NEWS: News for March 23, 2009

New free NIN, Jane’s Addiction, Street Sweeper tracks

In anticipation of the NIN/JA (Nine Inch Nails/Jane’s Addiction, geddit?) tour, the three bands have each contributed two tracks to a free downloadable EP. Along with two rather live-sounding NIN songs (‘Not So Pretty Now’ and ‘Non-Entity’), there are re-recorded, Trent Reznor-produced versions of early Jane’s tracks ‘Whores’ and ‘Chip Away.’ Street Sweeper is Tom Morello’s new band, combining rap and rock in a more straightforward way than Rage Against The Machine.


Bedroom Philosopher: Songs from the 86 Tram.

While not necessarily the kind of high octane guitar geekery I Heart Guitar readers are used to seeing covered in these pages, I encourage everyone in Melbourne to check out The Bedroom Philosopher – Songs From The 86 Tram, part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I used to go to the same uni as this dude and we lived over the road from each other in Canberra for a while. If you can’t make it to Melbourne, look for his new album, Brown & Orange on iTunes.


REVIEW: Waves GTR Solo

There are a lot of amp sims out there at the moment. Each of them seem to model the same few classic amps, yet each has their own unique pros and cons. Waves offers GTR Solo Pro, which features 10 amps, 13 stomp effects and 10 cabinets. Let’s look at what it has to offer.


GTR Solo has amp models based on classics by Fender, Marshall, VOX and more, as well as a few models created with the assistance and endorsement of Paul Reed Smith. This kind of cross-branding should definitely work in Waves’s favour in getting GTR Solo to stand out in a crowded modelling market. The amp models are called Clean, Sweet, Edgy, Drive, Overdrive, Crunch, Shredder, PRS Scorch and PRS Crush, and SolidState Bass Amp. The stomp boxes don’t claim to be exact reproductions of anything in particular, and as such they’re probably a little more versatile than if Waves tried to model some niche variant of an obscure pedal produced for two months in 1983 out of someone’s garage. The stompers are OverDrive, Distortion, Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Delay, Wah Wah, Spring, Pitcher, Vibrolo, GateComp, EQ and Volume. There are also 10 cabinet models that are designed with particular emphasis on emulating not just the sound of the speaker itself but also, as Waves says, “the aural sensation of real speakers moving air”. They are 12″ Open Back, 2×12″ Closed Back, 2×12″ Open Back, 4×10″ Open Back, 4×12″ Standard, 4×12″ Vintage, Acme12″ Custom, Bass 8×10″ Pro, Acme 4×12″ Vintage Gibson Skylark and Acme 8″ Open Back Hiwatt.


My favourite models are Drive, for blues-rock and AC/DC moments; PRS Scorch (with the gain control lowered a bit) for singing fusion; and Crunch for chunky rock. The SolidState bass model is also very useful and adaptable. I’ve used it with the EQ effect module to get snappy slap-and-pop sounds, and also on its own with a little ambience for old school treble-reduced 60s psychedelic tones.

I’ve had a lot of fun queuing up my favourite songs and trying to zero in on the guitar tones. Perhaps the most accurate reproductions I’ve hit upon so far are Joe Satriani’s ‘The Mighty Turtle Head’ and Nuno Bettencourt’s ‘Waiting For The Punchline’ sound. The modular nature of the amp and effects means it’s easy to shift different elements around to examine their effect on the tone. For instance, if you’re using a clean tone you can place the delay after the amp for the cleanest, most hi-fi sound, or before it for a little warmth and grit. It also presents a good opportunity to experiment with the placement of pedals such as chorus. I personally prefer my chorus before distortion but most prefer it after. With Waves you can just drag and drop the module to test both methods for a particular song. Try that in the studio without a session-ruining knock to a mic.

One of my favourite applications in GTR Solo is the ability to shift back the perceived distance of the microphone. This is especially handy for getting the same kind of distance ambience you hear on Yngwie Malmsteen’s debut CD, Rising Force. I couldn’t resist dragging out my battered old Strat copy and cranking up a few harmonic minor riffs. Another great asset to this program is the complexity of its off-axis microphone settings, which can add a great out-of-phase honk to the tone – awesome for nailing those bold Mattias Ia Eklundh solo tones, which are very hard to achieve otherwise.


