NEWS: Jane’s Addiction Australian tour

Woohoo!!! The NIN/JA tour may not be coming here (boo!), but I can still catch the reunited original line-up of Jane’s Addiction at their own show here in Melbourne on July 30.

Here are the full tour dates:

July 25: Splendour In The Grass, Byron Bay (QJump)

July 26: Brisbane (Ticketek)

July 27: Sydney (Ticketek)

July 29: Adelaide (Thebarton Theatre)

July 30: Melbourne (Ticketmaster)

August 1: Perth (SMH)

REVIEW: Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff With Top Boost

The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is one of the most famous fuzz pedals in existence, and is used by both guitarists and bass players from many genres to add some welcome grit and harmonic fatness to their sound. There have been a few variations on the basic Big Muff sound and design over the years, including the Double Muff and Mini Muff. Now the Metal Muff takes the basic sound and twists it like a chunk of iron into a formidable metal beast.

CLICK HERE to see Electro-Harmonix pedals on eBay.

The Metal Muff is a respectably large pedal with six pots – Volume, Top Boost, Treble, Mid, Bass and Distortion – and two footswitches. The switch on the right either turns the effect on or bypasses the circuit completely. The left switch kicks in a variable top boost, though only in effect mode, not in bypass.

Power is supplied by a 9v DC adaptor, with battery access through the bottom of the pedal by removing the bottom plate. Like other pedals in the range, it’s not an ideal solution, but a bit more stable and robust than some designs on the market. That said, I’d probably choose to run the Metal Muff with an adaptor rather than batteries just for convenience.

Visually, the Metal Muff looks like it belongs on the cover of an Iron Maiden or Judas Priest vinyl LP cover, being held by an armour-clad hand bursting from the chest of a zombie. The chunky chrome knobs call to mind a particular valve amp commonly used in metal, the black casing screams ‘apocalypse’ and the sharp, angular typeface used for the main logo is as aggressive as the tones inside.

And what tones they are. The Metal Muff is not a subtle pedal. There is so much bass on tap that it’s easy to swallow a drummer and bass player whole with this pedal. I found the best setting on the bass control was somewhere around mid way, to retain some punch and definition without eating up the rest of the band. The midrange control is best used to define the general body of the sound, focusing on a frequency which seems more suited to rhythm than lead styles, while the treble control is best used in combination and balance with the top boost. You may find that the top boost works for a biting rhythm sound, while turning it off will round off the tone nicely for leads. Or perhaps doing it the other way around will work for your sound. Either way it’s a handy extra level of flexibility.

The basic thrust of the sound is squarely in the Anthrax/Metallica zone at medium high gain levels. Crank it up a little further, suck out the mids and you’re in Pantera country. Raise the mids, turn off the top boost and back the treble back to about 9 o’clock and you have a dry but cutting “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” tone.

It would have been great to be able to select the treble section alone to add a bit more sparkle and edge to a dark sounding guitar without the distortion engaged, or to attain a bit of that late 60s distortion sound, where an overdriven amp was hit with a treble boost to send it further into natural distortion. You can approach this sound by keeping the tone controls neutral and turning the distortion all the way down, but if you wanted to do this it would be extra cool to be able to kick the distortion in and out separately for solos.

The Metal Muff is a very usable new spin on the classic Big Muff sound. Sure, it’s squarely aimed at the metal crowd, and you’d have a hard time finding a ‘polite’ lead tone for more subtle styles, but it does what it’s designed to do admirably and with style.

CLICK HERE to buy the Metal Muff with Top Boost from Music123.

REVIEW: Ampeg Dan Armstrong ADA6

Anyone with an eye to music video shows or channels will recognise this guitar from the Foo Fighters video for ‘All My Life.’ Music fans with a slightly longer memory may recall these flashy instruments in the hands of Keith Richards, Leslie West, Paul McCartney, Cream’s Jack Bruce or Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler. Let’s go through the plexiglass to see what’s on the other side.

