Three humbuckers are better than one

I’ve been playing my Taylor SolidBody a lot lately. It’s funny – almost every single time I pick it up, a new song comes out. At first they were all quite dark-sounding, sort of a Mastodon-At-Their-Most-Depressing kind of thing. I started to wonder if maybe the guitar’s dark colour scheme was influencing my perception of the kind of music I should play on it. But now it’s starting to give me some much more upbeat-sounding ideas too. I’m pretty sure that this guitar is trying to make me write an album for it. The material is coming out as a cross between Mastodon, Baroness, Devin Townsend’s Terria album and maybe even shades of Duff McKagan’s Loaded. My buddies Rohan and Pete (the rhythm section from The Upperhand) and I are going to get together soon to check out some of these ideas in a trio format. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

REVIEW: Ernie Ball Music Man Reflex

The Ernie Ball company is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2012, and over the years they’ve done it all: strings, picks, basses, guitars, 7-string guitars, baritone guitars… they have original designs out the wazoo, and an incredible list of famous users who all operate on handshake deals – Steve Lukather, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Albert Lee, Steve Morse. Heck, even Joe Bonamassa, who has Gibson and Epiphone signature models, still takes to the stage with various Ernie Ball Music Man guitars. The company has never been content to rest on the successes of the past, and their policy of closely listening to and collaborating with artists is why it can be so hard to keep up with their latest models. But that’s also half the fun. And it’s this drive for innovation that brings us to the Reflex, which features a particularly interesting pickup selection circuit as its biggest selling point.

The Reflex is a kind of odd design. It has obvious visual links to the old Edward Van Halen model (which lives on today in slightly modified form as the rather excellent AXIS), but it’s a little stretched out compared to that instrument’s rounder outline, giving it a slight Telecaster vibe, or maybe a little like one of Manson’s creations as used by Muse’s Matt Bellamy. Because this is a new shape, you don’t quite get the ‘I know exactly what kind of music I’m supposed to play on this’ vibe that you get from familiar shapes. So that makes the Reflex a good ‘clean slate’ platform for its unique switching system, and doubly so for Ernie Ball’s use of the instrument as the bed for the Game Changer pickup selection systemAnd you can buy the Game Changer version of the Reflex here).

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