Friday, July 31, 2015

The benevolent cleaner

Finally, something to put this issue to rest- Is WD-40 suitable for curing stuck pots/ cleaning the guitar's electronic contacts?

The malignant WD-40 that we know is the blue/ yellow can that lazy techs resort to when cleaning dirty contacts. Personally, I had negative experiences with that version but now we have the appropriate WD-40 for our guitar needs.This one is especially for contact cleaning so it won't treat your pots & switches like dead industrial parts that need to be dealt with. It's available at hardware stores for $15+/- & it's on my to-buy list.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Coma music for guitar dweebs

This is one part Pink Floyd, one part Dream Theater & one part death metal but all these allusions do not paint the proper picture of what BTBAM is all about. I'm saying this because 2012's The Parallax II is one of heavy music's best release by a contemporary metal band whose critics deemed them as 'death core' (like that means much in terms of definition) but this release contains elements of departure. The heaviness served by Coma Ecliptic remains essential because we couldn't have anything else here to supplement intense drumming & death growls. However, the guitars veered into psychedelia every now & then which makes the journey a little more exciting. Team W (Waggoner/ Warring) have chosen to peg their guitar's heavy elements in tandem with what prog does, even the technicalities reek of Steve Morse & John Petrucci more than anything else but we know what these guys could offer collectively so the band's identity isn't lying in the shadows of some other established acts. Coming back to death metal- the overall concept of this albums simply questions the relevance of those bit-part death growls which aren't essential, I'd dare say. However, the band had embraced this vocal style for some time & they understandably wouldn't want to leave it out entirely. A good metal album & it's threatening to be uniquely beyond compare but let's see what the rest of 2015 has to offer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rising urge

This album is mandatory for guitar dweebs if you are really serious about getting somewhere in terms of your playing. I used to own the cassette version & it died due to over-play. I hate to buy a subsequent copy of something I already own but this one requires mandatory replacement. The consolation- it's now in CD format so it will not pose an issue in terms of over-playing (Will it? Time will tell).

What does this album offer me in terms of guitar education?

1) Precision- Malmsteen is a precise picker. All his picked notes are perfect (to me), there isn't a hint of sloppiness to be heard especially his lightning fast staccato passages. If he brags about it, he has the right to as he is pretty much the standard to beat in this case.

2) Analog heaviness- In view of the time this was recorded, it's free from those digital cess we hear in today's playback. The distortion here is downright heavy & it's all about his cranked up Marshall. Is this a case of less is more? It's definitely a case of sticking to what works.

So here's a reminder to myself- employ what works, stop trying to bow down to the current fad because the boutique effects units/ amps might amount to nothing in terms of fulfillment.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The eagle has landed

For those of us in need of something different, something nostalgic but fully functional- the Ibanez Black Eagle bass (first mentioned here: CLICK)is now available at Swee Lee ($869.98). 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Loop & loop

Do I need a new looping device? Not in the mean time but EHX has this new monster to offer (new for Summer NAMM 2015). It's a dual looping unit meaning, you can have something going in Channel A & Channel B does a totally different thing. Look at it this way- Channel A does your guitars while Channel B does your bass loops. Channel B can even handle some vocal loops if that's your plan. The 22500 is a useful performance device, at the very least, it makes a wonderful writing tool on days when you go solo. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Live listening

For the entire week, I've been listening to live albums. I've limited liking for live releases because the tracks are re-hashing what was recorded before but with a perspective of that 'raw' take from live feeds. 

Slayer's Decade of Aggression was my first live purchase & it was overplayed & both the cassette tapes died. That's right, they were on cassette tape version. In my opinion, this was the standard to beat in terms of live releases as the production was clear, all instruments could be heard distinctly. 

Then came Emperor's Emperial Live Ceremony which was bought because I wanted to hear more bass from the Emperor tracks. Tyr played bass on this one & the production did justice to his efforts. Also, I wanted to hear how Ihsan's Rob Halford-esque shrieks fare in live situations & it was beyond doubt, top notch. 

Mayhem's live albums are gems. You can really hear the horror from each track's delivery because Maniac's vocals were uncompromising. The live tracks also made me listen to Blasphemer's guitar tracks closely as the studio versions were full of overdubbed fills so in live applications, one got to hear what Blasphemer chose to play so that the tracks would not sound empty.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

RIP: Justin Lowe

On a sad note, Justin Lowe, guitarist of After the Burial, was found dead under the Wisconsin Bridge by a hiker. I wouldn't want to speculate on his cause of death but he was under tremendous mental stress prior to being missing & reported to the authorities by his sister. 

