Monday, June 30, 2014

Aria: 615 Frontier (3)

All done.

Roller string tree replaced the default vintage type which I don't fancy (even in Fenders).

Since the guitar features a single bridge pickup only (, I had a single volume control while the rest of the components were removed. Many of us find this objectionable- leaving blank what should be residing in their rightful places but I'm keeping things simple. The pickup in there is a Giovanni GCT-73, an Alnico V pickup with a midrange spike, my kind of tone preference.

A look at the Aria from the back.

Time flies. This marks the end of June & we are beyond half of 2014. I'm taking it slow for the later half of the year as I plan to have a custom guitar done. That is if nothing enticing crops up at Summer NAMM :-)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Selling: Tesla VR Extreme (set)

Selling as a set only, Tesla's VR Extreme. The bridge model is an F-spaced version. Screws & springs included.

  • Selling: TESLA VR Extreme set (high output)
  • Condition: 8.5/10 (springs + screws included)
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • Price: $75 (final)

Aria: 615 Frontier (2)

The finished article- in brown. It screams boring but I'm with less conventional colours these days. Yes, I'm doing away with the neck pickup so this guitar will join club single.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ramadan greetings 2014

Sunset, 28th June 2014 is the 1st of Ramadan. Wishing all Muslim friends & blog readers a blessed month ahead. Remember to keep yourselves adequately hydrated- the heat these days can simply get to you.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Aria: 615 Frontier

Aria's 615 Frontier is a very wallet-friendly Tele-style guitar. Despite being conceived to appease the budget conscious players, it's a well-made instrument, not one to exude an upper class experience but enough to get a deserving recognition from discerning players.

So it's an easy decision for me after trying it at the store. I don't quite fancy the sunburst finish though so it shall make way for another hue. The arrows & circled holes were not defects but they were indicated for the person who's refinishing it for filling. I have other plans in addition to the new coat of paint :-)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

PRS: SE Bass

We now have PRS SE basses to consider :-) Introducing the Kestrel & Kingfisher. These are 34" basses featuring neck-through designs while the Kestrel (bottom) features an alder body, the Kingfisher (top) sports an ash body. These should be affordable in line with their guitar counterparts. Alright, PRS!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Selling: Artec Rock 'N Roll (SOLD)

About 2 weeks old, absolutely immaculate condition :-) It gives a fusion of drive & distortion responses.
  • Artec: Rock 'N Roll (mini series)
  • Condition: 9/10 (box included)
  • No reservations/ No trades
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • Price: $39 (final)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dean: F-hole(s) Mustaine

A new Dave Mustaine V-type Dean. The difference this time is a certain degree of hollowness marked by those F-holes. Seen here, Mr. Megadeth himself playing one with an orchestra backing. It's called the Stradi VMT.

Pic: Dean

Monday, June 23, 2014

Selling: Pickups/ pickguard for tele-type

Taken off an Aria guitar, plastic protective covers are still in tact for the neck pickup as well as the pickguard. Screws for pickguard not included.
  • Selling: Pickups (neck/bridge) + pickguard for tele-type guitar
  • Condition: 9/10
  • Pickguard screws not included
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • No reservations/ no trades
  • Price: $30 (final)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

EHX: Deluxe Big Muff

I'm not a fuzz fan but I do get a kick out of cascading a fuzz unit into a mild drive every now & then. The fuzz, to me, muffle clarity & has limited appeal when one relies on clarity for the type of music one peddles. The Deluxe Big Muff (DBM) is my kind of fuzz because it has a midrange reinforcement to manifest clarity. If this results in a very shrilled voicing for some of us, EHX has a bass boost function you can use. There's a lot of gain/ fuzz coming from this pedal & the manufacturer had wisely included a noise gate feature in there to ensure extraneous noise do not get in the way of sensible tones. On this note, the Muff purists would argue the fact that creamy fuzz tones are compromised by dialing in the additional features here but we are aware  EHX has a good range of other fuzz units for our consideration; from the traditional to metal intensity- they are all there.

