Monday, July 31, 2017

A chorus of approval

I'm ending July with this sharing. I've been plugging solid body guitars into my acoustic amp for clean tones. The tone benefits from the onboard chorus feature, making it a little brighter so that the instrument's tone knob can be of more use to vary proceedings. Many of us are guilty of ignoring the tone control, letting it be at maximum setting regardless of what we play, be it driven or clean tones.

That's right, the key consideration there is chorus; it makes clean tones happier & more defined in terms of clarity. Fellow chorus users, I don't know if you hear this but I am very happy with that slight push in gain when the chorus is activated. I went out to hunt for the most affordable chorus pedal out there to make sure I wasn't tripping on make belief. The Danelectro Cool Cat chorus here was less than $40 & it generates a range of very inviting tones. I'm not a modulation fan, effects like chorus, phaser & flanger are very annoying (to me) & they get in the way of single note definition. However, the chorus is something beneficial for clean tones & shouldn't be written off for its less than appealing performance with distortion in general. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Price watch: Fender American Special

Now that the Fender American Standard models had been removed from the catalog & replaced with the American Pro line, the most affordable American Fender instrument is the American Special which recently saw a 24%+/- price hike (happening everywhere)- no revision in features though, just the price. As we hesitate, prices go up 😒

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Spalted mirage

A new one by Edwards- a spalted maple top (alder body) 7-string M-series. Looks like Edwards are slowly (but surely) revamping their line up. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lo strike

I used to own the Carl Martin Plexi Tone, sold it away as I prefer a Marshall amp drive to pedal emulation. This Lo-gain version was struck off my wish list because I managed to grab a JHS Morning Glory which offers a polite break-up type Marshall tone (Bluesbreaker if you will) with enough creamy goodness to prevent it from treading the Tube Screamer way. However, a recent re-think made me try this Lo-gain version. The aforementioned voicing aside, cranking this up (Level) while keeping the Gain pretty low (25% or lesser) turned it into a potent boost. So what appealed (to me) really, was the saturation coupled with low gain, lower than I usually use. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Head turner

Still bringing you some Summer NAMM 2017 left-overs; Ibanez RGR652. That's right, the RG652 is so darn appealing (up to your interpretation, that), they have make a reverse headstock version of it while retaining the ash body & DiMarzio (Fusion Edge) humbuckers. No idea if these will make it here. 😕

Monday, July 24, 2017

G&L goodness

So a good guitar deserves a worthy mention. This one's a G&L ASAT Classic, basically a good American. It's not hiding the fact that it's a Telecaster & a proud manifestation of a hallowed heritage. I particularly like the satin finished neck; it's not too silky & does not require excessive time for a broken in feel. 

It's not mine though, belongs to a cousin- you might know his band, Urban Sensation. The instruction was to re-set up the guitar for a set of 10s & it so happened that I had a pack of 10 - 46 Blue Steel in the house. 

The guitar is a pre-owned instrument & from what I was dealing with, it looked under-played with almost no signs of wear (or play) at all, less the oxidized pair of screws that mount the metal control plate to the body. The frets looked dull as well & those received the fret eraser treatment. The string saddles were re-aligned to accommodate the new action which required a little height increment. 

Tone-wise, the Alnico pickups aren't high octane & they sound sweet clean. Under some settings, the neck sounded woolly & on the brink of turning muddy but a spike in treble over at the amp did help with clarity. I got the sweetest response with a Tube Screamer pedal pushing a dirty amp channel running on 1/4 drive; Nick Johnston territory with a Tele twang input- not bad at all.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


I'm too used to having polishing fluid for fret work so I'm giving the eraser a go. Unlike the fluid, the eraser bits do not seep into the fretboard gaps where the frets are embedded & turn into gunk over time. 

Downside is dealing with the eraser dust, something your Mrs will grumble over should you forget to clean it up. 😁

Your buddy

You've seen portable speakers before, the palm-size version that screams louder than what the size suggests. The people from Fluid Audio has a guitar version of it featuring on board drive & chorus- the Strum Buddy. Listen to this:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Merrow - Johnston

Awaiting further details from Davis GMC 👍👍

RIP: Bill Collings

A little late but better than never. A sad day in the acoustic universe as Bill Collings passed away on 15th July 2017. We have big name acoustics here in the stores but we don't see Collings largely due to its boutique price tag but we know Bill made some of the best out there. RIP, Bill Collings (August 9, 1948 - July 14, 2017)

Friday, July 21, 2017

RG Ash

Still at the Ibanez front- the ash version of the RG652 gets a new finish. This was listed in the 2017 catalog in January but only released now (Summer). 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New blue

It's been listed in the 2017 catalog but just released this summer- the Ibanez S521 in a faded blue finish, they call it ocean fade metallic. It's not listed in the Singapore website, chances of this making it here is slim. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Small & trending

