Monday, September 30, 2013


Spent a good time yesterday playing guitars which do not sport a flat radius; the focus- string muting. It's all down to technique, but my intention was to find out what makes muting easier- Fretboard radius? Fret types? Hand placements? Picking style? But it's rather rhetorical- there's no chief contributor to this, it's a combination of many factors.

Final day of September. Wishing you a good October ahead :-)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Subtraction company (2)

This Jackson belongs to a blog reader & friend, Steve. Absolutely no refinishing involved, no cavity fills as well. All done with stickers & it's good as ever. FYI Steve isn't a member of Impiety, but under all that powder & the band's numerous line-up changes, we'd never know for sure. Thanks, Steve, for sharing!

PS: If you have a guitar for the subtraction club & don't mind sharing the outcome of your tinkering (or proxy tinkering), do send me a pic & I'll gladly feature it here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Yes, I have .010s in my acoustic. Too thin you say? It's a personal choice, it's the most suitable set for me. Any thicker then my fingers suffer & my playing will suck.

Also, I'm very happy with this Gallistrings Lucky Star series for acoustic guitars. The strings give off that very earthy resonance, perfect compliments for the wood. Nothing too bright to such an extent you hear the strings more than anything else. It boils down to the bronze in the mix as well as great QC so they don't feel repulsive under your fingertips.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Subtraction company

One of the blog readers here did his version of 'subtraction'- awesome, bro Rowaizad!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Into the hunt

Into the hunt. The Wild Hunt, that is. I nearly gave up on these chaps after Lawless Darkness, they were falling into mass appeal & that nicked a little off the intensity aspect, choosing some palatable offerings for obvious reasons. I think I have high expectations for such music genre. Also, some bands could do it without sacrificing intent. Anyway, giving this release a few more spins.

Gibson's cake

Is Gibson a big fish? How about Roland? So which fish is bigger? The Gibson fish is now eating the Roland fish so that might complete the picture. Fishes aside, Gibson Brands acquisition of Cakewalk would imply the former's deeper foray into the digital realm. It would also mean that 'Gibson' is now making its presence felt in music editing & not merely in names adorning instrument headstocks. Such things happen in the business realm but for us buyers & music enthusiasts alike, we are more wary of availability & price. Hope they keep this in mind.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunset Monday

It had been a rotten Monday but then again, I couldn't really recall a good Monday. It had been a long while...

So naturally, the guitar cures everything & it was an hour of sunset guitar-ing. Was listening to some Greg Howe & tried to come up with a fusion lick but it was rather impossible if what one plays isn't intentional, like forcing a carrot through a key hole. 

Regardless of the problematic adventure, one thing's for sure- I was engaged from start to end. Thanks to my Subtraction S-series which features only a single pickup. This was the key to focus actually; using only the essentials to address the issue. If there were more than one pickups in there, chances are, tone-chasing would get the better of me instead of grinding some grey matter to solve the problem.

The key to solving a problem is to understand why it happened in the first place. Can't do a fusion lick? Try adding a single chromatic passing note to whatever scale you fancy & play it like you meant it. Now that's the key, not the carrot, to unlocking doors. OK so it's only one of many keys.

Mastodonized Jaguar

Troy Sanders of Mastodon has his signature Fender Jaguar bass seen here. Nice. But looking at the pickups there, it's not a strict Jaguar model as they are essentially P/J pickups. Hmm...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gramophone: Goodbye, thank you

Gramophone shuts down for good- that's sad. But it's the sign of the times; people don't buy CDs anymore, they get their music in digital formats online, legitimately or otherwise. But that's true for pop music, it's a simple formula, everyone wants the flavour of the moment & they are in it for the moment, there's no interest in appreciation.

This is why I still buy CDs, not that I wanna sound snobbish here but it's down to the music genre & personal interest/ appreciation

I listen to loads of guitar-inclined stuff- jazz/ blues/ prog/ metal which aren't generally popular & would likely appeal to introverts. Online music providers aren't keen to offer them in digital format online because they know these stuff won't sell. Only the artists take pains to offer them for sale at their personal homepages.

I'm also into the musician & not just the music per se. I would want to read the lyrics, see pictures, discover equipment endorsements & enjoy miscellaneous linear notes recorded in the CD sleeve, not just get the music for the sake of it. These are the reasons I buy CDs; it's the joy of having something tangible in my hands & not about the ear candy exclusively. It's an experience to behold each & every time I buy music, not the convenience of clicking buttons & getting them anyway.

On another note, I am particular about digital conversion as well; most of the mp3-ready music sold online manifest bad conversion, it's down to the bit rate in use, many of them are low so that the music could be transferred quickly over cyberspace & they don't take up too much memory. The result- digital slush. The next time you listen to digital stuff, listen to the cymbals & snares closely, if these sound like flowing/ splashing water, you know you can do a better conversion job.

