Hey there, Ibanez MSM100.

Often on Twitter I’ll post little ‘Guitar Crush Of The Day’ pics. I figured I’d do a little blog post about today’s one because what the hell. It’s the Ibanez MSM100 signature model for Marco Sfogli, who I first heard through his incredible work with Dream Theater’s James LaBrie. Marco’s style is a little similar to John Petrucci – not enough to sound like a clone, but enough to serve as a really strong bridge between LaBrie’s identities in Dream Theater and as a solo artist. His Ibanez signature model is based on the AZ series but with plenty of unique twists. It has a DiMarzio Air Norton in the neck position and a Tone Zone in the bridge, a classic combination that gives you big chunky power chords and plenty of overtones and gorgeous mids on single notes. This guitar is rocking a Petrucci-esque wiring scheme where the middle position is coil-split, and it has a distinctive Fabula Green Burst finish that looks even better in person than it does in pics.

More info here.

New Premium Ibanez Jem Brings Back Ebony Fretboard

The Ibanez JEM7VWH has been Steve Vai’s main instrument since it was released at the time of the Sex & Religion album in 1993. Upon release it had a Lo Pro Edge tremolo, an Ebony fingerboard and Vai’s new DiMarzio Evolution humbucking pickups. Since then the VWH has undergone a few changes, including the switch to an Edge Pro tremolo and then to an original Edge, but by far the biggest change that really riled up the Jem community when it happened was the decision to move from an Ebony fingerboard to a Rosewood one in 2004. Sure, this gave the Jem a slightly warmer tone (which helped to cool down those very aggressive Evolutions) but many players preferred the more direct tone and smooth feel of Ebony. 

Now Ibanez is releasing a Premium version of the JEM7VWH, the JEM7VP, which brings back that sweet sweet Ebony fingerboard. There are a couple of other key differences between this and the Japan-made VWH though: it has Jumbo frets and a 5-piece Maple/Walnut Wizard neck instead of the JEM neck shape and narrow/tall 6105 frets, and the Premium’s fingerboard radius is a little more subtly rounded than the VWH.

I can imagine a lot of players being very happy with this model. A) It’s more affordable than the VWH which is a seriously-priced piece of kit; B) Yay Ebony; C) The smaller frets and flatter radius of the WVH just don’t feel as Ibanezzy to players who are used to the RG neck. One point to note: it does not have scallops on frets 21-24.

This is also pretty smart marketing by Ibanez. It gives players something in between the top-of-the-line JEM7VWH and the budget JEM Jr, a guitar that a lot of folks buy to upgrade to more VWH-like specs. 

I used to have a VWH and while it was a phenomenal guitar, eventually I traded it for a Strat because it just never really felt like ‘mine.’ But I’m certainly tempted to get the JEM7VP because there will always be a place in my heart for the white Jem, and I think I would like this model’s neck a little more. What do you think?

Shredfest ’93, Or The Paul Gilbert Duet That Never Was

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I’m a daydreamer. I always have been. One of my current favourite hobbies is going to zillow.com to check out super-expensive homes for sale or rent in Laurel Canyon, then kinda just blissing out over the idea of waking up there, making a coffee, strolling out to the deck with an acoustic guitar and tweedling out some licks while while taking in the aroma of the eucalyptus trees. I’ve met people who don’t daydream at all, or who mistake daydreaming with goal-setting. I’d bloody love to live in Laurel Canyon but I’m not actively working towards it and I’m not fussed if it never happens: it’s just nice to go there in my head for a bit. Anyway, while pondering the nature of daydream recently, I remembered one of my favourite daydreams.

