Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ibanez: DCM100

We end July on a good note- Ibanez has finally released a Dino Cezares signature model (DCM100) but

  1. It's a limited run so don't expect too much when it comes to availability
  2. Price is rather steep: USD2.3K
It's fundamentally an RGD model with a reversed headstock & a single pickup. We know how long Cezares had been with Ibanez so this is long overdue.

Pic: Jemsite

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Have Faith

Was trawling cyberspace to read up on obscure acoustics but the Faith brand isn't really an unknown. In fact, the Venus HG you see here had inputs (bracing-wise) from a certain Partick Eggle so they've been around for quite a while doing good acoustics that don't make it to the shores where we are.

Stunning craftsmanship aside, the Venus HG is equipped with this Shadow Performer Tuner/Pre-amp which gets my thumbs up for considerations. Look at those adjustable slotheads EQ for each string- this means that you can accentuate or tone down specific strings to your liking. This reflects the acoustic reality- sometimes we feel that some strings are overwhelming & wish that they could be dealt with individually to our fancy & this is it :-)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Eid Mubarak 2014

It's that time of the year again & I'd like to express my utmost thanks to you, my dear readers, who have been reading the entries here regardless of where you are. If I've offended you in any way through the entries here- due apologies. Those not celebrating- have a great holiday; go play more guitar!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Digital delay (seriously digital)

Delay fans, this is something to behold by Korg- the SDD-3000. All the delay introversion you'd ever wanted, it's in here. If you enjoy the digital responses by BOSS but wanting more, do give this a consideration. It has some inputs by a certain U2 tech so you know what to expect :-)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Selling: BOSS ST-2 Power Stack (SOLD)

Selling ST-2, box included :-)
  • Selling: BOSS ST-2 Power Stack
  • Condition: 8.5/10
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Price: $80 (final)

Protone: The reek of death (2)

Setting the record straight: I'm not a boutique name fan. I just don't look forward to such offerings because there's more hype to them than a concrete 'better' performance. For much lesser money, we can easily obtain a very pleasant sounding pedal simply due to the level of technology today; manufacturers know what to do without spending too much.

However, in my case, there are exceptions every now & then. The case in question is Protone's Dead Horse as seen above. It's nothing refreshing, really, a regurgitation of the Tube Screamer philosophy but it's taken a mod-type turn. The Dead Horse is what your Tube Screamer would sound like if you'd send them for a mod make-over (OK, so I've said this before in Part 1). The saturation response is just way above what a typical drive would offer. Adding the fact that there's no excessive midrange typically heard in the Tube Screamer (which isn't a bad thing considering it was conceived for this purpose), the Dead Horse is a very appealing manifestation of what a souped-up Tube Screamer should be. Please bear in mind that regardless of whatever additional saturation there is on offer, it doesn't cross over into the distortion territory. 

Moving into performances notes, I like what the Dead Horse has to offer for both single coil & humbucking guitars. It's not biased towards either pickup, in fact, it does what it's supposed to do regardless of the pickup source. What you'd hear is the pedal saturating signals without adding inclined internal flavouring when they reach the amp. It's as if the pedal has an in-built clean boost in there without announcing its presence. That diode switch there is for you to check out symmetrical & asymmetrical clippings which has everything to do with harmonic type generation. Don't think too much about it, hear it in action, let your ears do the picking.

Many of you would balk at the fact that a mere overdrive pedal would cost you very close to $300 but that's the boutique reality; you pay for the technicalities of it all in addition to the name. I couldn't pass this one up simply because it's my kind of pedal, it gives me what I want to hear in a single serving, no multiple cascading pedals necessary. 

Protone: Dead Horse
Availability: Davis GMC
Price: SGD295

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ibanez: RG8820B

This is something which we are likely not to see here, the RG8820B. I'm not a keen fan of elaborate inlays but Ibanez is now opening up more models to the Bare Knuckle pickups. Seen here are the Aftermaths humbuckers.

Peavey: Forceful guitar-ing

Comic-Con is taking place right now, just in the wake of the Summer Namm conclusion & here's what Peavey has to offer; more graphic-bodied guitars. The catch is, it's not the standard-sized instrument majority of us would want to invest in (3/4 dimensions) & the single humbucker feature there isn't a popular embrace either. It's obviously aimed at the collectors but if a scaled-down guitar is your thing, it's worth considering.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vox: AC4C1-12

Good, simple amps are hard to come by. Well, at least the affordable, no frills ones. Vox's AC4 combos aren't new but this 12" driver equipped version is a fresh addition. The manufacturer promises us the AC4 goodness plus its revered AC30-ish top boost tone.