Let's take time to reflect if we truly care for our fellow human beings, regardless of the relationship we have with them. The human emotion is very fragile, sometimes, the slightest of afterthoughts is a life-saving move. If you sense a disturbance of any degree amongst your loved ones, a simple listening ear might be it.


Friday, July 24, 2015


The good thing with MESA amps is that it comes with a cover. It's a practical inclusion because the first thing we need to do in terms of care & maintenance for our amps is that it should be dust free. Not referring to the ones that settled on the exterior but those that crept into the amp's innards. I've recently removed the housing of one of  my amp heads & the amount of dust in there required attention. So thumbs up to the MESA dweebs for this.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ibanez: Paul Wagonner signature

This one might not debut here at all (currently a regional exclusive) but it's worth noting. Paul Wagonner is (one of ) the guitarist of Between the Buried & Me & this here is his signature Ibanez PWM100. Instead of a mahogany body, this one sports an ash & the bridge there is a Lo-Pro Edge unit. Mr. Wagonner also opted for a pair of Mojotone humbucker. The instrument is as simple as it gets but it's a worthy work horse. It's good to see an Ibanez with the traditional 'Ibanez' decal on the headstock & not some label propelling a perceived premium or prestige status.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Around the fur

In true caveman fashion, the inner surfaces of the pedal's box is lined with fur which was formerly part of a caveman's loin cloth. Not. The things they do to impress.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Terra maple

Still hot on the BTB singlecut basses, the 686 is now avaialble in a maple 'board version. Aw, darn it!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Here: Ibanez BTB685SC

This must be good news for the bass dweebs out there- the Ibanez BTB685SC is now available at Swee Lee (more than 6 months after its debut). It's listing for $1,449.00, a mid-price tag for something this intricate. I was expecting a higher tag, really.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

John Page looks east

If you are a Fender fan, you should know John Page because when Fender's Custom Shop started out, there were only 2 luthiers, Mr. Page was one of them. Forgive his guitars for looking like his employer's since he decided to unleash unto guitardom some fine guitars, em... this side of Fender (of course). But his guitars were beyond reach until the Classic series arrived- Made in Japan.

Why look East? Simple- trustworthy craftsmanship. Lest we forget, the '80s Fenders were all about Japanese goodness & you'd think John Page, a Fender employee, wouldn't recognize this? I was at Davis recently to have a feel of what a JP guitar is all about & the experience was pleasant. 

In fact, it was above pleasant considering the price-to-goodness ratio. About the price- coming from Japan, this guitar is at the upper end of the mid-price bracket. About the goodness- everything here is deserving of the John Page name; absolute quality & some good tones to boot. The inevitable query- so is it Fender-worthy? Please respect the John Page name & his quest to offer good guitars based on his interpretation of what it should be. Some Fender mojo manifested here like the round neck profile (despite a little wider from nut to heel), elbow slope & rear body belly bevel comfort & that unmistakable single tone- thumbs up! A little about the Bloodline pickups featured in this series- they aren't too jangly in all positions but you'd hear some very chunky single notes, very deserving of an instrument sporting a rosewood fretboard (maple option available- superb!), with warmth to boot. 

Are JP guitars exclusively for Fender fans? I'd say they are for single coil fans more than anything else. For players looking for that crucial difference that separates them from the Fenders but not going too astray.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A koa summer

A 2015 Summer NAMM release- a pair of LTD koa top guitars. A good thing they have passive pickups in there to let the koa sing a little bit. The thing about koa is its mahogany warmth without the weight. Also, it has enough clarity to rival a rosewood but not an excessively sharp top end. However, the koa here is a laminate piece, meaning, it's not substantial enough to command the oveall voicing but enough to influence the tone somewhat.

Music in amp in music

Headphones, fridge & now phone- that's right, Marshall has entered the cell phone circle but not enough to compete with the industry's Big 2 (Apple/ Samsung). The manufacturer says it's aimed squarely at music lovers but I don't hear music lovers complaining about their iOS or Android devices. We'll see where this leads to.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Eid 2015

Here's wishing all Muslim friends, acquaintances & blog fans a meanigful Eid. Meaningful because you did your best during Ramadan & now you feel accomplished. Nothing else matters, yes? A very restive & enjoyable long weekend for the rest of us. Awesome!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Potbelly-ing, still

The humbling continues. How a simple guitar like this Edwards Potbelly is able to deliver some of the more inviting tones despite being an attempt to manifest that singlecut voicing we all respect. How a pair of vintage voiced humbuckers are able to adapt to contemporary applications. This pair of Seymour Duncan '59s adapt to high gain settings very well, I could dial some very heavy tones with various amps & that's a plus because I'm more of a guitar-to-amp person. So my take on the situation- stop trying to be impressed by brand names that are reputed to deliver a touted performance when what could turn your tones around (for the better of course) are some stuff out there you have yet to try.

