Saturday, October 31, 2015


We end October with this piece of news- Fender recently released this 'flipped over' Jimi Hendrix Strat. Yes, we have a few Hendrix Strat incarnations out there already, some of which are costly. However, this particular version, judging by its production model number (not to be confused with the product's unique serial i/d) is not an American & should be in a very attractive price bracket. Reverse headstock & that reverse slanted bridge pickup- these should appease the Hendrix cult.

Friday, October 30, 2015

MXR: 5150 OD

I have high anticipations for this pedal because the 5150 label there has implications when it comes to overdrive. We know how meticulous Van Halen is when this is concerned & the drive-inclined players out there benefit from this, as proven by his Peavey 5150 amps & the current EVH high gain selections. The current 'brown sound' pedals out there simply fail when intensity is concerned & they are manifesting his Marshall-era voicings more than anything else. I was informed that this pedal will make it here & look forward to hear it in action (hopefully before 2015 ends).

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I'm definitely alright

It was a wet & sombre Tuesday night. The venue doors opened at 7.30pm but the show started just slightly before 9.00pm so many of us were wondering what really happened. Whatever that was about, it's Neil Zaza playing & it was worth the wait. Anyway, that delay time was used as a 'meet-&-greet' session so it was a good segue to the performance proper.

Neill Zaza had a simple set up going, his Kiesel guitar, Ax FX & a small pedal board line-up with small pedals (Hotone). The overall sound projection was fine but I'm against mic'ing up the drum set for such a small venue- it overpowered everything else on occasions.

Mr. Zaza's melodics- top notch. It's a lesson for all guitar dweebs to have some melodic inclinations instead of just introverted shredding; it differentiates musicianship from technical excess. Performance highlight- cover version of AHA's Take on Me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


It's unclear what this is all about- is it a re-issue? Standard production model? Regional exclusive? Dealer exclusive? Commemorative model? Since it sports the Prestige headstock label, it's safe to assume that this Ibanez RG3770DX will see the light of day as a catalogue entry. Whatever it is, thanks to the manufacturer for re-igniting past glory. Definitely interested.

Monday, October 26, 2015


So it's another Ibanez RG regurgitation but this time, it's equipped with a pair of EMG 57/66- the regional exclusive RG6005. I'm not a big EMG fan but I'm with what the 57/66 has to offer. That's right, it's not available here. Bummer.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Image clean up

Sunday is here. It's R&R for many of us but for those with kids, we are busy drilling 'em with academic revision as the year end exams (for many students out there) are just hours away. 

Anyway, if you've noticed what the Mod Tone chaps did with their later batch of pedals (top row); they are now sporting stripped down looks, just mere labels & a solid finish. Their earlier generation of pedals feature excessive graphics which earn top marks with dweebs who think such details add more tone to their hardware. Some of the senior players are put off by those markings as well; they look juvenile. So if looks matter to you, Mod Tone might have done well.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone. Remember to squeeze in some family time in there.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Under the lash of golden gravity

This is Gravity Pick's prime output- the Gold series pick. Let it be clear that it's plastic, nothing too different from the Chicken Pick version. Both are temperature tampered to manifest rigidity & durability. However, this pick has a more plastic feel than its Chicken Pick counterpart, very synthetic once put to use. It does possess a smooth texture to complement the speed freaks' need for a high (both riffsters &shredders alike would be appeased). After an hour of some crazy death metal riffing & going berserk with solos, the pick showed very little wear considering I'm not too kind with my picks, it's just the way I play. Other than this consideration, everything else treads on normality, nothing special going on here despite the rather astronomical asking price. I'm gonna stick to the acrylic range, thank you.

Friday, October 23, 2015

EMG clearance @ Davis

Happening now at Davis GMC- EMG pickups clearance for individual models or sets. While stocks last :-)

Eastern GJ2 @ Davis

The Korean-made GJ2 guitars are now available at Davis GMC for your considerations. This V-esque model here is the Concorde.

While this S-type is the Shredder. They are both in the mid-price bracket & manifest very promising QC.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dragon picking

Received this in the mail today- Dragon's Heart pick.

