Friday, September 30, 2016


Yes, I'm still buying DAW picks because they are the ones that work for me.  Limited edition Supreme picks with complementary sticker :-)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fuzzing drive

Picked this one up just hours ago from Swee Lee :-)

Ibanez's OD850 isn't new, in 1974-1975, it's touted as one of the 'better' interpretation of EHX's Big Muff pedal, manufactured by Nissin Onpa (Japan) till 2002. It's now back for your consideration but that OVERDRIVE label there is a little deceiving (just like the Super Metal). 

The OD850 is what I refer to as a range defined drive unit; it starts out demure & ends in beast mode. However, a good spread of it is just fuzz & more fuzz. Don't blame the 850 for not being something else because it was conceived in the Muff image & that's what it's dishing out. 

So the 850 is a drive in its initial stages but it has nothing extensive to offer & I must say it's not the real parameter of the 850's true identity. It's rather forgettable. Turn it (the SUSTAIN control) up & it starts to fuzz out in anger. The maximum fuzz offering will easily obliterate low notes, the type some germanium units would do. The shred dweebs will have limited applications with this lack of definition but if you peddle some doom in your metal, this might be your break. That's not all because if you couple this with some tone tweaking, you could get some of those super smooth Cliffs Of Dover fuzz tones.

Ibanez: OD850
Availability: Swee Lee Co.
List: $219

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Price rant

Here's something new at the stores- Ibanez RGIF8. Iron Label series, primed for distortion & colossal bottom end, for SGD1.8K...

An instrument's worth is somewhat personal but what else can you get for $1.8K?
  • A reputable tube amp with $900 change
  • An American-made guitar with a higher re-sale value & $200 change
  • A multi-FX/ modelling floor unit with $400 change
What am I driving at, really? I'm of the opinion that Ibanez's Iron Label guitars are bordering on deceit. You don't get a higher tier series model & the re-sale value is arguably comparable to a standard series Ibanez. Having said that, I'm still an Ibanez fan & I do own Iron Label models (which are not hyped for looks & feeding the current bearing).   Hmm...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Not for(za)

I'm currently happy with what Seymour Duncan is dishing out now in terms of overdrive pedals; the Palladium is really right there for the money & the Killing Floor is a very likeable boost unit for me. I've tried the Forza overdrive not too long ago & it's a very rare occasion of being frustrated. Despite being touted as a transparent overdrive by the manufacturer, the pedal sounded half baked in terms of drive. In fact, I hear more fuzz than drive & it hurts to hear any neck pickup interact with this pedal; muddy & rather ill-defined. Someone argues that a great 'woman' tone could be had with this one but if you put any drive pedal to use with whatever tone controls to offer set to nought (absolutely no treble), you can have a convincing woman tone right there. This is also one of those pedals where the drive increases exponentially to such an extent that there was hardly any difference in intensity past a certain upper setting.  Gave it a deserving miss.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Still DAW-ing

I'm still trying to grind my DAW picks to bits. After the UFO experience yesterday, I must say that the Karma still brought out the menace in me as far as good playing goes, compared to other picks. I know I can achieve good playing with V-Pick's Mummy as well but there's something about the Karma's dimensions that make my picking very effective. However, I wish, the Karma would be as light as the Mummy without compromising the thickness.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

UFOs have landed

Was in the mail yesterday. DAW UFO picks with complementary Karma picks.

Had been a terrible week. Fighting flu & sore throat. Looking for some respite this weekend.  Sore throat was especially bad, prevented me from being loud enough to be heard.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


We do have some use for a wah tone, don't we? Even if it's of minimal application. We sometimes wonder why a wah pedal would cost so much considering every one of them would make us sound like Kirk Hammet regardless of out technical abilities. EHX has the Wailer Wah this Fall for a sub-USD100 consideration. We know Vox has this covered in this price range but the tones on offer here might prove to be to your liking. Hear:

Monday, September 19, 2016


BOSS GT multi-fx units have come a long way. I've tried every one of them but have committed to none. With the advent of amp-simulation technology, you'd think that these people would go with the flow but they are still keeping the GT unit alive. Here's the latest- GT-1.

It's a back-to-basics with this one. Less to-step-on options & a more direct approach to editing.

If you missed that, so there :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Gibson 2017: Another Custom Special

Gibson has another Custom Special in its 2017 range; the SG Custom Special. This, once again, puts the 'Custom' tag to scrutiny; is it really a Custom in Gibson's traditional sense or is it just a commercial ruse?

Regardless of that consideration, this proves to be one of the most affordable model come next year: USD599 we can see why this is the case in terms of specs. I'm actually more into such quirky models than the manufacturer's higher end offerings. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

End: Bolt Thrower

Another band putting an end to their existence- Bolt Thrower.

