Saturday, April 30, 2016


This guitar is currently being sold for cheap due to its 'slight' neck crack. Do take a look at the picture, the crack is rather serious. It's nothing 'slight' at all. If you choose to move on with thicker strings for instance, the increased tension might widen the crack. Just giving you chaps a heads up when dealing with such damaged items. Please be more mindful of the repair/restoration costs ahead instead of the current price enticement.

Friday, April 29, 2016


Another VFE pedal in the mail yesterday- the Dragon Hound. It's a double distortion unit (A/P) which run in parallel mode. What you get is 2 voicings working together in tandem instead of one being cascaded into another.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


I'm not rubbing salt into anyone's wound. I'm in fact going through a withdrawal syndrome till there is something comprehensive to address my switch from Gravity picks to another preferred brand name. I have a used Gravity pick seen above which was brought out for an A-B comparison against a V-Pick also seen here. While the Gravity appealed to me in terms of tone, the V-Pick is preferred in terms of feel. There's no issue ordering a personal Gravity pick from the online store, the V-Pick has no such option. Hmm...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

LTD ST: The end

If you head over to ESP's homepage, you won't find any more LTD ST models listed there. In fact, the entire series had been removed from the catalogs. The model you see here is the ST-213, it's about the price of a Mexican Strat but I prefer the workmanship & feel over a Mex Strat, not to mention its value-for-money manifestations.

The only Strat-like model left in the LTD pages is this Snapper SN-200 but as you can see, the headstock is a little quirky & the body outline is less convincing compared to its ST counterpart. Of course, one less knob as well.

If you wish to salvage what's left of the STs, Davis GMC still has some models left & they are all in awesome condition.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Morse Code

I look up to people who are endowed with expert knowledge but always work within the limits of humility. The worst of people are the ones who imply themselves to be a knowledge source & tread the grounds with snobbery only for them to be proven wrong- pride before the fall.

One such person is Steve Morse. He is a very humble player who maintains a perfect balance of internal & external perspectives. At the end of it all, he makes it a point to better himself for the greater purpose. I'd like to share some anecdotes which I've embraced & I believe these are common references we all could relate to in making ourselves a better person (not just a better player). Steve More's quotes are in blue, so here goes.

1. People say they can identify my playing. I find this important because we tend to start off by emulating our heroes. We impress others this way but it's a better part of copying than being true to ourselves. The guitar is our paint brush; do we copy other paintings or take pride in being able to paint our own pictures? Yes, we adopt what we learn but that has to be the limit.

2. I'm a replaceable cog in the wheel. Literally anybody else could be in the same position as I am. For many of us who have made it to the top (whatever top means to you), we tend to forget that there are others out there who equal our abilities or even surpass our expertise. When it comes to a knowledge-based discipline, every moment is a learning moment. Learning is limitless. We learn from everyone even from those who we deem to be of a lesser qualification than us. As long as there's a gap in our knowledge base pertaining to anything at all, it reduces us to a learner status.

3. ... my right hand is now becoming an issue, as things wear down & don't work right any more. ... It's forcing me to look at other ways of doing things. For many of us who ply our trade on a daily basis, one of our greatest fear is loss. This will make us a lesser person & reduces our abilities greatly.  Soldiers who lost their limbs, musicians who lost their hearing, the list goes on. As human beings, losses will slowly & surely occur. It's unpreventable but we can work our way round it firstly by accepting the limitations & secondly by changing our ways. More often than not, we don't make it a point to accept changes, we have no contingencies to deal with changes. We are not ready. So in life, whatever our professions, we need to be ready when changes come crashing on us. We get ready now, not when the situation becomes dire. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

UTA Varicap cable

If you are into capacitor variance to influence subtle tone changes, this might interest you. The UTA Vari-Cap cable is equipped with a capacitance change knob so you can hear tonal differences, hear it here:

Vari-Cap- QUICK OVERVIEW from Undertone Audio on Vimeo.