This version is a near-exact replica of the original Ampeg model designed by Dan Armstrong, dating back to 1969. It differs from the originals by way of an improved neck joint, as well as a compensated rosewood bridge designed for regular string sets with three wound and three unwound strings – the original’s bridge was compensated for a wound G string, and evidently Ampeg felt that remaining vintage-faithful in this instance would compromise tuning for the majority of players who favour contemporary string sets.

The double cutaway Plexiglas body certainly looks cool, but there’s a method behind this madness. The theory is that the density and uniformity of the body material eliminates unwanted vibrations and frequencies, improving sustain by transferring the string vibrations uninterrupted by the variations in grain and density that you might find in wood.

Another very interesting feature is the removable pickup system. Out of the case, the Dan Armstrong is fitted with a Rock Sustain humbucking pickup, but a single coil Rock Treble pickup is also included. Each are designed by Kent Armstrong, who designed the original’s pickups in the 1960s and 70s. The pickups simply slot into the body and are secured by a few thumbscrews. Electronics consist of volume and tone controls, plus a 3-way tone switch. The centre position bypasses the tone circuit completely, while the other two positions shift the frequencies affected by the tone knob.

The neck is hard maple, with 24 frets on a rosewood fretboard. Die cast Grover tuners are positioned for almost perfectly straight string pull, and are close-coupled to minimise string tension differences.

I plugged into my all-valve half stack, set to a vintage, edgy but clear tone, and let ‘er rip with some Bowie riffs. The first thing I noticed was the unique attack of the notes, compared to a more conventionally constructed guitar. There was a satisfying chunk and chirp to the pick attack, followed by a kind of opening up of the tone. If you hold a note, it seems to start out compressed then spread out, sustain for a while, then gradually fade away. With some smooth Tube Screamer overdrive, the Ampeg reminded me of Trey Anastasio’s main solo tone in Phish. The tone switch was handy for emphasising different overtones in single note lines, but for pure classic chunk the guitar sounded best in the centre position. Swapping to the single coil pickup, a bright, almost P90-ish jangle was attainable, and was especially great for blasting out “Jean Genie.”

While the looks are likely to divide players, the construction quality and tone of this guitar are undeniable. Fortunately, if you don’t like the clear look, Ampeg recently announced the AMG100 series, which replaces the acrylic with swamp ash, mahogany or alder, but you owe it to yourself to check out the attack and sustain characteristics of the acrylic version.

Body: Clear acrylic polymer
Neck: Maple, bolt-on, 24.75″ scale
Fretboard: 24-fret, rosewood
Controls: Master volume, master tone, 3-way pickup selector
Pickups: 1 single-blade Rock Treble, 1 dual-blade Sustain Treble; interchangeable
Tuners: Grover nickel die-cast
Bridge: Rosewood with compensated brass saddles
Case: Hardshell case included

CLICK HERE to buy the Ampeg Dan Armstrong from Guitar Center for $1,499

NEWS: Manson Matt Bellamy MB-1 Standard

Finally! Manson Guitars is producing an official signature model for Matt Bellamy of Muse, and in terms of tricked-outedness this one is giving the Parker Adrian Belew model a run for its money.

The Manson MB-1 Standard is made in the UK. It includes a Manson-designed bridge humbucker, a Fernandes Sustainer in the neck, and a fixed bridge. Most interesting of all though is the optional MIDI control screen. Map it to your effects, your computer, whatever you like. Use it to activate whammy pitch effects, change the speed of modulation effects, whack it for rhythmic stutters, whatever you like. Awesome. Delivery is expected to start from summer 2009 and orders will be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis. There’s a minimum holding deposit of (gulp) £1000. Base price is £3299


Alder Body
Birds Eye Maple Neck
Rosewood Fingerboard
MBK-2 Bridge Humbucker
Fernandes Sustainer Humbucking Neck Pickup
Fixed Bridge
Gotoh 510 Machine Heads
Kill Switch
Volume, Tone
Sustainer On/Off Switch
Sustainer – Harmonic/Fundamental Switch
3-way Pickup Selector Switch
Manson Deluxe Logo Hard Case

Check out Guitar Noize’s post about this guitar too.

