The Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 is out now!


Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 Showcases Evolved, Full Sound to Compliment Root’s Iconic Heavy Playing Style

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (April 21, 2020)— Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) today released the Jim Root Jazzmaster V4, the latest iteration of Fender’s collaboration with the Slipknot guitarist. The newest model in Fender’s Artist Signature Series captures the eclectic, fast and aggressive yet fluid playing style Root is known for. Now, with the Jim Root Jazzmaster V4, Jim can continue to entertain and inspire countless fans with a guitar that serves both metal and classic rock players at an accessible price point.

“A new decade brings a new opportunity to collaborate with Jim Root and work closely with him to materialise yet another of his artistic visions,” said Justin Norvell, EVP Fender Products. “From the new active EMG pickups to the all-new cosmetic treatment, this model, like its predecessors, offers a very different kind of playing experience for Jim Root fans, Slipknot fans, metal and rock fans who want a guitar spec’d for their playing style but with Fender looks.”

After receiving his first guitar at the age of 14, Root’s style continued to evolve over time. Throughout his 20-year relationship with Fender, Root has expressed his wide variety of inspirations with collaborations on a Telecaster®, Stratocaster®, and Jazzmaster. For heavy, molten metal riffage, the Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 showcases crushing detuned tone with a bold new look, providing players an opportunity to play heavier music while still rocking an iconic Fender guitar. Jim wanted to ensure that he had a accessibly-priced model for his fans that allowed players to boost the volume, cut through, and be heard. Over the course of a multi-decade relationship, Fender worked closely with the towering Slipknot guitarist to create a brutal-sounding signature Jazzmaster model that complements his heavy playing style. With only the crucial essentials on the guitar, the volume control and 3-way switch, this model brings a sleek and striking new look to Jim’s arsenal of tones.

“The Jazzmaster V4 is kind of like an evolution,” Root said. “It is so well balanced and feels so good to play on stage. It is all I want to play right now. It’s all about attitude—taking [a guitar] and making it your own. So much attitude can come from a vibe or a feeling or a notion – that vibe with this instrument is what got me to love guitars.”

New features inspired by the legendary guitarist’s preferences include: Jim Root signature active EMG pickups, a hardtail bridge and a sleek single knob volume control with a 3-way switch for deceptively simple access to crushing tones. The white neck binding with white pearloid block inlays reflects in dark light so players never have to be worried about losing their place. This all new model combines the resonance, authentic and iconic Jim Root tones all while looking sleek and minimalistic.

In true tradition, the Fender’s Artist Signature Series honors iconic musicians through product progression and storytelling, creating instruments inspired by the unique specifications of the world’s greatest guitarists and bassists. Learn more about the Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 and access product descriptions here; images can be found here.   

Learn more about Slipknot guitarist Jim Root as he sits down with Matt Sweeney and talks through his new signature Jazzmaster – featuring a Polar White satin finish, stripped-down controls and signature Daemonum open-coil EMG active pickups for his crushing metal sound in “Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 | Artist Signature Series | Fender”. For additional information on new Fender products or to find a retail partner near you, visit Join the conversation on social media by following @Fender.

For heavy, molten metal riffage, the Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 delivers crushing detuned tone with a bold new look. We worked closely with the towering Slipknot guitarist to create a brutal-sounding signature Jazzmaster model that complements his heavy playing style—right down to its signature Daemonum™ open-coil EMG® active pickups, shred-worthy 12” radius fingerboard with jumbo frets, sparse control layout and more. The Jim Root Jazzmaster V4 dispenses with frivolities such as a vibrato, rhythm circuit, tone control – only crucial essentials remain: a volume control, a 3-way switch and a hardtail bridge. Featuring a mahogany slab body for crushing lows and mids, brilliant Polar White satin finish, maple neck with bound ebony fingerboard and pearloid block inlays, this devastating machine delivers heavy tones with a striking new look

Since 1946, Fender has revolutionized music and culture as one of the world’s leading musical instrument manufacturers, marketers and distributors. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC)–whose portfolio of brands includes Fender®, Squier®, Gretsch® guitars, Jackson®, EVH® and Charvel®–follows a player-centric approach to crafting the highest-quality instruments and digital experiences across genres. Since 2015, Fender’s digital arm has introduced a new ecosystem of products and interactive experiences to accompany players at every stage of their musical journey. This includes innovative apps and learning platforms designed to complement Fender guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals, accessories and pro-audio gear, and inspire players through an immersive musical experience. FMIC is dedicated to unlocking the power of musical expression for all players, from beginners to history-making legends.

