REVIEW: Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 40

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Blackstar amps are famously versatile and user-friendly, but there’s always room for any company to innovate. And innovate they have, with their ID:Series amps and now the ID:Core line. The thing that’s so revolutionary about the ID:Core line (and there are stereo combos available in 10 watt, 20 watt and 40 watt configurations) is that on the surface they’re as easily controllable as any other Blackstar amp, especially due to the handy ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) control which gives you a range of tones from UK to US and any point in between. But the free Insider software lets you fully unlock the potential of the amp by plugging it into your computer and taking your preset-editing to a whole other level.

Buy Blackstar ID:Core amps on Amazon.com

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REVIEW: MONO Guitar Sleeve

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I’ve tended to avoid gig bags, personally. I’ave had a few of ‘em over the years and they’ve generally felt like something that would protect your guitar from, oh I don’t know, stray leaves and errant breezes. And the ones that were built to be more sturdy seemed unnecessarily bulky and cumbersome. So when the MONO Guitar Sleeve showed up for review I found myself thinking “Oh well, here we go. How much can you say about a bag?” Read More …

REVIEW: DiMarzio PAF Master Humbuckers

There are many, many different pickups out there that are inspired by Gibson’s ‘Patent Applied For’ humbucker invented by Seth Lover. Some makers go to incredible lengths to replicate not only the raw materials but also the chaotic, random unpredictability that went into the creation of those original 50s PAFs. DiMarzio’s PAF® Master bridge and neck models are designed with the spirit of those original PAFs in mind but DiMarzio says they’re more about paying tribute to the original sound rather than cloning it. So these pickups use several of DiMarzio’s patented ideas, and the coils are purposely tuned to specific differing frequencies to generate a version of the legendary PAF snarl without compromising the pickup’s ability to hum-cancel (which can be a problem with some of the originals and some of the more randomly-constructed PAF-alikes of the kind you tend to find from some of the smaller builders). See DiMarzio pickups on eBay here. Read More …

REVIEW: Sterling By Music Man SUB RAY4

Sterling Ray4

This gets a bit tricky, so bare with me. Originally there was Music Man, a company co-founded by Leo Fender which made instruments and amplifiers. One of their developments was the StingRay bass, which Sterling Ball helped to design. This company was eventually sold to Ernie Ball. In the noughties, Certain Ernie Ball Music Man designs were the basis for a budget line called OLP (which quite blandly stood for Official Licensed Product). They were great budget instruments but eventually that came to an end. Then there was (and is) Sterling By Music Man, which offers mid-priced (and brilliant) instruments based on classic MM designs. Now there’s SUB by Sterling by Music Man to cater to the budget end of the market again. These instruments were released at NAMM a couple of years ago and they feature several classic Music Man designs, one of which is the StingRay, in the form of the Ray4 four-string and Ray5 five-string. Read More …

REVIEW: Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 20

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Blackstar is no longer the new kid on the block in the amp world, and while they’ve done a great job of quickly establishing themselves as a name to be reckoned with, their amp offerings can sometimes feel a little ‘samey’ – there’s a lot of crossover between different amp model lines in terms of what they can do, and at a certain point it becomes “How many channels do you want to work with? How many speakers? How loud?” That’s great but there’s also room for Blackstar to innovate. And innovate they have, with their ID:Series amps and now the ID:Core lineRead More …

REVIEW: Vox Night Train VOX NT15C1-CL

Vox Night Train

Vox’s Night Train series is hugely popular and rather modern-looking, with an exterior that looks like something that liquid metal Terminator guy would play through if he was into little lunchbox amps and mini combos. It’s a very distinctive look but some players feel that Vox already has a distinctive look, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a Night Train that looks like a Vox? If this point of view describes you, read on, my friend, read on. Read More …

REVIEW: TC Electronic Alter Ego Vintage Echo X4

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TC Electronic’s TonePrint line of pedals is a great innovation: when it was first launched, various rock stars and industry pros were handed the keys to a special program which allowed them to design custom effects which could then be loaded into the pedal by everybody (via USB or a handy mobile app). But then the program was made available for everyone, and now anybody who wants to tweak their tone and then share it with the world can do so. The Alter Ego Vintage Echo X4 Delay is related to the smaller Alter Ego delay, which was born when Andy and Aaron of ProGuitarShop got their paws on the TonePrint software for the Flashback Delay and created two exclusive new delay modes worthy of their own pedal. Now the Alter Ego X4 Vintage Echo takes this pedal and blows it out, in a similar way to the awesome Flashback X4 Delay.

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REVIEW: Mayones Comodous 6 Bass

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Poland’s Mayones makes extremely fine, high-quality guitars with a very distinctive look and style, great tone woods and amazing playability. But their basses are equally distinctive and high quality. The Comodous 6 is a breathtaking instrument – quite literally, because everyone I showed it to had the same shocked reaction to its sheer size, odd shape and the striking nature of its top. Aah, but as anyone who’s played a Mayones guitar will know, you can’t judge one on looks: it all happens when you pick that first note.  Read More …