Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: UPs

There were surprises along the way this 2016. Despite the economic crunch, we managed to secure a worthy purchase thanks to the odd sale events here & there. One of them was the Swee Lee warehouse sale which some touted to be a 'return' of sorts but according to the good Swee Lee people, it's a one off so that they could move on with the inventory space at the Sims Drive warehouse. Whatever the underlying reason, we were grateful.

I've been holding back, I've been looking at pre-loved units, I've considered alternatives & I've been dismissive but it finally happened- I bought a Fender Jaguar. I blame the single coil itch which stretched beyond the Strat/ Tele influence. That shorter scale length kills as well. The Jaguar brought out a different side of me, more importantly, it helped me realize some other playing potential. 😁

I had been following the John Page Ashburn for about a year before I bought this Classic model. Despite its availability & repeated calling every time I dropped by the store, I managed to exercise restrain & waited for the double humbucking version to appear before making a decision. I've read what Mr. Page had to say about his Bloodline single coils & understood that they had very little in store for me since I'm the high gain dweeb with a ready aversion for all things 'vintage'. Hearing a musical instrument in person is a mandatory purchase pre-requisite especially after this John Page episode. As it turned out, the humbucking Ashburn Classic had little appeal to me once overdrive came into the tone equation. My ears loved the single coils more & the decision was final. No regrets. 

These are my final 3 picks accounting for the 2016 delights which had been disappointing through & through. It's not gear-related exclusively but I won't delve into life's little tragedies here; it's a guitar blog so I need to observe strict relevance. There were others worthy of this UPs list but I'm keeping things light for record. 

On that note my friends, as 2016 approaches its spectral instance, here's wishing you an amazing 2017 ahead. A new chapter is way worthy than rancid history- have a blast & stay safe. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Price watch (5)

Someone's doing a pre-order for this Ibanez guitar online, the price- as stated, is in excess of $300.

The same guitar listed on the official distributor's website here is a little shy of $200.

Going back to the pre-order listing, we can understand why the price was unreasonably so; it's flown from the USA (it's definitely not made there). A little reading up will tell you that this isn't an exclusive Ibanez model sold in the aforementioned country so in my humble opinion my friends, it's unreasonable.

2016: DOWNs

The final two days of 2016. Time to reflect on the occurrences. It had not been rosy, beginning with the year's peeve list (in no particular order).

The worst for me this year had to be how the entity known as V-post handled a simple contention. They took 6 months to settle a fundamental credit card issue & offered no reprieve in terms of solutions/alternatives & insisted on their stand. I simply abhor such attitude when there exists the benefit of the doubt but on stubborn grounds, you insisted on being right & demanded conformity. Turd grade service & totally unworthy.

Next on my list is another commercial fester. It seems that, due to isolated cases, Gravity Picks reserved their rights to deem others suspect as well. I'm not against procedures- you have the right to tread cautiously on contentious grounds to preserve the interest of your business. However, if there are returning customers who seek to exclude themselves from the suspect list, the least you could do is to listen. For the record, Gravity Picks make some of the best guitar picks out there with arguably the most flexible custom options but proved themselves acutely wanting in other aspects. We have other guitar picks to choose from. Our playing fulfillments do not pivot on Gravity Picks exclusively. Move on.

The EVH camp jumped into the mini amp fray with their 5150 III offering. The 5150 III reputation shouldn't be expended carelessly because this mini amp came nothing close to the real 5150 III that rules the stage in terms of distortion. In any case, we shouldn't be disillusioned into such association due to the common pedigree. The pocket 5150 III is trying to steal its bigger sibling's limelight only to be blundering in their shadows. If you don't mind the novelty, your cash movements are at your behest. In this light, we might be too eager to see similar success stories after Blackstar's FLY 3 runaway triumph in desktop technology. 

Reality check: Despite my utmost disdain for such bitter outcomes, these very entities might rebound in time to come & I shouldn't dismiss this from happening. We don't blame the name, we blame the attitude that brought the name down.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

In the name of the rose(wood)

Greetings, fellow guitar dweebs. As many of us are embarking on the year end celebrations & looking forward to the glad tidings of 2017, this phantom issue concerning timber legalities is an imminent haunt come next year. Global authorities are tightening legislations pertaining to rosewood commerce & the two major economies, the USA & EU, are trading in circumspect.