Congrats, EHX for expanding the Muff plethora & reaching out to some of us who would embrace a good serving of fuzz if it was tweaked to our requirements & that just happened with this DBM unit. All the traditional Muff goodness with extras that won't kill the fuzzy joy.

Rating: 80%

Electro Harmonix: Deluxe Big Muff
Availability: Davis GMC
Price: $165

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Club single: The Highway entry

This is my original Fender Highway 1 (H1) pickguard. The last modification done was to have a humbucker in the bridge position because that's what I play the most. The other pair of single coils are functional but ignored. Since this had been the case, I've decided to remove this pickguard.

The new pickguard accommodates only 1 humbucker. I also have the push-pull coil split in there to activate some single coil tones on, well, some playing days. All wiring done by Beez in under 15min.

Before putting everything back in place, there were some misaligned screw holes despite the pickguard being an American product & the promise to fit an American Fender Strat perfectly. Nothing too adverse, a simple fill did the job. After an hour of drying, the new pickguard is ready for mounting.

There we go- something functional that serves me (not pleasing what others think a Fender Strat should be). By the way, the pickup in question is a Seymour Duncan JB Trembucker.

X: You've just destroyed a Fender Strat.
Me: I've destroyed nothing, it's my guitar. It's reversible anyway.

X: You have only one tone to work with.
Me: Rubbish. The amp channels, EQ section, effects & the coil split switch in there would provide much other tones to work with, it's a matter of knowing what to use, when to use them.

X: You've de-valued your Fender.
Me: If it's meant to be mine, it's not the case. I don't intend to re-sell it. A well taken care Fender will retain much of its value so no worries there. Even an old, battered, historical Fender fetches good money. That's what the whole relic thing is all about.

X: Would you recommend this mod to others?
Me: Depends on their intentions. If they wish for only a humbucking tone to help them focus, this is it. It should serve a personal need, not to imitate others' fashion statement. I have other Strats to work with should I wish for a more authentic Fender single coil tones so this one is worth the hassle. It makes me happy, that's important.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Perpetual burning Ibanez

Greetings, guitars folks. This one had been probably done to death- me covering how Duncans sound like in an Ibanez guitar. I'm at it again simply because I am a fan of both brand names. They are awesome together (for me) & I'd do well to retain this combination to prevent any tone adversities (for me at least).

As related before, the Duncan Perpetual Burn (PB) is an Alnico V pickup, it wasn't conceived to do an all-out metal manifestation but it has the potential. As seen above, it's in my Ibanez S771 bridge position & the guitar sports a mahogany body as well as a fixed bridge. Despite being a fixed bridge unit, the spacing here is that of an F-spaced bridge so the Trembucker PB is in use. The complementary pickups are the Quarter pounder single coil in the middle & the Jazz in the neck.

The PB is a good clean performer namely due to its Alnico pedigree despite sporting a stronger V core. That's the likable characteristic with alnicos; there's a higher probability of them sounding good, clean. The PB was conceived to be a medium output humbucker & that's the reason it doesn't muck up at higher distortion settings. I set my EVH 5150 III to stun during test time & the clarity was impressive at any volume settings. I heard a spiked top end coming from the PB with an acceptable response from the midrange. However, the bottom end need a little jerk from the amp's EQ section to get a convincing metal-type chugging. This is a Jason Becker specified humbucker, it's not meant to appease those treading the metal turf exclusively. Nevertheless, the application is there for the taking. To put it straight, the black metal guys would be more at home with this pickup as opposed to the scooped-EQ type players. Jason Becker fans would highlight the fact that (most of) his guitars were alder bodied but rest assured, the PB is a great pickup to have in a mahogany guitar.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Digitech is dropping it

Come Summer NAMM (2014), Digitech will have this for your consideration; a no-frills pitch-shifting pedal aptly named the 'Drop'. It's capable of dropping your standard tuning to your preferred semitones as well as a full octave. This would mean you can instantly drop-tune your instrument without ever touching your guitar's tuners. That's technology for you.