By the way, CLICK HERE for my ‘How To Sound Like Muse’ lesson from Mixdown magazine.

REVIEW: Crate V33 212

There once was a time when Crate amps were considered, to loosely quote Billy Corgan, “The amp your mom bought you when she was too cheap to buy you a real amp.” Those days are long, long gone, with a long list of high profile endorsers including ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, the late great Bo Diddley, Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, Sammy Hagar, Ministry’s Mike Scaccia and Al Jourgenson, and pedal steel virtuoso Robert Randolph. My first real amp was a Crate GT-200H, a very cool hybrid head with 2 valve and 2 solid state channels. Yngwie Malmsteen used to advertise the combo version as his practice amp, so there ya go.

CLICK HERE to see Crate Amps on eBay.


The V33 is a world away from Crate’s more metal-toned offerings. To a certain degree, the V33 might remind some players of another well-known amp with an association to the letter ‘V’. It’s a 33 watt, all valve Class A amp with four 12AX7 preamp valves. One 12AX7 greets the guitar signal pretty much right there at the input jack; two operate on the clean channel, and another is added when you select the overdrive channel. There are two more 12AX7s following the spring reverb and effects loop. The V33 has two 12” speakers fed by a power section running on four EL84 cathode biased output valves.

The EQ section is shared by both the clean and overdrive channels. There’s a Boost button to engage a 10dB boost at 900Hz for adding more guts to the midrange, and a presence button which provides some extra sparkle.

The effects send can be used as a line out, and the effect return jack can be used as a power amp insert, so you can use an external preamp or modeller instead if you wish.

The manual deserves a lot of praise for containing a very detailed article about valves – what they are, how they work, and how to care for them. It’s a great read, and the writer resists the urge to get too techy, without dumbing things down either.


Time to put down the manual and crank this baby up. The clean channel has a great sparkle, giving way to a satisfyingly hot chunk when cranked up. The gain level never quite makes it to distortion territory even when pushed. Instead there’s a chimey, almost acoustic character which is ideal for blues, jazz, indie and country styles – especially with a slapback delay in the effect loop. The overdrive channel has a warm, slightly mushy compression which seems to love single coil pickups for a bit of Hendrix growl. Humbuckers give the amp a more fusion-ish tone. The gain never quite gets out of control, but this is an amp for more refined players who need to hear exotic intervals and careful note articulation, rather than a box of doom for metal monsters.


This amp is a great option for those who dwell on the lighter side of rock, the heavier side of jazz, right smack bang in the middle of the blues, or country players who need some meat for solos but require a rhythm channel that can take a spankin’ from a Telecaster.


33 Watts RMS
Class A, 4 x EL84 output tubes, 4 x 12AX7 preamp tubes
2 x 12″ speakers
Two channels
Spring reverb

NEWS: News for April 29, 2009

A bit of news today so it’s time to reinstate the news summary format I was messing with a few weeks ago. I like doing these but sometimes there’s just not enough news out there to justify it. Today though there seems to be much afoot in the world of guitar.

New Fear Factory line-up
Remember the recent news that Dino Cazares and Burton C Bell had formed a new band with Gene Hoglan and Byron Stroud? Well that new band has a name: Fear Factory. That’s right, Dino’s in, and Raymond and Christian are out (but they have their own band called Arkaea).