Controls are kept simple & traditional. This should be the way for us who wish for an above-average tone without much thoughts going into tone tinkering. Meaning- very pedal-friendly if the need arises. It will see a sub-USD500 price tag & should be a consideration for those of us in need of simple goodness. I'd check iot out, definitely :-)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pro Tone: The reek of death

There are many of us out there who sent our beloved OD pedals for an aggressive mod. Many of those pedals came back to us sounding a little boosted sans the aggression. The people at Pro Tone are somewhat attuned to this need so aggression is factored in without compromising the drive voicing. Meaning- it still sounds like an OD, not a distortion, albeit sounding angry. If you are in the market for such an OD unit, check the Dead Horse out- no regrets. However, be warned that this comes from an esoteric range of pedals out there known as boutique so it takes a little toll in terms of price: USD219 (pre-shipping).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


This is neither a defect nor an artistic intention but a patent pending design by Dean Zelinsky. It's an etching that stretches across the guitar's neck rear supposedly to enhance hand movements by avoiding a sticky situation when sweating takes place.

The hit here is, after a personal experience, I agree that there is a certain amount of enhanced gliding offered by this design for a simple reason; there's less wood in contact with your thumb during play. The miss is that it affects feel for many of us. Throughout my playing time, I simply couldn't ignore the fact that the necks feels different, it's grooved & manifests this apprehension of a missing component. Can you get over this after prolonged playing? High chance of adapting to the feel, no doubt. However, there are already some finishing processes in the mean time to avoid that sticky situation during play; less lacquer overcoat is one of them.

Head over to SV Guitars if you wish to have a go at the Z-Glide experience & on that note, DZPL guitars are now available there for your considerations.

Monday, July 21, 2014

EHX: The organ machine

I'm usually not into this kinda effect unit, one that totally destroys guitar signals only to resurrect it at the amp end as something else entirely. But that's one way to appreciate your guitar tones; to occasionally not sound like a guitar. However, this might be a good avenue to explore Stevie Wonder's Superstition- that wicked organ/synth lick. Regardless, it's something to look forward to.


RIP: Johnny Winter

A little belated but RIP, Johnny Winter. I have tremendous respect for individuals who are experts in their respective turfs. Every time 'Johnny Winter' is mentioned, I'd think of the Gibson Firebird.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Roland: Blues Cube Stage

Not to be confused with what Roland did before, the Blues Cube Stage amps are absolutely new for 2014. The BCs is aimed at the, well, blues players out there, the ones who indulge in very little pedals in their set up & would deem digital technology an abhorrence. Yes, that's whom these amps are for so as you can see, there is a great risk of failing. However, Roland assures potential fans that the BC had been fine tuned to give above-average performance dynamics, particularly the ones that supplement blues-type playing & anything in league with this need. 

The way I see it, it's a bold move ahead but one with a 50-50 chance of success. Blues players are digital heretics & winning them over is an uphill task. With digital technology, much tweaking is required before one can settle down one one's tone quirks & that's gonna be a challenge. Those blues cats out there are largely old fashioned & even the next-gen of blues greats embrace analog, vintage technology. Reserving further comments till they debut at the stores here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Reconciliation: Spruce top (Part 2)

The guitar in question is Takamine's GY93E. It's Chinese & it sings beautifully. I've noticed that Chinese instruments are particularly well made when it comes to the acoustic & semi-solid construction. It's something else when solid body construction in concerned. That, shall not be discussed here.

This is how the guitar looks like from the rear. That light strip of wood there is maple. A stunning look has nothing to do with sounding good & playing well for that matter (especially when it's hidden at the back *duh*).

So this was how it went; my coming to terms with a spruce top. I won't be too keen to embrace another spruce top instrument simply because it's not my thing, I prefer the darker woods for their warmth & individual notes accentuation but this GY93E is an exception. As I'm not a keen acoustic fan either, it's down to that parlour-style body as well; something I can deal with without struggling.

Thanks to Davis GMC for their warm service in this acquisition.

