Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Low ebony

Last year, I talked to a few people (both in store & online) about the re-intro of the RGD. Now that they are offered in a non-Prestige (more affordable) range with DiMarzio pickups, would they venture into the extended scale length territory & buy one? Most of them answered the negative. In addition to the non-standard scale length, they disliked the maple fretboard. So this 2017, Ibanez offers the RGDIX6 with an ebony fretboard & we'll see if this is enough enticement for people to change their mind. 🤔

Monday, January 30, 2017

Core enjoyment

Managed to squeeze in some playing time over the holidays. Decided to bring my Ibanez Roadcore out. Back to the 25.5" scale length after some shorter spells last week. When you think the shorter ones helped you play better then there's an exception like this one. It's  more of the neck profile than anything else, really. It's also down to how much practice you did for your chops. Every scale length is difficult if your fingers are really doing the work. 

Ash burning 2017

My John Page Ashburn experience last year told me this guy is heading in the right direction. He would take it slow & only offer sensible releases in the market & it's beginning to be so in 2017. The Ashburn Special here is an inevitable release, nothing too different from the 2016 make but with an ash body.

The Classic is offered in an HSS variation this year & it is a sensible move indeed. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Good morning

This was the final pedal for 2016, grabbed it from SV Guitars during their year-end sale. The JHS Morning Glory is yet another Tube Screamer-esque pedal out there with tweaks. I would usually ignore such pedals because I'm happy with how the traditional TS sounds like. These pedals don't usually offer more or something different from the TS lest some brand names out there whose developers make it a point to differentiate their products from the base reference. 

This Ver 4 MG has 2 gain stages (that's what the flick switch is for- mode switching). In its lower gain mode, there's notably more headroom for those clean-with-slight-drive fans. It's wonderful with single coils & highly recommended for that jangly Strat tones. The higher gain mode is something of a solo boost specialist. I used this for solos more than a harder drive source for a more intense music manifestation.

Ver 4 now features a remote foot switch gain access. The manufacturer also recognizes a top end  overdose when the pedal is used excessively with single coil pickups so the HI-CUT feature is there to trim some high frequencies if things get out of control. 

If you own a decent clean amp, the MG will be a good drive companion for that defining moment involving both clean & driven settings or a fusion of both. That higher gain mode would surely be an inspiration for both solos & a harder rhythm reference for some of us. I find single coils to be the better option for the MG simply because I'm a fan of hearing good, driven jangle as opposed to half-baked humbuckers at duplicate settings. I don't hear the TS tone being duplicated squarely here despite some characteristic reactions which are inevitably similar, so to me, the Morning Glory was a worthy purchase 😊

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Boss' expression

I used to own a BOSS expression unit. It was sold off due to under-utilization. Actually, the big footprint was a put off as well. The EV-30 here is a more compressed version that promises some estate saving on your pedal board.

More importantly, it has a dual output function so you can manipulate 2 pedals in a single use so that's the winning feature right there. The expression pedal is perhaps one of the least exciting unit with many pedal geeks but those with years of pedal use experience would tell you that over time, you tend to look forward to subtle sculpturing of tones rather than setting everything to 10 & let it rip. So the moral of the story here; it might be boring but it's useful.

Cock a doodle doo

It's a tough road ahead. That's according to horoscopes. It's gonna be tough for some time to come, more about the economy than anything else. 

Gear-wise, wood type is becoming an issue everywhere & it hurts both buyers & sellers alike. So regardless of how furious the rooster crows to usher in the new year with hopes & such, the element of doom lingers overhead. 

I say, live & let live. Enjoy the moments especially with loved ones & your beloved gear, definitely. Looking forward to this long weekend (because I don't like working). Wishing you the best in everything you do, my friends & blog readers- regardless of the odds. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

PJ Mustang

One of the new Fenders at Swee Lee right now is the Mustang bass. Previously, it was offered as a Japanese make & only feature the P-type pickups which were smaller than the P models seen here. The current Mexican version (part of the new offset series released late 2016, listing for $839) has both the P & J pickups on board & medium jumbo frets as opposed to the vintage frets of the Japanese. Since I own the Japanese version, I would urge guitar dweebs who would grab a bass every now & then to check this one out. Its shorter scale length is the winner here with so many extended scale guitars out there rivalling the scale of shorter scaled basses. It's about familiarity & the willingness to embrace a bass which delivers all the low end  goodness, just a little compressed to address the needs of smaller built players. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Power Duncans

This is a darn smart move by Seymour Duncan. At a time when everyone else is running the effects trail, SD moves away & does a power amp.

They even offer it in a rack format.

