TC Electronic is quite up-front about the sound they’re going for with the new Dark Matter distortion: their website proclaims that it is designed to give you the sound of an early Plexi amp. Sounds good to me! So do they nail it? Let’s have a look.
The Dark Matter is a very robust stomper with a no-nonsense control array consisting of Treble, Bass, Gain and Level pots and a Voice switch (which shifts the bass response). It’s made from high-grade components, and is built into the same basic ‘hammerhead’ rugged die-cast aluminium chassis as TC’s excellent TonePrint pedals and the revolutionary PolyTune tuner. Its pedalboard footprint is pretty minimal so it’s unlikely that the jacks will cause too much of a space problem. There’s an input, an output, a True Bypass switch, a really quite bright red LED to indicate that the effect is on, and a 9v DC supply jack. Battery access is through a handy little turn screw on the bottom which you can easily turn with a guitar pick or a coin. The pedal runs on an 9v battery or a power supply.
Hey! Here are my latest news stories for Gibson.com. And check out my feature on Black Sabbath’s various reunions over the years!
The Yamaha BB series is a legendary line of instruments with a killer pedigree. You only need look to former Van Halen and current Chickenfoot bass player Michael Anthony to hear how the BB has shaped rock, and continues to do so. The BB is available in various different configurations (including an Anthony signature model, the BB3000MA), but the BB424X is one of the more affordable entries to the line-up.
The BB424X features a smoothly sculpted solid alder body and a 5-ply laminate neck. I like that the headstock face isn’t painted, so you can clearly see the different woods even from the front. And that oversized Yamaha headstock has got to be part of the reason for the BB’s legendarily powerful sound – all that extra mass right where the strings join the neck leads to a lot more resonance.
Although they’re one of the most popular guitar brands in the world, Paul Reed Smith isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of amps. But even so, the PRS 30 and its other US-made counterparts aren’t entirely unprecedented. In the early 90s they released a respected line of solid state amps, and more recently they’ve launched a line of boutique amps (including a Custom Amp Designs division led by Doug Sewell).
By the way, a new PRS SE line has also just been announced for those who can’t afford the US models. Can’t wait to check those out. But first, let’s look at the PRS 30. It’s a 30 watt amp designed to offer an English sound with an American twist. The construction method utilises thick PC boards for consistency, and all of the pots, jacks, power tube sockets and switches are mounted to the chassis. Shielded wire is used at various critical points for the best quality where it counts. At its heart are a quartet of EL84 power tubes, while the preamp section features two 12AX7s and two 12AT7s. The controls left to right are a Bright switch, Volume, Reverb (3-spring Reverb with medium decay), Treble, Middle, Bass and Master Volume. Around the back you’ll find an extension speaker jack in parallel with the speaker out jack.
Tokai’s guitars have long been known for their quality eastern-built replicas of popular models designed by US companies. During certain dark eras the word on the street was that their instruments were better than the (at the time) lacklustre efforts by some of those companies. The company doesn’t just made replicas – their original designs such as the Talbo are startlingly unique and incredibly funky, and I came thiiiiis close to buying a Talbo a few years ago – but when it comes to funky Japanese-made versions of popular US guitars, the Tokai name is probably the first that comes to mind for most players.
The Love Rock makes absolutely no secret of its inspiration. From the outline and electronics to the cheeky script Love Rock logo (which looks like a certain name whose initials are L and P from a distance), if you didn’t have your wits about you you’d be forgiven for getting confused about whether you’re holding a US original or the Tokai.
Dave Weiner‘s excellent Riff Of The Week service is about to go subscription – from as low as just 99c per week. But more than that, Dave’s planning to kick the service up a notch by making the videos quicker and easier to digest, while also offering ‘Lick Of The Week Extended’ for those who want to go deeper. I think this is a great idea, and I know some people are already complaining to Dave that they don’t want to pay, but y’know what? This is a professional musician who has given a hell of a lot of his own time to this great service, and man, from 99c a week it’s totally worth it. He’s also about to launch something called ‘Jam With Me’ but more details on that will be announced next week.
Here’s a video from Dave explaining the changes.