Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s most recent Ernie Ball Music Man guitar, the JP13, features a unique DiMarzio pickup set called Illuminator. These pickups are based on his existing signature models – the Crunch Lab and LiquiFire – but with a bit of a twist. As John explains in my new interview with him: “This pickup set is building upon the Crunch Lab and the LiquiFire, so we’re starting there, and most of it – really all of it – is the work of Steve Blucher at DiMarzio. In the case of this one, knowing that the guitar was going to have a preamp in it and everything, he was able to predict what would be necessary to make the guitar be more open-sounding and able to breathe more. He did a fantastic job, and I’ve been working with him so long that I barely have to say much. He just instinctively knows. It’s wonderful.”
Here’s a video of the Illuminators in action in Petrucci’s capable hands… Continue reading
Buddy Blaze is a legend in the guitar world. Y’know Dimebag Darrell’s ‘Dean From Hell’ guitar? It was Buddy who acquired that guitar in its original state, then modded the iconic axe with its Floyd Rose and distinctive look before giving it back to Dime. The Kramer Nightswan signature model for Vivian Campbell? That started life as a Buddy Blaze Shredder. Throw in tech work for the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Great White among many, many more, and Buddy has earned a rightful place in metal and hard rock guitar history. Buddy has been making killer rock and metal guitars for years now (the Shredder, the Makani, the Evanator, the K2), and a seven-string version has been high on fans’ wish lists. Buddy displayed two seven-string prototypes at the the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California this January.
The seven-string’s outline is similar to Blaze’s K2 model, although if I had to liken it to any other guitar it would be a Washburn N4 Nuno Bettencourt signature. Both seem to have slightly undersized outlines, along with H-H pickup configurations and a single volume knob paired with a three-way pickup selector. But the Blaze is still a world away from the Washburn in all but the most general of ways.
Today’s guitar gallery is Mayones. They make plenty of great production line guitars – check out the Regius Elements – PERFECT with fretted or fretless neck, Seymour Duncan pickups and GraphTech Ghost System (Piezo preamp + MIDI Hexpander), or this Legend T - but their customs are a step beyond even that, as you’ll see from their gallery here. Check out the Setius PRO 7 Slime pictured above. It has an ash top, mahogany body with open sound chambers (look close and you’ll spot ‘em), cbony freeboard, custom green acrylic Slime inscription and position markers, DiMarzio Evolution (bridge) + PAF 7 (neck) pickups with Green covers, genuine Floyd Rose 7 bridge and Schaller tuners.
Or how about this Setius Dime Bomb XTrem 36? 36 frets, DiMarzio Evolution 7 humbucker (angled for 6 strings)… very cool.
A lot has happened since I Heart Guitar last interviewed Misha Mansoor. In the space of a mere year, the djent movement – of which Mansoor’s band Periphery is a central focus – has gone from metal curiosity to fully-fledged phenomenon. The Icarus Lives! Ep has further solidified Mansoor’s reputation as one of the most technically gifted metal guitarists of his generation, yet he maintains an open dialog with fans, continuing to post video and audio of random jammage – new gear, Nyan cat, the list goes on. Periphery are heading to Australia in July for the League Of Extraordinary Djentlemen tour with Tesseract, and I Heart Guitar caught up with Misha to talk about what’s happened in the past year.
Hi! We’ve talked before, haven’t we?
Yes we have, about a year ago.
Yeah! I Heart Guitar! I remember that.
Yeah, cool! So the Melbourne stop of your Aussie tour has recently been upgraded to a bigger venue because ticket sales were so good.
Yeah! That was very unexpected. I don’t know how that happened. I don’t know who we paid off to make that happen! But that is more than a pleasant surprise. Australia was one of the most fun tours – it was like a vacation to us. I don’t know what it is, but everyone was so nice and welcoming. And I’m not just saying that. Australians are like some of the nicest people we’ve ever met. It was a treat, and having some of the love come right back to us was really awesome. So seeing that the shows sold out so fast was like icing on the cake for us.
Everyone seems to know who you are and about the whole djent movement now. How are you coping with that? Does it mess with your head? Do you try not to think about it?
I try not to think about it. This whole djent movement thing is very funny and silly to me because it’s appearing out of nowhere, almost parallel to what we’re doing. I think people don’t realise that we’ve just been doing what we’ve been doing. It wasn’t cool to be playing this style of music for the majority of the time that we’ve been writing and playing the music that we do, and we write and play the music that we do because it’s the only thing that we know how to do. It’s just going for it. It’s not like we sat down one day and said “I’m gonna start a new fad or something.” It wasn’t like that at all, it was just doing what we were doing. So it’s just interesting to see how that all happens. It is very surreal. And we focus on it a bit, like we named our tour the League Of Extraordinary Djentlemen. We don’t take it all too seriously, and it’s not all that relevant to me in day to day life or anything. It just is what it is, y’know?
Australia’s MI Amplification has a small stable of top-quality tube amps – currently the Megalith, the Revelation and the Iron Duke. The Megalith is the meanest-looking of the bunch, with understated but decidedly tough-looking cosmetics and an imposing ‘none-more-black’ colour scheme. I tested the Megalith Beta with a matching MI Amplification speaker cabinet with four US-made, 12-inch, 8 Ohm Eminence Wizard speakers in an 18mm void-free plywood enclosure.
The preamp features two independent channels (Clean and Overdrive), each with Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume and Contour controls, as well as a three-position EQ Shift switch. The Contour control works in the phase inverter, and its effect can particularly be heard in the tightness or looseness of the sound and attack. When turned to the left it emphasises fat mids, while increasing travels to the right scoop out the mids and increase the bass.
The EQ Shift switch selects between three voicings – 0 shifts the midrange frequency upwards and adds more low mids as well; 1 offers a more ‘British’ tone, with a more even frequency spread; and 2 is more scooped and ‘American.’ The Clean channel also includes a three-position Attack switch which further adjusts the tightness and response, while the Overdrive channel has a three-way Mode switch for low, medium and high gain voicings.
In the power amp, things get even more interesting. With four tubes in a push-pull configuration, you can install KT100, KT90, KT88, KT77, 6550 (this is what was in the test model), EL34 or 6CA7 power tubes for between 150 and 200 watts of output power. If that’s too much for you though, you can drop the output power to 40% by selecting the low power mode on the Standby switch.