Life started with this one- the original Digitech whammy pedal much embraced by the late Dimebag Darrell. Due to its pre-histortic nature, it's rather obscure & a used unit is quite prohibitive in price.

Things took a turn for the better in terms of affordability. Digitech released the XP series, one of which specializes in whammy/ wah/ polyphonic displacements, the XP100 seen above. I bought this one but had limited use for it because I don't dwell in note squealing episodes too much. It was sold for a good price.

Then came the re-issue, keeping close to much of what the original had to offer.

Along the way, an OTT variation was offered which wasn't too popular so things went full circle as you can see. It's back to basics with the Drop pedal, one which every dweeb can probably fit into their pedal boards & one which is devoid of an expressions pedal. If you take a closer look, the Drop is actually half of what this monster had to offer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Artec: Rock 'N Roll

It's the in-thing now; mini pedals. The ones capable of populating your pedal board in terms of quantity & variety. The leading names to note: Mooer, Eno & Artec. Mooer is the standard to beat, uncompromising in quality, both tone & QC-wise. Eno is mocking Mooer in terms of price & selected models are sheer value-for-money. Coming on to Artec, these guys are serving you functionality with some acceptable compromises.

The Rock 'N Roll (RNR) pedal is a mild drive/distortion type capable of letting you have some smooth, boost-type push at lower gain settings while the upper end gain markings let you enjoy some DS-1 type distortion, nothing too intense. The overall controls performance are responsive but you need some patience with the mini GAIN & TONE knobs. Much of the cost-trimmings here involve the materials in use- plastic. The RNR sports a plastic housing & chassis so in terms of vulnerability, this one is outright fragile. The pedal simply fails if it's used unsecured so the best application here is to strap it down to your pedal board. I have only acquired this baby for about a week but it's working well, so much of the consideration would be to see how long it would last. 

Tone-wise, the RNR would appease single coil worshipers more than the typical humbucker fan. Given the right pre-amp to couple this pedal, some Malmsteen type, throaty single coil distortion is achievable. In terms of accommodating fat humbuckers, the RNR is a little wanting in terms of bottom end definition.

It's an interesting time to be dwelling in mini pedal goodness. Manufacturers are giving us players some good variety to work with & the competition has manifested a good range of prices as well. But with the goodness comes some compromise & this should be well understood & accepted. Purchase decisions are then at the behest of your learned investigation- cheap & good may not last you through & the upper end, more revered products may just be downright awful. Take time to shop & select what you need (not what you want). Keep in mind that these babies require power supply (no battery capacity whatsoever) so that would entail some supplementary expenditure.

Artec mini pedals are now avaialble at TYMC.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Selling: Maestro ET-1CE (SOLD)

Selling this one away. The pre-amp (B-Band T-35) is not working & I don't have any intentions to replace it. Very well taken care off. Remember, it's a travel size instrument (23.5" scale length only).
  • Selling: Maestro ET-1CE (Pre-amp NOT working)
  • Mahogany back/ solid red cedar top
  • Condition: 8.5/10
  • Bag included
  • No reservations/ No trades
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • Price: $160 (final)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Seymour Duncan: The next wave

Nazgul, Sentient, Pegasus, Black Winter- these are the next-gen pickups by Seymour Duncan in the passive front. Less the Black Winter, they were initially meant for 7-string guitars & therefore appealed to a limited player base. However, the manufacturer (wisely) developed these in a 6-string format & they were made available this year. These are now in stock at Davis GMC.