A year after the demise of their drummer, Martin Kearns, the band decided to put a stop to all musical involvements. It was a difficult moment but we wish the best to them for many defining moments in metal history.

Prem Jem

The latest Ibanez JEM, a Premium JEM77WDP. Mahogany body- interesting. All DiMarzio affair; Dark Matter in all positions. The manufacturer is slowly enticing players into the Premium turf, won't be surprised to see lesser Japanese models & more Premium models in time to come. 

Friday, September 16, 2016


Fall release by BOSS- Katana amp. It's pretty much a 'lite' version of the Waza amp.

You get amp modelling/ voicing patches & BOSS effects on board, plus the 100W model features a power variable control. No idea if these will make it here :-/

Thursday, September 15, 2016


It's been a while since I played an Ibanez in the house. I've been trying to move away from my comfort zone. It gets too easy when one is equipped with one's preferences. Gave this S470 a re-string & put up with the DiMarzios in there. I usually stay in the humbucking position in an HSH guitar but there was a significant amount of time spent with the Area 61 single coil. The lower output & less magnetic pull made the tone very enjoyable. 

This is one of the very few guitars I bought used. The condition was still very good when I bought it (unbelievable for less than $200) less the nut lock (which was corroded) & the whammy bar (was stuck in the hole for some time. It's also one of the better made models from Cort's Korean factory.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Reverse vs non-reverse

Gibson's Firebird Studio- in-coming for 2017.

The Firebird Studio ver 2014. I agree- they should have left the headstock reversed, looks more complementary to the reverse body. Anyway, the 2017 version will retail for USD1,249 which is a very reasonable asking price.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Nothing to be ashamed of

I bought this Gibson SGJ in 2013. I was attracted to it for its 24 fret neck & the satin finish; Gibson's traditional, lacquered neck finish, in all due respect, kills good wood. When I was at Swee Lee's Bras Basah showroom, many people who passed me by while I was testing it (before buying, of course) were equally interested in this model due to its price. It's in the $800 range & proved to be one of the most affordable Gibsons around. Until today, what makes a good Gibson, remains subjective so the chaps who deliberated on it must have known the brand name in great depth because they said: 1) Entry level price equals entry level Gibson 2) The weight is wrong, the lacquer would make a difference 3) 2 more frets for an SG killed the tone... 

Who were these people? Majority of them were mid-lifers, given the amount of white hair & wrinkles on them, I'd say a good number of them were carrying a senior citizen fare card in their pockets. Then again, I might be wrong but the comments they made clearly reflected a lack of respect. I'm not a Gibson fan to begin with but I understand where they are coming from in terms guitar craftsmanship & respect whatever atrocities they detailed their contemporary instruments with. The SGJ here might be a little off when it comes to tone with regards to an SG Standard but it remains reputable in terms of QC. In fact, it was very well made for the price. We can definitely get round the Gibson tone if we dislike what we hear (replace pickups, get effects pedals, etc.) but to say that it's way off due to some revised attributes, is a little disrespectful.

A year on, I purchased another SGJ simply because the reputable QC was in tact & the price, well, it became a little more affordable. Gibson somehow managed a downward revision for this model (price-wise) & in my opinion, it did good for those who are trying to get to know the brand name. It might not be a flagship model but it served its purpose as a bridging model. 

There's nothing to be ashamed of when one invests in a more affordable instrument. Disregard others' opinion when you know what you are dealing with in person. How should it be, a $5K guitar that sounds very crappy or its more affordable version sounding like how it should be for your musical needs?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Rounded, pointed

I'd been using the DAW Karma picks for the whole of last week. These are currently my go-to picks, no outstanding or alien material involved, just thermo plastic. Both are 3mm in thickness. 

The rounded (red) tip version is excellent for fast riffs. It glides off the wound strings very easily. It doesn't flex & the unbuffered edges means it 'catches' the strings fairly well. Awesome for angry players. The pointed (blue) tip version is a precision implement. If you are the pick-every-note type, it's one of the best. The pointed tip also ensures more clarity with every picked note. Just wanna say that the pick tip profile does affect your playing & this influences efficiency. There's no right pick for you, there is a need for you try which one works best for your playing style. Also, if you think you've found what you've been looking for, there might be other picks out there waiting to be discovered. Please do not go into denial if you're experiencing a new love- you're not alone :-)

Eid-ul Adha greetings

It's the time of the year to be reflecting on sacrifices. Whatever it is, it's definitely not about blowing yourself up in the (false) belief that you'd be heading to paradise for that. If you are that sort of person & you are about to blow yourself up for that very reason, judging by the documented occurrences, ask yourself if it puts a stop to anything. Hint: It's actually the same answer to dropping bombs in places far away in the hope of stopping that cancer from spreading elsewhere- is it working?

