Thursday, February 28, 2013

Poll: Gear-buying

Once again- thanks to all who participated. Thought I'd close the month with this statistic; it seems that many of us feel more secured having a go at the instruments we intend to purchase before parting with cash. It's good to see what you are getting as opposed to having received a lemon through mail order & spent precious dollars (& time) to have your gear rectified subsequently. However, some of us embrace convenience; we don't mind the mode of purchase, as long as we end up a happy camper.

Farewell February... :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Less is more (Ha!)

This isn't new- Ibanez's RG7321...

This is the (not so) new RG8...

You'd think the instrument with more strings (more tuners, more wood, etc...) would cost more but currently, the RG7321 is USD50 more than its 8-string sibling... Hmm... Good time to get an 8? Definitely...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More 8s

Good to know the Rotosound people have joined the 8 camp; variety is good. AVAILABILITY is better :-)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Marshall: JVM 1W

It's a Marshall Sunday & I chose to play this one: JVM 1W. It's one of 2012's anniversary models by Marshall which I didn't quite appraise at the close of last year but it's a keeper, definitely.

The immediate address here would be- 'would this puny rep be any close to the real JVM?' & the quick answer to this is- there is a semblance. The JVM is 'new' to Marshall in terms of drive voicing, it's unlike what a DSL or JCM800 has in store, it's just a little more defined. The clarity on board is much appreciated & you could hear that in this one. However, due to feature ergonomics, this JVM does not feature that fiery red mode of its drive channel so in terms of utmost extremity, it's not gonna happen. The cleans- one of the most respectable Marshall cleans out there; think contemporary, though, not vintage.

Tonal proceedings are restricted by the small 8" Celestion driver but it's a 'Celestion' you say & it's suppose to mean something in terms of tonal command- it's the size, not the brand name that pretty much defines this amp.

So it's my Ibanez S420 & this JVM this morning. I'm a little under the weather but it's no excuse for a good guitar time.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pro Broderick

The new (2013) non-USA (Pro series) Jackson Chris Broderick models look the works- mahogany body, DiMarzio pickups... but why the Floyd Rose Special bridge? If you have any experience at all with this least expensive version of the FR bridge, you'd know how fragile it is. A little over-tightening of the locking string saddle & it'll crack. I don't mean to be demeaning this product but it's better off not being there.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Laney: Budget Iommi

If you've been reading around, chances are, you'd know Laney had this one featured in this year's NAMM show- the TI15-112 combo seen above. It's a 15W version of the gain hungry Tony Iommi Laney amp head. With a reputation like this, you'd want it to deliver good distortion despite its size & you need only watch this:

However, do keep in mind that it's a single channel unit, if you are GASsing for one, understand & embrace its nature, do not penalize it for its short-comings; it's not conceived to be otherwise.

Yellow Friday

Friday evening playing time, that's right- I was home playing guitar while others are enjoying some TGIF evening somewhere out there. Not me. I had my yellow fellow Jackson Dinky out & I'm just very happy to hear those Teslas in action which brought me to remind myself that the right pickups in the right guitar will give me a stellar tone. The more I play this guitar, the more I feel I should invest in such guitars (not 'Jackson' per se) but the reality is this- guitars sound better more appealing the more you know what needs to be done to them. That would take some time, of course. The more you spend time with a certain instrument, the more you could virtually hear what's 'missing'

Thursday, February 21, 2013


The objective of employing this pedal is the emulation of hiccups & all things guitar aberation. Em... it's nothing short of sounding like your bad guitar cable day or a failed wireless transmission all under your feet. The irony of it all is that an anti-effect is an effect. Never mind, watch this:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ramon's revolver

I'm a no-frills-guitar advocate, no doubt, but there are just some 'extra fittings' guitars that I look up to. Here is a Fernandes Ramon Ortiz 7-string signature model & it just kills (OK, maybe the amp played a part too...). Listen to this:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An evening with pigs

Yesterday evening's playing time saw me bring out my Ibanez SZ520 for a WHACK! moment. It's supposed to be a riff only session but the neck BKP Warpig has that very 'stunned PAF' tone that I really like. In fact, I like it more than the bridge Warpig for its tone. I'm definitely not comparing it to its bridge counterpart for a like-for-like evaluation which is rather ridiculous considering the the two different positions they are in (it's akin to evaluating a front vs rear wheel performance).