Targetting the distortion fiends, these humbuckers have limited applications for clean-loving tone purists. They have a singular objective to manifest drive & distortion in loads but let me point out the fact that the Pegasus & Sentient models have something for those of us who hunger for good distortion or drive tones without treading the metal turf. The Pegasus is able to deliver some of the smoothest drive tones for fusion applications & the Sentient is an impressive performer in the neck position, for both clean & driven modes.

These are my personal take on them. In any case, I have not finished checking them out & have them fitted into 2 guitars so far; one fixed bridge model & another sporting a locking whammy bridge. Along the way I got distracted by the Perpetual Burn model but that's another episode for another day, not to be included here to avoid confusion.

Hey, Dad! (Part 57)

Hey, Dad! Is this your completed 'mini' pedal board? Looks, em... small.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fractal is flooring it

It's unannounced & not pre-empted so it's a real surprise for everyone- Fractal has released a floor unit. That's right, the manufacturer has promised a faithful re-creation of its rack version in a multi-fx setting, more details to come in Summer NAMM. This is definitely a good thing for those of us who avoided Fractal due to the necessary entailment of having to purchase a power amp. On a personal note, I'd give it a go & maybe purchase one if it's 'right'. But my right may not be yours :-)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Schecter: KM-7

Schecter's Keith Merrow model (KM-7) is now available at Davis GMC. It must cost a bomb, you say? The KM-7 in both black & gray finishes are kept below the $1.4K mark- this is absolutely fantastic in terms of affordability. Keep in mind that the KM-7 is a signature model with a pair of no-nonsense Seymour Duncan Nazgul & Sentient humbuckers.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reference rant: Of mistakes & hard headedness

This is an Ibanez S-Series, an S420 to be precise.

This is in turn is an SA-Series, an SA120.

Yesterday, I pointed out a reference mistake, someone in cyberspace referred to an SA model as an S-Series when the headstock of the instrument clearly stated it's an 'SA'. But the chap wasn't too accommodating with such a pointer. According to his understanding, the SA models were the cheaper end of the S-Series which I disagreed because the SA models offer Prestige & Premium models which are in the upper end of the tier. So you'd end up having some SA models being more costly than some S-series & this puts to rest the fact that the SA-Series were there to be cheaper than the S-models. It's not true.

The reason why Ibanez differentiated the SA series from the S is due to design differences. I have no problems accepting the fact that the SA model was an off-shoot from the S-Series; a variant model, but to refer to the SA as an S model is erroneous. So the chap went on spewing the history of the S-Series since its inception in 1987, & how it developed into the SA & SZ etc. If someone does this, the immediate implication is that (to me at least) he/she has acceptance issues. If I were in this situation, I'd back off & present my case, if the other person has a different understanding of my point of view, then it's a fair difference. Others who read the differences would then form an understanding of their own. In any case, if you carry on defending a mistake, it says something about your personality, especially when it's documented in cyberspace for the world to read. In any case my friends, it will land you in some difficulties if you promise someone you are selling him/her an S-series Ibanez but ending up having an SA model at the time of meeting. It happened to a friend so the entirety of this episode is actually relating to a personal encounter of mine. Just sharing.

Morals of the story:
  • Some people don't need our help. They are happy to carry on with some adversity due to a personal belief. If you try to mend their ways, they may/ may not be too receptive of your intentions especially when they did not invite you to state your case
  • Do not falter when you know you are right. Present your case but others may or may not embrace it. It's not a court room proceeding after all, nobody needs to prove anything
  • The seniors among us are largely stubborn people. It somehow boils down to 'I was there before you, I know what I'm talking about'. Whatever you know oh ye oldies, may still be a little inaccurate. If you don't believe what others tell you, do listen at the very least. These other people don't differ in opinion by chance. It happens for a reason. If there are exchanges in knowledge along the way, we are both winners. Do not compel your beliefs unto others, it would result in more conflicts than friendships.
Happy Friday the 13th, everyone :-)