Eid greetings to all Muslim blog readers, friends & acquaintances. Enjoy the long weekend, yes?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dude, you are good (2)

I've tested the Dude with both humbucking & single coil guitars so here're some opinion:

1) Single coil: The Dude has plenty of clean boost to further twang things out (if that's your thing). The EQ section means you can add fatness to proceedings so it's not just about hearing the top end. Once the ratio is increased (drive control), you get good amp-type drive going, enough to shred, mind you. That's how saturated things get & all this without any dirt from the amp, just from the Dude.

2) Humbucker: The Dude is equally at home with humbucking guitars. With both EQ controls at noon position, we don't hear any mucked up bottom end, it's in fact a good way to use this pedal; keep the EQs at the halfway mark, add & subtract the frequencies to your liking. OK, here's what the Dude can do; max out both drive (Ratio) & level so you get this illusion of playing super-charged pickups but actually you aren't. 

I shouldn't be driving (forgive the pun) this into your head too much but the Dude is a wonderful drive pedal as it is. I've removed all Dumble-type opinions for you to embrace the Dude's abilities, not its similarities (to a certain renowned amp). 

Pacific feline

All guitars played yesterday- testing out my Dude pedal, actually.

1) Yamaha Pacifica PAC510V: This is one of my worthiest instrument bought during a sale event. I'm totally happy with it, wouldn't change or swap anything in there. I might experiment with a thicker string gauge in time to come & maybe apply a non-standard tuning as well.

2) Fender Classic 60s Jaguar: I have always looked forward to own a Jaguar simply because of those single coils in there- they are quite different from what a Strat/ Tele would offer. I also believe I would benefit from the instrument's shorter scale length. I've yet to rectify anything here because the instrument is, as in the case of the preceding Pacifica, faultless. I might raise the action a wee bit, currently it sports a low, shred ready profile. Even the slimmer C-profile neck screams shred. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Gibson 2017: More burning birds

By now, you should be aware that Gibson offers majority of its models in either the HP or T versions. The HP (High Performance) option feature some 'upgrades' in terms of subtle appointments which the manufacturer deems as value-added revisions much to the dismay of purists. The HP Firebird come 2017 will offer an adjustable metal nut & a more standard 6-in-line tuners as seen above. 

The Studio version of the HP features a non-reverse headstock + that standard 6-in-line tuners & metal nut as well.

Dude, you are good.

The J Rockett Dude pedal has a Dumble reputation in its DNA. Everyone tries the pedal with a Dumble expectation. Whatever that means, I have no obligations to agree to the tonal manifestations or some other sonic similarities. As far as I'm concerned, the Dude has enough drive to be used as a stand alone pedal & it's one of the smoothest sounding drive out there, much to the liking of fusion dudes, presumably. It's also devoid of the treble end harshness often heard in budget drive units, once you understand what those controls have to offer. Some other disclosure to come. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

The dark side

The Keeley camp is venturing further into their workstation-type effects offerings. This time, there's a very Floyd-esque measure to tones; the Dark Side pedal. Not for the rest of us who are busy shredding & pushing black medal boundaries, this fuzz-laden goodness will do good to Gilmour fans, mostly. Of course, we can embrace quite a handful of what The Edge does for guitar playing with this one as well. The manufacturer promises one heck of a space trip & here's some convincing: 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Abiotic- done

One of the worst things to be reading today & I'm leaving this as a late entry in the name of disappointment, despair & crushed hopes- ABIOTIC had split-up. Aw, darn!!

Epi koa

This might turn on the Epiphone fans out there- the LP Custom koa top. A recent 'fall release, featuring coil split switches. No price announcements as yet but some of the Epi models are getting dangerously close to the affordable Gibson makes & this makes decisions very tough.


So here's how it was yesterday; a little sore neck & backache. But I wanted to play. Picked up something light- the PRS S2 Mira.

I've been away from the semi tone for a while. Couldn't really remember why the action of this one was a little high but it was lowered. I was in the mood for some high gain stuff yesterday & this Mira served me well. That airy midrange is a delight when chunky solid body tones were all I hear prior to this. Also, the neck pickup tone of a semi does not benefit from too much distortion (period!) if it's a non-high output pickup. 

Played some fast stuff but I was utilizing the bridge pickup most of the time. It seems that my 4-notes-per-string ritual was in auto mode but I managed to keep in time so there's the take-away right there; adaption to timing regardless of the type of player you are. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

GIbson 2017: Custom or...?

Come 2017, we'd see some affordable models in the Gibson Les Paul offering and the Custom Studio is one of them. While we welcome this consideration, what does the 'Custom' tag there really imply? Is it a genuine custom alternative of is it just a fancy enticement tag by the manufacturer?

