Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I am ending this June a little marred- Johnny Marr-ed, that is. I am not a big fan of his playing which are largely clean passages but I'm a fan of his Smith days. That's not the primary interest though, Johnny Marr is someone who knows what he wants out of his guitar; pickups output, fretboard, switches... you name it, you can't kid someone like him. So my new-found respect for Mr. Marr is his conviction towards his Jaguar: 

Monday, June 29, 2015

True spot

Many of us would have come across the 1 Spot daisy chain power supply which was still under the Visual Sound brand name. We now have the 1 Spot (isolated) power supply seen here under the revised brand name of True Tone. That's right, Visual Sound is now True Tone (if you don't already know it). 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fender Japan: Currently

You've read previously about Fender taking over the Japanese manufacturing themselves. As such, the Japanese webpage had been adopting the USA format since its effect. What happened to the Japanese models? Many of them had been re-named like the ST-62 here, now known as the Classic 60s Strat (Texas Special pickups are options) but they are still made in Japan.

Ditto the ST-70, now re-named as the Classic 70s Strat. These are not to be confused with the Classic series which are made in Mexico. Some of the over-lapping models like the Malmsteen signature Strat, had been deleted from the catalogue. Hopefully, the QC standard is upheld & from the looks of it, prices remain largely unchanged. If there is any hike in price, it's down to currency exchange issues. Hopefully, it stays this way.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mini rant

It had been an exciting couple of days or so when it comes to bass. I've been laying low (no pun intended) when it comes to it lately for the lack of inspiration. My current line-up of basses are one-dimensional; short scale models which suit my needs more than anything else. The Bacchus WJB mini has everything to do with re-igniting my bass indulgence.

Many of us continue to chase shadows when it comes to gear-hunting & the brand name, above all else, always get the better of us. I've been there, I know the elation of buying that elite name on the headstock only to bring it home & discover it's all about the name, everything else had been compromised. However, it's not wrong for us to tread this path. We always cite some brand names as a standard for quality (it happens for other products as well, not just musical instruments). The issue here is having the courage to say no to something that doesn't work for us, doesn't cater to our needs & does not grow us in terms of our music. If we are only more practical in this sense, it would save us the agony of picking that one dud which we perceived to be a gem at the store. The WJB mini is the most suitable tool for me in this light because it addresses my struggle with bigger, full-sized basses.

What if people go round telling you, hey man, you settled down for a second fiddle. Then it's second fiddle for them, not for you. It's important you asses your needs & intentions before investing in anything for that matter because it's all about you. At the end of it all, you are the one who has to deal with ownership, not other people. They get on with theirs, so you should do like-wise. There is a hint of bigotry here because people out there don't get put down if they drive a Mini Cooper, yes?

So that pretty much wrapped up my later half of the week- bass indulgence. I'd say I picked up much more bass ideas & technicalities with the WJB mini than I did with other basses so that must be a good thing. Time to scout for a deserving bass amp.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Little wonder

I told myself to steer away from guitars for a while to trigger some creativity but that brought me back to my bass time. The Bacchus WJB Mini here was a recent purchase, in fact, it's only 2 days old. I have never gotten on with a full-sized bass so this was the answer to my current non-guitar moments, a 30" scale bass, feels like a baritone more than a bass. Nothing spectacular, here just a substantial poplar body, maple neck & a rosewood 'board. Nothing seems amiss with this little one in terms of QC, just that the set-up could have been better. Right out of the box, the action wasn't set according to the fret board radius so that would be looked into soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Singing Mira

I was at Beez's yesterday. I prefer a non-peak appointment time- more opportunities for gear talk while he's on the job.

I was there to get my pickups done (in my PRS S2 Mira):
  • Bridge: Seymour Duncan JB
  • Neck: Seymour Duncan P-Rails
As mentioned before, I'm not too sentimental about default pickups, if they are not singing my tune, they have to go & that was what happened to the Mira's 57/08 pickups. The default humbuckers were more than competent in making the Mira sing but I prefer a strong midrange response from the bridge which was deficient. The neck counterpart was wooly-sounding under much drive which wasn't my thing either. I want more clarity to supplement speedy passages. Done.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Schecter: KR-24-2H

I am happy with what the Schecter Japan team had to offer thusfar. This is in light of whatever made it to the stores here. I've tried them all, the signature offerings included & believe they belong to the fine pool of Japanese craftsmanship out there. 