I am receiving such reminders in the mail from manufacturers with rosewood products (raw/processed) in their inventory. CITES- Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora- had recently listed more rosewood species & its related breed (meaning- if one doesn't refer to rosewood by its know name but under a different domestic citation, it's still binding) under their purview. 2017 is an enactment year for some clauses in the agreement & it's going to be difficult for many buyers, sellers & owners alike. 

Back to instrument relevance, we know that some of the key components in our beloved instruments are rosewood. Replacing it with a close relative or a seemingly relevant alternative (recall Gibson's torrified maple dismay) wouldn't be the same. It's also devastating to market value. Ladies & gentlemen, if one is not privy to the legislation, it wouldn't be binding but Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan & Korea are signatories of CITES. Just by listing these countries down, we get a clearer picture of the affected guitar brand names. This isn't a small matter by any means, its tsunami-grade impact is just waiting to happen. 

On that note (no pun intended) I'm not lobbying for a rosewood binge. I'm asking all of us to think of how a move to combat illegal logging & trade targetted at the furniture & exotic facility at large would have an eventual impact on other players in the industry. It is seemingly unfair but the approach makes sense- the law creeps in on the source of the problem. On top of all this, human greed & dishonesty are very much to blame for the repercussions. At the end of 2016 (or any year for that matter) let us remember to keep our principles in check for it has an outward impact to the world. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Selling: Chapman ML3 Modern (SOLD)

Letting go of my Chapman here, bag included 😌

  • Chapman ML3 Modern (Chapman bag included)
  • Condition: 8.5/10, currently sporting a low action set up with a set of 009s
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan Distortion SH-6 (b/n)
  • No trades/ reservations
  • Strictly self-collect @ CCK mrt stn
  • Queries/ confirmation:
  • Price: $700 (final)
PS: Item sold off 29-12-'16

Dapper mini

Valeton's Dapper unit was featured here recently: CLICK. It's a direct competition to Tech 21's Fly Rig 5, no secret about it. Things are getting more compact come 2017 as the Dapper gets a MINI version seen here. I own a Valeton overdrive unit, it's above average but I wish more of the manufacturer's products are brought in come 2017. Like Moer & Hotone, the Valeton name hold its own when it comes to sensible offerings albeit the obscurity. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Triple consideration

This might be on the to-get list for 2017; MESA's TC-50. The head version lists for USD1,799 (MSRP). Worth it?

Carry home considerations

Imagine paying for your guitar & on the verge of heading home. It suddenly dawned on you that the instrument doesn't come with a bag. Being a newbie, you didn't factor this into your shopping considerations. You are left in the lurch because the store in question doesn't offer any entry-level bags to get you by, the only one in store is a $200+ boutique model. You barely have any money left for a Happy Meal.

You might think it's an unlikely scenario but it does happen time & again in the stores here. We have buyers who were frozen in their tracks because the store simply did not inventorize budget bags for their instruments. I especially empathize with the noobs in such a predicament. Their instrument could be damaged on their way home should they choose to walk out of the store with just that.  Knocks, slip out of hand & inclement weather; these are just some of the misfortune waiting to happen. 

The pic you see above are just some of the most affordable guitar bags out there by Warwick, Gator, Ritter & Madarozzo. I don't see why stores here don't have them as part of a sensible consideration for buyers who don't prioritize a bag for their instrument on the day of purchase. You might call these buyers foolish for not being thorough in their shopping plans but personally, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. They might just have enough funds for that dream instrument on a sale day or plan to buy a dedicated hard case much later. I don't think they are obliged to disclose to sellers why they are not in favour of buying an over-the-top bag on that very day. In any case, stores with no such readiness are the foolish ones. They failed to study the demography of their buyers & run the business based on assumptions. On your part, dear sellers, do some pre-purchase enquiry if that particular store you are getting your instrument from does have such bags for you. Come with your own bag if you have to if there are no such arrangements. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Ibanez RGA- revision

The Ibanez RGA model is one of the RG spinoffs which features a curved body top. It's still in production today & I hope it would remain that way. The RGA model I own was the first generation version - RGA32 - equipped with a pair of active in-house pickups referred to as the Lo-Z3. Unlike others, they run on 2 X AA batteries. 

This year's version (latest), features revisions which reflect some listening, on the manufacturer's part, to players:
  1. Pickups are now passive. They are the direct mount version as well, no mounting brackets required.
  2. A simpler bridge, which sits closer to the body.
  3. Cutaways feature bevelling.
  4. Side-aligned fretboard markers.
This year also saw the RGA making its way into the Iron Label series with more refinements befitting of the series' image/ expectations. What does the future hold for the Standard series RGA? Only time will tell.

