Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wrathe's proto

Here's Lee Wrathe putting some mileage into a proto Ibanez which is suspiciously similar to the one showcased by Martin Miller: CLICK

Some implications:

  1. Since it's not an exclusive piece, we can arguably rule out a signature range in the works. Good news for dweebs like me who dislike signature pieces. Having said that, my next guitar will be a signature model.
  2. We see a Prestige label at the headstock's flip side so that's compounding what was mentioned in 1.
  3. Seymour Duncan pickups in there- ha! 
  4. Ibanez continues the proud philosophy of doing things their own way. Look at the string saddles; not something you can readily find in the stores.
On that note, it's the end of April as we know it. Wishing everyone a good May ahead. 👍

Saturday, April 29, 2017

City rewards

Here's something for you if you are a regular shopper at City Music. The reward scheme entitles you to earn a $10 voucher with every $500 spent on selected brand names. More details at City Music's promo page: CLICK 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Zebra @ Davis

The USA ESP TE-II model in zebrawood top is now available at Davis GMC listing for $4,500. 😖 Only 15 of these were made for international distribution. Are you itching yet?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Present (2)

My birthday present. Neat 👍 I'm a fan of the FLY3 amps, this is an excellent inclusion. But then again, today is not my birthday.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Solid AEs

Not many of us would look up to the Ibanez name for an up-market acoustic performance. The acoustic realm continues to be dominated by the big 3: Martin/ Taylor/ Takamine. The Ibanez acoustic is just another offshoot from the manufacturer's solid body prominence, yes? Not true. If you dig deeper into the Ibanez history, Salvador Ibanez made fine acoustic instruments in his time. Along the way, the commercial aspects of music had the market leveraging more on solid bodies with the advent of amplification. Ibanez AE models weren't quite the manufacturer's firm reference when it comes to great acoustics. The AEGs & AEWs continue to sport non-solid body features for prices which could easily get you solid top/full solid models. The debate continues pertaining to whether a solid top detail would guarantee a more appealing acoustic resonance but we know the solid top has an upper standing in terms of initial body resonance compared to the best laminated top. 

Coming back to the Ibanez AE models, these instruments have come a long way in terms of tonal acoustic deliberation. The manufacturer now has a dedicated series of AEs which are serious tools when it comes to tone. The AE305 seen above feature a solid sitka spruce top.

The AE500, a model higher up in the series tier, is an all solid (top/ back/ sides) instrument. So there we have it, a sign that Ibanez is moving on with quality acoustics & not just being mavericks in the solid body electrics. However, the players' mentality out there continues to be partial with the aforementioned big 3 names as they proved to be the tried & trusted references in the industry. Let's hear the AE900 in action with Cim Frode:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Prohibited rose- regional grasp

So this was the fatality last night; was gonna buy something online when the seller's website triggered the alert & was referred to the home page for the relevant reference (as seen above). Have myself to blame because I hesitated & now had to deal with this despair. 😡

My advice to you, my dear friends & blog readers, act quickly before the entire restriction goes into full swing. 

Relevant preceding entry: CLICK

Strap it

That's right, it's an Ibanez padded strap. My bag's strap gave way, the fact that it's detachable invited an opportunity for replacement. Together with a pair of carabiners, my bag received an extended lease of life- all for less than $10 😃

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Have not been playing in standard tuning for a week. Had a good time in extended territory. Nothing too excessive but a 26.5" scale length. According to the manufacturer, the Ibanez RGDIX6MRW sports a nitro Wizard profile. To the uninitiated, Ibanez necks are notoriously skinny & lack the beef for those with bigger hands. The 'Wizard' label is synonymous to a skinny adjective in the Ibanez realm but if you have handled an RGD Iron Label model personally, the neck is anything but skinny. In fact, it feels substantially beefy while maintaining the D-profile. A thick D-profile if you will, a profile more generous depth-wise. But the players out there won't be easily swayed by mere description, playing one in person will address this misconception. I'm just glad that I own this version of the RG. In fact, I prefer the RGD to the standard RG in terms of feel.

Friday, April 21, 2017

In-store Castro

Happening tomorrow if you are interested. Details as stated above. 👍

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Ah... birthday present. 👍But it's not even my birthday. Hmm...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

RIP: Allan Holdsworth (2)

It's a little eerie but I bought this a day before his passing. Despite the current Kiesel deal, Holdsworth did play an Ibanez & had an endorsement deal which lasted for two years. 

