Sunday, November 30, 2014

A low morning

I spent this morning, the final day of November, feeling low. In a good way, of course. I played my Ibanez RGD321 which is an extended scale guitar so the best way to enjoy such an instrument is to employ a de-tune. I'm not a big fan of detuning when it comes to a 6-string so it was done only a half step down, Eb if you will. The thing about playing something a little different is that it'll trigger some fresh perspectives so the morning was spent playing along Depeche Mode songs & the discovery that those songs require me to tune down, was quite a revelation but it's necessary considering how low Andy Fletcher's vocal range is.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fly driving

It's one of those days: Strong urge to play vs set-up inertia. Plugging into my Blackstar FLY was the consolation. About 15min into playing time, I simply hooked up the nearest drive pedal around & that happened to be my Maxon ODX. Hearing some incredible tone thereafter, I proceeded to introduce my PRS into the fray & it was worth the hassle (considering my PRS needed a re-string before play could take place).

In the mean time, I'm increasingly impressed with what I hear from my FLY. It's supposed to be a mediocre, novelty-grade, desktop amp but it turned out to be one of the best practice unit I've come across. So this morning, having introduced a drive pedal as a supplement, the FLY proved to be worth it.

Ladies & gents, Blackstar has an extension cab for the FLY called the FLY 103. I'd be adding this to the set-up for the true definition of tiny terror (hopefully).

Friday, November 28, 2014

Digitech: Mosaic

Here's a pedal inducing some 12-string jangle. That's right, Digitech's Mosaic is a doubling pedal so the polyphonic notes give you that big chord nature of 12-string guitars. If you have one of these, chances are, you won't need another 12-string in your performance especially if you are doing so for only one song on the list.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The 35th Screamer

OK, so I bought the 35th Anniversary Ibanez TS-808...

Selling: Ibanez TSA112C (SOLD)

Letting this go for a good price- my Ibanez TSA extension cab, featuring a single 12" Celestion Seventy 80 driver, handling up to 80W :-)
  • Selling: Ibanez TSA112C
  • Celestion Seventy 80 12" driver, 80W handling
  • Self-collect
  • Queries/ conformations:
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Condition: 8/10
  • Price: $150 (final)
Item SOLD :-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wah @ City Music sale

If you are considering a worthy wah pedal, now's a good time to check out those Vox-es. I've tried countless wahs from the traditional to the potless but I always return to my V847. I think it's the only one I'd retain & I'm not that enthusiastic when it comes to wahs but hearing some clean single coils with the wah in action is rather essential for inspiration at times. To me, the Vox is the standard to beat when it comes to the traditional wah approach. Back in my early playing days, $60 for a quality wah was non-existent.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blackstar: Fly 3

Finally, a worthy desktop/ pocket amp that doesn't wimp out on tone- Blackstar's Fly 3.

This is a simple amp that packs a punch. Many other amps of this ilk manifest questionable tone so it begs the question- quality or novelty? Well done to Blackstar for putting in some thoughts into this one. The Fly 3 has decent cleans, it's typical small-driver serving stuff but it doesn't sound like it's on a budget. In OD mode, the Fly proves its worth, at higher volumes, the driver doesn't rattle & fuzz out the tone. This is important to me as it allows for some projection should I choose to do an impromptu lunch time performance at the office. It also means the Fly 3 has enough projection potential to rival a small practice combo so it's a great teaching tool. My only discord for it is the fact that it requires 6 AA batteries to get going but it'll accept an adapter which is sold separately. Great price to boot.

Blackstar: Fly 3
Availability: Davis GMC
Price: $60 $75

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blackstar: ID Core (Part 1)

Last weekend, I was invited to check out Blackstar's ID Core amps which are largely digital in nature. This would put off many tone purists because there is this current belief that digital existence in any tone-related implements are largely make-belief; the digital signals emulate good tones, they are not the source of good tones per se. However, such a misplaced belief is currently challenged by LINE6, Fractal & Kemper among others. These names are the standard bearers in today's digital technology. They keep the tone, well, tone-centered & are not bent on digitally re-manufacturing tone for commercial elation.

With the ID Core range, Blackstar has entered (or proven, rather) the digital domain under practical beliefs. The ID Core amps don't offer anything that's not done by the other leading names before. In fact, these amps were conceived to preserve the Blacstar identity & they did well under such a consideration.

