NAMM 2010: Ibanez Joe Satriani acoustics, JS2400

Perhaps one of the more surprising Ibanez offerings at NAMM this year was the pair of Joe Satriani signature acoustics. While he’s used acoustic guitars in the studio for years, Joe’s not exactly the first name that comes to mind when you think ‘acoustic,’ but he’s been playing a prototype of this new model on stage with Chickenfoot lately, and the guitar is now in production. Here are my pics from NAMM (that’s the JSA10 on top and JSA5 on the bottom).

Ibanez Unleashes New Joe Satriani Signature Acoustic Guitars
January 28, 2010

Already world famous for its JS line of Joe Satriani signature electric guitars, Ibanez this year embarks on a shimmering new acoustic adventure with Joe, with the new JSA acoustic guitar. Joe says his JSA acoustic “feels great, plays great and sounds wonderful. And, in all black, it looks so cool! It has outstanding projection and an impressive dynamic range too, with a powerful clear tone essential for live performance. The JSA acoustic has a full and balanced sound that’s perfect for strumming, soloing, or delicate finger picking. It has good access to the upper frets, and the electronics make anything you play sound clear and natural.”

JSA signature acoustics arrive in two models, the all-solid construction JSA10BK and its more affordable version, the JSA5BK. JSA10BK features a solid Engelmann spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides. The JSA5BK combines a solid Engelmann spruce top with mahogany back and sides.

Both JSA models feature fine Fishman pickup/preamp electronics, chrome Grover tuners and black high gloss finish and come equipped with D’Addario® EXP™ coated strings.

Ibanez also launched the 24-fret JS2400 which Joe mentioned in my interview with him back in June. Here’s what Joe had to say about it at the time.

“It’s a really cool thing. I’ve always liked the idea of having those frets up there but I never wanted to move the humbucking pickup. That’s always been the problem because the humbucking neck pickup really only works where Gibson stuck it on the Les Paul. To me, that’s the spot, and once you start moving it back towards the bridge it starts to become horrible-sounding. Other guitars that have had the 24 frets and they move that pickup, it’s like, you may as well get rid of it, you know? So I was determined to solve this. And what saved us was the DiMarzio Pro Track. Ibanez got this thing right up against the last fret. It’s amazing how they were able to do it. It’s got a little bit more generous cutaway to the body so you can get up there and play up there. We’re still experimenting with the bridge pickup. I’m thinking it might be a Norton, one of the pickups I designed along with the FRED and the Mo’Jo with DiMarzio. Steve Blucher at DiMarzio is a wizard, so when I say I designed the pickups, that’s a euphemism for me requesting something (laughs). I say “Steve, can you just give me something that goes, like, ‘KKRRR-RURRRR’?” and he goes “Okay. Gimmie a couple of days.”



Specs include basswood body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, original Edge bridge (by the way, the Edge is now standard on all Prestige JS models – woohoo!), DiMarzio Mo’ Joe bridge pickup and DiMarzio Pro Track neck pickup.

Here’s Ibanez’s page about the JS2400, while this page includes a video featuring Joe talking about the new axe.

NAMM 2010: Performance Guitar booth visit

One of my favourite stops during NAMM was at the Performance Guitar booth in Hall E. I’ve heard of Performance for many years and I know that both Frank Zappa and Steve Vai were early fans of the company, but apart from playing one for about 30 seconds at a guitar clinic by Aussie shredder Joe Cool when I was about 16, I’d never seen one close up. A recent Premier Guitar feature on the company piqued my interest further, so when I saw them at NAMM I zoomed right over to say hello and check out their gear.

I knew about Performance’s guitars, but let’s face it, their guitars come with a price tag which is as high as their quality level (ie: you get what you pay for, which is a good thing!). But what really surprised me was their pedal mods under their TTL (Top of the Line) brand. At NAMM, Performance had set up a rig where you could A/B the modified and unmodified versions of various pedals. I was particularly taken by their Boss DS-1 mod. Performance’s website says:

DS-1 Distortion
$254.00

Original Characteristics:
The original DS-1 has a simple, yet well designed circuitry. It has the right amount of gain and the symmetrical distortion produced by diodes.

What has been Modified and Improved:
The input impedance has been changed to the tube amp standard of 1MΩ. Improvements have been made in the area of picking nuance, quicker response time, and overall sound definition. The even harmonics, especially the second harmonic, have been emphasized to recreate the sound of a fully-driven tube pre-amp. This resulted in the thin sound becoming eliminated completely and the overall sound becoming much richer. The gain factor has been re-evaluated at various frequencies to achieve great distortion, even with a single coil pick up. With respect to the original design principle, no switches were added and overall modifications were kept simple.

