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Archive for February, 2009

Amplitube Fender EditionIf you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’d know that I’m into tube amps – real tube amps – and I typically eschew modeling amps or modeling anything because they’re well, models. But I’m VERY intrigued by IK Multimedia’s Fender Edition. Thanks for this information goes to John over at Gear4Music in the UK for bringing this to my attention.

I will share a video demo in a bit, and based upon the videos and clips I’ve seen and heard, I’m incredibly impressed! Here are the amp models that this edition portrays:

  • ’59 Bassman® LTD
  • ’65 Twin Reverb®
  • ’57 Deluxe™
  • ’65 Deluxe Reverb®
  • ’64 Vibroverb™ Custom
  • Vibro-King® Custom
  • Champion™ 600
  • Super-Sonic™
  • MH-500 Metalhead™
  • Pro Junior™
  • Bassman® 300
  • TBP-1 Bass Preamp

I’ve used AmpliTube with ProTools in the past, but I had just the simple plug-in that came bundled with the LE version. IK Multimedia has really made huge leaps forward with these models. Check out a video:

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5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

V-Picks "The Snake" Pick

V-Picks "The Snake" Pick

V-Picks “The Snake” Pick

Summary: Thick at 4.1 mm, this is the beefiest pick I’ve ever played. But it’s uncanny just how fast and accurate you can be with this pick! Comes in both Rounded and Pointed corners, and Vinni also makes a hybrid that has both types of corners.

Pros: The bevel on this pick is perfect, and totally different than the other V-Picks I’ve played. Whether you go with the rounded or the pointed version, you’re gonna love playing this pick.

Cons: None.

Price: $10.00 ea

Specs:

  • 4.1 millimeters thick
  • Hand-ground
  • Flame buffed
  • Sharp, almost triangular bevel

Tone Bone Rating: 5.0 – I REALLY love these picks for playing electric guitar!

In my previous review of the V-Picks Medium Rounded and Pointed, I shared how the tone that they produce just make my heart sing! But with “The Snake” Vinni just blew those out of the water! Within minutes of playing both the Rounded and Pointed versions, I knew I’d never go back to the medium rounded and pointed again. Damn, Vinni! You just keep on inventing great picks!

The big difference between “The Snake” and the standard picks other than the beefy 4.1 mm thickness is the bevel. It’s sharper than the standard picks, with a noticeable burm-like edge. When I initially took a close look at the edges of these picks, I have to admit that I was a little dubious. After all, Vinni had just told me the other day that The Snake was his “most outrageous pick ever.” That coming from a man who makes picks that are half and inch thick, for cryin’ out loud!

But as they say, the proof is in the pudding, and I picked up a Saint Guitars Goldtop Benchmark, took the rounded Snake in hand, and started playing a riff. My expectation was that this pick would produce a sound similar to my beloved Medium Rounded. To say that I was completely taken by surprise by the tone that ensued from my amp would be an understatement. I stopped, picked up my Medium Rounded, and played the same riff. But it didn’t have quite the punchiness and roundness that the Snake Rounded produced. I just shook my head, and literally said, “That f#$kin’ awesome!”

Then I picked up the Snake Pointed, and started playing the same riff. Again, my preconception was that the pointed would play similarly to the medium pointed: A sharp, crisp attack that was great for playing leads, but not very enjoyable for strumming. From the first strum, my jaw just dropped. Unlike the medium pointed, this pick just glided over the strings! There was a little more resistance  than the rounded Snake, and I expected that, but I didn’t expect how well the pointed Snake would move over the strings. It’s truly uncanny! And unlike the sharp attack of the regular medium pointed, what this pick produces is an absolutely gorgeous ring. I could use this pick for both rhythm and leads – and that’s what I’m intending to do at my gig this weekend!

I believe the bevel on these picks make all the difference in the world, and what sets them apart from Vinni’s other picks! This bevel is special, and really the secret sauce behind the tone these picks produce. The thickness of these picks just add to the awesome vibe they evoke. I didn’t think a 4.1 mm pick would be very comfortable, but I love it even more than the regular mediums! By the way, these picks are about the same size as the regular mediums, so it was a good comparison. The funny thing is that I hold these thicker picks even lighter than the regular mediums. The Snake seems to grip you, as opposed the converse. I guess that’s why Vinni named the pick “The Snake.” It really feels like it’s holding me while I’m playing.

