Y’know, just last night I was thinking “It’s about time I went through another SRV-listening phase.” Then this morning I found this in my inbox:
On June 30, 2009, the legendary Stax Records label will reissue the digitally remastered version of In Session – the Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan 1983 live album that reached #1 on Billboard’s blues album chart, selling more than 300,000 units. The reissue includes three sets of liner notes by Fantasy and Stax Records’ Bill Belmont, and journalists Lee Hildebrand and Dan Forte.
Among blues guitarists and fans of the craft, Albert King was the master. Austin, Texas’ Stevie Ray Vaughan, 31 years King’s junior, exploded onto the scene in 1983, first as guitarist on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” followed by his own smash hit “Pride and Joy.” When the two met onstage at Antone’s in 1973, they formed an ongoing friendship. This bond culminated with the December 1983 live recording titled In Session. This remastered version of the 1983 performance by two blues legends is the only known recording of them playing together.
Wha? When did this happen? DiMarzio is releasing two signature John Petrucci pickups, the brutally-named Crunch Lab bridge pickup and Liquifire. The only place I can seem to find any mention of these yet is on the DiMarzio website, so I guess they’re super-ultra new. And they’re available in both 6 and 7 string versions!
Crunch Lab details:
One thing has stayed consistent throughout John Petrucci’s long and successful career: the DiMarzio pickups in his guitars. John has been pushing the envelope of progressive metal since the late eighties, and the new DiMarzio Crunch Lab Bridge Model ensued from our most recent collaboration with John. He used it throughout Dream Theater’s tenth studio album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings.
John swears this is the best live and studio sound he has ever had, and the name says it all crunch is what it’s all about with a big, tight sound that’s neither muddy nor thin.
Tech Talk: The Crunch Lab is noteworthy (bad pun alert!) for what it doesn’t do – it’s not a screamer, and it’s not about thundering lows. Its physical appearance is identical to the D Sonic, but the internal design is a lot different. It’s louder, and the highs have more depth. The lows and mids are more open, and this is crucial for playing chords with body and presence through a gained–out amp. The voicing of the pickup is also different enough to the point that John prefers the Crunch Lab to be installed in almost all of his guitars (including the JP Bari) with the solid bar toward the neck, regardless of the guitar’s tuning.
One thing has stayed consistent throughout John Petrucci’s long and successful career: the DiMarzio pickups in his guitars. John has been pushing the envelope of progressive metal since the late eighties, and the DiMarzio LiquiFire Neck Model resulted from our most recent collaboration with John. He used it throughout Dream Theater’s tenth studio album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings.
John swears this is the best live and studio sound he has ever had. He wanted a neck pickup with a flowing, singing solo tone when used with a heavily overdriven amp and a clear chord sound with a clean amp setting.
Tech Talk: Since the mid 1990s, John’s neck pickup sound has been based on either the standard Air Norton or the custom version in his Ernie Ball guitars. The LiquiFire has several significant differences. Its treble response is warmer and smoother while bass response is tighter and brighter. The total sound has a more focused voice.
Read my interview with DiMarzio pickup designer Steve Blucher here.
06/2009 – Joe Satriani joins the Marshall family!
Marshall Amplification plc is pleased to announce that Joe Satriani will be using a Marshall backline for new group Chickenfoot. The super group, made up of four rock legends, started the European leg of their world tour on June 20th and will be heading back over to the States in August to continue .
Joe contacted Marshall Amplification prior to the first show at the Nova Rock Festival in Austria in order to check out some new Marshall gear. Marshall took some amps to the rehearsals, and Joe loved the tone of the JVM410H.
Joe used the JVM410H for the show at the Nova Rock Festival and will be visiting the Marshall factory this week to have a look around and try out different speaker cabinets.
Chickenfoot recently released their debut album and has taken the States by storm, going in at number 4 on the Billboard Album charts. For more information on Chickenfoot, check out www.chickenfoot.us
WHAT?!? So what of the Peavey JSX series? Is this why the JSX 50 hasn’t come out yet? Or is Joe just using Marshall because in some countries it can be really hard to find Peavey gear, whereas Marshalls are pretty much the standard when it comes to renting backline? I mean, I’m pretty well travelled within the guitar world here in Australia and I’ve only ever seen two Peavey JSX amps, and they were on stage with Joe. So is Joe leaving Peavey, or is he just using Marshall for convenience? I guess only time will tell.
GRAAR! Did I scare ya? Good, cos this Schecter Hellraiser Solo-6 is one mean son-of-a-fish, and I had to do something to set the mood for the rest of the review. While the Solo-6 Classic reviewed here is a classy, refined instrument which excels at clean voicings, this Hellraiser cousin is built to be a brutal death machine from hell.
