Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ibanez 2016: The acoustic domain

While they are at it with the electric solid bodies, Ibanez has the AELFF10 for the acoustic dweebs out there.  (List: $749)

Over at the AEW camp, the AEW51 is a looker (note headstock). (List: $669)

Here's the rear view. But I must say that the AEL & AEW had some fanfare in them but for the love of tone, we don't get a solid top feature. Something for you to consider before you fork out good money for one.

Here's the good stuff- the AVN6. A parlour type player sporting a solid spruce top with a very traditional 12th fret body attachment. I have a thing for parlour models, they make more sense for the players who struggle to embrace big bodied acoustic guitars but there's a little compromise on tone. However, parlour models were not conceived to give off those deep grand concert type resonance for sure. It's for those lonely moments when you are re-energizing yourselves. That stroke of midnight when you have a sudden urge to hear good wood singing to you.That carefree instances when your ideas need to be put forth instead of some visual excess taking over- you get the drift. Slotted headstock isn't for everyone, though.

PS: Prices listed imply availability @ Swee Lee Co.


You have to give it to the Marshall folks for breaking away from traditions; the Code series of amps are something different, something out of the comfort zone- digital modelling. But it's the case of modelling themselves so what you get from the amps are the various Marshall voicings throughout history. I'm a little skeptical because the digital domain was never Marshall's forte. Also, tubeless Marshalls get ignored to death. Yes, these might look promising but the same amount of money could get you a tube loaded Marshall- the real thing. Whatever rocks your boat.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ibanez: Talman @ SG

The Ibanez Talman TM302 (List: $559) is now available here- awesome! But I'm actually waiting for something else. Not an Ibanez.

Petrucci '16

John Petrucci gets a refreshed model this year, the JP16 (so next year it'll be JP17, yes?). Refreshed because the guitar retains what works with 'new' bridge- the Floyd Rose (Pro). The bridge in the JPMs had been the manufacturer's proprietary model all this while so having a third party implement there has its implications. Something to ponder over coffee. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Seymour Duncan 2016: The gain focus

Unlike the conventional sales pitch, Seymour Duncan does not put this forth as a drive unit. It's carefully mentioned as a gain stage unit, meaning, it's something you employ to manifest gain increments which does not necessarily relate to drive or distortion. However, we know too well that a gain push will ultimately result in a driven or distorted output, the degree of which depends on what the manufacturer wants to achieve. I'm really glad that Seymour Duncan had taken time to give us such a pedal because it's as useful as a stand alone unit as it is in a stacked arrangement. I reserve further  comments till I hear this in action & we all know that pretty much of the Seymour Duncan stuff (less some custom shop units) gets here in good time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Peavey 2016: Ravenous tone

Still on the subject of amps, Peavey has this to offer; the 6505 Piranha. There's no secret to what the name alludes to; it's a biting tone but at a fraction of the standard amp head dimensions. Why the heck do I bother when there's no Peavey dealer here? Absolute bummer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

BOSS 2016: Waza head

I'm pretty much anticipating this new amp by BOSS- the Waza Craft head. A 150W of power but attenuable to a lower wattage performance.

The amp covers many tone references based on BOSS' interpretations. The manufacturer's brand name per se conjures some assurance tone-wise & judging by what went on at the recent Winter NAMM 2016, this amp has it in terms of dynamics & quality. A little wary of the price.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Flat perspective

This was in the mail on my way home, a consolation for this Monday largely plagued by a wretched backache. I'm still experimenting with 11s, down-tuned while staying wicked. We know what flatwounds have to offer in terms of durability (the bass dweebs here would understand)- an extended lifespan without chemical gimmicks.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fender 2016: Elitism

The new breed by Fender- American Elite Series. These effectively replace the American Deluxe models. The specs are largely a retention of the AmD models with a little refinement at places. It's good to know Fender is keeping up but we all know what such revisions mean- an opportunity to re-price.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

ESP 2016: Vulture

This is a new one for 2016; James Hetfield's ESP Vulture. I find the headstock unagreeable since its debut in the Snakebyte. The body's a little offset if you missed it.  Nothing really enticing here, maybe the Hetfield camp might want one.

Jackson 2016: Single cutting it

Despite being delighted with Jackson churning out a singlecut model this year (the Monarkh, they call it), how is this not an ESP Eclipse with a different neck? Hmm...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ibanez 2016: Seeing (& listening) is believing

Here we go:

The major Ibanez 2016 highlights...

As updated by the manufacturer as teasers to the NAMM revelations just hours away...

Ending off with this brilliant Mozart rendition. Have a great weekend, everyone :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

NAMM 2016: Jubilee celebration

Following the success of its Silver Jubilee re-issue last year, Marshall moves on with this success in giving us the down-sized version of the fabled amp; the Mini Jubilee. At 20W, this mini can be further  attenuated to 5W of raging Marshall tones which is more than enough for many bedroom heroes out there. My concern here is price; how much would this semi-novelty amp be worth considering it's riding on the reputation of a bigger manifestation which, for want of a better term, a 'real' Jubilee reference? As it is with Marshall in this country & as far as I am concerned, any Marshall purchase would hinge primarily on price more than anything else. You can read between the lines, yes?


This looks promising; Keeley's Tone Workstation. Consisting of 3 essential units in a single housing, it presents a very functional take on what you need for a no-frills presentation. I can't help but recall what EHX did in similar terms with theirs- the Tone Tattoo. Looking forward to its availability here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Low preaching

I must say that I'm a fan of EHX's mini pedals. The dimensions are wonderful, more importantly, these pedals retain the performance of their full-sized siblings. The Muff units would be a good example. The Bass Preacher you see here is a close derivative of the Soul Preacher & here's proof that it's what you'd expect from it (maybe even a bit more):

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

EHX: Crayon

I'm not one to turn away from good stuff especially after hearing them in action. EHX's Crayon is an impressive OD unit in my books, it's not costly as well. First one for the year :-)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Corting Gambale

NAMM 2016- Frank Gambale gets a signature acoustic guitar & it's a Cort. Whoever plays Cort these days? That's besides the point. Cort makes good guitars & Cort is the OEM for some other bigger names in the industry without you knowing it- Yamaha & Ibanez among others. Specs are a little hazy at this time, looking forward to the NAMM coverage for more details.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dream Boogie

Breaking: John Petrucci finally gets a signature Mesa Boogie amp- the JP-2C. More news at Winter NAMM 2016.

Beat buddy-ing

If you are serious about playing solo at home & having a rhythm section backing you up but requires that little bit of interaction magic instead of dealing with programmed background beats, you need to check the Beat Buddy out. It's a simple drum machine pedal, nothing as complicated as your looping unit. Actually, I already own a Beat Buddy, this 'lite' version was irresistible considering the ease of use & 200+ genres/ variation on offer.  OK, more to come.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

EHX: Crayon (first impression)

I was in store yesterday to have a go at EHX's new (for late 2015) Crayon overdrive.

I was expecting an East River-esque response from this one but it has its leanings towards the Soul Food instead. Thanks to the 2-band EQ, there's quite a range of voicings to be had; a boomy tone would add some jazz vibe to any neck guitar pickup & I was impressed even at lower gain settings. A boosted treble response hear alludes to its Soul Food sibling in emulating the Klon tone. It's there but it's not refined. More importantly, it's good.

The gain range- no idea if EHX is trying to live up to the 'full-range overdrive' label there, has more to offer than the East River or Soul Food units. At maximum application, the Crayon has enough saturation to trigger harmonics easily but a Protone Dead Horse pedal this is not. 

I'm saving some other bits for the subsequent entry but as it is, the Crayon is a fine inclusion in the EHX range.

Star streaming

Definitely for the niche market, Vox introduced the Starstream Type-1 modelling guitar this 2016. That's right- modelling guitar. Chances are, technical implements will distract focus but if you wish for voicing changes on the fly, this one might be it. Note the limited amount of wood on board because it's about delivery, not tone gloating. Hear:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Soul pogging

No idea if you still remember EHX's tone tattoo- that one started it all. The idea of EHX fusing their effects unit into a single serving. I'll vouch for the Soul Food half of this unit for some drive magic (nothing intense, though) but the POG might appeal to the more outgoing among us only. Nevertheless, a good consideration.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Humbucking page

Aw darn, John Page just did the humbucker... thing. The single coil version was awesome, I'd imagine this wouldn't be different. Some serious planning ahead.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Case considerations

Finally, the yelow Ibanez RG550 got a case. I was contemplating whether this guitar deserves one or not. At the end of it all, it's not about such considerations- whether a certain guitar deserves an extended accessory- it's about how much you care for your possessions, guitar or otherwise.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


No, I'm not going back to Ernie Ball. I need this set to get things going because it features a .048 for the low E string. Other brand names out there offer a .049 & this get choked at the nut slot every time & I do not wish to file any slots in the mean time simply because there is a suitable gauge out there to address the situation.

The guitar that received this string set was my Ibanez RGD321. I can't play a set of .010s let alone this set of .011 but the plan was to detune the instrument to C# to reduce the tension. I have to say that things turned out well, the C# tuning got me that .009 feel but it's rather obvious that the strings there are much thicker; it's an illusion of feel. I decided to be adventurous with the RGD321 in terms of tuning because I know the extended scale length (26.5") can accommodate the thicker string gauges especially at detuned settings. I have plans for this guitar, I'm setting it up (permanently, I think) for heavy tunes. At the end of this test-pisode, the Duncans in there did well to capture the lower, deeper tones without mushing out. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

HP Bag

Ladies & gents, not all Gibson HP models for 2016 come with a hard case upon purchase. If it doesn't then be informed that this super padded bag is the alternative. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Postal tale

My final purchase of 2015 which led to complications. Let me share.

The pedal itself is superb. It's an extract from a bigger pedal called the Super Duper. No issues in terms of performance.

Well this one was purchased online & shipped via Vpost. You see, before releasing this item for shipment, I received a new credit card, the details of which were not recognized by Vpost's database despite their homepage giving the customer a 'new card' option. I contacted the Vpost people who told me there might be issues with my card so I called the bank. The bank did a real-time test on my card & found nothing amiss. I believe the bank because I've been using the same card to purchase other stuff. Back to Vpost- they sang me the same tune; there are issues with my card. I told them that's rather far fetched because I've been trying 2 cards & they both failed. Obvious conclusion- there are issues with Vpost's database. I told the officer on duty maybe it might be due to a change in credit card details which led to this complication, maybe they can amend the details or let me key in the new details for processing. Their answer- Vpost does not retain card details in their database so online entries in real time should work. 

I've since left a feedback request pertaining to the matter on 24th December 2015 & it had not been resolved since then- 15 days & counting. Their first reply was awful- they mistook me for another individual but got my case number correct. I'm aware they tried to call me but my policy is this- I don't answer calls from unfamiliar numbers. A subsequent reply came in days later & it merely acknowledged the fact that my transaction was successful. Of course it was successful- I paid via PayPal, you idiots. I'm still waiting for a firm reply from Vpost pertaining to the matter. I tweeted & one of the officers replied & this, frankly, was a serious dent in their reputation- they put my query, which went through the proper channel, on hold but responded to tweets. So what does it show? 

1. If the matter had been resolved through some means, it becomes the least of worries for some commercial entities. That's right- it's settled, we don't owe you anything.

2. If you are sincere about providing services to your customers, pursue with genuine interest. The worst you can do is turning it into a service facade, being there as obligations but nothing more.

3. If your reputation (or the lack of it) is being hung up for show to the public, attend to it. If it remains private, take your time.

This is a first for me when it comes to Vpost. I prefer Vpost (in the mean time) to other third party handlers when it comes to online purchases. As it is, my belief in them is waning. I'm OK with hiccups, these happen all the time & not exclusive to the postal service. I'm a very reasonable person because I believe in any commercial transactions, there is a human element in it & keeping it cordial & sensible is the way to go. However, if your standards are rotten I foresee others receiving the same festering treatment in similar circumstances, then I make it a point to expose you. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Schecter 2016: KM Mk II

Over at the Schecter camp, one of the 2016 updates is this Keith Merrow model. Unlike its predecessors, this MK-II version sports a more agreeable finish, nothing too striking or threatening to glow in the dark. Pickups remain passive- they are the Seymour Duncan Nazgul (b)/ Sentient (n) pairing. There is a very calming visual overview here but we know what it's capable of.


Friday, January 8, 2016

PRS 2016: Bolt (-on) return

About a decade ago, PRS removed the bolt-on CE models from its catalogs & we lived by the PRS staples knowing what the manufacturer is renowned for- their set-in construction. This 2016, the CE-24 is revived with an added touch- a slimmer body, much trimmed compared to its predecessors. I believe this is enough enticement to make us check them out. Once they get here, of course.

