One of my favourite stops during NAMM was at the Performance Guitar booth in Hall E. I’ve heard of Performance for many years and I know that both Frank Zappa and Steve Vai were early fans of the company, but apart from playing one for about 30 seconds at a guitar clinic by Aussie shredder Joe Cool when I was about 16, I’d never seen one close up. A recent Premier Guitar feature on the company piqued my interest further, so when I saw them at NAMM I zoomed right over to say hello and check out their gear.
I knew about Performance’s guitars, but let’s face it, their guitars come with a price tag which is as high as their quality level (ie: you get what you pay for, which is a good thing!). But what really surprised me was their pedal mods under their TTL (Top of the Line) brand. At NAMM, Performance had set up a rig where you could A/B the modified and unmodified versions of various pedals. I was particularly taken by their Boss DS-1 mod. Performance’s website says:
What has been Modified and Improved:
The input impedance has been changed to the tube amp standard of 1MΩ. Improvements have been made in the area of picking nuance, quicker response time, and overall sound definition. The even harmonics, especially the second harmonic, have been emphasized to recreate the sound of a fully-driven tube pre-amp. This resulted in the thin sound becoming eliminated completely and the overall sound becoming much richer. The gain factor has been re-evaluated at various frequencies to achieve great distortion, even with a single coil pick up. With respect to the original design principle, no switches were added and overall modifications were kept simple.
The company makes a couple of its own pedals too, including the FZ-85, a filter modulation pedal designed in collaboration with Frank Zappa in the 80s. The site says:
FZ-85( F.Zappa Filter Modulation)
There’s an early ’80, Frank Zappa wanted special his own sound. Frank and we collaborate each other to make special effect for Frank. It control and emphasize the particular frequency. This effects pedal has 3 mode select SW. There are low pass mode, band pass mode, high pass mode.
*Low pass mode position cut the higher frequency above the frequency you set up.
*Band pass mode position cut the frequency without the frequency you set up.
*High pass mode position cut the lower frequency below the frequency you set up.
And then you can set up the frequency that you want to make it peak point with “F” control knob. And also you can set up the resonant peak with “Q” control knob. For example, you can have the sound like an eccentric “Wah Wah” with moving the “F” control knob. This effects pedal is different from other effects pedals. Because this effects pedal boosts up the inner voltage. That’s why this effects pedal can get wider dynamic range and works more extremely. You can’t find any other effects pedal like this. You can get this sound only from this one. Frank couldn’t make his sound without this effects pedal. Now this effects is used by Dweezil Zappa, Steve-Vai, Warren-Cuccurullo and many more musicians and they Loved it!!
I was also blown away by the Snake Skin guitar (autographed by Warren DeMartini of RATT) which I used when testing out the pedals. It was very responsive to pick attack and despite the hard rock vibe of the snake skin finish I found it great for bluesier, Hendrixy riffing.
Here are my photos from the Performance booth. Check out that Vai-style flame guitar!
Remember my recent post about the new stuff from Jim Dunlop/MXR? Well here’s a little more info direct from the company themselves, including some more info about the awesome new Way Huge Aqua-Puss MkII analog delay. John Mayer’s all about this pedal and it sounded great at NAMM. Before we get to the Dunlop info, check out this video from Premier Guitar at NAMM, which includes Uli Jon Roth giving the Aqua-Puss a run-through at the booth.
The Aqua-Puss MkII is making its triumphant return, ready to bathe a tone thirsty world in gorgeously smooth delay. One twist of the Delay knob takes you from a tight 20ms delay to a cavernous 300ms. The Feedback control regulates delay duration and intensity. But watch out. Extreme settings can send the Aqua-Puss MkII into self-oscillating psycho-freak-out mode! Meanwhile the Blend knob lets you set a balance between dry and delayed signal—from mild to wild. The Aqua-Puss MkII delivers all the spooky mystery of vintage analog delay and tape-based echo, with none of the hassle of creaky, ancient gear.