First of all, the Hellraiser Solo-6 has a lot of the features you’d expect for a single cutaway solid body guitar: The body is mahogany with a maple top (quilted if you choose the Black Cherry finish, otherwise there’s Gloss Black or Gloss White). The 3-piece mahogany neck has a rosewood fretboard and 24 (not 22 like you might expect) X-Jumbo frets. The inlays are demonically evil gothic crosses, and the body is ringed with abalone binding. That’s right, this guitar is so evil that it sacrifices sea creatures and decorates itself with their remains. Creepy.
However if you’re looking for a stock-standard brutal metal axe design there are a few construction surprises to throw off your preconceptions (and laugh at them derisively from a throne of evil): the scale length is a manly 25.5”; the neck joins the body with a very ergonomic Ultra Access cut which flows through diagonally, and there are a pair of EMG humbuckers. That’s an 81-TW in the bridge and an 89 in the neck. Both are splittable into single coils, if you want to get all pretty for a few bars before unleashing the brutal hellfire once again.
UNLEASH THE BEAST
The first thing I did with the Hellraiser Solo-6 (after stocking up on wooden stakes, silver bullets and garlic) was to set my Marshall to ‘kill’ and make sure the bridge pickup was engaged in full humbucker mode. Of course your Metallica ‘Black Album’ tones are here in abundance, as are your Dethklok death metal sounds. This is a muscular, tough sounding guitar with great note definition, and unlike some axes which seem to beg for mercy if you pick too hard, this one practically pleads for you to give it the walloping of a lifetime. I couldn’t resist adding a little delay and chorus, tuning to C-G-C-G-C-E and blasting out a few Devin Townsend riffs circa Ocean Machine. In fact, the Devin Townsend comparison is a good one because in single coil mode the Hellraiser Solo-6 does a good job of approximating his earthier ‘Terria’ era tones as well.
In humbucker mode the neck pickup lashes out hyperspeed arpeggios with clarity, power and articulation. Flip to single coil mode and the sound becomes sharper and grittier. No matter which mode you select with either pickup, there’s lots of treble and bass, and great sustain.
RUN FOR COVER
That I managed to make it through this review without the Hellraiser Solo-6 stalking me like the dreaded Chupacabra and dragging me into the bushes to feast on my innards is indeed surprising. This is a well-made, intense, brutal, powerful guitar with a voice – nay, a mind – of its own and a lot of musical versatility, especially for those who dwell in the shadows, emerging periodically to murderlize the ears of the weeping masses with an onslaught of metal power.
I’ve been a Living Colour fan ever since about 1990 or so when I saw the video for Type on an Australian show called Countdown Revolution. I’ve played ‘Love Rears Its Ugly Head’ countless times in various cover bands and bar jams. I’ve shredded my fingers to the bone on licks from ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ and banged my head to ‘This Little Pig.’ I think I listened to Collide-O-Scope for about a month solid. Finally saw them live in 2006 and while I didn’t get to meet them, Vernon gave a few guitar picks to my buddy Steve from Tempus and he gave one to me, so it has pride of place with my Steve Vai and Brian Molko picks. And Vernon Reid is one of the nicest guys on Twitter. Follow him here.
So it should come as no surprise that I’m a little dizzy with excitement about the forthcoming new Living Colour album.
LIVING COLOUR To Release ‘THE CHAIR IN THE DOORWAY’
World Tour To Commence Fall 2009
New York/London — Living Colour will release their first new studio album in five years entitled The Chair In The Doorway on September 15 via Megaforce Records. The legendary downtown NYC rock band, who exploded out of CBGB’s in the late ’80s, landing all over MTV, the cover of Rolling Stone and stadium stages around the world with their Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum debut album Vivid, are back and “fierce” as ever.
Original members Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Will Calhoun and (since 1993) Doug Wimbish gathered at Sono Studios outside of Prague in The Czech Republic during the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 to write and record what would become The Chair In The Doorway. The results stretch from the modern soul anthem “Behind The Sun” to the politically-charged, heavy rock of “DecaDance” to the sacred steel blues of “Bless Those.” The artwork for The Chair In The Doorway was compiled from thousands of contest entries by fans from around the world.
“We feel like this is the best record we’ve made yet and we couldn’t be more excited to be releasing it with the legendary Megaforce Records,” says guitarist Vernon Reid. “Some of our favorite bands were or are Megaforce artists, Metallica, Bad Brains, Anthrax, Black Crowes, so it’s an honor to be part of a label with a great legacy.”
