PICK PICS: My Slash pick

Here’s a rad pick I managed to snag back when Slash performed for the launch of MTV Classic in Australia a few years ago. I was super fortunate to attend a rehearsal the day before the show, and not only was I treated to what basically amounted to a private Slash gig, I also picked this pick up off the floor after Slash chucked it into the non-existant crowd at the end of the set.

REVIEW: Framus Diablo Supreme X

Framus was founded in Germany by Fred Wilfer in 1946, and although its guitars found their way into the hands of players like Bill Wyman and John Lennon, before going bankrupt in 1975. The brand was resurrected by Hans Peter Wilfer, son of Fred, as part of Warwick 20 years later.


The body of the Diablo Supreme X is made of US swamp ash, and the top is AAA grade flamed maple which dances in a satisfyingly 3D way when you tilt the guitar from left to right. The carve is optomised for ergonomics but it also leads the eye purposefully to the cutaways. Pickups are a trio of Seymour Duncans: SSCR-1N Cool Rail in the neck, SSL-1 RW/RP Vintage Staggered Single Coil in the middle and  STB-4 JB Trembucker in the bridge. The pickups are hooked up to 500K volume and tone pots, the latter serving as a push-pull coil splitter. Interestingly the coil split also works as a coil tap on the middle pickup, dropping its output a little for further tonal variety. Nice touch! There’s a 5-way pickup selector, but when you consider the extra sounds created by the coil split/tap, there are 10 pickup selections lurking in the Diablo. The Wilkinson/Framus bridge is of the 2-point fulcrum variety, and does the Floyd Rose-style ‘so low that the E string flaps off the fretboard’ thing with ease, returning to pitch easily with help from Framus locking tuners and a Graphtech Black Tusq low friction nut.


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Steve Vai’s DLR-era Marshall stack is for sale!

If you were thinking of buying Eddie Van Halen’s Diver Down/1984 Kramer Frankenstrat but were holding off until you could find just the right amp to pair it with, look no further: Steve Vai is auctioning his Marshall 100 watt Plexi modified by the legendary Lee Jackson and used on David Lee Roth’s Eat ‘Em And Smile album, with some of the proceeds going to his Make-a-noise foundation.

There’s plenty of info at GuitarTV and on the eBay auction page itself, but here’s a snippet:

“The 100 watt Marshall JMP was given to Ted Templeman by Steve Stevens during the NYC recording sessions for “Eat Em and Smile.” The amp was then modded to Steve’s liking by Lee Jackson, famous for performing sought after custom modifications to Marshall amplifiers for top artists in the 1980′s and 1990′s. It was Steve’s main amp for the “Eat Em and Smile”sessions and used on the entire David Lee Roth tour. The 100 watt plexi head features an extra gain stage, frequency adjust control, effects loop & master volume. The head has been well maintained in Los Angeles and features matching Drake transformers, KT88 quad-matched power tubes & hand-selected pre-amp tubes to Steve’s liking.”

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REVIEW: Taylor Baritone-8

Cue Twilight Zone music.

You enter a room. On a guitar stand in the corner is this new offering from Taylor. It’s an extremely attractive, maybe even a little alluring, but otherwise regular acoustic guitar. As you get closer to it you notice that it’s a little bigger than you’re expecting. You realise that’s because it has a 27″ scale length. Interesting. Must be a baritone. Or maybe you’re shinking. You look a little closer and see that appointments include a Grand Symphony body, Indian Rosewood back and sides and Sitka Spruce top. Inlays are an elegant set of abalone diamonds, nicely complemented by abalone inserts in the bridge pins. Something looks a little odd about those pins, but it’s not until you reach out with a trembling hand, pick it up and bring it close to inspect the headstock that you realise, good lord, this thing has eight tuning pegs, yet the neck is only wide enough for six. Maybe you’ve crossed into a parallel universe. Maybe it’s a trick of the light. Or maybe you’ve just entered… the 8-string Baritone Zone.

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INTERVIEW: Buck Waller of ISP Technologies

You may have seen my review of the revolutionary ISP Technologies’ Decimator noise reduction pedal a while ago. The Decimator concept has evolved even further into the excellent Decimator G String, – my review of that one will be online tomorrow – but in the meantime I asked Decimator mastermind Buck Waller some questions about his groundbreaking designs.

What does the Decimator do differently to other noise gates, and why have other noise gates got it so wrong?
The most simplified noise reduction system is a noise gate. A noise gate works by simply switching the signal path open or closed so the signal is either on or off. The threshold is set so as to allow the desired signals to pass and to open the gate so no signal passes when the signal level decays to the point where the noise becomes undesirable. Most players find this undesirable since the gate will pop open and closed as the signal of the guitar gets near the threshold set point. For years downward expansion has been used as an alternative method of noise reduction and most professional studio noise gates actually use a method of downward expansion instead of a simplified noise gate. The typical professional studio noise gate will have an attack time allowing you to set how fast the expander opens and a release time or rate that determines how fast the expander attenuates after the single drops below the threshold point. This may provide acceptable performance in many applications such as a gate on drums where a single drum is fed through a gate to control the attack and release of a drum with a definable and repeatable waveform. The problem becomes evident when you try to apply this technology to a guitar signal, which can change hundreds of times in any given song. The guitarist is changing from staccato short fast playing to long sustained notes and everything in between and a pre-defined release of a gate or expander is a compromise at best. The Decimator is a single ended noise reduction system, not a noise gate, or a simple expander.

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