Sterling By Music Man JP70D

JP70D

If you want to add a little of Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s sonic mojo to your tone – a rather worthy goal, if you ask me – you could do a lot worse than to check out Petrucci’s line of signature guitars through Ernie Ball Music Man. They occupy a unique niche among shred-friendly guitars because their construction feels much more “serious-persons’ guitar” than the average shred plank. But Music Man guitars come with a price tag that reflects their quality. i.e.: they’re pretty dang pricey. So with the Sterling By Music Man line, the company has endeavoured to bring more affordable versions of some of their designs to players who might not have the financial wherewithal to walk home with the California-made stuff. The JP70D is based on Petrucci’s first Music Man model (there are a few other shapes now including the JPX and Majesty), and it’s made in Indonesia. Read More …

John Petrucci Demonstrates New DiMarzio Illuminators

JP13Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s most recent Ernie Ball Music Man guitar, the JP13, features a unique DiMarzio pickup set called Illuminator. These pickups are based on his existing signature models – the Crunch Lab and LiquiFire – but with a bit of a twist. As John explains in my new interview with him: “This pickup set is building upon the Crunch Lab and the LiquiFire, so we’re starting there, and most of it – really all of it – is the work of Steve Blucher at DiMarzio. In the case of this one, knowing that the guitar was going to have a preamp in it and everything, he was able to predict what would be necessary to make the guitar be more open-sounding and able to breathe more. He did a fantastic job, and I’ve been working with him so long that I barely have to say much. He just instinctively knows. It’s wonderful.”

DiMarzio has full specs on each pickup: 6-string bridge and neck, and 7-string bridge and neck.

Here’s a video of the Illuminators in action in Petrucci’s capable hands… Read More …

REVIEW: Buddy Blaze 7-string prototype

Buddy Blaze is a legend in the guitar world. Y’know Dimebag Darrell’s ‘Dean From Hell’ guitar? It was Buddy who acquired that guitar in its original state, then modded the iconic axe with its Floyd Rose and distinctive look before giving it back to Dime. The Kramer Nightswan signature model for Vivian Campbell? That started life as a Buddy Blaze Shredder. Throw in tech work for the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Great White among many, many more, and Buddy has earned a rightful place in metal and hard rock guitar history. Buddy has been making killer rock and metal guitars for years now (the Shredder, the Makani, the Evanator, the K2), and a seven-string version has been high on fans’ wish lists. Buddy displayed two seven-string prototypes at the the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California this January.

The seven-string’s outline is similar to Blaze’s K2 model, although if I had to liken it to any other guitar it would be a Washburn N4 Nuno Bettencourt signature. Both seem to have slightly undersized outlines, along with H-H pickup configurations and a single volume knob paired with a three-way pickup selector. But the Blaze is still a world away from the Washburn in all but the most general of ways.

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Guitar Gallery of the Day: Mayones

Today’s guitar gallery is Mayones. They make plenty of great production line guitars – check out the Regius Elements – PERFECT with fretted or fretless neck, Seymour Duncan pickups and GraphTech Ghost System (Piezo preamp + MIDI Hexpander), or this Legend T – but their customs are a step beyond even that, as you’ll see from their gallery here. Check out the Setius PRO 7 Slime pictured above. It has an ash top, mahogany body with open sound chambers (look close and you’ll spot ’em), cbony freeboard, custom green acrylic Slime inscription and position markers, DiMarzio Evolution (bridge) + PAF 7 (neck) pickups with Green covers, genuine Floyd Rose 7 bridge and Schaller tuners.

Or how about this Setius Dime Bomb XTrem 36? 36 frets, DiMarzio Evolution 7 humbucker (angled for 6 strings)… very cool.

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REVIEW: MI Amplification Megalith Beta

Australia’s MI Amplification has a small stable of top-quality tube amps – currently the Megalith, the Revelation and the Iron Duke. The Megalith is the meanest-looking of the bunch, with understated but decidedly tough-looking cosmetics and an imposing ‘none-more-black’ colour scheme. I tested the Megalith Beta with a matching MI Amplification speaker cabinet with four US-made, 12-inch, 8 Ohm Eminence Wizard speakers in an 18mm void-free plywood enclosure.

The preamp features two independent channels (Clean and Overdrive), each with Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume and Contour controls, as well as a three-position EQ Shift switch. The Contour control works in the phase inverter, and its effect can particularly be heard in the tightness or looseness of the sound and attack. When turned to the left it emphasises fat mids, while increasing travels to the right scoop out the mids and increase the bass.

The EQ Shift switch selects between three voicings – 0 shifts the midrange frequency upwards and adds more low mids as well; 1 offers a more ‘British’ tone, with a more even frequency spread; and 2 is more scooped and ‘American.’ The Clean channel also includes a three-position Attack switch which further adjusts the tightness and response, while the Overdrive channel has a three-way Mode switch for low, medium and high gain voicings.

In the power amp, things get even more interesting. With four tubes in a push-pull configuration, you can install KT100, KT90, KT88, KT77, 6550 (this is what was in the test model), EL34 or 6CA7 power tubes for between 150 and 200 watts of output power. If that’s too much for you though, you can drop the output power to 40% by selecting the low power mode on the Standby switch.

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