Fender: Modern Player Starcaster

The Modern Player Fender Starcaster is now available at Swee Lee. No twang on board so Strat/Tele fans can move on. It's not quite a semi, tone-wise, because the guitar is a bolt-on make. So what you have is Fender's take on a non-solid body instrument made more affordable by virtue of its construction (not to mention country of manufacture). If you A-B one with Epiphone's Dot model, you'd hear more clarity coming from the Starcaster (especially from the neck pickup) due to the pickups (Fender's Wide Range humbucker has some reputation in this department) & maple fretboard. The body is a little wider here so those of us accustomed to the Strat/Tele need a wee bit of getting used to. That headstock is acquired taste, personally, I think it's downright ugly. The Starcaster is not new to the Fender fold, it's a come back of sorts with a little tweak in design. I'm largely a solid-body guitar fan but this one has it in terms of tone, especially in terms of drive.

Rating: 70%

Fender: Starcaster (Modern Player series)
Availability: Swee Lee Co.
Price: $949

Other price references: USD699/ Euro689/ BP556/ Aus999

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gibson: ES Les Paul

Yet another LP regurgitation but it's something sensible (at least to me & that is saying a lot since I'm not too into Gibsons...). I would start by pointing out the fact that some of us kinda struggled playing a Gibson ES-335 not attributable to the instrument's weight but the body dimensions. It's a little wider so it 'affects' your arm placement & there's this realization over time that the body is intruding into your under arm. So they made the ES-339, a shrunken ES-335 so to speak & here they have brought the ES idea into the Les Paul. It's a glorious consideration because people like me would be quite at home playing one. The manufacturer said other components, notably the hardware, were substituted for lighter versions so as not to contradict the ES philosophy. The pickups are also the vintage, unpotted version so they will hum with distortion in use, so be informed & make your decisions wisely. 

On that note, here's a look at the rear- note the absence of cavities, much in line with the ES philosophy once again. However, for guitars techs, that wouldn't be much good news because any pickups replacement would have to be from the front & if you've tried to at least mount a fresh set of pickups & channel the wires under that cavity to the control pots, it's a cumbersome process. However, the ES Les Paul is a neat idea with playability in mind. 

Lest we forget, Gibson did a Les Paul Florentine back in 1997- does this look familiar? Hmm...

Floyd Rose: Custom Shop

A worthy move by Floyd Rose- a custom shop option. Since many other manufacturers are shifting their production considerations to the buyers to enhance desirability, the good people at FR are following suit. This way, you can get a customized genuine article according to your specs. Before you embark on this journey, it's good to read up on the different materials available out there because this, together with the weight of the components, affect tone & sustain. I've done up a simple custom order form just for illustration here. The price is reasonable & not too far off the ready made ones available off the shelves. Thumbs up to the CS Floyd Rose option.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Selling: TC Electronic Ditto looper (SOLD)

Someone borrowed my Ditto pedal. It was broken/lost (unclear, he didn't want to disclose fully) so I ended up receiving a brand new one but before this happened, I already bought another loop pedal so this fresh, still sealed in box, is for sale :-)
  • Selling: TC Electronic Ditto looper (brand new, sealed in box)
  • Condition: 10/10
  • No reservations/ No trades
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/confirmation:
  • Price: $99 (final)
Item sold as at 1240hrs today. Thanks to all 14 respondents.

Sale @ Yamaha

Sale happening at Yamaha as well. It's beginning to feel like a good mid-year after all :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Selling: Joyo JP-02 (SOLD)

If you've been following my posts, you'd know this is spanking new, it's barely a week old but I've since bought a secret weapon :-) This JP-02 will bow out for a good price to a deserving owner.

