Looks like Dean has some cool new stuff coming out…

Got the Dean mail-out yesterday with info about their NAMM webcast and 35th anniversary celebrations. The graphic at the top of the email looked cool enough – bitchen two-headed eagle thing, NAMM dates, booth number… but then I looked in the bottom left corner, two axes tucked away behind another:

Good lord. It’s a Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine signature with a Peace Sells …But Who’s Buying? graphic, and a version (with a different headstock) of one of Dimebag Darrell’s lesser-known but cooler Dean MLs! In fact, this was the guitar Dime was using in one of the first pics I ever saw of him, in a Randall ad back in the day when Dime went by the name Diamond Darrell publicly instead of Dimebag Darrell. You can see Dime using this axe in this video for “Primal Concrete Sledge,” and that’s what this Dean model is named: the Dime ‘Concrete Sledge’ ML. The original was actually a Washburn neck on a Dean body.

Keep an eye on Dean’s website and I Heart Guitar at NAMM time!

A Snapshot of Dimebag Darrell

Guitar World editor Brad Tolinski has written a very cool account of a snapshot taken with Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul in 2004 during a photo session for a Guitar World cover. I’m pretty sure I’ve got that issue stashed away in the study somewhere in my ridiculously overflowing stash of guitar mags. Aah, Dimebag. We miss ya! Back in high school my band used to play both “This Love” and “Becoming.” And when I was 16 I totally got loaded on masala to Far Beyond Driven while my parents were out of town. Good times. It’s like everyone has a Dimebag story too, whether they met him or not (I did not. Dammit). Anyway, check out the story behind the Guitar World photo here.

METAL 101: Face-melting guitar tones

There’s nothing more satisfying in the world of guitar than chugging out a heavy, doomy riff with the tone of the gods. But there are so many variations of the metal guitar tone – where to start?

Let’s have a look at a trio different styles of metal, and how the music influences the general setup.

CLASSIC METAL Chances are, if you’re playing less distortion-drenched heavy rock, or metal with a bit of a 70s twist, the sound you’re hearing in your head is a Gibson Les Paul and Marshall stack. This kind of rig can be assembled on a budget, but if you spend big money you’ll probably feel better about yourself, and bragging rights are fun.

For this kind of tone, it’s more about the impact of the note than the level of distortion. Try keeping the gain at moderate levels rather than boosting the hell out of it, and maybe jack your guitar strings up a few millimetres. This will add bottom end to the tone and allow you to really dig in. All that extra wallop will make for a crushing, crunchy, natural metal tone. It’s important to let the sound breathe, as this type of music has a lot more open space than later, ‘chuggachugga’ metal, so don’t go overboard on the preamp or pedal distortion. Some is good, a lot is too much. Crank your amp to get that punch and grind.

Read More …

REVIEW: Dean ‘Dean From Hell’ DFH


Dimebag Darrell was one in a billion. A true metal iconoclast who took a little from EVH, a little from Billy Gibbons, a bit of Hetfield, and twisted it around until it was pure Dime. Everything about the dude was custom: for his signature tone he used a graphic EQ and heavy noise gating to get the most out of the Randall half-stack he won in a guitar playing contest. And his main guitar was a heavily customised Dean ML (he actually scratched ‘The Dean From Hell’ into the headstock) which featured new pickups, a Floyd Rose bridge (which required serious routing considering the guitar originally had a tune-o-matic bridge and thru-body stringing) and a custom paint job and further tweaks by legendary luthier Buddy Blaze. Check out the story of Buddy’s role in this legendary guitar in this great Premier Guitar article.

Read More …

REVIEW: Krank Krankenstein +


I’m not sure what’s the coolest thing about Krank amps, exactly. Is it the metalleriffic logo? The faultlessly roadworthy construction? Or is it that these monsters are brutal enough to withstand not only the mighty picking hand of one James Hetfield, but also to stand toe to toe against the crushing metal power that is Dethklok lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf?

IT’S ALIVE!

It’s probably a safe bet that the Krank name wouldn’t be quite so prevalent in the guitar world if they hadn’t secured the endorsement of the late great Dimebag Darrell, just months prior to his tragic death in 2004 (and a huge ‘screw you’ to the asshole currently burning in hell for taking Dime from us – hope you like ass-forkin’, dingus). A long time solid state amp user, Dime was so taken by the sound of the all-valve Krank Revolution that he teamed up with the company to design his own amp, the Krankenstein. That amp has undergone a few changes to become the new Krankenstein +, which takes the basic design that was formulated with Darrell, and refines it as a result of some of the lessons learned over the last few years, during which Krank went from virtually unknown to one of the most prominent amp makers in the metal world. These refinements include a larger transformer and a switch to Sovtek 6550 valves instead of the 5881 valves used in the original Krankenstein.