This is the Hardened model, a concoction of polyamide & glass fibre, promising 1500 hours of play time. In fact, this is the manufacturer's most durable but it feels very light & accommodating. It's been played for less than an hour, offering a different feel nevertheless. Despite the accolades, many of you out there are actually disturbed by the asymmetrical outline just by looking at it; how can an odd ball like this make a difference? That's the reason I'm trying it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Thanks to the good guys at Wampler Pedals for the pic here- beware of imitation. That's right folks, there are now fake Wampler pedals out there but we still trust our authorised distributors here with their inventory. This is just a heads-up to you if you deal in the after-market.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sub-$500 deals

Alrighty! Some of us might have begun doing a to-check list for the year end acquisition. Many of us might look at the $500 mark as a reasonable reference in an attempt not to get carried away especially when what we are after is simply a good starter or that elusive budget second guitar. So here's a consideration list for your reference based on whatever are available at the shops:

Yamaha Pacifica 212
Not the go-to name for many of us in terms of guitars, more for motorbikes & stuff but this name is an industry standard. They were once a force to reckon with but sadly, the perpetual focus wasn't there but lately, there's a Pacifica revival of sorts & the 212 is my recommendation based on good playability & overall QC-price ratio. Pickups are hit/miss, you just have to hear them in action but a good amp will do the trick.

Swing S100 Plus
Much overlooked, the Swing Strat-type models have much to offer in terms of good tones, yes, even the default pickups sound very acceptable. The overall playability is one of the best as far as an obscure brand name is concerned but let's acknowledge the fact that they are quite the reference back in their home turf- Korea. I've nothing but good things to say about the S100 Plus- get over the headstock outline & get this player for some serious guitar-ing.

Schecter Omen 6 Extreme
They re-vamped the Omen range not too long ago & the Extreme models were included, offering a bit more flash & quality but still keeping things under the $500 mark. If you have rock or some distortion oriented music going & looking for a dedicated instrument to tool up your needs so to speak, the Schecter name is one to check out. They are dangerously flirting with the Ibanez & Jackson competition here but somehow, I feel they can stand their ground. They even offer above-average in-house pickups if swapping them out isn't your thing (you can't hear the difference coming from replacement units, we understand).

LTD ST-213
This is easy- LTD offerings are agreeable guitars. If you are good to go, check out anything in the Series 200 range (& above) because that's the start of some serious quality for the money. This is also another incredibly overlooked brand name despite its parent brand, ESP, being top contenders in terms of contemporary guitar offerings. What I like about the LTDs- they are able to pull off (no pun intended) some singing tones with a decent amp. Yes, your amp need not be stellar but that helps if you can spare some... em... cash :-)

Ibanez RG421EX
Despite being a big Ibanez fan, I'm a little desensitized by this brand name- whatever they have to offer, it's highly likely to be a variation of a covered theme. However, I'm not denying the fact that they are getting things right at the entry level & propagating these ideas into some midrange models (will be discussed at a later opportunity). The RG421EX here is an example. The manufacturer 'polished' this guitar in terms of a quality finish & a more acceptable set of default humbuckers. The neck profile had been the manufacturer's niche all along but for this 421, they feel more attractive in terms of the urge to speed things up a little despite not being the revered Super Wizard make.That body binding (faux, I know)- class.

PRS SE Singlecut 245
However, my utmost satisfaction in this category has to be the PRS SE 245. Many people (skeptics, really...) dismissed it for its Indonesian pedigree (it used to be Korean) saying PRS hit a new low this year by forgoing its Korean reputation & embracing cost cutting instead. However, a personal encounter revealed the contrary; the 245 is pure quality at a bargain price. The default humbuckers may not be your thing but they are way more appealing than many in-house models in budget guitars. The overall feel of this one is very appealing & that heftiness just adds incredible sustain to proceedings- highly recommended.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cracked piggy (maybe)

In commemoration of Paul Stanley's return to Ibanez, this one has got to be one of most celebrated release by the manufacturer- the Iceman in cracked mirror finish. It's made in the Sugi custom shop & now available at Swee Lee for a whopping $10,489. In addition to the cracked novelty, included in this purchase are (highly likely) a cracked relationship (because your gf/ spouse thinks that this amount of money should be spent on more mortal affairs of the intimate kind) & a cracked piggy bank (granted it's the immediate access to a large sum of money at home but we doubt if you keep that much cash there).

Friday, October 16, 2015

Talman bass

Ibanez's Talman bass (pictured here, the TMB100) is now available at Swee Lee for less than $300... Darn it, I need a new bass. PS: No bag, please purchase separately.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tsjuder: Antiliv

These guys are always on my to-check list. They churn out very raw, in-your-face black metal out there, not the most polished but one of the most effective, I should say. Antiliv is another day in the office for the trio, some 'zines out there are dismissing this one as boring & nothing special. Many of us are moved by such appraisals but nothing beats listening to the actual release & forming your opinions thereafter. If you are interested, do consider the deluxe box version where some cover tunes are included including recorded rehearsal tracks. To me, these are gems because they capture the band in their stripped down form in terms of readiness. Of course, there are other goodies in the package- a patch (sadly not a woven version) & a flag. Tsjuder!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

SC tones

I'm with single coils lately. There's this single coil clarity that's unlike a split coil humbucker tone. Granted, the single coils do not possess this thumping humbucker tone for heavy metal but given a good amp, it'll pass & maybe shame some humbuckers along the way. I'm in it for the clarity more than anything else. Individual notes are just more appealing coming from single coils both in clean & driven modes. Along the way, I was drawn too much to distortion & develop this opinion that humbuckers are superior to single coils but SRV & Eric Johnson showed why single coils matter when one treats them as tools for the trade rather than having them around just for the sake of variety. 

The guitar you see here is my LTD ST-213, nothing fancy. I bought this in an attempt to move away from the Fender-single coils association but I still revere Fender for the single coil tones. However, this LTD has some good feel & definition going so I bought it for those reasons as opposed to that unmistakable ash body look. Also, many players would consider ash & maple an overkill in terms of brightness but my philosophy is this- I'd rather have more that I can subtract from rather than working with limitations.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Under the lash of gravity

My current fix right now- Gravity picks (another mention but worth it, I guess). As seen here, the orange tint indicates the 3mm thickness, some of the picks feature a polished bevel, others do not. I'm down to choosing this preference, so a little trial & error here & re-ordering was inevitable.

The unpolished edges mean you get a raw attack, very rewarding if you are the riff-ster type, you dwell on the lower, wound strings mostly. However, for plain strings, I'd say it would manifest a hindrance in terms of speed. The polished edges on the other hand are too 'slippery' for wound strings but its smooth contact would win fans with shredders. 

Bro Ijau, if you are reading this, I think I sent over a thin version for you to try. If it's good enough for you, maybe you can latch onto my subsequent orders.

Monday, October 12, 2015


If you are a fan or if you are looking forward to own this guitar, Ibanez's PWM100 is now available at Swee Lee & will cost you $4,050. Some of you might need this much money to settle your motorbike's down payment. We understand & feel you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Smaller metal

Never second guess the small time players. Definitely not in this day & age. You might put them down for being too novelty without the substance some years ago but manufacturers today are the more listening type, so they know the needs on the ground. As with Blackstar, the people there are active musicians a large number of whom are gear nuts as well. If you want to place some good bets on stuff that works, this might be the name to go to after all.

The HT Metal series is an all out intense distortion type amp so the default drive doesn't do anything mild & smooth to appease some players out there. I definitely like the intensity & the workable cleans. Yes, the clean channel is likable but not exactly the bells & whistle type in the Fender vein. You don't need any more pedals in terms of distortion if you own this one, you might do well to invest in other details, namely delay & modulation.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Ah, finally. My insatiable quest for a noise reduction unit- it's inevitable if one embraces excessive high gain. Appraisal to come.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Sincerely hope this MannMade bridge will make its way here. Some of us own such guitars sporting a stop tail unit but without intonation features so we face issues with thicker gauge strings ( .011s & above).

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Metal as it should be

I've been through too many metal type pedals. Some were bought, some are kept & others dismissed even before purchase. BOSS' Metal Zone is arguably the standard reference when this metal business comes to mind. I'm not going to mention it here because that one is a proven worth. The current breed of players are into other avenues of intense distortion reference. Thanks to the stores here, we have a healthy selection of such distortion to choose from. 

My flak with many of them is the fact that I have to reinforce the saturation on board with another pedal. This is sheer proof that the pedal concern is lacking in this aspect. For a good reason, we believe it was intentional. On the flip side, we know there's a lack of consideration for this. Let's face it, some manufacturers are not good at giving us a convincing metal type distortion, it's just not their thing. If you are in for such a pedal but wouldn't want to spend excessively (you're not the boutique type), I have two recommendations for you. These are metal type distortion units which are self-sufficient in terms of both saturation & intensity.

