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Guitars I Really Want But Will Never Own, Dammit: The Washburn N4

n4I’m sure we all have those guitars that we’d love to own, but unless we suddenly become ridiculously rich we sadly must resign ourselves to the bleak, grim fact that we’re probably never going to own all of them. So rather than mope about this inside my own head, I figured I might as well write about them here, and maybe hear from those of you who own these guitars, so I may live vicariously through you. So here’s the first, the Washburn N4 Nuno Bettencourt signature model. Nuno Bettencourt was one of my early guitar heroes – not as early as Mark Knopfler and George Harrison, and slightly after Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai, but certainly before dudes like John Petrucci and Reeves Gabrels. I liked how Nuno’s style was (and is) simultaneously flashy and stripped back: he’s always been able to wring all sorts of nuances and details out of his guitars using pretty much just his bare hands. And that’s also what I like about Nuno’s signature Washburn line. Continue reading

COOL GEAR ALERT: Washburn N4CV Nuno Bettencourt

N4CV

PRESS RELEASE: The Nuno Bettencourt N4 has long been a popular model in the Washburn line. The combination of the Stephens Extended Cutaway with a Floyd Rose has proved irresistible to shredders the world over. Now Washburn ups the ante with the addition of a carbon fiber fretboard and stainless steel frets. The N4CV’s 22 stainless steel frets are silky smooth and will last the life of the owner without needing replacement. The carbon fiber fretboard is extremely fast and slippery so bends and dives never bind your fingers. Continue reading

Schecter Blackjack Collection Shipping Now

blackjackOne of the coolest product lines of 2014 has gotta be the Schecter Blackjack Collection, which is shipping now. Schecter has taken almost a custom shop approach to these instruments: on the surface they appear to be pretty stripped-back, but when you look closer all of the guitars have Crimson Red binding and inlays, combined with Glow-In-Dark Side markers and passive Seymour Duncan pickups. The Avenger and C models each have five variations 6-string with HipShot USA fixed bridge, Floyd Rose or Floyd Rose with Sustainiac, plus fixed-bridge 7 and 8-string models. And there’s also a 6-string Tempest, a very cool Schecter design that I’m glad to see back in the line.

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Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition 1969 Relic Strat

closeupOkay, putting aside for a moment the question of ‘relicing’ (but personally I think it’s great if done well, like how Fender do it, not cheaply like some guitars I’ve played, looking at you, Vintage), this new guitar from the Fender Custom Shop is so very, very close to being one of my dream axes. Literally the only thing I would change about it if I had unchallenged dominion over land, air and sea would be to do away with the ‘black over sunburst’ finish and just go for black to begin with. I’d keep everything else the same: Seymour Duncan TB-11 Custom Custom humbucker, Floyd Rose, relicing, big headstock… here’s more info from Fender about it:  Continue reading

Schecter Drum City-Guitar Land Exclusive Avenger

SchecterThe fine folks at Drum City-Guitar Land are currently offering an exclusive run of Schecter Avengers that you really have to check out: all the specs of Schecter’s popular SLS with addition of a a Floyd Rose and Sustainiac System, in TransPurple Burst. Only 24 are being made, and when they’re gone they’re gone. Specs include Mahogany body, Maple set neck, Ebony fretboard, 24 Jumbo frets, Grover tuners, Seymour Duncan SH-10 Full Shred bridge humbucker, Sustainiac neck pickup, and a Floyd Rose 1000 Series bridge. Hardware is Black Chrome, and the 1C molded case is an extra $119. You can pick one up from Drum City-Guitar Land here, but you’d better be quick. I’d rather like one myself. Continue reading