NAMM 2020: Jackson released David Ellefson 30th Anniversary ‘Rust In Peace’ bass

Megadeth’s David Ellefson used a very special 5-string Jackson Concert Bass on the tour for 1990’s thrash classic Rust In Peace. David has a lot of great Jackson models that really suit who he is as a player now, but a lot of fans have an emotional connection to that particular 5-string Concert Bass. Well good news! From Jackson:

“The poplar body features ergonomic contours that provide the perfect platform for launching a musical assault—the upper contour provides a comfortably stable anchor for pick or fingerstyle playing alike while the lower contour provides perfect balance when propped on a knee for monitor stands. The through-body quartersawn maple neck features a scarf joint and graphite reinforcement rods that protect against extreme environmental and climate changes. Built for highly technical lightspeed playing, the 12”-16” compound radius laurel fingerboard flattens out as you move up the neck for increased playing comfort and speedy articulation.

Earth-shaking EMG® P and EMG J pickups in the neck and bridge positions provide plenty of girth and cut. Dial in your thunderous bass tone with a three-way toggle switch, single volume control and two-band EQ to boost treble and bass. The Jackson HiMass™ 5-string bridge sharpens your notes’ attack for extra punch and clarity, granting enhanced sustain without significantly altering the bass’ fundamental tone.”

More info here. And you can see that original bass at the very beginning of this here video:

The Ultimate Guitar Pickup Guide

Pickup Basics

The simplest way to think of a pickup is “like a microphone for an electric guitar.” And have you ever noticed that if you pluck the string close to the bridge the note will sound bright and twangy, whereas if you pick right down by the neck you’ll hear a softer, rounder tone? Well if you place a pickup near the bridge of the guitar it will sound sharper and brighter compared to one that’s placed near the neck. This is why the majority of guitars have more than one pickup: so you can select different sounds from the full and warm to the thin and snappy.

From a mechanical perspective, a pickup is simply a magnet with a bunch of copper wire wrapped around it. The magnet creates its own magnetic field. The vibration of the metallic guitar string interacts with that field, and the changing magnetic flux induces a voltage in the coil of wire. This then gets sent to your amp where it’s turned into music. There are two main types of pickups: single coils and humbuckers. Let’s have a look at each, and what they do.

Single Coils
Single coils (like you might find on a Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster) have a clear, twangy sound, and they tend to sound really great through a clean, un-distorted amp setting. This type of single coil pickup is made by wrapping wire around six ‘slug’ pole pieces (which are held in place by flatwork to create a bobbin). A cover is usually placed over the pickup to protect the wire.

But single coils have a drawback: you’ll notice a bit of background buzz which is just part and parcel of the single coil experience. Some players swear by this sound because it’s a link back to guitar’s vintage past. Others want to get rid of it so they can only have the pristine single coil sound minus the hum. Various noiseless single coils are available from companies like Fender, DiMarzio, Kinman and Seymour Duncan. Single coils are great for country, blues, indie and alternative styles.

The idea behind humbuckers is to use two separate pickup coils, each wound in a different direction, over a central magnet. The hum is cancelled out by the two different coil directions, and the overall tone is generally thicker, louder, warmer and fuller than single coils. Humbuckers are great for heavier styles like classic rock, hard rock and metal, and they can add some toughness and raunch to blues too. And the softer, smoother tone of humbuckers makes them great for jazz as well, especially if you use a humbucker in the neck position on a big hollow-body guitar.

You can use single coils and humbuckers in the same guitar. Popular configurations include a humbucker in the bridge position with single coils in the middle and neck spots; humbuckers in the bridge and neck with a single in the middle; or a single coil in the bridge position of a Telecaster with a humbucker in the neck position.

But What Are P90s?
The P90 is a single coil too, but it’s larger than a Stratocaster-style single coil, and its sound is edgier, rattier and hotter. It’s a great choice for alternative, punk, country and blues, goes great with slide guitar, and is even suited to styles like stoner rock and vintage metal: flip to the neck pickup of a P90-loaded guitar and play Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” to see what I mean. Because they’re single coils, P90s are prone to the same noise issues. And just like other single coils, various companies also make noiseless versions to counteract this.

Active vs Passive Pickups
A passive pickup is the most common kind (to the point where people rarely even use the term ‘passive pickup’ unless they’re comparing it to an active pickup: they simply say ‘pickup’). An active pickup is usually wound much weaker than a passive pickup, but its signal is amplified from within the pickup itself, usually via an internal 9 volt battery. There are several advantages: the output is usually more powerful; there’s often more sustain; and the sound will stay intact even if you use a really long cable (whereas the signal of a passive pickup will degrade more and more the longer your cable is). Active pickups are available in humbucker and single coil versions, and they’re both very quiet. You’ll hear active EMG single coil pickups in the hands of Mr. David Gilmour in the 80s and 90s – Pink Floyd’s P.U.L.S.E live album and DVD is essentially one huge catalog of great active single coil sounds – while companies like EMG and Seymour Duncan make plenty of humbucker models that are great for heavier styes, where the power and clarity of an active pickup come in really handy during high-speed runs and palm-muted chugs. It’s generally very difficult to install active and passive pickups in the same guitar, so usually you’ll find one kind or the other, not both. If you’d like active and passive sounds in the same guitar, check out Fishman’s Fluence series, active pickups which offer several selectable sounds, usually a more active-voiced and a more passive-voiced one. I particularly like the Devin Townsend signature set.