Lunar Saturday

A Lunar (Drive) Saturday. I bought this pedal for its simple goodness. It already contains the drive voicing I prefer, the other features are extras that supplement the pedal, not remove it from its true manifestation. The knobs could have been smoother but that's not a major concern because most of the time, I set my pedals just once during play time. If you are interested, the Lunar Drive is still on sale @ Sound Alchemy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sale: Fender (Japan) @ Davis GMC

The weekend is just moments away & if you are itching for a new guitar, do consider these Fenders (Japan) over at Davis GMC. Some of the necks are gloss finished, do take note (eg: ST-72).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

LTD: Hanneman tribute

Limited edition release- LTD Jeff Hanneman tribute model, only 100 pieces worldwide. A proceed from the sales goes to the Wounded Warrior Project. Due to the limited quantity, you know the chances of this appearing at your dealer's is a little remote unless they are passionate about the brand name.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Selling: Carl Martin DC Drive (SOLD)

Sifting through what I own, saying goodbye to the ones I have not been playing :-)

  • Selling: Carl Martin DC Drive (box included)
  • Condition: 8.5/10
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Price: $70 (final)

Boss: Waza pedals

This Summer, the good people at Roland are not sitting still & letting others steal the limelight. I'm saying this because for every NAMM event, what was the last intriguing product you can recall offered by the manufacturer? Still scratching your head? Leave that be, then. The BOSS Waza Craft pedals are the company's Summer offering for all ye effects dweebs. You've seen these pedals before- that's for sure. The added goodness here is that they've been tweaked by the manufacturers themselves offering you 2 usable modes: Standard (S) & Custom (C). So if you still love the traditional tones, stick to the Standard mode, if you wish for some kick, engage the Custom channel. Neat?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SALE: Takamine @ DGMC

Reminder of this goodness- Takamines are on clearance at Davis GMC. I'm not here to compel you just because of the 'Takamine' tag there but these guitars are worth their prices. Do not go there & expect a boutique range, the D & G-series are largely regional exclusives & not costly to begin with.


I'm really glad this happened- Corrosion of Conformity's IX. Rather obvious it's their 9th full length release & one of the more intriguing chapter in terms of heaviness. We know where these guys came from; they did a crossover which was brilliant & that was way back in the '80s so they are true seniors of the music they propel. Along the way, line-up changes happened but the core of the music remains true. IX has this wicked layering, a concoction of fuzz & distortion that's addictive. Also, there's a doom approach to their music this time round, done very tastefully. Word is, Pepper Keenan might return to the fold. If it entails in another Deliverance or Wiseblood, then I'm not interested.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reconciliation: Spruce top

I'm not a fan of spruce soundboards. Despite being the preferred wood for beautiful resonance by many luthiers, spruce sounds too bright & prickly to me. You have the right to disagree & state the fact that spruce top acoustic guitars had been the most successful formula for an appealing chime. 

However, there are others like yours truly here who simply can't come to terms with excessive top end. We prefer a warmer sounding acoustic, something that manifests good midrange, sufficient treble for presence & a healthy dollop of lower frequencies because we do basslines on our acoustics sometimes & we need a good punch from the low end. Impossible- this is the simple truth. We simply can't get a 'balance' in this aspect because the acoustic guitar per se is an instrument that inclines towards a certain frequency; it's all about that empty space, that hollowness in there. If you can't live with this, then the acoustic guitar isn't for you.

I've come to understand acoustic soundboards through 3 wood types that arguably give off tones representative of the pedigree they are in- spruce, cedar & mahogany. Spruce is the brightest of the lot, cedar has a throaty response but not as bright & mahogany is the industry's gloom merchant. We have others out there but they sound like the accentuation of one of the three mentioned here so this is a broad category of acoustic tones out there. 

The guitar depicted in this entry sports a spruce top but it isn't as prickly at the upper frequencies. The offset factor here is the fact that it sports a smaller body, a parlour-type dimension to be precise. This very much truncates the excessive treble response from the instrument. The other contributing factor is its neck. We tend to forget the fact that much of the guitar's tones come from the neck resonance as well. Much of this oversight is due to our excessive time with solid body instruments; we can't really hear the wood dynamics due to amplification & effects processing. So after much careful listening & comparison, I have no qualms accepting this guitar to be, first & foremost, a good-sounding guitar. It also sounds a little different from its other spruce top siblings due to its dimensions.

To be continued :-)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mastodon: Once More Round The Sun

The awesome foursome- Mastodon! Thusfar, everything they do turns out stellar. I can't name a bad album from these chaps, they are simply 100% into their music-making. 

