Wednesday, September 30, 2015

TC Electronics: Sentry

We end September with this piece of news from TC Electronics. It's another noise reduction unit out there but offering something different. 1) The pedal has a frequency noise reduction focus, meaning, you can target the frequencies which are generating noise instead of gating the entire signal. 2) The pedal has a loop feature so you connect the noisy culprit (most probably a pedal yes?) in parallel & again, this will not gate your entire signal. Now, that's a very welcomed perspective in this light.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wampler: Tumnus

This is a new one by Wampler, the Tumnus. With the reference to the control labels alone, we know which pedal this was modeled after. More details in the following clip, it will be available at SV Guitars in time to come.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chapman guitars

Ladies & gentlemen, Chapman guitars are now available at Musicark for your considerations. Checking wallet now...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Selling: Pedals...

One Control ABD mini pedal. Unlike others, this one works with battery as well.

Protone makes some of the best pedals around. This clean boost is under-used, in superb condition & going for half price.

ONE CONTROL: Anodized Brown Distortion
  • Condition: 9/10, box included
  • No reservations, no trades
  • queries:
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt stn
  • Price: $85 (final)
Protone: Clean Boost
  • Condition: 9/10, box included
  • No reservations, no trades
  • query e-mail as above
  • Self-collect @ CCK mrt stn
  • Price: $99 (final)

Joyo: AT Drive

I'm not a pedal geek but I do own some for days when I'm bored. This little ditty here is a new member in my over drive line up; JOYO's AT Drive, from the Iron Man series.

I have a positive account with JOYO's Blue Rain over drive so naturally, I was out hunting for something of similar performance which can double up as a booster if the need arises. The AT isn't too far off its Blue Rain sibling in terms of drive intensity but it has a wee bit more gristle and not inclined to manifest an overtly smooth voicing. Imagine a VOX amp's preamp section that turns a little ferocious once you turn up the volume & drive.

The AT works equally well with humbuckers & single coils. For the latter, things are a little less woolly in the neck position compared to a humbucker but it's something your amp's EQ can address. As a stand alone unit, the AT is your typical over drive pedal albeit crossing over the mild-mannered limits at times, especially with active pickups. If you choose to cascade another drive or distortion unit into this one, you might want to be wary of fuzzy tendencies especially when that preceding pedal is of a stronger gain/ drive manifestation. 

Warning to those of us with limited handling patience; that flip-up cover might get to you if you wish for quick adjustments especially during live performances. Also, many of us aren't quite receptive when dealing with minute tone controls. 

Confession- I've been ignoring JOYO products until these Iron Man pedals came round. Despite being a novelty acquisition in terms of size, the manufacturer has something going tone-wise. At $99 each, they are worth considering if you are in for a compact pedal board that you can lug around on the fly. All these distractions aside, do remember that they actually sound above average & a definite vlaue-for-money in this sense. 

PS: Thanks to all at SV Guitars (Penin Branch) for their hospitality while testing was in progress.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Green & orange

I started the day with my Jackson.

Ended the day with my Ibanez.

It's not about the brand name but the pickups in there. The Jackson has Duncans while the Ibanez, DiMarzios. I'm re-affirming my belief that Duncans are the ones to really open up the tones of an amp. They are my go-to pickups for a direct-to-amp application. The DiMarzios aren't bad at all, just that my ears are attuned to how Duncans don't muck up individual notes when one cranks the amp volume. My Ibanez was plugged into some pedals & that's the strength of DiMarzios, they remain attractive after much effects processing.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fixed arrow

ESP has released a fixed bridge version of its Arrow range- very tempting. However, this one's from the Original Series & it won't be anywhere below the $4K mark. Darn.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Eid-ul Adha greetings

To all Muslim friends & blog readers; a warm Eid-ul Adha greeting.