The company makes a couple of its own pedals too, including the FZ-85, a filter modulation pedal designed in collaboration with Frank Zappa in the 80s. The site says:

FZ-85( F.Zappa Filter Modulation)
$675.00

There’s an early ’80, Frank Zappa wanted special his own sound. Frank and we collaborate each other to make special effect for Frank. It control and emphasize the particular frequency. This effects pedal has 3 mode select SW. There are low pass mode, band pass mode, high pass mode.

*Low pass mode position cut the higher frequency above the frequency you set up.
*Band pass mode position cut the frequency without the frequency you set up.
*High pass mode position cut the lower frequency below the frequency you set up.

And then you can set up the frequency that you want to make it peak point with “F” control knob. And also you can set up the resonant peak with “Q” control knob. For example, you can have the sound like an eccentric “Wah Wah” with moving the “F” control knob. This effects pedal is different from other effects pedals. Because this effects pedal boosts up the inner voltage. That’s why this effects pedal can get wider dynamic range and works more extremely. You can’t find any other effects pedal like this. You can get this sound only from this one. Frank couldn’t make his sound without this effects pedal. Now this effects is used by Dweezil Zappa, Steve-Vai, Warren-Cuccurullo and many more musicians and they Loved it!!

I was also blown away by the Snake Skin guitar (autographed by Warren DeMartini of RATT) which I used when testing out the pedals. It was very responsive to pick attack and despite the hard rock vibe of the snake skin finish I found it great for bluesier, Hendrixy riffing.

Here are my photos from the Performance booth. Check out that Vai-style flame guitar!

LINK: Performanceguitar.com

NAMM 2010: Way Huge Aqua-Puss, Dunlop Volume Pedal, Heavy Core Strings

Remember my recent post about the new stuff from Jim Dunlop/MXR? Well here’s a little more info direct from the company themselves, including some more info about the awesome new Way Huge Aqua-Puss MkII analog delay. John Mayer’s all about this pedal and it sounded great at NAMM. Before we get to the Dunlop info, check out this video from Premier Guitar at NAMM, which includes Uli Jon Roth giving the Aqua-Puss a run-through at the booth.

WAY HUGE RELEASES THE AQUA PUSS MKII ANALOG DELAY

The Aqua-Puss MkII is making its triumphant return, ready to bathe a tone thirsty world in gorgeously smooth delay. One twist of the Delay knob takes you from a tight 20ms delay to a cavernous 300ms. The Feedback control regulates delay duration and intensity. But watch out. Extreme settings can send the Aqua-Puss MkII into self-oscillating psycho-freak-out mode! Meanwhile the Blend knob lets you set a balance between dry and delayed signal—from mild to wild. The Aqua-Puss MkII delivers all the spooky mystery of vintage analog delay and tape-based echo, with none of the hassle of creaky, ancient gear.

INTRODUCING DUNLOP’S REVOLUTIONARY VOLUME PEDAL

Control your volume levels with exacting precision with the new Dunlop Volume Pedal. The Dunlop Volume Pedal features a patent pending Steel Band Drive that creates a low-friction environment with no strings or ratchet gears attached – allowing you to achieve thick, luscious volume swells in one smooth motion without the fear of breaking. With fully adjustable tension and high-quality low-noise electronic components, the sound is as clean and transparent as the feel is smooth. Housed in a lightweight but durable aluminum chassis, the pedal features a rocker pedal that is slightly curved for ergonomics, with an aggressive non-slip tread that keeps your foot firmly in place. Great features, smooth, hassle-free performance and crystalline tone make the Dunlop Volume Pedal the smart choice for every musician.

DUNLOP INTRODUCES HEAVY CORE GUITAR STRINGS FOR DROP TUNING

Heavy Core® Strings are uniquely designed for the player that enjoys higher tension at standard tuning or normal tension at dropped tunings. Our proprietary core-to-wrap ratios are meticulously calculated so the player can really “dig in” while retaining sound fundamentals. Heavy Core® Strings, like all Dunlop Strings are manufactured with the highest quality of materials and engineered for great tone, balance, and feel.

