Sunday, March 31, 2013

Music Ark @ Penin

We end March by wishing congrats to Music Ark; they are now situated at Peninsular Hotel's basement together with Davis, Swee Lee & SV Guitars.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Yamaha: Display clearance

If you are out & about in town today, you might wanna check out the clearance sale at Beat Spot (Plaza Singapura). The store is clearing all display items in as-is condition, the Yamaha Pac112 (above) is going for $245. Lots of other bargains (Orange/ Laney amps included).

EHX: Epitome

Another great EHX release, the Epitome. This followed the 3-in-1 concept of the Tone Tattoo so you have 3 pedals in one chassis here: octave/ chorus/ reverb. For those of us who do not wish to carry separate units for our external performances, it's a neat consideration. Watch this:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ibanez: AFJ957

On my watch list: Ibanez's 7-string hollow body AFJ957...

Thursday, March 28, 2013


  My kinda pickup news- Seymour Duncan to launch a non-high output 7-string pickup, the Pegasus. Bonus- it comes in 2 versions; (1) Standard 7-string spacing (2) Active mount (soapbar-style) for guitars which are equipped with actives (read: EMG) & sport a slightly different measurement. Hails!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Re-string: Swing R2

Today's re-string adventure: Swing R2, belonging to my neighbourhood friend, brother Randy.

I am obliged to include the following services with the re-string engagement:
  • action set-up- it's kinda unethical for people doing re-string without an action set-up complement knowing a fresh set of strings are highly likely to affect the previous tweaks.
  • fretboard cleaning
  • neck diagnosis- check if your neck is too warped for its own good, will tweak it if it's within my means
  • pickups height check
  • see if your bolt-on neck needs shimming, will offer my services if you think it should be addressed (because some chaps like it to tilt a little steeper to prevent upper fret buzzing at the expense of a slightly higher action after the 12th fret, of course...)
At an affordable fee, definitely. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gold bird

Gibson's Gold (finished) 50th Anniversary Firebird. Honestly, if you are GASing for this, is it the guitar per se or that wicked finish?

Monday, March 25, 2013

The resting greenie

The greenie Ibanez (S1XXV) finally gets a lush resting place. So my objective of giving deserving hard cases to both my 25th Anniversary models had been met. This puts a close to my March gear expenditure.

The case in question here is Ibanez's RG140C.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

White iron

The Ibanez Iron Label RG is actually available in white but it's not available here... *bummer*

Earth hour 2013

Earth hour happened just hours ago. Embrace darkness.

Is it about that per se- enduring discomfort for an hour to show concern for Mother Earth? After its initial observance in 2007, this event took a commercial slant & today it's rather fashionable to be seen in EH events in town. There are usually post-EH activities going on after the passing of the official observance hour & I'd say, the amount of electricity used would defeat the conservation that took place during the EH hour itself. And the politicians present during that post-EH celebrations... tsk, tsk tsk. Read the papers to know who they are.

What we did- listened to music (a very mono, transistor experience) in the dark

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fender: Marauder (Modern Player series) (3)

How the Fender Marauder's rear looks like. I kinda fancy the treble side cutaway as there's less wood there to hinder upper fret access. OK, it's more psychological than anything else because I can very well access the upper frets of a Strat with relative ease. The perloid-type cavity cover was unexpected, I thought it'd be a plain white version but I guess Fender did a 'bonus' there.

Gonna get

I'm so gonna get these 2 releases. I've heard some stuff from both & they sounded like they way they should be- like themselves.

I was off Soilwork since A Predator's Portrait. The releases thereafter were rather lost in definition. No it's not about the guitar tones but the music per se; they sounded like those metal-core (for want of a better adjective) outfits trying too hard to impress when they should know they are impressive to begin with. This is happening  to The Haunted in the meant time, unclear if it's a rite of passage thing for Swedish bands.