Control your volume levels with exacting precision with the new Dunlop Volume Pedal. The Dunlop Volume Pedal features a patent pending Steel Band Drive that creates a low-friction environment with no strings or ratchet gears attached – allowing you to achieve thick, luscious volume swells in one smooth motion without the fear of breaking. With fully adjustable tension and high-quality low-noise electronic components, the sound is as clean and transparent as the feel is smooth. Housed in a lightweight but durable aluminum chassis, the pedal features a rocker pedal that is slightly curved for ergonomics, with an aggressive non-slip tread that keeps your foot firmly in place. Great features, smooth, hassle-free performance and crystalline tone make the Dunlop Volume Pedal the smart choice for every musician.
Heavy Core® Strings are uniquely designed for the player that enjoys higher tension at standard tuning or normal tension at dropped tunings. Our proprietary core-to-wrap ratios are meticulously calculated so the player can really “dig in” while retaining sound fundamentals. Heavy Core® Strings, like all Dunlop Strings are manufactured with the highest quality of materials and engineered for great tone, balance, and feel.
Head over here to read the whole story, but here are some snippets:
The Eleven Rack is a rackmountable recording and signal processing system that does the DSP work for you so that your computer doesn’t have to. That means that you can use the unit live onstage and recreate the exact tones you recorded with, without a computer attached to it. However, there are advantages to using Eleven Rack with a computer — more on that in a bit. Eleven Rack has an LED screen on its front panel that allows you to do everything you’re used to doing with the Eleven package of plug-in effects. Eleven involves a connoisseur’s collection of vintage and modern amps, cabs and effects, while giving you far-reaching signal path and internal component tweaking ability.
One of the coolest things about Eleven Rack’s eight simultaneous recording capable inputs is the True-Z auto-impedance matching input that recreates the electronic connection between your guitar and an amp or effect. This isn’t done with digital processing, either—analog components are used to detect and adjust the input impedance from your guitar’s pickups and adjust the signal for a proper match for the particular amp/effects you’re using within Eleven. The result: you get the nuances you’re used to—both in feel and sound. With the ability to record both dry and processed signals, your reamping options are endless—you can even reamp later without doing the cable patching tango.
And here’s Premier Guitar’s video demo.
The tracks are:
BBW #2 mix1 Joe steps out in this ultra-funky jam infused with healthy doses of Big Bad Wah and Time Machine delay.
BBW #3 mix The track that started it all! This is the soundtrack to our Big Bad Wah demonstration video—an amazing, high energy performance featuring the Big Bad Wah.
BBW DDL JAM mix Trip out with this drum and bass-style performance featuring the Time Machine delay in its time-bending element.
BBW WAH JAM mix An alternate take of the BBW DDL JAM mix featuring the Big Bad Wah.
BBW WAH VERB JAM mix A remix of the BBW WAH JAM mix featuring the Time Machine delay used as a reverb.
Musician’s Friend shopping links:
Vox Joe Satriani Time Machine Delay Guitar Effects Pedal
Vox Joe Satriani Satchurator Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal Red Metallic
Vox Joe Satriani Satchurator Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal Red Metallic
Save Up to 90% on Almost Everything at MusiciansFriend.com (exp: 8/31)
I’d like to welcome a new site sponsor, Atlantic Quality Design, makers of the ZEROCAP Ultra Low Capacitance Guitar Cable. My curiosity about these cables was piqued by a recent review in Premier Guitar. Here’s some info about the ZEROCAP Ultra Low Capacitance Guitar Cable.
The ZEROCAP ultra low capacitance cable lets you hear all the frequencies being produced by your guitar. Cable capacitance kills the high frequencies from your pickups, resulting in a muddy sound. The ZEROCAP cable makes your guitar think it is driving about one foot of cable, and the sound opens up in an amazing way.
The ZEROCAP consists of quality custom manufactured guitar cable and fully shielded metal plugs, plus special interface electronics housed in a tiny enclosure toward one end of the cable. Connect the ZEROCAP cable between your guitar and amp, turn it on, and you are ready to rock! It’s battery powered so there are no power supplies to plug in.
What does the ZEROCAP cable do?
The ZEROCAP cable reduces the cable capacitance to near zero, typically 50 picofarads (in any length), which is effectively the capacitance of the connectors. Even the best guitar cables have 15 to 30 picofarads of capacitance per foot, amounting to a tone killing 650 picofarads for a 20 foot cable.
The ZEROCAP cable lets you use long guitar cables with little high frequency loss.