One of my favourite Allan Holdsworth video is this one captured live in 1974. He played a Gibson SG & it's simply amazing how the volume induced drive gave him adequate gain for the job; we know there's no distortion pedal going back then so players have to crank it way up to get the drive going. Watch how he retuned one of the strings during play like it's nothing. Also, most of the time, he wasn't looking at what he's playing; it's already embedded in his mind, he just manifested it there & then. 👍

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

RIP: Allan Holdsworth

Sad passing of the master, nothing pressing to say right now, just this announcement. More in time to come.


Combo magic

Still playing my Ibanez RG460 but looking for some tight end tone-wise so it's a combo reference. There's something about small drivers that limit excessive bottom end responses. It usually works better with single coils but with the right amount of resonance going, it'd be equally appealing. Of course, having your preferred pickups in the guitar, help as well. 😁

Sunday, April 16, 2017


What's abuzz right now- a certain guitar brand took a generous swipe at a certain band that's a little foolish with their choice of words. The guitar brand & band concerned are pictured above. Anyway, getting into details, one of the band members said:

“If you’re expecting ESP guitars, then this album is not for you”

The guitar brand replied: 

Moral of the story: If you wish to make yourself heard, do not do it at the expense of others. Lemme see now, I own several ESP guitars but absolutely no Linkin Park albums. 😏

Pic: altpress

Mader's metal

Flashback 1990s- grunge era. Life for metal heads was particularly difficult; nobody was interested in being angry, everyone wanted to be emotional & spend time playing guitars while looking down at their shoes. As such, good metal acts from State-side were numbered. Logan Mader (pictured center) was with Machine Head, one of the very few American acts genuinely interested in metal. A couple of albums with the band, some Soulfly stints & a production mastery under his belt, Mader now has Once Human. A 3-pronged guitar band, all sporting Ibanez 7-strings & more importantly, good music with lots of guitar considerations. One worthy track to note:

I usually don't pay attention to such acts for a simple reason- there's an over-bearing need for attention, instead of music focus. A good metal act, in my opinion, is one that gets totally immersed in their music first & foremost, leaving the world behind. In fact, the world catches up much later when it's either ready or has exhausted their palatable references.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Survey: Recycling guitar strings

Dear friends & blog readers, do take part in the used strings recycling poll located at the left margin of this page. You kind assistance is much appreciated- thank you in advance. 

PIC: earth 911

New Becker

The new Jason Becker model by Kiesel (JB100) is quite the departure from what the man himself embraced; no locking hardware, no tail fin headstock design, unmarked fretboards, etc. You wouldn't have guessed it to be a Jason Becker model if it wasn't labelled as such. 😑

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cycle of picks

A Good Friday morning to all. Lovely long weekend, yes?

I'm sure may of us here would have purchased & kept a few picks in our collection. Even if you're not a collector, you would have wisely kept a few for referential purposes, no? The primary reason here, for keeping stuff which you less preferred, is to bring them out on days when you think all else failed. On playing days, my ritual is to have a few picks out & at the ready. Even if I already have a favourite, go-to pick in hand, at a certain point in time, I'd switch picks just for variety's sake. You'd be surprised to discover that the ones you cast aside as spares or back-ups would be more adept than you would have believed them to be in the first place. I'm saying this because for those of us with more than one guitar especially, would have different string gauges, neck radii & string action, among other factors, which would react differently with a different pick profile. If we don't own a few picks to begin with, we wouldn't have discovered this special adaptation so to speak.

In the example above, I had the (L-R) Karma (DAW manufacturing), Mummy (V-pick) & Stubby (Dunlop) picks at the ready. As you've noticed, it's actually a line up of (L-R), flat, grooved & dented pick surfaces. I react differently to the feel, I play differently using these picks with various guitars, my picking efficiency gets affected with these picks, my brutal riffs work better with non-flat pick surfaces & the list goes on with slight variable differences. So which of these picks work best for any playing situation? None. I need different picks for different playing circumstances; different tools for different jobs as they say. So the next time you are on the verge of disposing seemingly dud & useless picks, do re-consider 😃

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Beez @ work

It's two weeks in a row of being at Beez's to address dead pots. This time it's my Ibanez RGD7421. Three days before this visit, I treated the problematic pot with contact spray & it was working fine. Come Sunday, it was totally unusable. Dead. No amount of spray managed to cure it. Not a problem at all for Beez who did the replacement in about 7min.

