Epiphone offers many different takes on the Les Paul, from simple single-pickup Juniors to Floyd Rose-loaded shred machines and metal-blasting beasts stocked with active EMGs and an attitude. But the Les Paul Standard is, obviously, the standard upon which all others are judged, and in the PlusTop PRO Epiphone have sought to make a truly classic Les Paul. First of all, the name of this model refers to the beautiful AAA flame Maple veneer top (presumably sitting atop a more plain-looking maple cap. There are plenty of different colours available, but the Trans Black of the review model is probably the most eye-catching, bringing together a bit of a ‘silver burst’ vibe combined with the beautiful flamed maple. Continue reading
Mayones is a Polish company who have been around for quite a while, but recently they’ve really launched onto the world stage with a daring attitude, a knack for choosing ridiculously beautiful woods, and a willingness to work with a variety of pickup companies in order to effectively operate like a custom shop in terms of letting players choose the voicing of their guitar. The Regius 8 is an 8-string guitar (standard 8-string tuning is F#-B-E-A-D-G-B-E, but you are of course welcome to tune it however you like) made with neck-thru construction – that is to say, the neck continues all the way through to the rear strap-pin end of the body. Continue reading
When Gibson first developed the Studio series, it was intended to be an affordable alternative to the top-shelf stuff. But then Gibson’s Epiphone division really stepped up and filled that niche, building affordable Les Pauls, SGs and the like with all the visual bling like binding and full inlays. That took some of the pressure off the Studio in terms of being an affordable Les Paul, and allowed it to become more of a stripped down Les Paul for its own sake: its own model playing by its own rules. So you you can get some pretty interesting guitars under the ‘Studio’ moniker. Guitars like the Gibson USA Les Paul Studio 2013 Gold Series. Continue reading
Okay, we all know that TC Electronic makes incredible effects. Their 2290 delay is legendary. Their G System, G Major and G Force: legendary. Their Nova series of pedals: legendary. But the TonePrint series of pedals is a unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that’s going to become legendary. Because TonePrint pedals allow you to dial in your own sounds, sure, but they also give you access to finely tweaked effects designed by some of the best ears in the biz, including Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, Steve Stevens, Paul Gilbert, Bumblefoot and many, many more. Continue reading
The Cadillac is one of Dean Guitars’ oldest designs, originally surfacing in 1980. On the surface it could be viewed as ‘Oh, that’s just the front half of an Explorer stuck to the back half of a Les Paul,’ if you wanted to get all basic about it, but Dean have always put their own spin on things, so of course you’re getting Dean’s own approach to crucial things like neck profile, fretwork and electronics: we all know that a guitar is about much more than just the shape. The Cadillac Straight-Six is one of Dean’s newest models, members of the Straight-Six series which adds a six-in-line headstock and classy gold hardware to one of four classic Dean shapes: the ML (think Dimebag Darrell), the V, the Z (think Explorer) and of course the Cadillac.
Poland’s Mayones has been around for quite a while, but they’ve only recently really gained a foothold on the world stage, helped in large part by the high visibility of players such as Periphery’s Misha Mansoor and Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlöw. There are several base models to choose from in the Mayones range, including six and seven-string variations, your choice of pickups by DiMarzio, Bare Knuckle, EMG and Seymour Duncan, and even the Djentlemen range of 7 and 8-string axes aimed at the the rapidly solidifying dent movement. The Regius is a particularly popular shape for Mayones, a little more offset and rounded compared to the equally droolworthy Setius.
