What I Like About Relic’d Guitars

Aged or relic’d guitars have been around for long enough now that they’re simply a part of the guitar vernacular. There was a time when the very idea of intentionally bashing up a guitar seemed like absolute madness. For a while I agreed: I babied my guitars to the point that 15 years after I got my first good electric guitar, it still looked virtually brand new (aside from a lot of fret wear). And why wouldn’t it? I watched over that thing like a hawk, kept it carefully stashed in its case, never let anybody else play it, and never tried to do that cool Steve Vai ‘throw the guitar around your body’ trick. Although I kinda wanted to.

I had a few other guitars before that good one: beaten up, scratched, rusty, abused axes which I didn’t really look after very well at all. These were the guitars that were leaned up against the wall, maybe had a coat draped over them once or twice, were tapped on with drumsticks during especially creative jams, and were generally treated like dirt. 

Guess which ones I felt more of an attachment to. 

A common analogy is that an aged guitar – whether it got that way by natural or assisted means – is like a comfortable pair of jeans. I totally get that. Of the two beater guitars I had back in the day (actually I still have them), one saw so much combat during its first few years that the glossy finish wore clear off the back of the neck behind the first few frets, behind the twelfth to fifteenth, and along the entire back of the treble string side. The other one has an oiled neck so there was no finish to wear off, but the fretboard looks …kinda gross, actually. It’s covered in grit and stains where I spent hour upon hour playing Jeff Beck licks, Jeff Buckley songs, Tea Party riffs (the Canadian ‘Moroccan Roll’ band) and Mike Keneally solos. Every year it acquires a few more scratches, a few more character marks and a few more signs of wear. But that’s okay because I do too. And every year it feels more and more comfortable, compared to that pointy shred axe, which still feels glossy and slick,

And that’s what I dig about relic’d guitars. It’s not the aesthetics – although a carefully aged instrument can have plenty of visual vibe. It’s that a guitar with the hallmarks of the aging process just feels more playable. It’s like it invites you to pick it up and create with it. For me this is particularly important on the back of the neck, because there’s a certain lived-in feel that seems to invite a closer emotional connection to the instrument. And I’ve found over the years that any aged guitar that gets this right immediately feels like a serious instrument to me. A carefully aged instrument will also usually have the fretboard edges subtly rolled to replicate the way the wood is gradually rounded over due to decades of regular play. Again it makes the neck physically easier to hold, which makes for a more natural playing experience.

Personally, when it comes to aging of the guitar’s cosmetics, I’m not really fussed. I like the look of a checked and scratched finish, and I dig the idea of a guitar which is aged in a specific way to look exactly like that of an established artist. But for me what I like most about these instruments is that they take away that fear of the first scratch. Once you’re forced to accept the first chip or ding in your guitar, you stop worrying about the next one.

A while back I bought a Les Paul Traditional. The folks at Sky Music here in Melbourne let me play every Trad in the store until I found the one that felt like ‘my’ Les Paul. And the one that spoke to me the most had a weird visual feature: the top appeared slightly mismatched (even though on close inspection it wasn’t). One half of the bookmatch had much more flame than the other. I like this because it shows that guitars really are pieces of wood and works of art. I also like that it’s reminiscent of the distinctive and sometimes imperfect grains that you find on vintage Les Pauls. And while I take care of this guitar to the extent that I don’t use it to play cricket with in the back yard, I’m not scared of my own guitar, and I’m not terrified of that first ding: it’s already got a few light marks in the finish that I could probably buff out if I wanted to, but as far as I’m concerned they give the guitar more character. These little marks, and the much more visible ones that are sure to appear as the guitar and I spend the next however many decades together, are going to tell the story of our shared history. Just as with other guitars in my collection (“That’s where the strap chipped the paint when I put it down on the stand too quickly to go answer the phone,” “That’s where the I discovered that the cool belt buckle I wanted to wear onstage was a bit too rough for the guitar’s finish”), this one is going to have definite memories to attach to it, and it also means I can direct my energy towards playing the thing instead of babying it.