Whether you choose single coil or humbucker, active or passive, the size, type and configuration of magnet/s that you use in your pickup all have a big influence on the sound that the pickup produces, as does the type of wire: how thick it is, how it’s insulated, how it’s wound around the bobbins, how many turns of wire. For instance, if you add more turns of wire then the pickup will have a louder perceived output, but will lose treble frequencies. You can counteract this by using a stronger magnet instead of extra turns, or you can raise the height of adjustable pole pieces to get more treble back into your sound. And the closer the pickup is to the string, the louder the pickup will seem to be. Raise it too close to the strings though, and the pickup’s magnetic field will negatively affect the vibration of the string, leading to weird out-of-tune notes and/or a weird ‘wub-wub-wub’ oscillating overtone. And adjustable pole pieces can also help you to refine the magnetic field and its interaction with different strings. Is the B string a little quiet compared to the rest, especially when you’re running a clean tone? Well then, raise its pole piece a little to boost the height of the magnetic field in that section of pickup. Want less bass and output but more treble? Lower the pickup a little and raise the pole pieces. Easy! But let’s backtrack a bit…

All of these factors influence the sound of a pickup, but one of the easiest to quantify is the magnet type. There are a few magnets that are typically used in pickups, and by knowing a little bit about them you can more easily figure out which one might work for the sound you’re going for. We’ll start by looking at Alnico, an iron alloy which includes iron (of course), aluminuim (Al), nickel (Ni) and cobalt (Co), as well as a little bit of copper (Cu). (I guess when they were naming it they decided against Fealnicocu). The three most commonly used Alnico magnets for pickups are Alnico II, Alnico III and Alnico V, although Alnico VIII is also sometimes used. Let’s look a few of the most popular magnets, with a focus on how they apply to humbuckers.

Alnico III
It may be a little counterintuitive, but Alnico III is the weakest of the magnets used in pickups because it has no cobalt. But I guess it’d be confusing to just call it ‘Alni.’ It has the lowest magnetic pull, which means the strings are less influenced by the pickup’s magnetic pull, and this makes it a popular choice for neck pickups. It’s a little more ‘confident’ in its tone compared to Alnico II, although both exhibit a similar ‘softness.’ Many players like to balance an Alnico III neck pickup against an Alnico II in the bridge.

Alnico II
Alnico II is associated with the original PAF humbucker, and it’s still used today in a great number of pickups. The tone is relatively soft and clear, often described as sweet, with a slight rounding off of the more brittle treble frequencies. It can sound very musical and mellifluous with a clean tone, and rather ’singing’ with overdrive. If you’re running a hotter, more distorted tone you may find that Alnico II humbuckers tend to provide excellent note separation for complex chords.

Alnico V
Alnico V pickups usually sound hotter and more ‘edgy’ than their Alnico II and III counterparts. They’re great at more aggressive tones and in situations where you need a little more ‘unity’ in your chords: notes may knit together a little more tightly when you’re chording through heavy distortion with an Alnico V pickup. It’s also a little warmer in the midrange, which makes it great for lead guitar.

Ceramic magnets are also used in some pickups. Their sound is usually characterised as more ‘modern,’ with a tighter low end, more ‘cut’ and higher output compared to Alnico magnets. You can usually bet that a ceramic-loaded guitar will sound pretty powerful, maybe with a little more bold midrange, especially in the upper mids. Some early ceramic pickups sounded rather flat and pinched, but as pickup companies further explored the capabilities of the magnets they discovered how to really get the most out of the tone.

Alnico VIII
Alnico VIII is probably the least common magnet type, but many players consider it to be an undiscovered gem, It gives you the power of a ceramic magnet but with the warmth and harmonics of an Alnico V, and is a great way of preserving some of the woodiness of your guitar tone while still hitting your amp with plenty of output.

What’s a split coil/coil tap?
Many players confuse ‘coil split’ and ‘coil tap,’ using the terms interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different. A coil split involves a humbucker pickup whose wiring lets you essentially switch one coil off, thereby turning it into a single coil. Many players like having the tonal flexibility of having single coil and humbucker tones available in the same guitar. Unless you’re buying an intentionally vintage-styled pickup, most pickups these days come with four conductor wiring as stock. That usually entails four separate wires (a ‘start’ and ‘end’ for each pickup coil), plus a ground wire. You can have your guitar wired so you can turn off one coil via a push-pull switch built into a volume control, or you can use a separate toggle switch, or (depending on the type of switch you’re using) special custom wiring. You will get single coil hum when using single coil mode, but not humbucker mode.

A coil tap is different: it involves a single coil pickup which is made with an extra wire coming off it to give you two different levels of output. The full output and a lower ‘tapped’ output. Again you can use a push-pull knob, a toggle switch or special wiring to engage the tapped mode. The benefit here is that you can have a ‘full-power’ sound for solos and huge riffs, then flip to tapped mode to reduce the output, distortion and volume for quieter moments when you need to drift into the background a bit.

Acoustic Guitar pickups
Amplifying an acoustic guitar can be tricky. Part of what makes an acoustic guitar great – perhaps the most major part, really – is the resonance that occurs within the body itself. But the most popular type of pickup for acoustic guitars is the piezo element, which lives underneath the bridge saddle and translates the vibration of the strings through the bridge into amplifiable sound. But this process gives you a distinctive harsh ‘quack’ tone which you then need to either live with or eliminate. There are plenty of preamps and outboard devices out there which superimpose ‘profiles’ of different acoustic guitars onto your piezo sound, thickening it up and greatly reducing the synthetic effect of the piezo pickup.

There are a few other options though (other than simply micing your acoustic guitar up with a microphone or two, which can be great in the studio but problematic in a live environment). One is a magnetic pickup, much like those used for electric guitars. These still pick up the sound of the strings themselves, rather than the strings as resonated through the body, but the effect is much warmer and less harsh and brittle than a typical unprocessed piezo element. The other option is an internal microphone system, which will give you a much more accurate reading of the actual sound of your guitar. There are some units which combine several of these options – for instance an internal mic for the resonance and a magnetic or piezo pickup for the detail, with the ability to blend between them. Some of these systems come as stock equipment in the guitar when you buy it, while others will need to be installed, either by yourself or a competent technician (depending on complexity of the job: some simply pop in while others need a little bit more work).

Technical Terms

Pole Piece: A metal slug or screw which corresponds to each individual guitar string, focusing the pickup’s magnetic field at the optimal position to do its job.

Coil: The basic structural foundation of a pickup: wire wrapped around pole pieces, either as a self-contained unit (in a single coil) or as part of a slightly more complex assembly which shares a single magnet (humbucker).

Single coil: a pickup style which provides excellent clarity and translation of the sound of the string, but which is susceptible to certain kinds of background hum.

Humbucker: a pickup designed to eliminate the hum of single coils by cancelling it out with an opposite coil. It has more power and a thicker, warmer sound than a single coil.

Trembucker: Seymour Duncan’s term for a pickup whose pole pieces are spaced slightly wider apart for a guitar with a Fender or Floyd Rose-style bridge.

F-Spaced: DiMarzio’s term for a pickup whose pole pieces are spaced slightly wider apart for a guitar with a Fender or Floyd Rose-style bridge.

Coil Split: A type of wiring option which ‘turns off’ one coil of a humbucker to approximate the sound of a single coil. Usually requires a pickup with four conductor wiring.

Coil Tap: A type of wiring available with certain kinds of single coil where a ‘tap’ is run off the wire at a certain point, giving you two selectable power levels.

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.


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.

NAMM: Jackson Enters The Multiscale Arena


Jackson has picked up the challenge thrown down by the likes of Ormsby, Strandberg, Carvin, Ibanez and others by releasing their first production muliscale guitar. The X Series Soloist Archtop SLAT7 FF is a 7-string with 25.7-27″ scale lengths (the press release is worded weirdly on that front but I’m sure if you’re reading this you know what that means) with EMG 808 humbucking pickups and individual staggered bridge saddles. There’s also an 8-string version, the SLAT8 FF, with 25.5”/28”” scale length. There are other new models too: here’s the press release.  Read More …

David Bowie’s Custom Steinberger


I just spotted this on the Juliens Auctions website last night while cruising for cool old auctions to geek out about: David Bowie’s custom Steinberger, serial number 7712, which sold at auction for $12,500 in 2009. Bowie seemed to like his headless guitars – you can see him playing a red Hohner in the video for “Valentine’s Day” from The Next Day just a few years ago – and this one has a particularly interesting story which, like a lot of great Bowie-related guitar stuff, has a lot to do with Reeves Gabrels. Read More …

Aristides Instruments 080 8-String

PRESS RELEASE: After many requests, Aristides Instruments releases the eight string 080 guitar. The new 080 continues Aristides’ tradition of using a one piece body and neck construction, integrally layered with Arium. This model is also the first Aristides Instrument to be constructed of 100% man-made materials and features no wood – not even the freatboard. The new model made its first appearance at Musikmesse in Frankfurt Germany this month. Customers can place orders now through authorized dealers or direct from the factory.

Read More …