I've been buying stuff online mainly from State-side. So it's high time I try buying something from a 'nearby' store for a change.
Nothing fancy, just some spare parts. The objective- to test reliability from merchants who are less conversant in English. It was a risky affair to say the least because the communication from the check out time till final payment was based on translation. However, we should not harbour adverse expectations from people whose lingua franca differ from ours. It's a human consideration & should be an exercise in trust more than anything else. So here's another adventure in buying stuff online & the reduction of domestic reliance.
Back in March, I alerted Davis GMC of this intriguing PRS S2 Vela semi-hollow model made from reclaimed, aged, unfashionable, wood (peroba rosa top, brauna preto fretboard). I was waiting (still am) for the S2 Standard 22 Satin to make it here because I badly want to experience the manufacturer's non-gloss model; I know it'd be something different in terms of feel & tone. More importantly, I'd like to witness the extension of PRS' impeccable QC & tone-worthiness trickled into some lesser known wood. If they claim to be one of the greatest name in the guitar-making business, their satin finished instruments should be on par with the glossy counterparts.
The good people of Davis GMC was up front about it. This is a limited run model, PRS might have a preference allocation for authorised dealers in terms of quantity as well as the export time frame (meaning- get ready to experience a semi-eternal wait for one). I told them I am willing to commit a deposit for it as it's a definite purchase. I was given a positive answer; they'd include a special order for me (just this one for their upcoming shipment) but it's subject to cancellation at the behest of the manufacturer. It's all understood with me; I just want this to get here. There's a 50-50 chance of disappointment.
Fast forward June 2017; the guitar finally arrived in impeccable condition. It was quite a surprise because as at May 2017, PRS posted the above announcement at their homepage & that basically dashed hopes. But all's well that ends well. 😬
Would like to thank Janet & the Davis GMC camp for this worthy endeavour. 👍
A simple set up while watching TV last night. But the strings felt yucky at the start.
A quick re-string & it's good to go 👍
The Yamaha RGX A2 is a light guitar. In fact, it's my lightest but manifests one of the best tones even with simple set ups. Martin's Darco strings are one of the most affordable brand name out there but it's one of the best in terms of feel despite not lasting that long. If it's within your means, do invest in something different in your arsenal. It need not be an 'upgrade' of sorts but something that affects the way you play, bringing you out of your comfort zone. The struggle would make you a better player.
Testing times for Muslims everywhere. It had been one of the most blighted Ramadan, tainted by lunacy & senseless death. The world at large is definitely not interested in knowing the religion- separating facts from fabrications is not the concern- compounded by a blatant display of media double standards.
I'm not here to be political. I note the occurrences & react accordingly (not the first). I dread the day when this madness becomes full blown here. But let's not turn a blind eye towards what's working; we have arguably the least cases of intolerance in this country in terms of religion & should be the model reference for the world at large. But clearly, the world is not interested.
To Muslims everywhere, let's give thanks to the successful completion of Ramadan & this opportunity to observe Eid. Always pray for the prevalence of truth & be patient in testing times. Wishing all Muslim friends & blog readers a blessed Eid Ul Fitr with family & loved ones. Peace.
Another pair of dead pots. Do we actively handle those metal parts of pots during play? Of course we don't. We wonder how corrosion crept into the cracks & fine lines to eat away into the system & kill the pots eventually. A simple answer would be repeated changes in temperature. But it's not seasonal here in Singapore, why would this account for parts corrosion?
Air-con vs non-aircon environment. That's right, we subject our instruments to lower temperatures at places & then subject them to the heat & humidity at other times. This is how moisture penetrates into unseen places. We won't know this until it's too late.
Sweat. For those of us who perform, especially. Sweat from our hands could get to seemingly out of reach spots.
Those dead pots were from my Spector Arc 6 guitar. They were replaced in 2013 by Beez who was still doing business at Katong (Roxy Square). So four years later, they had to make way for replacement parts once more. Remember, these are expendables, don't get too worked up once they decide to stop working.