So with dozens of amp sims on the market, why should you choose Waves? Well what I like about it most is its ambience and the harmonic complexity of its overdriven sounds. I like all the micing options and the way they add dimension and depth to the guitar within the mix. Waves is running a ‘get GTR Solo free for one year’ promotion where you get 12 months full access to the complete program. By the end of those 12 months, hopefully you’ll have decided it rocks your socks off and you have to pay for the license to keep it.

REVIEW: Fender Jim Root Telecaster

When you think Telecaster, a variety of styles pop up: country twang, dirty classic rock, jangly indie. But it’s certainly not the kind of guitar you think of for punishing metal mayhem. The Jim Root Telecaster changes that perception. While there have been Telecasters with humbuckers for about 40 years now, they’ve typically featured more conservative humbucker models with relatively low output. Not so on this baby. The Jim Root Telecaster is built for face-tearing metal and little else.

Jim Root is one of two guitarists in both Slipknot and Stone Sour. For his Fender signature model, Root has designed a modern variation on the classic Telecaster without loading it up with graphics of goat skulls, dripping blood packs or any other such metal brutality. Even though that’d be kinda cool … Instead his signature model is simple, restrained, and roadworthy, and while it has its own identity, it’s not so overdone as to make you look like you’re playing in a Slipknot tribute band the second you strap it on.

The body is mahogany, an unusual choice for a Telecaster as it is known for a thicker low end than most Telecaster players desire. The review model was finished in flat white with a matte polyurethane finish. A flat black model is also available.

String meets body via a black 6-saddle string-through hardtail bridge. The pickups are active EMGs: a 60 in the neck and an 81 in the bridge. The 81 is the standard, go-to pickup of metal monsters everywhere, and the 60 is favoured by the likes of Mr James Hetfield for his rare solo moments, due to its smooth, singing tone with a lot of clarity and cut. Battery access for the pickups is through a compartment in the back of the guitar, which is shared by the single volume pot and 3-way pickup selector switch. You have to unscrew the cover plate to change the battery: a separate latched compartment would have been nice.

The maple neck has a modern ‘C’ profile with a satin polyurethane finish. There are 22 medium jumbo frets with a flat-ish 12” radius on the rosewood fretboard. This radius eliminates the danger of bent notes choking out on the frets, while keeping the fretboard curve comfortable. The fret finishing is quite good. Running my hand down the neck, I didn’t feel any rough edges or pointy bits.

The headstock features black hardware and the big chunky Telecaster logo instead of the more traditional smaller one. A decal of Root’s signature is on the back of the headstock. Black Fender/Schaller deluxe cast/sealed locking tuners are a nice touch.

I plugged the Jim Root Telecaster into my Marshall DSL50 set to ‘kill,’ with scooped midrange on the ‘Ultra’ channel, for maximum brutality. With the assistance of the EMG 81 I was able to pull out screaming pinch harmonics and fat sustain with ease, and chunky metal riffs were irresistible. Moving up to the widdly end of the fretboard, higher notes didn’t lose any of the bite and output of the lower notes, making this a lead player’s axe as well as a rhythm guitarist’s buddy. In the middle pickup setting, a trebly edge was added, emphasising pick attack and making for some nice semi-clean sounds, good for strumming or playing arpeggios for a verse before rocking the bridge pickup for a big chorus. The neck pickup sounded full and round, with a high end sparkle not often heard in neck pickups. It’s great for atmospheric, sustained notes around the 12th fret, and has nice articulation for mega-fast speed picking. I’m not sure if this is the same pickup used by Brendon Small for his leads on the Dethklok stuff, but it certainly reminds me of that kinda tone.

The combination of the neck profile, fret size and radius, and the fret finishing make this guitar very playable, and the restrained yet confident visual design keep it from looking too much like a signature guitar. You can comfortably play this on stage without people thinking you’re a Slipknot stalker. The sounds are great, and the workmanship is flawless.