NAMM 2010: Devin Townsend answers my question

While performing for Alvarez at NAMM, Devin Townsend opened the floor up to questions, so I jumped in with a ‘Where are you at with the next 2 CDs?’ (referring to his 4-CD Devin Townsend Project). Well someone happened to be filming and I just found this video on YouTube, complete with my overly Australian blurting of the question. Devin’s answer is hilarious, so enjoy!

NAMM 2010: IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3

I’ve long been a big user of IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube series – while I use quite a lot of different amp sims, I definitely return to AmpliTube the most often, and no less a discriminating pair of ears than Steve Vai’s complimented me on the tones I pulled from AmpliTube 2. (Well, the mouth part of Steve Vai said that, not his ears… but I kinda backed myself into a corner with that sentence and the only way to get out again was to write this sentence…). Well now IK Multimedia is launching AmpliTube 3, and it looks like it’s going to be absolutely killer, adding some monster sounds from AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix and Metal, as well as quite a few other additions and improvements. The addition I’m most excited about is the freely movable microphone placement. Awesome!

Take it away, press release:

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IK Multimedia Announces AmpliTube 3,
Meet the New King of Tone
More Gear, More Feel, More Power, More Tone

January 2010, Modena, Italy – IK Multimedia is proud to present AmpliTube 3, a massive upgrade
of the leading guitar and bass tone gear-modeling software. AmpliTube 3 raises the industry standard of sound variety, realism and creative power – with over 160 precisely modeled pieces of vintage and modern gear available in one package, it is the ultimate tone gear collection for players, producers, engineers.

More Gear — Infinite Combinations:
AmpliTube 3 contains over 160 pieces of gear, more than double the amount of other packages,
including models from the most sought-after vintage collections and modern day workhorses. You’ll get 51 individual stompboxes and effects, 31 amplifier, preamp & power sections, 46 speaker cabinet models, 15 high-end stage and studio mics, and 17 post-amp rack effects. Plus, with the new AmpliTube 3 open architecture, you can add more packages as you need them, like AmpliTube Fender™ and Ampeg® SVX.

More Feel — True Dynamic Response:
AmpliTube 3 gear models give you THE most realistic playing feel — not just the tones — but the actual dynamic response of their hardware counterparts. Nothing comes closer to the feel and touch of playing through a real rig than AmpliTube 3. Plus, with IK’s proprietary VRM™ (Volumetric Response Modeling) technology, you can add ultra-accurate rotating speaker effects, free dual mic placements, plus room ambience and response to customize and craft your tone.

More Power — Creative Inspiration:
Face it — the better you sound, the better you play. AmpliTube 3 unleashes more creative power than ever, helping you to easily carve new, truly unique voices for your guitar, bass, keyboard, drum and vocals. Our new creative effects let you create sounds you’ve never heard before, and the new “drag & drop” effects’ configuration feature lets you quickly experiment with effects in the signal chain to get that totally unique sound.

More Tone — Every Sound You Can Imagine:
AmpliTube 3 is the voice for your soul. With the largest collection of ultra-accurately modeled gear, creative effects and flexible routing features, you’ll never run out of sonic possibilities. Every sound you’ve heard before, and even ones you haven’t dreamed of yet…find them here in AmpliTube 3.

More Gear. In fact, twice as much gear!
– Over 160 gear models included (with nearly 100 added models), more than double the amount
of other packages, from the most sought-after vintage collections to modern day workhorses
– 51 Stompbox effects, 31 Amps, 46 Cabinets, 15 Studio Mics and 17 Rack effects
– 30 brand new models for the most complete anthology of gear, ever
– 70 re-worked and superior sounding models from packages like AmpliTube Metal™ and
AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix™
– A new collection of bass gear models makes it also the most complete package for any bass recording or performance needs’ musician or engineer
– Can be directly expanded with packages like AmpliTube Fender™, Ampeg® SVX™ and future packages
– New preset management and keyword system allows you to organize and quickly recall the massive library of included and custom preset tones

More Feel. Nothing even comes close to AmpliTube 3…
– New cabinet module inside now provides double miking per cabinet, with freely movable microphones thanks to IK’s VRM™ (Volumetric Response Modeling) technology, giving you a level of control and sound accuracy never before experienced in software
– New impulse-based reverbs are now used in the entire chain, from spring reverb to room ambience, which ensures the most realistic possible representation of your recording environment
– New rotary speaker module sets the new standard for accurate emulation of these types of cabinets – until now, there had never been such a great sounding rotary cabinet in software
– All models in AmpliTube 3 have been ultra-accurately “remastered” with our new 3rd generation modeling technology (the same found in AmpliTube Fender™), using IK’s exclusive DSM™ technology (Dynamic Saturation Modeling), then painstakingly “A/B” compared with the originals to ensure that the sound you hear from the software is the same sound you hear from the gear