I'm currently trying out the Olympia brand of strings for a good cause- Music Theme is giving all returning customers a 50c discount with every used string box returned to them upon subsequent purchases. All collected used string boxes will be sent for recycling. Promotion ends on 9th August 2017. So dear blog readers & friends alike, if it's within your means, please support this limited time promo & do your part in increasing environmental awareness- thanks in advance 👍
Despite owning awesome amps in terms of drive, I still make it a point to own pedals. This was my latest acquisition, EHX's Overlord 2-in-1 type OD unit. That military theme coupled with a matching camo green finish is just wicked 😁 Happy midweek, everyone. Updates soon.
The NUX camp has released this multi-effects unit called the Cerberus as seen above (List: USD299). This will give the Valeton Dapper unit quite a competition in terms of value-for-money. We have local distributors for both Valeton & NUX here so it's a matter of time; whichever brand name gets to us first, the impression would be quite marked.
I'm saying this because both the ZOOM & BOSS camps are not fishing for a substantial share in the multi-fx market in light of recent developments. Perhaps they have other focus in their respective catalogs pertaining to gear. Both Fractal & LINE 6 are offering costly floor-based units which are aimed at the pro players looking to re-create top notch tones. The hobbyists among us are sticking to individual pedals & clunky pedal boards in the mean time & as it seems, nobody's quite complaining.
Got this alert from a friend yesterday (you know who you are- thanks for stopping by); the Planet Waves NS Classical Guitar Capo is sporting 2 prices at the stores here: $21.90 vs $17.00 but some of us would deem this acceptable. Stores have their respective pricing formula, we are not privy to any of them. We are at the receiving end.
The rest of us would consider this unacceptable. The fact that one store can offer this item at a lower price implies that the other is trying to maximize profits at the consumers' expense. Yes, any business entity would need to maximize profit, otherwise, it's not staying true to its commercial nature. However, is there a cut off point where any excess would deem the entity unethical?
If you've been keeping up with the news lately (you can read it here: CLICK), there is now a watchdog monitoring the explosive formula milk prices. The message is clear, if things go out of hand, something will happen. While we respect the stores for pricing their wares as they deem fit, we'd like them to know that they should be more pro-active in revising their prices once an alternative reference is made known or a pressing issue is put forth. They have no obligations to comply, of course, as much as we have no obligations to buy from them.
Dear Ibanez S621QM, you were on my to-get list for this year...
... but since you cost more than the S570BK, you've been struck off my list.
You, S621QM, are a fixed bridge guitar, you should be listing less than your whammy bridge counterpart, the S570BK. What's that? You said you are a 6XX series guitar which is a tier above the 5XX series model? In that case dear S621QM, why is this not reflected in online listings or are you saying it's a peculiar case here? 😶
Not a sale event per se but something in that image 😁 I'm highlighting this deal (by SV Guitars) in view of the complementary items included. We don't get such inclusions when buying guitars these days, not all brand names. Also, we tend to forget that those of us at the starting line of our musical journey need all the support we can get, purchase considerations included. So at the turn of this mid-year, know that there are some good deals to be had out there, the less finicky will benefit more than others.
Schecter's Sun Valley Super Shredder (SVSS) is now available at Davis GMC (List: $950).
The SVSS' manifestation is nothing too different from a HH Strat or a Charvel Pro Mod So Cal. Even the weight is comparable. On this topic of weight, the instrument lends itself a good acoustic resonance, nothing too bright despite that maple on maple neck construction of the sea foam version. The neck profile is of a typical Fender; that C-roundness with a narrow feel. This sounds contrary to the 'shred' expectations then again, an Ibanez this is not, a full-fledged shred unit it is.
Upper fret access proves to be healthy despite a blocky bolt-on make, thanks to the rounded off edges seen here, reminiscent of Ibanez's all-access neck joint.