At the heart of the Krankenstein + is a preamp section with four 12AX7 valves. The Dime channel includes a gain control, a 3 band EQ stack (treble, midrange and bass) and a sweepable midrange control. There are two master volumes, accessed via footswitch, so you can set separate levels for rhythm and lead. Then there’s the Kleen channel, which has a simple three band EQ and a volume control. There are master volume and presence controls so once you’ve got the perfect ratio of rhythm, lead and clean levels, you can tailer the amp’s output to the size and tonal characteristics of the room.

IT’S DIME TIME

The Dime channel has a hell of a lot of gain on tap. Even with the gain set to 1, you’ll get a distortion that’s more than powerful enough for classic Judas Priest/Iron Maiden metal grind. Crank it up to 5 and you’re in death metal territory. Go up to 10 and you might never come back from the abyss. Then again, you might like it there. In fact, it’s probably best to start here. Hehe. My favourite setting was with the tone and gain controls all set around 5, more or less, and with the sweep control at about 11 o’clock, which created a tone reminiscent of John Petrucci’s sound on Dream Theater’s ‘Scenes From A Memory’ album but with the bite and presence of their ‘Train Of Thought’ album. This sound was perfect for metal, and made hard rock more intense and powerful. Of course, scooped-mid Pantera tones are easily achievable, but to write this off as a Dimebag soundalike tool is to do the Krankenstein + a great disservice.

The Kleen channel is extremely clean, and is great for those ‘This Love’ arpeggios. It’s also a perfect platform for getting the most out of distortion pedals, because this sucker will simply not distort on its own. And of course, all that sparkly cleanness and inexhaustible headroom makes it great for adding chorus, delay, reverb and maybe a little compression to get those classic metal clean tones.

STRENGTH BEYOND STRENGTH

If you need more vintage, overdrive-based sounds and fatter, rounder tones this is not the amp for you. Try the Revolution + instead (my review here). If you need gritty clean tones with bite and snarl when you dig in with the pick, you’ll be disappointed in the staunchly clean manifesto of the Kleen channel, but if you need ultra clean sounds for spooky intros, and all-out distorted mayhem for everything else, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better amp to deliver just that, and nothing but, in the Krankenstein +.

LINK: Krank

Here’s a NAMM demo video of the Krankenstein + and Revolution + from Premier Guitar’s excellent YouTube channel:

FEATURE: Metal 101 – face-melting guitar tones

There’s nothing more satisfying in the world of guitar than chugging out a heavy, doomy riff with the tone of the gods. But there are so many variations of the metal guitar tone – where to start?

Let’s have a look at a trio different styles of metal, and how the music influences the general setup.

CLASSIC METAL Chances are, if you’re playing less distortion-drenched heavy rock, or metal with a bit of a 70s twist, the sound you’re hearing in your head is a Gibson Les Paul and Marshall stack. This kind of rig can be assembled on a budget, but if you spend big money you’ll probably feel better about yourself, and bragging rights are fun.

For this kind of tone, it’s more about the impact of the note than the level of distortion. Try keeping the gain at moderate levels rather than boosting the hell out of it, and maybe jack your guitar strings up a few millimetres. This will add bottom end to the tone and allow you to really dig in. All that extra wallop will make for a crushing, crunchy, natural metal tone. It’s important to let the sound breathe, as this type of music has a lot more open space than later, ‘chuggachugga’ metal, so don’t go overboard on the preamp or pedal distortion. Some is good, a lot is too much. Crank your amp to get that punch and grind.

THRASH Good old thrash. Oh that it were 1987 again. The main feature of this sound is that scooped mid, tightly compressed tone perfected on Metallica’s Master of Puppets album. To get this sound, try an EMG active pickup (the ‘81’ model is a good place to start), run it into an amp with the midrange turned down, and try using higher wattage speakers which won’t distort easily – let the distortion come from the amp and/or pedals rather than the speakers so you can maintain the bass frequencies so important to this sound. To get the perfect level of distortion, start with turning your gain all the way up, start chugging out on the open E string, and slowly dial the gain back until you find the sweet spot where there’s still a good amount of edge, but that fizzy sizzle between notes disappears. Also, try running rackmounted compressor and BBE Sonic Maximizer units in the amp’s effects loop to get that superior chug.

