General Interest

PRS Introduces Vernon Reid Signature Model

I Heart Guitar - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 21:24

Vernon Reid is one of my favourite guitarists, and a damn nice guy as well. He’s been playing PRS Guitars for a few years now and has solidified his partnership with the company via a new limited edition signature model, the S2 VR Vela. I love so many things about this guitar, from the Floyd Rose to the pickguard to the choice of colours. And I can’t wait to hear it in action on Living Colour’s new record, Shade, out next month. Here’s the press release. 

(STEVENSVILLE, MD) August 8, 2017 – PRS Guitars is pleased to announce a new limited edition model in the S2 series of US made electric guitars: The S2 VR Vela. Developed with Living Colour founder, Vernon Reid, the VR Vela is a commanding instrument with a cult personality and tons of tonal textures.

Initially attracted by the Vela’s offset body shape, Vernon took the S2 Vela to another level through a unique set of appointments. Loaded with two HFS pickups, the S2 VR Vela has an aggressive sound with clear highs and strong mids and bass. The Floyd Rose 1000 Series tremolo adds new sonic options for players and provides the confidence to dive bomb without going out of tune. The S2 VR Vela also features a “V-shape” neck that feels full and strong in your hand and a unique pickguard designed by Vernon himself.  

“I love the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it sounds. I think it’s really meant for the player that is prepared to go all different kinds of places. It’s the kind of instrument that invites people to experiment and just have a good time. Whatever kind of music you want to play…whatever you want to plug the guitar into.” Vernon Reid

There is no limit to the number of S2 VR Vela guitars that will be made, but the order window is open from August 8 – September 30, 2017 only through authorized PRS Dealers.

To explore the S2 Series and to see the new S2 VR Vela, please visit www.prsguitars.com.

About PRS Guitars:

Paul Reed Smith Guitars is a leading manufacturer of high quality instruments in Stevensville, Maryland and has provided some of the world’s most renowned musicians with instruments since 1985. The PRS team of highly skilled craftspeople design and build a wide variety of musical instruments and gear for worldwide distribution, including electric, acoustic, and bass guitars as well as boutique-style guitar amplifiers. The PRS SE line of products complements the Maryland-made PRS line by offering highly approachable and more affordable electric, acoustic, and bass guitars. Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, John McLaughlin, John Mayer, Linkin Park, Orianthi, Blake Shelton, Mark Tremonti, Zach Myers of Shinedown, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, David Grissom, Martin Simpson, Tony McManus, and Derek Trucks are among the artists currently playing PRS instruments and/or amplifiers.

PRS Guitars Info: www.prsguitars.com

The post PRS Introduces Vernon Reid Signature Model appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

The Squier Bullet Strat project – part 3

Lone Phantom - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 15:00

The Squier Bullet Strat project has been coming along nicely. With the aid of the Wilkinson bridge’s full size sustain block, Hantug Custom Guitars brass saddles and titanium spring claw, the guitar sounds great unplugged. The DiMarzio made IBZ/USA stacked single coil, in conjunction with the stock Squier pickups are sounding pretty sweet, and the upgrade to the Graphtech Black TUSQ XL nut means the guitar is staying in tune better than it previously did. The next step was to get the bridge mounted properly on all six screws, and shield the pickup and control cavity.

Filling and drilling holes to mount a vintage-style 6 screw Strat bridge is a bit of a daunting piece of DIY work, even when there’s only two of the six holes that need to be taken care of. The holes need to be lined up perfectly, and drilled perfectly level, a job best done with a bench drill. I don’t have one of these, but I decided to give it a go with my hand drill, using a clever trick to try and get the hole drilled as accurately as possible. But first off, the original outer holes needed to be filled.

To take care of the holes I picked up a dowel joining kit, as well as some wood glue from my local hardware store. I measured the existing hole depth using a bamboo skewer, marking the depth on the side of the skewer. I then lined up the guide on the dowel kit drill bit to ensure I didn’t drill too far. I then drilled out the holes, ready for the dowels to be inserted.

After cleaning out the holes I placed a bit of wood glue into holes, followed by the dowels. Once the glue started to set I realised that I stupidly forgot to trim the dowels to suit the hole depth, making my life a lot harder than I really needed to. Upon the glue setting, I had to cut the dowels close to body level, taking care not to accidentally mess the body up. I then taped of the body around the dowels and started sanding with a 220 grit sandpaper, until the dowels were level with the body. A Dremel would have been super handy to take care of cutting and sanding the dowels, but unfortunately I didn’t have one on hand.

I got onto shielding the pickup and control cavities while I had the pickguard off.  I used aluminium foil tape to take care of the shielding duties since it’s easy to cut to size and apply, and you don’t have wait anything to dry, as you would if you applied shielding paint. I also put some tape on the pickguard so I could minimise any interference.

Once all of this was done I was ready to properly install the bridge. I put the bridge back in place, using the four inside screws to line it up. I then carefully marked where the new holes were to be drilled with a small tipped hole punch.  I removed the bridge and got ready to drill the starter holes for the screws.

I wanted to see if I could find a way to accurately drill the holes with a hand drill since I didn’t have a drill press on hand. A quick google search found a good hack to getting a hole drilled as straight as possible, by using a CD or DVD. Basically You sit the disk on the surface to be drilled, data side down, and use the reflection to line the drill bit up. Since I  was drilling into fairly soft timber, and the Strat bridge uses wood screws, I just drilled starter holes, and then used my electric screwdriver to drive the screws in. I brought the strings back to tune and stretched them again, and was pleasantly surprised by how well the guitar stayed in tune after a bit of work on the whammy bar. Even with the stock tuners, the guitar was capable of staying in relative tune.

It was great to see that I could install the bridge properly with only the most basic of hand tools, and a bit of clever life-hacking. The shielding will help with noise-related issues, and is a cheap upgrade that anyone can do at home. The next upgrades will be replacing the nasty stock tuners with some better quality units, string trees, and finishing off the white to black transformation.

Categories: General Interest

Dweezil To Tour Australia & NZ In 2018

I Heart Guitar - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 04:24
I am so utterly, utterly excited about this. Dweezil Zappa is returning to Australia and New Zealand in February to not only play shows but also present a series of exclusive guitar masterclasses too!
 
PRESS RELEASE: David Roy Williams in collaboration with Principal Entertainment present Dweezil Zappa, son of the legendary Frank Zappa, celebrating 50 years of Zappa with a series of concerts and exclusive guitar masterclasses in Australia & New Zealand in early 2018.
 
Sheik Yerbouti next February, 2018 as the legendary music of Frank Zappa is celebrated live on stage by the man’s prodigiously talented son Dweezil Zappa and his band The Others of Intention.
 
Freak Out to some of the most inventive and wildly original music ever committed to tape! Discover Who Are The Brain Police as Dweezil conducts immaculate explorations and excavations of Frank’s 50 year old debut album.  Take a drive with the Muffin Man along the Inca Roads in the Orange County Lumber Truck as Dweezil digs in for a suite mined from one of Frank Zappa’s most acclaimed albums, Joe’s Garage.  
 
Dweezil will be whippin’ up a G-Spot Tornado, as he explores everything from the deepest album cuts through to the cult favourites that have made Frank Zappa and his music such an indelible influence on our musical culture.
 
Before you ask Is That All There Is? Dweezil will be holding exclusive and strictly limited guitar master classes and Q&A session before each show, exploring exciting new approaches to guitar that he has employed to play his dad’s most sophisticated and challenging melodies.  So you can Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar, and take a step closer to mastering The Black Page, these masterclasses provide theories that destroy the boundaries that confine music creativity.
 
So don’t be a Zomby Woof, move like the Teen-Age Wind and grab a ticket before they are all gone, as The Son Of Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar shows you how it’s done. 
 
DRW ENTERTAINMENT IN COLLABORATION WITH PRINCIPAL ENTERTAINMENT PRESENT
DWEEZIL ZAPPA
CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF FRANK
Pre- Sale 16th August 12pm until 10am 17th
General sale 17th August 10am
 
TUESDAY 20TH FEBRUARY AUCKLAND BRUCE MASON CENTRE
THURSDAY 22ND FEBRUARY BRISBANE TIVOLI THEATRE
FRIDAY 23RD FEBRUARY SYDNEY ENMORE THEATRE
SATURDAY 24TH FEBRUARY MELBOURNE FORUM THEATRE
SUNDAY 25TH FEBRUARY ADELAIDE THE GOV
TUESDAY 27TH FEBRUARY PERTH ASTOR THEATRE

 
For tickets visit:
http://davidroywilliams.com/tours/dweezil-zappa/
 
 

The post Dweezil To Tour Australia & NZ In 2018 appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

ESP Responds To CITES Amendments

I Heart Guitar - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 04:05

ESP Guitars has announced its plans for moving toward sustainable materials in guitar/bass design and manufacturing in response to the changes to CITES regulations, and while their various manufacturing facilities gradually begin the switch to new materials, they are far enough along in the process that they have made their first public statement about the new materials to be used, on a series-by-series basis.

Here’s the statement.

ESP Guitars has always been a company who takes seriously our responsibility as a manufacturer of wood-based instruments. With the most recent amendments to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), all instrument manufacturers face increased scrutiny to ensure that the raw materials used in their products meet the requirements as designated under this international treaty.

Particular to the current version of CITES is the use of the wood genus Dalbergia, with several species known commonly as rosewood, which has been overexploited in the wild. To remain compliant with CITES, ESP has researched a number of replacement materials for use in some of our products’ fingerboards. Note that in some cases, the replacement materials are a running change via our various manufacturing facilities, and as stock is depleted on earlier versions, the use of new materials will go into effect.

LTD “200 SERIES” & “400 SERIES” INSTRUMENTS
Moving ahead, fingerboards on this series of instruments will use jatoba to replace rosewood. Jatoba is a wood found in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America that is commonly called “Brazilian cherry” due to its appearance. Some of the current 200 Series instruments have replaced rosewood with Blackwood, an engineered wood made from sustainable pine. Both materials have been tested by ESP’s specialists for tone and aesthetic appearance, and meet all of our standards for high-quality instruments.

LTD DELUXE “1000 SERIES” and LTD SIGNATURE “600 SERIES” INSTRUMENTS
ESP is making two changes to these instrument series. First, most of the guitars in these series formerly offered with rosewood fingerboards will soon be manufactured with Pau Ferro. While Pau Ferro is colloquially referred to as Bolivian rosewood, it is not actually part of the rosewood genus that is restricted via CITIES regulations, and is an excellent, high-quality substitute for rosewood on guitar and bass fingerboards. Second, on certain models that had been previously offered with rosewood fingerboards, we are making a design change to offer them with Macassar ebony. We are also changing current models in these series being offered with African ebony to using Macassar ebony instead. This is a wood native to Indonesia, and is much less vulnerable than true Rosewood or African ebony as a sustainable material.

LTD ACOUSTIC GUITARS (AVAILABLE ONLY OUTSIDE THE USA)
For all LTD acoustic models that previous used rosewood for fingerboards and bridges, the guitars have been manufactured since January 2017 using Blackwood, and beginning in July we have started to produce them with jatoba as described above. Any model that previously used rosewood for its back and/or sides will now make use of black walnut.

LTD “10 SERIES” INSTRUMENTS
For our instruments designed for beginning musicians and to be made available at the lowest possible cost, the fingerboards of LTD 10 Series has been switched to a manufactured wood material that will act as an acceptable rosewood substitute. This is a running change that is still in progress, and we will announce the specific material at the earliest opportunity.

We are sure that you share ESP’s commitment toward staying in compliance with the current CITES regulations, as well as our enthusiasm for helping to conserve these important natural resources for the planet.

The post ESP Responds To CITES Amendments appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

"Rumble" Is A Blast!

Guitar Vibe - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 15:54
The indie rock flick "Rumble" has been hitting some of the film festivals this year and I managed to catch a showing up in Traverse City. It's a great film for those who like music, especially rock and blues. The... Zack Urlocker
Categories: General Interest

Eastwood 1975 Morris the Cosy Mandolin shaped guitar

Guitarz - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 06:30
guitarz.blogspot.com:






I was drawn to the look of this Blueberry guitar when it was posted back in 2014, but I always thought that it was a bit too much, as a lot of the Blueberry is. A bit too ornate and flashy. The thought of a well proportioned mandolin shaped guitar has interested me since.

This Eastwood 1975 Morris the Cosy doesn't exactly fit the image I've had in mind, but it is certainly worth a gander. 

Modelled after a 1975 Morris Custom Mano Mania guitar best known as  one of the main guitars for Pete Cosy from Miles Davis' band, the Morris Cosy looks like a nice take on a semi-hollow 2 pickup design. It would be nice to see one in an non sunburst or even bare wood design to look like an old Gibson mandolin.

R.W. Haller


© 2016, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.
Categories: General Interest

The Squier Bullet Strat project – part 2

Lone Phantom - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 15:00

The Squier Bullet Strat has been a rather surprising guitar. I had heard that the “COB” Chinese-made Bullets were quite the bargain find, but after cleaning it up, installing the Wilkinson bridge, the Hantug brass saddles and titanium spring claw, and stringing up the guitar, it has really surprised me. Not only does the neck feel great, but the guitar has a fantastic acoustic tone and resonance. The only real downfall was the tuning stability. The stock Bullet tuners are known to be a bit rubbish, and looking at the nut, it was obvious that the slots weren’t cut the cleanest.

Since I was on a roll I figured a trip to my local music store, Better Music, was in order. The plan was to pick up a new Graphtech Black TUSQ XL nut nut, and start collecting parts to transform the look of the guitar. In line with the black Wilkinson bridge, I wanted to change the rest of the hardware, controls and pickup covers to black. While getting the nut I grabbed a black jack plate, volume and tone knobs and pickup selector switch tip.

I also remembered that I had a DiMarzio made IBZ/USA hum-cancelling single coil pickup stashed away in my parts drawer. From what can be gathered on these old pickups, it’s based on the DiMarzio HS-2, which is a low-output single coil. I figured that while it was low output, the hum-cancelling part of the design would make it a good fit for the bridge for now, since most of my playing would be on the bridge pickup.

The new Graphtech nut had string slots that matched the existing nut, but the overall width was a little wider than the neck. I got started on filling the sides to bring it a little more in line with the neck width, but I was wishing I had pulled the stock nut before I got started on the filing. The Graphtech nut was a curved base, while the stock nut was a flat base. It was a bit late to take the nut back, so I figured I’d try and fit the nut, despite the nut shelf being flat. I filled in the shield with a bit of super glue and lined up the nut with the strings to get the placement right. Once the glue had set I was happy to find that the nut set nicely, and the action was all good. The edges sit a little over the edge of the nut, but not in a way that is a detriment to its playability.

One thing that s certain, if you have a guitar that has tuning stability issues you’d be hard pressed to go past upgrading the nut with a Graphtech TUSQ nut. When it comes to bang for buck this is one of the best things you could do to your guitar. This $12 upgrade got the guitar holding tune far better, even with the rubbish tuners and string trees still in play.

The problem with the stock tuners and trees is that the tuners have a lot of play in them, and when tuning the guitar you can hear pinging occasionally when the strings bind on the trees. However, even with these issues, the guitar stayed in tune pretty well. The downside of the sloppy tuners and binding trees, combined with the switch to black hardware will mean that I will upgrade the tuners with locking tuners and roller string trees.

I got onto installing the IBZ/USA pickup and swapping over the black hardware. I hadn’t really played the guitar plugged in yet. I was curious to see how the remaining stock Squier pickups would sound too. First up, the IBZ/USA single coil gave a fairly typical vintage Strat tone. The highs are slightly rolled off on the older hum-cancelling DiMarzio designs, but that traditional Strat “sound” is mostly there. The vintage output required me to push the dirt a bit harder to get the sounds I typically like, but that’s not too difficult to take care of. What was really surprising was the stock Squier pickups. The neck pickup with some dirt provides a really sweet lead tone that works well for heavy blues up to metal shredding. The split and middle pickup combos are pretty standard Strat fare, nothing brilliant, but plenty serviceable for those on a budget. Of course there is the hum expected from single coils, maybe a little more than what you’d get from better quality units, but again, if you’re on a budget they’ll do.

I want to get the bridge set up for whammy bar usage, so I’ll need to get the bridge mounting holes sorted next. This is a new level of work for me, so hopefully it’ll all come together nicely. This, alongside some decent locking tuners and better string trees should allow for the Bullet to handle a bit of whammy bar abuse,while still staying in tune for the most part.  Cheap guitars aren’t generally shielded very well either, so I may get onto sorting out this with some aluminium shielding tape while I’m at it.

Categories: General Interest

Superb Bulgarian Vintage Orfeus Electric Guitar

Guitarz - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 06:02
guitarz.blogspot.com:








Luckily, I was able to save some pictures of this wonderful specimen before it was sold. This Orfeus checks a lot of boxes for me as it's odd, yellow, and has the kind of curves that could make a schoolboy blush.

R.W. Haller


© 2016, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.
Categories: General Interest

The Peavey HP2 In The Flesh

I Heart Guitar - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 02:25

By far the most talked-about guitar at the Melbourne Guitar Show this past weekend was the Peavey HP2. If you haven’t heard yet, this marks Peavey’s return to USA-made electric guitars, and it’s very, very similar to the old Edward Van Halen Wolfgang models. Word has it that these are actually made using New Old Stock bodies that had been sitting around unpainted since Eddie departed, and that this first run has already been completely sold to dealers. 

If you’re in the USA, you can keep an eye on Guitar Center’s Peavey guitar inventory (including used Wolfgangs) here. If you’re here in Australia, Galactic Music is our Peavey distributor and you can find your nearest dealer here.

I checked the HP2 out up close and was instantly taken back to how great the Wolfgang was. There are a few subtle changes that separate this from the Wolfgang though. The pickups cosmetics are now standard zebra, instead of one zebra and one reverse zebra, and the pickups are tweaked a little to allow them to sound better in single coil mode than the originals did. The Peavey logo on the headstock is bigger, and there’s a range of new finishes including the beautiful Deep Ocean. It was hard to judge the sound on the crowded and very noisy show floor but initial impressions are that the tone is everything it should be, with maybe a little more detail in the high end. 

Obviously it goes without saying that EVH’s Wolfgang guitars are phenomenal quality, and the range hits a lot of different price points that Peavey isn’t hitting. I know a lot of completists who will want an HP2 to go alongside their army of Peavey Wolfgangs, EVH Wolfgangs and Striped Series, Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halen guitars and various Kramers. 

The post The Peavey HP2 In The Flesh appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Codtone Big Muff Civil War Era Clone

Guitar Tone Overload - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 21:13

Codtone is a very cool one man boutique manufacturer based out of northern New South Wales in Australia.

Not only does he craft killer pedals often based on well known circuits, he also offers something quite unique: custom etchings on his pedals.

I was after a compact Muff after selling my (too) large Big Muff Pi reissue so after trading some gear I custom ordered a Big Muff clone from Codtone. Here is a little demo of the beast which sports a Civil war era circuit and is etched with the coat of arms of my native region in France:

Categories: General Interest

How To Write A Press Release For Music Media

I Heart Guitar - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 18:56

I see a lot of press releases in the course of my day. A lot. Many of them are absolutely perfect. They’re usually written by professionals like Maric Media, ArrowAgency, Deathproof PR, Josh Vittek or any number of other folks whose job it is to get your band’s music in front of the right people, with the right accompanying information. 

Then I get press released written by the band themselves.

These are never good. 

If you don’t have the budget to enlist the services of a pro, you need to know how and why to write a press release. It seems like this is a big SEO topic because there are lots of articles about this online, but they all seem really generic and mostly seem to be rewrites of each other. Most don’t even have actual example. Pfft, that’s stupid. So here’s what I’m going to do. At the end of this article I’m going to give you an example of a press release, but before I do that I’m going to tell you why you’re writing a press release at all, and what not to do.

Why Are You Writing A Press Release?

You’re writing a press release because you want media to cover something. It could be: 

* A local gig.
* A tour.
* A new video on your YouTube channel (yes, it’s totally, very appropriate to send out a press release for this).
* An EP.
* An album.
* A new band member.
* An award you just won.
* An award you’re hoping to win.
* An opinion on some current news or music industry issue that you feel you can contribute to.

How Will Your Press Release Be Used?

Most media outlets will basically copy-and-paste your press release, tweak it for their audience, and hit ‘Publish.’ They don’t want to rewrite it from the very beginning, and they don’t want to spend 20 minutes editing it for you. It’s not that editors are lazy, it’s just that they have a lot of emails in their inbox vying for attention, and they’re more likely to run your unsolicted news item if they can do it efficiently then move on to the next article. 

What Bad Stuff Do You See, Peter?

I’ve seen some unmitigated horrors in press releases. For example: 

* Terrible grammar and spelling.
* Capitalising words that don’t need to be capitalised.
* Omitting the last names of the band members, as if you’re all friggin’ Madonna or something. 
* Trying too hard to write something evocative and flowery, when all the editor wants is the information. Don’t go overboard with “Since the dawn of time, humanity has sought the ultimate metal band, one that would rise forth from the flames and…” etc. It just doesn’t make for good media copy, which is what a press release is really for. 
* Using the press release to direct the editor to check out your information elsewhere (website, Facebook, Bandcamp, etc). Don’t do this. Just don’t. 

What Should A Press Release Include?

Relevant information, formatted so the press can release it. Easy. NEXT!

How Should A Press Release Be Sent?

You can use a mailing list client like Mailchimp to send out your press release, but I prefer just a straight text email. Here’s the thing: yes, you should send your press release as an attachment in Word or as a PDF. You should include some images (preferably your album cover if you have one, and a professional-looking live or promo shot). Include web resolution and print resolution (300dpi) versions, or link to a dropbox that contains these. But most importantly, include the entire press release in the body of the email. Remember, you want the editor to see your press release and decide to run it. This is much easier for them if it’s really, really easy to understand what it’s saying and to then copy and paste for further editing, formatting or to use as the basic for an original article. Again, editors aren’t lazy. They’re overworked and jacked up on coffee and probably underpaid and a little bit hangry, and they just want to get the article out there because that’s their job. 

So with that in mind, here’s an example of a press release. 

Guitarist Peter Hodgson Begins Recording Album

AUGUST 7, 2017: Australian guitarist Peter Hodgson has begun recording his debut instrumental album, Synesthesia, due for release in late 2017.

Synesthesia will include progressive rock/metal instrumental tracks that have been performed live with the Peter Hodgson Trio at the Melbourne Guitar Show and on TV’s Guitar Gods & Masterpieces, as well as other compositions.

“I’ve been sitting on these songs for a long time,” Peter says. “Some of them date back almost 20 years, but I’m always tweaking and changing them. I figure now is as good a time as any to give them a pat on the bum and send them out into the world.”

The album title is taken from a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Peter has written about Synesthesia for a number of publications including Guitar World, and how he uses it to influence his guitar playing and songwriting. 

About Peter Hodgson

Peter is known as senior contributor and columnist for Australian Guitar magazine, where his instructional column Soloing Strategies can be found. He is also a contributor to Guitar World and Mixdown, in addition to his role as metal columnist for Beat Magazine. And his I Heart Guitar blog [iheartguitarblog.com] has been one of the world’s most visited and highly regarded guitar news sites since 2008. 

Peter is an endorser of Seymour Duncan guitar pickups and pedals. He uses Kiesel guitars, Ernie Ball strings, Marshall amplifiers and IK Multimedia software.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact: 

Peter Hodgson
peter.j.hodgson@gmail.com

Web: iheartguitarblog.com
Twitter: @iheartguitar
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peterhodgsonguitar/
Instagram: @iheartguitarblog

The post How To Write A Press Release For Music Media appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

The Guitars of Roger McGuinn

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sat, 08/05/2017 - 19:09
Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn was born in 1942 and grew up in the Chicagoarea. His parents were journalists. They loved to read and were devoted to literary charities, even going so far as to have a book published.

James Joseph McGuinn, his given name went to The Latin School of Chicago. He became bitten with the music bug after hearing Elvis Presley sing Heartbreak Hotel.  

He begged his parents for a guitar.

Other childhood influences include Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and the Everly Brothers. 


Old Town School of Folk Music


In 1957 McGuinn enrolled in Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. It was there that he learned to play the five string banjo and got serious about playing guitar. By his graduation he was playing solo at various Chicagocoffeehouses.  




The Chad Mitchell Trio

His influences included several trio vocal groups including the Limeliters and the Chad Mitchell Trio, a group which he would later become a member.
Bobby Darin

McGuinn got a job playing guitar and singing background in Bobby Darin’s band. This job lead to him relocating to California and the Los Angeles music scene. It was in Los Angeles that he met future members of the Byrds.




The Brill Building


In 1962 Darin hired McGuinn with the thought in mind that Darin wanted to add some folk music to his career. These were the years that Folk Music had significantly gained in popularity. By mid 1963, Darin’s health began to fail and he retired from singing. He opened a songwriting and publishing office in New York City’s Brill Building and hired Jim McGuinn. 

McGuinn also found work as a studio guitarist and that same year was backing up Judy Collins and Simon & Garfunkel on their recordings.

The rumblings of Beatlemania and the British Invasion were about to take place. Within less than a year the Beatles American tour would commence. 

The Troubadour

McGuinn traveled back to Los Angelesand took a job at Doug Weston’s The Troubadour. Jim McGuinns act included folks songs that were played in a rock style. 

This caught the attention of Gene Clark. Clark befriended McGuinn and thus was formed the beginnings of the Byrds.

Eventually the duo found other like-mined folk/rock influenced member, Chris Hillman, David Crosby and Michael Clarke. The quintet began to perform at Los Angeles clubs. In January of 1965 they recorded the monster hit, Mr. Tambourine Man. 

The Byrds' version was much different than what the songs writer, Bob Dylan, had put down on vinyl.


Their version began with an amazing four bar guitar intro and outro that was played on a Rickenbacker 12 string guitar. This was a fairly recent instrument at the time and provided a very unusual sound. Part of that sound was dependent on the engineers use of compression technology. 

Members of the Byrds were dismayed by the fact that the only group member playing an instrument on the recording was McGuinn. 

This was typical of most major recording sessions. Studio time was expensive and record companies wanted ‘product’ out as soon as possible. And this track was being done at Columbia Studios.  


'65 McGuinn and producer Terry Melcher
Members of the Wrecking Crew, including Bill PIttman on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on bass, and Leon Russell on piano, backed up Roger McGuinn, who played his 12 string guitar on Mr. Tambourine Man. 

The other members of the Byrds sang back up.

Members of the Wrecking Crew were hired to play on the hit instead of The Byrds members. The Byrds did their own vocals with McGuinn singing lead. 


Rickenbacker 360/12 string
In McGuinn’s words, “The Rickenbacker 12 string by itself is kind of thuddy. It doesn’t ring. But if you add compression you get that longer sustain. I found this out by accident. 


Teletronix LA-2A Compressor
The engineer, Ray Gerhardt would use compression on everything to protect his equipment from loud rock and roll. Two Teletronix LA-2A tube based compressors and the guitar signal was sent directly to the board. 

"That is how I got my ‘jingle-jangle’ tone. I was able to sustain a note for three or four seconds.”


The Byrds Eight Miles High

This came in handy with the Byrds next hit, Eight Miles High. It was in this song that Jim McGuinn attempted to emulate John Coltrane’s disconnected jazz riffs. He didn’t think this could be accomplished without such sustain.




Rickenbacker 360/12
McGuinn goes on to say, “I practiced eight hours a day on that ‘Ric,’ which worked out well. Acoustic 12 strings have wide necks and thicker strings that were spaced farther apart and were hard to play. But the Ric’s slim neck and low action let me explore jazz and blues scaled….I incorporated more hammer-ons and pull-off into my solos. I also translated some of my banjo picking techniques to the 12 string. 

By combining a flat pick and metal finger picks…I discovered I could instantly switch from fast single-note runs to banjo rolls and get the best of both world."



The Byrds
As a group the Byrds lasted two years, but played and recorded with other members and other differing names. The actual band officially called it quits in 1973. McGuinn went on to maintain an electric guitar band until 1981 when he decided to be a solo artist.




Roger McGuinn 2014
When James Joseph McGuinn started with the Byrds, he used his given nickname ‘Jim.’ Sometime in the mid 1960’s he started exploring spirituality and became involved with the Subud Spiritual Association. In 1967 the groups leader suggested if he was going to vibrate with the universe, he should consider a new name. 

Jim sent in a list of ten names that had to do with airplanes and science fiction

As Roger was the one actual name and the 18th letter of the 
alphabet that air pilots use when talking on the radio, that was the name McGuinn chose. 


Camilla and Roger McGuinn


Since then Roger and his wife Camilla have become Christians.





370/12RM

McGuinn’s first Rickenbacker was a two pickup model 360-12 that had a beautiful blond finish. He was fascinated by the guitar George Harrison played in Hard Days Night. Harrison’s guitar was bound on the front and the back of the body. It was done in a yellow-to red sunburst finish that Rickenbacker calls Fireglo. 

McGuinn could not find a Rickenbacker 12 string that had the pointier cutaways and top trim. He purchased the only available model and used it through his Byrds career.

This guitar was stolen and when he replaced it with a similar instrument. He states that in later years it showed up at an auction and sold for $100,000.

JangleBox Compressor
As he states, much of his sound is based on compression, for years Roger McGuinn was unable to replicate that sound on a live stage. 

Paul Kanter of the Jefferson Airplane suggest using a Vox Treble Booster. This was one of the first generation sound enhancers. The unit was small and plugged into a guitars input. 


McGuinn took the booster apart and installed in internally in his Rickenbacker. He states he tried other compression units, but could not get his sound until the Jangle-Box was invented.


Rickenbacker 370/12RM
McGuinn states that he has since he currently has a built-in compression unit onboard his triple pickup Rickenbacker 370-12RM that was designed by engineer, Bob Desiderio. As an aside he states that John Hall, the owner of Rickenbacker, allowed 1000 370-12RM models to be built and will not produce anymore to preserve their value.





Roland JC 120 Jazz Chorus

McGuinn currently uses the Jangle Box and a Roland JC120 amplifier to achieve his sound. 







Rickenbacker 360/12

McGuinn does his own string changes and set up on his guitars. Changing strings on a Rickenbacker 12 can be an all day task. McGuinn has produced a video to show how he changes strings and also how he makes neck adjustments.


Martin D12-42RM
Besides the Rickenbacker 370-12RM, McGuinn has other guitars he carries with him on tour.  The Martin Guitar Company has produced and provided two Roger McGuinn models. The first is a D12-42/RM 12 string guitar. This is an exquisite 42 model Martin with all the bells and whistles. Alas, it is no longer in production.


Martin also came out with a very unique model for McGuinn called the HD-7. This is a historic dreadnought style 45 Martin that has 7 strings. The unusual thing about this instrument is that an octave ‘G’ string is added to give the sound of a 12 string guitar, but the ease and convenience of a 6 string guitar.  

Roger frequently utilized single string runs to get his sound and this guitar does the trick.  It too is no longer in production, but is still available through some major music stores.

He was using a Fender Mastertone banjothat was given to him by Fender guitars when they were about to be acquired by CBS. He traded it to a friend for an old banjothat was made using Vega and Ode banjo parts.





During his days with Sweethearts of the Rodeo, he used a Gretsch Country Gentleman. He did not think the Rickenbacker 12 would fit into Country Music.


He states that he owns two Rickenbacker ‘Light Show’ guitars, but no longer takes them on the road. He owns a number of Rickenbacker guitars. He also owns a Martin 00-21.


Now in his 70’s, McGuinn only tours to theaters and performing arts centers stating they are well equipped facilities. He travels with his wife and enjoys getting in touch with fans all over the country.


The Rock Bottom Remainders
Roger is also part of a novelty band called the Rock Bottom Remainders. This is a group of writers, who would like to be musician and musicians and all are having a great time. 

The band was established by writer, producer and literary agent Kathi Kamen Goldmark.  

Over the years the Remainder has included among its members Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Cynthia Heimel, Sam Barry, Matt Groening, Greg Iles, Maya Angelou and Al Kooper.
 

Click on the links below the pictures for the sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications




Categories: General Interest

Number one with a bullet. The Squier Bullet Strat project

Lone Phantom - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 19:00

It’s been a while since I had a project on the go, budgets have been a bit tighter, and life a bit more hectic. One thing I’ve wanted for a while is an actual “stratty” Strat, and whilst I have built a couple of Statocaster type guitars (see my Charvel San Dimas style build project and my Strat build project), they are far more hot-rodded than traditional. I’ve been wanting something far closer to the Stratocaster blueprint, with the three single coil pickup setup.

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing in Cash Converters during my lunch break, and on the wall was a filthy looking black Squier Bullet Strat. I had read that some years were sought after for their great necks and general build quality that was above their price point, and with a few modifications they could be transformed into killer guitars.

I quickly looked up the serial number, and sure enough, this was a 2008 “COB” Chinese made Bullet, which are known to be pretty good. The neck looked straight, and the fretwork was pretty reasonable so I went ahead and bought it. Knowing that I already had a few parts at home that would be perfect for this guitar, I could get started straight away with the transformation.

The Squier Bullet Strat come with a basswood body, maple neck with rosewood fretboard, and vintage six screw tremolo bridge with more modern design saddles. The neck width at the nut is 42mm, and fretboard radius is 9.5 inches. The frets are a fairly common medium jumbo fretwire, the nut is plastic, and tuners are very basic and average performing sealed die-cast, vintage style units. The bodies on Bullet Strats are a quarter inch thinner than a traditional Stratocaster body.

First up for the transformation was removing the rusty strings and giving the guitar a good scrub down. I made up a bowl of warm soapy water, using dishwashing liquid, and began scrubbing the plastic and painted parts with a microfibre cloth. I hit the fretboard with Dunlop Fingerboard Deep Conditioner and removed all the grime, and got the rosewood looking bright and vibrant again. Once the guitar was cleaned up it was apparent that this guitar was almost like new. There were barely and scuffs or dings to be found, and this made me very happy.

One of the parts I had left over from my white Stratocaster build was a black Wilkinson six screw vintage-style tremolo bridge.  The stock Squier unit has a small and thin sustain block, and the screw-in whammy bar is a bit average too. I figured the Wilkinson bridge would be perfect for this guitar, since it has a full-size sustain block, a far nicer push-in whammy bar, and slightly wider 2-1/8″ spaced saddles.  The only tricky part to installing the Wilkison is it’s 2-1/8″ screw spacing – the standard bridge is a 2-1/16″ screw spacing. When I built the white Stratocaster I discovered that the middle four holes of the Wilkinson would line up with the holes on a body with 2-1/16″ spaced holes, so at least only the outer two holes would need to be filled and re-drilled.

Another thing I had left over from the white Stratocaster build was some Hantug Custom Guitars black brass 2-1/8″ solid saddles. These would be the perfect tonal upgrade to the vintage-style saddles on the Wilkinson bridge. To top off the bridge related upgrades was a Hantug solid milled titanium spring claw, and some Raw Vintage tremolo springs. The stock springs are extremely tight, and the looser feeling Raw Vintage springs would provide a slinkier feel when bending strings and using the whammy bar.


I got on to installing the Hantug saddles on the Wilkinson bridge, and then removing the stock unit. I figured I’d install the bridge using the middle four screws for now and get around to filling and re-drilling the outer holes later. This would be required to get the best tuning stability when using the whammy bar.

Next up was removing the stock spring claw and installing the Hantug claw and Raw Vintage springs. When I pulled the claw out I discovered that the previous owner had stripped one of the holes in the body, and rather than filling the hole, they just drilled a new hole. The angle was a bit off, but I figured I’d leave it as is and see how things worked. I also put some foam under the springs to reduce the sympathetic reverberations that can occur with Strat and Floyd Rose type bridges that use tremolo springs.

I strung up the guitar and set the saddles up to match the radius of the fretboard, and did a basic setup. The guitar’s acoustic tone was surprisingly quite good, the body resonated nicely, and the guitar sounded bigger than one would expect from a cheap, thinner than standard strat body made from basswood. As expected, there was one downside to how the guitar played, and that was the tuning stability. The combination of the cheap, badly cut plastic nut, average string trees, and slipping tuners made it a bit hard for the strings to hold their tune after a few string bends.

So at the end of stage one of the Squier Bullet Strat project, the basic bones of the guitar appear to be sound, and the first upgrades have resulted in a great tone. Next up will be trying to get the guitar holding tune, and altering the look of the guitar. Hopefully this project will prove that it is possible to create a fantastic playing and sounding guitar on a very small budget.

Categories: General Interest

Hantug Custom Guitars sustain block upgrades for Ibanez Edge Pro – review

Lone Phantom - Sun, 07/30/2017 - 23:45

I’ve documented a range of sustain block upgrades over the years, and they really are a great way to improve the tone of a non-hardtail bridge equipped guitar. Brass is the common upgrade for double locking bridges, and titanium is another popular option. I’ve reviewed a range of brass options from several manufacturers, and a few titanium options previously, made by Hantug Custom Guitars. Hantug have been kind enough to provide me with a couple more sustain block upgrades to review, this time a brass and titanium sustain block for the Ibanez Edge Pro bridge.

The test guitar for this review is my 2003 Ibanez RG 450 LTD, which features a basswood body, and maple neck with rosewood fretboard. As with most Ibanez bridges, the stock sustain block is made out of some sort of pot metal alloy. I compared this against the brass and titanium options from Hantug.

As with all other parts created by Hantug, the brass and titanium sustain blocks are high quality units. Hantug have done a fantastic job of machining these blocks to match the dimensions of the stock unit. The Edge Pro has cutaways in the sustain block to allow for the string ball-end holders, and Hantug have designed their blocks with two options: deep grooves for those who prefer to use the ball-end holders; and a non-deep groove option for those who prefer to lock their strings in the traditional way

The blocks are nicely machined, particularly the titanium unit with it’s etched logo, and it’s almost a shame that the block is hidden away in the guitar’s body. The only downside in the design is that the spring retainer bar is the same configuration as the stock one, and that it can hold a maximum of three springs while still having two bolts holding the bar. The Hantug Edge/Lo Pro Edge blocks allow up to five springs while still allowing both bolts to hold the retainer bar.

First cab off the rank is the brass unit, and as expected from this metal, it provides a warmer and louder tone that sustains more than the stock unit. There’s a thicker low end, and the mids are pushed more into the mix. I find that the clarity is enhanced over the stock block, and there’s a greater ability to coax harmonics out of the guitar. Comparing recorded waveforms, it’s clear that the brass block compresses the sound,which gives the perception of greater volume, and enhances the sustain.

Next up is the titanium block. Titanium provides a brighter tone that has a higher level of clarity over the stock and brass units. String seperation is amazing on chords, and the harmonic quality is pushed even higher. Titanium is bright without being too shrill, and the volume pretty much matches the brass unit. Sustain is similar to the brass, so it’s a boost over the stock unit.

Overall the Hantug Edge Pro sustain block upgrades are a fantastic option for guitars loaded with this bridge. Both brass and titanium blocks offer an excellent upgrade over the stock Edge Pro sustain block. When it comes to picking one it’s more down to tonal preference and available budget, since titanium parts are generally more expensive. The Hantug blocks are beautifully machined, and also priced well against the competition. If you are looking to push your Edge Pro equipped Ibanez guitar’s tone into new territory then definitely check out the Hantug upgrade options.

Categories: General Interest

Emerald Guitars

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sun, 07/30/2017 - 16:45
Alistair Hay

Alistair Hay grew up in the Irish seaside town of Creeslough, located in North West Donegal in Ireland. His father ran the family farm. His father was quite a craftsman and made whateve was needed by the family or at the farm. His father eventually took a job with an engineering firm as a designer and moved the family to East Donegal.




East Donegal Today
When the firm he had joined began to fail.  Mr. Hay set up his own business building products made from fiberglass that included boats, children's play equipment, and go karts.

As Alistair grew up, he went to work with at his fathers business where he learned about composites and fiberglass. This peaked Alistair’s interest in engineer and designing products mad
Royal & Prior - Athlone Tech

Alistair went on to attend Royal and Prior College, and the from compounds. Upon graduating he went on to attend Athlone Institute of Technology to study Polymer Engineering.

Seebold Sports Formula One Racing
After graduating, Alistair Hay had an opportunity to take a job with Seebold Sports, a company that builds fiberglass bodies, motors, and parts for racing boats. The owner of the company, Bill Seebold, became his mentor.

He encouraged him to follow his own path and find a career based on what he knew and enjoyed. Hay chose to work with carbon fiber; a subject of which he has amassed tremendous knowledge.

Steve Vai with Custom Emerald Ultra
In 1994, while still working at Seebold, Hay had an idea to build guitars from composite material. But he had no knowledge of luthiery. Hay played guitar and was fascinated by guitar players, especially Steve Vai. But had no knowledge of guitar construction.

Hay learned to build guitars by reverse engineering his own guitar. He made many mistakes during his learning curve. He developed a friendship with a skilled luthier that offered him instructions that became a tremendous help.

The First Emerald Guitar
 to leave the factory
By 1998 Alistair Hay was confident enough to start Emerald Guitars and offer his instruments for sale. He admits it was trial and error, and continual improvement until 2001. The first Emerald Guitars were offered to the public in 1999.

During those early years, Emerald Guitars had partnered with Parker Guitars in a deal to use their fret boards. This was a great partnership until Ken Parker and his partner sold Parker Guitars to the musical instrument conglomerate US Music.

Richie Sambora with
Emerald 
The sale created a real problem for Hay and Emerald Guitars, since US Music quit sending fret boards to Hays’ company. In 2008 Emerald Guitars was unable to fulfill any orders and had to shut down operations.

Steve Vai  with Emerald Ultra LP Cover




As stated, Hay states he was always fascinated by guitars and guitar music. He found inspiration from listening to an album by Steve Vai. And later Hay built 3 guitars for Vai.





Wang Leehom & Alistair Hay
with Tay Kewei's Emerald Guitar

In 2008, while traveling, Hay met a singer from Singapore named Tay Kewei. She was in a band with guitarist Wang Leehom, who is very popular in his country. Kewei was looking for a new guitar, so Hay built one for her with a unique body and headstock that resemble dragons.

Hay with a custom guitar
This creation inspired Hay to start building guitars again, and restart Emerald Guitars.

It was almost four years before Hay was able to redesign his molds to include a carbon fiber fretboard. By doing this, the company is no longer dependent on outsourcing. Since resuming production in 2012, Emerald Guitars has come with with quite a line up.  Their guitars are well made and by no means inexpensive. However they are built for a lifetime.

The Opus line is the most available. These guitars only come with a black finish. They come in a full line up of guitars, ukes, and a bass. There are options that can be added if desired.

Opus 7


The Opus 7 is a parlour sized instrument with a 24" scale. The overall length is 30", so it makes a great travel guitar.  The Opus 20 has similar accoutrements to the 7 model, but is a full sized guitar, with a 25 1/2" scale, and a 40" overall length.





Opus 20



The Opus 20 is offered for right or left handed players. Both instruments come with a gig bag, and pickups can be added at an additional cost.






Opus Chimaera
The Opus Chimaera is a double neck 6 and 12 string instrument. Both necks have a 25 1/2" scale, and the instrument weighs less than a Fender Stratocaster; only 6.3 lbs (3 kg).

Emerald Synergy Opus 7 and Synergy Opus 20 Harp Guitars
Emerald Guitar's forte is their harp guitars. Not a lot of companies specialize in harp guitars. For their Opus line, Emerald offers two instruments. The Snyergy Opus X7 pairs a 24" scale guitar neck with six bass strings that jut out of the upper bout and are attached to the top of the instrument. The overall length is 37 1/2". A few years ago, one of these instruments was being offered as a test guitar to anyone who signed up and agreed to pay $45 to keep it for a week and then ship it to the next person that wanted to try it out.. This guitar is acoustic, but a pickup can be added.

The Synergy Opus X20 is a full sized harp guitar, with a 25 1/2" scale on the guitar neck. It too has six bass strings, and a pickup system is an upgrade-able option. Both harp guitar come with a gig bag.

Balor Bass Opus
For bass players, Emerald offers the Balor Bass Opus. This is a five string, 34" scale acoustic bass guitar that can be upgraded to add a pickup. It comes with a padded gig bag, and Gotoh GB707 bass machine tuners.

Emerald keeps limited stock on hand for all their instruments, so check this link to the companies web site to see what is on hand.



Emerald Artisan Chimaera
in Wooded Bubinga

Emerald Guitars also offers their Artisan Line, which are custom, made-to-order hand built instruments. These include the L.R. Baggs Element active pickup system in the cost



The instruments are offered in your choice of these colours; black, blue, green, red, and amber. The guitars are sized much like the Opus series, X7, X20, the Chimaera six/12, and both Synergy series harp models.

Emerald Amicus Artisan models
Added is the Amicus Artisan model, which is a 12 string guitar, with a short 18" scale length. It is meant to be tuned down one whole step from standard E tuning. All Artisan models come with a deluxe padded gig bag.



Custom Shop X20 Woody Cocobolo


And if you want more, Emerald Guitars can create the guitar of your dreams through their custom shop.







Alistair with custom creation



If you want to, Alistair Hay will personally design and build and Emerald Guitar to your specifications.







Emerald custom made "Cello" Guitar

Such was the case with this custom guitar that he built for someone that wanted a nylon string guitar that resembled a cello. Click on the line below the picture to learn about this amazing creation.


Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)






Categories: General Interest

Eric Johnson's 1957 Fender Stratocaster

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:34
Eric Johnson's 1957 Fender Stratocaster
I was recently made aware that Eric Johnson sold one of his favourite guitars. This was his 1957 sunburst Fender Stratocaster. The guitar was offered through Gruhn Guitars of Nashville.

There are probably very few Stratocasters of that era left in such pristine condition.

1957 Fender Stratocaster

Johnson purchased this guitar in 2001 to use mainly in his home.

The original bridge and middle pickup were replaced, as were the tuners, and frets.

The original tuning machines, frets, pickup, and back plate were placed in the guitar case and included in the sale.



Eric Johnson Stratocaster



Johnson eventually took this guitar on the road, and used it for the past nine years.  This strat became his touring guitar of choice.






1957 Strat serial number


The guitars serial number is 17882. Fender guitars made in 1957 have five digit serial numbers starting at 17000 and ending in 25000. The guitar has the original spaghetti logo. 






Eric Johnson's 1957 Stratocaster
It is a lovely instrument and has been sold for $60,000 USD.

 All information from the Gruhn Guitars website.

(Unfortunately I am unable to find a video of Johnson playing this guitar.)



Categories: General Interest

Cool Preamps They Don’t Make Any More

I Heart Guitar - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 02:42

 

In the late 80s and early 90s, preamps and power amps were where it was at. Amp heads? Pfft. Sure, you put them on top of your dummy stacks on stage, but you didn’t actually use them. In the 90s that all changed and players rediscovered the glories of stacks, half stacks and combos, so everyone sold off their preamps. Now you can’t take a stroll on eBay or through a secondhand guitar store without tripping over a stack of the damn things. That’s very bad news for the clumsy of footfall, but great news for those of us who can’t get enough guitar gear. So I present to you, dear reader, Cool Preamps They Don’t Make Any More.

Marshall 9001

This preamp holds a special place in my heart because it was advertised on the back page of the very first guitar magazine I ever got – the March 1991 Guitar World with ZZ Top on the cover. Part of the 9000 range that also included a few different power amp options, the 9001 rocked three channels of 12AX7 goodness. It also had a cabinet emulation switch for direct recording applications. It’s not the most well-known and full-featured Marshall preamp – that honour goes to the JMP-1 – and it seemed to be favoured more for its medium overdrive tones than its clean and screaming settings. But it’s still a cool piece of kit. 
CLICK HERE to see the Marshall 9001 on eBay

Marshall JMP-1


This preamp is an undisputed classic. Real tube operation with the flexibility of MIDI control, this one is still the heart of Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen’s rack, and Iron Maiden has been known to use it pretty extensively. This beast packs four channels into a single rack space: Clean 1, the edgier Clean 2, Plexi-ish OD1 and high gain OD2. I’ve used a few of these in various situations over the years – usually in combination with a Marshall EL34 power amp – and I’ve never been anything less than completely blown away by the clarity and harmonic complexity, especially for fat-ass lead sounds and crunchy humbucker rhythm work. IK Multimedia has a great emulation of this in AmpliTube 4 which does an incredible job of capturing the spirit of the original.
CLICK HERE to see the Marshall JMP-1 on eBay.

ART Powerplant

Designed by N.S.”Buck” Brundage, this unit was manufactured from 1990 to 1997 and it was a favourite of producer Max Norman – yes, he who worked with Megadeth on Rust In Peace, Countdown To Extinction and Youthanasia, not to mention Ozzy Osbourne in the Randy Rhoads era. Back in the day, ART said: “Power Plant combines the finest elements and saturation curves of 12AX7s into 6L6 tubes giving the user the thickest, heaviest crunch of classic tube amps without diction and articulation of notes! The Power Plant is one of the most versatile studio and live sound production tools available. It has totally separate clean and overdrive channels, master volume control, a switchable effects loop, and a +20 dB output for a power amp feed (this output has a unique equalization and pre-emphasis circuit that reflects the curve of a guitar amplification section).”
CLICK HERE to see the ART Power Plant on eBay

A/DA MP-1


This little beauty was popular among many players in the early 90s, especially when paired with a Marshall JCM 900 amp head. The typical trick was to bypass the JCM 900’s preamp section entirely by plugging into the MP-1 then sending its output directly into the Marshall’s effect loop return. Players who were big on the MP-1 included Nuno Bettencourt, Paul Gilbert, Kirk Hammett and White Lion’s Vito Bratta. Believe it or not, even Billy Corgan used one in Smashing Pumpkins. You get 128 programmable user patches, plus a chorus effect. ADA made an amp called the Quadtube which featured a rather MP-1-looking control section. They also released the MP-2 and the MB-1 bass preamp. Awesome. Now A/DA is back, and you can get the A/DA MP-1-Channel, a pedal version of the MP-1 rack preamp which employs the 4-stage vacuum tube design to achieve the same rich tone that made it the staple for most of the touring bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
CLICK HERE to see the ADA MP-1 on eBay.

Soldano/Caswell X99


Another tube-driven preamp with 128 presets and MIDI control, part of the X99’s cool charm is that the passive control knobs are moved by little MIDI-driven motors. The idea is that if the pots themselves were motorised, an additional gain stage would have been introduced, and you’d get all sorts of additional noise. When I was 16 I played in a band with a few older dudes. The singer/guitarist had one of these and an Alesis Quadraverb. I thought it was the coolest damn rig I’d ever seen, and the warmly overdriven sounds were godlike. The X99 is a great choice for rock styles, and although I don’t know if I’d use it for metal, it’s one powerful piece of kit with a killer pedigree. Great colour too.
CLICK HERE to see the Soldano/Caswell X99 on eBay.

Bogner Fish


This all-tube four-channel blue behemoth is one of the most lusted-after pieces of guitar kit around. Forgive me for going back to Megadeth but if you dig the tones of the Rust In Peace era, they burst forth from this piscatorial pulveriser. It’s also all over a lot of early 90s work by Alice In Chains and Anthrax. The Fish is exceedingly hard to find today, so if you see one, snap the damn thing up.
CLICK HERE to see the Bogner Fish on eBay.

Hafler Triple Giant

The Bogner you buy when you can’t afford a Bogner, the Triple Giant was indeed designed by Reinhold Bogner himself. It’s not quite in the same league as the Fish, but it’s certainly not without its charms. There’s a pleasing depth to the midrange and bass. Just know that if you cover up the Hafler logo with black tape so people think you have a real Bogner, we’re onto you. *cough* Hi Simon.
CLICK HERE to see the Hafler Triple Giant on eBay.

The post Cool Preamps They Don’t Make Any More appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Doctor Who's Guitar

The Unique Guitar Blog - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:43
Doctor Who
I have been a fan of the British television series, Doctor Who, for many, many years. For the past two years, the Doctor has been played by Peter Capaldi, who has done a wonderful job in the role as the Time Lord. In fact he is my favorite incarnation of the Doctor.

William Hartnell, the 1st Doctor

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, the original Doctor Who was played by actor, William Hartnell from 1963 to 1966. Due to his poor health, he resigned from the series.

The show is about Doctor Who, a Time Lord, who is from another world, who travels throughout time and space in his craft that is disguised to resemble and old British Police call box. He usually travels with one of more companions. In doing so he solves problems, and sometimes changes the course of history. The older episodes had delightfully quirky special effects, For the past decade, the writing, effects, and backgrounds are all wonderful

Because of the shows popularity, the writers decided that the Doctor would occasionally be regenerated, through elaborate visual effects, and then morph into a different person, that would still be The Doctor, but have a different body (and be played by a different actor). This allowed the show to continue, remain fresh, and attract a larger audience.

Peter Capaldi, as Doctor Who
Peter Capaldi was cast as Doctor Who in 2013, as the Twelfth Doctor Who, when actor Matt Smith left the series. It was recently announced that Capaldi would be stepping down this years and would be replaced on a special show to air during the Christmas season.

In fact, the new Doctor is to be named on the same day I am writing this article; July 16th, 2017.

Peter Capaldi as Dr. Who playing guitar
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with unique guitars? Well Capaldi is the first Doctor ever to play guitar during the series, and he does a bang-up job.



Doctor Who on guitar with Clara
The 60 year old actor probably grew up listening to some of the same music of the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, and ‘80’s that many of us have, and it certainly shows in his playing.



Dreamboys - 
Capaldi in front Ferguson in back
Back in the mists of time Capaldi, now the Time Lord, was in a rock band called Dreamboys – formerly The Bastards from Hell – with comedian and talk show and game show host Craig Ferguson.

Capaldi stated, “I was really delighted to open the script and find the Doctor playing guitar”. “I think I’d sort of half mentioned it in joking, but I was really delighted that these guys went for it as an idea.”

Doctor Who with his guitar


He also revealed that – just as when he hand-picked the Twelfth Doctor’s costume – he had a say in which axe he’d be wielding.



Denmark Street London, music shop

“We had a great day when I went to pick the Doctor’s guitar,” he recalls. “We went to Denmark Street and went to various vintage guitar shops, looking for Doctor Who’s guitar.


And at first I thought it should be like a Stratocaster or a Telecaster, one of those old classic guitars, but they all started to look like I was having a midlife crisis.” “We ended up with a guitar that looked like a Fender Stratocaster that had been described to someone who had never seen one.”

Yamaha SVG300



The guitar chosen was a Yamaha SVG300. This is an offset guitar that was made by the company from 2000 to 2007 and is based on the Yamaha SG reverse cutaway design first seen in 1966.




Yamaha SVG 300

The SVG300 came with a single coil pickup in the neck position, two single coils in the bridge position that can be set out of phase, for a humbucking sound. The electronics include a single volume control, a master tone control, and a blend control for the bridge single coil pickups There is also a three position pickup selector switch.

Yamaha SVG 300

The body is made of alder, and the bolt-on maple neck features a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets, and a 24.75” scale. The narrow six-on-a-side headstock comes with Yamaha die cast tuning machines.


The string attach on the body to a Yamaha roller style bridge. The input is located on the lower edge of the body.

Doctor Who


The Doctor’s guitar is finished in black and gives he impression of a very futuristic looking instrument.



Here are Dreamboys with Peter Capaldi and Craig Ferguson

Categories: General Interest

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike

I Heart Guitar - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 23:48

Aah, how cool is this! Reverend Guitars has just unleashed the Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike, a stripped-back, ready-to-get-down-and-dirty guitar inspired by Reeves’ personal history. In his own words:

“What I think is cool about this guitar is the fact that I have a whole ongoing story/reason/explanation of always having a no frills simple, fast and blue thing to zip around on that threads thru my whole life. This guitar is a continuation of that sense of freedom in the form of speed and power stripped down to its essentials. And Reverend Guitars matched the light metallic blue color of both of its two wheeled predecessors. To me a single pickup guitar with a trem is just like my 1966 Schwinn Stingray with the extension spring on the front wheel or my 1971 Honda dirtbike with the raised front fender and slightly extended fork. It’s a guitar with enough agility that it will let you grab air and do wheelies and the power to leave some rubber on the asphalt in front of the neighbor’s house. And, really, that’s all you need. Did I mention it’s blue?” – Reeves Gabrels.

It has a custom Railhammer pickup, solid Korina body, Wilkinson WVS50 IIK tremolo, passive bass contour knob and a 22 jumbo fret Rosewood fingerboard on a three-piece Korina neck. It comes in three colours: Reeves Blue, Violin Brown and Cream. More info here.
 

The post Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Collings Guitars - The Passing of Bill Collings

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sun, 07/16/2017 - 15:46
Bill Collings
Collings guitars got its start in Houston Texas, when Bill Collings began working in a machine shop back in 1970. He began building his first guitar in 1973.

Bill Collings in the 1970's

By 1975 he was working as an engineer with a pipeline
and oil field company. At night he continued building guitars.

Lyle Lovett with a Collings Guitar
He developed a reputation among local musicians and caught the attention of Lyle Lovett, who asked Collings to build a guitar for him



By the early 1980’s Bill decided to move to California, but he never got farther than Austin Texas.

It was there he met fellow luthiers, Mike Stevens, and Tom Ellis. Ellis built handcrafted mandolins. Collings began working with them, but after a few years before he moved into his own shop which was in his garage.

Bill Collings in his shop

It was in 1987 when Nashville based vintage guitar collector/seller George Gruhn hired Bill Collings to make 25 guitars for his shop. This had a wonderful impact on Collings reputation.


1989 Collings made for Gruhn
Shortly after his products were soon requested by music stores and featured in magazines.

By 1989 Bill Collings was able to hire his first employee. Since then Collings guitars have become one of the most recognized and respected instrument manufacturers in the business.




Collings Acoustics

Their forte is acoustic guitars, but they also build  archtop guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles.



2006 Collings City Limit



In 2006 the company moved into the electric guitar market and were featured at that years Summer NAMM, National Association of Music Merchants convention.




2006 Collings OM


As of 2012 the company employees 85 people and manufactures six acoustic guitar, three electric guitars, two mandolins, and two ukuleles per day. In fact Collings Mandolins are highly regarded in the Bluegrass community.





2014 Waterloo WL-14L

By 2014 it was announced that the company would be making a guitar based on a currently popular Depression-era design and resemble Kalamazoo guitars of that era.  These guitars are sold under the "Waterloo" brand and are based on an old guitar that Collings had sitting in his office.




Colling WL -14 -  Kalamazoo Sport

He decided to repair the instrument by removing the back and put new bracing in it. After reassembling it, he realized these old guitars had a much different sound than that of today’s instruments due to their construction and size. The brand has become a success with Blues and Country players looking for that old tyme sound.


Bill Collings 1948-2017
Sadly the following statement was just issued on the Waterloo Guitars website:

”We lost our dear friend and mentor Bill Collings yesterday. He was the amazingly creative force behind Collings Guitars for over 40 years. Through his unique and innate understanding of how things work, and how to make things work better, he set the bar in our industry and touched many lives in the process. His skill and incredible sense of design were not just limited to working with wood, but were also obvious in his passion for building hot rods. 

To Bill, the design and execution of elegant form and function were what mattered most. Perhaps even more exceptional than his ability to craft some of the finest instruments in the world, was his ability to teach and inspire. He created a quality-centered culture that will carry on to honor his life's work and legacy. He was loved by many and will be sadly missed. Our hearts are with his family.”

William R. Collings  8/9/1948 – 7/14/2017.

Click the links under the pictures for the sources. Click the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)





Categories: General Interest

Pages

Subscribe to Norse Guitars aggregator - General Interest