My concern here is that switching device itself, it gets in the way if you wish to loop it into the strap gap at the body end & it's not proximate enough for an easy reach. It's also costly- almost USD100.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ihsahn: Hello from the Aristides

Looks like it's another major departure quake over at the Ibanez camp as Ihsahn joins the Aristide contingent. It speaks volumes about the manufacturer & their commitments to certain acts as artistes are struck off the roster. I do not wish to dwell upon the unknown but wish Ihsahn all the best in his musical journey. He's lethal with whatever guitars he plays. 

Mooergan it

If you think EHX is the only party in the mean time to offer the world guitar-friendly pedals which emulate cool organ/synth sounds, then check this Mooer out. It's sheepishly called the Mooergan but it does a fine job in the organ tone emulation. The following clip here puts the pedal in action but I hear some gated signals along the way. Reserving further comments till I personally hear it in action:

Saturday, April 23, 2016


It is heartening to know that Abbath is still in the industry despite the acrimonious end to Immortal. This isn't a first, lest we forget, 'I' was there to testify the fact that he's more than capable of going solo. His self-tittled new conviction isn't a complete departure to all things black metal especially so when his approach to the music remains the same. There's nothing to look forward to in the 'refreshing' dimension but fans are more than flipping happy to hear a more combative extension to the Immortal materials. From a very finite perspective, this is indeed Immortal in another guise (OK so there's an Immortal cover in there as well). I've been listening to this release for two weeks both at home & during the commute home. There's this feeling of pursuance at the end of the final track, this isn't a full stop, definitely. But by the time you read this, drummer, Creature (Kevin Foley), had left the band. So there's anxiety in the air as we await Abbath's subsequent release.

Valeton: Dapper

I have plans to get my hands on this Valeton Dapper 4-in-1 effects unit. It's quite different from a multi-FX unit as it's really re-housing the individual pedals in a single serving. It's also limited in it's presentation as the user is strictly not able to re-order the effects but the upside to it is the effects loop feature which allows you to have some add-ons if you think your life depends on other externals. The Dapper also has a cabinet simulator switch if you choose to plug this directly into your computer; definitely a great consideration for live performers. The following video lets you hear the Dapper in its amp-free glory:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Paul Waggoner

For your consideration. I personally enjoy clinics more than shows; I need the education. Admission is free but you need to register (head over to the Swee Lee's homepage for more details).

Junior in the house

I had a good episode with VFE's Mermaid pedal, this one was on sale so... :-) Update to come.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oh, so that's it...

If you visit ESP's Japan webpage, you'd see the Schecter link there & you'd wonder why one guitar manufacturer would want to propel the reputation of another. Maybe it doesn't occur to many of us that they are related.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


If everything goes well, I might just settle with V-picks. I'm more at home playing picks with center indentations or holes drilled into them. Gonna try the Euro models next, trying not to return to the Stubby.

Monday, April 18, 2016

This happened (thanks, Swee Lee)

This guitar had been featured here for a while. It's not new, it had even gone through pickups replacement. This guitar was a pleasant surprise. Here's why.

I received a call from Swee Lee a couple of weeks ago. The company's rep, a Mr. Faizal from the Bras Basah showroom (now presiding over matters at the Katong branch) asked if I would oblige an interview with them. All I need to do was be at the stated venue on the agreed date & time for the occasion & talk. That was simple enough. I wondered what it was all about & frankly I was expecting the worst since I was engaged in some Ibanez bashing right here at this blog, just some days prior to the meet up. In any case, I have nothing to hide, I was not slandering any parties & I was duly highlighting factual circumstances pertaining to some issues.

On the meet-up day, we made ourselves comfortable at Swee Lee's Bras Basah audition room- yes, that glass room full of Ibanez & Gibson upper tier models. It was a pleasant chit chat, Swee Lee just wanted to know a little bit more about myself & what made me go this far when it comes to the electric guitar. Swee Lee had been following my blog (sort of) & noted that more than 50% of what I own were instruments from them. I reminded them that my blog is a non-partisan online diary with some very emotionally charged comments at times. Also, I'm not a schooled player, my forte is product appraisal & that's what I take pride in. They understood that I have the right to opine on the circumstances & were appreciative that many entries over the years mentioned positive remarks about their business.

