Unisonic. Brace yourselves.

Check out Unisonic, the new band featuring former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween) alongside guitarist Mandy Meyer (Asia, Gotthard and Krokus), bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Kosta Zafiriou (both of Germany’s Pink Cream 69). The album was recorded at ICP Studios in Brussels, Belgium. It features 11 tracks, plus a bonus live version of Helloween classic “I Want Out” only available on the domestic edition, cover art by  Martin Häusler (Meat Loaf, Gotthard, Helloween, Motörhead), and marks the first musical union between Kiske and Hansen in 23 years! It’s fairly safe to say if you dig Helloween, you’ll love this! There’s some serious shreddage going on. The album is released in a few weeks but check out the video for their anthem and album opener “Unisonic.”

Turn your speakers up loud.

And here are a few tracks on Soundcloud:

GUEST POST: Norman’s Rare Guitars

This is a re-post of an article from 2010. Thought you might like reading it again if you saw it the first time around, or for the first time if not!

With the overwhelming demand for quality guitars, manufactures had to come up with ways to meet this demand. Over the years many things have changed, and guitar building had to keep up with this ever increasing hunger for quality instruments. These are some of the things that evolved both good and bad.

Quality Tone Woods
Years ago there was a huge stash of aged woods suitable for instrument building. Many instruments were built with woods that were aged 50 years and more. There is no substitute for fine tone woods. As demand increased the supply diminished. As tone woods became scarce, manufactures used artificially aged woods to keep up with the demand. Martin, probably America’s leading acoustic guitar manufacturer is now using sustainable woods on many of their recent guitars. Brazilian rosewood, which is considered by most to be the finest tone wood for flat top guitars, is in very short supply. In 1969 there was an embargo on this wood. Aged Brazilian rosewood is getting close to being nonexistent. Other substitute woods such as Indian rosewood and Madagascar rosewood are currently being used on many higher end models in replacement of Brazilian.

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Rock-Paper-Scissors for guitarists

We’ve all played rock-paper-scissors, right? We all know paper covers rock, rock smashes scissors and scissors cut paper (although if rock was more of a type A personality it’d know it could hold the paper down, paperweight-style, and be eternally victorious). But dude, we’re guitarists. Rock-paper-scissors may be fine for origamists, geologists and seamstresses, but it’s not for we rockers. We need our own variant. Well, in that spirit… you’re welcome. All you need is a Boss Metal Zone, an Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Jim Dunlop Fuzz Face. Or at least, the ability to say the names of them.

Fuzz Face beats Metal Zone (fuller bodied tone, more mojo, looks like a robot’s severed head)

Metal Zone beats Tube Screamer (More gain, more EQ control, and your audience will buy more beer than the Tube Screamer guy’s audience will buy whisky)

Tube Screamer beats Fuzz Face (More versatile, cool Ghostbusters green, name sounds like a euphamism for having sex on the London Underground)

See if you can come up with your own!

REVIEW: MXR Custom Comp

One of MXR’s early successes was the Dyna Comp compressor. This legendary little red box was particularly integral to the tone of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and it also found favour with country players who dug the way its rounded tone smoothed over some of the sharp edges of their Telecaster tones (which could be especially emphasised by slapback delay). And it has a permanent place on my pedalboard.

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Five Gig Cliches That Must Die!

The ‘We Might As Well Start Now’ Start

Nothing rocks more than being drawn into a set from the very beginning by a well-conceived opening. Whether it’s some kind of well-done intro tape (like Metallica using ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’); an atmospheric, moodily-lit stage beginning to swell with sound; or a curtain drop to a harsh white light as the band leaps into a high-energy punkfest, the way you begin your gig has to make an impact. So why do so many bands at the club level think it’s okay to walk out onto the stage, start to tune their instruments and maybe mess around with their pedals a bit until the singer says ‘Um, we might as well start now… uh… okay. 1… 2… 3… oh wait, what’s our first song? Oh yeah. 1… 2… 3… 4…”? It doesn’t matter if you’re just playing at the local watering hole or if you’re filling Madison Square Garden. Establish a definite beginning to your set.

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