I recently came across this KR model, nevermind if it's a regurgitation of a certain singlecut guitar we know too well, it is an example of superb production. Physically faultless from head to toe, the in-house Super Rock humbuckers are definitely staple to those distortion mongers out there but the jury is still out if I'm going to keep them in tact. Oh yes, I bought this one because it's got what I want in a guitar plus a stunning top (despite being laminated) to boot. More appraisal to come.

Schecter: KR-24-2H (bag included)
Availability: Davis GMC
Price: $1,500

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Still not the thing

I recently went for a hit/miss try-out involving a Carvin Allan Holdsworth (not the one depicted here, though, it's just a reference) because it was on clearance. I thought if it's time to get a signature model (I don't own one to date. OK, the Les Paul might count...) maybe this is it.

The thing with signature models is that the instrument's specs were dictated by the endorser so what you get is actually what someone else wants in their instrument, not what you want. However, if these instruments fit your bill, the bottom line is, they work for you. So the HH2X I picked up had an incredible feel namely due to its weight- light! Many of us are skeptical when it comes to light guitars because they manifest those semi-hollow quirks quite removed from the solid body take. However, Mr. Holdsworth specified a chambered body to his preference because he is absolutely OK with that kind of tone, it's his forte for the music that he peddles. Every fixture of the HH2X was top notch, befitting of the instrument's stature (& price, mind you). The minimalist body & headless outline also meant that the guitar was literally a deserving extension of one's body. The thing that got to me was the neck; it's a finished version & that very rounded, thick C-profile was a put off for my needs, while everything else was ace. That included the very flat 20" radius which benefited upper fret shredding.

So by virtue of that major repulsion, I did not go home with a signature guitar & I must say it was that close because the HH2X was a very versatile beast; from warm cleans to absolute heavy metal, it adapted well. The instrument in whole was very comfortable but I guess this one's for those of us who don't mind that kind of neck profile. For the rest of us who grind bass notes for heavy music, a rounded neck profile wouldn't benefit us in terms of focus & lethargy endurance. Till next time.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Selling: Beta Aivin noise gate (SOLD)

Selling away my Beta Aivin NG-100.

Because I'm keeping things simple in the mean time :-)

  • Selling: Beta Aivin NG-100 noise gate (box included)
  • Condition: 8/10
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt station
  • Queries/ confirmation: subversion.sg@gmail.com
  • No trades/ reservations
  • Price is final: $39

Low driver

This Low Blow pedal by Wampler will be made available to the masses come 1st July 2015. It's definitely good news for the bass dweebs because manufacturers out there seems to forget that the bass people embrace pedals as well. Wampler pedals are not cheap but they manifest quality. The more pressing consideration here is the fact that the manufacturer gives the player what they want to hear. It's easy if you have real players over at the manufacturing site, not just clueless workers at the assembly line.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers' Day

The obvious gift to all fathers are their kids. Without them, that 'father' title doesn't apply. For the record, I have never received any gear-related Fathers' Day gifts so today, I choose to highlight my greatest gift a father could have- my daughter. Some Dads have to give up their guitar-ing once they have kids around but for me, guitar-ing continues as it doesn't (it SHOULDN'T) get in the way of fatherhood.

To all Dads out there- Happy Fathers' Day!

Minor changes

I actually take pride in doing minor facelifts to my instruments.

As for my Bacchus here, it's a string retainer replacement, from the vintage type to the more contemporary rounded type. Reason being- rounded retainers don't snag tuning as much & they don't cut into the string surface which might contribute to breakage (especially for rusty/corroded strings).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fresh Vintage

The good people at Vintage guitars have some new stuff going- the Rock series. From the looks of it, these guitars are the part for some rockin' good times. Maybe you can do a metal number, they won't go wrong. Even some shred, I bet you, are good with these rather sleek looking guitars. Wish they are available here.