Living Colour will announce plans for a world tour shortly. With dates set to begin in September, it will include their first North American tour in four years along with performances in South America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
Having helped to pave the way for a number of contemporary African-American artists to follow in their wake, ranging from Rage Against The Machine to Lenny Kravitz to Ben Harper, with a multi-dimensional sound that drew equally from Jimi Hendrix, Bad Brains, Talking Heads and Ornette Coleman, the success of Living Colour broke down the color barriers in rock music. Guitarist and founding member Vernon Reid also founded the Black Rock Coalition to use his influence to further this cause.
Discovered by Mick Jagger who produced their first demo and later offered them an opening slot with The Rolling Stones, Living Colour would go on to create a repertoire that includes a multitude of classic songs, including “Cult Of Personality,” “Elvis Is Dead,” “Open Letter To A Landlord,” “Glamour Boys” and “Love Rears Its Ugly Head.” With The Chair In The Doorway, the fifth album of their storied career, Living Colour expands the scope of their timeless body of work and, in the process, proves vital as ever.
1. Burned Bridges
2. The Chair
4. Young Man
6. Behind The Sun
7. Bless Those
8. Hard Times
9. Taught Me
10. Out Of Mind
11. Not Tomorrow
Photo by Bill Bernstein
So I was just down at Allans Music on Bourke St here in Melbourne and I noticed in the window this beauty: A new Ibanez PGM100RE, the first of two Paul Gilbert models reissued by Ibanez this year (the other being the not-too-long-ago-discontinued PGM300). The pink of the painted F holes is a little lighter than the original, but these are such stunning guitars that while I was looking at it, a grandma who looked like she had no interest whatsover in the guitaristic pursuits strolled over to admire it. One of the things I dig about this model is that it’s very similar in overall design and colour to my beloved RG370, which I wrote about on the Jemsite blog.
One thing I don’t like though is the price tag – AUD$5,495. With an exchange rate of 1 AUD = 0.80 USD at the time of writing, that puts this axe at US$4,400. OUCH. Granted, the chaps at Allans would probably be open to a little friendly haggling if you asked nicely, but still, the US list price is $US2,665, which would put the street price at… well, I don’t know, but a lot less than five and a half grand AUD.
Then again, these are pretty hard to find in Australia and there are a lot of factors involved in setting the price here, so it’s simply not practical to convert the US list price into Australian dollars and expect that to be the local price. So before any Aussies decide to buy a PGM100RE from overseas instead, I’d like to urge them to support the local industry and buy locally – otherwise we’ll see less and less of these cool reissues and limited editions on the racks of our local stores. I’ve had a lot of great dealings with Australian Ibanez importer Australis over the years (they went absolutely above and beyond the call of duty in helping me get my hands on a Jem7VWH – thanks Scott!) and I’m sure they’re keeping the price as low as can reasonably be expected. Plus they brought Paul Gilbert down here on a clinic tour last year which gives them extra awesome-points in my book.
If you’re reading this and you happen to run an Australian guitar store that has the PGM100RE in stock, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll update this post with a list of stores where Aussies can find these awesome axes.
More info on the PGM100 here.
My buddies over at Riot recently sent me this press release:
FREE REIGN (DALLAS COWBOYS BAND) SIGN WORLD WIDE DEAL WITH RIOT ENTERTAINMENT
NFL Superstars become Heavier Than Metal….
There is a new name in Heavy Metal! Free Reign featuring the Dallas Cowboy’s # 75 Marc Colombo, # 71 Cory Procter and # 70 Leonard Davis along with local guitar virtuoso Justin Chapman have signed a world wide deal with Australia’s Riot Entertainment. Their upcoming debut EP is set for release in the fall.
Free Reign has been branded ‘Heavier than Metal’ for their intense musical style as well as their intimidating stage presence. They bring something unique to this powerful genre.
“This is an amazing opportunity for Riot and to further establish our name internationally,” said Riot Owner / CEO John Howarth. “Free Reign is a band with massive potential. There has been an enormous buzz surrounding them since they appeared on the scene a few months ago. Free Reign has already been flooded with endorsements. Their marketing potential is limitless. These guys are already huge sports stars, but they have shown they have the talent to diversify. I am positive that Metal fans will embrace Free Reign and see them take it to the next level. These are exciting times for Riot and we are excited to see what the future holds. When the opportunity arose to work with Free Reign I jumped to it! This is something that has never been done before and this band is a long term project. It’s also been great working with John Gomez of TQ Management putting this deal to bed”.
“The members of Free Reign and myself are equally excited to be working with John Howarth and his team at Riot Entertainment” said Free Reign Manager John Gomez. “Riot has a great track record and they work hard for their Artists, we all look forward to a bright future together and are honoured to call Riot our new home.”