Gibson Revives The M-III

miiiFor years now I’ve been daydreaming about Gibson bringing back the M-III. This 24-fret, 25.5″ scale Floyd Rose-loaded superaxe was a big departure for Gibson when it was released in 1991 (see some original ads here), and its timing was probably not the best, since it was only a very short time later that grunge pretty much wiped the shred axe off the face of the planet for a short while. Now the M-III is back, and it brings with it much of what made the original cool: 24-fret maple fingerboard, Floyd Rose, 25.” scale length, versatile switching (although in a different way to the original model). It doesn’t feature the cool pick guard shape though, which kinda bums me out a bit, but hey, if people take to these then who knows – perhaps we’ll see further M-III models added to the line some day. I’d like to think so. I’d love to see a seven-string version too. The new M-III will be available on November 5, 2013. Here’s some more info from Gibson.com: Continue reading

REVIEW: Dean Custom 550 Floyd

DeanThe story of Dean Guitars has had plenty of ups and downs over the years, starting as a small operation in Chicago in 1976. Currently owned by Armadillo Enterprises in Tampa, Florida, Dean is going pretty strong at the moment with artist signature models for the likes of Leslie West, Dimebag Darrell (see my review of the Dean From Hell here), Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine (and man oh man I want me a Dean Zero or VMNT), Michael Schenker, Michael Angelo Batio and Michael Amott – not to mention iconic shapes like the ML and Cadillac.  Continue reading

GUEST POST: Floyd Rose Freak-Out!

floydOk Kids, this one is a cinch, but because I’m a detail freak I’m going to explain why it is so easy. For those with ADHD scroll straight to The Solution.

The Problem

You are a tech/muso/bandmate etc and are dealing with setting the intonation on floyd rose for the first time. Here’s the deal: the mighty Rose is a great tool that isn’t as hard to set up as rumoured. There are some things that actually make it easier to be consistent than other types of tremolo systems. Continue reading

Jackson Custom Shop SL2H Dakota Red

SoloistCheck out this bad boy from the Jackson Custom Shop: the SL2H Dakota Red. I don’t know if it’s purposely designed to recall that cool Soloist Steve Vai used in the film Crossroads – there are a few differences here, particularly the bridge colour and the electronics layout – but they’re similar enough to make me want to pick one up and wail on Eugene’s Trick Bag. As of this writing there’s one on Amazon.com here, and there’s a list of dealers here. I’m not sure where the rest are hiding or if they’re already snapped up yet. I hope whoever buys them plays the hell out of them. Continue reading

REVIEW: Schecter Synyster Gates Custom

SchecterAvenged Sevenfold’s Synyster Gates has done a lot to promote the gloriously fun art of lead guitar. He’s also helped to further the cause of post-Metallica heavy metal riffage, amply demonstrated on A7X’s most recent album, Nightmare. Syn requires a guitar that allows him to flawlessly execute complex lead work as well as ballsy rhythm chunk, and for years now he’s been working with Schecter to achieve this. The Synyster Gates Custom is one of five models for the guitarist, and this particular variant is perhaps the best summary of the line.  Continue reading

REVIEW: Schecter Blackjack SLS C-1 FR-S

Schecter

Although Schecter was initially known for slightly more traditional guitars, they’ve really hit their stride in the past decade-plus as purveyors of fine high-performance axes aimed at the metal market. They still cater to the traditionalists – especially with the new USA Production Series unveiled at NAMM in January), but the SLS Blackjack C-1 FR-S is a great example of how Schecter unifies a whole stack of shred-friendly features that are unashamedly pitched at those who dwell on the dark side.

The SLS has a mahogany body with your choice of Crimson Red Burst or Satin Black finish. The latter is the model on review here: the finish seems particularly well applie, and nicely offset by multi-ply binding. The neck is made of three-piece maple for enhanced stability, and there are 24 Jumbo frets on the ebony fretboard. The headstock is a bound three-tuner-per-side variant featuring Grover Rotomatic tuners with an 18:1 gear ratio for smoother tuning and a higher degree of backlash elimination. The only inlay on the fretboard face of the Satin Black version is a ‘Hell’s Gate Skull’ which looks pretty bitchen’, and definitely positions this as a metal guitar. Personally I think it’d do fine without it, as on the Crimson Red Burst model which has offset dots instead, but it’s not a deal breaker. The set neck is carved into Schecter’s Ultra Access shape, which mimics a neck-thru instrument, and the profile is the Ultra Thin spec, which is 19mm at the first fret and 20mm at the 12th.