Friday, June 19, 2015


I finally got this done today at Beez's- a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails in my Strat-type Bacchus. It's been put off for quite a bit because I misplaced the Hot Rails. Beez was quite taken aback when I appeared at his workplace hands-free. I only brought the body for him to wire the pickup for a simple reason; I had to detach the neck to remove the guitar's scratch plate in order for a pickup replacement to be done. Why bother with the neck at all since it's gonna be detached at Beez's anyway, so it stayed home. I've not quite played it so to speak, was busy trying to get rid of some fret buzz as I've re-set the action to as low as it could possibly be.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A blessed Ramadan

By the time you read this, you'd probably had your iftar after a successful first day of Ramadan. So to all my Muslim friends & blog readers, here's wishing you a blessed Ramadan. For those of you going through Ramadan in a summer environment, it's a little challenging but faith will pull you through, God-willing.

TC Electronics: The clipping standard

Yes, it's another clip-on tuner but kudos to TC Electronic for making it a standard above what's out there at the stores right now. We already know the polytune technology that allows multiple-string detection while tuning, add to that a strobe mode & an intelligent screen that flips its display according to placement. If you say you've had one too many clip-ons to deal with, at the very least, with reference to what's being offered here here, you'd want to check this out, yes?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Looks like I'm bent on an over drive over dose but this set up was intentional. I needed to know the real threshold of this Rocktron Hush pedal since it's one of the leading names in noise reduction technology. So a strong drive source (Boss) made the line up, followed by a standard drive source (Nux) & finally, a gain pusher (Artec) which isn't a drive source per se but in conjunction with any drive unit, would provide a drive supplement to boost things up.

The Hush was initially placed before the Boss but the threshold level was strong enough to cut out guitar signals at its maximum application. It's then placed between two drive sources (as depicted) & it reacted accordingly, meaning, it silenced the signals once no playing takes place so all background hissing which are gain-related were rightfully muted. In between the Nux & Artec, the Hush had problems keeping the noise at bay because the preceding drive units overpowered its  maximum threshold level. Placed at the end of the signal chain, the pedal was rendered ineffective. So it sat there in between the yellow & green drivers to manifest its maximum potential till I ended the morning's session.

Is there a correct place for a noise gate to be? It depends on the player's set-up. Keep in mind that the role of such a device is to silence unwanted signals at the player's behest so if it's not doing just that, then that position where it was set to be becomes questionable. The onus is on the player to experiment & embrace what works for him/ her. At the end of any trial & error, there is always an insight in what makes the set-up work. This is where sharing empowers knowledge.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

CS Duncan

I always have this urge to try something new, something a little different, something with a healthy tinge of waywardness so I forked out good money (this costs 50% more than its regular sigling) for this Seymour Duncan Custom Shop humbucker (available at Davis GMC). What's so wayward about this one? It sports a double row of slotted pole pieces which isn't featured in the standard range. The manufacturer did a relic finish which was irksome to me so I did away with that by cleaning it up, making it as regular as it should look. 

It features an Alnico V magnet so it has an above-average clean response which is enough for me. The drive tone was what I was looking for; a good midrange definition with great bottom end boost. Yes, it does incline towards the vintage tone but not excessively. In fact, it sounds rather biting with a very high gain distortion dialed in. This pickup is now resident in my Melody Maker SG whose default pickup, ironically, sports a stronger ceramic magnet but that didn't appeal to me tone-wise.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Knurled preference

The top hat-type Gibson knob was a default model in my Melody Maker SG. It made way for that knurled metal version you see there. Reason- it didn't promote a quick grip. I'm pretty much annoyed if I have to use all my picking hand fingers to turn a knob so if it doesn't supplement my needs, it will be replaced. No love lost.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Intonating pinky

There are 2 reasons why re-intonation was done for my Fender Pink Paisley tele:
  1. Bridge saddles were swapped out.
  2. I decided to fix a set of .0095 in there as opposed to the default .009
Intonation refers to the tuning correspondence at both the 12th fret & open strumming, please do not confuse this with a regular tuning exercise. Why should this be the case? If you have any bridge saddle movements (to/fro), it would mean that the distance between the 12th fret & the saddles was disrupted, even slight changes necessitate an intonation check.