1. Blackstar- LT Metal
This is Blackstar's subsequent pedal range where things are trimmed down in terms of circuitry; no tubes on board unlike the initial HT range. There's more than enough intensity in this one & it's largely pick-sensitive. The strength of the LT Metal lies in the ISF & Tone controls. To sum it up, the ISF offers you a voicing variation (American vs British) & the tone control focuses on EQ. 

2. EHX- Metal Muff
Electro Harmonix had been on the fuzz forefront for too long before the Metal Muff showed the world what the manufacturer could do in this aspect. The catch here is that the MM has a trace amount of fuzz to it which is a like/hate affair with players. I personally like this pedal for its sheer intensity; it sounds like an angry amp rather than a polished pedal-type offering. The 3-Band EQ means you can vary your voicings to taste. The top boost here, according to the manufacturer, aims to enhance the upper frequencies when you solo. What I hear in use is very much like cascading intense distortion into a treble-rich light overdrive unit, in this case, the Klon Centaur would be a good reference. 

I own the pedals discussed here & they are my go to reference when comparing others of this ilk. Some boutique units are out there to stroke your ego more than getting the job done. My advice is for you to try them out because in boutique territory, it could be an expensive mistake.

Blacktar's LT Metal & EHX's MM are both available at Davis GMC.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Raging micro

This is my kind of amp- one with no clean channel, more focus on drive/distortion. That's right, the 15W EVH 5150III LBX has crunch & solo channels only so this would be limited appeal in terms of dynamics. For people who seldom dwell in cleans (like yours truly here), it's a focused offering. I've utmost respect for the EVH in terms of extreme metal distortion. In fact, EVH himself specified that extremity when he's still with Peavey & that was a benchmark reference if you are into this kind of voicings. OK, won't talk too much about it since it won't be available here- no more EVH distributor to date. What's that? There is? I bet you didn't check recently. Signing out...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

GRRRRRR!! (aka My Frustrations)

I've been a guitar geek for some time now (bought my first guitar electric @ 1991). I'm thankful for the fact that the stores here are reasonably within reach & they inventorize a healthy selection of products. However, it's a little frustrating that dealers don't bring in the full range of what's on offer even if they are the authorised dealers for selected brands. This is my list what I could have purchased but didn't happen due to unavailability. First up will be Washburn guitars. I still believe Grover Jackson left a very inspiring range of guitars at Washburn & since his departure, the good Washburn people perpetuated this legacy in their current range of instruments. I'm interested in the current Parallaxe series but these aren't available here.

The Jackson range here is severely lacking. Let's not put high hopes in seeing the USA-made ones being available in the stores, even the Mexican made Pro Series models aren't available. These are, I believe, affordable mid-priced guitars & they will give us Jackson fans something to look forward to in terms of craftsmanship & tones. Not available, sorry.

The rightful Charvel distributor here is still unclear. This is daylight clear though- Fender owns both the Jackson & Charvel names. You chaps might form some implications by now but let's not speculate. Again, the Charvel episode is a little sad, the Japanese ones were cleared from the stores understandably due to the factory closure & the current Charvel distributor is not bringing in any more of these guitars in the midst of its current clear out of the Desolation series. The Pro-Mods are made affordable since the Mexican plant took over production so these guitars are now more affordable for many of us but no, these are not available here. Move along, now.

In case the bottom feeders out there think I've forgotten them in my attempt to set things right, well I didn't. You know we have a Yamaha dealer here & you know what's in store for you, more importantly, you know what's not there. I have a personal liking for Yamaha basses. I used to drop by Plaza Singapura just to look at these basses- those were the days when Beez was still there. I don't wish to talk about it any further. Enough. *Deep frustration mode- ON*

Peavey, my friends, is the under-rated brand name in amp-dom. They are the to go-to name for some heavy metal massacre (along with other metal-alike genres out there) & then there's the Classic series with its flagship cleans. This is a genuine case of an absence of perpetuation. Nobody here wants Peavey, sadly, since the original distributor stopped bringing in the good stuff quite some time ago. In terms of sales figures, it's all understood but tone dweebs here are severely deprived of a bona fide good name. 

PS: I might have created some flak with the stores here with this post but I'm not apologetic about it. In fact, it's a personal reflection & the stores out there shouldn't take things to heart. I've been supporting you more than venting my frustrations at you because having been friends with you personally, I understand where you people are coming from. Look out for Part 2, coming up in time to come...