Their latest release has this tinge of heaviness not quite available in their previous albums. What I respect about these guys is the fact that they stick to their roots & pen darn good songs with instrument emphasis. With many commercially successful bands, they tend to go easy on the instruments to let the typical layperson into their music- Metallica is treading that path. But 'commercial success' is the band's by-product, they never intended to embark on mass appeal madness. Over the years these chaps just won over an increasing number of fans. This one is another cracker. My current on-the-way-home music.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Change & hiatus

Voivod just announced the departure of Blacky. That's a bummer but Blacky did leave the band back in 1991 only to return thereafter.

Some days before the Piggy situation, Pestilence announced that they are putting things on ice. That's another bummer (for me) because they are one of they very few death metal acts to be currently immersed in the 8-string culture. The entire week had not been kind (again, to me) any way.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Takamine: D20

You wish for a no-frills acoustic (strictly acoustic, no plug in option), you want something reputable, affordability is your top-most consideration, a solid top option is not a must but more importantly it should sound & play well. Here you go- Takamine's D20. The test model I handled had an arguably high action but it's most probably to accommodate a  medium string gauge. The D20 has a more appealing pick volume rather than going at it with your fingers. But here's a bonus consideration; it's on sale at Davis GMC, $199.00 (bag not included). In fact, majority of the Takamine acoustics are on sale exclusive for this month of July :-) You heading over this weekend? Maybe I'd see you there.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

PRS: S2 semis

Ah... The PRS S2s. Some of us had gotten hold of one the last time it was here at Davis GMC (less the S2 singlecut). We know how good they are considering their no-frills appointments. This Summer, the good PRS people give us a variation of the S2- we now have the semis to consider. I'm not saying these are the proverbial semis to purchase considering the 'PRS' label, but we know what to expect from the people who know what they are doing & who they are doing it for :-)

I'm still waiting for the S2 solid body singlecut...


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gibson: LP Traditional 120

Another new serving by Gibson, another Les Paul but hey, this is the Traditional 120. Yes, it's a commemorative instrument, limited run as well but it sticks true to its roots- it's unchambered. So if you like your LP back-breaking because that's how the LP should be, this one's for you. 

However, there are some contemporary take on the LP theme, firstly, the neck's a slim taper profile. The hardware are of the Zamak type & the inlays are acrylic. If you can actually hear the difference coming from these components, do let us know. From the factory, the instrument is equipped with a set of hybrid gauge: .009 - .046 & there's no accounting for why this was the case.


Joyo: Ironman Blue Rain

I've tested the Joyo Ironman mini pedals at SV Guitars (Marsiling branch) & according to Mike, I'm the first to acquire one so that achievement would somehow rub some mojo into the Blue Rain I've bought, yes? Silly, unfounded, feel-good mambo jumbo aside, I went with the Blue Rain for personal reasons. I'm beyond looking at intense, metal-type distortion units & deem them to be 'better' then the meek ones. To me, the best aggressive type distortion are still the ones coming from the amp, not pedals. The polite drive units have lots in store in terms of signal saturation & pick sensitivity. They are also more accommodating when it comes to cascading one unit into another & pushing an amp's dirt channel  into oblivion for aggressive stuff. I love them for that.

I'm not gonna appraise the Blue Rain here just yet because it needs some chemistry time with single coil pickups, I'm done pushing it with humbuckers at the store & it was what it wanted to hear. There is a high chance I'd return to SV Guitars to re-listen to the Ironman Amp Simulator range. I thought I heard something pleasant yesterday but I cut the session short to rush home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Joyo: Ironman

Told you- minis are in. Joyo has the Ironman series & the ones above are the standard models.

The other members in the series are the amp simulators, made simple & functional. Ironman pedals are available at SV Guitars listing for $99 each. Maybe I'm the first geek to have been there & tried them all. Did I purchase any? Hmm... :-)

Thanks Mike @SV Guitars for the invitation.

Monday, July 7, 2014

CKK: Lunar Drive

The world continues to thumb down Chinese products. What more with news of toy toxicity & component compromise, compounded with safety issues, Made-in-China products are a big no for many of us. However, we'd do well to not discriminate in this age of information. Take time to read up what a product manufacturer has to say about their wares before dismissing them for their Chinese origin. 