For the sake of accuracy, a plug-in tuner is preferred. As depicted above, my Korg Blackout was in use. The standard is not exactly strobe-type but it offers a wider tuning division compared to a clip-on tuner. Not all plug in tuners offer a wider degree of accuracy compared to their clip-on counterparts, we need to scrutinize what each manufacturer has to offer. In the case of Korg, its Blackout range indicates tuning changes both in division markings & colour indicators. This is the standard you should employ when dealing with small distance increments when adjusting bridge saddles. Majority of the clip-ons are unable to detect minor changes because they interpret tuning through material vibration transfer, unlike the direct signals from the strings. 

Intonation activity could take a while, depending on the bridge saddles you are dealing with. More often than than not, the one-string-per-saddle case is a more enjoyable process. The 2-strings-per-saddle cases such as the vintage/ traditional Telecaster bridges for instance, is a more painful episode. A movement to address one string intonation issue affects the other because they are both sitting on the same saddle. If a tech charges you quite a bit for intonation adjustments, you should understand the situation.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Duncanized: MM SG

This Gibson Melody Maker SG was going to be on my regrettable acquisition list. Slowly but surely, I disliked it every time I plugged it in. However, after some considerations, I was actually bothered by its tone & this, somehow, made every playing experience objectionable.

There's actually a simple reason why that happened; there's a Gibson pickup in there. Despite being a ceramic based humbucker, the default pickup wasn't as likable as I hoped it to be, with high gain settings. This pretty much sums up my episodes with other Gibson pickups as well, I dislike what Gibson has to offer tone-wise (less the 500T/496R combo). So what took its place, as depicted above, is one of Seymour Duncan's Custom Shop offering. Ironically, it's only sporting an Alnico V magnet but it made the difference. There's a more pronounced single note definition & I find that important because my ideas are based on single notes run as opposed to hearing chords in action.

Thanks to Beez once again for his mastery in electronics make-over.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Duncanized Paisley

The Paisley tele had undergone its initial makeover phase.

Pickups swapped out to Seymour Duncans:
  • Neck: Alnico II Pro
  • Bridge: Lil '59
Also- Gotoh brass saddles with rotation capabilities. Much twang was compromised here largely due to the pickups but I have other twang-worthy teles so no love lost, really. This guitar has a nut (factory) slotted for low profile settings & I'm grateful for that.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

American standard?

You'd think that American craftsmanship takes pride in giving you the best money has to offer but the reality is this; when the products are from the lower tier offerings, cutting corners are inevitable. It's like having them done in some third world factory to spare the coffers. The example shown above- the short tenon with a chipped edge & that unforgivable gap there. The objective of a mortise-tenon alignment is its full contact coherence once adhesive is applied. Any gaps in this discipline, there is a compromise in strength & in this case, it affects resonance. This tragedy here is a hidden anomaly because there is a pick guard hiding it all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The shorter hollow

This is a PRS variation of its existing 245 model which has gone semi-hollow with piezo goodness. The other semis in the PRS range do not sport a shorter scale length so they missed out on being the true voice of traditional guitars in this nature & the 24.5" measurement here means it's a tad shorter than those old-timers & should sound 'different'.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