The pickups are EMG's Retro Active Hot 70. These are uncovered active units featuring alnico magnets. While they deliver hot driven tones, they don't sound as desolate as the EMG 80s in terms of cleans. Of course, no PAF-type warmth to be had but it's nothing totally objectionable, I personally think that the woman tones coming from the neck unit is beyond pleasant. That said, the Retro Active humbuckers are somehow more responsive to the tone control unlike other active units I've come across.
The SVSS is an awesome consideration if you are the high octane rocker looking for something which looks conservative while embracing hot output for some sizzling solos. Korean manufacturing is still maintaining its high standards as seen in these manifestations.
Schecter: Sun Valley Super Shredder
Availability: Davis GMC
I have friends asking what's the point of using a drive/boost pedal in conjunction with an already angry amp? Saturation. That's right, sometimes even the angriest amp in the world can't give you that pick sensitivity to play fast or manifest a smooth legato line.
Next query, will adding a drive/distortion/boost pedal will definitely make your tone heavier? Simple answer- no. It will increase saturation (as mentioned above) but not heaviness. Say you have a Fender Twin amp, will hooking up a distortion pedal make it heavier? That's right, it's a no. Picture this instead- you, hooking up a Tube Screamer pedal into a MESA Dual Rect. You will get a heavy tone, definitely, but not because there's a Tube Screamer in there but because the Dual Rect has laden heavy tones to begin with. In conclusion, for heavy tones to happen, you must start with an amp with heavy tones to begin with. No amount of throat supplements would turn Elvis into Ronnie James Dio 😁
Seriously, they made MetallicashMetallicrap Metallica Funko figures so you can now have them on your car's dashboards, workspace & wherever you may roam want them to be. Hilarious but it shows how much money there is to be had with the (band) name. Whatever.
Dead electronics. L-R: 3-way selector switch, push-pull tone pot, volume pot.
The selector switch was stiff, connection was intermittent, I'd rather invest in a new one so into the trash bin it went. The first step in dealing with dysfunctional pots is to give it a squirt of contact spray. Maybe let it be for a minute before getting it to work but this pot was beyond stiff, it just won't budge. It's a dead pot. That capacitor had an unexplainable puncture & it felt oily so it's beyond saving. Lastly, that volume pot was also too stiff, too stubborn, too dead.
All those parts came from my Uno War Zone guitar. New components were bought & the guitar brought to Beez yesterday. They were professionally replaced & the instrument was back to life in under 30min. This War Zone was bought in 2011, the pots went dead in 2013. This time both pots & 3-way selector switch went dead so it's about a 4-year gap between replacements. Electronic components are expendables, they have a finite life regardless of constant maintenance/ treatment. The onus is on the owner to make sure they last as long as they could & if an overhaul should take place, the owner should consider investing in better components to prolong usage. The default parts lasted for 2 years, thereafter I replaced them with Proline parts (Korean) & currently there are Gotoh components in there (Japan) plus an Ernie Ball (USA) selector switch.
Do you even realize that the Great Singapore Sale is now taking place? The GSS is pretty much one of the retail slump victims. People don't go out to buy stuff any more, they stay home & look at the stuff online. The stuff will be delivered to them one they click to purchase. Guitar stores here are oblivious to the GSS as well. Over the years, recall the stores that participated in the GSS. Having difficulties?
The GSS is taking place at a rotten time of the year. People don't look forward to a spending spree at this time of the year. They have set aside money for a mid-year vacation, this is especially true for people with schooling kids. Also, we don't receive mid-year windfall (majority of us, that is), people here enjoy a year end bonus, not mid-year. Finally, the GSS is fighting a perpetual online sale. Whatever deals you come across in the stores in the mean time, it's been done online.
With that in mind, ladies & gentlemen, we do have instrument-related sale this season. City Music is having a spring sale.
Yamaha is doing likewise. Do visit their respective home pages for details: CITY MUSIC/ YAMAHA
The green grass guitars of home. These were the most played guitars last week, coincidentally, they are green.
