heard in terms of the pedal's isolated performance but we don't invest in the 5150III to hear pedals, do we?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I've been holding back on this amp, waiting for further developments in terms of variety. The EVH 5150III had gone from a strict 100W offering to a 50W spinoff we see in the stores. I think I waited a little too long because the cream version that I wish to acquire had been sold out hence the black consolation here.

The thing with Van Halen when it comes to his amps, regardless of the brand name that he endorses, he would firmly bring over his signature tone to the holding brand. In fact, I hear a little refinement in this Fender version (despite the EVH brand taking a forefront when it comes to marketing), it's less treble excessive, that's my only despondence with the Peavey version, the reason why I rejected this amp then- in its previous life. Ditto the cleans; the Peavey incarnation had limited headroom in the clean channel, it would break up rather early in the volume stages & further compounded by your high output pickups.

Everything's thumbs up so far with the 5150III. I'm not after Van Halen's brown sound; this was never on the agenda. I'm impressed with the amp's drive saturation. I'd save this elaboration for another entry :-)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Of coats... (strings content)

We're still on the topic of strings. The inevitable turn of issue, from that of string cleaning, is that of string resistance. Since we know & accept the fact that strings are expendables, are there any string types out there which are quasi-immortal? Perhaps the ones that would help us budget for string expenditure in the long run (because our pockets are not bottomless)?

We then enter the realm of coated strings, these are basically strings given a layered treatment to help prolong their good life. There are 2 types to note: 1) Colour coating 2) Chemical coating

I was first introduced to the colour coated set by my good friend brother Zachary Elias, the strings in question was the Black Diamond set (1). I avoided buying them despite knowing they were there at the shops on the assumption that they were not metal but they indeed are & the black coating is what rubber insulation does to electrical wires. I was visually impressed by his guitar back in his Stomping Ground days; his black strings seemed to disappear from a distance (together with a dark rosewood fretboard, that's what you get). So to the uninitiated, it's like the guy played a stringless guitar but what's that sound coming out at the end of the signal chain? Awesome! But having played them in person, the coating seems to flake off very easily over at the picking end, especially so when I use nothing else but thick, hard picks. Then came the second generation of colour coated wonder, most identified by the DR (2) brand (among others). In addition to a more durable coat, the manufacturer offered colours so that was like having psychedelia in your instrument. But those were still rather wimpy in terms of durability until the current NEONs (3) came along. This is what I'd recommend to those who are in need of string adventure as far as colour coating is concerned. In addition to the outright inclusion of colours, these treated pigmentation glows under UV light.

There is a camp of detractors in the midst of all this excitement who question the relevance of colour in string life preservation. This is compounded by the fact that we get peeved easily by the flaking coat & some players feel that the extra layer makes strings thicker than they should be, so why bother? Is there any less aesthetically inclined formula that really prolongs string life? Along came Elixir (5) who proved just that (there might be others out there but none was more mentioned compared to Elixir). Players who excrete excessive body fluid through their fingertips worship Elixir because they are corrosion tolerant without the layered shenanigans. The only down side to it was that Elixir strings were costly (a pack could easily buy you at least 3 packs of regular D'Addarios) but things are more affordable today, rest assured. There is also an emergence of coated string formula offered by various manufacturers, GHS (4) is one of them. I have virtually tried everything that came my way & they indeed proved to last longer than the typical, non-treated sets. My personal favourites are those offered by D'Addario & Cleartone but these days I'm not obliged to favour coated strings, I go with tone- I embrace strings which are honest to goodness; nothing too gimmick propelled, costly without proving true worth or too cumbersome to purchase. More importantly, they should sound inviting once they are in use.

As far as string coating is concerned, it affects the players in terms of feel & tone. Because we are humans with a different degree of sensitivity, some of us would feel this effect more than others. More importantly, do not impose unto others your philosophy of coated strings; it's one of the reasons why bands break up :-)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Strings are meant to be wasted

I keep coming across people who are proud not to be cleaning their strings. To them, strings are expendables, they were meant to be thrown away in the first place so why bother keeping them pristine, they have a good life anyway. They go to the dumps thereafter.

I suppose this is the byproduct of this day & age, where strings are not difficult to come by; just pop into an instrument store or a music school & there you have them- guitar strings galore. When I was younger, buying strings would mean, firstly, saving up the required amount before proceeding to the store. I wouldn't ask this from Mom because it's strictly my vice, I do not wish for someone else to supplement my indulgence. Strings are my thing, let me suffer for it.