The Fine Art Of The Sequel Album

In a lot of ways, a good album is like a movie: it should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It should take you on a journey. You should learn something about the main character that you didn’t know before you started. The main character should learn something about themselves too. And it should leave you wanting more. And much like in the film world, occasionally a successful album will prompt a sequel. Sometimes this is a very, very good idea – such as when Star Wars was followed up with The Empire Strikes Back. Other times, well …you end up up with that unpleasant business that happened to The Matrix series. Here are a few sequel albums worth checking out.

Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime II

Okay, this one could well be seen as a controversial inclusion, especially amid claims that most of the band wasn’t terribly involved in the final product. But whatever internal turmoil was going on within Queensryche at the time they made this, the sequel to their multiplatinum 1988 album Operation: Mindcrime, you’ve gotta admit that a few of these songs stand up pretty well when held up against the Queensryche catalog. Most of the great tracks are skewed to the first half of the album – the fast metal of “I’m American,” the proggish “Hostage,” the driving “The Hands” – but this album also contains a great guest appearance by the late great Ronnie James Dio on the song “The Chase,” playing the role of Dr. X, the mysterious antagonist of the series. And if you happened to catch the band performing it live together with the original album, it worked pretty well.

Neil Young – Harvest Moon

Neil Young’s Harvest was a landmark album, topping the Billboard charts for two weeks and racking up the honour of being the highest-selling album of 1972. Twenty years later Young reunited with many of the same musicians (such as Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor) to record Harvest Moon, not technically acknowledged as a sequel but c’mon!!! Harvest Moon came about because Young was recovering from a bout of tinnitus after spending a lot of time playing really, really loud recording and touring the Ragged Glory album. Harvest Moon was critically acclaimed, scoring a Juno Award for Album of the Year.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music

The Smashing Pumpkins released Machina/The Machines of God to stores in 2000, but the band always planned for Machina to be a double album. Virgin Records weren’t into that idea, so Billy Corgan released a second Machina album on his own label, Constantinople Records, in an extremely limited edition of 25 copies in the form of a double LP plus three EPs featuring B-sides and alternate takes. Some of those 25 copies were given to friends of the band, but a handful were given to fans from the band’s online community with an invitation to get the music out there free of charge. So Machina II became one of the first examples of an artist fully exploiting the viral nature of online music, back in the days when Napster was still a thing. A remastered version of the album is planned for release later this year alongside a remaster of Machina/The Machines of God, making Machina II commercially available for the first time ever.

KISS – Alive II

Yeah, we have to include this (and to a lesser extent subsequent sequels, but definitely Alive II). The original Alive was a landmark, star-making effort for KISS, and this sequel benefited from three whole studio albums’ worth of intervening material (Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun). Sure, some tracks were recorded at sound checks and the last five cuts are studio tracks, but Alive II was still huge, thanks in no small part to Ace Frehley’s incendiary (literally, wink) showcase “Shock Me.” 

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare

Alice Cooper’s 1975 album Welcome To My Nightmare is a classic of the shock rock genre, but Alice eventually moved away from that sound as the years progressed, often incorporating strains of whichever heavy music forms were dominant at the time, such as the glam rock of Trash in 1989, or the dark Brutal Planet in 2000. 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare reflected an intentional effort to recapture big chunks of Cooper’s mid-70s sound, and to that end he reunited with Bob Ezrin – the producer of the original album – as well as previous members of the Alice Cooper band, including Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith and Michael Bruce, Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter. The album is also full of guest musicians like Vince Gill, Rob Zombie, Chuck Garric, Kip Winger, Damon Johnson, John 5 and even Ke$ha, who performs guest vocals on “What Baby Wants.” What some folks forget, though, is that Cooper’s 1976 album Alice Cooper Goes To Hell was also a sequel to Welcome To My Nightmare, continuing the story of Steven, that album’s main character. I guess Welcome 3 My Nightmare wouldn’t have really worked for the 2011 album.