Consider this LP Custom Special for instance; is it a mutated LP Special or is it a bona fide Custom model with some tweaks? Gibson fans will know that the physical attributes don't make these guitars here a Custom model in any way. Maybe in 2018, we'd read something like Custom Standard or Custom Melody Maker. *roll eyes*

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

DAW: Last 2 shreds

Good Tuesday morning! The final 2 Shred Line DAW picks go to:

  1. AL
  2. Ken Tan
Thank you to all participants once again, look out for the next giveaway instalment happening soon (hopefully).

As cheap as it gets

This is a guitar we have at the staff lounge. Note those scratches on the fretboard. It's clear that the fretboard here is not rosewood. In fact, it may not be wood at all, a synthetic substitute maybe. The overcoat there serves as a facade for the lighter wood used. Busted! But that's what you get for investing in budget instrument. They may look awesome on the outside but the inner blight would surface sooner or later.

The action of this guitar is a tad too high & playing it is a little uncomfortable. I managed to lower the action by filing the bridge down just a wee bit (1mm at most) & it made a whole difference. Why do I bother? This guitar plays well & sounds above average, much more appealing than some of the entry-level branded models out there, that fretboard treatment could have been better, though. 

Oh, I need a new file.

Monday, September 5, 2016

DAW giveaway: Winners

Congrats to the following winners, your picks are already on the way:

  • Brandon Tsui (Pro Line)
  • Fahmi (Pro Line)
  • TK Hoo (Pro Line)
  • Andrea (Pro Line)
  • Dylan (Shred Line)
My apologies to the rest who were turned down as the Pro Line version proved to be too popular. I still have 2 more Shred Line picks if anyone is interested, do drop me an e-mail :-) Big thanks to all who took part & the rest who are fans of this blog- you rock!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Vela & friends

Yesterday's line-up: PRS Vela, Seymour Duncan Killing Floor & that blue pick- DAW's Karma model.

Vela's action was lowered a tad & it makes a huge difference in terms of legato playing; my fingers weren't as lethargic in trying to press the strings down. Pickups height was left undisturbed as sustain wasn't affected. The Killing Floor pedal is now rather mandatory in boosting the amp (Blackstar HT Metal) for saturation, not for drive (despite the fact that more drive was added in the mix). Finally, the pick. A preferred pick goes a long way in terms of focus. You simply need a supplementary tool to manifest your picking style. If you are a light picker, it's unwise to carry on with thin picks; it lacks impact. Ditto bass note peddling; those wound strings will wear your pick down very quickly & a deformed pick will definitely affect your picking & this leads to mistakes. I certainly think my pick made a big difference in terms of effectiveness & focus. My friends, you should put some attention to this as well.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Gibson 2017: EB4

Bass fans, Gibson has the EB4 bass for you come the new year. Oh, there's an EB5 as well.

Re-string: Baby Taylor

Done yesterday at Bukit Panjang for Ms. Sian Ying- Baby Taylor. Re-strung with Ernie Ball's Earthwood set of .011 & it sounded lovely. The instrument badly needed a fresh set of strings but it was well taken care of; no dings, no scratches. I've told my friends to take care of their instruments in terms of handling & this is the reason why- at the end of the day, you only need to attend to the strings as the guitar would be in good shape to love you back. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Giveaway: DAW picks

These Russian DAW picks you see above were kindly given to me as complementary pieces as a returning customer. Here's a shout out to Mr. Igor from DAW Manufacturing- a big thank you & you rock!! 

I wish to reciprocate this kind gesture by giving away these 6 pieces to the blog readers/ followers here. The label-less red & black pieces are the manufacturer's Shred Line models (3mm, standard size), the transparent ones in the foreground are the PRO Line models (1.5mm, jazz size). Here's the ritual:
  1. Send me an e-mail with the tittle, 'DAW it!' & tell me the country of manufacture for DAW picks
  2. Please include your name & state which one of the picks you see above is the pick of choice (no pun intended).
  3. Do NOT disclose your mailing info just yet, please wait for my confirmation reply.
  4. Closing entry for this giveaway: 3 September 2016, 10.00pm (please refer to the digi clock at the bottom, left shoulder of this blog page)
Hope to hear from you soon :-)

PS: Bro Ijau- yours are on the way :-)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Gibson 2017: Firebirds!

A strange time to let the world know what's new in 2017 but September it is for Gibson. Really glad to know the Firebird Studio will be one of the offerings. The last batch of these guitars didn't make it here so here's hoping for a better opportunity this time.

New for 2017 in the Firebird family is this Firebird Zero. However, it's a non-mahogany body (poplar) & features a pair of equally new DS-C humbuckers. This should be a very affordable model, the manufacturer promises a sub-$1K price tag so that's absolutely good news!

PS: We're into the final quarter of the year- yeah!!