Price watch (4)

Yet another episode of price-watching in the after-market. Urging you good people out there to exercise due diligence when selling stuff, particularly a pre-loved item. The 'I bought but didn't use' argument is weak when it comes to taking over possession of property. Pic above: Seller's price (L) vs store price (R).

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Respect (the lack thereof)

Spotted this just moments ago. This is how much respect people accord to Gandhi. I am a big Ibanez fan, I respect Gandhi as well. In my opinion, this is done in bad taste, bordering on insolence.

PS: 'Ibanez RG Series' is not affiliated to Ibanez

Rick Parfitt (RIP)

Sad to read the passing of Status Quo's Rick Parfitt on a festive morning. I remember him for his pride of not knowing too many chords- or so he said 👍

Fender ever did a limited run of his Tele which featured that bridge eccentricity; partial ash tray + Gibson-esque hard tail + string through body... wicked!

They are well know for this song which I recall watching on TV. Back then when I was younger, the remote control for channel switching was a status symbol more than anything else. Enjoy.

Jingle bells

It's that time of the year; good food, good company & hopefully good music to see the evening through. It's gonna be a long weekend for many of us & here's wishing everyone a good time with family (important, this one) & friends- take care & stay safe. 🎄

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Re-string therapy (always)

Not into playing Ibanez these days, really. Brought the RGA32 out...

Fresh set of Dr. Duck's 009s, re-moisturized fretboard, re-lubricated nut slots & somehow, the pickups' height were off. Had no idea how this happened but it was attended to accordingly. One simply could not slow down when playing an Ibanez, especially with high gain settings. OK so maybe I lack the discipline. 

Divine Ibanez

We've seen this before- the Ibanez PGM80P.

This divine presence was recently detected on one of the guitar's body & the instrument is going for a commanding price. Sometimes we tend to read into a subject matter too much & it blurs the obvious. 

On that note, enjoy the holiday eve, safety first! 🎅🏼

Friday, December 23, 2016


I'm a firm supporter of Schecter Japan. One of the industry's underdogs with potent craftsmanship, Schecter is one of the best in terms of perpetuating existing ideas with awesome refinements. Of late, the company seems uninterested in presenting a good front for goodwill; its online reference had not been reviewed & still feature rancid updates.

Even the 2015 stuff continue to be the online pride & we are heading towards the end of 2016. No idea if the company is undergoing any corporate turmoil but I'm hoping for the best. 

Zebra not crossing (this way)

Only 15 made (TE- II) & none will be making its way here. Zebrawood is not on eveyone's lips when it comes to guitars but that's besides the point. The USA facility is making itself on par with the Japanese craftsmanship when it comes to 'ESP'. Psychologically, players would begin to accept non-Japanese models & we wouldn't be surprised if production of other affordable interpretations would take place there. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Yes, I'm amp hunting (again). Looking for some good cleans which isn't exce$$ive & hopefully not bear a Fender tag. It took me almost the entire year to discover the fact that Wampler is making an amp (again). A good one, in fact. It has that clean voicing which is good per se & one that supplements pedals. Now that's a thought that counts. In action:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

ESP 2017 (2)

That's right, Korn's Brian Welch will be in the ESP camp come 2017. More updates as it comes.

Is Korn still a big thing today? The definite answer to this is, they still have a good following. If you are trying to cash in on being seen, it's a relevant move. 

You are what you instal

Saw this guitar being offered in the after-market. Note the compromised pickguard; an additional hole was drilled to accommodate the replacement humbucker. If you are diligent enough to read up on stuff before you commit to purchase, this won't happen. Seymour Duncan offers 2 versions of their production pickups, the standard & trembucker. The former is denoted by an SH abbreviation prior to the assigned model number (eg: Duncan Distortion = SH-6), the latter a TB abbreviation (eg: Duncan Distortion = TB-6). In addition to the slightly wider pole pieces spacing to accommodate the Fender bridge, the TB models feature 3 holes on the mounting bracket should you need to have one fixed into a Fender pickguard. 