Just when I thought Fender was roped into the desktop amp camp, I thought wrong. Fender just released a pair of bluetooth speakers, in the likes of Marshall's Kilburn, Acton & family. I'm better off with amps, not speakers. 😐

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ibanez: RGD3127

Ibanez's Summer 2017 NAMM release- RGD3127. It's an RGD so the scale length is a little longer & we have DiMarzio Fusion Edge pickups in there. Also, it's good to see a Lo-Pro Edge bridge. Are we surprised that it's not sporting a rosewood fretboard (hint: CITES)?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Beat it

Guitar dweebs, at times, need a simple accompaniment for maybe a gear demo. It might just be a simple backing rhythm section for a small venue performance as well. Digitech's SDrum seen here is a pedal format drum machine that raises the standards by being a little more intelligent. We know how limited working with a pedal-type rhythm implement could be so adding some human touch is the way to go. See if you have a use for it:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fender: CP-60s

No idea if it's an in thing to have a parlour version of your acoustic line but this body design sure helps inject some enjoyment into playing. This is especially true for people (like your truly) who aren't acoustic inclined but resort to acoustics for inspiration. From Summer NAMM as well, Fender has this arguably affordable CP-60s (listing for USD199) with very acceptable features: Mahogany neck, back & sides, rosewood fingerboard & a solid spruce top.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Which way?

You either know how to do it or you don't. For those of us who don't, we entrust others to do it but that doesn't mean they know for sure. I'm talking about the direction of your string winding round the machine heads.

References these days are quick & easy, if you still can't bring yourself to at least check how it's done, why should we give you the considerations? 

Katana desktop

Finally, a true contender to the Blackstar FLY3 amp in terms of serious tone offerings & features. The  BOSS Katana series of amps isn't new but this scaled down version is.

2 modes of dirt & a clean in the offerings, full EQ section & delay. Many desktop units fell short in terms of performance, we have the 5150III version for that illustration & the Ibanez DAG amp was forgettable. Let's wait & see how this one measure up against the competition.

Looks like the people at Andertons are enjoying it. 😐

Friday, July 14, 2017

Most affordable

Creating quite a buzz is the Epiphone LP SL. Touted to be the most affordable LP ever (where have we heard that before?), the instrument features a pair of single coil pickups (some sources citing them as stacked single coils instead- to be confirmed) instead of humbuckers. They've included the slim taper neck profile for this one & comes in 6 finishes. Listing for USD99.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

SN2017: George's rose

Summer NAMM updates are coming in fast & furious. Fender is releasing this commemorative (limited run of 1,000 only) George Harrison (who's he again?) rosewood Tele (chambered body version this time due to weight considerations). Due to CITES enforcements, don't dream of getting this online. If your country's authorised Fender distributor is getting these in, then good for you. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Box of 40th

Following the success of its 40th Anniversary Distortion (DS-1), BOSS now has a box set offering as a follow-up. The Phaser (PS-1), Over Drive (OD-1) & Spectrum (SP-1) will be offered in a single box of three, only 1,500 units will be set for worldwide distribution.

I just want the OD-1... how? 😓

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Distorting Vader

Managed to squeeze in some playing time last night despite being exhausted. Nothing spectacular, just legato runs. It's equally a chromatic fingering exercise. Anyway, just stating the fact that some of our favourite go-to pedals simply don't work well with some guitars. The Kiesel Vader here sounds more inviting with distortion than overdrive. So thank goodness for variety- it's good to at least have a reference unit (chorus/ delay/ flanger/ etc.) even if you know it's not your thing. There is no sure formula when it comes to tone.  Just make sure you are open to alternatives. 😁

Monday, July 10, 2017

PRS S2: Vela Semi (Reclaimed)

PRS recently launched a limited run of instruments featuring reclaimed wood. Both the Vela (S2 series, semi-solid) & CE 24 (semi-solid) in the offerings feature peroba rosa as body tops & brauna preto as fretboards. Both instruments feature a satin finish with no colour coating to conceal flaws, construction scars & attachment holes. These are definitely tell-tale signs of wood being given a second life for a worthy cause. 

Construction, fit, finish
The typical PRS philosophy dictates that every instrument in its USA charge be given that very close scrutiny & this includes the ones from the S2 range. This Vela Reclaimed model is a typical S2 member & speaks for the PRS QC standards in general; excellent from top to bottom. As the body is an unfinished unit, the raw feel is especially pronounced round the F-hole edges. This might be the only point of contention as everything else was well done; very high standards, nothing unusual if you bear the PRS monicker. 