These are aimed at the effects geek who doesn't need a boutique amp to get things going, just an above average power amp unit to plug in, let's say, an AXE FX unit which already contain a lethal arsenal of tone modules. It then leaves them some funds to invest in desirable speaker cabs. 👌🏽

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Small victory (3)

OK, so it trickled into the Paul Stanley camp as well- the Ibanez PS is now offered in a Mikro version. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

JEM it one more time

Winter NAMM 2017 is over by now. The dust has settled & we move on. Ibanez JEM fans are moving on with this 30th Anniversary commemorative model. Over at the manufacturer's social media feed, it's touted as Steve Vai's 'new' guitar. I must say that I'm offended by this claim because it's nothing new. The volute under the locking nut disqualifies it from being a true re-issue as well, compounded by the anniversary neck bolt plate. Despite being drawn to Ibanez all the time, I have zero interest in JEMs largely due to my disinterest in signature models. This is no different- still averse to JEMs. However, we have the JEM to thank for when it comes to the countless RG permutations out there. It was a successful endeavour & looks like it's gonna last for many more years to come. 

Monday, January 23, 2017


The official release of Fredrik Thordendal's Ibanez baritone FTM33. Affectionately dubbed as the Stoneman by the endorser himself, this one was in the making since 2012 at the LACS. We note that it's not a Japenese model & it's not true to the custom specs when it was in proto version. Acquired taste, definitely but it may be your thing.

Bridge of sighs (yes, that one)

This is the highlight of the moment, the star player for Ibanez at Namm 2017, if you will- Ibanez's Premium RG6. I have nothing against this guitar.

In fact, I feel they did a good job in reinforcing the neck & moved away from the maple dominance.

I'm wondering why the bridge in this gorgeous piece has to be the EZ-II. If they had given this some considerations & maybe include an Edge at the very least, it would have been a winner with me. The manufacturer might be keeping costs down this way or letting it get away in a gorgeous looking guitar. Subconsciously, you'd be paying good money (that's right, this series isn't gonna be on the lighter side of the price bracket despite not being a Japanese model) for something with a less favourable feature which would be largely ignored or 'accepted'. If there's a fixed bridge variant in time to come, maybe I'd consider. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Don't forget (to play)

All the latest NAMM feeds in social media will make many of us rooted to screens everywhere, fixed on some serious new gear out there. Let's not forget to play, seriously. I'm taking a break from gear updates just to hear myself in action which we sometimes take for granted. 

The whole of yesterday saw me playing this Edwards E-MA on & off trying to figure out some ideas ringing in my head & it went past midnight. I rained for the most part anyway so staying indoors & hearing myself in action was the wisest thing to do. These days it's not about keep my technicalities up there but it's about proficiency; the ability to translate what one's thinking about immediately onto the instrument. I'm moving onto this focus because it's more gratifying than being frustrated trying to learn someone else's music or ideas & making a tremendous amount of mistakes along the way. However, this approach is not exclusive & might take a back seat once I have some other needs to attend to. It's about addressing the immediate concern. How long do I spend doing this? As long as it takes until the objective is met. 

Here's wishing you a good Sunday ahead & enjoying every guitar moment that comes your way 😸

Friedman Monarch

Finally, the return-to-Jackson Marty Friedman model based on the Monarkh series. Fans won't get to see this in stores till May 2017. I'm wondering why a model with a strong endorser backing gets relegated to the X-series but this isn't the first time it happened to a Marty Friedman guitar. Remember the PRS MF model? That was in the SE camp. 😑

Anniversary in black

No rubbing of eyes, please, this BOSS DS-1 is indeed the limited edition version of the manufacturer's 40th anniversary celebrations which would take place throughout the year. Expect more commemorative goodies along the way but keep in mind of the novelty & prices, some regurgitations (without fresh inputs) are not worth buying. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Small victory (2)

Em... Paul Gilbert's take on NAMM 2017, a Mikro version of his Ibanez PGM model. We all want one, yes? 😏

Small victory

The good people at Blackstar are continuing their quest to serve good tones in small packages. This LT Echo amp is a good inclusion & on my to-check list.

Our beloved FLY3 desktop amp gets a Bluetooth upgrade which is awesome. So while something big is happening at NAMM 2017 in the mean time, never forget the small stuff.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Single 7s

From the Jackson camp- the new Telly 7-string.

Camp Ibanez has this- Iron Label FR 7-string.

It's interesting to note singlecut offerings from non-Fender models (Fender owns Jackson by the way...), both in 7-string format. Notably, both brand names are also known for their aggression-inclined music association so the singlecut path is an interesting path to tread on.

Coming back to domestic applications, we are more likely to see the Ibanez FR in the stores here. My observation- they sell more than Jacksons (compounded by the fact that the distributor has a poor Jackson inventory/ update).  If I were the distributor, I would have commercial underpinnings to keep sales up there than worry about satiating the few who are clamouring for attention as they don't keep my business afloat. 