I played standing up & strapped this guitar rather high up for an optimum playing condition; very Mark King I'd say.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fake *duh*

I'm not a detective, I just notice things. This is a fake Ibanez JEM (one of many out there), here's why:

1: There are currently no voluted Ibanez necks featuring the locking nut's bolts. The idea of having a volute there is to strengthen the neck, any holes going through there just defeat the purpose.

2: Ibanez tuners don't feature mounting screws. This is the reason why not all replacement brands out there are suitable for Ibanez guitars, selected Wilkinson models are just a few that do.

3: That's the wrong bridge in there but if you can't identify the bridge, just note that the fine tuners were never chrome-finished.

4. Ibanez pickguards feature 10 screws, this one's missing one at that spot.

5: Neck-body bolts were never chrome, ditto the ferrules.

6: OK this is perhaps the dumbest here; the spring cavity cover feature slots giving access to the tension adjustment screws, not the other end. This one's for those Strats & the likes because that slot there is needed for the strings to go through the bridge block & through the string saddles. Darn morons.


This Fernandes Vortex was co-designed by Melechesh's guitarist, Ashmedi- it's called the Scimitar. I'm absolutely for simplicity & this is as simple as it gets- single pickup + fixed bridge. However, the extra 6 strings in there means it's well intended for a certain outcome, not for simpletons with pathetic adversity quotient, definitely not.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Kramer: The '84

This is a simple guitar, the only 'excessive' feature here is the Floyd Rose bridge. I'm a little put off by the bull's eye finish but it shouldn't get in the way especially so when it has a Duncan JB on board. Well. this year will see some of the quirky guitars making their way to my residence; trying to stray from getting any more conventional models but it's a little difficult when manufacturers out there give undue attention to their conventional units (making them very enticing when you know it's only a regurgitation of a familiar theme) because these are the ones that bring in the money. Waiting for the stores to knock a little more off their price tags :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Re-string Saturday

I've been playing this guitar a lot lately (Ibanez S420). Despite the constant wipe down, the strings require replacement & it happened this morning- IQS .009 set.

So Mexico

News- Charvel's So Cal models are back for 2013 but this time, they are Mexican. The manufacturer promises the beloved specs of the USA/Jap models at a non-prohibitive price tags. Indeed, they start at USD799..

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fender: ST62-SPL

The good things don't happen at your doorstep- these gorgeous Fenders are Japan's limited edition numbers. The chances of them coming here are slim, unless you source for an import order. Take a closer look at the guitars above...'d realize that the input jack isn't a standard Strat rendition; it's a side mount version. Neat.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

LTD: TE-212

I don't mind this at all; even if it's black. It's LTD's TE-212 model given the black-maple treatment. It doesn't look too far off Fender's Blackout tele not too long ago but that one had chrome hardware. Nice. Wish it'd be here for a try-out :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rusty & unseen

It's rather evident that the strings in the envelopes are rusty but they are fresh out of the pack. So the sealed pack guarantees nothing; you can still be greeted by rusty string. It begs the question- Why bother sealing at all?

Ask yourself- why do you grab that sealed pack as opposed to strings which are contained in non-air tight packaging? Simple answer right? Because you believe the manufacturer took extra efforts in making sure strings are in usable condition once they need to be used. However, you can't see the string condition inside the sealed pack so it makes things difficult. Some of us, overcome with deep unhappiness, would actually blame the store when they have absolutely nothing to do with it... tsk, tsk...

Encounters like this makes you re-think about the brand name, not so much the corrosion-preventive packaging. I've gotten responses from others in similar plight but let's not list the brand names we should avoid on our next string-buying trip to the guitar store, because it goes to show that rotten episodes happen regardless of the brand name on the pack.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ibanez 2013: Artstars

WEF from 2103, Ibanez does not delineate its upper end Artcore models as a 'Custom' offering (remember the AF1XX/ AS1XX models?). This year they are referred to as the Artstar models, the AS153(L) & AF155(R) are pictured here (S= semi-hollow/ F= full hollow). There are no major changes to observe but two- fretboards are now ebony, the scale length is now a tad shorter at 24.7". In terms of looks- splendid! But that pickguard is acquired taste.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wising up to prices

Many online stores are clearing their 2012 inventory, the Ibanez 25th Anniversary models included. A quick check revealed a USD699 price tag for the above RG3XXV. Say you decided to buy this online so a typical total cost consideration would be: Guitar price + shipping charges = Total price. So coming back to the RG model above: USD699 + shipping = SGD866 + SGD240 (max possible charges) = SGD1,106 & that doesn't include a bag for it. The RG3XXV retails for SGD980 here. I'm not trying to extinguish online buying enthusiasm but sometimes we need to re-think our purchase considerations. 