BC Rich needs to bring back their tried & trusted models. The current lineup seems to feature only selected, sell-able models. Missing in the offerings are the Iron Bird & the Gunslinger. The Gunslinger is the manufacturer's best bet in addressing the shred market. Even the affordable manifestation as seen here is worthy. This one in particular has a very likeable weight making it formidable in the lower frequencies. Of course, a menacing pickup helps. The neck profile however isn't a shred cup of tea; it's a rounded C as opposed to the more preferable, flatter D but if you are a true to the bone shredder, this won't get in the way.
The Kiesel Vader isn't a shred unit per se. The fatter neck there might be a put off for many shred purists. However, this is how a headless guitar weight is compensated; more beef in the neck. I find it a challenge playing sitting down. I need to stretch a little farther to be 'normal'. But played strapped on, I love how the thicker neck complements those who don their instruments a little higher up the chest than the average Joe. I keep forgetting how a blank fretboard liberates the mind when it comes to chromatics. The Vader simply rocks. 👊
Another Les Paul from the Gibson Custom Shop offering & it sure looks like something we've seen before. But I'm not an absolute hater. I acknowledge reprieve & attribute the minds behind it. The LP you see here is the Axcess Rhino.
Never mind the all access neck heel & belly cut, this model features neck reinforcements. As indicated in the pic above, the manufacturer double voluted the neck (it's the Apex design, so it's called) for reinforcements. We know how the LP is notorious for its weak headstock design. Where other manufacturers have ventured further, it seems that Gibson had decided to stay put. Not this time, though & we really appreciate the consideration.
However, despite this forward thinking implementation, the Custom range is still scourged by a richlite fretboard material- what a deal breaker.
From the Land of Oz, I Built The Sky is the working name for Rohan Stevenson. I believe there are many more like him Down Under, someone who's incredibly talented with traces of eccentricity & enjoying every instrumental moment. Not forgetting the touch of heaviness on all tracks, he reminds me very much of Chimp Spanner (Paul Ortiz).
2. Plini- Handmade Cities
Still treading Down Under, Plini is Vai-approved. No, he doesn't play like Vai but Vai identified him as 'forward thinking' & 'harmonically deep' (Steve Vai, Nov 2016). From this brief description alone, we can sense some adventurous shredding in there with a learned verse of melody. Please do not approach this release strictly from a shred perspective but there's enough shred in there to appease the guitar geeks. A very polished production could be heard here as well.
3. Zachary Breaux- Groovin
I was moved to get this one after hearing his track, Eleanor Rigby, in the Beatles' instrumental tribute album, Come Together. A great sense of funkiness with smooth jazz to boot, every track here is definitely easy listening. FYI, Zachary Breaux suffered a heart attack while trying to save a drowning man in 1997 (RIP).
He is currently one of the most talented players in the death metal scene- Obscura's Rafael Trujillo. Like many others before him, he just left the Ibanez camp & now into the Kiesel turf. How do we stop people from switching loyalty? We can't. In addition to the product greatness per se, there are other push factors which are unseen to us. More often than not, it's the inability to give players what they want & that includes human support.
This is a mandatory purchase with any Kiesel, they won't ship any instruments out without one. This one was made to fit the Vader so it looks stunted, like a violin bag of sorts. The padding was impressive, will rival a MONO or GRUVGEAR, no doubt.
How the innards look like. I do not see any branded parts used so this is where they keep the costs in check but everything works to a tee, it's a matter of durability. You know how these things go dead in time to come for any instrument.
If you are ready for your Kiesel adventure here's an order overview:
10th March 2017: Order keyed in & submitted. It took them only a day to process the submission, downpayment & generate an order number. Awesome 👍
31st May 2017: Order completion & notice of final payment.
31st May 2017: Item shipped out
7th June 2017: Item received
The guitar could have been at my premises on 6th June as indicated by the shipment tracking log but FedEx chose to effect the actually delivery on the 7th instead. I re-scheduled my 6th June just to receive this guitar but it was a no-show & was rather pissed. However, in view of Ramadan, it might have affected some people's work schedule & I'm totally OK with that; a little consideration goes a long way.
