Monday, February 29, 2016

Mini black

Rounding up the February- it looks like the good people of Korg had been listening to players who wished for a pedalboard-friendly version of their beloved pedal tuner so we have this Pitchblack mini to be thankful for. It's everything the PB has to offer but in a compact serving. What I really like is the fact that it can still run on battery- awesome! Promo clip here:

On that note (forgive the pun), here's wishing everyone a great March ahead. Enjoy this 29th February, make it memorable (try your best).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Singlecut attraction

Ibanez did the BTB version last year so this SR version for 2016 is simply gorgeous. Do check it out at Swee Lee (available now): $1,379 (list) Waiting for the 4-string version :-)

Subtle protection

I've been strumming more lately so the beloved Takamine gets a removable pickguard. This is a subtle addition to ensure the longevity of my instrument. The things you do for your possessions define you.

The final Sunday of the month. Time flies but I prefer it that way :-)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

SV Guitars: J Cube SALE (recommendation)

It looks a little menacing but it's something you shouldn't ignore if you are looking for an instrument on a budget. This SG-type guitar by Tone Drive is a very playable instrument especially if you have a healthy dose of distortion going. I'd recommend this to newbies as it retains tuning well & offers very good upper fret access should you be adventurous during practice time. For the rest of us in need of a back-up if our number one fails, this one's as good as it gets, all for a mere $120 (SALE).

PS: Thanks, Mike, for the pic :-)

El-cheapo (2)

Another bottom feeder acquisition ($45) but I must say this one was in a more desirable condition than the last, especially so when the fret board is wood, not some synthetic substitute. I've played Aria acoustics before, I trust their craftsmanship at this price point. The stickers are there to cover some light dents. The fact that there are more than one there implies susceptibility at that area so prevention is rather necessary. This guitar was, in my opinion, played & then left unattended. Its bagless nature would imply external knocks while the instrument was at rest, more so than careless handling. The neck was warped at the time of purchase but I have faith in guitars with truss rods & this one was successfully rectified.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dark departure

Despite being a very desirable & ferocious amp, the Orange Dark Terror was sold off just days ago. It's nothing my Marshall JVM couldn't cover so no love lost there.

Ibanez mini pedals @ Swee Lee

If you are looking forward to try these little wonders, they are now available at Swee Lee (List: $149 ea).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

EVH 5150 III- gone micro

You know the Marshall MS-2, yes? That pocket novelty that's not quite propelling the Marshall goodness but it's there & it's selling. The EVH 5150 III Micro Stack is nothing too different. I'm reserving further opinion here for other opportunities- if there's any to begin with because there's no EVH dealer here. Right now, in my books, nothing beats Blackstar's FLY 3 amp in term of a pocket offering that is staying true to a guitar performance & not an excessive table top decor.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SV Guitars: SALE

Happening tomorrow @ SV Guitar's J Cube outlet. More updates soon.

Thermal top

I seldom mention acoustics here as I'm solid body inclined. Acoustic  guitars are a little struggle for me. Anyway, this year, Takamine has the thermal top models to offer.

As the name implies, the instruments' top material had been temperature treated to get rid of the moisture & relieved it of some weight as such. The manufacturer claims this is akin to what aged instruments have gone through over time; the latent moisture in the wood had dried up & we get that very sweet, balanced tone. 

Seen here are just 2 of the range on offer, the CP7MO & the cutaway EF450C.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fender: Paramount parlor

In addition to the solid bodies this NAMM, Fender released some acoustic models as well- the Pramount series. The model you see here is a member of the Paramount range, it's a parlor type cutting so seeing it as a 'smaller' guitar isn't a strange thing.

If there's something sorely missing from the Fender acoustic range, then it's the parlor models. The Deluxe version seen here is a full solid model featuring an ebony finger board. Look forward to see them at the stores.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Orange: Dark Terror

Greetings, guitar minions. Welcome to the dark territory where doom & gloom prevails. Other tone considerations are discussed elsewhere. Let's get to the matter immediately.

