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Monthly Archives: June 2009

NEWS: New Alice In Chains single for free download

Alice In Chains has released a new single, A Looking In View, via their website, www.aliceinchains.com – rock on over there now to download it for free, in return for signing up to their mailing list. Small price to pay, methinks. The track is from the forthcoming album ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ which is due for release on September 29. CLICK HERE to preorder the album from Amazon.com.

So what do you think of the track? Here are a few thoughts, in dot points because they’re fun.

• Huge guitar tone from Jerry Cantrell. It reminds me of his sound on Dirt but, I dunno, bigger. More body and oomph. Something about the pick attack reminds me of Sepultura’s ‘Against’ CD, which is a kinda weird comparison, but there it is.

• Big production with lots of overdubs and audio candy. This shouldn’t really be a surprise since AIC’s best stuff was heavily layered.

• One thing this song does is once again remind me that Jerry’s vocals are a huge part of the Alice In Chains sound. His role had gradually increased during the band’s first, Layne Staley-led incarnation, to the point where now Jerry and William DuVall seem to be sharing the lead vocalist slot equally.

• Speaking of Duvall, he seems to be purposefully using a Staley-like vibrato in a few spots, but his voice is more nasal than Staley’s. I quite like that he’s not trying too hard to sound like Layne, but at the same time isn’t denying what a huge part Layne played in the AIC sound.

CLICK HERE for my review of Alice In Chains at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne, on February 26, 2009 and CLICK HERE for my ‘How To Sound Like Jerry Cantrell’ lesson. (And thanks to Avon Calling of aic.yuku.com for pointing out I messed up some dates in that Jerry article – I’ll fix it soon!)

NEWS: Vox Big Bad Wah secret feature revealed!

Wow, I did not see this one coming. Vox and Joe Satriani have revealed a secret hidden feature within the Big Bad Wah pedal. Watch this video for more info.

CLICK HERE to buy the Vox Big Bad Wah from Musician’s Friend and try it for yourself.

NEWS: Lace Alumitone Deathbucker

I find it pretty interesting how pickups are such simple yet such complex things. Essentially just a bunch of wire wrapped around a magnet, the creative possibilities are practically endless and so, therefore, are the adjectives used to describe them. So as a result you end up with some very cool names for pickups: names like Tone Zone, Humbucker From Hell, Blaze, Liquifire and Crunch Lab from DiMarzio; War Pig, Nailbomb, Mother’s Milk, Black Dog, Abraxis and Holydiver from Bare Knuckle. Full Shred and Screamin’ Demon from Seymour Duncan. So you’ve gotta dig the appropriately named new Deathbucker from LACE.

Oh, it also looks pretty cool.

LACE Unveils the Alumitone Deathbucker Electric Guitar Pickup

Using patented and patent pending Lace “current driven” technology, the Deathbucker was designed by Jeff Lace, for high output with a heavy metal drive. Extreme output with thunderous bottom end, yet crisp highs allow the player the most versatile of high output pickups.

This new “current driven” technology is only available from Lace. It is considered one of the most revolutionary concepts in pickup design today.

Celebrating 30 years this year in business, Lace is known as the most innovative pickup company today. Products include the world famous Lace Sensor.

“This passive design yields active pickup performance with absolutely zero noise and no need for a battery” stated Jeff Lace. “In split mode, the unique Alumitone design is dead quite with full range” further stated Lace.

Another Deathbucker advantage is there is no volume drop in split mode and working as a single coil; noise is virtually eliminated in comparison to standard old style humbucker designs.

Deathbuckers are compatible with all guitars and other pickups. As an easy drop in replacement, the 4 conductor design needs only 250k pots. It is excellent for any playing situation from live to direct to board recording.

Deathbuckers are available in black and are shipping now.

For more information, visit their web site at http://www.lacemusic.com/.

INTERVIEW: J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr

The story of Dinosaur Jr is one of your classic rock tales of formation, disintegration, reformation and vindication. Formed in 1984 with J Mascis on vocals and guitar, Lou Barlow on bass and Murph on guitar, they were in the right place at the right time when the 90s rolled around and fuzzed-out stony rock was in. Mascis combined thick walls of high-gain guitars, unforced melodies and a wild lead style which seemed to say ‘I’m not ashamed of being a killer soloist but I’m going to do it my way.’ Barlow was booted in 1989 and went on to big things with his side-band Sebadoh. Things seemed to be going great for Dinosaur Jr when they signed to a major label in 1990 and they had a dream run for a few years, peaking with the single ‘Start Choppin,’ which did big chart business especially in the UK. But after the tour for the Where You Been album Murph jumped ship too, leaving Mascis as the only original member, and the Dinosaur Jr name was officially retired after 1997’s Hand It Over CD.