The features in all 3 ID Core amps are identical (as seen in the pic above). The player gets to voice his/her tone according to the VOICE modules so there isn't a clean or driven channel per se; it's a single amp with many voicings. There is a 'live' set of controls manipulating GAIN, VOLUME & EQ, followed by the EFFECTS section where one gets to play with modulation, delay & reverb as tone enhancements. Unseen is the amp's internal tuner easily activated by pressing the TAP & Manual buttons simultaneously. Additional features will be covered in a subsequent appraisal. The highlight of these amps are indeed their stereo capacity. If you sit up close with any one model & have the volume up to at least the half-way mark, you'd hear it in full glory. Each amp is actually equipped with an addition smaller-sized speaker to get the fun going & you'd appreciate this having the reverb or delay effects in use. I'm leaving you with some purchase considerations especially if you are a digital heretic (like yours truly) but these amps are on introductory offer & the prices are too good to ignore (especially when one's loaded with some year-end windfall):
  • ID Core Stereo 10: $99
  • ID Core Stereo 20: $129
  • ID Core Stereo 40: $169
The big names in digital technology need not cringe in fear of the ID Cores but those brands offering budget digital amps need to re-think their standards. Let me put it bluntly- Roland's CUBE, Vox's Valvetronix & Fender's Mustang amps will be shadow considerations if the practical buyer simply stops to re-consider his/her options leveraging on tone quality & value-for-money. Happy shopping, everyone :-) 

Blackstar ID Core amps are available at Davis GMC.

VS: Route 66 V3

This isn't new, the Visual Sound Route 66 pedal had been done before & it proved to be a popular 2-in-1 offering. Instead of cascading 2 overdrive units in a single housing, the Route 66 offers a compressor-overdrive pairing. The V3 version here has some refined features notably the clean mix control there that helps to balance unaffected signal in the output section which translates into more sustain. Unlike the wedge/pentagon outline of its predecessors, the V3 returns to a more traditional rectangular design that helps separate both ON/OFF buttons so having them sitting a little further apart means you can prevent accidental activation from taking place.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ibanez: TS-808 35th

The Ibanez TS-808 35th Anniversary edition is now available at Swee Lee- you'd be surprised with how light the pedal is. For price details, please call the stores.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sale @ City Music

Maybe this is the event you've been waiting for. As for me, I look forward to it every year. Let's give it to City Music for holding the sale consistently every year. OK, so what I want is out of stock....

PIC: City Music

Friday, November 21, 2014

Haunting the Gates

I'm giving a close listen to these two albums.

At The Gates:

  • Jonas Bjorler: Bass
  • Adrian Erlandsson: Drums
  • Anders Bjorler: Guitars
  • Tomas Lindberg: Vocals
  • Martin Larsson: Guitars
The Haunted:
  • Jonas Bjorler: Bass
  • Adrian Erlandsson: Drums
  • Patrik Jensen: Guitars
  • Marco Aro: Vocals
  • Ola Englund: Guitars
Essentially, the rhythm section of both bands consist of the same people. Conceptually, they propel the same brand of heavy music with much emphasis on memorable riffs. More importantly, both releases do not consist of sub-standard music. This consideration is very much absent in much heavy music because, till today, many people still think that they can get away with distortion. If you have not checked these albums out, please do- it's worth the $$.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Recent re-string adventure- if you look closely, you simply cannot see any fibre or wood grain here. That's right, this fretboard is not wood, it's made from a synthetic material & it's finished in such a way that it's scratch resistant. Well, at least to fingernails. This is a budget acoustic guitar, kindly e-mail me (text me if you have my number) for the brand name. 

There is nothing wrong with non-wood fretboad materials, people at Gibson would tell you this because some of their guitars in the upper tiers do not feature wooden fretboards.

Drop the Luxe

Digitech's Drop & Luxe pedals are now available at Swee Lee for those of us who wish for some detuned moments. Prices are to be confirmed. Some great considerations for the year-end bonus, yes?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

MXR: Il Torino Overdrive

MXR's newbie: Il Torino Overdrive. It's a 2-in-1 affair but it does not cascade the OD into the Boost, instead, it's a separate function. It's therefore aimed at the guys who do not need a saturation episode but 2 different voicings in a single serving.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Another charity re-string, the strings were supplied by the owner. I'm not familiar with this brand name but they make decent strings. Despite being bronze coated (wound strings), the brightness wasn't that pronounced.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Junior Sunday

Sunday indoors. Spent the whole morning with Jr. What could a restrictive, single pickup guitar do, really, other than some tone manipulations via the tone/ volume knob? Well, if you choose to restrict your adventure as such, then you are further limiting a limited option. I chose to do the following:

1. Clean tones- Amp: Marshall DSL40
I started with cleans, even shredded some notes clean. I'm not much of a clean fan but it's worth listening to the P-90 in this application simply because it offers a different perspective to a single coil take. The highs weren't as protrusive as a standard single coil, in fact, they were fatter & more rounded like a humbucker should be but there's still the single coil snap in the mix. Sounded wonderful, in fact, I prefer the P-90offerings in a mahogany body as opposed to true single coils.