Steve Vai – The Story Of Light

Steve Vai conceived his Real Illusions: Reflections album as the first of a trilogy of records. It’s kind of a bummer that it took seven years for its follow-up, The Story Of Light, but Vai came through with the goods in characteristically unpredictable fashion. Who could have imagined Vai finally really laying into some angry blues (“John The Revelator”) or orchestrating a vocal chorus right out of Broadway (“Book Of The Seven Seals”), or composing a 7-string epic based on the placement of flowers blooming on a fence outside his studio window (“Weeping China Doll”), or duet with Aimee Mann (“No More Amsterdam”)? Or that he would break with his own convention by recording one of his most straightforward instrumental guitar songs ever (“Racing The World”)? Well, Vai fans, I guess! 

Sequel Albums That Aren’t Sequel Albums

Of course there’s a whole category of albums that look like sequels if you glance at their titles, but aren’t really, at least not in a particularly thematic or over way. Albums such as Van Halen, Van Halen II and Van Halen III (the last of which sort of works because it represents the third line-up of Van Halen to release an album); Led Zeppelin I, II, III and IV (the last one not technically having a name); and many, many more. 

What are your favorite sequel albums?

REVIEW: Eventide H9 MAX

“The H9 is that rare sonic tool that is capable of inspiring your entire musical direction.”

Eventide has been a part of the musical landscape since the 70s: David Bowie and Brian Eno famously used the hell out of an Eventide harmonizer starting from the Low album and that’s good enough for me! In the guitar world, Steve Vai practically created an entire genre of psychedelic progressive shred wackiness through his use of the H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer. But you’ll find Eventide’s family of harmonizers all over the place: recording studios, sound design, radio production… the company’s footprint is all over the last four decades plus of sonic history. Eventide doesn’t cut corners, so it can be a pretty costly proposition to add one of their rack units to your arsenal. Thankfully there’s a range of great stompboxes available in the form of the TimeFactor (delay), ModFactor (modulation), PitchFactor (pitch shifting), and Space (reverb). Each is a dedicated unit with plenty of controls and functions and they’re all serious stuff, but Eventide has found a way to cram every one of those pedals into a small, pedalboard-friendly unit called the H9 MAX.

The H9 gets away with this Tardis-like approach to effects management by placing the controls not on the pedal itself but on your computer or smartphone screen via the H9 Control App which gives you instant access to over 500 presets and practically endless editing capability. There is a degree of control available on the surface of the pedal itself in the form of a Hotknob and three assignable parameters, but this is a pedal designed for those who are comfortable dialling in their tone on their screen. 

Get Connected

Connections include stereo inputs and outputs, an expression pedal jack, Mini USB and MIDI Out/Thru (plus the 12v DC jack for the included power supply). It’s important to note that the H9 is not a multi-effect pedal – that is, you can’t combine multiple effects in a chain – but many effects include delay or reverb capability alongside their main function. And you’re not forced to commit to using it just in your amp’s effects loop or just through its front end. The stereo inputs and outputs can be treated as two totally different signal paths to select between, allowing you to send, say, a chewy-sounding vintage phaser preset to your amp’s front end, then switching to a delay or reverb preset that goes through your amp’s effects loop. It’s a really ingenious system that allows you to get the most out of the H9’s stunning range of capabilities as the song demands. 

Variations On A Theme

There are actually three variations on the H9 available, which differ only in the pre-loaded effects: the base H9 Core which comes loaded with the PitchFactor’s H910/H949 settings; the H9 Harmonizer which has two algorithms each from Space, PitchFactor, ModFactor and TimeFactor plus the H9-exclusive UltraTap Delay; and the full H9 MAX which is loaded with 50 effect algorithms and 99 presets, with over 500 presets available via the H9 Control app. You can upgrade the H9 Core or H9 Harmonizer to H9 MAX specs online for an additional cost using the MAXOut Program, so even if you don’t have the spare bucks to get the MAX up-front, you can get in on the ground floor with the H9 Harmonizer or Core and upgrade as you’re able. And it’s worth doing because here’s what MAX comes loaded with:

H9 Exclusive:

UltraTap Delay

Resonator

EQ Compressor

CrushStation

SpaceTime

Sculpt

PitchFuzz

HotSawz

From Space:

Shimmer

Hall

Blackhole

Spring

Plate

Room

MangledVerb

Tremoloverb

ModEchoVerb

DualVerb

DynaVerb

Reverse Reverb

From PitchFactor:

Crystals

H910/H949

Diatonic

MicroPitch

Quadravox

PitchFlex

Octaver

Harpeggiator

Synthonizer

Harmodulator

From ModFactor:

Chorus

Phaser

Q-Wah

Flanger

ModFilter

Rotary

TremoloPan

Vibrato

Undulator

RingMod

From TimeFactor:

Tape Echo

Vintage Delay

Digital Delay

Mod Delay

Ducked Delay

Band Delay

Filter Pong

MultiTap

Reverse

Looper

Some of these are pretty self-explanatory. Others are really unique. For instance, Sculpt lets you split the audio signal into high and low frequency bands and then apply different levels of gain and filtering to each, then add compression either before or after the distortion. In stereo if you want to. PitchFuzz combines fuzz, three pitch shifters and two delays for some truly filthy sounds. CrushStation is a stereo distortion that can do anything from blues tones to ultra pissed-off. And HotSaws is a pitch-tracking monophonic synth with modulation sources including LFO, Envelope Follower and ADS Gate, with four assignable destinations (Filter Cutoff, Volume, Pitch and Oscillator Depth), with each modulation source able to be assigned to any destination at any time. 

In Use

And that’s just the new stuff available only in H9 MAX: there are also plenty of classic Eventide effects that you’ll recognise from either the ‘Factor’ series of pedals, or earlier devices such as the H3000, H949 and H910. For instance, y’know Steve Vai’s classic ‘Ballerina 12/24’ pitch-shifted delay setting? That’s in here. The pitch shift preset from ‘The Animal’ is in here too, as are various EVH ‘1984’-inspired sounds (and I’ve been able to dial in a perfect replica of Eddie’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge-era chorus-like subtle doubling sound). In fact, the huge number of sounds in here from previous Eventide products like the H3000 really hits home just how innovative that classic rack unit was. The DigiTech Whammy Pedal? It’s basically just a particular H3000 mode with a built-in expression pedal, and you can do it with the H9 and an expression pedal too. Dynamic reverb, chorus and delay effects that respond to your picking? That’s all here just like it has been since the H3000. Extensive looping capability? Ditto. But there’s other stuff in here that has been criminally overlooked. Frank Zappa was a fan of using dynamic flanging effects, and Eventide gives you this capability (which works especially well as an ‘into-the-front-of-the-amp’ effect); trigger a flanger-sweep every time you pick a note, or deeper sweeps the harder you pick. Or assign the flanger resonance to an expression pedal. The signal-processing possibilities are endless, and that means your creative and expressive options as a musician are endless too. The H9 is that rare sonic tool that is capable of inspiring your entire musical direction.

The sound quality is so great that you can get away with using the H9 as front-and-centre feature effects in a recording environment – as you’d expect from a company whose gear is in every serious studio in the world – but what really impresses me is how utterly clean and noise-free the sound is when used with my roaring Marshall. I’m used to battling against hiss and hum in outboard gear and I’ve figured out various ways to get rid of it over the years but the H9 is so damn quiet. The dynamic range isn’t unnaturally squished, there’s no buzz, no hum, no white noise. And this becomes really apparent when using delay and reverb effects. 

The MIDI capability is also extremely handy. Although the H9 has become my go-to reverb and delay unit, I’ve been connecting the H9 MAX to my trusty old BOSS GT-8 Multi-Fx floorboard so I can use the GT-8’s delay and reverb effects when the H9 MAX is otherwise occupied with another algorithm through my amp’s front end (eg: Octave, Flanger, Wah or PitchFlex effects). This also lets me add H9 presets with my GT-8 presets, and also to use the GT-8’s expression pedal to control H9 effects. In a perfect world I’d have an Eclipse V4 sitting in a rack to take care of delay and harmonizer effects in my amp’s effects loop and an H9 on a pedalboard to look after front-end effects like fuzz, distortion, wah, flanger, phaser, pitch and whammy. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and dig into some serious editing on a smartphone, tablet or computer screen, the H9 will do absolutely everything you can ever think to ask of it. (If you’re a little put off by the control method but you still want some great Eventide delay and modulation effects – from the natural to the freaky – check out the new Eventide Rose Modulated Delay). The H9 is a serious piece of kit, which is why Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish had four of the dang things on his pedalboard when I saw the band live recently! 