After spending some time out on his own with J Mascis & The Fog, Mascis and Barlow started talking again in 2005. A new album, Beyond, arrived in 2007 and now here we are in 2009 talking about Farm, a return of sorts to the sounds of the Where You Been era. We’re talking fuzzed out guitars tones, ringing chords, wild solos and powerful melodies. What’s made Dinosaur Jr so great over the years is the undercurrent of pop songcraft bubbling just below the surface. Not pop in the FM radio sense, mind, but in the ‘great melodies and unforgettable hooks’ way.

Mascis is notoriously difficult to interview. That doesn’t mean he’s a stroppy primadonna or a jerk – nope, he’s just famously guarded and reserved in his answers. He obviously prefers to let his music do the talking. In the 90s one of the American guitar magazines figured that the best way to get an animated interview out of Mascis was to take him on a tour of pawnshops and guitar stores, bring along a camera and tape recorder, and shout some vintage guitar gear for him. It worked: Mascis opened up and revealed himself as a guy who just wants to create, and who has a deep love of and respect for classic guitar gear.

Farm was recorded in Mascis’s home studio. I figured that asking about gear was a good place to start our conversation. “It’s on the top floor, the third floor of the house. We recorded to Pro Tools. We have a pretty good setup. It sounds pretty good. And we mixed to tape. I’ve got a lot of cool mic preamps, mic stuff. We did the basic tracks live but we only kept the drums. I had two main recording setups: a Gibson Les Paul Junior through a tweed Fender Deluxe amp, and lead is more like just the 58 Fender Telecaster through a Vox Super Berkeley which is sorta the American AC15 from the 60s. And a lot of fuzz boxes. A lot of different ones. I just plug in a bunch of fuzz boxes, like I’d use a Roland BeeBaa Fuzz, a Super Fuzz, Big Cheese Love Tone, an Analog Man. I’d just plug in a bunch of pedals together and see what it sounded like.”

Thinking back to that ‘spending spree’ guitar magazine interview, I asked Mascis where he liked to do his pedal shopping these days. “Nowadays mostly eBay. In the 90s there used to be a few stores in the states which had a lot of cool pedals, that I’d go to on tour. But it doesn’t seem like that now, those stores don’t really do that any more. Occasionally you’ll still get some good deals. My friend bought a Marshall Plexi stack for like 25 hundred dollars.”

The song ‘Over It’ includes a raging wah wah sound in the intro which I had to ask Mascis about. “It’s a Vox wah wah, a new one. I think it might be between five and nine tracks at once.” I told Mascis that my 2-year-old loved that particular song: he started dancing when it came on, and shouted “Dadda, that BRILLIANT!”. “Yeah, I have a kid too, he’s almost two. Whenever he hears it he goes ‘Pappa!’ and starts headbanging.”

Mascis is one of only a small number of players – others include Elvis Costello as well as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Ronaldo – to be honoured with a signature Fender Jazzmaster guitar (That’s it pictured at the bottom of the interview – CLICK HERE to buy it from Music123). Mascis’s variant on this classic design features an impossible-to-miss sparkly purple finish. It’s a surprisingly eye-catching detail for a guy as low-key as Mascis, but at the same time it reflects the energy and inventiveness of his lead guitar style. “The Jazzmaster was the first guitar I bought so I learned how to play on it. I wrote a lot of songs on it, so I’ve kinda got to play them on the Jazzmaster. I have a few, maybe um… five or six old ones. A few new ones. Then I got some stolen.”

The track ‘I Don’t Wanna Go There’ is one of my particular favourites on Farm. At almost nine minutes it includes a huge, all-encompassing Mascis solo. Tucked away at the end of the album, it seems to actually reenergise the album right when you expect it to maybe start winding down. “I guess we’re always trying to test the limits of how long people can stand guitar solos,” Mascis chuckled. “I think it’s probably mostly one take, mixed with other ones. I remember the song was even longer but you know, I wanted just enough room to say it. Right now that’s the only one we’re gonna play. We’ve got to learn some! We figure the album’s not out yet so we’ve got time.”

Photo: Gitte Johannesse

CLICK HERE to buy the Fender J Mascis Artist Series Jazzmaster Electric Guitar Purple Sparkle from Music123.


NEWS: Limited editions of classic pedals by JMI

Check out these goodies from JMI. How dare JMI do something as awesome as this right before tax refund time. I’m like a sitting duck. Hehe.