It was in December 1991. My family used to go to the seaside town of Bermagui every year right after Christmas. The seven-hour drive was always pretty brutal, but by ’91 I had a kickass tape deck that fit right behind my seat in dad’s four-door Ford F-150. Jam some headphones in that sucker, crack open a MAD Magazine and zone out until the next pee/snack break (my favourite was the town of Adaminaby, with its giant Rainbow Trout sculpture. Seriously, you’ve gotta go see that thing). That year my brother Steve gave me Mr. Big’s Lean Into It album for Christmas, and I brought it along for the ride, along with a few of my other favourites at the time: Steve Vai’s Passion & Warfare, Metallica’s ‘Black’ album, Van Halen’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

img_0161So here’s where the daydream comes in. I remember this as clear as if it happened yesterday. As I listened to Lean Into It‘s opening track “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy” I started to think about how awesome it would be to record a song with Paul Gilbert. I could picture it all so clearly. It would be an instrumental shred duet. We’d both be playing Ibanez PGM models because Paul would totally have given me one because we’d be best mates of course. Our song would start with a driving riff then kick into an awesome call-and-response verse. Then badass harmony chorus. An even wilder call-and-response second verse. Badass harmony chorus again. Then we’d each take extended solos. Paul’s would be really cool. Mine would utterly wipe the floor with him. I mean it would slay that dude. Poor Paul. And he’d be cool about it, of course, because he’s such a nice guy. And we’d make a video for it. It would be Paul and I, walking along a highway (the highway we happened to be driving along while I was having the daydream), kickin’ dirt on the side of the road. The camera would focus on a nearby snake before re-focusing onto me and Paul shredding on the road in the distance. We’d do some takes of us shredding in the middle of grassy fields. Maybe put a foot up on a fallen tree for a killer rockstar pose.

And the name of the track would be “Shredfest ’93” because I was a realist and I figured I wouldn’t be good enough to wipe the floor with Paul Gilbert within one calendar year, but I’d probably be able to do it by ’93.

Of course part of the thing about daydreams is they’re allowed to be impossible.

INTERVIEW: Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares

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The mighty Fear Factory is touring Australia this June in support of their latest album Genexus, but this tour has a twist: fans have been invited to submit songs for the setlist. It’s a cool opportunity to hear some less-common tracks and to feel like even more a part of the show than the typical Fear Factory fan frenzy allows. Last week I caught up with riffmaster Dino Cazares to chat about the tour and, of course, guitars.

So you’re letting fans have a say in the setlist. Read More …

The World’s First 24-Fret 7-String Shred Machine?

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I was just scanning some recent guitar auctions, as I am wont to do, and I saw something super cool at a Guernsey’s auction from February 27: Tony Mottola’s 1952 7-string, 24-fret Gibson Custom Super 400CES. Mottola was a legendary session musician who played with Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. He also played in the Doc Severinson Orchestra on The Tonight Show. This guitar has a carved spruce top with maple back and sides, and custom P90 pickups with seven pole pieces. It was offered for auction with its original hard case and a copy of the production ledger for March 1992. The serial number is A 9934. What an amazing piece of history. Following are some more guitars – including instruments belonging to Eddie Van Halen and Richie Sambora – but first here are some more pics of the 7-string: Read More …

Rare Green Ibanez Universe On eBay

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Hey folks! Happy 2016! Thought I’d kick the year off with this beauty: a 1991 Ibanez Universe UV777 GR Loch Ness Green 7-string. These are super-rare, and this one is on eBay right now with a Buy It Now price of $US4,499. These came out at a time when bright guitars with Floyd Roses were about to dip from favour amid the rise of grunge, and only a small number were made. I’ve never seen one in person but I hope Ibanez reissues them one of these days. I feel like this model would have a much better chance of catching on today than it did back in its day. Check it out on eBay here.

From the description: Read More …

Fascinating Facts About Steve Vai’s Passion And Warfare

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Steve Vai’s Passion & Warfare turned 25 years old this past July, and the guitar has never been the same. Part hard rock, part psychedelia filtered through 80s neon, part Looney Toons soundtrack, part Zappa, Passion & Warfare found Vai breaking out on his own with an incredible level of focus and determination. Read More …

Kiko Loureiro​ Joins Megadeth

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Congratulations to Kiko Loureiro​ on officially joining Megadeth! Dave Mustaine officially broke the news a few hours ago, saying: “I first met Kiko around 8 years ago for a cover shoot for Burrn! magazine. I had no idea who he was, other than the fact he was tremendously talented and that the staff from Burrn! held him in high regard. Since then I’ve come to see what a guitar virtuoso he is, and I’m deeply encouraged by his depth and talent. Very few Megadeth alumni have had the same feel and ability as Kiko. As Frank Sinatra says, “the best is yet to come!”

If you’ve never heard Kiko play, check this out: Read More …