NEWS: Limited Edition Gibson Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby

Yowza, yowza, yowza. Just saw this press release over at the very extremely excellent Guitarsite. It combines two of my favourite things: Bigbsy tremolos and guitars with points so sharp you can use them to bring down a rampaging wildebeast.

The new limited edition Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Tailpiece

Using Gibson’s Les Paul Standard as its base design, the new 2009 Limited Run Series Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Tailpiece combines the Les Paul’s iconic form with avant-garde features that keep it one step ahead of everything else. The standard Les Paul cutaway gives way to the wider and deeper Florentine Cutaway.

First used in 1902 on Gibson’s O-style guitars, and traditionally found on legendary Gibson models such as the Byrdland, the ES-175 and the ES-295, the Florentine Cutaway comfortably enhances your reach to the higher register of notes. Like all the guitars from the Limited Run Series, only 350 of these unique Les Pauls will be produced and distributed. Each one comes with a black Gibson hardshell case and a special Limited Run Series certificate of authenticity.

The Les Paul Florentine’s most prominent feature is its chrome Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. Essentially the same design as when it was introduced in the mid 1940s, the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece model B7 allows you to bend the pitch of notes or entire chords for vintage-style vibrato. It has been a fixture on many Gibsons, and was named after its late inventor, Paul A. Bigsby, who sold his Bigsby Guitar company to former Gibson President Ted McCarty in 1966. This classic piece of guitar hardware performs flawlessly thanks to several added enhancements — including a white graphite nut for smooth string action, a set of locking Grover tuners to help keep the strings in tune, and a Schaller roller bridge to help the strings return to the original tuning after using the Bigsby vibrato.

The BurstBucker Pro features an Alnico V magnet (instead of the Alnico II), which offers slightly higher output and allows preamps to be driven a little harder to achieve a more natural break-up. Like all BurstBuckers, the BurstBucker Pro has asymmetrical coils — true to the original PAFs — which supply a more open sound. The BurstBucker Pro Neck is wound slightly less than the original PAFs, while the BurstBucker Pro Bridge is slightly overwound for increased output. The BurstBucker Pro pickups are also wax potted to allow loud volume pressures with minimal feedback.

The rest of the Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Tailpiece is a traditional Les Paul. The body consists of a solid mahogany back topped by a AA-grade maple top with single-ply antique crème binding. The Florentine also sports the traditional Vintage Sunburst finish, and the neck is the standard Les Paul mahogany neck with a rounded profile and rosewood fingerboard. Other unique appointments include the new Quick-Connect control pocket assembly, which keeps your guitar cord securely connected to the guitar, and a set of Dunlop locking strap pins.

For more information, please visit http://www.gibson.com/

CLICK HERE to buy the Gibson Limited Run Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Electric Guitar Vintage Sunburst from Guitar Center for $2,646.

REVIEW: Red Witch Empress Chorus Vibrato

Red Witch pedals hail from the North Island of New Zealand. The company specializes in high quality analog pedals which look as good as they sound, with a very boutique vibe.

I reviewed the Empress chorus/vibrato pedal. The pedal is housed in a diecast aluminum box which has been heavily plated with shiny chrome, and screen printed with slightly art nouveau inspired images. The typeface used to describe the controls looks very gothic and iconic, and Red Witch gets big points in my book for creating a strong brand identity, unlike a lot of smaller pedal makers who seem to just stick a Dymo label on a sardine can and call it finished.

Controls on the Empress include a small switch for selecting vibrato or chorus mode, and another switch for brightness; and knobs for velocity, mix, depth and voice. There’s also an internal slide switch to choose between two different input stages. The unit is preset to the Medusa input stage setting, and the other position provides a little more boost and slightly different tonal response.

Switching is true bypass, and the pedal runs on either a 9 volt battery or an external power supply.

Plugging this beast in, the first thing to catch my attention was a LED which flashed in time with the velocity setting. Nice touch!

It seems relatively easy for pedal designers to design a chorus pedal which has that slick 80s hi fi sound – you know the one, it’s all over the clean tones on any Def Leppard or Michael Bolton album. But what makes the Empress great is that it nails that classic vintage warbly chorus sound that sounds like it’s a true part of the sound, rather than something that’s being done to the sound.

My favourite setting was running the pedal into the lead channel of my Marshall DSL50 head, with the voice and depth controls on 10 and the velocity and mix controls on 4. With this setting going into a distorted amp tone, the Empress added rich harmonic overtones similar to Eric Clapton’s “Woman Tone” or the sound of a wah pedal half cocked, which seemed to swell up around the note then drop back again.

Backing off the gain and switching to vibrato mode, some great vintage textures were on tap, and cranking everything to 10 in either chorus or vibrato mode created some gloriously over the top wobbly bubble sounds.

This pedal is one of those rare units that is able to inspire you to seek out new sounds and new songs to fully take advantage of all it has to offer. It’s one of the best chorus pedals I’ve seen in a long time.

CLICK HERE to buy the Red Witch Empress Chorus Vibrato pedal from Tunnel Vision Music.

Here’s a great video demo of the Empress by ProGuitarShop. (By the way, I’ve bought quite a few pedals from ProGuitarShop – great service, and their demo videos are the best I’ve seen).

NEWS: Ernie Ball Music Man 25th Anniversary tour

It’s at this point that I must once again kick myself for living in Australia, where I miss out on amazing experiences such as this:

Guitar Center Session’s Presents Ernie Ball Music Man’s 25th Anniversary tour

Guitar Center and Ernie Ball/Music Man proudly announce an evening of dialogue and music with guitar virtuosos Steve Morse and Steve Lukather. Hosted by Sterling Ball, this in depth conversation looks back on a quarter century of passion and commitment, building the finest instruments made exclusively in the United States. Steve Morse, Steve Lukather and Sterling Ball will discuss the development of their respective signature guitars, the latest Ball Family Reserve models, and the unveiling of 3 new Music Man Instruments, The 25th Anniversary guitar, 25th Anniversary 4 & 5 String basses and the Big Al bass. The Ball Family is the last of a dying breed crafting instruments in San Luis Obispo CA for the last 25 years. This dedication to excellence has culminated into a premier line of custom quality instruments played by some of rocks most iconic guitarists. Come celebrate with guitar legends Steve Lukather and Steve Morse for an evening of insight, inspiration and conversation.

May 25th 7:00pm
Guitar Center Orlando #777

12402 Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando FL 32837
(407) 251-6659

May 27th 7 p.m.
Guitar Center Detroit #331

31940 Gratiot Avenue
Roseville Michigan 48066
(586)296-6161

May 29th 7 p.m.
Guitar Center San Jose #222

3677 Stevens Creek Blvd
Santa Clara CA 95051
(408) 249-0455

For more information, please visit http://www.ernieball.com/, http://www.music-man.com/


NEWS: Fretnet returns!

Just saw this over at Truth In Shredding: News: fretnet gets a new time slot:

Fretnet’s new timeslot is Tuesday nights at midnight until 2am (Melbourne, Australia time). On the Fretnet website, Steve says “We’re back! kind of… Fret Net is back on PBS FM 106.7, but just for a couple of months. A new permanent spot has not been confirmed.”

I seem to run into Steve at quite a few guitar-related gigs around town – I happened to sit next to him at Jeff Beck a few months ago – and his show is a great service to guitarists worldwide. Listen to archived shows at http://www.fretnet.com/playlists.html