JMI MKII TONEBENDER

1966 Reissue
Aluminium Cast casing
Components: 3 x OC75 Mullard Transistors
Limited Edition
Users: Jimmy Page, George Harrison & More
250 Units Worldwide



JMI TREBLE BOOSTER

New Production
Based on Dallas Range Master Circuit
Single Boost Control
Aluminium Casting from original pedal
OC74 Mullard Transistors
250 Units Worldwide



JMI MKI TONEBENDER

1965 Reissue
Prototype Wooden Box/Casing
Components: 1 x OC75 and 2 x Texas Instruments 2G381 transistors
Limited Edition
50 Units Worlwide

JMI RANGEMASTER

OC44 N.O.S Transistor
GreyPanel
Grey Hammerite Casing
Anodised Internals
Limited Edition (100 Pieces Worldwide)
Original Style of Packing Carton and Warranty Card

On the MK1 Tonebender, designer Gary Hurst says “The Year was 1965, The place the back room of Musical Exchange, 22 Denmark Street, London guitarists were demanding a new sound from their amplifier, sound with more distortion and sustain, in walked Vic Flick from the John Barry Seven with an original Maestro Fuzz tone, he requested a pedal with more sustain, I built him a new fuzz box , I called it the “ToneBender”, the first batch/production “ToneBender” was housed in a wooden box and cost 14 Guineas, Jeff Beck was one of my first customers and used on many singles including “Heart Full Of Soul””

For more info hit up http://www.jmiamplification.com/

NEWS: Thomas Corbishley Guitars introduces Takoba model

Here’s an email which popped up in my inbox over the weekend from Thomas Corbishley Guitars.

Thomas Corbishley Guitars Introduces the Takoba Handmade Electric Guitar

Thomas Corbishley Guitars is proud to announce the availability of the Takoba handmade electric guitar. The Takoba combines gorgeous looks, stunning tones and exceptional playing performance in a uniquely designed instrument.

Two variations of the model, the C-1 and C-2, are available. Both feature a mahogany body, maple through-neck and ebony fingerboard. The guitars incorporate Steinberger gearless tuners, an active EMG pickup system and chrome hardware. The Takoba C-1 is fitted with a Schaller fixed bridge. The Takoba C-2 is equipped for the most extreme playing and is fitted with a Schaller Floyd Rose tremolo bridge and locking nut. An ergonomically designed body provides excellent upper fret access and allows for exceptionally comfortable playing. The guitars are available in a range of metallic colors and are finished with polished nitrocellulose lacquer. Customization options are available on request.

Pricing:

Takoba C-1 $2500
Takoba C-2 $2800



For more information or to subscribe to the TC Guitars mailing list, please visit http://www.tcguitars.com/.

Contact: Thomas Corbishley
Email: inquiries@tcguitars.com

NEWS: TC Electronic Nova Drive

Ever thought, “Man, I love the sound of analog overdrive and distortion, but I wish there was a pedal that offered the same level of control as a digital pedal”? Yeah me too. Fortunately it seems like the folks at TC Electronic have had the same idea. Ladies and gentlemen: The Nova Drive.

TC Electronic Announces That Its Nova Drive Pedal Is Now Shipping

Nova Drive is TC Electronic’s incredible new programmable analog overdrive and distortion pedal. It features the same awesome analog drive circuit as the acclaimed Nova System and has full digital control. Nova Drive is therefore the ultimate distortion and overdrive pedal, offering the best of both worlds: sonic excellence combined with total control. On top of the superb tone, Nova Drive has excellent preset and control options that ensure guitarists don’t have to rebuild their set-ups from scratch to use it. The pedal also comes packed with 18 killer sounding factory presets, meaning that guitarists will be ready to rock in no time at all.

Nova Drive features two totally separate overdrive and distortion circuits that can be used separately or combined to offer a wealth of classic, spine-tingling, old school sounds. These are partnered with total digital control that enables guitarists to store up to 18 of their favorite sounds and to integrate Nova Drive into their set-ups and tailor their sound with total precision.

The dedicated distortion section offers a wide range of tones, from subtle, punchy driving distortion to screaming fuzz. And for added control it also features a 2-band EQ section for precise shaping of distorted sounds. Nova Drive’s distortion character is best typified as raw but, like the overdrive section, it preserves the original character of the sound.

The overdrive section delivers everything from clean boost with a little extra ‘oomph’ through Bluesy sting and smooth tube-like break-up, to heavy, all-out crunch. It is the perfect place to find added sustain for existing sounds and to supercharge any tone into classic territory.