Ibanez 2016: The return of slim

I'm glad this happened- the return of the AGS model. Not too long ago, Ibanez had the AGS model going to a much reserved reception. Semi-hollow purists are not quite interested in embracing this one in particular because of the much slimmer body. I was interested back then because the AGS is one of the very few semis with a neck-body joint at the 17th fret unlike other selections which observes this at the 15th. Let's just say that some interests have been re-kindled.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

ESP/ LTD 2016: Fanned

Into the bandwagon- LTD has a fanned fret model for all ye bottom feeder this year, the LTD B-1004SE. Some manufacturers are joining the race a little later than the rest but it's better something than nothing at all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

EHX: Lesters

Great rotary speaker effects from EHX. That's right, you keyboard folks get one too. The good thing about the guitar version (Lester G) is that it includes a drive feature so if this sits at the final position in your effects chain, you can use it to boost your drive/ distortion.

Monday, January 4, 2016

EBMM: Stingray guitar

Before 2015 ended, the folks at EBMM had this to share for 2016- the Stingray guitar. That Stingray monicker is often associated with the manufacturer's bass but there was a Stingray guitar in the midst of all that.

If you have to know, the Stingray back then looked like this. The current Stingray pretty much retained the crucial aspects but the headstock outline remains to be contemporary.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


I'm currently in a Dio fix. Which metal vocalist out there possesses a formidable vocal range, relentless intensity & 100% commitment on record & live performances? I have to give it to Dio but sadly, the man took his vocal credentials with him upon his passing half a decade ago. I was listening to Black Sabbath in the bus & was thinking Osbourne's vocals were over-hyped. It was unique but to me it was blown out of proportions in terms of greatness. So the search for other Black Sabbath vocalists took effect & Dio was easily on top of the list (Tony Martin was a close second). I find this very inspiring; Dio had no vocal lessons. He grew up on a healthy serving of the opera; this was his so called institution of vocal control- carefully listening to how the range was manipulated. Add to this his trumpet-playing days which taught him vocal projection. Awesome!

Ibanez 2016: Singlecut SR

The inevitable happened; the singlecut bass design has now trickled down to the SR series. This SR is a new member of the Bass Workshop tinkering by Ibanez. So the singlecut idea for the BTB worked & it's now manifested in the SR range. I'm still frustrated they have no 4-string showcase for it.

Ibanez 2016: More ironing

Ibanez came up with the Iron Label models in 2014 to much fanfare. These instruments were touted to be no-frills models equipped to maximize your distortion tolerance. However, it's unclear if the Iron Label category itself serves to be a series of its own or mere variation of existing models. Despite being an Ibanez fan, I personally find the Iron Label misleading & unnecessary especially so when the manufacturer added visual considerations to mark the price up (RGIX20 is an example). So we have Iron Label models costing more than Premium models & the lower tier Prestige selections; it's confusing & just doesn't make sense.

Seeing what Ibanez offers this year it seems that the Iron Label camp is here to stay but with a little twist; active electronics are non-obligatory features. The new member here is an RGD (so the RGD joins the Iron Label series) with a stunning finish but we know this isn't the first, conceptually. It's good to see a maple fretboard making its way into standard production.

And a 7-string version if you think an extended scale length just doesn't get you low enough.

If an extended scale length is not your thing, then be informed that the RGA models are in this Iron Label twist as well. Both the RGA & RGD feature DiMarzio Fusion Twist pickups. Good because you get quality tone for the money. Not so good because it will factor into the price.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

ESP/ LTD 2016: Headstock

Up till 2015, this was the headstock design of LTD's TE model.

With effect from this year, we note the slight change in the headstock outline. Glad to see the TEs are now manifested in a dual humbucking option.

Ibanez 2016: Mini update

That's right folks, following the success of its Tube Screamer mini, here are 3 more mini pedals from Ibanez this 2016. That Super Metal is calling to me...

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ibanez 2016: Titan 7

The Ibanez camp 2016 update: Jake Bowen gets a 7-string this year. I'm not even a fan of Periphery but Ibanez took a step back here despite an extra string in there- 1. Fretboard is now rosewood (it's ebony on the 6-string version) 2. EZ-II bridge (a Lo-Pro in the 6). It's not gonna affect me too much, though; I don't buy signature models :-)

ESP/ LTD 2016

Many good stuff to look forward to in the ESP 2016 camp. To start off, the manufacturer had included some fresh colours for the LTD 400 models, maple fretboard for some as well.