So here it is, all good & kickin'. Had been playing Ibanez for the whole of last week. It's the season of  rejecting other neck profiles & it happens to me periodically. 😔

Monday, April 10, 2017

Standard & extended

Last weekend, these two were the most played guitars: Ibanez RGD321 (t), RG460 (b). They both feature Seymour Duncan pickups but the RGD is of a longer scale length.

The RG460 is one of the many instruments here featuring my typical set up, namely a low action & a set of 009s strings. The RGD on the other hand, does not sport a low action, merely something that helps me play well & it's a set of 011s in there. I find having something different, a variation of my preference in this case, helps me focus on some aspects of playing. In this case the RG460 was all speed & very little feel. The RGD slowed me down a little, due to the quick onset of lethargy (longer scale length), & focuses on single note precision. As such, the RGD helps my 4-notes-per-string legato stretches with more clarity focus than the 460. As the saying goes; different tools for different jobs.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Miller's custom

This is the initial prototype of Martin Miller's customized Ibanez. It's already dichotomizing Ibanez fans out there. The pro camp says it's a thing of beauty with a touch of Ibanez history. The anti camp opines that it's moving too far away from the current manifestation, it barely retains the identity. There's also the disoriented camp saying it's a Suhr in an Ibanez shell & it's awesome- we wonder what they were drinking.

It brings me back to the pre-RG era where Ibanez Roadstars were the highlight. This RS225 for instance, has very similar outline to Miller's custom albeit the cutaway refinements. 

More RS models here with that very simple but elegant design. I'm just of the opinion that professionals like Martin Miller prefer features in their guitars that adds to playability & tone rather than conforming to a certain take on design. We await further developments with bated breath 😊

EDIT: As at October 2017, we know it's not an artist custom but a new Ibanez model to be released @ NAMM 2018.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Piranha bites

Good Saturday morning to the gear heads out there. It's fast approaching mid-month & for many of us, our funds are running low. Nevertheless, we move on with the consolation that good affordable gear are available if we look at the right places. With that in mind, the Peavey 6505 Piranha head seen here is an affordable piece of gear, listing for $250 & I managed to check it out at Guitar Workshop last evening.

First impressions
There's no clean channel on offer here so if you need to toggle between clean & dirt, please consider something else out there. Also, contrary to popular embrace, the Piranha is not a full tube unit; it features a tube pre-amp with a solidstate power section. This is a flagship technology done years ago with Peavey (TransTube) & Marshall (Valvestate) being the forefront names in the game. Peavey eventually removed all tubes in their TransTube technology & products with this technology tag are 100% solidstate. 

The crunch channels offer a fair serving of Bluesbreaker-esque nuances at the early gain stages, moving on to a good ACDC type attack at both higher gain & volume levels. The lead channel pushes the gain boundaries while retaining the crunch bite. This might upset the 6505 fans out there but the Piranha does not offer that blistering heavy metal assault we love to hear coming from the 5150 & 6505 amps under the Peavey moniker. Instead, the high gain module offered here remains crunchy but with excessive jabs to address all things heavy metal- this is the crucial difference. It had to happen this way because Peavey has the lunchbox type 6505 in the catalog & if you wish to tread the 6505 way then you need a real 6505 to do the job. The Piranha here is a different take on the 6505 aggression using an essentially different approach- a hybrid pre/power section.

I'm holding back further appraisals for the Piranha until mine gets here 😁 I took up the pre-order promotion for the Piranha yesterday- a 10% discount (you should too, if you are interested) & I'm fully aware that I'm not getting a full fledge 6505 tones upon acquisition. The showroom model isn't for sale but it's a good opportunity to hear the Piranha in action. So head down to Guitar Workshop for the personal experience. 

Thank you Guitar Workshop for the opportunity. My special thanks to the lady boss in store for helping me with the testing yesterday (didn't catch your name- apologies!).

PS: 10% discount only for the first 5 pre-orders (OK now down to 4...)