Dark Throne had been defiant to their flagship genre for a good three releases but the chaps treated that as a discovery passage. According to them they still sounded like themselves but many of us would disagree after being ingrained by the band's black metal fodder. This isn;t exactly a return to familiar pastures but it's more Dark Throne than what the last three releases could offer. Well at least to me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ibanez: RGIR270F

I'm still appraising the new (2013) Ibanez Iron Label (IL) series & here's the RGIR27F, a 7-string version with a non-whammy bridge. The instrument also features a pair of EMG pickups so the manufacturer does live up to its all metal affair claim. This is just a reiteration of how well-made the IL models are, absolutely no-frills guitars with a little more QC focus than the other standard series Ibanez. Well, the 'extra' here is of course the Kill Switch which is a love-hate affair for us (Do you really need 2 volume controls in  there?). 

The 6-stringers among us would be a little anxious of how a 7-string neck would feel, the overwhelming expectation is there but it's more perceived than anything else. We do NOT need to re-learn the guitar just because there's an extra string in there & whatever you would pull off (no pun intended) on the high B-string, you could replicate that on the low B so there you go, a simple adaptation anecdote. However the blank fretboard means you need some getting used to in terms of navigation up & down the neck but the side dots would prove to be of some help to many of us, yours truly included. A gentle reminder pertaining to the 'Nitro Wizard' neck profile- it's just the typical Ibanez Wizard neck, not the thinnest in history but for the IL series, there's a slight difference in finish so it makes playing more inviting. Back at the manufacturer's homepage, it's made to be of a certain reputation but that's commercial hype until you get to know Ibanez's hallowed history when it comes to skinny necks & it's not undergoing a renaissance of sorts. No, not this time.

Tone wise, it's an EMG extravaganza, all active & distortion frenzy with limited appeal when it comes to clean & other non-metal applications. The good thing about having actives in an instrument peddling lower than standard notes is assured inherent clarity (unless you choose to desecrate proceedings by plugging this guitar into an amp with a small speaker... *sheesh*). In combination with that addictive neck, the RGIR270F is a super player.

Ibanez RGIR27F
Price: $869 NETT (bag not included)
Available at: Swee Lee Co

Thanks: Brother Faizal for the set-up assistance

DiMarzio: PAF 7 (2)

As mentioned before, the DiMarzio PAF 7s are default pickups in my Ibanez SIR27F. Initially, I was putting Ibanez down for equipping a metal-type guitar (manufacturer's claim, not mine...) with the weakest pickups in the range. As it turned out, the PAF 7s could handle everything thrown at them granted they might not be some players' cup of tea. A case of Jack of all trades, mater tones of none? Of course not, the PAF 7s are very good at the job, it's just a matter of appeal.

Well, the PAF 7's 'secret' could be the fact that the magnets on board are ceramic as opposed to the sweeter alnicos for the intended purpose but then again, what was the initial intention? It wasn't made clear by the manufacturer but the PAF 7 turned out to be a super utilitarian model. Thumbs up to that.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fender: Marauder (Modern Player series) 2

Fender Marauder's headstock- I used to dislike such bulging, obnoxious late 60s/ 70s headstocks but over the years, I've learned to accept them as the manufacturer's signature quirks. Those tuners are the vintage hole-in-the-machine heads type.

Over at the rear- it's clear where this guitar was made in. Some find it repulsive but it's not the final determinant of a 'good' guitar.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Charvel GG

Guthrie Govan is now in the Charvel camp, this here is his proto model. Well, it might not be a signature deal, more info upon breaking news.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DiMarzio: PAF 7

No, I've not retired my Duncans to embrace DiMarzio & nobody had paid me to say this. This is about reflecting the obvious & accepting what works. This is also a further understanding of the fact that Duncans & DiMarzios work differently. As I am currently looking at DiMarzios to address some tonal concerns, my approach to this was to scout for DiMarzio equivalents of my favourite Duncans but it's quite a futile exercise. It doesn't work this way. Why would a manufacturer offer the world a close alternative of their competitor's product? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of being different?

This was perhaps the reason why I find DiMarzio tones rather unagreeable; I've been looking too hard at the higher output offerings believing the products in that end would manifest the Duncans in the same output selection. Today's encounter with my Ibanez SIR27F made me realize that I've overlooked what works for me- the lower output DiMarzios. The default pickups in this guitar are DiMarzio 7s, the lowest output passive humbuckers in the manufacturer's range. They are splendid in this guitar & they will stay resident for a simple reason- they are the right pickups for the instrument. Have I come across the PAF before? Of course I have, there's one in the bridge position in my RG560, it's the pickup that replaced the Tone Zone & made me happy. A delightful episode escaped me, maybe I was distracted but today came the reminder.

