NEWS: Parker Vernon Reid Dragon Fly

If you’re following Living Colour’s Vernon Reid on Twitter you have probably already seen this. If not, here’s prototype #1 of the Parker Vernon Reid Dragon Fly.

A few points of particular interest:

* New body shape

* Floyd Rose bridge, instead of Parker’s usual model

* Synth pickup

* New headstock shape

Looks like it’s shaping up to be a very versatile and innovative guitar. Can’t wait for further updates!

REVIEW: Krank Rev SST

After seeing my Krank Revolution Plus review one of my Twitter buddies, Brendan, asked if I had played the Krank Rev SST amp head, and how it compares to the Revolution Plus. As luck would have it I’ve reviewed them both for Mixdown, so here’s my review. If you look close you can see the Rev SST in the background of my Bogner Alchemist demo video. So here’s the review.

Krank Rev SST
Recently I reviewed the Krank Revolution Plus, a great amp geared towards more open, midrangy tones than the similarly-appointed Krankenstein Dimebag Darrell signature model. The Rev SST takes a version of the tube preamp section from the Revolution and pairs it with a 200 watt solid state mosfet power amp.

REV REV REV
The Revolution has two channels, ‘Krank’ and ‘Kleen.’ Krank has a 3 band EQ (treble, midrange and bass), two footswitchable master volumes and a parametric sweep control which swings between treble/bass emphasis and midrange emphasis. The Kleen channel has a similar 3 band EQ and a volume control. Around the back is an active effects loop with level control and on/off switch, a footswitch jack, two 4 ohm speaker jacks, and a world voltage selector. It’s also worth noting that because the power section is solid state – using the same technology you find in car stereo power amps (think about that next time you’re stopped at the lights next to some dude cranking his stereo up to 11 and rattling your teeth, and you’ll get an idea of the clean power of this amp), the Rev SST is a lot lighter than its tube-driven older brother. Anyone who’s had to heft a heavy tube amp out of the car and up a few flights of stairs will know that this is a good, good thing.

SOMEBODY’S KRANKY
While the Revolution Plus has a lot of punch and power amp grind courtesy of its 6550 power amp tubes, the Rev SST shifts the emphasis towards smooth, warm compression. I plugged in my Ibanez RG7420 with a Dimarzio Tone Zone humbucker in the bridge, selected the Krank channel, and set everything to 5 as a starting point. With a little tweaking of the sweep control, the sound reminded me of Dream Theater’s ‘Images And Words’ album or Faith No More’s ‘Album Of The Year’ – that smooth, warm distortion which translates complex chords well and evens out the dynamics which, let’s face it, allows you to cheat a little bit and be slightly more relaxed with your picking because the tone is not reliant on the push of power tubes. Winding the sweep control one way emphasised the highs and lows while shifting focus away from the mids, and I couldn’t resist blasting a few Strapping Young Lad riffs. Twisting the Sweep control the other way emphasises the mids while rounding off the treble and softening the bass, which makes it great for Satriani style lead tones, especially when you throw some chorus and delay in the effects loop.

The Kleen channel is extremely polite, with no way of driving it to overdrive. This makes it perfect for those clean Metallica or Slayer tones, and it’s also a great platform for using effect pedals because the amp reproduces them faithfully, without colouring them with its own gain. I tried my Boss DS-1 distortion and my MXR Custom Audio Electronics Boost/OD. The rattiness of the Boss and the smoothness of the MXR were both there in abundance. Clean effects such as my MXR EVH Phase 90 were very clear, almost hi-fi.

THE BOTTOM LINE
The tube-driven Revolution is a great amp but may not be for extreme metal players because its power amp grind makes it more of a rock or old-school metal weapon, yet its preamp sounds great at lower levels before power amp distortion kicks in. The solid state Revolution SST taps into that sound while allowing you to crank it without colouring it, and I can see it gaining a lot of fans in the metal and prog communities.

CLICK HERE to buy Krank Rev SST 200W Hybrid Guitar Amp Head from Musician’s Friend for $899.


CLICK HERE for the matching 4×12 Guitar Extension Cabinet Straight for $649.

NEWS: I Heart Guitar mentioned in Premier Guitar Magazine

The May 2009 edition of Premier Guitar is out now (you can see it online here) and I Heart Guitar and Guitar Noize both scored mentions in an article about Twitter on page 42.

Follow I Heart Guitar on Twitter! For more on Twitter, check out this great article on Jason Shadrick’s guitar blog, another Twitterer mentioned in the Premier Guitar story.