  • Selling: JOYO power supply JP-02. Box & all accessories included (Dimensions in cm: 15 x 5 x 3.5)
  • Condition: 9/10 (less than a week old as at date of posting)
  • No reservations/ No trades
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/ Confirmation:
  • Price: $80 (final)

Gibson: Les Paul Studio 2014

The Gibson LP Studio 2014 edition (note 12th fretboard marker) is now available at Swee Lee Co. Let's go for the good news first- it's a wonderful piece of work. I'm happy it featured some new considerations that we would implement into our LP Studios as a 'upgrades'; coil split feature at both volume knobs, Orange Drop capacitor (finally!), Graph Tech nut, large strap buttons & grip speed knobs. The default pickups are Gibson's own 490R/490T pair which many distortion fiends find lacking but these are undeniably the manufacturer's signature tone to begin with so any disagreements here is strictly personal. The audition model was virtually flawless. I was paying particular attention to the fretboard edges because time & again, Gibson's unbound neck had proven to be its Achilles heel in finishing QC but this one did well. The overall playability was enhanced (subjective) by the instrument's Slim Taper 60s profile which many speedsters would be at home with. Despite the default set of .010s in there, the default Cleartone strings just felt right.

The not so good news is that, this year, Gibson had decided to exclude the LP Studio from the hardcase option. This means, you only get a supplementary Gibson bag with your purchase. I personally don't see this as a negative in any case, maybe this helps to keep prices down & that could only be good for us (buyers). 

Rating: 80%

Gibson: LP Studio ver 2014
Availability: Swee Lee Co.
Price: SGD1,390

Other online price references: USD1,089/ Euro945/ BP767.25/ Aus1,700

Monday, June 9, 2014

Artec's compact take

After my visit to Beez's, I headed to TYMC to check out Artec's latest offerings. Nothing evolutionary, just a range of compact pedals & yes, others were there before Artec so there's no gloss to this embrace. I managed to have a go at the 3 units you see here- a clean boost & 2 drives. Prices are kept below SGD80 & this was made possible for a simple reason- all pedals feature plastic housing. If you think this is a complete turn off, stop whining & move on; you have ENO & MOOER to choose from. As always, thumbs-up to the TYMC team when it comes to customer service. I had plans to try only the Blues Drive but they took 2 others for comparison's sake & that should be the way- letting the customer decide & widen his options before making an informed decision. It's not easy choosing a pedal, let alone choosing something one really wants in terms of preferences. More report to come :-)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Beez @ Excelsior

Just a reminder that Beez is now at #B1-07B (same ol' Excelsior Hotel basement...).

As you can see, it's strictly a 1-to-1 consultation now but it's business as usual. Do make it a point to call before you head down: 977-326-33. It's the mid-year break for many school-goers so expect a little 'heavy traffic' this season.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Schecter: VG-TE-A-SM

I was originally set to buy an ______ since it's on sale now but this one, this elusive rare piece, got the better of my time. You won't find that many Japanese Schecter here simply because it's not meant to be made available elsewhere. The construction is immaculate, the playability simply attractive. Too good to pass.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Re-string @ office

Quick re-string at the office (Countess electro-acoustic):

  • re-conditioned fretboard
  • re-conditioned bridge
  • Gallistrings .011 set
Thanks Mr. Wong for tightening some of the tuners- appreciate it.

Having power

This is something I bought for my pedal board; the Joyo JP-02 power supply. It's not a boutique item, I wouldn't want one for this project anyway; it's just my embrace for tone economics. Check it out at SV Guitars, it's listing for SGD99.00. So with this purchase, I'm closing all purchases pertaining to this pedal board.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


The SALE event continues at Davis GMC, this time round- GJ2 guitars. Before that, be sure to know the GJ2 name: CLICK

Pic: Davis GMC

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Seymour Duncan @ DGMC

If you've been waiting for them, they are now available at Davis GMC. Recommended for those of us who are seldom on clean & pump up loads of distortion. Getting mine, of course.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

SALE: Martin LX

Happening at City Music now- the little Martins are on discount for a limited time only. How little is little? The guitar sports a 23" scale length, a little shorter than the Fender Jaguar (24"). Do not expect a big, orchestra-type boom but it's not a toy either.

Pic: City Music