The ZEROCAP cable eliminates the “tone suck” when you roll back the guitar’s volume pot.
The lack of capacitance eliminates the midrange gain boost caused by plain guitar cables.
The pickup is still connected with a straight through wired connection from the guitar to the amplifier.
The ZEROCAP cable does NOT buffer or amplify your guitar’s signal with inline electronics.
The ZEROCAP cable does NOT change the output impedance of your guitar.
With the ZEROCAP cable, the guitar’s sound is brighter and flatter. You hear the actual pickup sound, unfiltered by the cable, and you get more of the good sound that has been eaten by cable capacitance until now.
ZEROCAP cables sound the same regardless of length? Yes. There is no passive ‘premium’ cable that can make that claim. Say you buy a 10 foot ‘premium’ cable for club use, and a 20 foot cable of the same brand for large stage use. The longer cable will have double the cable capacitance and will further murder your tone. All ZEROCAP cables have the same sound, regardless of length, as if they were not there!
What about all the other cables in my rig? If you have a pedalboard with cables connecting your pedals, make sure they are as short as possible. There are stomp box connection cables that are only inches long, or less. These have very low capacitance. Understand that stomp boxes all have capacitance as well, so don’t insert any more effects than you need in the signal path. And when a stomp box is switched out using “true bypass,” the capacitance of the cable and box next in line adds to all the capacitance before it. (This is a disadvantage of true bypass pedals!) So use the shortest cables possible. You can purchase a short ZEROCAP cable to connect your pedalboard to your amplifier. Here’s a diagram to help you decide where to use ZEROCAP cables. Basically, any cable after a buffered or powered pedal can be a less expensive plain cable.
But the ZEROCAP sounds different. Yes, it does! The more even sound and lack of artificial midrange boost means you may have to adjust your amplifier’s tone controls. When you want that extra high end, it’s there for you, open and not nasal. Think of it: You have been playing through 500 picofarads of choking cable capacitance since you were a kid. Not any more!
You’ll notice that the volume control no longer kills the high frequencies in your guitar’s tone. Previously, the resistance of the volume control conspired with the cable capacitance to ruin your tone at lower volumes. Since the cable capacitance is now gone, that does not happen and your guitar shimmers as much on 5 as it does on 10.
To understand how cable capacitance affects tone, read our article.
Whoa! Check out this Premier Guitar video about the G&L Rampage Jerry Cantrell model. The guitar will be available in Tribute and US-made versions in 2010.
Look at the specs of the Tribute version.
Kahler 4300 bridge
Alnico 5 humbucker designed with Jerry
Soft maple body
The US-made version will have a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker and an upgraded Kahler bridge.
Last week I wrote about how I Heart Guitar was mentioned in the relaunch issue of Guitar Edge magazine. At the time I posted a link to the article on the Guitar Edge website (you can see that version of the article here).
Well now the entire magazine is available in PDF form, Premier Guitar-style, so you can see the article exactly as it looks on the page. Go here to see the article. Make sure you check out the rest of the magazine too! And if you’re not into the whole ‘looking at magazines online’ thing, subscribe to get the real-life printed version on actual paper!
The NB100 head is still pretty hard to come by at the moment but I can’t wait to try it out one of these days. Here are the specs of the NB100 head from the Randall site:
Designed with Nuno Bettencourt and partner Peter King, the new NBKing100 is the perfect combination of classic regal looks and modern circuitry to reproduce the legendary percussive tone of Nuno Bettencourt. A classic 2-channel amp with 3 modes of operation, you can instantly select via the MIDI channel switching, a sparkling CLEAN channel with the perfect amount of drive, an OVERDRIVE for any vintage to modern high gain rhythm tones and a SOLO mode for unparalleled harmonic sustain. The rear panel features include MIDI in/thru, Power tube bias section and Series Effect loop.
CH. 1: Clean Mode
CH. 2: Overdrive Mode
CH. 3: Solo Mode
All Tube • (4) E34L Tubes
VU Output Meter
CLICK HERE to buy the Randall Nuno Bettencourt NBKing100 100W Tube Guitar Amp Head from Musician’s Friend.
CLICK HERE to buy the Randall Nuno Bettencourt NB412 100W 4×12 Guitar Speaker Cabinet from Musician’s Friend.