More Power. Unleash more creative power.
– New creative Effects featuring the new StepFilter, StepSLicer, TapDelay, Rezo and Swell stomp
and rack effects that allow you to sculpt your sound and create inspiring rhythmic patterns or
amazing drone and pad-like effects
– New full-stereo path allows you to use the huge collection of analog and digital effects on your
vocal tracks, keyboards and drums
– New Drag & Drop function in the stomp and rack modules now makes experimenting with
effects’ combinations a breeze
– New “MIDI Learn” feature allows you to assign any software control or parameter to an
external controller with a simple click on the parameter’s knob
– New, integrated 4-track recorder/player allows you to capture and layer your ideas quickly and easily right at the moment of inspiration.

Pricing and Availability:
AmpliTube 3 will ship within February 2010 as VST, RTAS and Audio Unit plug-in formats and as standalone software for Mac OSX® and Windows®, and will be available in the following versions and MSRP prices*:
• AmpliTube 3 $349.99/€269.99
• AmpliTube 3 Crossgrade $269.99/€199.99 (available to any IK registered users)
• AmpliTube 3 Upgrade $199.99/€149.99 (available to all previous AmpliTube 2, AmpliTube
Metal, AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix™, AmpliTube Fender™ or Ampeg® SVX™ registered users)
Additionally, AmpliTube 3 will also be available as a complete software + hardware solution for playing and recording in a bundle with the StealthPedal – IK’s innovative, wah-style interface and controller for guitar and bass players:
• AmpliTube 3 + StealthPedal $399.99/€299.99

Preorders are already available in the IK Online Store and in our network of selected dealers and distributors worldwide.

* All prices excluding taxes.

For more information on AmpliTube 3, please visit:
www.amplitube.com

NAMM 2010: Way Huge Aqua-Puss MKII

Here’s something cool from the Dunlop blog: the official announcement of the Way Huge Aqua-Puss MKII analog delay pedal. This one caused a bit of a frenzy on Twitter a few weeks ago when John Mayer tweeted about it – he’s long been a fan of the original Aqua-Puss – and I got to hear it in person at NAMM last week. It sounds more subtle and soft to my ears compared to the excellent MXR Carbon Copy analog delay (which has a very proud place on my pedalboard). It’s really a gorgeous sounding delay and although I’m still in the US at the moment and my guitars are half a world away back home in Australia, I can already hear in my head just how awesome this pedal would be in combination with my Ibanez Talman.

Here’s some info from the Dunlop blog:

The Aqua-Puss MkII is making its triumphant return, ready to bathe a tone thirsty world in gorgeously smooth delay. One twist of the Delay knob takes you from a tight 20ms delay to a cavernous 300ms. The Feedback control regulates delay duration and intensity. But watch out. Extreme settings can send the Aqua-Puss MkII into self-oscillating psycho-freak-out mode! Meanwhile the Blend knob lets you set a balance between dry and delayed signal—from mild to wild. The Aqua-Puss MkII delivers all the spooky mystery of vintage analog delay and tape-based echo, with none of the hassle of creaky, ancient gear.


NAMM 2010: Jerry Cantrell’s G&L Rampages

I took these shots at the G&L booth at NAMM. You’ll see the Tribute series Jerry Cantrell Rampage, along with some other tasty Rampage models, including the forthcoming Blue Dress reissue and, sweet lord, is that Jerry’s own actual Rampage on display? Y’know, the one that recorded dozens of classic Alice In Chains tracks? Or is it a replica? The whole relicing thing has become so well-honed these days that it’s kinda hard to tell! And check out the other models on display too. Can’t seem to dig up any info on if all of these will be available, or if they’re Jerry’s stage guitars on display, but they’re nice to look at, aren’t they?

Check out this G&L Rampage tour at NAMM by Premier Guitar. To be honest I haven’t even watched this myself yet cos I just found it and right now I’m trying to be mega quiet cos my son is trying to sleep a few feet away (I’m at a hotel in San Francisco right now) and I can’t get to my headphones without waking him up, but Premier Guitar always do awesome videos, and hey, maybe they answer the questions I asked earlier in the post! Bring on morning so I can find out for myself!