INTERVIEW: Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt

Opeth Opeth unashamedly alienated some of their fan base with their 2011 album Heritage. While a large portion of their fans were drawn to the Swedesh masters for their progressive death metal leanings, Heritage was primarily inspired by 70s fusion in the style of John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra – and there wasn’t a single death-growl to be heard anywhere. And now, with Pale Communion, Opeth has moved sideways again, a little away from some of the jazzier moments of Heritage and towards more of a 1970s progressive rock feel, while still a million miles removed from death metal. It’s an album which will challenge some fans while thrilling others, but the overall impression from a chat with frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt is that he’s driven solely by his artistry, and this is what he’s feeling right now.  Read More …

EVH Striped iPhone Cases, 35th Anniversary Pedals

536Does your iPhone need a little more California cool? The Van Halen Store is now selling official EVH striped iPhone cases which will wrap your iPhone 4/4S or iPhone 5 in Eddie’s iconic red, white and black stripes. You can order yours here. This is, of course, in addition to the other cool EVH striped goodies they sell, such as beach towels, flip flops, high-top sneakers, and of course guitar gear like the new limited edition 35th Anniversary Jim Dunlop EVH pedals: Eddie’s three signature effects (the Wah Wah, Flanger and Phase 90) adorned them with premium high gloss paints in a hand-placed, EVH-approved pattern based on two of the most iconic guitars in history: “Black and White” and “Frankenstein.” Read More …

REVIEW: MXR Custom Comp

One of MXR’s early successes was the Dyna Comp compressor. This legendary little red box was particularly integral to the tone of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and it also found favour with country players who dug the way its rounded tone smoothed over some of the sharp edges of their Telecaster tones (which could be especially emphasised by slapback delay). And it has a permanent place on my pedalboard.

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COOL GEAR ALERT: New Dunlop Slash pedals


Whoa! Okay, two of my favourite effects are my octave pedal and an MXR Jimi Hendrix System Octave Fuzz. Looks like MXR and Slash have gone and combined their essences into one imposing chimera of tonal goodness in the form of the MXR Slash Octave Fuzz. This little box features fuzz tone with a separate Sub Octave voice and an Octave Up Fuzz, and in true Dunlop/MXR style it features even more tweakability than it initially appears: in addition to Volume, Tone, Fuzz, Sub Octave and Octave Up controls, there are also two internal trimpots to adjust the gain and tone of the Octave Up effect. Want! And there’s also a new Slash Cry Baby with a deeper voicing, which you know has gotta be cool – after all, Slash knows his way around a wah!

You can buy the Octave Fuzz here and the Slash Cry Baby Classic here.

Dunlop Proudly Presents The MXR Slash Octave Fuzz & Slash Cry Baby Classic

NOW SHIPPING

Dunlop and Slash have teamed up to create a triad of products due out just ahead of the guitar legend’s latest album release, Apocalyptic Love.

With Slash’s own experimentation and input, we created two pedals to complement his raw, expressive sound: the MXR Slash Octave Fuzz and the Slash Cry Baby Classic. The Slash Octave Fuzz features a searing fuzz tone that can be combined with a separate sub octave voice and an octave up fuzz to thicken up your tone with a sinister growl. The Slash Cry Baby Classic is tuned to a lower frequency and features a custom-wound resonance inductor, giving this wah-wah a huge dynamic range and a wide sweep.

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INTERVIEW: Buddy Guy

Blues legend. That’s all there is to it. Buddy Guy is one of the pioneers of the Chicago blues sound, a continually amazing guitarist, highly energetic performer, and a prime influence on one Mr Jimi Hendrix. At 75 years young, Guy is nowhere near slowing down, playing Australian dates in Sydney and Melbourne with Jonny Lang, as well as a standout set at Bluesfest. I spoke to Guy prior to Bluesfest and just after he finished up a string of dates on the Experience Hendrix tour in the USA.