Construction/ Fit/ Features.    
Orange's Dark Terror is a variant of its highly successful Tiny Terror model. That 'terror' label invokes images of foreboding overdrive but the Tiny Terror in its default form is more a menace than a terror outfit. This is the reason why the manufacturer ventured into darker territories with the Dark Terror (DT). The amp (head) manifests a no-frills construction & every joint, screw & nut were well in place so an issue of shoddiness is not a subject here. The amp handle, in my opinion, would benefit from a folding design so it could be tucked away nicely once the amp is put in place. The covering feature enough ventilation slots for heat to escape because in operation, things get rather too hot to handle & a healthy heat dissipation would ensure equipment longevity in this case. 

The DT is a single channel amp. Clean tones are virtually non-existent. This is a very singular offering because the amp offers nothing else to the player but terror distortion. Tone shaping is also limited by the 'SHAPE' control, you can indirectly sculpt your tone via the volume & gain options as well. In fact, a wattage change would also result in some tonal differences. Over at the rear, the DT offers a loop feature so your non-drive type pedals are best hooked up here.

There is no other objective of purchasing this amp than to embrace drive intensity. The DT has plenty to offer but cleans- you have to significantly lower your guitar volume plus the amp's gain & maybe not hit your strings too hard. An instant clean gratification is unavailable here. It is only an issue if you are confused as to what the DT is about to begin with. With that said, you would have been looking at other amps with a dedicated clean section. 

In lieu of the absent EQ controls, the SHAPE feature offers the player some tone shaping indeed but it's limited to the preset tweaks. You get a bass-inclined tone, some scooped midrange alternative & an accentuated top end once you fully turned the knob clockwise. As mentioned, the gain & volume play a role in some tone shaping. The gain is by far a rather straightforward shaping feature but limiting it towards nought does not give you a clean output. The volume control somehow accentuates top end fizz once dialled up. This is more pronounced at the higher wattage selection.

The DT is excellent with a 6-string guitar. It sounds fuzzy with lower notes pumped into it, you might want to re-consider matching this with your 8-string guitar. With that said, one can get some of the best doom fuzz with this amp- Black Sabbath & beyond. But maybe not a good implement if you are going the way of Animals as Leaders. Neck pickups aren't quite clearly heard at higher gain levels but the bridge pickup thrives in any (dare I say 'all') settings. The DT simply loves active pickups. Enough said.

What is the DT all about? It's anger manifestation. Lots of it. But that anger sounds too familiar. It sounds dangerously close to a certain other British brand name which is arguably more identifiable  than this DT shriek. I would say that the DT is treading on dangerous grounds. I would personally embrace the Tiny Terror as a more fitting Orange tone representative than the DT but we are dealing with a vast gain difference between these two amps. If you are into lots of angry drive with no regrets of not having cleans on board, this is highly recommended.

Rating: 75%

Sale: $755 $519 (Yamaha 50th Anniversary Sale)

Would you (2)?

This isn't my guitar but you can check I own a similar model (based on the common features depicted here). It's listing for $1.6K (Update as at 2 March: $1.1K)...

It's again none of my business how much you list your prized instrument for, but:

  1. There is a probability someone else out there owns one & they know that your instrument isn't worth your asking price.
  2. If you have pictorial documents to help you sell your stuff- good for you. However, there are others out there who know you did not fully disclose some details so it's a matter of time (you'd be exposed & this will affect your reputation). Eg: The bridge in this guitar isn't an original model.
  3. Please leave a disclaimer for details you are unsure of. For instance, the 'CUSTOM MADE' inlay there in the fret board doesn't mean this guitar is equipped with a custom neck. If you are more forthcoming with such details, people will, at the very least, respect you for your efforts.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Yamaha SALE: Recommendations (4)

You & I are discerning guitar players, yes? We don't do wimpy tones. Too many digital modelling amps out there feature details claiming to nail some of the classic amp tones but they fall short when dynamics are concerned. The Yamaha THR10C is a worthy modeller to check out. Never mind if the modelling details were not nailed down to a tee at times but the overall tones on offer are likeable & convincing. More importantly, you get a very decent desktop amp for the money & not a compromising practice unit.

SALE: $449 $224

Terror acquisition

Was at Yamaha sale (Plaza Singapura branch). There was a queue at the entrance, it was past 7.00pm- I just wanted to see what's worth grabbing. This was unplanned but it's worth the trouble.

Majority of the items were boxed up & ready for payment. Absolutely no trying, the store was crowded. 

There was this fat lady in black at the entrance vicinity telling her temporary employees to take turns when they leave for dinner break, or else she will cut their pay. My message to all employers/ supervisors/ managers out there- do not degrade your workers in the presence of a crowd. It shows how emotionally handicapped you are. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Premium Gilbert

This is one of the Ibanez newbies worth mentioning (now in stock @ Swee Lee); Paul Gilbert's PGM80P. 2 quirks quite removed from the usual PG preference: 1) Non-locking whammy bridge 2) 22 frets.

I deem this as a souped up RG which may/ may not possess the PG details players love to own. Nevertheless, it's a super player in terms of feel & tone (DiMarzio pickups), a very enjoyable experience for sure. Check out those Strat-ty tones in the middle pickup, we have the ash body to attribute that to.

List: $1,749.00


I have these to thank for a song completion earlier today:

  • Takamine GY93E: My only acoustic left in the house. Not a big acoustic fan but it helps to open up perspective every now & then. 
  • Korg KR Mini: Responsible for keeping time more than anything else. However, the type of rhythm accompanying your guitar moments, helps trigger ideas & arrangements.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Yamaha SALE: Recommendations (3)

What's a Yamaha sale without mentioning a Yamaha bass, yes? In fact, I find Yamaha basses more appealing than their guitars. The BB series of basses are hard to beat in terms of value-for-money. It's arguably a very full-sounding bass without cutting too much corners. At a glance, you won't even notice the budget appointments because these instruments are really well manufactured. The most affordable BB bass on sale will be this BB424.In need of a reliable work horse? Check this one out.

SALE: $599 $419

On that note (forgive the pun), do consider this Billy Sheehan version (BB714) for a souped up tone experience (note the Attitude type pickup configuration).

SALE: $999 $699

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Yamaha SALE: Recommendations (2)

You know me- I have limited interest in acoustic guitars. I would mention those outstanding ones every now & then; this is one such guitar. The Yamaha APX models are great value-for-money instruments with a trimmed down top shoulder so if you strap it up a little higher (some of us do that), it'd be equally comfortable as playing it sitting down. The trimmed down specs don't compromise the great acoustic resonance as well but mind you, this isn't a grand orchestra to begin with. Also, the APX is one of the most worthy acoustic to be set up for some tasty shred work. That's right, low action, lots of speed, great playability. Since it's a sale anyway, I'd say you consider the 700 as it sports a solid top unlike its other lower-series siblings.

SALE: $679 $543

Let's understand what a good APX could do, I'll leave you with Antonio Forcione:

Evo cheapo

Another bottom feeder acquisition- Evo brand acoustic. I note with due concern the fact that majority of el-cheapo guitars are equipped with non-wood fretboard. Proof- once scratched, it revealed a non-wood material. This is in a fairly good condition, in fact, it's worth the $50 asking price. It was largely unplayed; no dings on the body/ neck/ headstock. Came with a bag & strap as well. This is currently keeping me occupied in the office.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

PRS SE: Lifeson's Angelus

This one's in at Davis GMC- the PRS SE Alex Lifeson signature acoustic. The good thing- the guitar features a slightly thinner body so those struggling to handle a standard depth acoustic, this is one to check out.

Yamaha SALE: Recommendations (1)

Yamaha is relatively known for its Pacifica range of guitars but this one here, the RGX A2 is a wonderful player. The purists would dismiss it for its virtually empty body but it was conceived to be such a guitar- a lightweight player with midrange accentuation. Also, the pickup selector is a knob so getting a quick flick ala Malmsteen is virtually non-existent. Those barrel type tuners might not be your thing either. Recommended for those of us who don't mind having something different but nothing too alien.

SALE: $789 $631

Coming back to the Pacifica consideration, it is indeed one of the best value-for-money instruments out there. Yes, it's well beyond its glam heyday but the PAC112VMX seen above is a highly recommended model for a no-nonsense performance. Yes, the PAC112 is available in other solid colours as well.

SALE: $429 $299

PS: Sound Alchemy is also a participant in this SALE event, please call to check if they have the specific model you wish for.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Star in

FYI- the new Yamaha Revstar models are in store if you wish to 'test-drive' :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Yamaha SALE

This might be of interest to you (especially those with fat hong baos stashed away somewhere). I'd be recommending some stuff along the way. Participating outlets- Plaza Singapura, Thomson Plaza & Westgate. Watch this space. :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ibanez: Iron ash (Part 1)

First for 2016- Ibanez RGDIX7M. If the manufacturer's intent was to steal the show with visual attraction, this was a highly successful outcome. The instrument was made to manifest a very pleasant physique, even the lack of gloss overcoat did not bother the buyer much (at least true for yours truly, in fact, he prefers an organic satin finish any time). The tinted top there is a poplar cap which is absolutely negligible if you think it was going to contribute to any tone performances. The idea of masking the flat top with a different wood type isn't new; Carvin/ Kiesel was there, they've done that. From an up close perspective, this isn't a costly manufacturing procedure, the reason why this guitar is neither a Premium nor a Prestige offering.

Flip side look- an absolutely normal guitar. Ash grains, maple neck- a good colour combo for a 'pleasant' visual encounter. FYI, the RGD sports a longer scale length of 26.5" so it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Friday, February 12, 2016


This was a bad one.

I am currently acquiring budget guitars to keep kids occupied & away from trouble after school hours. I chanced upon this online, was going for cheap so I bought it.

The instrument's neck was warped but the real nightmare- no truss rod for adjustments. Darn. The strings were corroded & a re-string revealed chipped nuts. Bridge pins won't stay put as well, kept popping out during tuning. Only 3 were functional. The tuners seemed OK till the low E was tuned- it stopped working after a few turns. 

Considering I would be spending more than the instrument's asking price to rectify the issues, this guitar was trashed.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Delay-ducation (3)

Our next delay discussion is by far the most contemporary preference- the digital delay (DD).

Unlike the analog sibling the DD is devoid of signal deterioration upon repetition. What you hear deteriorating is the signal volume & this is the very reason why those ol' timers would tell you the DD is devoid of 'warmth' (as understood on Ep. 2). However, the great advantage here is the fact that DD allows the user to enjoy longer delay intervals so the player's delay output is not strictly limited by the device un-tweakable capacity but what he/ she is able to dial in. The other editable parameters include delay depth & number of repeats (among others). This means the modern delay unit is also able to re-create ambience in addition to mere repetitions. The fact that the DD involves a good serving of programming, it costs more than the average analog version & consumes battery more rapidly as well. The learned among us will invest in a good power adapter for our beloved DD pedal which makes more sense here.

Some recommendations
BOSS is arguably the leading name in DD for its simplicity & effective applications. Despite perpetual re-design, the DD-3 remains to be the manufacturer's landmark unit & it's no wonder that the pedal is being preserved in its catalogs till today. Yours truly here keeps coming back to the DD-3 after countless flirtations with other units. The current additions to BOSS' DD models include the DD-7 & the other-worldly DD-500 (the latest addition, 2015).

If you wish for a more updated DD design without losing footing in your guitar focus, check out Strymon's El Capistan pedal. Some of the lushest DD tones can be had here but if you wish for a simpler Strymon philosophy, the DIG model should be it. Please note that the Strymon brand name isn't the most affordable out there but it's good for the money.

There are players out there who wouldn't mind access & some programming/storage capabilities in their DD pedals. Not too long ago, the standard to beat in this category (at least in my books) is Vox's Delaylab. However, the good people of Korg had re-introduced their wonderful SDD-3000. The SDD-3000 is a legend per se that started off as a rack mount unit. Excess here is a little under-statement, you get MIDI feature, panning, note values differentiation, etc... plus the fact that it's a true bypass unit.

To be concluded...

Link to Episode 1: CLICK
Link to Episode 2: CLICK

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Weeding them out

Good day ladies & gentlemen. In this little episode, I'd like to highlight some of the unbecoming behaviour of netizens in buy-sell engagements. Some of the situations mentioned might strike a little chord with you which proves that such incorrigible pedigree are largely recalcitrants who require some ethic pointers. Here we go.

Can nego?
More often than not, once you specified a final price for your item, there would be a sizeable number of morons who think it's still negotiable price-wise. They are trying their luck. In any case, a gambling den would be a more apt place for doing just that. Joining the 4D queue would be another option. Please understand the term 'final'.

You are so far away...
In attempt to segue into another negotiating segment, buyers would cite proximity as an issue. These are the very people who don't mind going to the guitar store located far away in the commercial district rather than travel to your specified meeting venues which are very much nearer. I have ever travelled for 40min just to sell a $30 item because I am a nice guy who respects the buyer's acquisition urgency. I did this for too may times already, maybe it's time for me to stop & let others suffer (a little bit).

I'm doing you a favour
The other sneaky, below-the-belt citation for price reductions- the buyer telling you he's doing you a huge favour by helping you clear your long overdue items. Dear friends, if your listed items take a little longer to clear, please understand it's a demand-supply situation. Do not yield to ridiculous offers just to feel relieved in clearing that space-robbing item of yours. The real relief is that sensation when one finally gets to pee after holding it in the bladder for too long. Nothing else is relief-worthy. Please give it some thought.

I pay you half first, we settle the remainder later.
Instalment plan- was this a consideration you specified? In my honest opinion, only sizeable cash transactions are worthy of such a gesture. That's probably because there is an interest consideration in there to compensate your waiting. For such minor transactions, it's simply not worth it. In any case, it's a real assessment of how credit-worthy your potential buyers are.

So expensive, no ________________ (fill in expected accessory)?
There are also dweebs who think you owe them more than just the sale item per se just because they paid a 'premium' for your branded product. This is a sheer case of ignorance. For instance, some Les Pauls (yes, the American ones) don't come with a hard case. The buyer will provoke you into some price reconsiderations since it was below his expectations. If one buys a Rolex watch, it's so costly, it's supposed to come with a spare battery, no?

All in all, I believe the average online buyer is a lazy chum, he couldn't bring himself to click the details of your sale items. The tittle of your ad is to them a very comprehensive guideline of what you have put up for sale. They get offended when you reiterate the fact that his queries were all addressed in the ad details. They will mark you down as unreasonable for ignoring their queries as well but ignoring such people is indeed the right thing to do. These people have only themselves to blame for misunderstandings & further provocations; poor self-awareness, that's all there is to it.

Cyberspace is a gift to mankind & in a learned context, it should foster good relationships between individuals. If you think you can get away with being anonymous online, your wayward ways will catch up with you in due time. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Would you? (Part 2)

This RG is a Premium model, made in Indonesia.

Its sibling here is a Japanese Prestige model.

Both guitars are sporting the same price tag, which one would you choose?

It's none of my business to keep guitar prices in check (distributors are free to mark their own price tags accordingly) but the RG1570 is a tier above the RG970 & would easily be a preferred choice in terms of standings & arguably, features. Why is the RG970 priced as much? Since the instrument was manufactured in Indonesia, shouldn't it be priced more competitively? Is the wenge/bubinga used for the RG970 hiking the price up?