The technique is just as important as the gear for a classic thrash sound, so don’t be shy to pile on the palm muting, and pepper your playing with lots of little grace notes, slides, percussive chugs, and other fun and demonic stuff like that.

DIMEBAG The late great Dime deserves a section all by himself. His distinctive tone was the end result of a whole bunch of elements but aspects of his sound can be achieved with relative ease and a handful of bucks. 

Dime favoured Bill Lawrence pickups early in his career before moving on to Seymour Duncan, with whom he designed the Dimebucker pickup. If you don’t have access to either of these, any high output pickup will do, or you can try to cheat and raise your pickup as close to the strings as you can without it getting in the way of the string’s vibration.

True Dime tone can only be achieved by scooping the heck out of the midrange. The best way to do this is with a graphic EQ in the effects loop, set for a harsh “V” curve. Next, run the EQ into a noise gate to tighten up those power metal stop-start rhythms. Again, high efficiency speakers will help transfer more of that glorious low end. Dime always had his tech turn off the noise gate when he played a solo, so keep that in mind so you don’t end up chopping off the sustain of longer notes while you’re wailing away.

[geo-out=”Australia” note=””]

CLICK HERE to buy the EMG EMG-ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 humbucker set from Guitar Center for $208.


CLICK HERE to buy the Seymour Duncan SH-13 Dimebucker pickup from Guitar Center for $94.99.

CLICK HERE to buy the BBE Sonic Stomp Sonic Maximizer pedal from Guitar Center for $99.99.

This article is an expanded version of a column which originally ran in Mixdown magazine.[/geo-out]

NAMM 2009: More Dean Dime details

More details have emerged on Blabbermouth.net about Dean’s new Dimebag amp, designed with Dime’s guitar tech, Grady Champion.

Here are some excerpts.

Commented Dean Guitars CEO Elliott Rubinson: “We’ve been wanting to do an amp that replicates Dime’s tone for many, many years. I met Grady about a year or two ago, and Grady was Dime’s guitar tech for 13 years — all through the PANTERA years, all through the time that Dime developed his sound. The key is, he had the ears — he probably knew Dime’s sound better than Dime knew it, because he dialed it in every night. So we found the engineer who designed Dime’s original amplifier 13 years ago, brought him out of retirement, had him build us an amp, had Grady come over. Grady listened to it, and with a couple of tweaks, I think this thing is just dead nuts on, it’s Dime’s sound.”

Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) on the Dean Dime amps:

100W Head – List $530.00 / MAP $349.99
412 Cabs (straight or slant) – List $530.00 / MAP $349.99
100W Combo – List $780.00 / MAP $499.99

Head over to Blabbermouth for the full story.

NEWS: Dean Buddy Blaze ML

Dean Guitars and guitar builder/designer Buddy Blaze have just announced yet another variation on the Dean ML theme. Blaze is the guy who customised Dimebag Darrell’s famous Dean From Hell. The Dean/Buddy Blaze ML has a pimped out chrome flame graphic, and features a top mounted Floyd Rose and custom wound Dean DMT pickups.

The guitar has custom ascending flame mother of pearl inlays on a 2 octave fretboard, attached to a pitched neck featuring Dean’s V carve. It’s interesting to note the bridge/middle/no-neck pickup configuration, something of a signature for Blaze, who is pictured on his website with a similar guitar, in the company of a very young and innocent looking Dimebag Darrell, back when he was known as Diamond Darrell.

Dean CEO Elliott Rubinson says “We have the highest regard for Buddy’s talents and after sitting down and discussing what we both envisioned for this guitar we realized that the new Dean/Blaze ML would incorporate the features that many players would find very appealing and a departure from what we are currently producing.”

Blaze says “My love for the Dean ML has endured over 25 years, the chance to create a signature model ML with Dean Guitars is a dream come true! After meeting with Elliott at Dean headquarters in Tampa earlier this year, I was impressed with his depth of guitar knowledge and his love of the ML. I asked that we do a complete design, not just a graphic, and he allowed me to reinvent my favourite Dean model! Modern era Dean guitars are 2nd to none in quality and value and I have no hesitation adding my name to this model. I insisted on top quality components and rigid adherence to my design elements. Elliott and the Dean team delivered! The Dean DMT pickups just scream tone!!!”