REVIEW: G&L Legacy Special

The G&L guitar company was founded by original Fender legends Leo Fender and George Fullerton, along with Dale Hyatt, in the late 1970s. After taking some time out from guitar design, Leo initially worked with Music Man before deciding to start up a new company to further refine his classic designs of the 40s and 50s. To this day G&L guitars are hand made on Fender Avenue in Fullerton, California, the spiritual birthplace of Leo’s original guitar designs.

Leo’s original designs were quite revolutionary, and that’s why they’re still in use today, but with G&L he felt he could offer a new perspective on his old designs. Some of these innovations include the dual-fulcrum vibrato, which anchors on two pivot points to improve tuning stability and tonal transfer; the G&L Saddle-Lock bridge, which uses an Allen screw to lock bridge saddles in place (a design feature occasionally found in the work of some other companies); and George Fullerton’s patented tilt neck mechanism, which allows easy adjustment of the neck angle without having to hassle with shims and guesswork.

The G&L Legacy Special uses Leo’s 54 and 62 Stratocaster designs as a starting point, but adds the G&L Dual Fulcrum bridge, special bi-cut neck, and a combination of two G&L DualBlade pickups in the neck and middle and a PowerBlade humbucker in the bridge. The G&L Legacy model, minus the ‘Special’ designation, uses a trio of Magnetic Field Design humbucking pickups designed by Leo).

The Stratocaster inspiration is obvious from a quick glance at the Legacy Special, but the distinctive design of the bridge immediately sets it apart from its older brother. The sheer amount of steel looks like it would add gobs of sustain, something Strats aren’t traditionally known for. The headstock too is a departure from Leo’s earlier design, but if you examine it closely, it actually appears to be created by following a traditional Stratocaster contour until the B string tuning peg, where it juts inward to end with the standard smaller Telecaster scroll.

The locking Schaller tuners add further heft to the headstock while keeping tuning nice and stable in the face of wild whammy bar antics, and the fretboard radius is surprisingly flat compared to a Fender Stratocaster. Underneath the G&L logo on the headstock is written “Guitars By Leo” – a nice touch. Frets are absolutely flawless, with mirror-clean finishing and a very tactile rounding to the edges. It instantly gives the guitar a played-in feel. Also interesting to note is the massive depth of the neck itself. It’s one of the deepest I’ve seen on a bolt-on electric, second only to that of the original Jeff Beck Strat. It’s an impressive chunk of wood but it still fits snugly and comfortably in the hand, proving you don’t need a ruler-thin neck for playing comfort.

Finish on the review model is jet black, matched by a black/white/black three ply pick guard, and black controls and pickups. There are many colour options available, but perhaps my personal favourite is the butterscotch body with black pick guard, which reminds me of the custom Strat-style guitar Frank Zappa played in the 80s. The twin-blade pickups themselves look like exactly what they are: painstakingly handmade. There’s a roughness to the finish which, far from looking cheap, actually makes them look more impressive and ‘big-time.’ The blades also nicely echo the frets, adding to the visual flow of the instrument.

Picking up the Legacy Special, once again the impression is of a serious, ‘big boy’s guitar.’ It’s heavy and sturdy and it seems to have a presence about it that commands attention, and this impression is verified by a single unplugged strum. I’ve never heard an unplugged solid body electric sound this loud and full. You could just mic it up and have a perfectly usable clean tone for recording.

The flatter fretboard radius is especially well suited to huge wide bends with great pitch accuracy, and it also makes light work of big chord stretches.

The bridge pickup has a chewy, hot attack and nice warm overtones, and is surprisingly suitable for metal rhythms. The middle and neck pickups have a single coil vibe with hotter output and no noise, with a slight scooped mid tone and hairy highs. Despite its somewhat classic looks it puts out a rather modern tone, and while it can cover a lot of tonal bases, it always retains its own character. You can still hear the tone of the wood no matter what pickup selection or gain level you use.

The PTB tone system consists of a master treble cut and a master bass cut, instead of the pair of tone controls you would expect from this design. It’s an especially tidy solution for fine-tuning clean rhythm guitar tones, and can also take some of the wool out of the distorted tone at higher gain levels, opening up the sound a little more for increased dynamics.

The Legacy Special is a great jack of all trades guitar, yet it still retains its individual character. Like Leo Fender’s early guitars, it too feels like it would survive 50 years of use and still be at the top of its game. It’s also a good option for heavier players who want to dip their toe in the waters of Stratocaster ownership but want something a little more sleek and industrial.