Feel, tone
Peroba rosa is a heavy wood type. The semi-solid routing done here was to facilitate weight-resonance relationship as much as tone. So if you thought it's a tone thing, it's a weight thing as well. This satin finished neck is as addictive as a gloss version on the standard S2 Vela, it's down to the profile. PRS' 'regular' cut means there is no particular emphasis on rounded or flat dynamics. It's comfortable & appeal to many playing styles. Coming to the brauna preto fretboard, feel-wise, it manifests a very ebony-type hardness but those open pores there mean there is a semblance of rosewood in the works. 

The pickups here are exactly the models in the gloss-finished Vela; a Type-D single coil & a Starla bridge. In terms of clarity, the single coil has more to offer in both clean & driven modes. The bridge humbucker in this case, sounded very acceptable at high gain settings. There seems to be no let up in terms of clarity unlike the glossed out Vela where things tend to get wooly with more distortion dialled up. Two considerations to account for this; the satin finish & semi solid construction. These 'breathing' features contribute rather markedly to warmth as well. This isn't a cheesy attempt to rope in the metal posse but there's a good serving of metal here despite the instrument being a little hollow.

I own both the solid body Vela & this semi-solid model. If you ask me now which version I prefer, I'd say this satin finished take plus a hint of emptiness in the body, is it. The clarity on offer was unexpected. I had plans to swap the bridge pickup out after the solid body experience but I'm convinced, after a personal encounter, the Starla humbucker deserves to be there. The thing with uncelebrated wood type is, it makes or breaks the instrument. PRS has a scrupulous set of criteria when it comes to wood considerations & both the peroba rosa & brauna preto make the cut. Regardless of their unknown nature, they didn't de-PRS the instrument in terms of tone & feel. If you have to put your money on people who know what they are doing, the PRS camp would be a fine bet. 

Overall rating: 89%

Product availability: Davis GMC
Price: Quotation upon availability

Note: As this model is a limited run, it is not a standard inventory of Davis GMC. Please talk to the them if you wish to arrange for a purchase. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

PRS clinic

Saturday afternoon at the Colonial @ Scotts. An afternoon of PRS show & tell of sorts.

That's right, coffee & wine on the house. A very big thank you to the good people at Davis for the generous servings. Good beverage & good guitar times do go hand in hand. 👍

On to the clinic proper, we have PRS rep, Jose Chaure, helming the session. In addition to the guitars, there was inside sharing pertaining to wood, hardware, pickups & other PRS philosophies. The general forbearance here is that PRS is downright fastidious when it comes to details. It's the primary philosophy of Paul Reed Smith himself who continues to supervise proceedings at the factory. Jose, by the way, spent time with Fender & Taylor prior to being a PRS employee. 

Jose brought his personal guitar along, a P22 model (P = Piezo equipped) in a custom blue finish. The guitar per se is a touring highlight with nicks & dings to showcase a well-travelled account but from a distance, the guitar looked pristine. It's equipped with a pair of 57/08 pickups (uncovered version), awesome tones from start to end.

Along with the guitar, Jose's Mrs took the front row to capture all the details of the show. 

All in all, it was a very relaxed presentation. Along with definitive PRS accounts were short performances; we heard Blackmore & Satriani among others, to put forth the tone highlight. On a personal note, I enjoy clinics more than downright shows. I value the educational bit of interaction as it empowers the individual to make informed choices in time to come. Once again, thanks to Davis GMC for making this happen.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Goodbye, Ibanez

Another Ibanez departure...

... Angel Vivaldi into the Charvel camp. 👍

Friday, July 7, 2017


If you've been following the band Ghost, you'd know the Gibson RD is big with the guitarists in that act.

This Summer 2017, we see a Ghost-Hagstrom collaboration- the Fantomen they call it. Downside- it features a composite fretboard called Resinator. Touted to be as ebony as it can be, the fact that it's a composite doesn't sit too well with many of us in terms of confidence. Upside- a pair of Lundgren alnico-based pickups.

PRS clinic

Anyone checking out PRS tomorrow? 😁

Thursday, July 6, 2017


If you think the silverburst finish is a mainstay with Gibson instruments, these FSR instruments seen here are ready to make a debut this Summer, all three are from the American Pro series.

Lest we forget, we saw a silverburst HSS Strat from the Modern Player series not too long ago. The fact that an instrument at the opposite end of the price range could sport a silverburst has a clear implication; it's non-exclusive & could be done economically. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Last 3

Welcome, folks, to another instalment of my last 3 CDs purchase. I am extreme by nature & this interest in all things heavy metal is unrelenting as the years go by. As I am also a guitar-inclined individual, I pay special attention to extreme bands with meaningful guitar inclusions. That's right. meaningful & nothing too devotional towards shred guitar. In the case of serious technicalities manifesting in heavy music, to me, these are a real bonus. Song focus is first & foremost.