It's never a winning formula buying Ibanez online from USA-based stores because Ibanez products are not manufactured there, they are heavily taxed  just by making their way there & when the final item price sets in, they can cost more than American made guitars. Personally, I will only look up to online discounts for American brand instruments like Fender & Gibson (among others) because that reflects a true 'better price' compared to the prices here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Knowing & using

It's the Lunar New Year eve & I've got some guitar playing time in hand so it's grind-shredding till sundown with my Ibanez S420. It's not about the guitar, really. It's about hearing the suitable tone for the task. I was basically trying to fuse some black metal ideas with lots of solos (Abgott style if you will...) so I know there is a need to address this aggression cum  & I restricted myself to passive pickups. As I've virtually tried/ owned every passive Seymour Duncan pickups out there (the ones that made it here, that is) I know my Pearly Gates pair are up to it.

But hey, the manufacturer says these PGs are meant more for high octane Southern rock, features a polite Alnico II magnet & was EQ-ed to manifest a curbed bass response but excessive treble. How could this serve the average metal maniac who needs a thumping low end for the meanest distortion delivery? But it's not about what's specified on paper but what you hear in action. The PG has this cutting top end that sizzles with lots of distortion. It might be the Southern rockers' staple but it definitely works for metal. All I needed to do next was turn up the bass at the amp & I'm done. The weight of my S420 also did its part in pushing more bottom end at the amp side. Yes, many manufacturers out there conceived certain products for a specific purpose but if you are inclined to your gear, you know what works & what won't. It's all a matter of knowing what to use, how to use them.

CNY greetings!

XIN NIAN KUAI LE- to all my Chinese guitar comrades & blog visitors alike. To the rest of us, happy resting; it's a long, deserving break (at least for me).

A note from Beez- he will gladly open shop for you (by appointment only) because he understands that for some of us, this holiday is the only opportunity to have our instruments serviced. Salute, Beez!You do have his contact number, yes?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

LTD: Hybrid II

Sometimes it's those semi-quirky models that get to you, not in terms of looks but in terms of overall intrigue. Take this LTD Hybrid II for instance (new for 2013), it's nothing much in terms of flash but it's something formidable if you want a noiseless P-90 tone (it's a stacked P-90 you see there, Duncan's STK-P1), an intonation-friendly wrap-over bridge & a healthy upper fret access. Ok so it's made a little shred-friendly with that thin U profiled neck. Splendid!

Friday, February 8, 2013

NA here- RG2228M

That's right, the Ibanez RG2228M is not offered in this region. Darn. Will keep a lookout for online clearouts... Liking the fact that it's not black.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Overwhelmed & loving it

There are so many people in this country & yet the government is dreaming of sustaining the mechanics of its future by adding more people here. I've just about had it with the train this evening; the timing was all screwed up at the transfer station, I had to wait till four trains later to be on the way home. Screw it! 

But it's a different story once I entered my humble abode because I brought home a pack tub of honey chicken briyani done brilliantly by my good friend, Brother Zachary Elias. Today's version has an appealing dose of honey chicken in the concoction lightly offset by the brilliant mix of mutton in there. It's meant to be consumed as a fusion & it was a delectable serving indeed- devoured 2 plates & finally wound down at the couch with a can of Dr. Pepper. Hopefully it's not the final briyani episode for me...

PS: Top marks for the chicken by my Mrs, bro...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

LTD: STs...

Great release by LTD, the ST models are now offered with ash body-rosewood or maple fingerboards (pictured above- ST-213). I used to own the ST-203 but couldn't come to terms with the 'relic' finish- it was too cheesy. These darlings here are more upfront with their features; nothing too cosmetic to throw you off the feel & tone.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ibanez: Iron Label

This is definitely new by Ibanez this 2013 but it's nothing refreshing- EMG pickups (RGT6- discontinued) & kill switches (RGR08LTD- discontinued) have been done before. If you caught the NAMM bits, the manufacturer said the Iron Label models were conceived with only one thing in mind- metal. The instruments in this range are also fitted with essential features- everything you need & nothing you don't. But is a kill switch something dire for metal? Do you have any use for one or would you feel more objective with a tone control on board? Guitars available in black only- any other colour & it's not metal... Fortunately, the S-series version has passive pickups in there.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

LTD: Andy's

Finally, 2013 is the year of Andy James- he's finally gotten a signature LTD model. If you are new to all thing AJ, YouTube any of his clips & understand why he's one of the most formidable names in shred.