2. High gain- Amp: EVH 5150III
OK, the extraneous hum was inevitable but it only persisted when one stops playing. High gain applications shouldn't be served with single coils especially ones with a mad squeak from start to end but I did it anyway. The pickup manifested this coarse midrange only distortion freaks could understand but the bottom end wasn't that commanding in any settings simply because the pickup wasn't a humbucker to be exhibiting some inclinations toward the lower frequencies. If there's a useful application for this, it would be to double a very bottom heavy tone. But it was a pleasant playing experience knowing some black metal & high octane shred could be had from such a guitar which is not the default go-to instrument in this aspect.

3. Guitar-pedals-amp- Amp: Kustom Defender 5H
I'm not too into pedals for the sake of them being able to pull off some tone alchemy in the right combination; I prefer a straight-through set up, that's the way to truly assess the worthiness of the guitar/ amp/ pickups without too much external interference. However, I do line some pedals up occasionally to go into alternative dimensions all in the name of tonal exploration. In this case the following effects were used: tuner (ENO)/ overdrive 1 (Maxon), noise gate (Mooer), overdrive 2 (EHX) & a looping device (Hotone).

The objective here was not to replicate an intense distortion setting but to manifest drive saturation hence the use of 2 overdrive units. The noise gate was necessary because there's a single coil guitar in use, together with that twin overdrive in the mix, it's hum galore. It's good to know that the use of 2 overdrive units simultaneously gave off a thickening effect, enough to push a single coil pickup to produce a fatter tone response (watch the EQ while you're at it) but in this case, the fact that a P-90 is in use, the fattening effect was augmented. This adventure is a little introverted because there were no modulation effects in use to colour the overall output, it's all about hearing some drive overkill & that's what I indulge in most of the time- saturation overkill!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gibson: Blackout Explorer

The newbie by Gibson- Blackout Explorer. Definitely meant for high gain applications with those Dirty Fingers humbuckers in there. Looks the works but again, the manufacturer's choice for fingerboard material remains questionable- it's a composite material.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fender: Brown Derby resonator

Interesting release by Fender- a resonator, the Brown Derby, they call it. The manufacturer retains its guitar dimensions to allow seamless adaptability & chose a traditional mahogany/ rosewood combo for tone. Gonna give this a go if it (ever) debuts here...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ibanez: DCM100

Ibanez just updated some details pertaining to the Dino Cezares signature model you see here. It's a simple guitar crafted after the RGD mode; mahogany body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard & the revived Lo-Pro Edge bridge. I'm actually interested in that new Retribution humbucker. It's an active Seymour Duncan model, should be a crushing one considering the music Cezares peddles.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ibanez: RGIT20FE

I was at Swee Lee last week (or was it the week before?) to check this guitar out- Ibanez RGIT20FE. Awesome QC & looks to match.

It's a little 'special' because the RG in question features a maple through neck so it differentiates itself from its other bolt-on siblings. Together with the ebony fretboard & ash body, this guitar should be a menace tone-wise. However, the active pickups in there mean that the inherent acoustic properties would be overpowered by the EMGs & that's what I heard throughout my time spent with this guitar. I even switched amps to convince myself that the EMGs would somehow do good to this superb build & feel but it's a negative. One more thing- do you need a kill switch?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Screaming 35th

In conjunction with its 35th birthday, Ibanez has re-issued the TS-808 but in a trimmed down dimension. Meaning- it's not as wide as the other TS-808 you own but do not expect it to sound any different. Limited edition- only 3,500 units available worldwide.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Selling: Marshall MG100HFX

The weekend is here. First on my to-do list: Put this Marshall up for sale...
  • Selling: Marshall MG100HFX (head only)
  • Condition: 8.5/10
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt stn
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • Price: $299 (final)

Friday, November 7, 2014


This is an interesting release by Riversong- a wooden pick. There are countless wooden picks out there but those aren't laminated like this one. The sales pitch would have you believe that wooden picks would manifest different tones depending on the granular tilt & that laminate structure would certainly add a little dimension to things. I'd say- it sounds different. How different? You need to hear the difference :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mayer ditched Fender

This is the Fender John Mayer Strat & it won't be manufactured any more come 2015.