GUEST POST: Top 10 Best Electric Guitar Players off All Time by John Anthony

By John Anthony of Guitar.Listy

When it comes to rank the musicians it is always tough. Different people have different choice and there will always be a controversy about who should be number one and who should be at ten. Still in this article a list of the top ten best electric guitarist is done keeping in mind their fame and the enigma they have created with their music. There are so many electric guitar players who have won hearts of millions over the years. Here are few of them who have left a lasting impression. 

1. Stevie Ray Vaughan

When Stevie Ray Vaughan comes with guitars in his hands even God will take some time to listen to him. He may be deeply rooted to the blues idiom but he had taken music especially electric guitar to another level that is purely original. He is inspired by other guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, B.B King and Albert Collins but he himself have influenced many others during his time. Among different styles his lighting fast double stop and triple string bends are something that are unforgettable. He has sprinkled his art in many songs that includes ‘pride and joy,’ ‘rude ‘mood’ and others but ‘Texas flood’ is something that took him to new heights. 

2. Jimi Hendrix

Considered as the great instrumentalist in the history of music Jimi Hendrix became active during the late 60s. He was something that was not seen before whether that be his volume use or wah pedals. He was the one who had blurred and radicalized the lines that had been demarcating rock and roll from the psychedelic experiments. His music piece ‘bold as love’ makes his audience awestricken and his guitar seems to be a part of him, such was his integrity was guitar! After Eric Clapton saw him he considered that it was the end of his career! Technically, it may be possible to find many other guitarists who are impressive than Jimi but when it comes to spirit very few comes near him. 

3. Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry is considered as the God of Rock and Roll and why shouldn’t he be? It was his amalgamation of blues with the hillbilly guitar that has pioneered the music famously known as ‘rock and roll’ now. He stands apart from other guitarist for the skills he had shown in synthesizing blues, rhythm, rock, country and jazz. His technique was sharp and perfect and the tone was very melodic. The back and forth bends by Berry on carols has been inspiration for many and is imitated by numerous electric guitar players round the world.  If you want to learn how to play an electric guitar then follow this article about how to play electric guitar for beginners on GuitarListy.com

4. Duane Allman

Duane Allman was always brilliant. He had shown his performance while playing as musician at Muscle Shoals studio or while as one of the lead guitarists of the Allman Brothers band. Whether it was his standard playing or the slide playing, the music was something that was smoothest and of course the most adventurous that the world has listened to. There are many pieces that has been mesmerizing music lovers but “the Allman brother live” will surely make one fall in love with him again, especially the one at the Fillmore East. 

5. Eric Clapton

Eric was mainly a Blues guitarist and it was his impressive blues playing that has made his fans making spray paints on the walls of London. Once John Mayall’s ‘Beano” album was released with his blues rock playing he was considered as the God of electric guitar. It was his solo, ‘while my guitar gently weeps’ in the Beatles that made him popular and inscribed his name in history of music permanently. He is also known as ‘Slowhand’ and he has been in the hall of fame of music three times. He had played with Derek. Cream and the Dominos and with all these music along with his solos has earned him the supreme position in the world of music. 

6. Chet Atkins

For those who had not heard Chet Atkins before are missing something in their life. He was a rockabilly player and loved playing his songs himself. He was a skilled instrumental guitar player and loved to play his music himself, without any support from other musicians. “Mr. Sandman” is a great example of his talent. He have created many other pieces that have made him popular and have given him this position. Still he is more famous for his syncopated melodies and alternating thumb rhythm that shows his precision while handling the instruments. 

7. Slash

Slash has rendered innumerable solos and among them ‘Estranged,’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ or ‘November Rain’ are worth mentioning. Saul Hudson, or famously known as Slash was lead guitarist of the band, Guns N’ Roses. He was an iconic guitarist who had played solos as well as group performance that had kept music lovers mesmerized. He has even performed with Michael Jackson on the stage and that was an experience indeed. “Black and white’ had fulfilled the wishes of the masses when they had seen two maestros performing together on the stage. His mountain top grandeur solos and blues have taken the music lovers to climax many times. He gradually turned up the intensity of the music making things more intense. 

8. Charlie Christian

Many music lovers considered him as the first master of the electric guitar. He was an excellent jazz player and the stellar improvisational skills shown by Charlie Cristian was exemplary. He has created some of the most innovative and inventive jazz of all time with his fluent run down through the fret board. “Swing to Bop” will give an example how he has impressed his followers for ages. 

9. Prince

Prince is included in this list for his extraordinary solo on “let’s go crazy.” He is a guitarists who has shown his supremacy in blues, rhythm, funk and Minneapolis genres. He may be more famous for his frenetic style but there are ones like “while my guitar gently weeps or “just my imagination” that shows that he had ability to play under control. “While my Guitar gently weeps” has been a heart rendering piece that had made every guitar lover fall to knees. 

10. Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was not only an electric guitar player but had many other qualities in him. He was a writer who wrote hilariously satirical lyrics. Apart from that eh has composed many brilliant music pieces and of course he is included in this list because of his inventive and innovative guitar playing. He has made many guitar improvisation with his lighting hands fretting. 

Def Leppard – Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick

So I was just in the car with my son and a Def Leppard song came on Spotify. And he goes “Def Leppard? Isn’t that the band you have a setlist for where all the songs are like ‘Rock Rock Til You Drop’ and ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ and ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’?”

So now I really want to know what a Def Leppard song called ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’ sounds like. I mean you could probably get it to work to the tune of ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me.’ But I’m issuing a challenge to Def Leppard. Let’s hear it! Actually write ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’! It’ll be an instant classic! Let’s go-o-o-oo-o!

Order Your Prestige Guitars Devin Townsend ‘Empath’ Acoustic

One of the nicest damn guitars I saw at NAMM last month was the prototype for Devin Townsend’s new Prestige Guitars ‘EMPATH’ signature acoustic. The neck and the body bevelling are ridiculously comfortable and the sound is gorgeous: clear, full and sweet. Prestige is now taking advance orders for this beauty, which is limited to 100 guitars worldwide.

The Empath Acoustic is a hand built Dreadnought cutaway guitar, featuring a Torrefied Adirondack Spruce Top, Indian Rosewood Back and Sides, and 3A Flame Maple Bevels on the Arm Rest, Back Rest and Cutaway. Following an all-organic build, each Empath guitar is built with a hand carved Mahogany Neck; Ebony Fingerboard, Ebony Bridge, Bone Nut and Saddle, and a natural Satin Finish. This combination results in a rich soulful sound, with crisp overtones and Loud sonic definition.

And how’s this for cool: each guitar will include a numbered, handwritten autographed letter from Devin, hidden inside the soundhole. Each letter is a fragment of a bigger story arc which is revealed when each letter is placed in numerical order. Empath owners are encouraged to register their guitar online to connect the story.

If you’d like to order one and be part of something really cool, visit this page on the Prestige website.

Cool Gear Alert: Marshall Studio Series

About 10 years ago Marshall released some adorable itty bitty baby 1-watt amps. They were cool and all, but it was the height of ‘lunchbox amps rule’ and I don’t think they ever really caught on. Part of the reason was probably that the power sections just weren’t the same as the amps they were based on, so they just didn’t feel quite right. Aah but now Marshall has taken that idea, blown it up, crammed appropriate power sections into ’em and created some truly desirable, useful and just plain frickin’ awesome amps in the form of the Studio Series.
The line currently consists of three models: 20-watt variants of the Plexi (SV20), JCM800 (SC20) and Jubilee. Each is available in either head or combo form, are made in the UK and are packed with the tone of their big brothers. They each contain two EL34 power-amp valves and can be switched down from 20 to 5 watts. And another thing I really like about these amps is that the combo versions each have their own cabinet designs rather than just building the different designs into the same chassis.