But the darn thing still works, there's still sound coming out from the speakers! Yes, you're right but it shows the type of owner you are & how much commitment you put into product knowledge. Such anomaly invites the potential buyer to further negotiate the deal price, do keep this in mind. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

ESP 2017

This is a small update of what's to come from ESP. Two new signature models:

  1. Sparrowhawk: The second signature model by Mastodon's Bill Kelliher. Visually, it's unappealing. A tinge of Firebird body outline there but what an undeserving headstock design.
  2. Volsung: Debut signature model by Rancid's Lars Frederiksen, very Viper inspired.
I'm actually waiting for ESP to delete their E-II confusion & return the 'Standard' tag to their no frills Japanese series but that's not about to happen. In the mean time, the prices of ESPs continue to climb.

Monday, December 19, 2016

String(ing) fault

You can tell the owners by their instruments, really. In this case, what do you make of these owners who re-string their instruments as such? In their defence, they would present to you the fact that some other morons did it for them. It then begs the question- what do you make of these owners who let others re-string their instruments as such? 

The case of a handsome zombie

There was a hint of doom when all I heard over at the amp was a serving of fuzz. That shouldn't happen because the Dude is definitely not a fuzz unit. So the diagnosis took place beginning with the cables. The joints could take a toll after repeated use but that was not the case. A quick twist over at the guitar end revealed no crackling; the guitar's input jack is still in good health. The amplifier was then suspect. Some channel switchings revealed no faults either. 

The mind boggled for a while until I recalled the last thing I did to the pedal itself before I started playing- battery installation. It was a fresh battery in there so what could really be the fault? Sherlock Holmes once said if you eliminated all possible suspects, whoever's left to be dealt with is the culprit no matter how remote or improbable it could be. A quick battery replacement confirmed the theory immediately; the battery was criminal all along. So there we have it, a dead battery in a fresh setting. Never overlook a suspect even if it's deceivingly pleasant. Case closed.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mad Tweed

Getting good vibes from this one as well. Definitely not high gain but it's the type that goes well with single coil pickups. Looking forward.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Price watch (3)

It's an allegedly new instrument with some appealing mods (Seymour Duncan humbucker) but will you buy this at that asking price? 😏

SALE: SV Guitars

Arriving late to the SALE scene- better late than never- the SV Guitars sale, happening over the weekend only. Going? 👽

Friday, December 16, 2016

River driver

When a pedal bears the Strymon name, chances are, it's gonna be impressive and costly. I'm getting good vibes from the Riverside pedal after watching the demo clip but it's bound to burn a deep hole in the pocket in time to come.

Schecter 2017 (2)

Abbath didn't get any endorsements going for his LTD guitar so here's the Schecter Ravendark for 2017. Specs are rather impressive; EMG 57/66, ebony fretboard, FR1500 bridge & flat compound fretboard radius for you speed freaks (12" - 16").

My other worthy consideration for 2017 is this Sun Valley Super Shredder but why the FR Special bridge, Schecter?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Low & behold

Last Sunday, just before I called it a day, I decided to give the Ibanez RGD321 some playing time. The RGD is Ibanez's extended scale guitar measuring 26.5" from nut to bridge. The objective of owning such an instrument is to enjoy lower tuning without dealing with string tension issues. I initially settled with a set of 10s sporting only a half-step detune, enough to play along Depeche Mode tunes 😄 Anyway, there was a re-think along the way- why go through an under-experience so to speak, with a guitar of such a potential? The nut was filed a wee bit to accommodate a thicker set of strings (11s) to sport a C# tuning.

Same set of tuning was done here with the RGDIX6 as well. Played on the same day, the IX6 offers a different voicing namely due to its DiMarzio pickups on board while the RGD321 above has Seymour Duncans in there.

Sometimes we only have ourselves to blame for not accepting things that were meant to be in the first place. You want to play standard tuning with the RGDs- no issues but they were not meant to excel in this application. It's like driving an off-road vehicle on tarmac on a daily basis & whining about the vehicle's under-performance. My RGDs will continue to manifest low tunings in the mean time. The extended scale length proves to be a challenge when when playing fast but I have other guitars to realize speed potential.

Happy mid-December, everyone. 👍

Schecter 2017

Schecter's 2017 newbie list is out. Some models caught my eye, this Banshee-6 Extreme (Indonesia) sporting a fixed bridge is one of them. Not too keen with the pickguard, though. Makes it look like an Ibanez.

It's offered in 7-string as well.

I still believe the C-1 is Schecter's stronghold in terms of a no-frills offering. Come 2017, the Apocalypse (Korea) version will give fans an ash body/ ebony fretboard combination which should be lethal for high gain stuff.

Not forgetting the 7-string version.

The PT Special; simple, Tele-style guitar which I doubt would make it here.