Riot is also the new home for Fozzy, fronted by WWE Wrestling superstar Chris Jericho and featuring Stuck Mojo mastermind Rich Ward.
“I would love to see a double bill with these bands, imagine that! No security needed!” suggested John Howarth. “I know that would be one hell of a gig. Imagine WWE, NFL, Fozzy and Free Reign fans all under the one roof; only the strong would survive!”
Free Reign play their last gig before the NFL Season on Saturday 27TH June at the House of Blues in Dallas!
I’ve been listening to a bit of Children of Bodom lately, and a couple of years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing an ESP Custom Shop Alexi Laiho model guitar which melted my mind (actually I should put that review on the site – it was an amazing guitar). Alexi’s choice of passive EMGs is a bit controversial as a lot of players are so used to active EMGs that they consider the passive ones to be lesser pickups, but I’ve tested them in about a dozen guitars now and have been consistently impressed by their unique growl. So when EMG announced an Alexi signature model, my first thought was ‘freaken sweet!’ Now you can buy that model in a set with a unique gain boost which adds further flexibility to the pickup.
EMG Releases Alexi Laiho Signature Pickup Set
EMG, Inc. has released The EMG-ALX with ABQ EQ/Boost — the new Alexi Laiho signature model. This is a newly designed EMG passive model — custom wound — and includes the new ABQ EQ/Boost which features a push (to activate) / pull (to deactivate) control. The ABQ has a 3 band EQ which can be adjusted for creating different tone settings. The boost output can be adjusted as well to add or subtract gain.
After extensive discussion with Alexi, EMG’s founder, Rob Turner, created a set that was exactly what a true innovator in the world of heavy music was looking for. “This pickup and preamp combo meets Alexi’s demands for something unique that includes high gain, solid tone and clarity to enhance his remarkable style”
Now, in one package, a player can get all the reliability and innovation that EMG is renowned for, and all the aggressive guitar tone that Alexi is so well known for. The set is available in a Floyd Rose version (F-ALX) and a standard Tuneamatic version (ALX). The EMG-ALX with ABQ EQ/Boost is only available at Authorized EMG dealers
For more information, visit their web site at http://www.emginc.com/.
QUADRAPHONIC SOUND, A WATERBED, AND NOW A STROBE LIGHT
The Planet Waves Chromatic Pedal Tuner (made by J.D’Addario, known for all things stringy) is made of die cast metal and finished in a shiny metallic gloss, the kind of colour that looks either grey, black, silver or brown depending on the lighting conditions. A circular illuminated display sits at the top of the pedal, with a multi-segment, oversized note indicator in the centre. The combined display section is very bright and easy to see on a dark stage – crucial if you care at all about tuning (and why shouldn’t you? Grunge died years ago. Hehe. Sorry).
Below the display, a Mode button and a pair of Up and Down keys allow you to select the display function and calibrate the tuner. The footswitch either mutes the output or removes the tuner from the signal chain completely, depending on which of the two outputs you use (Bypass or regular Output). Planet Waves says the tuner is true bypass, so when you’re not using it it won’t suck the tone and dynamic range out of your pure guitar signal. It’s such a logical inclusion, but one often neglected in tuner designs. What’s the point of making sure you have a perfectly tuned guitar if the tuner itself squishes the sound so much that chords lose their note definition and a bunch of noise is introduced to the signal? However I’d like to point out this comment by I Heart Guitar reader Mario Feegrade (check out Mario’s site here): “I’ve had the CT-04 over a year now and I can tell you it is not “true bypass”. First, Planet Waves claims it is true hard bypass – generally if there is any word between true and bypass, it is probably not true bypass :) Second, there is a 680K resistor in the bypass signal path – true bypass means there cannot be anything connected to the bypass line so this tuner isn’t.”
Another extremely welcome touch is the 9v output. Not only can you choose to run the tuner with a 9v battery or a ‘wall wart’ power adapter, but you can also purchase an additional daisy chain lead which allows to you run other pedals off the power from the tuner, effectively turning it into a power source. Again, it’s a feature seen in some other models but is hardly the norm, and it’s just another cool thing this particular tuner has going for it.
THE PITCH IS BACK
The tuner owes part of its clever design to the strobe tuner concept. This variety of tuner utilises a bank of lights and a rotating disc. The disc spins at a particular speed for each note, while the lights flash at the same frequency as the note you play into it. When you’re out of tune, the light pattern on the disc appears to move around, and when you’re perfectly in tune, the result is a stationary strobe effect. It’s an extremely accurate way of tracking pitch, and it looks pretty cool too. It’s important to point out that Planet Waves Chromatic Pedal Tuner isn’t a strobe tuner itself, but it borrows from this time-tested design in its display method. In Strobe Mode, when the input note is flat the red lights on the circular display chase each other around counter-clockwise. If the note is sharp, they run clockwise. It’s a no-brain method of telling you “the note’s too high, you nut.” As you zero in on the correct pitch, the lights circle the display more and more slowly until you hit the target note, then they stop and you’re in tune and ready to rock again.
In Sweep Mode the red LEDs sweep left for flat or right for sharp, more like a traditional tuner. Either mode has its uses. I found the Sweep Mode was best for easy tuning on the go, while Strobe Mode gave the kind of fine-tuned accuracy needed to intonate a guitar – which I’m doing a lot right now as the weather cools down and all my guitars cry out for their seasonal adjustment. I also really appreciate Strobe Mode when using the fine tuners on my locking tremolo equipped guitars.
GLORY GLORY HALLETUNER
I’ve immediately become a big fan of the Planet Waves Chromatic Pedal Tuner. Sure, there are other tuners out there that do some of the things it does, but it’s rare to find them all packed together into one unit, especially one so obviously well built. Each of its special features would be selling point enough in another brand – true bypass, strobe mode, pedal power provider – but combined they form an unstoppable killing machine of tuning accuracy. It also looks like something out of Darth Vader’s utility belt, which has gotta be a good thing.
Heavy metal institution Megadeth have announced ENDGAME as the title of their twelfth studio album. The album is expected to be released in September through Roadrunner Records. It was recorded at the band’s brand new, self-built studio, Vic’s Garage, located near San Diego and named after the legendary and iconic Vic Rattlehead character.
ENDGAME is being produced by Andy Sneap and Dave Mustaine. Sneap also manned the boards for 2007’s United Abominations. Some track titles include “Headcrusher,” “1,320,’” “How the Story Ends” and “This Day We Fight!”
ENDGAME boasts the technicality, ferocity and snarl that’s synonymous with Megadeth and Mustaine. It’s a violent masterwork that represents Mustaine’s best work in nearly two decades. In a musical world dominated by bands that make generic, blanket statements, ENDGAME finds Mustaine, once again, making informed and substantial lyrical declarations about the state of the world we live in.
Mustaine himself commented on ENDGAME, saying, “Thematically, I’ve never been known to be a silent bystander in a world that needs our participation. As more is revealed about our former President’s legacy, a little-known yet staggeringly frightening document which was signed into law, named ‘ENDGAME,’ has been uncovered. The album ‘ENDGAME’ is the most energetic music offering I have penned in over a decade and is far more believable than knowing someone signed ‘ENDGAME’ -the document- into law. The album is also the perfect ‘ass- kicking’ music to listen to once you are done reading the aforementioned document!”
In short, it’s the Megadeth record that fans of classics like So Far…So Good…So What? and Rust in Peace have been chomping at the bit for.
“This new album is my proudest moment since the famous (or infamous) Rust in Peace album,” Mustaine also said. “With this album, I am also very excited to be introducing my new lead guitarist Chris Broderick to the world. I have always felt lucky to have had top shredders in that position, but after touring with Chris in support of my last album, I couldn’t wait to get into the studio and see what he could do.”
Megadeth’s lineup consists of Mustaine, Broderick, bassist James LoMenzo and drummer Shawn Drover.
Earlier this year, Mustaine was the recipient of the “Golden God Award” at the first ever Golden Gods Awards, presented by Revolver.
Wanna hear a taste of Endgame? CLICK HERE to check out Andy Sneap talking about the mixing process and giving a little teaser of the track ‘Headcrusher.’
Today is the second anniversary of Guitar Noize, one of the coolest guitar blogs you’ll ever find, and to celebrate, Guitar Noize’s benevolent overlord Jon Bloomer is running a birthday giveaway in conjunction with Ernie Ball.
The prizes are as follows:
2nd winner: 10 sets of Ernie Ball guitar strings and an Ernie Ball strap pack.
3rd winner: 6 sets of Ernie Ball guitar strings, a pack of Wonder Wipes and some Ernie Ball Guitar Picks.
Jon says: “…leave a comment wishing Guitar Noize a happy birthday, or if you prefer, how much you love Ernie Ball products and you will automatically be entered into the draw. Winners will be selected on Sunday July 5 and announced Monday July 6. Good luck and thank you to all of my readers. Thank you to Brian Ball from Ernie Ball for his generosity with the fantastic prizes.”
CLICK HERE to wish Guitar Noize a happy birthday!