Secondly, it would mean knowing what to buy. Unlike the current situation where the internet presents to the buyer a variety for the picking, we were quite clueless as to what was good & what was the get-by brand. This was when I'd spend time on Friday evenings at MPH's Stamford Road branch browsing unsealed music magazines to read what's out there for us. Most of the time, it was the commitment of what's available to memory; there were no smart phones to capture images on our behalf & this was the time before PDAs came into play.

Thirdly, asking someone else's opinion was inevitable. I used to know a bunch of Mat Rockers who hung out at the void deck figuring out chords for pop songs & they were there armed with their Kapok acoustics. If you spot someone playing a Congress then it's a call for respect as this was a mark of seniority both in terms of playing time & one's financial capacity to upgrade to a more lavish brand name. One of these Mats handed me his freshly strung Congress, letting me hear his profound discovery- you got to hear this!- I remember him say. The tone was rather captivating coming from an acoustic & the strings in question was Ernie Ball. Not bad at all, considering those strings were meant more for solid body electrics as opposed to acoustics per se.

So the string-buying episode, to round things up, would be a weekend of shop-hopping (not many shops to hop to those days, mind you) & finally parting with good money for a pack of fresh strings. You know how it was with string packaging back then; there's no guarantee of a rust-free content but Ernie Ball did it for me.

Back to our string cleaning conundrum- to clean or not to clean, what say you? I see this as a necessity; I cannot bring myself to start playing a guitar when the first thing I feel is dirt. I don't mind a broken-in feel, but dirty strings I cannot accept. This is not a compulsion on my part to make you mend your ways but the very least you can do to your set of strings after play is to wipe them down with dry cloth. You might disagree to the investment of string cleaning fluids or the likes, but this is the most economical respect you can give to your instrument & more importantly, to yourself. 

I dislike being brand specific when it comes to such discussions but I get egocentric remarks from players & this is an example: Oh, I do not need to clean my strings, I'm using Elixirs! Elixir, Melixir, Delixir- they all trap dirt. I'm not arguing the manufacturer's capability of prolonging string life but dirt left behind on strings is a different matter altogether. 

'I don't clean my strings after use, they are meant to be replaced anyway'- if you are living by plastic spoons, try applying this philosophy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ibanez RG460: Duncanized

Done- Ibanez RG460, Duncanized:
  • Neck- Classic Stack +
  • Mid: Cool Rails
  • Bridge: PATB Saraceno
Once again, masterworks by Beez- all done in less than 15min :-o

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ibanez: Re-intro is a Prestige

Some friends were asking if the re-introduced/re-issue Ibanez RG550/570 are Prestige models since it's not indicated at the headstock. I believe the above screen grab would help. There is no 'Prestige' at the headstock because that's how they were back then. I don't believe such qualitative labeling actually puts the product in good stead automatically; it's the actual QC & personal experience that would qualify a product to be up there with the best, not self-proclamations by the manufacturer.

Mahogany brothers

Friday morning with the mahogany twins- Ibanez PF58 (L) & Sigma TM15 (R).

They sport similar specs- an all mahogany affair with rosewood fretboards but there are detailed differences that made me separate them in term of preferences:
  1. The Ibanez is a little heavier than the Sigma so when it comes to a more convincing bottom end, the Ibanez is it. This deeper voicing is the reason why I always pick up the Ibanez first then proceed with the Sigma should I get bored or in need of a change along the way.
  2. The sigma has a solid top construction & this would invite the notion that it's a 'better' instrument than the Ibanez- that's subjective. The solid top feature here indeed adds more projection focus, but the Ibanez isn't worse-off because of this exclusion; they both appeal in their own individual ways.
  3. The Ibanez has a soft V-profile at the lower frets of the neck end, while the Sigma, I'd say, has a grip-friendly D-profile. You'd expect a more rounded specs from the Sigma but that's not the case. So in addition to introverted chording frenzy, the Sigma would induce some shred at times. Awesome!
 I have Gallistrings 010s in both guitars; yes, I prefer a lighter gauge for my acoustics. If they sound inviting with 009s in there, I'd have stuck to that formula but acoustics were not meant for that kind of string gauge. Oh, the Sigma is $100 more than the Ibanez :-)

Ibanez PF-58: Swee Lee Co
Sigma TM-15: Davis GMC

Banshee 2014

This is something to look forward to come 2014, the Schecter Banshee model will be offered in a fixed bridge version, 7 & 8-string selections will also be available. The Banshee is indeed one of my preferred bolt-on guitars out there, just the right reference to dispel the bolt-on-is-inferior myth.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Selling: Guitar neck (SOLD)

