Tuesday, August 22, 2017

1997


Well, well, well... a 1997 Fender Frontline magazine was hiding between books, still in very good condition for a 20-year old publication. I used to bring this along to cafes for a good read back then. Life without wifi & data connection was simple & good.


That Strat on the cover- I wouldn't buy it. Look at that gap there, you'd wonder how it got through QC.


My first Fender was not a Strat for this reason; that headstock outline. Maybe I have OCD genes in me somewhere but I noticed how the trimming of that indicated outline was somehow 'wrong'. I've included the later, Y2K-ish headstock on the right for comparison. It seems that the design was somehow a little compressed at some points so to me it's quite repulsive. I bought a Tele 😜

Monday, August 21, 2017

JCM clean


I'm beginning to love this amp more. Whatever drive tones it was fabled for, the cleans in here were much overlooked. It accepted the chorus pedal well. The JCM800 wasn't known for go-to cleans. Its JTM/JMP siblings have more appealing cleans & that legendary break up tone unlike the excessive manifestation by the JCMs in general. Yes, I'm still wallowing in clean tones. Not after chimey, crystal clear voicings, just that appealing measure which helps get my ideas through. I'm not looking to buy any more Marshalls in time to come, I'm treasuring what I have right now. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Selling: Morgan OD


After some considerations, letting the Morgan OD go. For fans of vintage style overdrive with a dash of fuzz at high gain settings.
  • Selling: Morgan OD
  • 1mth old, includes box
  • No trades
  • Self-collect at CCK mrt station
  • Queries/confirmation: subversion.sg@gmail.com
  • Price: $185 (final)

AE goodness


The Ibanez AE series have come a long way in terms of quality. These were offered mostly as starter packs for those of us treading the path of despair when it comes to gear financing. The ones higher up the tier make good electric acoustic models but they are largely non-solid top models with acceptable tones. 

The AE245 model seen here is a solid mahogany top model in the $600 price bracket. This is one of the later inclusions that pay homage to details & tone, effectively shifting away from affordability focus per se. It plays darn well for a cut away model & has some great warmth to the ring, thanks to the mahogany attributes, of course. You'd be hard pressed to find a similar offering from the Big 3 names here (Martin/ Taylor/ Takamine) as they skimp in areas which could have made the instrument more befitting when it comes to unplugged goodness. Some tones in action:

Supremacy


Would you pay serious attention to instruments with a fashion label collaboration? I'm awaiting further details to read if that white fretboard there would likely add measures to tone. It's safe to assume that the price of this one would be astronomical. Enough said. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Stealth lite


ISP's new Stealth Ultra Lite power amp adds to the list of portable power amp for those of us who would like a simple, speaker-focused set up. This should give Seymour Duncan's Power Stage a some competition in terms of price & mobility considerations. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Return of greenie


EHX is re-introducing the Russian Big Muff (green) & it's gonna be a little more compact than what it used to be- looking forward 👍🏾

Monday, August 14, 2017

Price watch (9)


This 2017 Ibanez Premium RG6PC is now available here if you are interested in one.


This Prestige RG2550Z is also available and lists for $50 less than the RG6PC.

What am I driving at? I would classify both guitars as very high quality but we know the Premium model is not Japan-made & sits lower in terms of hierarchy, compared to the Prestige. Granted, the RG2550Z in the stores here might be a NOS unit & it accounts for that price difference but I'm reiterating the fact that as we hesitate to get the instruments we prefer, prices keep climbing. Very soon, the Prestige will necessitate a higher list price because it's a Prestige; it's of higher standing than the Premium & the prices should reflect the circumstances. 