As many of you probably know I write for a few magazines here in Australia – Mixdown (where I also have an instructional column called Unleash Your Inner Rock God), Australian Guitar, and Australian Musician Magazine – but this is the first time I’ve seen my name in an American magazine, unless you count the time Guitar Player printed my letter about a million years ago, hehe. So I’m hella excited. Thanks Premier Guitar!

Premier Guitar’s email newsletter sums up the new issue perfectly, so here’s what they said:

Welcome to the May issue of Premier Guitar! We’re bringing you a genuine ‘plexi fest’ this month with our exploration of that classic Marshall JTM45 tone via an original (1965!), a reissue and five boutique brands that pay tribute in their own way. We also have interviews with Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and jazz maestro Martin Taylor. The issue is also packed with a tone-dripping array of reviews—Louder & More, Genz Benz, Michael Tobias Designs and Xotic, to name a few. Plus, some of you have asked us to throw a little more of the less expensive gear into the mix so we’re responding with reviews of an Atomic Guitar Works STD1 ($895), a Danelectro Dead On ’67 ($399), an Eastwood Airline Tuxedo ($849) and Fender’s Road Worn Series ($949).

NEWS: Nine Inch Nails iPhone app goes live

NIN Access, the highly-anticipated Apple iPhone application, has gone live, although it seems to be crashing my phone so far… not sure what’s going on there. Some other users on Twitter are reporting the same thing but it’s working fine for others.

UPDATE: I was able to get around the crashing problem by changing my time zone to Los Angeles. Weird! There will be an update of the app next week so I’m sure they’ll address this problem soon. I guess it confused the app that Australia is 16 hours or so ahead, and they haven’t quite developed the technology to beam software into the future.

There’s an interesting article about the app at Wired and you can download the app by going to access.nin.com/download.

REVIEW: Hagstrom F-200p

I originally wrote this review for Mixdown magazine in 2006, and a little discussion with Lewis from the Me And Mace: Japan Guitar Journeys blog on Twitter today reminded me of how cool this guitar is, so I’ve decided to post the review here.

Sweden’s Hagstrom began making electric guitars in 1958, transferring glitzy features like sparkly and pearloid celluloid finishes over from their successful line of accordions to create a very successful line of guitars. The resulting solid and hollow body axes and a series of basses, including an extremely cool eight string version played by Jimi Hendrix, became instant collector’s items the second the company ceased production in 1983, but even before then the guitars found their way into the hands of a diverse range of artists including Elvis Presley in his 68 comeback special, Bill Nelson of Be Bop Deluxe, Dusty Hill and the Reverend Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top, Pat Smear from Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and the legendary Frank Zappa, who posed with a Viking acoustic and a H12 electric 12-strings for Hagstrom advertisements in the 60s. David Bowie even used one on “Space Oddity.” Today Nicholas McCarthy from Franz Ferdinand plays a vintage 1959 sparkle red P46 Sweetone. And if that’s not enough for ya, ABBA used them too.

Flash forward to 2004, and the Hagstrom brand is revived, with manufacturing sourced worldwide. The new wave of Hagstroms tap into the same retro flash as the prime vintage guitars, but a number of technological improvements bring the designs into the future. All Hagstrom guitars feature the H-Expander truss rod, which uses a lightweight alloy rod mated to a unique solid channel to provide tension at either end and along the entire length of the neck. All fretboards are made from a homogenous wood composite called Resinator which the company claims does away with the inconsistencies of solid wood while mimicking the tonal characteristics of ebony.

I reviewed the F-200p, a funky little guitar that comes across as a marriage of all the fun bits of a Gibson Les Paul Jr, SG, Fender Strat and even ESP Viper. The body shape is vaguely SG or Viper-like, with similarly pointy horns and classy bevelling on the front and back of the body. The mahogany body’s thickness and weight are more like a Les Paul Jr, as is the twin soapbar pickup configuration. The pickups, Hagstrom’s own Alnico 5 magnet H-90 soapbars, have an aged cream colour which complements the crisp crème of the body and the back of the set nato neck, and is matched by similarly aged volume and tone pots. The oversized tortoise shell pickguard is immaculately cut, and the rear cavity cover features clever triangle cut-outs to give access to the trem spring screws without having to remove the plate. The headstock features the classic Hagstrom shape (something like an industrial Gumby), set off with classy but understated pearloid binding, logo and decorative inlay. It actually looks like the whole headstock face is covered in a two ply overlay of pearloid material then painted over with some kind of stencil to mark out the pearloid features, which is more than likely at this price point, as full inlay work would jack up the price. The headstock features Hagstrom-branded tuners with extremely cool art deco style buttons which look similar to those found on some versions of megabuck D’Angelico New Yorker jazz boxes.

But the coolest feature as far as I’m concerned is the Full Contact trem system. A simple push-in bar with a Strat-style white plastic tip is tension adjustable, and the bridge is anchored to the body via four screws which, like all vintage-style trems, can be adjusted to provide more play, or screwed down tight to get closer to a fixed bridge vibe if whammy isn’t your thing. The bridge saddles are a design I’ve never seen before, with the strings sitting on a screw-in section which rises about 5mm higher than the top of the saddle bases, keeping the strings at a Les Paul-like break angle for better sustain and tonal transfer while providing the playability of a Strat. In operation, the bridge stood up to some pretty wild whammy bar abuse and just wouldn’t go out of tune no matter what I dished out, from divebombs to EVH-style dips and scoops to race car and piggy noises. Yet due to the subtle float of the review model’s bridge and the snugness of the bar in the socket, I was also able to get dead-accurate shimmery Bigsby sounds, which blossomed to full life with a few carefully chosen open strings and the added influence of those soapbars.

I’ve always found soapbar-style pickups to be extra sensitive to changes in picking dynamics, and these were no exception. The bridge pickup is set pretty much as far back as it could possibly go, emphasising the snappiness characteristic of the bridge position to gloriously grungy effect. The larger than average distance between the bridge and neck pickups makes the contrast between the two tones even more pronounced, and the middle setting jangles like a hardcore Telecaster. Within ten minutes of plugging the F-200p in, I’d already written two new riffs, inspired by the glassy shimmer of the soapbars. I’m a firm believer that every guitar has a new song or two lurking within it, and to find them within the first ten minutes is pretty inspiring. Delving deeper though, I was able to conjure up great Stonesy tones, some pretty awesome slide guitar sounds, and, when rolling off the tone knob and switching to the neck pickup through high gain, a dangerously close approximation of Randy Bachman’s “American Woman” tone. Huge variations in tone were possible by varying pick attack or switching from pick to fingers, and particularly country chicken pickin’ licks sounded great.

The Hagstrom F-200p would be a great studio guitar due to its sheer versatility, and its cool retro styling make it a great indie axe. It’s more suited to jangly chords and ringing single note lines rather than fleet-fingered shred-fests, but with those sweet sounding soapbar pickups you wouldn’t want to get too noodly anyway because you’d miss all the tonal nuances. But if, for some bizarre reason, soapbars aren’t your thing, other versions feature humbuckers, single coils, or combinations of the two.

NEWS: Chickenfoot play first live show

Whoa, photos are starting to appear on Twitter following the live debut of Chickenfoot, the supergroup featuring Joe Satriani, Mike Anthony, Sammy Hagar and Chad Smith. I’m sure more info will come to hand, and I’ll try to stay on top of it, but from THIS PHOTO it appears that Sammy Hagar occasionally plays guitar in the band too: note his amps either side of the drum kit.

Follow I Heart Guitar on Twitter by clicking here.

NEWS: Faith No More tour may come to Australia

Woohoo!!! Aussies, rejoice! Faith No More bass player Billy Gould (username MRGOULD on Twitter) just tweeted this:

“In answer to your questions of shows outside the EU, especially from Brazil and Australia, yes, we are thinking of coming there.”

Sa-weet!!!

If you’re not already following me on Twitter, here I am. I use my Twitter feed to publish links to each new blog story, but I also use it to discuss music-related stuff, link to stories from around the web, and sometimes to ask for question submissions when I’m interviewing someone. And of course I also use it for the same random observations as everyone else.

COOL ACCESSORY ALERT: Bullet Cables

I recently started following the updates of Bullet Cables on Twitter, and this morning I checked out their website. I’ve seen a few of their cords in guitar magazines, and I know Paul Gilbert’s a fan, but check out some of these cool products.






And of course there are these awesome coil cables. I still have my ancient curly cord from when I started playing electric guitar at age 12, and I have a curly cord of a different brand, but I’m seriously tempted by these. They seem very tough, and if they’re good enough for Gilbert, they’re more than good enough for me!

A modern improvement on the classic “telephone cord cables” loved by rock legends, Bullet Cable Coil Cables feature oversized kink-free coils and polyethylene-potted .44 mag bullet connectors that won’t pull loose during active sessions. With advanced audio technology that includes 99.99% oxygen-free copper conductors and spiral shielding in a coaxial design for clear tone, and corrosion-resistant 24K gold-plated connector tips to preserve signal strength, Coil Cables display excellent bass weight, hit hard in the mids, and caress high notes.

Custom-voiced for basses and guitars. Can be used with keyboards.