I have a reverse headstock neck coming my way so this one will make way for that. I bought this guitar used so the condition here will be as-is upon sale. I'd say it's seen some good playing time by the previous owner just be aware that it's not in pristine condition. I'll give it a 6.5/10 rating, recommended for those doing a project guitar, you might wanna de-fret this neck or maybe give it a scalloped fretboard- stuff like that :-)

Selling: Timbre 22-fret guitar neck (tuners/ nut/ string trees included)
Condition: 6.5/10
Self-collect: CCK mrt station (non-nego)
No reservations/ no trades/ non-returnable/ non-refundable
Confirmations/ queries:  subversion.sg@gmail.com
Price: $20 (final)

Thanks for reading

Item SOLD as at 27-12-2013

Ibanez: RG460

This is simple goodness- a good-playing Ibanez with a non-locking nut & a very functional bridge (synchroniZR). Why not? :-)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ibanez: RG550 (re-intro/Genesis) Part 3

Of course, in keeping with tradition/history, the RG550 comes with a non-voluted neck. Meaning- there is no hump under the part where the headstock meets the neck. Tuners are the tried & trusted GOTOHs & the neck as a whole is a 5-piece construction- strength assured.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ibanez: RG550 (re-intro/ Genesis) Part 2

With the preservation of the initial design comes the block heel as seen here. The primary issue is that of access but let's get this straight- this design does not hamper access, it's just that the revised Ibanez all-access-neck-joint (AANJ as it's commonly referred to in other forums) provides more for the adventurous finger gymnast. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gibson: 120th Anniversary

Gibson celebrates its 120th Anniversary with the release of some commemorative models, 4 of which are seen here. Do note that these are not regular production models & are indicated by that special 12th fret '120th Anniversary' inlay. I'm attracted to the Melody Maker (top-most) because its body depth would rival an SG- it's that thin. Good. The LPJ gets a 'pro' tag; Gibson's including coil-split selectors in there. The SG Futura- featuring a gold finish & P-90 + humbucker pickup combo. Finally the SGM, featuring a maple neck.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ibanez: RG550 (re-intro/ Genesis)

First post of the month- Ibanez RG550. This Japanese model is part of the domestic Genesis series, a range of re-issued RGs. However, 2 of the models in this range, the RG550/570, are not marketed as a Genesis model in this region but they are the same guitars.

Return of what worked- the V-series pickups & Edge bridge. After much playing, I don't see the need to swap those pickups out, they will remain where they are.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yellow re-string

It's the last day of November, spent some time with the yellow fellow here after a quick re-string. My ears are saturated with EMG tones (Charvel!) for the past few days so it's good to be hearing some passive action this morning. However, this DKMGT features an on-board gain boost so the passive tones here are quite a menace once distortion was in use.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bentley @ Damansara

I had the opportunity to drop by Bentley Music at Damansara off KL (Malaysia). The place is HUUUUUGE! Imagine Yamaha's Beat Spot here in (S'pore) - triple the size. Their show space is only occupying the 5th level, I have no idea if they are using other levels for storage/ education.

This is only the Ibanez section of the store (that's where I spent most of my time here), the guitars were all well-arranged but in terms of classification, it could have been better managed. Maybe as a player, I see the bigger picture in terms of grouping & comparative purposes (I'd personally arrange them according to their respective SERIES). 

If any guitar stores out there wants any inputs from me or maybe give me a managerial opportunity to further the cause of their commercial directions- I'll gladly consider. I've been to many guitar stores here (& elsewhere) & I'd say content-wise, they are not as progressive in terms of products turn over. There could also be more dedicated inputs for promotion largely due to the fact that store owners are sellers, they don't know nuts about their products. I guess this is my area of expertise, I know what's in & what needs to be cleared. A store that is moving with the times, moves on in so many ways (in $$$ especially). But we know dinosaurs are not running the show any more, we just need to know where to look (look at what they are doing, how they are doing it & when they are doing it).

As far as Bentley goes, they are doing alright :-)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Charvel: DX-1 ST... mine

Yes... the Charvel DX-1 is as good as it gets. It's really a no-frills guitar save for some intricate binding & a rather flashy set of fretboard markers. As it is, I'm not a fan of flashy details, I like to keep things simple. The focus is on playing & good tones, everything else is distraction. This is not my first encounter playing the DX-1, I've been waiting for the right time bring it home. I think the current 35% discount at City Music makes it a value-for-money consideration- it wasn't this good during the last sale event so it pays (no pun intended) to wait.