On another note, we see the psychology of brand-price relationship. Nobody would want to pay too much for a non-Japanese Ibanez model but the fact that it's a Premium model, something that arguably commands a little more respect in terms of QC, the manufacturer wouldn't hesitate to place it in the higher price range. Consumers would subconsciously agree to this classification as well due to that crucial label there: Premium. Remove this from the instrument, it's just another Far Eastern manufactured instrument regardless of whatever soaring levels of QC it's manifesting. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Firm decision


For many of us, putting a certain guitar through a certain set is desecration. This is especially true when the guitar in question is revered for its application in a certain music genre. I still remember how a certain salesperson in a certain guitar store explicitly tell customers that the Telecaster is for country music only. This character had gone on to achieve cult status because everyone who had gone through his narrative in the said store was able to cite this claim. It is with this entry, my friends, that I urge you to put our gear through its deserving set up because your gear serves you. This is with respect to the type of music you play & the supplements you use to get you there. 

This afternoon for instance, I thought my Telecaster sounded great with a dose of distortion in the set up. Ordinarily, I would only employ a drive pedal to address my gain needs when it comes to single coils but the distortion simply took the response to another level so it deserves to be there. Even the Tele honk sounded great with a distortion. The disclaimer here is of course, whatever you decide to employ to get the job done, has to sound great to you. Others might disagree with your set up, that's because they have different needs & on that note, we all do.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Your brother?


Looks like Floyd Rose has a brother 😐 In any case, the bridges in Ibanez guitars are not the Floyd Rose or any of its variants. Note the corrosion level of this instrument.

Sound Advice: Marty Friedman


I am indeed this type of player. I strive to hear my inner thoughts, the music ringing in my mind, that idea waiting for me to be unleashed just by figuring it out & making the connections on the fretboard. I can never come to terms with chords & chordal progression. There are pros, seasoned players, qualified people out there telling me to get a grip on theory because it matters. But these people are telling me to go where I'm not heading to. I'm more experimental & a play-by-ear type of person who thrive on shackle-free initiatives. This is the reason why my heavy metal manifestations are stronger & above all else. I can't get along with people who sit down & strum chords to popular songs. So there you go. 

Vela Reid


So it finally happened- Vernon Reid's gotten his signature PRS. It moved away from being traditional by incorporating a locking, dual action whammy bridge, a V-profile neck as well as a humbucking neck pickup. That eccentric pick guard won't win fans over readily but it simply suits the personality of both the player & instrument. 

This is an important development for PRS because: 1) The Vela has finally gotten an ambassador 2) It's an endorsement for the S2 series. The Vela was PRS' initial offset model which was a hit/miss for the market at its time of release but from the way things are shaping up, it's more of a hit. The offset outline is a subtle shift from the usual double cutaway design but it was done not to be radical. The S2 range is picking up steam as it is, we see more adventurous involvements lately & it's a firm statement by the manufacturer; the S2 models mean something, they are not just there to appeal to the cost wary individuals. Let's hear what Mr. Reid has to say about his new squeeze:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lush (2)


More lush tones last night as I ended the day with my Edwards (E-ST-90ALR) seen here. The pickups on board are not Seymour Duncans & I can hear the difference between this guitar & my Strat played the day before. Maybe it's not about the brand name but how they were wound at the factory; these pickups are in-house models with no special trimmings to enhance the sonic responses of this guitar. As such, the cleans coming out from this one was rather harsh. I might just add an EQ pedal in the set up next time.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lush


Had some playing time yesterday (public holiday); no overdrive, just the Strat & my chorus. I still believe that the single coil pickup does better for cleans compared to its humbucker counterpart. If you wish to get out of a rut, one way to do it is to employ a different set up, one which is preferably not your cup of tea & compel your way through it. 😁

CITES grip: ESP


Greetings, guitar dweebs. ESP has finally released some details pertaining to their directions as the CITES regulations are put in place. Most of the instruments concern export models, namely the LTD range & that's kind of expected. Starting with the 400 series instruments, fretboards will be replaced with jatoba. This is a dark wood type which, in native Brazil, is known as Brazilian Cherry.


Series 200- fretboard will be blackwood in due time. This is a pine-based composite & will be quite a departure from the solid rosewood on offer.