Alice Cooper to tour Australia
Lennard Promotions, in association with Music Max, announces the forthcoming Alice Cooper’s Theatre Of Death Australian Tour in August 2009 – 
Tickets on Sale from usual outlets on Monday 4th May.
Tuesday 18th August – Win Entertainment Centre, Wollongong (Theatre Mode) 
Wednesday 19th August – Gold Coast Convention Centre (Theatre Mode) 
Friday 21st August – Newcastle Entertainment Centre (Theatre Mode) 
Saturday 22nd August – Brisbane Convention Centre (Theatre Mode) 
Monday 24th August – Sydney Entertainment Centre (Theatre Mode) 
Wednesday 26th August – Royal Theatre, Canberra 
Friday 28th August – Palais Theatre, Melbourne 
Saturday 29th August – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide 
Tuesday 1st September – Challenge Stadium, Perth (Theatre Mode)
Ticketek 132 849 or
Ticketmaster 136 100
Source: Riot Act

Creed reunion
Okay, regardless of what you think about Creed (personally I’m not a fan, there I said it), Mark Tremonti is a heck of a guitarist, and hey, maybe this Creed reunion tour will boost attention for Tremonti and his instructional DVD, ‘The Sound And The Story,’ which features appearances by Michael Angelo Batio and Rusty Cooley.
Buy: Mark Tremonti’s ‘The Sound And The Story’ from eBay stores

Tony MacAlpine returns to Planet X
Yep, T-Mac has returned to Planet X, the prog band featuring Virgil Donati and Derek Sherinian. The band is heading to the studio later this year for a new album, to be followed by a tour. Rad. Tony is also selling two of his main guitars, a Carvin T-MAC VI 6-string and Carvin T-MAC VII 7-string. Go here for details.

NEWS: B.C. Rich 40th Anniversary editions

I first became aware of B.C. Rich guitars when I was a kid. A local music store (Don Jefferson Music or something like that, colloquially known as “Jeffo’s”) had some lower-priced models in their catalogues, which would be stuffed into the local paper before Christmas every year. It wasn’t until much later that I learned B.C. Rich did so much more than just white Warlocks with a recommended retail price of $699. But still to this day whenever I see a white Warlock I think about being about 8 or 9 years old, thumbing through these catalogues, which I would keep for months) dreaming about the day when I could plug in a real electric guitar. Whoa.

Anyway, the point of this post is: look! 40th anniversary limited runs of original B.C. Rich models!

B.C. Rich Marks 40Th Anniversary With Limited Run Of Original-Spec, Handcrafted Guitars
April 24, 2009

Commemorating its 40th Anniversary as America’s premier builder of uniquely shaped, lifestyle-driven electric guitars, B.C. Rich proudly announces a new series of handcrafted instruments to mark the milestone. The special guitars are a tribute to models originally developed by company founder Bernardo (“Bernie”) Rico and are limited to a production run of 40 guitars per model.

The four Handcrafted Anniversary Guitars represent the first original designs offered by B.C. Rich: the Seagull, Eagle, Mockingbird and Bich. Each will receive a 40th Anniversary commemorative logo on the back of the headstock, a special serial number and certificate of authenticity.

All Anniversary instruments utilize Neck-through-Body Koa wood construction, a feature rarely seen before B.C. Rich came on the scene back in ’69. This method maximizes sustain and helps maintain the long-term structural stability of the instrument. Bodies are crafted of solid Koa with Maple accent stripes (“stringers”) on two models and utilize DiMarzio Dual Sound pickups.

Additional design details include the classic B.C. Rich Diamond fingerboard inlays (Snowflake design on the Seagull), Grover Super Rotomatic tuners and vintage Cal Rad knobs.

“The 40th Anniversary Series lets us pay tribute to our original designs with these retro-inspired models,” said Rock Clouser, product manager for B.C. Rich. B.C. Rich Anniversary Series instruments each have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $4,200.00.

For more info, visit

CLICK HERE to see B.C. Rich guitars on eBay, and make sure you CLICK HERE too to see any that are misspelled as BC Rich (the dots matter, eBayers, the dots matter).