My favourite Gramophone outlet used to be the Parkway Parade branch. I'd make it a point to check stuff out after the session at Beez's (before he moved to the City Hall area). Most of my pop music stuff was bought here. I used to live in the east as well so this branch was the most convenient. I could spend up to an hour just looking for my music there & noting good bargains before heading home. But it looks like such episodes are now fond memories, together with that of MPH (Stamford Road) & Boders (Wheelock Place). 

PS: Pic taken from The Straits Times online edition


New strings. Nothing to it. But the brand's rather obscure. Since I bought the Maestro acoustic, it made me pay more attention to string quality & tone. However, this one's for solid bodies.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


I was trawling cyber space in search of the Star Wars theme song- too many to choose from. But I came across these guys, no guitars involved but heck of a cover idea. Salute!

 Also, these guys are hilarious, had a good laugh watching this. However, their music- thumbs up.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


New pickup by DiMarzio- the Illuminator. It's the latest collaboration between the manufacturer & Dream Theater guitarist, John Petrucci. Some stuff to note:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hear tone

There's too much shenanigans about not hearing the good stuff coming from electric guitars; there's excessive interference along the way- pickups, capacitor, amp, effects, cables, ... At the end of it all, it's difficult to say, 'I bought a good guitar!' because you know your electric is more about good wood per se.

You wanna hear good wood doing its stuff? Go Acoustic. I'm not an acoustic person, I won't be one any time soon but I appreciate good tone because addictive guitar playing starts there- hearing the sound of goodness. You'd argue that the strings in there influence the tone- yes. But because you are the discerning guitar player, you'd take note of tonal differences upon a re-string; you'd notice that the fundamental tones of your guitars are retained, it's a little tampered by the strings, that's about it.

I'm currently pre-occupied with hearing my acoustics react with the different string brands. Right now, Elixir is way down the list. I acknowledge the Elixir goodness vouched by so many people out there but lest we forget, there are other strings brands out there to be discovered & someone else's ear candy might be your rotten tone.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Skolnick ESP

Newest ESP family member- Alex Skolnick. Looks like the one here is the proto which will eventually be his signature model. Interesting to note the HRF headstock outline being used.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Selling: Floyd Rose Special (SOLD)

Brand new, sparkling (ok, maybe not) Floyd Rose Special bridge for sale...
  • Selling: Floyed Rose Special locking, dual action bridge (black). Bridge & whammy arm only
  • Condition: 9/10 (a few days old)
  • No reservations/ no trades
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Confirmation/ query:
  • Price: $85 (final)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Re-string: Maestro ET-1

Early morning re-string: my Maestro ET-1. The more I try Elixir strings, the more I wanna try something else. So seen here is a pack of Gallistring Lucky Star LS10- a set of .010s, naturally. I'm also the type who dislike thick strings in acoustics. You can preach the goodness of having such strings in acoustics to promote sustain & volume projection which I already know but they don't do me good; this is the over-riding consideration. Whatever it is, it has to serve my needs (& quirks). I also managed to lower the action a wee bit.

Bass: Coronado/ Starcaster

As you can see here, Fender re-issued the Coronado & Starplayer Star Wars Starbucks Starcaster basses as well. I find the Starcaster headstock less repulsive compared to the guitar version.

Re-string Friday: Takamine EG510

A great acoustic re-string adventure done yesterday: Takamine EG510
  • Re-string: Down from a set of .011 to .010. The owner is simply uncomfortable with the default .011s & it's a good move going lighter. Why conform to popular embrace when it doesn't work for you, yes?
  • Light filing of nut slot: Slight choking at the D-string slot so it was filed, nothing intense.
  • Lubricated nut slots.
  • Re-moisturized fretboard
  • Lowered action: Filed bridge saddle. The default action was high- slightly more than 3.5mm at the 12th fret (bass side). This made fretting there (& beyond) rather ridiculous.
This is my mini bench vice, a little rusty at the sides but that's a mark of good service. You can see the Takamine's bridge saddle there being held in place. When the picture was taken, I was half-way through the job.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The green meanie

It's green, alright. But is it mean? Stay tuned.

Surgical acquisition

Got my new Carcass album- Surgical Steel. OK, so only 50% of the original line-up is here:
  • Bill Steer- guitars
  • Jeff Walker- bass/ vocals
  • Dan Wilding- drummer (new lad)
  • Ben Ash- guitars (live)

Mocking availability

A pleasant surprise- The BC Rich Mockingbird ST is now available at Davis GMC. It's one of those great sit-down/ strap-on guitars out there while still retaining an intriguing look. Lots of switches to play with but they are all useful in some ways, namely a coil split for both pickups & phase-reverse option which would serve you well in single coil mode. I didn't expect a Tele-type quack but it's there. 