With Nova Drive, guitarists finally have a place to create, store and recall all the distorted and overdriven sounds they could ever need.

Price: $345 MSRP

NEWS: PRS Starla Stoptail

Although I’ve always loved the quality, sound and playability of PRS guitars, I never really thought about buying one just because I’ve been more into other design types. That kinda changed with the Bigsby-loaded Starla, one of the guitars on my “I’ll buy it when I’m rich some day” list. Aand now PRS is releasing a Stoptail version of the Starla for folks who aren’t as into the Bigsby as I am. Everyone wins!

PRS Guitars Debuts the Starla Stoptail Electric Guitar

The Starla Stoptail has the same retro-inspired vibe as its predecessor with one noticeable difference: it features a two-piece, adjustable stoptail bridge that dramatically alters the look and feel of the original Bigsby fitted Starla model while bringing out more of a mid-range woodiness in the tone. Exclusive double-screw Starla Treble and Bass Pickups are currently standard on all models in the Starla series and offer a bright high-end bark that allows these guitars to cut through the mix.

The Starla Stoptail’s solid mahogany body is accented with a 24 ½” scale rosewood fingerboard, a solid mahogany neck and dot inlays or optional bird inlays. Proprietary Alnico magnets incorporated into the pickup design contribute to the guitar’s unique clean and crisp sound but are also capable of rich harmonic overtones when driven.

Other features include a uniquely shaped black plastic pick guard, tone and volume pots and a three-way pickup selector. Color options include Vintage Cherry, Vintage Mahogany, Vintage Orange and Black as well as the new metallic colors including Gold Sparkle, Silver Sparkle and the new metallic Hot Hues colors Twilight, Catalina Dream, and Sinful Cinnamon. Starla Stoptail models are currently shipping to authorized PRS dealers around the world.

“The Starla is inspiring to customers and to PRS employees. We wanted to open the door to players who might shy away from the tremolo version,” said PRS Sales Manager Rick Hodgson.

The Starla model featuring the Bigsby tremolo bridge was originally unveiled as part of the Experience PRS 2008 open house event. Similar in spirit to the double cutaway Mira model introduced at Experience PRS 2007, the single cutaway Starla and Starla Stoptail have many vintage themed appointments.


NEWS: Paul Reed Smith 50/09 pickup

Anyone tried the Paul Reed Smith 1957/2008 pickups released last year? Well here’s the next evolution of that pickup: the 59/09.

PRS Presents the 59/09 Electric Guitar Pickup

The PRS 59/09 is the newest addition to Paul Reed Smith Guitars’ 1957/2008 Series™ line of pickups. Slightly darker and more powerful in the bridge with a touch more clarity and brightness in the neck, the 59/09 provides a tonal alternative to the industry revered original 1957/2008 pickups, known for their articulate clarity and rich harmonic overtones.

1957/2008 Series ™ pickups utilize PRS exclusive wire and incorporate proprietary winding and magnet innovations to produce iconic sounds but with unique tonality.

“Guitarists are delighted by the classic sounds of the original 1957/2008. In the new 59/09 we wanted to provide the same vibe but with additional output for those players wanting to drive the amp’s front end a little earlier, while providing a wider spread of tone between the neck and bridge pickup,” said Paul Smith.

The new 59/09’s feature PRS exclusive wire produced on the original machine used to make the classic ’50s era pickups. 59/09 pickups will be available on select PRS models shipping in July to authorized PRS dealers.

NEWS: Schecter Solo-6 limited editions

Woah! Check out these Schecter Solo-6 limited editions! Only 100 of each model. I quite dig the Solo-6 series. Check out my reviews of the Hellraiser Solo-6 and Solo-6 Classic.

Top to bottom you’re looking at the Solo-6 Limited EMG (with EMG 81/85 pickup set, US$1,099), the Solo-6 Vintage Limited (with Seymour Duncan-designed P90 pickups, US$899) and the Solo-6 Limited SD (Seymour Duncan JB/59 set, US$1,099). All feature set-in mahogany neck, TonePros systems and GraphTech nuts, while the EMG and SD models also have pearl Grover tuners.



REVIEW: Gibson SG GT

Gibson seems to have gone wild with reinterpretations of its classic designs over the last few years, from voodoo Les Pauls to mirror-topped Explorers. The SG GT takes its cues from classic cars of the 70s, but the hot rod vibe is not just limited to the visuals, as we shall soon see. But before we go on, I’ve gotta point out that this model was released a few years ago has since been discontinued. Having said that, you can still find them on the racks of quite a few guitar stores, so look around and you might not have to turn to the used market just yet to get your hands on one.

GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNIN’
All the classic SG elements are present and accounted for here: mahogany body with mahogany neck joined at the 19th fret, 24 3/4” scale length. Ebony fretboard, 22 frets, two humbuckers, separate volume and tone controls. Yep, sounds like an SG alrighty. But this bad boy has been pimped out and tricked up. The tuners are locking, metal button Grovers, and their chrominess is matched by a massive tailpiece assembly, shiny Dunlop strap locks, and equally shiny pickups and that little trapezoidal cover most SGs have between the neck and the neck pickup.

The volume pots are of the push-pull variety, for coil tapped humbucking tones, and the volume controls are fully independent, unlike most such designs which are interactive. The pots are also fitted with high pass tone filter capacitors to maintain the high frequencies at any volume setting – ideal, if not crucial, for those who like to run their gain levels from the guitar. A Neutrik locking cable jack is also installed as stock, so there’s absolutely no chance of ripping the cord out of the guitar during a drunken onstage stumble.

Back over at the neck end of things, we have over/under dual truss rod reinforcement, a Graph Tech nut, and a round and chunky classic ’61 SG neck profile.

HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY
The 490R neck and 498T bridge humbuckers are a little hotter in output than your standard classic Gibson PAF, and they suit this hotted up guitar perfectly. If it’s Angus tone you’re after, it’s here. If it’s Clapton ‘woman tone’ you want, roll the tone down on the neck pickup and have at it. But it’s the coil tapped sounds that really won me over. The ability to summon single coil-spirited tones as well as muscular rock ones is a highly coveted attribute, and many try and fail. But the combination of coil tap and high pass filter results in heavenly edge-of-clean Rolling Stones style vintage tones, immediately transformable into a snarling metal firestorm just by flipping back to humbucker while simultaneously cranking the guitar volume back up.

Action on the test guitar was extremely low, and while it could have used a decent set-up to get the most out of the neck (there was noticeable fret buzz at a few points – definitely setup-related though, rather than a construction issue), even at such a minimal string height the unplugged tone was almost freakishly loud, especially smack bang in the centre of the midrange frequencies. This translated well to the SG GT’s muscular tones, and made it a fun guitar to play unplugged on the sofa too.

You could spend hundreds pimping out an SG with the features this baby comes with as a stock instrument. Or you could pick up an SG GT and give it a test drive and save yourself a lot of hassle. Oh by the way, I’ve seen this model in the hands of one of those Jonas brothers all the kids are crazy about. But don’t let that put ya off.

FEATURES:
Locking metal button Grover tuners
Neutrik locking cable jack
Dunlop strap locks
Classic ’61 SG neck
Over/under dual truss rod
Push/pull pots for coil-tapped 490R & 498T humbuckers
Fully independent volume controls
High pass tone filter
Graph Tech nut
Chrome/Mirror Trapezoid inlays
Colors: Daytona Blue, Candy Orange, Muscle Green, Phantom Black, Candy Apple

VIDEO: Andy Timmons on DiMarzio, Ibanez

Check out this great video from DiMarzio of Andy Timmons talking about his Ibanez AT100 guitar and DiMarzio AT1 humbucker (as well as showing some love for the DiMarzio Cruiser pickup too).

CLICK HERE to buy the DiMarzio Cruiser (white) from Musician’s Friend.

CLICK HERE to buy the DiMarzio Cruiser (black) from Musician’s Friend.

CLICK HERE to buy the DiMarzio AT-1 from Musician’s Friend.

Guitar Shop Tees
SeymourDuncan Vapor Trail

Peter Hodgson Hi! I'm Peter Hodgson. I write for Gibson.com, Australian Guitar, Australian Musician, Mixdown Magazine (including my instructional column, 'Unleash Your Inner Rock God,' which has been running since 2007), BluntBeat (including their weekly hard rock/metal column Crunch) and The Brag. And I'm Assistant Social Coordinator with Seymour Duncan. I've been playing guitar since I was 8 years old, and I've been writing for magazines since I was 18. I've also worked as a guitar teacher (up to 50 students a week), a setup tech, a newspaper editor, and I've also dabbled in radio a little bit. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and my hobbies include drinking way too much coffee, and eating way too much Mexican food. You can check out my guitar playing at Bandcamp or on YouTube, and feel free to email me at iheartguitarblog@gmail.com If you'd like to support the site, feel free to kick in a couple o'bucks using this donation button.

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