Some of Trev Wilkinson’s designs via the Fret-King are very clever updates of popular designs, with tonal and ergonomic improvements that bring the general vintage aesthetic into the modern era. Others, like the brilliant Esprit 5, take a more anarchistic approach to the idea of vintage-vibed guitars, and in the process create a unique axe that stands on its own merits rather than being referred back to the instruments that came before it. The Vintage Reissued series, also designed by Wikinson, doesn’t try to be either of those things. Instead these guitars aim to basically give you a guitar which feels, sounds and looks like the vintage models we all know and love, but with Trev’s range of pickups, tuners and hardware and at a much more affordable price point than, say, a $250,000 ’59 Les Paul. There are a few little differences – another kind of wood here, an extra fret there – but for the most part these are guitars that tell you a lot about what to expect just through the sheer weight of their inspiration. Continue reading
It’s a very interesting time to be a guitarist. Companies have been trying to make great digital gear for decades now, but until recently it’s always been a little hit-and-miss. Remember the digital distortion pedals of the 80s? Exactly. But digital technology has well and truly come of age. Just look at the proliferation of devices by the likes of Kemper, Axe-FX and Line 6. DV Mark’s Multiamp seeks to do something a bit similar to those devices but with a distinctly DV Mark approach which seems specifically geared at professional players working in live situations – although of course it’s designed to be a studio tool as well (and virtuoso Andy James seems to be doing an amazing job of showcasing that side of it – check him out on YouTube). But everything about the Multiamp, from the simple control layout to the hardy construction, seems to scream “Stage!”, unlike some similar devices which feel a little too busy for live use by more analog-minded players. Continue reading
When it comes to guitar design, it’s kinda hard to do something new. Sure, there are brands out there doing something legitimately ‘out there’ – Strandberg comes to mind – but companies that have a well-established design style and a dedicated fanbase can often be locked into making the same guitar over and over again. Ernie Ball Music Man is a company who has often seemed to delight in pushing their designs just that little bit beyond what might be perceived as the limit of what their customer base will comfortably accept, with the groovily pointy Albert Lee signature, the Bongo bass, the Steve Morse model with its elaborate pickup setup and of course the Game Changer pickup selection system. But the Armada is possibly the boldest step yet by the company. Designed by Music Man’s Scott Ball and Dudley Gimple, it’s a neck-thru instrument with a single-cutaway design and a 24.75″ scale length. Continue reading
Like the high gain-oriented THR10X, the Yamaha THR10C is a little 10-watt modelling amp which is designed to take the personal-amp concept to a new level of audio fidelity. It uses Yamaha’s exclusive VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modelling) technology to recreate the response and dynamics of tube amps, combined with a bunch of useful effects which are carefully voiced for maximum flexibility with a minimum of control-fiddling. But unlike the THR10X, the THR10C is aimed at players who require more of a boutique amp approach. Instead of a selection of amps voiced for extreme gain, the THR10C is aimed squarely at players who need boutique-vibed cleans and overdrives. Continue reading
Okay, this sounds like a Groucho Marx gag, but… “I love a good delay pedal. And the Boss Tera Echo is nothing like a good delay pedal.” I know, I know, but hear me out: the doesn’t claim to be a delay pedal in the traditional sense. It’s not going to usurp Boss’s much-loved DD series of delay stompboxes, for instance. I say this because in all the online chatter I’ve seen about this pedal, the general view is “Oh, another Boss delay pedal? Cool …I like Boss delay pedals,” without any deeper understanding of what this pedal is designed to do. But this thing really goes beyond traditional delay, to the point of avoiding it all together. Don’t think of it as ‘another cool Boss delay,’ but rather as ‘another cool Boss pedal innovation.’ Continue reading
Peavey’s VYPYR series of modelling amps has been around for a while now, and is the logical successor to the company’s successful Transtube technology. The new VYPYR V.I.P 3 – that’s Variable Instrument Performance – is a world first in that it combines amp models for electric guitar, bass and acoustic guitar, as well as instrument modelling. It’s aimed at the giggling musician: the dude or dudette who might be in a cover band or duo and is called upon to provide electric, acoustic and bass guitar throughout the course of a gig, and who needs recognisably accurate sounds to match particular songs. That’s not to say that performers of original music can’t use it too, but it definitely seems to be an amp aimed at the cover band guitarist. Continue reading