Monday, October 5, 2015


I'm in a 'custom pick' mode in the mean time but I do return to a familiar feel occasionally just to keep things in check. My current picking proficiency is where it's at because I started on a familiar turf so forgetting my roots would be perilous. These days, the stores here don't stock Dunlop Stubbys as much as they used to. The closest substitute are the Clayton Stone pics; familiar size, outline, thickness just that they feature those grooves for a better grip. I'm not saying, in any way, that Claytons are the worthy second fiddle when Dunlop Stubbys are hard to come by- no way. It's just that these Stone picks are not readily available for us to try out (I bought my first one online) & that stores here don't shout out what picks they sell as opposed to guitars & amps. Available @ Musicark, $1.20 each.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chapman: ML-1

Chapman guitars are the brainchild of Rob Chapman or Chappers as he's more affectionately known in the cyber realm. These guitars are made in the acclaimed premises of Korea's World Music. In the mean time, they are available at Musicark & that's the reason I've played the ML-1 seen here.

Construction/ fit/ finish
Since the Ibanez Prestige days, I've no reasons not to like the workmanship of a World Music instrument. Subsequently, my Brian Moore, PRS SE, Spector, Schecter & now Chapman experience re-inforce this belief. The craftsmanship on show is well above average, so that asking price is, in my opinion, a fair listing. What you will hold in your hands, if you choose to invest in this guitar, is a well-cut instrument. It's well-pieced together as well. Not to mention, a well-finished article (but this version here hardly has a finish- OK you got me). I'm also very happy to see the well-routed pickup cavities in particular. For budget instruments of a similar make, this is where you can see the production skimpiness- nut slots included- but none are seen here. Thumbs up all round.

Playability/ tone
If you are looking for a Strat-alike substitute- not quite. Ditto an Ibanez, shred-type substitute- not quite. The ML-1 joins the LTD & Schecter camps in offering the players out there a personalized super-playable feel. The Strat-ish single coil tones are there alright but not the ones reinforced by an alder body & maple neck coupling. The unmistakable shred-worthy feel is present as well but not that skinny-neck enhancement. We are definitely thankful to the Chapman team for giving us that 'all access' neck heel to couple the very playable neck profile. What we have here is outstanding playability but strictly on Chapman terms. 

Moving on to the Chapman pickups, the Guitarnivore humbucker is there to please distortion mongers. The cleans are alright but wouldn't put the instrument in good stead in terms of transparency. The Extreme Victory single coils offer plenty of snap but lacking that inherent top end roundness. These pickups are not let-downs, by all means they are not. It's just that they are not there to re-create some familiar tones but they are treading on familiar grounds.

On a personal note, I'm glad the Chapmans are finally here. But what do those instruments bring to the table, anything new in particular? Not quite but they join the palette of good-guitar-for-the-money selection. The World Music QC is without doubt, one of the best (in terms of standard production models)  the only talking point (for me) are the tones. What do these instruments strive to be? Strat-alike but not really Strat sounding? Shred-alike but still sporting traditional tones? Whatever they are (or strive to be), they are worth considering. These are the very guitars pro-guitarists will consider short of heading for some custom options. Hmm... do I need one more guitar? :-)

Rating: 75%

Chapman ML-1
  • Availability: Musicark
  • Bag included
  • List: $950

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Orange week

I've been playing my Ibanez RG331M this entire week. I am re-visiting my effects collection (the reason you see me letting some go for bargain prices) & this is the best guitar for the job. It being an Ibanez is half the reason, the other being the DiMarzios in there. You would've read in my accounts here that I'm not too keen with DiMarzios but these are the pickups to be testing effects with. Personally, I can hear them withstanding severe signal processing & still manifesting some tasty tones at the end of the chain. I could have Duncanized it like the rest but I'm not averse to the stuff not on my preference list. They have their applications & I'm one to acknowledge this.

Selling: EHXtortion (SOLD)

Moving on...
  • Selling: EHXtortion, adapter & box included
  • Condition: 9/10
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Self-collect @ CCK mrt stn
  • Queries:
  • Price: $95 (final)
Item SOLD, thanks :-)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cowboy at Mustaffa's

Seriously, I came across this one at Mustaffa Center. If you have time to trawl the shelves there, you'd find some hidden gems. The CDs there are not arranged according to genre so you might find a heavy metal release behind a Backstreet Boys number. Let's see what else I bought in addition to this one: Erasure, Depecehe Mode, Dream Theater, John Pizzarelli... $16.90 each. Yes, I'm the type who still buy CDs. I can't have it any other way.