EZ on the way home

The only reason why my hearing is still good albeit the exposure to loud music most of the time, is the fact that I stuff my ears during train & bus rides. Those low frequency hum from engines & rail screeching in the subway are destroying frequency definition. Your ears are constantly being poisoned by those background noises on a daily basis so to speak, you should be doing something about it. For me I make sure my ear phones are noise-cancelling & the music is at a volume level slightly above the background trash. I don't just listen to the guitar-inclined stuff, in fact, I've compiled an easy-listening playlist for the ride home recently:
  1. Rod Stewart- Some guys have all the luck. One of the more energetic numbers by Mr. Stewart which is really easy on the ears. My all time favourite, definitely.
  2. Debbie Gibson- If we could be together. There are several versions of this one, I enjoy the original take & the unplugged, 'camp fire' mix. Ms Gibson made it big in her teens way back then & that adolescent ring to her voice was what I was agreeable with every time I hear her on the radio.
  3. Robert Palmer- Mercy, mercy, me. I first got interested in Mr. Palmer after watching that Pepsi ad on TV. It took me a while to find his albums, thanks to MPH (Stamford Rd branch), I have some of his best tunes on CD.
  4. Simply Red- Stars. The '90s was a down time for me in terms of good music playing on the radio but Mick Hucknall kept the standard high in terms of vocal performances & this song is easily my favourite number from the man.
  5. Beyonce- Single Ladies. Because Mariah Carey is over-rated, Beyonce is there to remind everyone out there what good singing is all about. Another energetic number on my list but this one puts me at ease all the time.
  6. Sheena Easton- Morning Train. I grew up in the '80s & this was one of the more memorable tunes by a lady in the midst of my Depeche Mode indulgences.
  7. Jamie Cullum- Mind Trick. Easily joining Stevie Wonder & Elton John as one of the best piano-playing singer ever. OK, at least to me.
  8. Celine Dionne/ Stevie Wonder- Overjoyed. Easily one of the best songs to be re-recorded & done to taste. This one is simply flippin' good listened to at ANY time of the day. Saving the best for last.

Monday, June 8, 2015


This was in the mail. I think I have forsaken the need to keep things quiet when no playing takes place, especially for my set up which is drive excessive. There are many ways to make this happen, using a noise gating effect like this pedal is indeed a way to do so. The leading name in this technology is (in my opinion) ISP but being me, I am open to options especially the embrace of lesser known entities.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Ibanez: RG470

If you are ready for this Ibanez RG470, it's available at Swee Lee now (List: $629). It's a 'limited' model as indicated by the manufacturer be warned informed that the bridge in there is a 'Standard DL'. Now does that not remind you of the TRS? Hmm...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Voices: London

Do these people look remotely black metal to you?

Then you need to listen to what their music has to say about them. Black metal musicians are necessarily the associates of satan & observe a head-to-toe black outfit sporting abhorrent corpse paint- not in this time & age. So what is essentially black metal? It is definitely what Voices churns out in this release. I hold this album in high regard not only for the band's embrace of the genre but for its overall intelligence. Anaal Nathrakh's The Codex Necro & Mayhem's A Grand Declaration of War are categorically of similar intelligence. In fact, I hear a technical parallel of the spoken words in London & that contained in A Grand Declaration of War. So is that a good thing? Definitely. It goes to show that there exist a generation of black metal purveyors who understand the pre-requisite of the genre without the need to embrace the facade.

Friday, June 5, 2015

FF RG...

In a few days time (SUMMER release), this fan-fret RGIF7 will be released in Japan. It won't make it here. How fair is that? :-(

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Re-string: Ovation

Re-string @ office: Ovation + Elixir. This one received a thorough fretboard cleaning & re-moisturized thereafter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Too much (pressure)

It's rather obvious that I've overworked some fingers more than the other but that's how it is in the absence of familiarity. This doesn't happen when I'm playing my electric solid bodies. Still an acoustic rookie...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


It seems that Ibanez wouldn't want to be left out when it comes to acoustics- this is the manufacturer's RA200, a resonator & a good looking one indeed. Personally I prefer the headstock to be a standard affair, not this slotted version.

Monday, June 1, 2015

(Work in) progress!

This Taka-MINI is getting more play time lately. It's probably due to my current unplugged mode, I'm working all my fingers as opposed to just putting more focus on the fretting hand to execute the technicalities. This is indeed a by-product of my listening to acoustic wizards such as Thomas Leeb, Ewan Dobson, Don Ross & Andy McKee among others. My current fav: Pierre Ben Susan. He's not too impossible too emulate but his techniques are sublime. In any case, I'm like only 5% of what those players could do at any given attempt. Pathetic but that's how it is when one is starting out- the struggle is real!

I'm also reviewing my available instruments for this journey so to speak. I currently have 2 Takamines which are more than decent in terms of QC to spur some creativity. Tone-wise, I have the benefit of some bright tones coming from a spruce top & some warmer notes courtesy of mahogany. Are there any in-between tones that should be considered? Hmm...