This isn't my final Kiesel adventure for sure. Such an experience is important to me. It showed how an establishment commits itself to the sign of the times & they did well, I must say. The product in question is deserving of the asking price in view of the custom order status, the Kiesel camp stayed true to the exclusive vibe so hats off to them. With this in mind, we'd do well to scrutinize our expenditure when it comes to worthiness for our next purchase; is it worth buying something else knowing there's a custom shop experience waiting to be had? There are indeed standard production instruments out there rivalling custom shop status for this much money, John Page & Sugi-made guitars are among others. So today, the informed buyer will give much thought to worth as opposed to acquiring a certain brand name to fulfil status achievement.👌
This guitar was supposed to be my birthday present. Unfortunately, it didn't make it on my birthday due to procrastination. That's right, I deliberated late last year hoping the exchange rate would turn favourable but the opposite happened & I called the order off.
I had been eyeing the Kiesel range in June 2016 after the local dealer here cleared away their Carvin stock since Kiesel would be taking direct orders online, eliminating any third party costs which would eventually be borne unto the buyers- thank you Kiesel! 👍 Prior to this, I was set to purchase an offset Fender model, one from the American Pro range, which was also called off after seeing the prices compounded by some other complications that took place along the way (I do not wish to re-visit that episode). Along the way, Dhalif Ali invited me to try his Vader 7 & it somehow re-kindled my interest in all things Kiesel.
At that point in time, I had a month to go till my birthday so I keyed in the custom order but Kiesel don't rush their production, they don't wish to despite the circumstances; it affects quality & I was OK with it. Production was completed a week ago & final payment was made. I'm still playing this guitar & giving it thorough tests before putting up a deserving appraisal. This colour was intentional as it's the colour of that Fender I wished to purchase which also features a maple fretboard. Salt into the wound, you could say that 💣
I'm rather averse to buying guitars online. I need to play one in person before parting with good money. I need to be personally assured because guitars could be harbouring defects & the onus is on buyers to make sure they don't buy lemons. But we don't brush aside names like Kiesel in this consideration. They are guitar people & they make it their business to deliver their best, especially the fulfilment of specific instructions by the customers. These aren't regular production guitars, mind you.
As this was my initial dealing with Kiesel, being adventurous was not it in any way. I kept things simple & objective. I'm not a sucker for eye-catching flame tops so a solid finish was chosen. I prefer no fretboard inlays & that was made clear here. That's about it, everything else was recommended specs & things turned out brilliant. They had a $100 promo back then for added specs & I took that opportunity to include stainless steel frets. On this note, I'm dead serious when I expressed intentions to veer online for my guitar needs. Things are made more feasible these days with the advent of technology, the rest involves an element of trust. If you choose to stick strictly to what's available in the stores, you are limiting your choices & that could be costly. Let's see now, if I have opted for that Fender, I would have needed to fork out $700 more as opposed to what I paid for this Kiesel Vader 6. Lesser money for a custom shop affair- why not?
This may sound far-fetched & ridiculous but I dreamt of my BC Rich Gunslinger two nights ago. In that dream, I was laughed at because no sound came out of it. I couldn't recall if it was the amp's fault but it prompted me to bring this guitar out the following morning.
True enough, the pot was dead & I had Beez fixed in a new one yesterday. This time, it's a plain pot with no coil-splitting feature since I didn't use it much in this guitar.
I actually had this pack of strings in the guitar bag, no idea how long it's been hibernating in there but it's good to go. I'm not averse to the lesser known guitar string brands, I'm always game to try. Sometimes the obscure ones are full of pleasant surprises. 😁
Here's why I have no use for a coil split feature; I have a very high output pickup in there- the Lace Alumitone Deathbucker. I would deem it as an angrier DiMarzio X2N with no practical clan applications, let alone hearing it in single coil mode. I also swapped the default bridge out to the Graph Tech Floyd Rose-esque model. The original bridge was a Floyd Rose Special which I find detestable. The FRS features very brittle zinc parts which gave way more than once. So dreams are premonitions after all.