1. Enslaved- Roadburn Live
I'm not too big a fan when it comes to live recordings because chances are, the songs covered were stuff I've heard before. Also, live recordings are mostly tampered with in terms of production to cover up imperfections before selling them off thus defeating the purpose of capturing live performances. Nevertheless, I do keep a lookout for bands with exceptional live vibes & Enslaved is one of them. This collection of tunes were from, you guessed it, the band's live performance in 2015's Roadburn festival. The thing with Enslaved is, they have this prog twist in their metal since 2004's Isa & it makes listening to them very enjoyable in a live context. The highlight of this release is the concluding number which is a Led Zappelin cover, Immigrant Song, which will surely become a hit come Thor's Ragnarok movie (November 2017). Sadly, this release is also the final performance for Herbrand Larsen (keyboards) who is responsible for the band's clean vocals. As at time of posting, the band has yet to find a deserving replacement. 

2. Firespawn- The Reprobate
A meeting of potent characters- Firespawn in a nutshell. I was thinking, a supergroup like this might call it off after a spectacular debut but 18 months ahead, The Reprobate proved to be another lethal collection of songs. You might be thinking that this band is an opportunity for the members of Entombed AD/ Necrophobic/ Skin Eater/ Unleashed to further their respective band's agenda but it's simply a sum greater than its parts. To note- more lead fills heard here, guitar-wise.

3. Suffocation- ...of The Dark Light
A rather defining moment for the band with two new members Moratti (drums) & Errigo (guitars) who proved second to none in terms of expectations & technicalities. There was no pressure to outperform their respective predecessors, of course. The primary interest here, as presented by long time member, Hobbs (guitars) was whether this duo could keep up with the Suffocation philosophy. In any band context, song priority should precede other intrinsic issues. If the band gets this right, regardless of the line up changes, there will be no drastic turnover. Maybe Gilmour's role in Pink Floyd might ring a bell. After this exploit, it's good to know that Suffocation is still in tact & as coherent as ever.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tom Quayle @ SG

I was at the Tom Quayle guitar clinic last night, a very cosy venue & great acoustics to boot 👍

This was Mr. Quayle's set up, the fact that we could hear him through both his amp & the monitors meant it was a great surround sound experience. 

The t-shirt inclusion was unexpected.

Tom Quayle is a very technical guitar proponent. There is no letting down when it comes to theory so things could get very technical, very quickly but it didn't. This is where the skilful teacher weaves his magic. Tom Quayle put forth his theoretical grasps conceptually; spatial relationship, visual relationship & repetitions were among some interesting approaches served. The good teacher made sure information overload was dealt with via bite size servings. Complexity made simple. Done. This was my main take away from this session, coming from a non-musical background, there is much respite dealing with music this way. How would you approach the guitar your way because your way would be the best way for you.

Kudos to Davis GMC for  not pulling off (no pun intended) a hard selling stance to push the Laney products through. In fact, there was scant commercial dealings to begin with but we know that, through last night's experience, Laney's Lionheart amp is one of the best value-for-money unit out there in terms of pristine clean tones, the other side of Fender. Awesome! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Distorting anger

Some stuff.
  1. An angry amp will see your anger through. More precisely, if you wish for some extreme distortion, you'd be more successful addressing it over at the amp- get a high gain unit, first & foremost.
  2. Push it, push it some more. If you think everything is OK 👌 but have a feeling it can do better with a little push, get a basic drive/distortion pedal. Let's relate to the set up seen above. The EVH 5150 is a raging beast. My distortion unit only works well in the blue (crunch) channel where there's a little restraint of sorts. The red (lead) channel will mush individual notes up given the pedal treatment. I had to switch to an OD unit (my 2 fav reference: Pro Tone Dead Horse/ BOSS OD-3) to ensure some clarity while keeping it very angry. So let's not assume whatever pedal you have in your collection would turn out well with an amp of choice.
  3. Your guitar will deliver if you know your gear. My semi-hollow PRS Mira seen here is perhaps the 'wrong' choice for some angry black metal during a festive weekend (tell me about it!). We'd think a solid body instrument would be the wiser choice but as it was yesterday, the Mira was a perfect inclusion despite its hollow element (embrace the feedback if you choose to tread this path).
So the implication here is definitely a sum of the whole. That's right, every bit of your set up matters & there's no one attribute that reduces the final consideration even if it means putting something in there which isn't first choice to begin with. 

Hey, anyone checking out Tom Quayle later? 😁

PIC: Davis GMC

Saturday, July 1, 2017


Still on the ESP front, the USA branch now offers a simple configurator for you to mess with some options prior to purchase. The way I see this, it's bringing the USA market closer to the custom shop experience not that the standard production models are in need of further customization. For a more detailed custom specs, one can always revert to the Japanese website 😊

Hello, July!