ESP Head

Don't know if you chaps were expecting something radical from the Brain Welch-ESP project but this is it- an ordinary guitar. Along with this release comes the re-visiting of the man's past; how he was responsible in shaping 'nu metal' (if you believe there is such a thing) & pioneering the use of 7-string next to Vai, etc. The background exposure was necessary we reckon but it's a jaded past. ESP also has the knack of pushing the LTD versions of signature models & keeping the ESP make exclusive- all understood from a commercial perspective.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Deluxe selections

Also new at Swee Lee are the Deluxe Strats- pictured above, the Roadhouse version.

And this one, the regular Deluxe version (Both models listing for: $1,239). We note that, despite being Mexican, the new breed of Deluxe models are replicating selected American features (rounded string retainers, 22 frets, etc.). So the psychology of being in this price bracket (formerly the American Special's price point) is that you get American specs albeit the Mexican label. Worth it? It's a personal take.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Countless talented players had left the Ibanez camp over the years to various accounts, personal or otherwise. It's heartening to see the amazing Feodor Dosumov joining the roster recently. If the name sounds familiar to you, it's probably because you've read it here: CLICK A showcase of the man's brilliance:

PIC: Ibanez UK

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Offset Tele

Ladies & gentlemen, this Fender offset Telecaster is a NAMM 2016 debut- that's right- 2016. However, it was a limited edition model which was time released between March & October last year, now available at Swee Lee (List: $2,099). It's part of the (now) discontinued American Standard series so you know its pedigree. Yes, it looks a little funny, a cross between two prominent models (Telecaster/ Jazzmaster), a mutant if you will & acquired taste. How many of us are willing to embrace something delinquent but still trust the tone & playability of a 'Fender'?

Monday, January 16, 2017


This is an Ibanez BTB675 bass, a 2016 model.
This is a BTB745 bass, a 2017 model. The subtle difference this year- Ibanez included a zero fret (as pointed). Others: 1) Bridge 'upgraded' to a Mono-rail V 2) Truss rod adjustments now at the body end 3) Full 24th fret (as opposed to the partial 24th in 2016). 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sonic assault

I'm very determined to not make an Ibanez be the first purchase of 2017 & so this happened. The 'new' Fender offset models were introduced in the final quarter of 2016 which didn't make it here till now. I had bad episodes with the Mexican models; bad nut slots, warped necks, dysfunctional truss rods... the list goes on. These days, the Mexican models had been souped up to fill in price voids (more than anything else) so they need to keep up in terms of QC. I managed to play an impressive Mexican model (thanks to the good people @ Swee Lee Katong 👍) last June but held back as more of the good stuff were streaming in. 

So I guess the wait paid off. No complaints with the QC here as the Duo-Sonic was played right out of the box. My only gripe was the very low action it came with, everything else was splendid. Playing through a Marshall amp at the store, these default single coils were adept at both clean & driven settings with no clarity compromise but the twang factor could have been better. I will continue to check the newer generation of Mexican models out. They are now worthy considerations (in my books), more so when the American models are climbing up the price points.

PS: Thanks to Mr. Faizal & company @ Swee Lee I12 for their awesome service as usual.

Mooer: Mini preamps

For those of us who are put off by multiple amp line-ups, Mooer has these mini preamps going for 2017. These are definitely not amp replacements but would address those ears tired of pedal tones (ironically, these reside in pedal territory) & require you to embrace a good serving of emulation. Priced at USD99 each (MSRP), these might be a good alternative for many of us in terms of mobility & tone. Hear:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ibanez: Core changes

The most affordable semi in Ibanez's lineup was the AM73.

This year, it's superseded by The AM53.

The major switch- sapele body (previously maple). Ibanez returned to a more generic bridge/tail piece combo as well (ART-1/ Quick Change III). I've been procrastinating when it comes to investing in a semi & looking at the rather unenticing 2017 line-up (personal take), this might be it.


Thank you, PRS, for this amp news. I think I'm a little desensitized when it comes to guitar feeds these days; it's just not the focus in the mean time. Anyway, I wouldn't say the new Sonzera amps by PRS is a breakthrough release by the manufacturer but it's a sensible offering. I'm counting on Mr. Paul himself when he said (in the video clip below) it's a good one with not too much money going. I'm also liking the simplicity (just 2 channels) & the fact that each channel has its independent attributes. OK, looking forward to this one.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Vox: Tiny threat

This Winter NAMM 2017 will see the release of Vox's MV50 trio amp. It's one of those small wonders that'll make or break the manufacturer's innovation momentum. Tone chasers will be enticed to check them out namely due to their tube-type tone. The fact that there are no tubes in there will be an issue for players who would settle for nothing less than a tube unit but frown upon inconvenience in terms of maintenance & mobility. Whatever it is, let's hope that it is a source of good tones to get us by because that's the ultimate bottom line that we often deny.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ibanez 2017: Slight enticement

So it has escaped me all this while- the fact that Ibanez Premium models were not offered States-side. It will finally reach there this 2017.