Series 1000/ signature fans (aka Deluxe models), high standards are to be retained here with the use of pau ferro/ macassar ebony. Pau ferro had been the staple of acoustic builders, preferring it for backs/sides. The resonance of pau ferro is closer to maple than rosewood. So the precaution here is that, if you are hoping for similar warmth to rosewood, you might end up with a brighter-sounding instrument instead. 


The most agonizing change, the way I see it, is the entry level Series 10 models. The fretboard of these instruments will feature a composite material; that's right, it's not even wood to begin with. Either that, or wood presence would be in trace amounts. The manufacturer promises an 'acceptable' replacement so we just have to trust their move.

Ladies & gents, we are hereby witnessing the rapid effect of wood legislation on commercial entities. These people either think of a way round the current stipulations or they suffer a worse fate- losing & winding down. If you are particular when it comes to wood specs for some guitars, do act soon. Prices are on the upward trend for rosewood-equipped instruments (not by an astronomical amount but it could be unreasonable for many of us). People will soon cash in on the situation especially in the aftermarket. Big names like Fender/Gibson will be offered in obscene prices & these will be tagged as 'rare' by ignorant fools. The worse fools are the ones who ended up buying, of course. 

I'm saying this because a rosewood equipped instrument is not superior than those that feature other wood types- don't let anyone tell you different. Differences in tone would be more perceived than absolute. Prices suffer an unfortunate appreciation not due to quality concern but a demand-supply bearing. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fender - SD promo


Great promo from 35 Guitar Avenue- a Seymour Duncan upgrade with every purchase of a Fender (Japan) instrument. Please contact the store for further details: 6352 2636

PIC: 35 Guitar Avenue FB

52nd ND


A very happy 52nd birthday to my beloved country. Every year when I look forward to another level of progress, I always feel the country is run by a pack of elitists who think they are too smart for others to appraise. Whatever it is, I'm grateful for the peaceful living conditions here coupled with the outstanding efforts to check progress. Remember to spend time with family & your guitar(s), of course. 😁

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Holiday eve re-string


Had some spare time today so it's re-string time. My Fender Marauder here is one of the easiest instrument to play due to the action, neck profile & pickups chemistry. I was skeptical having to  part with good money but this guitar re-inforces my belief that the country of origin (China or otherwise) matters very little if the instrument is well-made. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fender: American Standard Telecaster


The new Fender is an American Standard Telecaster in this rather doom-esque green finish that threatens to be grey under certain lighting. I'm currently looking at some guitars here at the stores which are still in stock despite being discontinued (largely from the Jackson, Ibanez & Fender family. I have no further considerations for Ibanez in the mean time, the Jacksons are mostly equipped with locking double whammy bridges which I'm not too keen to invest in & so that left me with Fender. The American Standard models were discontinued this year & there are still some floating around in the market sporting their original prices. When I bought my first American-made Telecaster in 1999, I managed to get it for less than $1K. Fast forward some 18 years later, the same guitar in the series are about $900 more expensive than they used to be. Prices are moving up & it's crazy. Between the two guitars, nothing had changed much but prices continue to observe an upward trend.


I don't recall getting these in the purchase bundle back then but it's good to see them included in the hard case. I'm not too keen with a Fender brand accessory when I know there are others out there with a more proven price-quality ratio. 


The pickups in my 90s Tele didn't get played much because they were below par when it comes to tone & I have my preferences when it comes to what's good for me. The CS pickups here were semi-awful at the store when I plugged the guitar into a Marshall amp but they are different beasts with my set up at home. They will definitely remain in the instrument as I plan to keep everything stock as much as possible. The string saddles may require a re-think as they affect comfort with my playing posture. 