The neck's a great round profile with an equally great upper fret access, thanks to the through-neck construction. Also commendable- the ebony fretboard. One can almost feel its crispiness just by touching the 'board but more importantly it supplements some clarity to the tone, more so in humbucking mode.

Also available- the 7-string version, price difference- less than $100. Unbelievable.

Hey. It's Friday the 13th...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fender: MG77 (2)

If you are looking forward to purchase a Fender Mustang & invest in some replacement pickups, this is fair warning to you. Seen here, the cavities of the said guitar which are strictly single coil-sized. You'd think a stacked humbucker (eg: Duncan's Classic Stack +) or a single coil-sized humbucker (eg: Duncan Hot Rails) will fit- yes they will by virtue of dimensions BUT the accompanying wires won't. Unless you don't mind gouging out some wood to accommodate just that, the Mustang, to date, was conceived to house single coil pickups. However, the manufacturer has some humbucking models out there so fret not (forgive the pun).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The drum Korg

It's time to retire my Zoom & get this- Korg's KR mini. It's hassle-free because it features an in-built speaker. Currently I need an amp to connect my Zoom into. Hear it in action:

Pandora stomping

Great move by the Korg camp- the Pandora is now available in a pedal format.

You should get this because:
  • it's still a Pandora- rhythm patterns, cab emulators, amp emulators, etc are retained
  • it now runs on 9V battery & has pedal board-friendly dimensions
  • it can double up as your live line-up & home-only play
  • great tuner feature, almost Pitch Black quality. They are by the same people, so...
You shouldn't get this because:
  • it's fiddly- any extensive muliti-effects unit are bound to be so when reduced to this size
  • side control knob should be in front, seriously
  • display panel could be more visual-friendly, if you have tried playing NUX in the dark, you know where I'm coming from
Your call :-)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ibanez: RG970

Another newbie by Ibanez this spring- RG970. Big deal, another Ibanez, you say?

This one sports a non-maple neck; it's wenge/ bubinga.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fender: Starcaster & Coronado

Making a return this fall- Fender's Coronado & Starcaster. Not the most celebrated of Fenders but collectibles, no doubt.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ibanez: XP500

The are many Ibanez Xiphos fans out there & they are not too keen with having a dual action whammy in this guitar. I used to own an XP300 which I gave up because I found out that a subsequent model would be released which promises a fixed bridge as well but it didn't appear (in the manufacturer's catalog) until now. The XP500 here is that model, featuring a Gibraltar Standard fixed bridge & a pair of DiMarzio D' Activator humbuckers- my kinda guitar.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ibanez: RC320M

Great things happening this fall in the Ibanez camp- the RC320M is definitely on my to-get list. The RC series isn't new but the maple 'board is.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gibson clearance @ SV Guitars

Gibson clearance (selected models) now happening at SV Guitars :-o

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Genesis fall

This fall is gonna be great for Ibanez fans- the Genesis series.

These are strict re-issues. By re-issue here we are getting exact, period correct specs from the RGs (yes, it's limited to the RGs this time). The two guitars you see above are the RG550 in that signature desert yellow finish as well as this RG670 in mahogany & gold hardware. 

Because it's adhering to a certain degree of accurate representation, be mindful that the instrument features the traditional tilt, block inlay. But we know what we are after with these irresistible guitars- that super sleek, super thin, Super Wizard neck. However, here's the not so good news- it's a Japan-only release in the mean time so if you are gonna be there for a Fall break maybe in the next couple of weeks, you know what's good for you. :-)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The lone cruncher

The lonely humbucker in my recently re-finished S-Series is the GFS Crunchy Rails. It's a super-charged pickup with reduced mids but not really a scooped sounding unit. Those vintage-inclined dudes won't like it, it's all modern, high output whack. If you are looking for something good in the cleans, it's also not quite the pickup to look up to. I was gonna try something different so here it is.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Project subtraction (6). Reprise...

One of my major consideration was the headstock- to keep or not to keep the finish? I stuck with the original colour to prove a point. If the headstock was black, I know I'd get less mention about it not matching the body. It seems that black is a universally acceptable colour despite it being increasingly mundane. 

In fact I chose a white pickup to imply a colour coordination with the headstock. The body colour is a strange colour, it's not really blue, it's not really grey either. It's actually inspired by Tosin Abasi's signature model but I guess I'd never acquire that exact hue unless I really get the colour codes from Ibanez.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Project subtraction (5): Mission accomplished

Here it is, if it's ever in real production, it'll be called the S510. Thank you Master Beez for the final touches today. Some appraisal to come, stay tuned :-)

Project subtraction (4)

Got my S570 body back with two filled up cavities & a great paint job. The colour was inspired by Tosin Abasi's signature model; a fusion of blue & grey. Off to Beez's soon :-) Wishing everyone a good September ahead.