“I’ve can’t count the times I’ve been to Australia,” Guy says. “I started coming down there in 1972. That was my first time coming down and I had never met [Delta Blues legend] Arthur Crudup before. I think it was the guy who created the Newport Jazz Festival, George Wein – he was taking it around the world, and that was my first visit to Australia. And what a country, man. I just fell in love with it.”

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Eric Johnson Signature Fuzz Face now shipping

Aah, the Fuzz Face. They look great, they sound great, they’re entertainingly unpredictable, the transistors used in the originals seemed to be different depending on the day of the week they were made on, and they sometimes just flat out stopped working if they got too hot. Eric Johnson swears by them, and with the help of Dunlop’s Jeorge Tripps he’s created his ultimate Fuzz Face.

Dunlop Proudly Presents The Eric Johnson Signature Fuzz Face

NOW SHIPPING

Dunlop® is proud to announce the release of the Eric Johnson Signature Fuzz Face®.

No one cares more about tone than Eric Johnson, and his choice for getting sweet, singing lead tones is the Eric Johnson Signature Fuzz Face.

EJ worked closely with Fuzz Face guru Jeorge Tripps to create his signature pedal. It is inspired by EJ’s prized personal Fuzz Faces and is built to his incredibly strict specifications, featuring hand-selected BC183 silicon transistors (for higher gain), custom repro ’68-’69 knobs, and a vintage-style hammertone finish. The result: a beautifully dynamic, expressive, and powerful pedal.

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REVIEW: Jim Dunlop Eric Johnson Classic Jazz III

The Jim Dunlop Jazz III has been my pick of choice for longer than I care to think about. I’ve always loved its control, its precision and its tone. And also, even though they’re tiny, they’re easy to spot if you drop one. Eric Johnson is also a longtime Jazz III fan, and the Jim Dunlop Eric Johnson Classic Jazz III is based on a favourite pick from his collection. Dunlop actually laser-scanned it to mimic the unique wear pattern of the pick. They’ve also replaced the traditional “JD” logo with a raised “JIM DUNLOP U.S.A.” which spreads the grip patten out further around the surface of the pick. On the other side it reads “ERIC JOHNSON TX” and this too provides a different feel to the surface.

Hold up any two regular Jazz IIIs. You’ll notice a small amount of variation from one to the next. The Johnson picks are made to very closely follow the profile of the original ‘master pick’ Johnson provided, so there’s more consistency from one to the next.

Compared to a regular Jazz III, the grip of this pick is indeed more positive. Because the raised sections are more spread out and evenly spaced, it feels like the gripping area of the pick is wider, and I find that this in turn provides more control because it gives you a better grasp on the pick. The smoother surface is great for super-fast playing techniques such as alternate, economy and circular picking. Circular picking in particular really benefits from the smoother taper of the pick point. The attack may feel a bit bolder with a regular Jazz III, but the sound is smoother and more dynamically even with the Eric Johnson version. The treble attack seems slightly less snappy, which might take a little getting used to depending on what kind of sound you prefer, but I quite like it and I’m thinking of switching over permanently because the Johnson version of the Jazz III seems to get out of your way that little bit more, opening up the lines of communication between player and string just that little bit more.

CLICK HERE to buy the Jim Dunlop 47EJ3N Eric Johnson Jazz III 6Pk Player Pack from Amazon.com.

NAMM 2012: Jim Dunlop Zakk Wylde Rotovibe

Zakk Wylde has been a great ambassador for the Rotovibe for many, many years now – it steals the show at several points on the one and only Pride & Glory album – and he has now been honoured with his own signature Rotovibe courtesy of Jim Dunlop. The ZW357 is a limited run which features the same intensity and speed controls and rotating speaker sound as the classic Rotovibe but in Zakk-approved livery. And frankly it looks freaking cool. “I’ve had a Dunlop Rotovibe on my pedalboard since 1988,” Zakk says. “Whether it’s to spice up a solo, add an overdubbed colour, or just as a sound to inspire songwriting.” And I’ve gotta agree – it’s one of those effects where once you turn it on it’s hard to force yourself to turn it off again.