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Win A Buddy Blaze Vivian Campbell ‘Lightning Storm’ Shredder

buddy and vivian

The Kramer Nightswan is one of those ‘holy grail’ guitars for many players. It was very innovative for its time, and it lives on as the Buddy Blaze Shredder. (Buddy is, of course, one of the finest guitar builders in the world and the man responsible for my killer seven-string). Now Buddy, Floyd Rose and Seymour Duncan have teamed up to give away one of only 25 Vivian Campbell 25th Anniversary Shredder VC-II / LS guitars.

Here’s the press release:

Win A Buddy Blaze Vivian Campbell ‘Lightning Storm’ Shredder

Buddy Blaze Guitars has joined forces with Seymour Duncan and Floyd Rose to give away a very special guitar: The Buddy Blaze – Vivian Campbell 25th Anniversary Shredder VC-II / LS modeled after the historic guitar used by Campbell in his Whitesnake days.

In 1987, Buddy Blaze and Vivian Campbell designed the Buddy Blaze Shredder, the guitar that would ultimately become known as the Kramer Nightswan. With a scale length of 24 5/8″, floating Floyd Rose tremolo and a ‘bridge/middle’ pickup configuration (a Seymour Duncan Full Shred and a JB, respectively), the Shredder was a unique take on the ‘superstrat’ concept. When Blaze was drafted by Kramer, Campbell soon followed him. The ‘Lightning Storm’ Nightswan prototype was born, featuring the first appearance of the Full Shred as well as a similar finish to Dimebag Darrell’s Dean From Hell, another famous guitar Buddy is intrinsically linked to.

shredder black background“I was quite drawn to the idea of working one-on-one with a guy who simply wanted to build guitars, as opposed to a bigger company that was more concerned with marketing,” Campbell says. “I liked the idea of a short scale guitar. I had been playing Charvel/Jackson for a year or two before that, and whilst I certainly appreciated those instruments, there were certain features that were unnatural to me – one of which was the wide, flat and unfinished fretboard. Another was their 25 1/2 inch scale; although I have big hands, I liked the idea of a smaller instrument with a smaller neck as I tend to use my left hand thumb over the top of the neck when playing bar chords and that was difficult to do with larger, wider necks.”

To celebrate 25 years since the ‘Lightning Storm’ prototype was created, Buddy and Vivian have teamed up to offer the  Buddy Blaze Vivian Campbell 25th Anniversary Shredder VC-II / LS. Only 25 will be made, each with a unique lightning storm graphic hand-painted by Buddy. They’ll have an Original Floyd Rose tremolo with R1 nut (Titanium Floyd optional), the same Full Shred/JB pickup combination (with each Full Shred signed by Seymour W. Duncan), a Honduras Mahogany body, figured maple neck with 16″ radius ebony fretboard, 24 5/8″ scale length, Buddy Blaze-designed CTS pot, and a certificate of authenticity signed by Buddy and Vivian.

And you could win one. Simply enter on Facebook, and you could own one of these 25 historic guitars! Entries close on March 27th and giveaway is open worldwide.

Click here to enter: http://on.fb.me/Yy93Uq

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Guthrie Govan

Peter Hodgson Hi! I'm Peter Hodgson. I write for Gibson.com, Australian Guitar, Australian Musician, Mixdown Magazine (including my instructional column, 'Unleash Your Inner Rock God,' which has been running since 2007), BluntBeat (including their weekly hard rock/metal column Crunch) and The Brag. And I'm Assistant Social Coordinator with Seymour Duncan. I've been playing guitar since I was 8 years old, and I've been writing for magazines since I was 18. I've also worked as a guitar teacher (up to 50 students a week), a setup tech, a newspaper editor, and I've also dabbled in radio a little bit. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and my hobbies include drinking way too much coffee, and eating way too much Mexican food. You can check out my guitar playing at Bandcamp or on YouTube, and feel free to email me at iheartguitarblog@gmail.com

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