We should also note the fact that the RG1570 is a discontinued model & should be priced to clear. Why are distributors reluctant to give reasonable discounts for discontinued models? What are the plus factors of keeping discontinued models considering the fact that some of the instrument parts/ features are extinct & no direct replacements are available off the shelves? You'd mention the fact that some discontinued models become prized inventories but I'd remind you the fact that demand/ supply factors are not always dictating this. 

On a personal observation, I notice American & European stores do not hoard discontinued models in general. They make it a point to clear out of production instruments & offer attractive discounts. I would say this is a positive practice. Once older inventories are cleared, that very same space can be used to store newer models, the ones which possess a greater probability of being sold. Also, that extra room would allow distributors to accommodate a more extensive selection of instruments, this way, buyers would be exposed to the real range in the manufacturer's offerings; not all Ibanez instruments available at the manufacturer's website make it to the store, for instance.

Business figures still over-ride real commercial enthusiasm, that's basically the bottom line.

Would you?

Would you buy this Ibanez AS73 for $888 (huat ah!) when you can get one brand new for $589? What's that? There's a hard case included for the price, so it would account for a $300 price difference? Hmm...

Star relic

Ibanez has these to offer for 2016- the Artstar Vintage models.

We know it's nothing fresh in terms of ideas & we note that Ibanez did not offer relic/ vintage selections in its other models. In my opinion- not a good move. The Ibanez brand wasn't one to be known for its relic or road worn feel. Wouldn't be surprised if they are discontinued next year because all this relic business reeks of novelty more than value-for-money. What fans want  from Ibanez in the mean time is the re-issue of those glorious '80s models. Bringing back the Talman- now, that's a good move.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Broderick's hard tail

This is Chris Broderick's 'new' Jackson for 2016- the Soloist HT6 (7-string version available). You guessed it, a non-whammy version of his signature guitar. The hard tail here is a little unique because it's a top load model meaning, no string goes through the body. At this age, I appreciate non-whammy guitars more due to its hassle free nature when it comes to re-string & tuning.

Primate greetings

Lunar New Year greetings to all! Enjoy the break, expect some monkey business along the way.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Iron through

In case you missed it, the Iron Series Ibanez RG now has a 7-string through neck version for 2016- RGIT27FET. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Singlecut SR4!

This is definitely good news- Ibanez will be releasing the 4-string version of its SR Singlecut bass, the SRSC800. On my list, definitely.

Gone green

Green is good.

So green it is.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Worthy traveler

Traveler guitars teamed up with ESP last year to have this out- the EC-1.

It's a trimmed down Eclipse; head(stock)less & a shrunken body all round. However, the strength lies in the fact that the guitar retained its 24.75" scale length. This effectively means that it won't wimp out in terms of playability & tone. I've gone through some 'junior' size guitars & those instruments felt compromised in terms of playability & intonation. If this makes it here then it's likely to go into my 'to check' list. Let's hear it in action:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Rockett wonders

I had a good encounter with J. Rockett pedals in 2015. This year, we have some new ones to check out, four of them are seen here (they are the boost/ drive types, the fuzzes & other modulation models are omitted). Particularly enticing is that Lenny model with the unmistakable hat print (you know who, yes?). Looking forward to the GTO as well despite it being an under drive; I think I can live with a saturated clean tone, then again, with so much saturation, it would cease being a clean interpretation per se. Hoping this quartet will make it here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Junior tweakers

I know there is an Amptweaker following here. The gripe with many owners is simply the dimensions of these pedals (the Pro versions). While we embrace the pedal's array of thoughtful features (noise gate, boost, loop etc.), these take up precious space at our boards but this year, the pedals are offered in Jr sizes. There is therefore no excuse not to check them out. 

Offset/ upset?

A recent release, this one, you might have seen it.

Not a totally different design, this one, you might have known it. It's a Telecaster. That's right, it's not a Jaguar but a Tele. A limited edition release by Fender. I see this as a classic case of designer mental block.

Wonder what this one will be called...