Guitar-ing my holiday eve, that's right. :-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Prehistoric drive (if there's such a thing)

I think I'm beginning to be a sucker for drive pedals with on-board extras. OK, the extra is usually a mere boost function because it saturates the drive, not necessarily intensifying the proceedings. The pedal you see here is the Oddfellow Caveman Drive. The name doesn't imply a backward approach to overdrive, it's just a label. What's offered is a good dose of drive which isn't quite in line with any BOSS voicings out there, more girth to the tone dare I say. Once the boost is activated, you can opt for a pre or post arrangement at the flick of a switch. Together with simple controls, the CD is my kind of drive- as smooth as it could be (to deliver great fusion tones) & as coarse as it could possible get for some hard rockin' tones. If only those knobs would light up. Hmm...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Edwards: E-PO-100D

Recently, I acquired this Edwards Potbelly for a steal; 50% of its listed price for an obvious reason- it's losing its appeal as a display piece. It was at the display window for the longest time in the store before being sidelined with that 50% off price tag. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this instrument save for the fact that the metal parts were tarnished over time. I would usually steer clear of guitars trying to manifest a Les Paul vibe because most of the time, the manufacturers tried too hard to re-interpret an established identity with a lacklustre outcome. I've played this one in the store once so it's nothing new to me. The pickups there:
  • Neck: Seymour Duncan '59
  • Bridge: Seymour Duncan '59
Seymour Duncan's '59 humbucker has a limited appeal for high gain dweebs like me because they incline towards the vintage character more than anything else but the ones here dished out a good serving of aggression with the right amp. I had intentions to swap them out after hearing them at the store but the oversight here is that I was dismissive even before trying it out with my set up. The '59 might be a drab affair in guitars sporting modern, locking bridges but in a traditional take such as this Potbelly, both pickups are able to accentuate the set-neck, sustain laden tones to good effect. As such, I'm keeping them in tact. This E-PO-100 is one of those rare player that sounds great in both clean & driven performances so I guess I've landed myself an incredible deal. By chance.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Electro Harmonix: Silencer

Summer 2015 NAMM release- EHX's Silencer. Hopefully this won't be as adverse as the Hum Debugger- remember that one?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The pot is in the house

What's that? Half price for this? Why not? :-)

Ibanez: The Talman's return

This Summer 2015, Ibanez marks the return of the Talman. Meaning- more Ibanez models with single coil selections, not that it's a big deal but it's a move away from the traditional humbucker-laden take.

Thanks for including a Tele vibe this time round. So the Talman range will be on my to-check list if they ever make it here at all. We know how it is with guitars, some are meant to be sold in a certain part of the world, some remain to be an exclusive releases in the domestic market.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ibanez: Club single coil

This is one of the more intriguing releases by Ibanez in a while- the SA130. A trio of single coils is a rare feature in any Ibanez sporting a contemporary outline. This one is a brave move, I should say. We know too well how single coil-equipped Ibanez guitars have met certain death for a simple reason- it's not the manufacturer's forte. When this one debuts at the store here, I will still check it out but not in the hope that it would be a more affordable alternative to a Fender single coil goodness, it won't be the case. It's also good to note that this SA model does not sport the SAT bridge like its other siblings. It might be an indicator of things to come.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gibson: Club single

A Summer 2015 NAMM release- a single humbucker Gibson Les Paul ('61 CM Les Paul). I'm not a Gibson fan but this one is a to-check on my list not because of the lone pickup there, but it sports a thinner, shred worthy body. Interesting but let's see where the QC stands since it sports a sub-USD700 tag.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Eden: Micro Tour

Hats off to the Eden chaps; a bass pocket amp, here we go- the Micro Tour. It sports a 4.5" speaker & a mere 2W. Powered by 8 AAA batteries or adaptor, I think many bass dweebs out there would appreciate this one for the fact that they can now join their guitarist counterparts in dishing out some tunes at the office. Maybe do a number by the beach while watching the sun go down. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


I love lush, other-wordly reverbs as manifested by Strymon's Big Sky. The objective of such an effect is its ability to let you transcend into another dimension. OK, at least in terms of tone-dom, it opens your ideas up to creativity. This is BOSS' attempt to reach that equivalent & I must say it's an objective attempt. It's not a mere reverb unit which the manufacturer already offer in its current catalogue but it's devoid of the Strymon's excesses. New for Summer '15 NAMM, so let's wait for its debut here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Double cut twang

OK, so this is a limited edition Fender double cut Telecaster & maybe the 'Fender' label there would make it an exalted instrument somewhat but when it comes to visual appeal, I wouldn't pay good money for one. However, it may one day tread the path of notoriety just like the Gibson RD but that has some '70s confusion mojo there.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Traditionally Schecter

If you look away from the pointy, rock-inclined & contemporary Schecter offerings, you'd come across those models that are predominantly S/T-type copies which are rather hard to come by. Recently, Schecter launched its CV series & the Traditional Custom you see above is a member of the family. Yes, a very F-esqued outline save for that headstock outline (& maybe one less control knob) but that's the whole point of this range; the manufacturer's interpretation of what 'traditional' means. I have no idea if these are going to make it here but if they do, they are certainly worth checking out because the Schecter name these days, is becoming the sensible appeal to those of us who are keen on prices above the entry-level range but nothing in the lavish category.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fly-ing cab

When I acquired Blackstar's FLY 3 amp, I told myself it would strictly be a fun amp, something amusing that I would reach for on days when I am bored. However, the FLY isn't a novelty amp like what the other manufacturers offer, it has some very inspiring tones to keep you going so I thought giving it an extension would do it justice. Done.

Friday, July 3, 2015


Rubbing salt in the wound- another Ibanez fanned fret model released, the RGIF8. That's right, only in Japan. *bummer*

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ibanez: PS40

This Ibanez PS40, its endorser fanfare aside, is a simple instrument- bolt-on with non-locking hardware. The charismatic outline is a bonus. It is worth mentioning that the PS40 hails from China because I like where the QC stands in view of the sub-$300 price point. The fit & finish are definitely above average, the only displeasure here is perhaps the guitar's final overcoat that  feels rather over-done & synthetic.

The controls are not that smooth but they are effective, ditto the tuners. Unlike other entry-level guitars, the nut slots are rather well attended too, so no tuning snags were heard during play. Moving on to the pickups, we know too well how the Infinity humbuckers are, in many other Ibanez guitars. They sound flat clean but bordering on the impressive in drive mode. The ones here get my thumbs-up for the latter application. I do not wish to re-iterate whatever inadequacies one might hear in clean settings, it's not worth reprimanding implements which were not conceived to deliver appeal in this aspect.

I'd recommend this guitar to the budget-conscious players out there who are keen on getting good rock tones without being excessively concerned with the clean performance. The other consideration would be the bag availability; let's accept the fact that the standard/ generic guitar bag meant mostly for strat-type shapes won't accommodate this instrument. Do ask if a suitable bag is available for your consideration before purchase. Lastly, all that Paul Stanley mojo at this price, yes? Not quite, my friends. Mere resemblance but quite a departure in essence. A good guitar nevertheless.

Thanks to brother Faizal @ Bras Basah branch for the assistance.

Rating: 70%

Ibanez: PS40
Availability: Swee Lee Co.
Price: $299

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The other yellow fellow

At the close of last year, this happened- I grabbed the last yellow Ibanez RG550 (Genesis) that was in store. Yes, it was a display piece, I'm usually not a fan of display pieces but this one went home with me. The thing about display pieces is, they are over-molested pieces of equipment which are not quite worth the asking price. This Ibanez was no exception. When I paid for it, the strings were beyond rusty, string saddles showed signs of corrosion & majority of the scratch plate screws were oxidized. Why did I even bother to pay for it? The Genesis models were very close re-pros of the original RG models which featured the super slim Super Wizard neck. This RG550 captured that spirit of super shredding very well. It's like that neck never ceased production in the first place. The rest of the specs were spot on less a labeling detail of the Edge bridge. Being me, I'm never a fan of default pickups so the ones in this guitar were laid to rest, there are now Seymour Duncans in there. Also, the Genesis models were limited edition entities & they were too tempting to pass.

PS: We are now in the other half of 2015. Time seems to zip by (again)...