PICKUPS: 2 G&L Dual Blade and 1 G&L Power Blade humbucking pickups
BODY WOOD: Alder on Standard and all solid finishes, Swamp Ash on all Premier finishes
NECK: Hard Rock Maple with Rosewood or Maple fingerboard
NECK RADIUS: 12″ (304.8mm)
NECK WIDTH AT NUT: 1 5/8″ (41.3mm)
TUNING KEYS: 6:1 ratio locking machine, sealed lubrication, adjustable knob tension
BRIDGE: G&L Dual Fulcrum vibrato with chrome-plated brass saddles
CONTROLS: 5 position pickup selector, PTB system
FINISH: Standard finishes

I can’t seem to find a shopping link among my affiliates for the exact model reviewed, but I found this, which looks awesome: G&L Legacy Electric Guitar with Tinted Maple Neck Blonde

NEWS: I Heart Guitar mentioned on gear-vault.com

Just a little shout-out to www.gear-vault.com for mentioning me in their Top Guitar Blogs article. They had some very nice things to say:

iheartguitarblog — iheartguitar is making waves not only online, but in print. This blog is pure professionalism. His content is very well written and the writer (Peter) flows with knowledge, and his website’s name [iheartguitar] is the perfect name for Peter, because he truly does love guitars. Read his blog and you’ll quickly see how passionate he really is. Keep up the good work Peter!

Thanks Gear-Vault!

LESSON: How to sound like Jeff Buckley

Recently I dug out my old copy of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace,’ an album which had a bit of a cult following before Buckley’s death in 1997. Aside from his distinctive singing voice, Buckley was a very accomplished guitarist who spent some time learning music theory at Musicians Institute in Hollywood.

For amps, Buckley used a dual rig of Fender Vibroverbs and Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier combos, with an Alesis Quadraverb digital rack unit for ambient effects. The cream Fender Telecaster with a mirror pickguard that he is most often associated with was on loan from a friend, and in addition to a Rickenbacker 12 string he sometimes played a few Ibanez Talmans.

There are several tricks to getting that clear, sonorous clean tone Buckley was known for. Let’s look at ‘em.

PICKUPS
You don’t need a high-output humbucker for Jeff Buckley tones. A neck single coil, particularly a lower-output Telecaster-style unit, will give you that bell-like top end and tight bass. I find that this type of pickup sounds best with a laquered maple fretboard, which seems to emphasise the ‘snap’ of the string, and add a bit of acoustic-like zing.

AMPS
Look for an amp which has high clean headroom, meaning you can turn it up loud without the amp distorting. However, this doesn’t mean ‘look for a quiet clean amp.’ You’ll need something with enough power to get some real travel out of the speakers, and you’ll find that even with clean amps there’s a sweet spot in the volume where the speakers really push the sound out, yet compress just enough to even things out nicely too. A little gentle compression such as from an MXR Dyna Comp pedal may help you achieve a little of this effect if you’re on a budget, but really there’s no substitute for volume.

EFFECTS
When people think ‘clean tone’ they often think ‘chorus pedal.’ While Jeff Buckley used chorus from time to time, he used it more as an occasional effect than a big part of his sound. Try an analog-style chorus with a tone control which allows you to trim off some of the high end, and run it through the front of the amp for vintage warble, rather than through an effects loop. For distorted sections try an overdrive pedal rather than a full-on mega-gain distortion box, and keep the tone control relatively subdued. Telecasters can sound a little harsh with too much distortion, but they can sound great when you roll off the high end you discover a whole new, smoother sound underneath.

PICKING
The final important element is to pay a lot of attention to how and where you pick. If you pick closer to the fretboard you’ll get a little ‘clickiness’ through the neck pickup, and more of a hollow tone. If you pick closer to the bridge, it’ll be brighter and sharper. Varying between these extremes is a great way of moving from a quieter verse to a louder chorus and back again.

CLICK HERE to buy the Fender Standard Telecaster Electric Guitar Arctic White

CLICK HERE to see Ibanez Talman guitars on eBay
CLICK HERE to see Fender Vibroverb amps on eBay
CLICK HERE to see Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier amps on eBay
CLICK HERE to see Alesis Quadraverb effect units on eBay

NEWS: Chimaira Australian tour

YES! What a huge time for metal in Australia. Impending tours by Queesnryche, Megadeth + Slayer, Dream Theater, Kreator, Devildriver + Lamb of God + Shadows Fall… now this. Man I’d better strengthen up my neck muscles.

CHIMAIRA – ‘SPREADING THE INFECTION’ AUSTRALIAN HEADLINING TOUR 2010
with Special Guests

For the past decade, Chimaira has been one of the most consistently heavy and dedicated bands in metal. With their latest release, The Infection, the Ohio sextet has further honed their sound to one of punishing brutality.

The US sextet is set to return to Australia in January, 2010 to once again destroy venue stages and drive audiences into a frenzy with their patented brand of ferocious precision.

On The Infection, they have delivered a cinematic sonic rollercoaster with machine-gun drumming as tight as a mosquito’s ass, guitar work that hits the ears like a punch in the guts, and venomous vocals that are both tortured and threatening. This all adds up to a sound that the band has described as a “circle pit inside a burning ballroom.”

This is Chimaira’s first headlining Australian tour, having supported their peers In Flames, Biohazard & Korn on their last two trips Down Under. As thousands of Chimairians can attest, Chimaira live are untouchable, and their first headline tour of Australia will prove that fact yet again.

The Infection was released in April via Riot Entertainment and entered both the Aria & JB Hi Fi Charts

Infection Dates:
Wed, January 13 – Capital Perth
Thurs, January 14 – Fowlers Live Adelaide Licensed All Ages
Fri, January 15 – Billboard The Venue Melbourne Over 18’s
Sat, January 16 – Billboard the Venue Melbourne Under 18s Afternoon Show
Sun, January 17 – The Hi- Fi Brisbane
Mon, January 18 – The Metro Sydney Licensed All Ages
Wed, January 20 – The Transmission Room Auckland NZ Licensed All Ages

COOL GEAR ALERT: Yonac steel guitar app for iPhone

Extreme cool gear alert. This just arrived in my email from Yonac Software (follow them on Twitter here).

Yonac Software Releases Steel Guitar, Innovative Guitar App for iPhone and iPod Touch

Steel Guitar is the first steel guitar application for iPhone and iPod Touch to use unique interface that allows anyone to create music.

(New York, NY – July 29, 2009) Yonac Software is pleased to announce the release of Steel Guitar. Steel Guitar started as an idea of bringing a beloved instrument to the iPhone. The result is an incredible user interface that allows users to play with ease and unique settings to customize the sound. Steel Guitar utilizes several features to empower the guitarist including:

• Slide guitar emulator with “pedal” bending and multiple instruments

• 4 instruments:
Lap Steel (6-String)
Eight-String
Nashville (10-String with E9 tuning)
Texas (10-String with C6 tuning)

• 4 different tones per instrument:
Clean
Tweed
Tolex
Brit

• Easy fretboard scrolling

• Built-in common tunings and/or pedal-hookups for each instrument

• Volume/pitch bend pedals hooked up with 4 axes of the iPhone/iPod Touch Accelerometer

• Adjustable fret width, pickup height and string spacing

• Chorus/Vibrato effect

• Compatible for iPod play along

CEO and Steel head designer James Yonac remarks:
“The Guitar has always been my first love…after working on a good deal of musical apps, [one] gets to know the iPhone interface inside and out. For some time, we have been working on emulating an instrument that would fit the iPhone interface like the proverbial glove. One of my personal favorites is the pedal steel. The most interesting thing about [the iPhone] is how well it is suited to emulate something like a lap or a pedal steel. You control the actual instrument with a so-called ‘bar’, with which you slide from fret to fret, and use your dominant hand to pluck, and pretty much take it from there. It’s much easier than attempting to play a conventional guitar on such a small screen, and in my opinion, much more musical. This carried over very well to the iPhone platform, and I think we hit the spot with how we implemented the emulation. This also sets Steel Guitar apart from most of the guitar apps out there: it’s something unique in this arena of instrumentation, and
not something you’re going to see many likes of.”

Steel Guitar is now available at the Apple iTunes app store for $.99.

Yonac Software was founded in New York City in 2008. The company mainly focuses on the development of music and sound related software. In September 2008, they released the hugely successful miniSynth, the app store’s first synthesizer. Yonac’s other iPhone applications include MegaSynth, one of the most powerful polyphonic synthesizers available, TuneORama, an easy-to-use guitar tuner, and Thereminator, a touch screen theremin.

NEWS: Gibson SG Zoot Suit

Like SGs? Like wild colours? Love psychedelia? Me too. That’s why as we speak I’m back on the phone to Vegas putting all my money on red. Seriously Gibson, you’re gonna get my legs broke. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Gibson SG Zoot Suit.

Here’s some info about the finish, from the Gibson site:

Color
The Zoot Suit comes in five extraordinary and colorful combinations: Rainbow, Black and Red, Black and White, Black and Natural, and Red and Blue.

Surface Texture
The satin finish gives the Zoot Suit a more “natural” look. It is precisely the same material as its glossy counterpart; it just has a chemical additive to make it dry with a particular degree of sheen.

Process
The new Zoot Suit from Gibson USA features a brand new body built with multiple birch wood laminate pieces, each dyed with a different color then compressed and bonded together to form one solid block of wood. No paint is used. Two coats of satin lacquer are then applied at a 30 sheen to provide a smooth finish and also help protect the body from any damage.


There are some pretty negative comments about this guitar from readers on the Gibson site but dude, there are already dozens of SG variants out there. If you don’t want one that looks like a boiled sweet, there are plenty of other finishes for you to choose from. The only thing – the only thing – I would change would be to have the pickups wrapped in coloured wire to match one of the hues in the finish. But that’s just me.

I don’t know if Zoot Suit is the best name for it. How about the Sears Poncho or the Boiled Sweet or the Wallet Emptier?

For more info, check out THIS PAGE on Gibson.com.

CLICK HERE to see Gibson SG guitars on eBay.

VIDEO: G&L Jerry Cantrell signature series

Whoa! Check out this Premier Guitar video about the G&L Rampage Jerry Cantrell model. The guitar will be available in Tribute and US-made versions in 2010.

Look at the specs of the Tribute version.

Kahler 4300 bridge
Alnico 5 humbucker designed with Jerry
Soft maple body
Maple neck
Ebony fretboard
Matching headstock

The US-made version will have a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker and an upgraded Kahler bridge.

FEATURE: Gear names that make me blush

I’d like to think that I’m a mature adult with a sophisticated sense of humour. I’d like to think that. But sometimes I’m flicking through a guitar magazine and I stumble across a piece of gear that makes me snicker like a school kid.

Way Huge Swollen Pickle


It’s one of the most revered fuzz pedals of the modern age but there’s nothing about the name ‘Way Huge Swollen Pickle’ (except maybe the word ‘way’) that doesn’t make me feel a little dirty. I swear, if I had one of these pedals back when I was a teenager, I probably would have put duct tape over the words because I was easily embarrassed back them. Today I just think it’s hilarious and I would proudly wear a shirt with ‘Way Huge Swollen Pickle – Step On One Today’ emblazoned across it.
Oh wait. Way. As in ‘going all the way.’ Hehe. That’s rude!

 

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff PI

I can clearly remember the first time I read about the existence of this pedal. I was reading a guitar magazine in the lounge room when I was about 13 and I came across the words ‘Big Muff’ and I’m pretty sure I was so embarrassed that I covered the word with my coffee cup (yeah, I was jacked up on caffeine even when I was 13. No wonder I play guitar so freaking fast sometimes). Not only is this pedal a ‘muff,’ it’s a ‘big muff.’ And if that’s not risqué enough for ya, there’s also the Double Muff. I’ve heard of people being born with an extra finger or toe, but really? Really?

 

Gibson Dirty Fingers

The name of this otherwise respectable Gibson pickup gets a mention here because it reminds me of that cheesy old fake Confucius proverb about the man going to sleep with an itchy bum. Ahem.

 

BC Rich Bich
C’mon, that’s just uncalled for. Even though the BC Rich Bich was unquestionably cool in the hands of Dave Mustaine back in his Metallica days, and had the stamp of approval of metal diva Lita Ford, I’m still kinda surprised that this model name has survived. There’s even a model (pictured) called the Double Neck Bich. I guess it’s designed to be plugged into the Electro-Harmonix Double Muff (and maybe into a Fender Twin to keep the whole ‘double’ thing going, though that’s not particularly naughty unless you’re all like, “Ooh, Swedish twins” or something).

 

Metasonix $&#^ing $&#^er
Ok, this one isn’t work safe, so I’ve blurred it out for you, and there’s nothing subtle or sly about the name. It’s right there for everyone to see in black and white. Or black and yellow, as it were. Metasonix has a history of being as anarchic and offensive in their marketing as their gear is in its sound, but as Trent Reznor will attest (If you have a keen eye you might spot a Metasonix Butt Probe pedal on the floor in the video for Nine Inch Nails’ ‘The Hand That Feeds’), those sounds can be pretty bitchen in the right context. 

Flangers in general

No matter way you pronounce it (‘flang-er,’ ‘flange-er’), it has the same vague aura of naughtiness around it as words like ‘muckluck.’