To be continued.

Knaggs: Steve Stevens

Steve Steven's latest signature model by Knaggs guitars. Joe Knaggs is a former PRS employee who is currently running his own manufacturing. Nothing near affordable, be informed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ibanez: Iron Label SIR27F

Seven deadly sins strings...

Fender: Marauder (Modern Player series)

Come on, this isn't the real 1960s Fender Marauder. The body is off its original lengthy design, has 1 more fret, the wrong whammy bridge is seen here, wrong pickup selector type & darn, those are definitely not the right pickups in there. Frankly, this is a Marauder only because the manufacturer says it is. Sheesh.

But hey, this isn't a critical entry, it's appraisal inclined & here we go... The Marauder is a value-for-money instrument considering it bears 'Fender' at the headstock & doesn't even exceed $550. It's ironic that this interpretation of the Marauder looks more acceptable despite still being eccentric & dare I say it; more functional. The body wood here is of the koto make, which is more commonly recognized in the interior paneling circle, quite the buzzword for the home improvement guys as opposed to the guitar dweebs. Anyway, it emulates the crispy attack of alder & that's quite the signature Fender tone in there considering the pickups aren't quite the flagship single coils responsible for that hallowed Fender chimes. But we get fat single coil tones coming from the neck Jazzmaster-type pickup; hear it clean, please. It's the pickup's forte, it can pull-off a good jazz tone in this mode. The bridge pickup, in summary is a drive/distortion wonder; just sounds good in isolated use. Whatever triple-humbucking hype there is in there is distracting the fact that this pickup is definitely above-average in all applications.

The playability here is an absolute cracker, the body sports those critical cutaways for all manner of playing & this shouldn't hinder shred mongers whose upper fret foray seem second nature. The quirky body design is as balanced as it gets played both sitting & strapped-on so don't let ugliness get in the way of needful judgment. The neck here is a little deceiving, Fender says it's their typical C-profile but after a personal encounter, it's a 'C' alright but there's that added slimness that could only be felt by players who spend adequate time with skinny profiles. Also- it's gloss finished, so be warned.

Okie-dokie, let's not kid ourselves into believing that it's a convincing Marauder interpretation- it's a clear NO. But it's a good utilitarian guitar less that true single coil tone so not quite a Start or Tele content in there. It's a member of the Moder Player series so it's made in China a definite contender for a pariah guitar just by virtue of this consideration but it'll sift those genuinely interested in well-built instruments from the posers concerned only with elite brand names.

PS: Thanks to the good people @ Swee Lee Bras Basah for the 'review' test- Yadni for telling me it's new in store, Faizal for the set-up. You guys rock!

Fender: Marauder (Modern Player series)
Price: $539 NET (bag not included)
Availability: Swee Lee Co.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

SOLD: Ibanez RG321

Sold this guitar off a few days ago to Mr. Wong. If you are reading this, hope you are happy with your new companion.

BOSS: DA-2 Adaptive Distortion

This is one of the 2013 BOSS trio to feature the new MDP (Multi-dimensional Processing) technology which the manufacturer says gives a bit more depth to tone. It's a distortion unit, nothing new there but the tones on board are likable.

Once again, I'm not too receptive to pedals featuring only a 2-band EQ control- low/high. It's perpetuating that scooped tone which works fine for personal, bedroom moments but when it comes to playing in a band, your tone sounds too muffled for the good of your reputation, you need more midrange to help you cut through the mix. Hmmm, BOSS might be engaging in a cost cutting exercise here, making each pedal with a definite 4-control feature each time. Whatever, makes you happy, BOSS.

I'm here to highlight the A-DIST control, simply put, it's the distortion intensity sweep. It's the usual mild to intense offering but you can virtually hear the other BOSS pedals spectral presence in there- DS-1/ DS-2/ BD-2 so in terms of voicings, you won't be short-changed when it comes to dynamics. 

I actually tried this pedal through a tube amp & put it to use in series with the amp's default drive. The amp in question is Ibanez's TA-15 so I'm basically cascading a distortion into a Tubescreamer & the results are above satisfactory. You can coax the DA-2 to add beef to some of the smoothest drive this side of Alan Holdsworth. Moving on to intensity, the DA-2's upper distortion reaches are metal ready; nothing too excessive but letting you transcend the crunchy territory into a convincing intense turf.

All in all, I love the DA-2 but this is not a personal recommendation; my like might be your turd but the DA-2 has enough personality & muscle to offer you something likable. However, a little caveat here, the DA-2 isn't an all-in-1 distortion unit. Hear it in action & understand what it has to offer.

PS: Thanks Swee Lee Co. for the review opportunity- Yadni for the Price quote & Faizal for the set-up once again.

BOSS DA-2 Adaptive Disotrtion
Price: $179 (nett) 
Availability: Swee Lee Co.

Gibson: Les Paul Custom Lite

Latest Gibson Les Paul incarnation- the Custom Lite. Featuring a chambered body (hence 'Lite') plus a missing tone control... there's a coil split switch there instead (red arrow). Desecration?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fender: Modern Player- Marauder

How many of us would swallow some pride, embrace one of our favourite guitar brand name which is manufactured in some distant eastern instrument plant, renowned for disrespect for intellectual property? I wouldn't mind at all after seeing things in person & hearing what it's capable of. Pic: my Fender Marauder, made in China. It's an official Fender product, so...

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Got my Free The Tone cable. It's not about the brand name, really. It's about quality performance. More updates soon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ibanez: SIR70F DiMarzios

The Ibanez Iron Label SIR70F is equipped with a set of DiMarzio pickups right from the start: Air Norton (N)/ True Velvet (M)/ Tone Zone (B). I didn't commit to this purchase because there are DiMarzio pickups in there as I'm not a DiMarzio fan. Yes, they sound impressive, offering more sonic appeal than Ibanez's in-house pickups but they aren't quite my thing. However, I'm not going to do away with these default units because they deliver great distortion & above-average cleans.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What bird?

Rovio teamed up with Slash recently to conceive the SlashBird character. Gosh... *shakes head* sounds like castration to me.

Anyway, here's some beef:

PS: SB image courtesy of Rovio

Edwards: E-HR-135III-7S

My other 'new' is the Edwards Horizon 7-string model, the E-HR-135III-7S. I thought this guitar wasn't coming at all, a hopeless case I might say but here it is. Let's see... this guitar was last mentioned here: CLICK

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ibanez: SIR70F

My new guitar is the Ibanez Iron Label SIR70F. An S-Series with a fixed bridge, finally :-) More details to come...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Over the horizon...

A glimpse of my new darling. It's unforgivably black; that's my ONLY gripe.

Re-issue issue

This is the new old (2013), Gibson's  re-issue 1957 goldtop Les Paul.In addition to a faithful reproduction by the manufacturer, this guitar features some modern appointments, namely in the hardware department to better capture the contemporary revisions. The question is, if such changes were incorporated, is it then a 're-issue'?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ibanez: RGIR20FE

I gave the new Ibanez RGIR20FE a go, it's a wonderful guitar for the money. Features-wise, this RG is, em, a typical RG without the frills. Non-locking features mean the guitar is less hassle & more play, especially for us gain-hungry, distortion devouring bandits, the EMG60/80 pairing is indeed the guitar at heart. How does this guitar perform tone-wise? Like a typical EMG-equipped guitar; very metal-inclined growl nothing stellar when it comes to cleans but do we need to remind ourselves why we want one of this pedigree in the first place? For cleans, really? Rather rhetorical.

The QC is perhaps Ibanez's best in the non-Japanese range, even beating the Premiums in the details. I need to see more units to comment on consistency but I'd reserve that for another chapter. Do you wish for a stutter volume effect or maybe an immediate volume kill after play? That's what the kill-switch there is for. Being a tone fan (of sorts), I'd prefer a tone control over a another volume feature. During the 30min test period, I only reached for the kill-switch once & that's only to ensure its functionality. The default action here is of a utilitarian affair; neither too low nor too high. More importantly, it didn't get in the way of good playing. I'm loving the blank fretboard, not sure if newbies would feel likewise.