Here's why:

Heads up to anyone thinking about owning my signature @Fender Stratocaster, they’re no longer being made and I’m no longer a Fender artist. I love Fender guitars and will continue to play them, but the fact is that the company as it is today isn’t the same one I started with.

That's from Mr. Mayer's Twitter account & it's final. If you see him still slinging Fender guitars on stage, do remember that he's doing it on his own accord. Also, evident in this quote, we see the discord between the artist & the manufacturer squared on possible commercial agreements. That's a pity because the instrument per se isn't the trigger to this unhappiness, it boils down to some people issue behind the business. We wish Mr. Mayer well in his future guitar adventures because we know he's good, regardless of the instrument brand name he favours.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I seldom do re-strings for classical guitars but I won't turn down requests; this was a guitar at work & it was re-strung a few days ago. I find nylon strings very stubborn when it comes to tuning (especially a fresh set of strings), my take on this matter- nylon strings require at least a day to be fully stretched & stay in tune.

This guitar in particular, should be avoided if you are serious about your investments; it's not fitted with a truss rod. You need temperature curing to address any neck warping issues & the treatment would easily cost more than the price of the instrument itself. My advice to you- never overlook the importance of a truss rod. It was invented for a reason. Over time, this guitar you see here would sport a warped neck especially when it's subjected to frequent temperature changes. There are no issues with the QC in the first place & that's not the issue at all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


We know where Gibson is heading to come 2015, we know how much (more) the instruments are going to cost in time to come (in about 60 days +/-).

Over at the PRS camp, we are aware the manufacturer is currently offering some of their models in a more appealing price bracket (the S2 series).

Before I continue, I would want to put it on record that I do not represent any guitar stores/dealers here, I do not profit from recommending any brand names to you (if I do, I would've quit my day job & do this full time). 

I am in fact drawing your attention to a real turn of decision. Come next year, if you are considering a 2015 Gibson, you might be swayed to consider a PRS instead. This would be the case because of the nature of the products per se & it's all about what Gibson is doing (or not doing right for that matter- subjective). As for the stores, if the Gibson 2015 models are not hitting the right sales figures, it's prudent to reflect now; what can be done to entice sales? Some suggestions:
  • Guitar + amp = Discount
  • Free accessories worth $_______ (state your preferred amount)
  • Clear B-stock models for less (it's what others have been doing all along, especially the online stores)
  • Festive clearance
  • Limited time offer
If you've been trawling cyberspace in search of some truth pertaining to the 2015 Gibson guitars, you'd read lots of dejected accounts but these are the buyers' perspective. I'd suppose sellers are feeling the heat as well but they won't rant online, it affects their reputation & subsequently, the dealership. Let's be clear that I'm not campaigning against Gibson because for a Gibson skeptic like me, I currently own more Gibson than Fenders (yikes!) when I prefer the latter. Gibson has a reputation for quality & this still holds true but matters of consistency & compromise get in the way. If you are a keen Gibson fan, my suggestion would be to hunt for the pre-2015 models while they are still available.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gibson: LP Jr (mine)

This guitar had been haunting me since I've tried it (not this particular model, it's the store model sporting a TV Yellow finish). I'm not a Gibson fan but this is a good guitar so it overrides all other considerations.

I was thinking- the 2015 version is unappealing & the prices would be equally repulsive so why not just grab this one? So I did :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Carvin welcomes Greg Howe

We've seen Greg Howe getting along with different brand names & it has to happen again very recently for a simple reason- LAGUNA guitars folded. As you can see here, Mr. Howe was using a Carvin in a recent rehearsal with his band, Maragold.

Here we see GH admiring his new guitar upon his endorsement confirmation. So Greg Howe joins the list of other potent players in the Carvin camp: Neil Zaza, Alan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale et al. Congrats!

Pics: Greg Howe @ Instagram

Selling: Hotone Chunk distortion (Sold)

As planned; all my distortion pedals are under review/ considerations so this one is going...
  • Hotone: Chunk distortion (box included)
  • Mini pedal, works with adapter only
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Condition: 9/10
  • Queries/ confirmations:
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt stn
  • Price: $75 (final)
*Item SOLD :-)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Welcome back: Park amps

If you ever come across a Park amp of old, it'd look like this. It's not a Marshall rip-off; it's indeed a Marshall subsidiary. Park was discontinued in the early 1980s, was briefly revived thereafter (circa 1990s) but was done for good. I used to own one.

2014 saw the revival of Park but the amps on offer bear no resemblance of Marshalls. They are also not a subsidiary brand name of any manufacturer but are still within the British tone definition. Celestion drivers, Mercury transformers & Philips NOS capacitors- these are indicators of the standard on offer.