At the end of it all, the Ibanez Talman TM302 seen here was presented to me as a token of recognition & appreciation for my efforts & they look forward to some collaborations in time to come. So I guess, being true to myself paid off. All this guitar excess is really a personal passion that got carried away. If you are a passionate individual out there looking to make a difference, keep the fire burning because passion changes the world; everything else is a half-baked pastime. My astronomical thanks to Swee Lee; looking forward to working with you guys indeed. Cheers!

Sunday, April 17, 2016


This is a $20 consideration- having an all-in-one tool with you when you are out & about or just making do with the loose default ones that came with the instrument upon purchase. I've been using it for about a week now & found that I used some of the components more than the rest (more on this soon). 

Ibanez MTZ11: Multi-tool for guitar
Availability: Swee Lee Co.
Price: $19.99

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Flying bass

Many of us are impressed with Blackstar's FLY 3 amp; the most un-desktop amp out there in a desktop amp format. This year, Blackstar released the bass version of this wonderful amp, it just debuted at Musikmesse 2016 & should be in the stores soon. Looking forward, definitely.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lil' hot

The weather- it's been a little too hot lately. I suspect even my cat is affected by the heat. But really, I'm talking about my Ibanez Talman TM302 here which is a little hot as well, as in: 

  • Bridge: Lil' 59 (ST59-1)
  • Neck: Hot Tele (STR-2)
The Lil' 59 is a little hotter than its full humbucker counterpart & doesn't sound as scooped; that's what I like about it. The STR-2 is really an overwound pickup with the right amount of poke & warmth, nothing too 'hot' as suggested by the label. Paired up, I get the benefit of a hum-cancelling bridge pickup so tremendous amount of drive isn't an issue here. This one retains its inherent '59 voicing- a good PAF tone without the charged character of a modern pickup. The STR-2 has no issue keeping up with the '59 in terms of voicing; it's as biting but stays put in its single coil territory. It's also very dependable in clean mode. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016


As at lunchtime today, it's USD1 = SGD1.3645. The government here is responsible for this depreciation, the specifics of which can be read in the news.

I'm not a financial analyst, I don't wish to engage in any speculations either. But this is for sure- I'm shelving plans to proceed with a Fender-Japan order. I'm holding out against the acquisition of new effects pedal; I have a few on the list. I'll be making lesser trips to the guitar stores for the rest of the month as well; no use auditioning gear which you don't end up buying.

You might say it's only a little hit to the coffers, it's still not cracked. That's true but it's a tremendous hit to spending power especially to individuals with housing loans to clear, family members to feed & vehicles to maintain. The powers that be is effecting this for the best interest of the local economy, it's a calculated preventive measure. Whatever it is, it's a tampering of market forces which will manifest in consequences. It's a matter of time.

ISP Pro Theta... waiting

The ISP Pro Theta was first mentioned here: CLICK

I definitely have plans to get this one as opposed an AXE FX, especially when Master Holdsworth here was seen giving it a definite thumbs up. In the mean time, some convincing:


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Duncanized: Ibanez Talman

Ibanez Talman TM302 got its first make over last weekend.

A new set of pickups: Seymour Duncan Hot Rhythm (N)/ Lil '59 (B). A fresh set of D'Addario while I'm at it. FYI, the half rounds are to tame the brightness; the reason why many jazz players specify flat wounds or half-flats for their guitars. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

D'Addario: True to form

I bought this pack of D'Addario strings in October 2015. I have left it in one of my guitar bags & had totally forgotten of its existence ever since. FYI, this is how I misplaced many of my guitar related items. Anyway, I found it yesterday & was impressed by the stain-free & rust-free condition of the strings. Not to sing excessive praise to D'Addario but the manufacturer promised a protected environment by placing the product in a sealed packaging & this proved to be just the case. So, my trust in D'Addario strings just went up a notch. 