I love the idea of these amps. I’d be so tempted to run two Plexis side by side to rattle some windows and piss off some neighbours. Or imagine having a Jubilee for crunchy rhythm tones and a JCM800 for leads. Oh the fun you could have!

Rusty Cooley Joins Ormsby Guitars

So, my day job these days is Artist Relations and Social Media guy for the wonderful Ormsby Guitars, and I’ve just got back from NAMM where we had the huge honour of working with Rusty Cooley and Dino Cazares to unveil their new signature models.

Below is the press release I wrote to get the word out ahead of the show (and a whole bunch of pics by the wonderful Beto Branger), but now that I’ve had time to play Rusty’s guitar and get to know it, I thought I’d share my first-hand experience with this incredible instrument. So far this is Custom Shop guitar is the only instrument we’ve made for Rusty, but it’ll be available later this year from both the Custom Shop and the production GTR Series.

It was very important to Rusty that his guitar have unrestricted upper-fret access so not only does the RC-ONE have completely free access up to the 24th fret, but it goes three better: you can get your pinkie finger all the way up to the 27th fret with your thumb still parallel behind your fretting fingers. The neck joint is super-sculpted for easy access, and the upper frets are partially scalloped to give you extra grip on the high notes. And the neck is super thin. Like, ridiculously thin, but very stable.

This particular multiscale design uses the bridge as the neutral point of the fret fan, meaning you can use a Floyd Rose or any other standard tremolo or hardtail bridge while still getting the benefits of multiscale on the low strings. You can shred like crazy on the high strings while the low strings are tight and punchy. It’s really fun playing riffs on this thing.

A few people have asked about the pickup placement and whether the neck pickup really sounds like a neck pickup, being so far back from the traditional neck position. I can confirm that it does indeed sound ‘necky’ but the location gives it a little more definition and more harmonic overtones than a typical neck pickup. I really dig it.

I love the Ormsby guitars I’m currently playing but man, once these come out I’ve gotta get one. Those who are familiar with my playing know that I’m a big Floyd-Rose-and-seven-string guy, and this really is the ultimate guitar for players like me.

ORMSBY GUITARS WELCOMES GUITAR VIRTUOSO RUSTY COOLEY

PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA (January 23, 2019)Ormsby Guitars, a pioneer in multiscale electric guitars, welcomes guitar virtuoso Rusty Cooley to its family of artists.

Cooley is always pushing the boundaries of what the guitar can do, and he needs an instrument that can keep up with his creativity and technique. “A good friend of mine turned me on to Ormsby guitars and I was immediately intrigued,” Cooley says. “The guitar played great and had a very cutting-edge and innovative look. After speaking with Perry I knew this was the right move for me. Finally a guitar builder with the vision to go where no-one else has ever been, and the balls to do it!”

“Rusty and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to pushing the boundaries of guitar design,” luthier Perry Ormsby says. “When we began designing Rusty’s new guitar, we spent hours on Skype discussing everything from upper fret access to headstock shape to the perfect control location, to shared inspirations like Randy Rhoads. This is an instrument that really captures the excitement and passion of both playing and making guitars.”

“I’ve always likened my guitars to high-performance cars like a Lamborghini, but what we’re working with now is clearly alien technology,” Cooley says. 

A Rusty Cooley signature model electric guitar is in the works which not only meets Rusty’s demand for the ultimate in upper fret access; it exceeds it by providing completely unrestricted access all the way up to the 27th fret. This 7-string instrument features 26.5” to 27.5” multiscale, Floyd Rose Pro 7 vibrato, partially-scalloped frets, glow-in-the-dark fretboard inlays and a unique Ormsby-designed, angled locking nut. You can play Rusty’s prototype at the Ormsby NAMM booth, #2841.