What is sacrifice to you? Is it a simple forgoing of a current gain for the benefit of others? Is it giving up what you have to make others happy for a cause? A simple abstinence for a common good perhaps? You might not have realized this sacrifice till you sit back & think about the occurrences. A sacrifice might have taken place without you knowing it & along the way, rejoice in the knowledge that a benefit took place & you made it happen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Infernal tunes

I received this last Sunday, I've been listening to it on the way home & must say that, after several outings, Hate Eternal has no other approach to music but incessant pounding. 

It's a good thing because that's what HE is all about, relentless speed & in-your-face metal riffing. The production here is a little 'different' as the (distorted) bass tones are somewhat more apparent, unlike previous releases where guitars & bass are manifested in a single serving of swirling madness.

It's not a good thing because things become predictable. The line-up here is completed by a pair of lesser knowns (leaving it up to you to know them through the band's home page) but the formula remains the same. But I'm not here to complain because I know there are acts like HE that doesn't wimp out when it comes to aggression.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Power tuning

Absolutely looking forward to this- a power supply that doubles up as a tuner (Joyo JF-18). Or is that a tuner doubling as a power supply? Whatever it is, it's a practical inclusion on one's pedal board for sure. I don't own any pedal board but this might trigger something.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Positive rain

Revisited some of my pedals this morning, Joyo's Blue Rain is definitely on my hit list. It's one of the smoothest I've ever come across, putting it in the same turf as my Ogre & Plush pedals. The only pain here is that cover there which needed to be lifted once you need to make tonal adjustments. That aside, this one's an absolute value for money.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Swing to this

Was at SV Guitars earlier today; looking at effects pedals. Those JHS, Wampler & CMatmods stuff are prohibitive till sale time. But their recent sale ended just last weekend so I was about to leave the store till I saw this Swing CD-1. It's a simple guitar & I'm quite the sucker for a single pickup; it makes playing one very objective. 

It's not costly (List: $299) & had all the trademarks of a good production line model save the fretboard which was dry at several spots. That aside, everything else was ace. The thing with such guitars is that you have to plug it into a good amp to prevent it from being another dud from the entry-level range & I must say the Sound Drive amp it was plugged into was awesome. After 20min of audition or so, I'm of the opinion that the CD-1 is a value-for-money instrument. It plays well but some of us might be of the opinion that the overall feel lacks character, it feels too much like a starter guitar but let's not forget it's not one from the higher tier offerings. This P-90 pickup isn't wimpy by any means, it's pleasant in clean mode & manifests much character in all other drive applications; heavy metal included. So it's all a matter of taste- is it fulfilling enough for you or is it too much a novelty interpretation to be true?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Get well soon

Tony MacAlpine had just undergone surgery to address his cancer situation, here's wishing him a speedy recovery.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

OD round-up/ recommendations

Someone asked me just a couple of days ago if I have a list of recommendations for guitars/ amps/ effects & 'yes' was the answer. However, the fact that those recommendations were a distant memory is a little embarrassing. So here it is a 'current' recommendation of OD pedals & this discussion is based on the following ground rules: 1. Available here (in SG) 2. Within reach (price-wise)

1. BOSS: OD-3 Over Drive
Yes, it remains the standard- BOSS is indeed the standard to beat when it comes to overdrives simply because they did a good one & it withstood the test of time. I won't go into those mod territories but if you are looking at something affordable, with a good re-sale value & more importantly, an over drive tone that's most likely appealing, the OD-3 is it. They are so likable that they got away with being non-true bypass units.

2. Maxon: OD808 Overdrive
But isn't Maxon the real standard to beat? In my books, the Maxon drives, regardless of the incarnations, are sitting a little above the industry standard. As such, some people might not deem it a little too coloured for good ol'  plain drive & I couldn't agree more. In any case, majority of the Maxon offerings are refinements of the Tube Screamer & some of us simply do not wish to waddle in this territory. However, I've not come across a Maxon drive I dislike & I'd recommend them to you if you wish for something 'extra' in this aspect but not going over-board; more saturation & pick sensitivity.

3. Fuchs: Plush Drive
Ladies & gentlemen, the Fuchs camp is an amplifier camp but the fact that they churn out drive pedals goes to show that they are a bunch of jolly tone people. From my experience, pedals with an amp association would list for a little more than the rest of their counterparts & that's the case here. So is it just another hype OD pedal isn't it? Absolutely NO. The Fuchs name, in this drive domain, would appeal to players looking for that extra smooth tone with lots of saturation in tact. It's could get addictive, mind you.

4. CMatmods: Signa Drive
OK, I'm pushing it a little too far when it comes to affordability but the Signa Drive is something the over drive fan should check out. This is one of those much overlooked pedals that works great as a stand alone unit or something used to push your amp's drive channel. In fact, they cascade well into each other but buying a pair in a single receipt is a little too excessive.

MXR makes good stuff & they are much in the shadows of those other brand names that offer more value for less money. Nevertheless, the GT-OD is a variation of a familiar theme but what I like about it is its thumping tone at higher volume/ level settings. Other that that, the GT-OD could sound ordinary for some of us without any extras to look forward to.

6. Pro-tone: Dead Horse OD
And then there's the Pro-tone territory. It's the most expensive in this list but it's something different (yes, that's right, 'different' is subjective). If you are a high gain proponent but still into overdrive for that super saturated experience, you simply need to hear the Dead Horse in action. It's not for simple applications so the traditionalists are the wrong pool of people to refer to for appraisals. I'd dare say it's the only brand name out there for gain-crazy players, it's currently in Ver. 3 & there's even a Jeff Loomis variation to check out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Parlouring (Ibanez)

The Ibanez (AVN4) camp has just up-ed the ante when it comes to parlour style acoustics- this AVN4 is stunning. For those of you new to the parlour outline/ dimensions, be informed that the tones on offer are neither the deep concert type nor the crisp dreadnought type but there's a focus on a certain upper midrange bandwidth which is definitely not wimpy. In fact, it reminds me of a resonator voicing without that metallic clunk.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


An interesting addition by Ibanez this season- a guitar/ukulele hybrid. This one's made for the traveling bandit; it's merely 17" in scale length. There is no other way of handling it than the ukulele way, it's even made to be strapped on as such. Let's hope that it features a truss rod as an indication of long term durability. The idea isn't new though- Yamaha's been there.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Castle strings- one of the more affordable sets out there. Please note the claim: Lite top, heavy bottom. We know that 9-42 is the standard gauge for this set so the 'heavy bottom' there is inaccurate. 

Heavy bottom here would mean that the D/A/E strings will have to be thicker, an example of which is illustrated by Ernie Ball- 26/36/46. So my message to manufacturers out there: Check your claims.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Gibson 2016: SG Special T

I am actually interested in this SG Special T (USD739) from Gibson's 2016 range namely due to the pickups; these mini humbuckers are something 'different'. They are standard features in LP Deluxes & Firebirds plus the fact that I'm more at ease playing an SG than a Les Paul despite the neck dive. However, the headstock there is a turn off as it stray from the traditional outline a wee bit by featuring those pointy upward curve. It must be re-living the '70s vibe but I'll give this a try once it gets here. Experience tells me it would probably be a year later when many of us are distracted by other 2016 models offered by various manufacturers.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Ibanez has cascaded its FR model (GFR20) into the GIO range. There is a sense of pride here for the manufacturer as it addresses its entry level options, not leaving them in the dumps like some others. Of late, I noticed the GIO models featuring a more attractive finish & a more respectable QC. These guitars are dangerously treading on the Standard range's turf in all aspects.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Hey, dad! (Part 58)

Hey, dad! We're back in Malacca for a quick break!

That's right, we were in Malacca for a breather, so to speak & we managed to drop by HRC for lunch. That Les Paul there isn't just an entrance decor but it was done rather accurately in terms of details.

This Tele was signed by the Boss himself; Mr. Springsteen but it looked too squeaky clean to be a personal possession.