I have to give it to the Digitech camp for not resting on their laurels & continuously re-defining their wares. The Digitech Whammy is by now the landmark whammy unit out there utilizing digital interpretations without sounding repulsively artificial. This year, the Whammy goes treadle-free. Any whammy actions coming from it is a foot switch manipulation. Good- it's down-sized to save precious pedal board space & more focused in features. Not so good- less organic, we can't do a half-way treadle effect for some out of this world moment but not quite. Digitech got that covered. Here's how:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Swirled Strat

I recently played this. It's a Standard HSS Mexican Strat, given a swirled finish. We all know too well how the Strat is renowned for its single coil tone but the humbucker in this one was below the mark. It sorely lacks bottom end. You'd argue that Strats were not meant to manifest whatever thumping lower frequencies heard in other guitars; they were carefully crafted to move away from that sonic territory. That might be a valid perspective but once a humbucker is inserted into any guitar, the reasonable objective is to fuse the guitar's inherent resonance with the said pickup for that specific chemistry. If it fails then it fails, we shouldn't try too hard to remediate our hearing. 

This particular Strat, ladies & gentlemen, is a splendid single coil player. The issue, tone-wise, is the humbucker which hardly has adequate bottom end for metal-type punchiness. We could all replace that default unit with some other make that specializes in this tone type & I reckon it's a wise move. If you are interested in this Fender, it's available at Swee Lee (List: $899).

Saturday, April 9, 2016


I was at Davis yesterday trying out the new range of JRAD pedals in store. These are the new Tour series featuring a smaller foot print which caught on after the Archer debuted. According to JRAD, Lenny happened because they were re-creating a certain Steel String Singer pedal. Essentially, it's a booster unit but one which isn't entirely clean. After hearing it in action yesterday, the Lenny proved to be a colouring agent so if you dislike your inherent tone to be affected, this isn't one to get.

Martin April specials

In the mean time, City Music is having a promo for selected Martin guitars so if you are itching for some worthy acoustics for a good price, do consider.

Friday, April 8, 2016


These 2016 JRAD pedals (Tour series) are now available at Davis GMC. Had a blast trying them earlier today. Thanks Janet & company for the heads up & opportunity to try.

PIC: Davis GMC

Thursday, April 7, 2016


We know where Mastodon stands when it comes to all things heavy without wimping out on tone. We know where the Mastodon guitarists stand when it comes to getting what they want without selling out on quality. With all due respect, I'm not here to debase the Epiphone label. I'm here to express confusion as to why Brent Hinds chooses to Epiphone his tone while he's seen playing everything else on stage. Like Jeff Waters (Annihilator) before him, there is this peculiar embrace of Epiphone. It's a contemptuous statement to opine that some people are doing it for the money but let's not speculate. Mastodon is currently one of the biggest name in metaldom & the members can play anything they want in the world. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Staging it

I have a thing for such conveniences for a simple reason- these promote creativity & inspire performance. The Korg Stageman 80 is an all-in-one device which, I believe, all musicians should own. Such devices are learning/ facilitating tools as well. Some highlight clips:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Siblings (from different fathers)

The primary reason why I bought the Ibanez RGDIX6M was the maple fretboard. Ibanez doesn't have too many of these around, I think I'm too desensitised when it comes to rosewood fretboards for Ibanez instruments. I already own an RGD model (seen there: RGD321), it's the one I play these days (tuned down, lots of distortion to go by) & my fingers are getting accustomed to the longer scale length (26.5"). I'm keeping those DiMarzio Fusion Edge humbuckers in tact in the mean time for variety's sake (not a DiMarzio fan). 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Poll: Gibson ownership

Thank you everyone for taking part in the recent Gibson poll.

It's no surprise that the Les Paul is the much loved Gibson despite its obvious limitations. I recall a chat I had with a Gibson proponent not too long ago who told me that there are so many ways to overcome the LP playability restrictions. Clearly, this chap was unable to be objective in this conversation & I had tell him straight in the face that there is only ONE way to do that- stretch your digits beyond the neck-body joint. If you still think the LP is as pleasant as it gets when it comes to playing comfort, I think our personal loyalty clouds our judgment. I dislike the LP when I first set out to buy my initial electric guitar. I came back to it years later due to its tone, not its playability. Players with small hands like me know there are other options out there winning our priorities but the lure of the LP is still very immense even till today. I have a few LPs despite them clearly being the least likeable instrument on a personal note. There are too many pros seen with the LPs as well & they have been proven time & again to be one of the most influential tone-generating instrument of all time in live situations as well in recording studios.

The SG has a cult following. It's arguably overshadowed by the LP limelight but it stand its own ground. If you favour the LP for its mammoth bottom end, the SG moves away from this territory by offering you lots of bite. Again, this is another example of flaw embrace; which SG out there doesn't demonstrate a neck dive? However, the issue isn't as pronounced of one plays the SG strapped on instead of sitting down. I was also averse to the SG initially; I couldn't come to terms with playing an instrument whose neck is almost as thick as its body. That was until I came across SGs featuring the slim profile neck carve (not as slim as we know it) & I thought its my preferred Gibson compared to the LP.  I definitely like the ultimate upper fret access the design has to offer.

When I first saw an Explorer, I thought the body outline was excessive. There's so much wood behind the bridge it impedes comfort, not to mention playability. Then again, after playing one, I must say the sustain is legendary! The Explorer fans are numbered only on grounds of practicality; protrusion & heftiness don't win it too many fans but it's undeniably a go-to instrument if you wish for a fusion of LP type thump & SG type bite. 

Last but certainly, not least, we have the Flying V. If you are primarily a sit down player, the V outline is a loser from the start. Sincerely speaking, there isn't anything the V does that an SG couldn't cover. The glee in owning a V is simply the embrace of insurgence. It moves you away from the conventional crowd without losing dight of what's good for you in terms of reputation- that 'Gibson' label.

Why a Gibson poll? Simple. I wish to find out the number of Gibson owners out there & I'm not expecting too many to reply. Gibson prices are uninviting, even the after-market tags are quite prohibitive to many of us with cars to maintain, families to feed & bills to pay on recurring basis. However, Gibson, like other profit crunching commercial entities out there, offer 'affordable' options & this is agreeably a recent occurrence. Did this lead to many converts out there? You know, people ditching their other preferences just to embrace Gibson for the sake of it- did that happen? A simple answer would be a NO. Guitar dweebs are traditionalists first & foremost. If you vary a Les Paul Standard with compromising details to make them have difficulties sleeping at night, then they won't budge. They still stand their ground & observe strict discipline to get that Gibson in its reputed manifestation, everything else is an unworthy distraction.

At the end of it all, price concerns are still the number one bother when it comes to buying decisions. Gibson = affordable? Will it happen?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Selling: Vox AC4C1-12 (SOLD)

Letting this go for a good price. Clean tones, tube warmth- if that's your thing.

  • 4W all tube combo featuring a 12" Celestion VX12 driver (power cable included)
  • Self-collect (address to be disclosed upon confirmation)
  • No reservations/ trades
  • Queries welcome:
  • Price: $350 (final)
Item sold, Sunday 3rd April 2016. Thanks for reading.

VFE: Mermaid

This, ladies & gentlemen, is yet another Klon clone. However, like many other manufacturers out there who would lay claim to their unique interpretation of the original, this one had been souped up. In my arsenal, this is by far the most appealing (on personal terms), knocking the Archer down onto a lower preference level. I've been using it as a stand a lone unit with single coil guitars in the mean time. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Palladium: First impression

This is worth waiting for. It's my kind of distortion approach; a pre-amp section that is more amp sounding than a typical distortion unit (majority of which tried too hard to sound amp-like & falling short) with a boost function that adds to drive AND saturation. Please stop asking if it's a worthy metal-type distortion; it wasn't conceived as such. It's a pre-amp unit with lots of gain application potential, it's a matter of what you can use it for, what you will use it with. The resonance & presence controls are the amp-sounding features here, the rest are what you'd expect from a pedal performance. The 2-band midrange EQ are typical features to have if you want to sound good with very high gain on tap so it shows that Seymour Duncan knows what they are doing. (EDIT: The Palladium does not feature a 2-Band EQ, instead, the midrange controls let you manipulate the frequency as well as the level). That single boost control there is what I deem as a smart inclusion; only a single option so it won't get in the way of your primary objective. I leave the details to a more formal appraisal. In the mean time, Keith Merrow has some stuff going with the Palladium: