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.
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.
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|
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|
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|
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
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 |
|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|
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.
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.
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.
|Emerald Synergy Opus 7 and Synergy Opus 20 Harp Guitars|
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|
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|
|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)
|Eric Johnson's 1957 Fender Stratocaster|
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|
All information from the Gruhn Guitars website.
(Unfortunately I am unable to find a video of Johnson playing this guitar.)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
|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|
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|
|Doctor Who on guitar with Clara|
|Dreamboys - |
Capaldi in front Ferguson in back
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.”
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.
The Doctor’s guitar is finished in black and gives he impression of a very futuristic looking instrument.
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.
|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|
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|
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.
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|
”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)
|The Seldom Scene on Jubilee|
|'53 Martin D-28 - '23 Gibson F5|
Traditionally Bluegrass music is played on an old Gibson F-5 mandolin and a Martin guitar, preferably a D-28 or a D-18. But in the past few years I’ve noticed a change. Players are now using Asian made guitars and mandolins.
Perhaps it is because the price of Martin and Gibson instruments are beyond the reach of many working class players, or possibly it is because the value of a well made instrument is not worth the risk of taking on the road only to have it stolen. In any event the quality of some of these guitars currently being made in Asia is excellent.
|1957 Guyatone LG-50H|
Going back historically we know Japanese musical instrument builders that began building guitars back in the 1920’s and 1930’s for domestic use. In the late 1950’s some of these companies started building electric guitars, not just for domestic use but for import.
By the 1960’s, due to the popularity of Folk music, then the music of the British Invasion, importation of cheaply made, Asian imported guitars skyrocketed. In doing so they gained a negative reputation, since the quality of those instruments were inferior to the Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, Guild guitars, and even Harmony and Kay guitars that were produced at the time.
|1978 Ibanez Iceman JC 210|
In 1977 a lawsuit ensued that was instigated by Gibson guitars against a company called Elger Music, who was the US agent of Ibanez guitars. The suit was brought about partly due to the much improved quality of these copy guitars. The parties settled the suit before it went to trial and the results caused a great change in the way Asian made guitars were to be made in the future. Though these instruments now had similar features to Martin, Gibson, and/or Fender guitars, there needed to be some originality added.
|Gibson v Elger Co.|
The results have ostensibly put their instruments on par with guitars made in Western countries.
|Qian Ni |
Founder Easman Music Company
As stated at the onset Eastman Musical Instruments are building high quality musical instruments. The company is a relative newcomer to the musical instrument manufacturing business. They began in 1992, when a man named Qian Ni visited to the United States to study violin making. At that time, the Chinese were using the factory line way method of manufacturing musical instruments. Ni discovered that a different approach was needed to build violins.
He implemented a handcrafting method of building violins and bows in a manner similar to that of 19th century European violin workshops. This change resulted in a much improved tonal quality.
After this Mr. Ni established workshops to further this art. He states that early on, “I would load up his car with instruments that his workers made and drive from city to city selling them to violin shops and music stores. Those shops that did not buy his instruments gave me excellent advice.” This is almost verbatim the same story I have read about Robert Godin during his early days of building his instruments.
By the early 2000’s, Mr. Ni applied similar principles to crafting the guitar, and by 2004 his company, Eastman, had started a line of archtop electric guitars.
|Eastman E20D guitar |
and MD515 mandolin
Eastman guitars and other Eastman musical instruments are made in China.
Some of the intermediate models with a suggested price in the $650 ranges are made using a solid Sitka spruce top and solid sapele back and sides, while others have laminated rosewood back and sides. I find that outstanding since most
These models come in Dreadnought, Orchestra, Grand Auditorium, Grand Concert, Double O, and Parlor guitar sizes.
Where Eastman Guitars really excels is in their Archtop Jazz line of guitars.
|Eastman solid carved archtop guitars|
There fifteen electric models to choose from and one acoustic archtop guitar. They all have a solid hand carved top and back. Most feature a Kent Armstrong floating pickup. These guitars have a suggested retail price of $2050 to $3750 USD which includes a hard shell case.
|Eastman solid carved top archtop guitars|
There is also a line of six "Solid Carved Top" guitars, that have laminate back and sides that sell in the range of $1450 to $2300 USD. Most come with Kent Armstrong pickups, however two models have TV Jones Filtertron pickups.
Eastman Guitars also makes ten all laminate models. All laminate sounds bad, but consider the Gibson ES-175 has always been a guitar made of maple/poplar/maple laminate.
|Eastman laminate models|
Six Eastman models are based on the Gibson ES-175. Three models have a similar body shape to the Gibson ES-350, but have a single Kent Armstrong pickup. Two models are similar to the Gibson ES-125 and have a single Kent Armstrong P-90 pickup.
Eastman also offers a line of four unique archtops designed by two of the world's cutting edge luthiers and one series of guitars designed by jazz guitarist John Pisano.
|John Pisano Line-up|
Pisano's line includes four models ranging in price from $1600 to $3750 USD.
|Eastman Pagelli models|
Eastman also has two models designed by luthiers Claudio and Claudia Pagelli. The Pagelli's have been building amazing guitars in their own unique style since 1982. Eastman offers two models that were designed by the couple.
Otto D'Ambrosio began working at the Mandolin Brothers music store located on Staten Island New York when he was only 13 years old. He learned the craft of repairing and restoring fine musical instruments, and then began building his own guitars.
|Eastman El Rey models|
|Frank Vignola model|
Other features include an ebony fretboard with no position markers, a very unusual sound hole on the lower bout, a sound port on the guitars upper side, and a slotted headstock. This guitar also features a beautiful ebony pickguard.
|Ryan Thorell FV Studio guitar|
You can order the Eastman FV guitar direct from Frank Vignola and Ryan Thorell, for $2495 and Ryan will set it up for free. Click on this link for the phone number.
Most all Eastman guitars come with either a hard-shell case or a gig bag.
There are currently only a handful of stores in the United States that stock Eastman guitars
Click on the links under the pictures for the source. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)
MXR has updated and expanded their popular Carbon Copy delay to create the Carbon Copy Deluxe:
The Carbon Copy Deluxe Analog Delay features extended delay time with tap tempo functionality, optional modulation, a switch to toggle between the warm sound of the original pedal and vibrant sound of the Bright version, and much more.
A few of the high points:
- Delay times extended to up to 1.2 seconds
- Select between original Carbon Copy and Carbon Copy Bright delays
- Modulation controls on top of the pedal
- Tap Tempo
- Expression jack
- Programmable presets
This looks like a great upgrade to a very popular delay pedal. And, at a street price of around $230, it seems like it should be fairly accessible to delay fans.
JHS Pedals has also updated their popular Double Barrel pedal:
This is our “Everything low-to-medium gain” pedal and it just got better!
The Double Barrel V4 is for the player who needs a versatile but transparent overdrive at medium and light gain levels. You won’t find face melting distortion here, but you will find overdrive with the character and stacking abilities to cover almost any tonal need.
The right side is our brand new Moonshine V2 which is a highly unique and massively tweaked version of the most famous overdrive ever created housed in a little green enclosure. The Moonshine V2 has the classic mid-heavy tones that you’d expect but with more gain, volume, and tones available than you ever thought possible. The Moonshine V2 has the same core tone as the Version 1 but we have added a new “Clean” knob to blend in the perfect amount of clean signal with your overdrive signal.
The left side of the Double Barrel is our best-selling Morning Glory V4 overdrive. Transparent and open tones are what lurk inside this circuit as well as the new hi-gain toggle with Red Remote capability. Just plug in the JHS Pedals Red Remote into the “Remote Gain” jack with a standard patch cable and you can switch the “Gain” toggle on the fly for even more tonal options. You now have five on-the-fly overdrive options to choose from in the Double Barrel V4!
When these two circuits are stacked, something magic happens. Tones that are original and fresh come with ease, as well as added exibility, due to the “order switching” toggle that lets you decide what pedal comes rst in the signal chain.
We are convinced that this is one of the greatest 2-in-1 pedals ever made… seriously. If you’re having problems getting the tones you want, just grab the Double Barrel V4 and you’ll find out how easy it is to hit the target!
Like on the Sweet Tea, it looks like the 808 circuit has been replaced by the Moonshine circuit. The 808 was discontinued several years ago, so this isn’t a big surprise. The left side of the pedal is still the Morning Glory circuit.
Another new entry into Fender’s artist line of guitars is the Ed O’Brien Sustainer Stratocaster:
Ed O’Brien’s ambient, ethereal and orchestral guitar style is an essential part of the sonic identity of Radiohead. Fender partnered with the groundbreaking player to create the EOB Sustainer Stratocaster — an instrument as unique as his sound. The EOB Sustainer Stratocaster offers a wide palette of tones thanks to its Seymour Duncan® JB Jr. humbucking bridge pickup, Texas Special™ single-coil middle pickup and Fernandes® SustainerTM unit in the neck position. The Sustainer works some technical magic to create near-infinite sustain on one or more strings, making it easy to achieve thick, textured sounds. The Sustainer’s controls include an on/off switch, intensity control and three-position switch to select the mode: Fundamental-only, Harmonic-only or Blend. A mix of modern and classic, this Stratocaster features a 6-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge, vintage-style tuning machines, a “10/56 V” neck profile, 21 narrow-jumbo frets, a synthetic bone nut and a special neck plate engraved with a custom “Flower of Life” emblem.
I never got into Radiohead that much so I’m not very familiar with Ed O’Brien, but this looks like an interesting and versatile Strat.
KMC Music is introducing the Supro 1699R Statesman:
“The Supro 1699R is a stunning combination of vintage tone and state-of-the-art technology that delivers sound quality that is worthy of the largest arenas and stages,” Hart said today. “David Koltai and designer Thomas Elliott have created a new modern masterpiece that is going to set the industry on its ear. We are thrilled to bring this remarkable new amp to our customers. We are fully stocked and ready to ship!”
The 1699R Statesman is a two-channel, 50W amplifier that unites vintage Supro tone with modern channel switching functionality, tube-driven reverb and a multi-purpose, all-tube effects loop. The red channel found in the Statesman uses the two-knob preamp from the legendary Supro Thunderbolt amplifier for high-headroom rock & roll power. The Statesman’s blue channel contains the high-gain preamp, 2-band EQ and all-tube reverb section of Supro’s acclaimed Comet model.
The Statesman provides A/B/Both channel switching operation, allowing the two channels to be run in parallel, creating a massive, dual-preamp sound where each channel contributes part of the overall texture. In addition to the tube-driven spring reverb, the Statesman’s blue channel contains an all-tube, switchable effects loop that provides a set of useful functions — including wet only reverb effects, which can be independently dialed in and blended with the dry sound from the red channel. The variable send-and-return levels allow the effects loop to function as a level and/or gain boost when engaged, even when nothing is plugged into the loop. The effects loop can also act as a master volume for the blue channel when bedroom levels are desired.
As a final touch, both the effects loop and the reverb on the Statesman feature a relay-controlled spill-over effect, allowing reverb and delay trails to decay naturally when switching between channels. The 50-watt power amp in the Statesman is switchable between Class A and Class AB operation. The Class-A (cathode bias) setting provides the distinctive midrange growl that has been the cornerstone of the Supro sound since the company was founded in 1935. The Class AB (grid bias) configuration presents less compression along with additional headroom, more punch and faster attack. The Statesman comes loaded with military-grade Sovtek power tubes that are precision-matched at the Supro factory in Port Jefferson, New York.
The Supro Statesman is available in a 1×12 combo format or as a compact head, covered in black rhino hide tolex and sized to sit perfectly atop the 1×12 and 1×15 Black Magick speaker cabinets, as well as the new, 2×12 Statesman speaker cabinet. Designed by Thomas Elliott, this all-tube masterpiece is equipped with 16-ohm, 8-ohm, and 4-ohm speaker outputs with enough power to drive up to four 2×12 cabs simultaneously for a look and sound worthy of the biggest stadiums and arena stages.
Here’s a video of Mark Lettieri playing through the amp:
Peavey has announced that it is re-entering the American-made guitar market with their new release, the HP2:
Building upon the legacy of its award-winning, USA made guitars, Peavey Electronics® proudly introduces the HP™2 Guitar at the 2017 Summer NAMM Show in Nashville. The HP2 is constructed with leading-edge technology, traditional handcrafted methods, professional-quality upgrades, and customizations. When a USA-made guitar bears the initials of Peavey founder and CEO Hartley Peavey, players can expect an iconic design with its own unique flair.
While the esthetic is classic, the HP2 undoubtedly stands out with its carved top and offset, asymmetrical body design that offers comfort, proper balance, and maximum playing ease. Maple was chosen for the top and basswood for the back; solid basswood construction is also available. Peavey selected these hardwoods not only for their natural beauty and weight characteristics, but also for their specific tonal qualities. Cream or black-edge binding accents the body.
At the select birdseye maple neck and fingerboard, players will find unmatched stability and playability. Dual graphite reinforcement bars and an easy-access, adjustable steel torsion rod provide additional strength, as does the bolt-on construction with contoured neck heel. The oil-finished fingerboard is cut from the same piece of wood as the single-piece neck, keeping the color and grain patterns consistent. The stress-relieved lamination also adds increased stability. The HP2 has a 25 ½’’ scale length, 22 jumbo frets and 15’’ fingerboard radius. The 10-degree tilt-back headstock has a 3+3 tuning machine configuration featuring Schaller® tuning machines with pearloid or cream buttons. The chrome-plated hardware finish completes the look.
The HP2’s construction and electronics work in harmony. Two custom-wound Peavey humbucking pickups supply optimal output and tonal response. They’re made using a two-step wax-dipping process that provides ultra-low noise operation and resistance to microphonic feedback. The pickups are mounted directly to the body, further reducing feedback at high volume levels and enhancing response. A Switchcraft® 3-way toggle switch allows selection of pickups in up, center and down configurations. Players will also find either a Peavey/Floyd Rose® licensed, double-locking tremolo assembly or tune-o-matic/stop tailpiece fixed-bridge to complete the guitar. Finishing off the guitar are two push-pull knobs for volume and tone, with the ability to split the pickups individually.
Given that EVH took this design with him to his own company, it will be interesting to see how well Peavey is able to compete with such a similar design. I’ve heard good things about the old Peavey Wolfgangs, though. I’m curious how these will be received.
JHS Pedals have announced an update to their Sweet Tea pedal:
The Sweet Tea V3 is JHS Pedals’ “Everything medium-to-high gain 2-in-1” pedal and it covers all the bases from light breakup, blues, rock, heavy grind and more.
The Sweet Tea V3 is for anyone who wants a versatile overdrive/distortion that covers all the bases you need plus more. You’ll find medium-to-high gain tones and the ability to stack for the perfect way to melt faces.
The right side is the brand new Moonshine V2 which is a unique and massively tweaked version of the most famous overdrive ever created housed in a little green enclosure. The Moonshine V2 has the classic mid-heavy tones that you’d expect but with more gain, volume, and tones available than you ever thought possible. The Moonshine V2 has the same core tone as the Moonshine Version 1 but we have added a new “Clean” knob to blend in the perfect amount of clean signal with your overdrive signal.
On the left side is the newest version of the Angry Charlie which is the Angry Charlie V3, one of JHS Pedals’ most popular pedals of the last few years. High gain JCM 800 type “Brown” sound tone that we believe is the most accurate Marshall tone ever put in a stomp box! It has volume, drive, and the full bass, mid, treble tone stack like you’d find on the amp. With the full tone stack and the amazingly accurate amp tones in this circuit you’ll be begging for more!
The Sweet Tea V3 features JHS Pedals’ classic order switching toggle so that you can choose which circuit is first in the chain for the perfect stacking tones you’ve been searching for.
With these tones combined or used separately, the Sweet Tea V3 is a gallon-and-a-half of overdrive that goes down easy on a summer night!
I’ve owned a Sweet Tea v2 for quite a while, and it’s one of my favorite Marshall-style overdrives. The Angry Charlie circuit can go from medium-to-high gain and it sounds good all the way along the spectrum. I suspect the new version will be even better since it has expanded tone shaping capabilities.
I also really like the JHS 808 circuit used in the previous version, so I’m curious how different the Moonshine circuit will sound in comparison. The “Clean” knob should also add some interesting new sounds.
It looks like the Sweet Tea v3 will start shipping in August with a retail price of $315.
The first units sold out almost immediately from Pro Guitar Shop, so it looks like they’re still backordered at the moment. Here’s PGS’s description of the pedal:
The original Belle Epoch was, to put it bluntly, a triumph. It was an all-digital recreation of the Maestro Echoplex that sounded, by and large, like the original unit. But it was digital! Gasp! How can that be? Well, noted tone snob Eric Johnson had not one, but two on his board, set slightly differently. If it’s good enough for EJ, it’s good enough for just about anybody, and so it was.
However, there’s still some room for improvement: How about that legendary preamp that exists within the Echoplex? How about the original’s odd operating voltage of 22 volts? What about an expression pedal? Well, friends, your prayers have been answered in the form of the Belle Epoch Deluxe.
Starting with the Echo Program control, you’re presented with six individual modes. Mode 1 is the stock EP-3 setting, but there’s so much more. Modes 2 through 6 give you a dark analog delay, rotary-speaker affected repeats, resonant filtered repeats, and two separate Deluxe Memory Man settings with different modulation effects on each mode. Each mode has a specific function that is controlled by the Depth knob, as well as one that is controlled by expression pedal when the toggle is set to the left.
The Delay Time ranges from 80 to 800 milliseconds, just like a real EP-3. And in the quest for EP-3 authenticity, not a detail was spared. The preamp of the Belle Epoch Deluxe is no slouch. Everyone knows that the Echoplex preamp makes up half the magic, and it’s all here, using high-quality parts and the original 22-volt operating voltage for real EP-3 preamp tones with no corners cut. The Record Level control on the front adjusts the heat of this preamp.
No special adapters are needed to convert the voltage to 22, it’s all taken care of by the internal circuitry. Just plug in your standard nine volts and away you go. Have an expression pedal? The V/D toggle on the front changes whether or not it controls the Delay Time control, or the special function outlined on each mode. Want true bypass or trails? How about both? A special slide switch on the inside lets you choose.
An internal trimpot lets you set the oscillation rate, for use with the Echo Osc[illation] footswitch on the front. Holding this switch down lets the repeats run away for some expressive blasts of feedback that really show off the tone of the Belle Epoch Deluxe.
Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe features:
- Ultra-realistic recreation of the Maestro EP-3 with 5 other modes
- Original preamp operating voltage of 22 volts with period-correct parts
- Expression jack and toggle let you change between hands-free parameters
- Made in USA
- Standard 9v center-negative power operation (adapter not included)
I owned the original Belle Epoch and really liked it. I don’t use much delay, so I sold it, but this has piqued my interest.
The pedal retails for $329.99 and hopefully a second batch will be produced soon.
Fender is introducing the George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster today:
To honor Harrison’s venerable career, Fender has created the George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster, a limited edition commemoration that embodies Harrison’s elegantly restrained playing style and sound. Based on the original Telecaster created for Harrison by guitar luthier, Roger Rossmeisl, this model remains true to its heritage with a classic look and the unique tone only an all-rosewood guitar can produce. The body is chambered for reduced weight and increased resonance. Other features include a rosewood neck with a laminated 9.5″ radius rosewood fingerboard and a custom neck plate engraved with an Om symbol. A classic in every way, this refined instrument was born in the era that defined rock n’ roll. George Harrison’s legacy is one of innovation and creativity, and the rosewood Telecaster became one of his primary instruments of choice. Only 1,000 units will be available worldwide.
The Harrison Telecaster will be available on August 22, 2017 and will retail for $2499.99.
Way Huge have announced a new pedal based on the Overrated Special. This one was also created in conjunction with Joe Bonamassa and is called the Doubleland Special. (Note: it’s not on Way Huge’s site yet, so I linked to Sweetwater’s site.)
Here are some of the details:
The only thing better than getting Joe Bonamassa’s signature tone in a pedal is getting twice as much of it. And that’s just what the engineers at Way Huge give you with the limited-edition Doubleland Special dual overdrive. Onboard you’ll find two of Bonamassa’s signature Overrated Special overdrive circuits that you can use individually or for blending to taste. Joe prefers to have one set for humbuckers and one for single-coils. However you choose to push your Doubleland Special, you’ll want to make sure you grab this limited-edition pedal from Sweetwater.
Designed for Joe Bonamassa, the Way Huge Overrated Special overdrive pedal sounded bold and punchy. A 500Hz control allows you to beef up your midrange tone, while Volume, Tone, and Drive controls give you a wide sonic range to explore. Use it to add some boost and grit to a clean amplifier, or put it in front of an already overdriven amp for epic lead tones. And Way Huge crammed two of these sweet-sounding overdrives into the Doubleland Special, giving you instant access to a variety of gain levels.
The Overrated Special was $199, so getting two of them in one container with additional tweak-ability for $299 isn’t a bad deal. No official release date yet, but I suspect they’ll be available soon.
Friedman Amplication have recently introduced a new powered monitor to their lineup, the ASC-12:
The Friedman ASC-12 powered monitor was designed and voiced for use with today’s guitar amp modelers and profilers including Fractal Audio Axe-Fx, Kemper Profiler, Line 6 HD Series and others. The ASC-12 delivers rich authentic tones, allowing you get the most out of these systems in live use and playback applications. The ASC-12 is identical to the ASM-12 electronically, the only difference being that the ASC-12’s shape makes it more useable as a regular rectangular speaker cabinet (IE: with your amp modeler on top the cabinet it looks like any other amp head/speaker cab set-up), whereas the ASM-12 functions more like an angled floor monitor or mounts to a pole.
The ASC-12 features a Celestion 12″ loudspeaker with a 2.5″ edge wound voce coil and a premium Celestion high frequency compression driver. At the heart of the ASC-12 is a robust 500w Bi-Amp Class-G amplifier that is anything but digital. This proprietary amplifier design delivers rich, full tone and a wide frequency response making it suited for backline, stage monitoring or even as your main PA speaker.
Key features include: Bi-Amp power module with high efficiency Class G low frequency amplification with a high current output stage and custom signal processing; clip/limit, thermal, and short circuit protection; line level output for linking multiple speakers ; optimized acoustic designs using a PETP film compression driver diaphragm; heat vented low frequency drivers; and a hand crafted in the USA, sturdy Baltic birch construction. Controls include level knob, low-cut filter switch, ground lift and power switches.
The Friedman ASC-12 powered loudspeaker was designed using advanced acoustic and audio techniques with premium components, comprehensive protection circuitry, and robust construction to provide years of consistent, reliable performance.
I haven’t delved that much into amp modeling yet, but I’m getting more curious about it. This looks like a nice way to use a modeler, but still get a great sound from a monitor.
Per Music Radar, Fender is announcing a hand-wired ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb amp:
As per the original, the ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb offers Bright and Normal channels (with tube-driven spring reverb and tremolo on both), hand-wired AB763 circuitry and 20 watts of output.
The amp’s pine cabinet boasts an extra-heavy textured vinyl covering and lightly aged silver grille cloth, and houses a 12” Jensen C-12Q speaker.
Also included are Fender Vintage Blue tone capacitors, four 12AX7 and two 12AT7 preamp tubes, a 5AR4/GZ34 rectifier tube, a matched pair of 6V6 output tubes, as well as a footswitch and amp cover.
This isn’t much other information available about this amp yet, but it looks like it will retail for around $2500.