Here we go- I'm not a fan of EMGs but I won't cast aside guitars which have them as default pickups, especially guitars that speak to me in terms of tone & playability. More importantly, the DX-1 sounds incredible for my kind of music & I seldom dwell on clean tones. For this, I prefer them coming from single coil pickups.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Charvel: DX-1 ST

Kramer, Jackson & Charvel are the landmark names you need to know if you are into guitars for some sleek performance. 'Sleek' here would encompass both technical flair as well as menacing delivery. Since Charvel's withdrawal from Japan, we are generally bothered by Charvel's QC probabilities especially after knowing they would originate from China. This spells then end for you (as far as interest & beliefs are concerned) if you believe in the fact that doomed guitars come from China.

Build/ fit/ finish
That's a narrow conclusion considering some outstanding workmanship come from China as well but let's not cite specific brand names to propel belief, we have the Charvel DX-1 ST here for scrutiny. Adversity report- zilch. Yes, nothing's amiss with the test model save for the fact that the strings & general hardware were tarnished over time. Please be informed that the DX-1 is a bolt-free instrument & one would expect a smooth transition at the neck heel but this is perhaps the guitar's Achilles heel as the instruments two different finishes converge. The DX-1 neck is simply an oil-stained unit to preserve that very inviting wood feel but its body receives colour treatment as well as a gloss overcoat so there exist a 'bump' at the heel due to this difference. The unspoken objective, in terms of feel, of a through-neck construction is the seamless feel at the heel but that's not observed here. Rest assured, this 'bump', is well managed; it's visually pleasant & proved to be of little bother throughout play. The rest on offer in this area of consideration is nothing short of pleasant. (Rating: 85%)

Playability/ tone
As you would have realized, the heel bump issue discussed above was a necessary pre-empt in our understanding of the DX-1's playability. The neck profile is a compound radius type, we get both a rounded & flattened feel in one serving. Let's not get picky & dwell on that slight bump mentioned earlier; the neck proved to be very playable even at the upper fret area. The stained finish would mean the DX-1 neck promotes grip & nimble movements without the yucky, dirt-induced stickiness from a finished unit (think Gibson necks... well, majority of them). Shred fans would be pleased to know that this neck manifests a degree of flatness necessary for finger technicalities but it's not an Ibanez Wizard-type. So, flat- yes, relatively so, but thin- not quite. Nothing to complain about the curved body top; all's good in terms of a comfortable arm placement. (Rating: 85%)

Tone- a pair of EMGs at the helm so nothing deficient when it comes to distortion but you know how it is with cleans coming from active pickups- bland but nothing too repulsive. We don't embrace actives for their cleans, yes? Prior to this, I had the chance to test a DST with the same pair of EMGs on board (85 neck + 81 bridge) & there was more bottom end coming from that guitar compared to this DX-1 implying that the amount of wood (as opposed to this more aerodynamic Soloist outline) tampers inherent tone frequencies. In this regard, I'd urge potential buyers to establish some perspective tone wise (if it's within your time allowance) & hear the difference because it might matter to some of us. We'd be splitting hairs if we are to debate the tonal qualities of an EMG because we know, in any guitar, the EMG takes over whatever the guitar's tone wood has in store for definition in general. However, this doesn't spell bad in any way, the clarity & cutting edge of active pickups are beyond what passives have to offer so if this is your thing, embrace EMGs; they are different from passive pickups, not 'better'. (Rating: 80%)

We have a well-made guitar before us, that's right. We also have a visually attractive instrument before us, that's right too. However, this guitar will not serve all in terms of tone. Players who are after playing nuances, that somewhat crucial dynamics coming from every emotional bend & digging into stubborn frets, will most likely walk away from active pickups. If they were microphones, we wouldn't give them to Elvis but Tom Araya would benefit from such an implement. So the selling point for the DX-1 is its absolute quality in construction & overall presentation in terms of feel & visual aesthetics but looks alone won't win trophies. As far as instruments go, there need to be a balance of physical, visual & tonal goodness to become a real winner. However, if you truly appreciate what this DX-1 has to offer keeping in mind what it could not deliver was intentional anyway, you'd probably like it more than question its purpose. (Final rating: 80%)

Charvel: DX-1 ST
Availability: Citymusic
Price: $540 (SALE till 31-12-2013)
Bag not included