Friday, April 7, 2017


I'm totally happy with this guitar but not the tone. Semi-hollow guitars tend to sound wooly in the upper frequencies especially when it's in neck pickup mode. Since I'm not into creamy tones, the humbuckers here will go as soon as my targeted replacements are in stock. 😐

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Paul D Vox showcase

Happening this Saturday at City Music- Paul Danial's Vox amps showcase, details as stated above. A little preview:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mini explosion

If you are wondering why Mooer made a pedal without an on/off switch then this little ditty isn't a pedal- it's a power amp. That's right, in a mini pedal format. 30W of power in this mini enclosure 👍 With a name like that, good luck in getting this past customs.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


I keep forgetting my Edwards E-SE-125M/RB also features the Seymour Duncan SSL-1s aka the California 50s set. Another awesome performance here despite the bridge pickup being slanted the other way as depicted. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Kissing it

Post-dead tone pot; my Schecter Omen 6 goes to my nephew, Riya. Heard he did pretty well in school & was looking for a new guitar to supplement his music- all the best in your guitar journey! ✌🏽 We tend to forget that in times of charity, our family & relatives escaped our considerations. So this serves as a reminder to all of us; family & relatives first if we can make it happen. Otherwise, our charity goes to the most deserving individual(s).

This is Riya's band.

They will be playing soon, details as depicted above. If you can lend your support, please drop by & cheer our budding talents on. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Dead pots. It happens, nothing lasts forever. Don't let people tell you oh, you should have taken care of your guitar better. These expendables bear the brunt of your sweat & other penetrating moisture even when they are not in use. 

So it's off to Beez's after lunch. Beez did a 2-guitar job (both involving dead pots) in under 15 min. 😧👍 Where is Beez located? Excelsior Shopping Center, basement, in line with Memphis Music.

Seymour Duncan: California 50s set

Greetings, tone hounds. How's the weekend coming along? A little too brief, yes? Anyway, it's been a while since I've done a 'formal' product appraisal so here goes... 😉

The product in question is Seymour Duncan's California 50s single coil set. The 50s monicker there is a little evasive because the pickups in question feature an Alnico V magnet, leaning more towards a contemporary voicing rather than a strict vintage articulation. These pickups are mounted onto my Fender American Special Stratocaster featuring a rosewood fretboard.

We renew our belief that Alnico magnets are the best in this turf, regardless if they are of the stronger variety. In all positions, the C50 set successfully captured the inherent instrument twang. It's like hearing amplified wood in action- almost, very convincing. The manufacturer did well in maintaining the EQ settings for all positions, we don't hear a selected frequency excess coming from any positions. With that in mind, do note that the neck position is the least performer in terms of sharpness but it won't blur into mud.

The first drive test involved an amp source; a Marshall JVM 410H. The crunch & OD1 channels were used. Crunch settings brought out the best from in-between positions. In addition to the jangle, there was a firm, organic, clunky voicing that we all love to hear, especially Neil Rodgers-type funky chords. Tame the volume & we are in blues territory; this is the versatility of the C50s that make them a good buy. The harder drive settings brought out splendid individual performances. If you are the solo type, the drive experience here should be rewarding. Both the neck & bridge pickups have impressive clarity, nothing too saturated & we have the alnico magnet to thank for that. The fact that it's an Alnico V means we need not try too hard to get the drive going. There you have it, a good balance for both clean & driven tones.

The next drive test involves an OD pedal in booster mode to accentuate the amp's drive performance. The neck pickup suffered a little mushiness due to saturated drive responses. The bridge counterpart fared better here, in fact, I could push it into pseudo-metal territory with no issues in terms of clarity. Not forgetting the middle pickup, it inclined towards its bridge bother's performance; a more ready player when push came to shove.

Lest we forget, the C50s are actually...

... the SSL-1s as depicted above 😁 The fact that they had been re-introduced as a collective trio under the 50s slant (whatever that means to you) made you think in vintage terms which they are not. But in some settings, they sound more vintage than some other Alnico V manifestations. I'm going to recommend these to those in search of untainted cleans but at the ready for some contemporary drive tones. On a side note, I've pushed these pickups into hyper-metal territory with good results (unlike the SSL-5 in action, but that's for another appraisal episode) but the hum was just not worth it.

Rating: 8.5/10 👍

The California 50s are available at both Davis GMC & 35 Guitar Avenue

Saturday, April 1, 2017

35's first

35 Guitar Avenue turns one- here's wishing them continued success in the industry. On a personal note, thanks to Dhalif & company for the rocking good services 👍👍

Visit 35 Guitar Avenue's website for more info: CLICK

Drop by the showroom/learning venue: