Schecter Robert Smith UltraCure-XII

ultracure-12-string

Schecter has plenty of great Robert Smith models (as you may have seen in this article) and they’ve just added another: the UltraCure-XII, a 12-string version of his signature guitar featuring a Diamond Adjustable-12 bridge, Schecter locking tuners, Seymour Duncan ’59 humbuckers with push-pull coil splits, mahogany body and mother-of-pearl block inlays. Head to this link for more info. Read More …

The Guitars Of The Cure

The Guitars Of The Cure

I encourage everyone to pop on a pair of headphones and listen to a few songs by The Cure – especially if you’ve never really paid close attention before. You’ll hear how a few simple melodic ideas can be blended together to form a much more complex whole. It’s really intriguing to listen to and learn from how each instrument works together, especially when the six-string bass is used: often Robert Smith might play a high melody while Simon Gallup plays a more traditional bassline, but sometimes these roles become cloudy: Gallup will play a more wandering melody while Robert plays something more anchored. The lines really become blurred between the roles of each instrument in service of the song. Robert Smith, Reeves Gabrels and Simon Gallup all have current signature model instruments to help them get their sound. Let’s have a look at them all.  Read More …

REVIEW: Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI

I recently fulfilled a long, long-held dream of mine by finally acquiring a Bass VI – in this case, the Squier Vintage Modified version (which I bought from my friends at World of Music). Remember the instrument that Nigel Tufnel wouldn’t let Marty DeBergi even look at in This Is Spinal Tap? Bass VI. If you’ve never heard of the Bass VI, let me give you a brief run-down: it looks a bit like a Fender Jaguar but it has a 30” scale length and is tuned E-to-E like a guitar, except a full octave lower so that the lowest four strings are the same pitches as those of a regular four-string bass. The string spacing is closer than a regular bass, and I can’t think of too many basses with whammy bars, especially Jaguar-style units. So what is this? Is it a bass? Is it a guitar? The answer to both questions is ‘yes and no.’ Or more accurately, it’s simply a Bass VI. It’s lower than the lowest baritone guitars, and it goes higher than conventional four-string basses by a full two strings. Read More …

Incoming New Guitar Day: Squier Bass VI

squier-vintage-modified-bass-vi-630-80Sometimes it’s nice to treat yerself (even if it means living on ramen noodles for a few weeks), so to celebrate two years of my super-awesome job I’m treating myself to a Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI. I’ve had a crush on these things ever since they were announced, but my lust for the Bass VI goes back to when I first saw Spinal Tap and became curious about the surf-green guitar that Nigel Tufnel wouldn’t let Marty Di Bergi touch (or even look at). The Bass VI is a relatively obscure and definitely interesting instrument which looks almost like a Fender Jaguar but is tuned a full octave below a guitar. It can be played like a bass, like a guitar, or like its own instrument, which is really what it is. You can hear the Bass VI in music by The Cure (seriously, it’s all over so much Cure stuff that it’s hard to imagine their sound without it) and plenty of stuff by Placebo too.  Read More …

NAMM: Reverend Reeves Gabrels Spacehawk

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Reeves Gabrels is one of my all-time favourite guitarists. I don’t think I can ever truly get along with a person unless they too get chills from Reeves’ solo in “A Small Plot Of Land” from David Bowie’s Outside album. Reeves is currently playing in The Cure, and his latest signature guitar looks perfect for the job. The semi-hollowbody Reverend Reeves Gabrels Spacehawk is Reeves’ latest signature guitar with the company and it features a Bigsby vibrato bridge, Railhammer pickups designed by Reverend founder Joe Naylor, Pin-lock tuners (a thumbwheel under the tuner pushes a steel pin up through the post, locking the string in place for exceptional tuning stability and super-fast string changes), a Korina body, a bass roll-off pot, sealed body for controlled feedback, on-off toggle switch, custom soft-touch tremolo spring, and push-pull phase switch (in the tone control). Read More …

Reeves Gabrels playing with The Cure

The legendary Reeves Gabrels is one of the most unique, creative and altogether interesting guitarists on the planet. Check out his work with Bowie (solo and with Tin Machine), his solo albums and his latest project, Sonic Mining Company (which you can buy from Bandcamp by clicking on this link). Sonic Mining Company is a collaboration with Frank Swart (Norah Jones, Patty Griffin, Morphine), and naughty drummer Adam Abrashoff (Funkwrench, SIMO) and it’s brilliant.

And now Reeves is playing with The Cure, performing at festivals throughout the northern Summer. Cool huh?

Reeves and Reverend Guitars also just unveiled the Reeves Gabrels II, a new version of his signature guitar featuring the Railhammer Chisel bridge and neck pickups, solid Korina body with flame maple top, tone control with stealth push-pull phase switch, Wilkinson trem with back rout, and a rotatable pickup selector toggle switch which can be easily angled to suit the individual player.

Here’s a video of Reeves playing with The Cure at the Pinkpop festival.

NAMM 2012: Schecter Robert Smith UltraCure-VI

The Cure’s Robert Smith has long been known as one of the most visible proponents of the six string bass. Or the baritone guitar. Or whatever you want to call it. Of course, back in the day Smith used a Fender Bass VI to achieve the distinctive low end warmth of certain Cure tracks, but today he gets those sweet, sweet low sounds courtesy of a Schecter signature model. Smith has been playing his regular UltraCure guitar for years. But now there’s this:

Check it out. Grover Rotormatic tuners with an improved higher 18:1 ratio gearing. Mahogany body. Maple fretboard. Seymour Duncan SJAG-1 pickups. Three-piece mahogany neck with carbon fiber rods for reinforcement. TonePros bridge system with custom brass saddles. Stars and moons inlays. 24 Jumbo frets. 30″ scale length. Want!

Read More …

FEATURE: How to sound like The Cure

It seems that in the current musical climate, a lot of people are discovering (or rediscovering) the Cure. Their influence on bands like AFI and A Perfect Circle has turned a new generation onto the moody, atmospheric sounds of flanged chords and baritone guitars.

A key element of the Cure sound is the use of baritone guitars, and not of the ‘downtuned metal axe’ variety. The Cure sound is often built around a Fender Bass VI, the same instrument Nigel Tufnel declared too valuable to even look at in This Is Spinal Tap. This instrument looks a lot like a Fender Jaguar, but it’s tuned a full octave lower. It doesn’t quite sound like a bass, and you can still play chords on it without the sound turning to low-end mush, but it sounds especially great around the middle of the neck. You can approximate this sound by using a regular guitar in standard tuning and staying around the lower strings but you’ll notice that the tone sounds ‘looser’ than the real thing because the string tension is completely different even though you might be playing notes of the same pitch. To compensate for this a little, pick right up near the bridge. This will give you at least a hint of the characteristic treble bite of the Fender Bass VI, and will also reduce pitch drift. The rigidity of the note is a big part of why the Bass VI is so unique, and why it’s also used by Placebo to add solid rhythm behind Brian Molko’s more jangly edge.

Another important part of the Cure’s sound is their use of keyboards. This poses certain challenges to us guitarists, but you don’t need to spend thousands on a guitar synth. Many multi effect units include synth patches which manipulate your incoming guitar signal in a way which imitates the sound of analog synths. These are especially useful if you can blend in the original, unaffected guitar sound. Sometimes these settings don’t hold up so well on their own, but mixed at about 60-70% of the volume of the straight guitar sound, they can be very useful. You might also try using a reverb pedal with the original note turned all the way down, set for about a second of reverb with very fast reflection, then fed into a compressor and a delay. Tremolo-pick the hell out of the note, and you can get somewhere close to the keyboard sounds of The Cure’s classic ‘Fascination Street.’


CLICK HERE to try to luck out on a Fender Bass VI on eBay.