CLICK HERE to follow Premier Guitar on Twitter.
Yet another reason Premier Guitar rocks my world!
Hal Leonard and Premier Guitar Team Up to Re-Launch Guitar Edge Magazine as Multimedia Network
June 11, 2009
Hal Leonard Corporation and Premier Guitar have announced the formation of Guitar Edge LLC, a new joint venture company created to expand and enhance Guitar Edge magazine as a multimedia resource for guitarists. The announcement came from Jeff Schroedl, VP of pop and standard publications for Hal Leonard, and Premier Guitar CEO Peter Sprague. The more robust Guitar Edge will make its debut with the September 2009 issue.
Published by Hal Leonard, Guitar Edge burst onto the scene in July/August 2006 with the telling tagline “Less Talk, More Tab.” The magazine specializes in providing accurate transcriptions in standard notation and guitar tablature for the hottest songs in all styles, along with artist features, performance tips, and gear information. Guitar Edge will be published monthly in a complete digital edition — which will feature viewable tab for ten free songs — and will continue as a bimonthly print magazine.
The new Guitar Edge will attract readers via the four-platform multimedia model pioneered by Premier Guitar. This forward-thinking strategy — featuring a print magazine supported by a free online magazine, website and weekly e-newsletter — has gained Premier Guitar a devoted and deeply engaged international audience. Together, Guitar Edge and Premier Guitar expect to reach the largest audience of guitarists of all ages and abilities, serving both companies’ enormous number of readers and customers.
Guitar Edge will benefit from collaboration between the editorial staffs at both companies. Naturally suited for multimedia distribution, the magazine’s exclusive content will reach a greatly increased audience via Premier Guitar’s digital distribution resources, and Hal Leonard’s unparalleled distribution network of music retailers and consumers. Current subscribers to both magazines can opt-in for the new, free-of-charge Guitar Edge digital content, as can any interested guitarist who responds to offers to do so.
Guitar Edge’s digital platforms will contain interactive links to Hal Leonard sister sites such as GuitarInstructor.com, the company’s highly successful website for downloading guitar tab, lessons, and video instruction.
Sprague comments on the deal, “We are very honored that Hal Leonard has chosen Premier Guitar as their partner in developing this exciting new multimedia resource for guitarists. There are tremendous synergies between our businesses, and we look forward to extending our collaborations to a host of new initiatives.”
Schroedl says, “With its editorial focus on gear, Premier Guitar reaches players at the top of the pyramid in terms of playing experience, while Guitar Edge skews toward a younger demographic, so the magazines are truly complementary. Premier has created an outstanding model for multimedia distribution of content. We’re confident that Guitar Edge will find great success in emulating the Premier Guitar delivery models.”
Schroedl adds, “We are also pleased to provide an additional revenue stream for our publishing partners. Publishers will be paid based on page views whenever readers of the magazines view the free tab songs online.”
For more information, visit their web site at http://www.halleonard.com/.
Follow I Heart Guitar on Twitter! For more on Twitter, check out this great article on Jason Shadrick’s guitar blog, another Twitterer mentioned in the Premier Guitar story.
As many of you probably know I write for a few magazines here in Australia – Mixdown (where I also have an instructional column called Unleash Your Inner Rock God), Australian Guitar, and Australian Musician Magazine – but this is the first time I’ve seen my name in an American magazine, unless you count the time Guitar Player printed my letter about a million years ago, hehe. So I’m hella excited. Thanks Premier Guitar!
Premier Guitar’s email newsletter sums up the new issue perfectly, so here’s what they said:
Welcome to the May issue of Premier Guitar! We’re bringing you a genuine ‘plexi fest’ this month with our exploration of that classic Marshall JTM45 tone via an original (1965!), a reissue and five boutique brands that pay tribute in their own way. We also have interviews with Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and jazz maestro Martin Taylor. The issue is also packed with a tone-dripping array of reviews—Louder & More, Genz Benz, Michael Tobias Designs and Xotic, to name a few. Plus, some of you have asked us to throw a little more of the less expensive gear into the mix so we’re responding with reviews of an Atomic Guitar Works STD1 ($895), a Danelectro Dead On ’67 ($399), an Eastwood Airline Tuxedo ($849) and Fender’s Road Worn Series ($949).