Let's see now, for $799, you get a fixed bridge Ibanez RG & pair of EMG pickups at the helm. The next comparable model in the Ibanez range is an RGA42 with a slightly different body theme but featuring in-house pickups- which one would you choose? :-)

Thanks to Swee Lee Bras Basah for the testing treat- thanks Yadni!

Friday, March 8, 2013

New bosses at Swee Lee

These new BOSS pedals are now available at Swee Lee. If you are interested, it's the time to hear them in action. No prices have been finalized but as of this evening (9 March 2013), the Tera Echo is tagged for $225 (net). I kinda like the DA-2, tell you more soon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Iron presence

Ibanez's Iron Label models are now available at Swee Lee but not all models are in store, the ones you don't see- ask any sales individual to confirm stock availability for you. The RGIR20FE seen above is available at the Bras Basah showroom; tested it, inspected it, brief appraisal soon :-)

The Calling

This was my first music-related purchase for 2013, it took a little too long to be mentioned here but here it is. Neal Schon will play here come 19th March with Journey & I'm gonna miss that because I won't be in town. But that's besides the point, The Calling is a good instrumental release albeit old school. By that I mean there's no blistering technicalities to make you go WOW but the attention to details are all there. It's very much where Steve Stevens is treading, take time to listen to all those purposeful playing. Love it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The un-blackening (2)

Pickups are in: all DiMarzio affair (because I ran out of Duncans to try...)

Neck: PAF
Middle: Area '61
Bridge: Air Norton

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ibanez: FR320

The Ibanez FR320 is definitely not a Telecaster so there would be no semblance discussion here save for the fact the its body looks like a Tele. It's a typical standard production model sporting a basswood body & a W-III profile neck so you are in a familiar territory when it comes to tone & feel. Pickups-wise, it's the in-house CCR humbuckers so it won't sound as smooth as a DiMarzio or as cutting as a Seymour Duncan but they give off an individual clunky tone that distances itself from what an RG would sound like. This is further compounded by the 5-way selector's ability to single-coil proceedings in one of its selections- nothing crystalline here, just some acceptable cleans which could get delicious with the right drive type.

The bridge is a Tight End model which I've come across in my RG1451; it accentuates a low-profile feel by virtue of its inclined sides & the overall smooth-to-the-palm feel that would keep you going for hours. Nice touch but bear in mind that no ready spares are available out there to replace worn out or corroded features (I like it, nevertheless). I would say that the FR320 makes a good non-whammy bridge selection if you are not too keen about mechanical vibrato but choose to focus on more left hand engagements as you play. It doesn't stigmatize you with its shredder image because its design moved away from the RG look- smart move by Ibanez. Come to think of it, the other Ibanez singlecut designs are very Les Paul-ish, save for this model.

Thank you Swee Lee Co. for the invitation to try this one (Thanks Faizal!).

Ibanez FR320/ Nett $630 (bag not included)/ Available at: Swee Lee Co

On another note, I have been wishing for such a guitar since I bought this album (way back in 1991):

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Grave March...

Something to look forward to...


Here's another breaking news by ESP- the manufacturer is now offering another offshoot brand (made in Japan), the E-II, as regional exclusives. This will effectively mean these guitars won't make it to the USA. The former Standard series are now removed from the catalog & replaced by the 2013 version of 'Standard' models plus the E-IIs. I'm interested in owning one of these, definitely.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The un-blackening... (1)

This is one of my Ibanez S-series which was originally black...

... but after this morning, it sports a gold finish. The hue isn't obvious in this pic, would update one taken in broad daylight. I'm waiting for some spares before showing the complete make-over. Stay tuned...

Not quite it

Jackson, like many other guitar manufacturers out there, are joining the 7/8-string camp. The new Pro DKA Dinky 7 & 8 (pic above) are worthy guitars but because they are 'Jacksons', we expect the Jackson headstock but the ones here aren't quite it in terms of the traditional design.

Personally, I prefer this headstock design. I guess adding one more string to this one is a little too much...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Understand 8

Let's begin March by acknowledging the fact that the 8-string guitar -like any other guitars with whatever number of strings in there- are artist tools. Due to its use by artists with extreme inclinations, the 8-string guitar is conveniently tagged as the metal musician's affable extension. Well, not according to this clip; Alex Hutchings & in awesome Waghorn custom 8-string simply kills.