His guitar is based on an LTD H model with a reverse headstock. Also, the pickups you see there are active EMGs; that's how he got those slicing shred tones. Enough talk, let's watch AJ in action:

GJ2: Arete 3-star

I've recently tried the GJ2 you see above, it's the Arete 3-star model. A modest take on a Strat with a humbucking reinforcement & a totally non-strat type body wood- sapele. The guitar's overall tone mimics that of a mahogany voicing but it has a little more depth. The top end here is interesting; a little more bite than the aforementioned but nothing excessively bright. OK, I'd do better than do a head-to-head take of this GJ2 & a mahogany-bodied instrument just because the sapele here looks very mahogany-ish in this manifestation.

Feel wise, the 3-star has a strong Strat influence coming from the neck. In fact, I'm taken aback by this make; it's quite removed from the super-shred feel of the 5-star which I've played before (that thin feel is quite absent here); rounder, more bend inducing. The overall weight is a good interpretation of something sustain inducing but nothing spine-taxing, very SG-like if we have to narrow things down by virtue of familiarity. 

Grover Jackson is instrumental in the use of the Habanero, low output pickups in the Arete models. I respect the pickups' incorporation into the 3-star but they have very little for me in terms of driven tone. I truly feel they are very impressive in conjuring that sweet crunch but when there is a need to rev up some intensity, these pickups are not meant to pull that off. No complaints clean- superb!

The Arete 3-star is now available at Davis GMC, listing for $2.2K. This model does not come with a hard case as specified by the manufacturer.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

ESP: Standard

It's a little belated but here's what ESP has to offer for 2013; the Standard. The 'Standard' tag is clearly visible at the headstock so it'll leave us fans a little beleaguered as to how different this standard is to its predecessor. If it's a mere migration of that label from the rear of the headstock to the front, then why do it at all? With the new LTD Elite models in the same price bracket as the previous Standards, it's interesting to see how much these newbies will cost.

Do I have any plans to acquire the new generation of Standards? I need to see, feel & hear them in action first... as soon as they get here, of course.

Selling: Gibson pickups

Gibson pickups for sale...
  • Gibson 490R/ 490T, uncovered (screws & springs included)
  • Condition: 9/10... Taken off a Gibson Les Paul Junior Special (2 week old guitar)
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • No reservations/ No trade
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • Price: $90 each/ $175 for both... (final)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Poll: Gear acquisition 2013

February greetings, everyone. Once again, my thanks to you for participating in this poll- made me know you are out there & reading this blog- kudos.

It seems that Ibanez is on the players' mind this year but it's really kinda early to conclude anything. My constant Ibanez updates here might have something to do with it- we can't rule that out. Fender comes in at a strong second but come to think of it, Fender has a lingering presence in everyone's minds all the time. A surprise third would be PRS but the manufacturer did the right thing by offering a strong QC showing in its SE range so the urge to own quality without going broke is real. But this poll doesn't stick because we know, over time, as more fresh enticements hit the shelves, demand changes :-)

Gibson: Les Paul Jr Special... DiMarzio-ed

My Les Paul Jr Special is now housing a pair of DiMarzios: Humbucker from Hell (N) & Tone Zone (B).

Humbucker from Hell- one of my preferred DiMarzios in the neck position, great clarity for both clean & driven tones. It has this crisp upper end that doesn't sound wimpy. That clean- it's a good clean but not leaning towards the vintage type so it's a preferred clean indeed.

The Tone Zone isn't my thing- I've had it in many guitars before, it just doesn't appeal to me. I've decided to just have it here, no matter how repulsive it sounds to me because I acknowledge the fact that the TZ is a worthy pickup for distortion inclined applications, it's just not singing my tune. So it's my job to struggle & make it sound at least acceptable to me, so this way, I learn something new every time :-) A little sado-masochistic but it does me good.

Superb wiring courtesy of Beez!