Yes, I opted for a rosewood fretboard this time round for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my other American Tele sports a maple fretboard so the rosewood consideration was for variety's sake. Secondly, with the CITES situation threatening to make lives miserable for guitar dweebs everywhere, availability & prices are definitely going to be affected. Fender has already discontinued using rosewood for some of its models & charging extras for the existing models with this wood type.  I find the latter account unreasonable but cost considerations are inevitable for commercial entities. They need to be careful & make it more respectable for buyers pertaining to price issues especially  so when the competitors offer products which surpass the flag bearer's quality & aesthetics among others. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Olympia promo (gentle reminder)


Alrighty! The Olympia strings promo ends on 9th August so this is the final weekend of doing your part for the environment. Present an empty Olympia strings box upon purchase to get a 50c discount, all used string boxes will be sent for recycling by the good people of Music Theme. 👍 How to get there:


Nearest MRT Station: City Hall, buses stopping at Adelphi (cross the road to head to Coleman St, at the junction of St Andrew's Cathedral): 61/ 7/ 197/ 80/ 961/ 51/ 32/ 851/ 195

El-cheapo Epi


Cheap, pre-loved Epiphone amp. Bought for office use- missing washer, loose fittings, crackling pots; all attended to. 😁

SV Guitars: Festive promo


Greetings, gear geeks 😁

This Swing Korina singlecut guitar is going for $488 at SV Guitars. However, the National Day 2017  SV Guitars promo is listing it for $399 & the package includes: Amplifier, strap, instrument cable & a bag. That's definitely value for money. Also on the promo list are Classic X & GL-300 models. Colour availbility- please call the store for further details: 63383371

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Final few


Before things take a turn for the worse (price/ availability), might as well. 😑

Low riding- yet again


Back to playing Ibanez but the RGD this time round. The volume & tone pots are heading towards death, it seems. I made it a point to spray them periodically (contact cleaner) even when I don't play this guitar but some things are expendable. 

This guitar is tuned to C# & strung with a set of 11s. Despite the thicker string gauge, I managed to set this guitar up for a comfortable riff/lead application. Every time I take this RGD321 out for a workout, I learned something new. This time, it's how lower tunings react to drive. I observed that such a tuning benefits greatly with a slightly more treble end spike in terms of EQ to promote clarity. It helps if the pickups contribute in this address & on that note, active units fare better than passive ones. If this is in place, whatever distortion/drive units are added to the chain, it'll most probably work out rather than hearing ill definition. 

For my case, I still prefer passive pickups because dealing with active units mean the instrument is destined to be a one-trick pony. The Seymour Duncan Dimebucker here has a prickly midrange response & the overall tone evens out with lower tuning. It is therefore constructive to read up on what a pickup offers in terms of tone before committing it into your instrument. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bursting it


It's another costly Gibson (got USD5K?) from the custom shop- Les Paul Standard Custom Burstdriver, they call it.


The 'plus' feature here is the manufacturer's inclusion of an on-board overdrive circuit at the rear. Let's ask ourselves if this is addressing a particular problem any of us is facing in the mean time. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ash - maple


As the CITES authority tightens its grip, we see more Ibanez models featuring a maple fretboard. This RG421 also features a gorgeous blue-based finish (coupled with those visible ash grains- awesome); personally, I'm rather sick of the sunburst finish. It's as agonizing as buying a black guitar. On that note, many Ibanez fans find a matching body-headstock combo more appealing than a standard black version. It adds a more personal touch I would say. Kudos to Ibanez for making charming, affordable guitars. 

Driving Morgan


As boutique as it is, the Morgan OD is not meant for some applications. I bought it last weekend & had given it a rigorous application. Thusfar, it's a good match for a decent clean amp & has a good fuzz potential at upper end settings for both GAIN & VOLUME. Fair warning to metal heads- not a delightful booster type unit for angry amps, also not as forthcoming with lower tunings & active pickups. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Get through it


A through-neck Ibanez RGA for the Summer (RGAT62) with a pair of singing DiMarzios (Air Norton/TZ). That see-through finish is respectable.