This here is the RG1070, a fresh 2017 model which will debut in the USA. Look at that difference in the 'Premium' decal compared to the pre-2017 model RG970 (grey). Many of us might miss this at a single glance. It's unconfirmed if this new script would be the standard decal for all 2017 Premium models & the ones thereafter. Please note.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Valeton: Dapper Dark

The heartache continues- there's actually a Valeton Dapper for metal dweebs out there, the DARK. Why think too much of something that highly likely won't make it here? 😤

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fender American Pro @ SG

Fender dweebs, if you are waiting to pounce on the new (2017) American Professional series Strat...

... & Tele, they are now available at Swee Lee (List: $2,099). This is way ahead of their NAMM debut in about a fortnight's time. 

The not so good news is, the American Special models are now in excess of $1.5K (I used to buy one for $1,280). The 'refined' Deluxe (Mexican) range are now in the former American Special price bracket of $1.2K- things aren't getting any cheaper this year for sure. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

RIP: Granny

During my bachelor days, I lived in limited confinements with my mother & grandmother. These are the very people who tolerated my guitar shenanigans, surprisingly, without complaints. They were pretty much happy to see me rooted at home instead of keeping bad company elsewhere. 

My granny, despite here age, tolerated my guitar nonsense very well. She would while her time away with bite-sized sewing when I was playing guitar. Some other grannies might tell such individuals off for want of peaceful resting moments but not my granny.

Last Thursday, my granny answered the Lord's calling. She was 94. It's times like these we remember the moments we had with our elders. In time to come, we would become grandparents ourselves &  would wonder if the subsequent generations treasure our moments with them. I am grateful that there were no pertinent conflicts between my granny & me. We shared good memories together especially so when she resided with me in her latter years.

We might find our elders annoying & out of touch with the current hype. We see them as irrelevant as time goes by. It seems that time displaces relationships & makes some of us obsolete. But time also teaches us the meaning of loss & the need to hold onto the current moments dearly. RIP, granny.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

PRS 2017: Vela S

New for 2017 is PRS' S2 Vela in satin finish. The model per se isn't new but its finish is rather inviting. What's the benefit of a satin finish? It shaves off some weight from the instrument hence highlighting some middle ground in terms of tone. If you find dents & nicks too heart-breaking, the satin touch is definitely not for you.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Squier 2017: Offsetting

We're still in offset fever as Squier revealed its 2017 listing. This is the most affordable Jazzmaster
 by the manufacturer, an Affinity model. 👍

A little above the tier, we have this Mustang in HH format. Apparently targetted at distortion fiends hence the humbucker format.

Jazzmaster Deluxe- nothing new as Squier has the Vintage Mod versions currently running which is quite well-received. 

Squier is doing the right thing by supplementing its Fender releases. Late 2016 we saw the Mexican offsets being released followed by the American Pro models which will be officially unveiled at Winter NAMM 2017. Now we have a range of offsets by Squier in case your pockets are not deep enough to join in the fray. Both Fender & Squier are enticing the buyers away from the usual Strat & Tele offerings not that they ran out of ideas but they are cleverly telling the new generation of guitar dweebs out there, hey, we have some other models going as well. For frustrated players like me, we had always wanted a reputable range of offsets in the market which didn't happen in the '90s, let alone the turn of the century. Offsets could be had from the Japanese market which wasn't well supplemented in terms of online presence as well as dealers here due to distributorship issues. Things are looking good in this camp 👌

Friday, January 6, 2017

As smart as ESP

Now we understand why ESP took the trouble to set foot in the USA. With all the environmental issues/legislation going on that are more than likely to affect business, they have Japan quality ESPs in the USA without bringing the guitars over, so to speak. Set up base there & get production going at their behest- no movements of wood across borders. Best move ever. 😏

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ibanez 2017 (4)

Half of me deals with this announcement with trepidation. The other half says, it's worth getting excited over an acoustic shred guitar. Is there such a thing to begin with- a shred acoustic model? Which model had ever been a flagship in this aspect? Or on that note (no pun intended), which brand name had successfully manufactured them with due success? In any case, this will be new for 2017- Ibanez's AEWC32 with a body depth of only 70mm which should induce speed playing to say the least. The last time I bought an acoustic guitar, I wanted it to ring splendidly which is something fast playing could not manifest. It's only fitting we judge this one in person.