Nothing really interested me here except for the instruments on the upper wall in these clear showcases. Interesting to see the EBMM there with Van Helen's signature considering HRC Malacca opened in 2013 & Mr. Edward parted ways with the brand name way before that.

Pedal board belonging to the in-house band. The Bogner pedal pumping in some muscle there in the midst of other familiar names.

Stage view- no stringed instruments left behind. The Marshall you see there is a JCM900 so you know there are probably no heavy metal vibes going on nightly.

This was the most important item in the premises- food! The serving was overwhelming proportion-wise but it's something I could handle. 

I have a soft-spot for Malacca, had been here more than five times but the laid-back lure was personally irresistible. Throughout the years, the town had changed, not drastically but significantly. Majority of the historic attractions were in tact, the highlight would be realized in time to come when the major developments over at Malacca Island are completed.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The reek of death (Ver 3)

I'm a fan. That's right, the price of these pedals are a little excessive but I'm a fan of the Dead Horse. It is now offered in this third incarnation featuring a bass rotary control. Rotary instead of a sweep type pot. This means, the player gets to select a preset voicing instead of trimming or adding the lower frequency response to their liking. The reason for this consideration- the sweep option adds more parts to the audio path & this destroys tonal character. This, according to Dennis Mollan (Pro Tone founder), is why many pedals with active EQ sections come & go without creating deep impressions on players. Another consideration- the bass meddling here is targeted at 7 & 8-string players & speaking from an owner's perspective, the Pro Tone name is the safest bet for fans of high gain settings who are in need of a drive boost.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Keying it

The EHX camp is deep in their synth interest. We know because the Key 9 here is their 3rd incarnation of how your guitar is not supposed to sound like a guitar. But we like this illusion; it makes life simpler for many of us in need of that synth input without having keys in our midst. The best thing about these pedals is the absence of latency issues so we get real time interpretation of our signals & that's an over-riding importance. The only dislike is perhaps its retail price: USD293.73...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Exploring expectations

Considering the price-to-goodness ratio, if you are intending to spend good money on a Gibson next year, I believe this Explorer T (USD1,299) is a safe investment. If you have ever played an Explorer before, you'd be impressed with that incredible sustain & a bottom end focus. 2016's version feature the gain-friendly 496R/500T pickup combo so it's something to behold tone-wise. However, the quirky Explorer design means you have to deal with that extra tail end flap which some find undesirable.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Selling: Schecter ATX C8

Saying goodbye to my Schecter ATX C8, going for 50% off the purchase price.

  • Schecter ATX C8 active 8-string guitar
  • Condition: 8/10, hard case included
  • Confirmation/ queries:
  • Self-collect: CCK mrt stn
  • No reservations, no trades
  • Price: $750 (final)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Gibson 2016 (that's right)

Last year, Gibson revealed their 2015 line-up in the final quarter of the year. It is no surprise that this year, they did likewise. More importantly, the 2016 line-up (what's revealed thusfar) reverted to more sensible prices. The Gibson SG Standard T you see here is listing for USD1,199. It's devoid of whatever failed details 2015 had to offer so everything is back to what they should be. The implication is rather glaring; they are actually able to keep costs down so you now know (many of us already did) you are screwed price-wise along the way. The headache, especially so for dealers, is to deal with the 2015 extras when the 2016 stock hit the shelves.

There's a catch though- this one comes with a bag only, no hard case included.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Watching it

Yes, this is a genuine article- Gibson Raymond Weil watch. Let's not forget that Gibson had announced (not too long ago) that its 'Gibson' label is now not exclusive to musical instruments. Gibson toaster, Gibson ceiling fan, Gibson briefs, Gibson motorcycle, Gibson toilet bowl in sunburst finish- what else can you think of?

Friday, September 4, 2015


Those high gain bandits among us would know Soldano & the SLO100; it  makes other high gain amps feel a little wimpy. Wampler & Weehbo are among other effects manufacturers out there re-creating the SLO voicing in a more wallet-friendly package. However, since the manufacturers mentioned here are boutique proponents, that affordability factor isn't quite it. Nevertheless, these are currently on sale at SV Guitars so here's a little insight on both the SLO units featured here.

Both manufacturers are serious when it comes to durability but the Wampler wins it in terms of aesthetics; its mild  glitter finish is a pleasant attraction. The Weehbo on the other hand, sports a pseudo-relic touch which is a current fad. It's a matter of personal taste here but be informed that gloss-finished housing like that of the Wampler is more prone to scratches & cracking upon rough handling.

The Wampler is an outright 2-in-1 distortion unit. It has a central SLO voicing with a boost capability. The Weehbo differs by offering the user a selection of 2 drive channels, the boost function is located at the rear via a flick switch. Both pedals sport a 3-band EQ but the Weehbo offers a middle frequency range option. Both pedals are downright similar in terms of features, it's a matter of slight differentiation. In terms of ease of use, the Wampler is as simple as it gets. 

Ah, this is the crucial bit, many of us fork out good money for the tone we are after, details are secondary. Which pedal is a definite SLO repro? My definite answer: Neither the Wampler nor the Weehbo wins it. I came to this conclusion because both pedals contain that harsh SLO push distortion fiends love to hear but the more one tinkers with the controls, the further one gets from the true reference. Don't get me wrong, lads, this is indeed a good thing. The Wampler is able to manifest that saturated crunch which the SLO specializes in but when push comes to shove, the pedal manifests a good serving of throaty crunch, very much like what an SLO would do when cranked up. The Wampler's volume is a little subdued until its boost mode is engaged so this is its Achilles Heel. The Weehbo on the other hand is an angry pedal that stays true to the SLO voicing & it retains that much needed clarity upon switching to the boosted (higher voltage) option. However, things can get a little too treblish when the volume gets dialed up every time so some EQ meddling is a necessary follow-up.

Which SLO pedal is for you, then? It's a matter of personal taste, ladies & gentlemen. This is especially so when both pedals tend to stray from the base reference once more tinkering gets done. Knowing the profile of players here, I'd wager that majority of them won't be too familiar with the SLO voicng compared to a MESA or Marshall tone, for instance. At the end of it all, the final performance of the pedal matters, not that it mimics the SLO character closely, both pedals sport the same price tags anyway. 

Thanks to brother Tirmizi @ SV Guitars for his relentless help when these two pedals were being tested. I must say that I was a fussy customer who took time to scrutinize boutique stuff because they are make-or-break products that should not put the buyer in a losing situation upon purchase.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Under the lash of gravity- the custom kind

My friend, brother Fabian, alerted me to a Gravity Picks promo- the manufacturer waived shipping costs for a period of time but I'd already gotten my hands on whatever GP model I'd wish to try through Davis GMC. Subsequently, the good people at GP extended it till the end of August so I thought why not try the Custom Shop selection this time round & the picks you see above were in the mail after 6 working days. 

Through this experience, I was able to select the pick size & to me, this was crucial. The texture & grip choices were cascaded from my previous preferences. So the big mini option is definitely my go-to reference & I'd say, this was a very pleasant custom shop experience, so to speak. It won't be my last custom shop episode though, just waiting for another 'No shipping charges' promo to come by (evil grin). 

My BIG thumbs up to Chris & the GP team.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

La Bella: Vapor Shielded

Got myself a set of La Bella strings. These are treated strings just like the corrosion retarding formulae of others but the LB camp chose to do it their way & I'm obliged to try. La Bella VS strings are available @ TYMC.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SV Guitars anniversary promo

We begin September with some goodness- it's SVG's 10th anniversary & they are giving you 15% off for store-wide products (Penin branch only). On that note, I'd like to congratulate the SVG team for a decade of success & persistence.

Yes, we're into the final quarter of the year. How time flies but on a personal note, I'd like it to fly faster. I'm already picturing the year end holidays & stuff...