CKK is Chinese & they are a group of people who know what they are into. There isn't a shameful front to present their wares as hyped clones. The Lunar Drive pedal here is a good drive pedal through & through. It gives the player a range of driven tones to work with plus a 3-mode option for you to clip your signals or have it turned off for a more traditional response. Despite offering only a 2-band EQ, a 'neutral' response can be acquired by setting the bass & treble at 50% setting. Also, thumbs up to the volume-drive combo that play a major part in administering saturation.If you wish for more drive intensity, check out the 2 clipped modes on offer. 

Rating: 80%

CKK: Lunar Drive
Availability: Sound Alchemy
Price: $99 $79 (SALE till 31/7/2014)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Re-string Sunday: Pure nickel

Good Sunday morning to all :-)

Just had a fresh set of D'Addario pure nickels in my Aria. Notice the hybrid gauge- the bottom ends are trimmed down slightly. It might not be that significant in feel but it reduces tension, rather beneficial for dweebs like me who has a light picking touch when it comes to solos. The trade-off here is, of course, it's less 'meaty' manifestation when it comes to bass notes peddling. Many of us have other guitars for that kind of assignment, sometimes we need to lay back a little & soak into something that's not our thing for the sake of variety. We may not end up liking it but there might be some take-aways in terms of experience.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Selling: Protege JR (SOLD)

Selling this well taken care of Protege JR, Gator bag included.
  • Selling: Protege JR 3/4 size body (by Maestro), bag included
  • Condition: 8.5/10
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/confirmation:
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Price: $99 (final)
*Item sold as at 7th July
July. Thanks.

Ibanez: RG90

Bare Knuckles are into the 9 bandwagon early. Here's an Ibanez Prestige featuring a set of Canine humbuckers. It's definitely good to know an established name being at the forefront of change. But as it is with Ibanez, whichever name they flirt with, they keep coming back to DiMarzio.  Time will tell.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thank you, kind readers!

I just realized that this blog had hit the 2.25 million mark (in terms of readership, wish this figure could be converted into $$$...). A big thank you to all readers/ followers out there, especially those of you who made constant returns here- your support had kept me going. Hopefully there's enough mileage left in me to keep the passion going.

Some changes are in the works, not conceptually but in terms of alliance :-)

Seymour Duncan: 805 OD

The thing about Seymour Duncan is, they make good stuff in addition to their stellar pickups. The 805 here is an interpretation of the 808 chip in a certain green OD pedal bearing a certain '8' in its model inscription- we know what that is. Some evidence form the manufacturer:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fender's shrinking it

The latest name to join the shrunken fray- Fender. I was expecting more but what's on offer thusfar are tone shaping units instead of gain, modulation & time-based effects. Maybe it's a waiting game, we can wait, yes?

Nines- want?

Here is Schecter's C9...

Not to be out-done by Ibanez's RG9.

Well, do you need a 9th string? Majority of us would be bent on adding a thicker, bottom end but let's embrace the fact that adding a thinner plain string would work as well. There's no established conventions here, you go with your needs. Also, are strings for a 9-string guitar readily available off the shelves? From the 8-string experience, strings were hard to come by till much later when more manufacturers are into the 8. Even at the initial stages, they got it wrong (D'Addario).

The guitars above represent a firm performer differing in their respective turfs. The Schecter is active with a non-bolt neck while the Ibanez is its complete opposite. I'm one to embrace a fresh outlook in music but such a deviation would only be meaningful with complementaries; amps, effects, drivers, etc. should be moving along with this development because as it is with the 8 experience, there's just too much waiting.

I have tried the C9 when it was still around at Davis GMC but wasn't moved to buy it simply because it doesn't sound convincing with the amps it was plugged into (I'm not exclusively talking about distortion, here. Cleans are also acquired taste with a 9). 

Anyway, are they gonna add more strings so that guitars would spill into the chapman stick territory? Hmm...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ibanez: Maple S

This isn't a new concept; there was an S470 featuring a maple fretboard not too long ago, which was removed from the catalogs (discontinued). The S5470M here is quite a re-manifestation of that model but I'm a little perplexed as to why the discontinued ZR bridge is in use here when the rest have returned to the more traditional Lo-Pro Edge models.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fender: American Standard Jaguar bass

Fender has a new American Standard instrument; it's the Jaguar bass. With this series of instruments, it's the flagship Fender craftsmanship you are paying for & it's nothing short of above average.

The Jaguar's low end isn't new, the Modern Series has a Jaguar bass with a less intricate switching system & maple fretboard.

Not forgetting the Squier version should you need to avoid excessive funding for one.