Okay Vinni, I have to agree. These really are your most outrageous picks! For more information, go to http://www.v-picks.com

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Prestige Heritage - Lite Sunburst

Prestige Heritage Elite - Lite Sunburst

You gotta love Canada. You just gotta. In addition to being the country that brought us my favorite sport, hockey (Go Sharks!), Canada is now raising the attention of guitarists. The first Canadian manufacturer that caught my attention was Godin guitars. I first played a Godin at a local shop, and was really impressed by them.

But I recently caught wind of another Canadian manufacturer – Prestige Guitars – that is making me raise my eyebrows – A LOT! Granted, it took me reading about them in Guitar World mag, but that brief review article of the Prestige Heritage Hollow compelled me to do research on Prestige and see what’s so special about them.

From what I can tell, these are production guitars with TONS of boutique accoutrements. Click on the picture to the left to see what I mean. This guitar, replete with abalone binding and intricate mother of pearl inlays on the fretboard sells for CAN $1800! That is roughly US $1450!

Here are specs for the Heritage Elite:

  • 24 3/4” scale length
  • 1 11/16” nut width
  • Abalone bound mahogany body
  • Carved AAA Grade quilted maple top
  • One piece mahogany neck
  • Abalone bound rosewood fingerboard
  • Floral vine fingerboard inlay
  • Mother of pearl prestige logo & decal
  • Seymour Duncan SH1-59 (neck) SH4-JB (bridge) Humbucker pickups
  • 2 Vol. / 2 Tone / 3-way toggle controls
  • Tune-o-matic bridge & stop bar
  • Grover tuners
  • All gold hardware
  • Available in natural sunburst & ebony finishes

What a price point for these kinds of features! An equivalent boutique guitar will sell for three to four times as much, and here’s this Canadian company providing the same kinds of features for so much less! YOU GOTTA DIG IT! YOU JUST GOTTA!

I haven’t been able to find any sound bites the web, otherwise I’d list some, but I’m going to do some research, and I’m definitely going to see if I can somehow play one of these!

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When I first discovered Saint Guitar Company through a faithful reader of GG, “Crash,” I found their site, and kind of snickered at its design. But all I had to do was look at the pictures of the guitars, and I thought to myself, “Who cares about the site? Look at those beautiful guitars!” Well, that curiosity led me to contact Adam Hernandez, owner and luthier of Saint Guitar Company, and thus, we began a friendship that is evolving into a trusting partnership in our passion for his guitars.

In any case, I am proud to announce that Saint Guitars has just released its new web site! It’s not fully complete just yet, but the one thing that I want to point out that is the most special thing about the site that will be complete in the next couple of days is the “Your Dream Guitar” link. On this page, you’ll be able to spec your own guitar by filling out an online form! Once you fill out the form and submit it, Adam will contact you to discuss the guitar in greater depth. What a cool concept!

By the way, I wrote “The Back Story” mini article in the About Us area. I gotta tell ya, what this kid is doing is special!

Check out the new site at: http://www.stguitars.com!

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JamVOX Front View

JamVOX Front View

JamVOX User Interface

JamVOX User Interface

Even though I have some patterns and scales that I practice, I usually end up jamming to jam tracks that I either write myself or download. But I also like to jam to music from popular bands. The only problem with this is that the guitar parts are already printed, and it’s tough to jam over recorded stuff.

But VOX has just come out with the JamVOX, a jam and practice tool consisting of softare and a mini practice amp to play along with any MP3. The software apparently extracts the guitar part from any MP3, and you can rip away! I don’t think this is the first of its kind, but compared to the solutions I’ve seen in the past, this looks like it is the most well-integrated software/hardware solution to date. I’m definitely going to check it out as soon as I can! Here are the features from the VOX site!

  • Revolutionary new GXT (Guitar XTracktion) function lets you cancel or extract the guitar part of an existing song.
  • 19 famous guitar amps and 54 effect units ranging from vintage to modern are provided as software.
  • Easy-to-use “drag and drop” interface enables guitarists to create their “dream guitar rig” without any advanced knowledge of amps or effects. Sound famous fast!
  • A music player feature with convenient functions for jam sessions or practice.
  • Import music files to jam along with from your favorite CDs, music library or MP3 player.
  • A dedicated USB monitor speaker is included, and there’s no need for complex wiring or specialized knowledge of computer music.
  • Two guitar play-along CDs containing 28 famous rock classics.

Check out a few videos:

After watching the videos, I’m REALLY stoked about JamVOX!!! And at $249.00, it’s a great deal!!! Can’t wait to give it a whirl!

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…was the question my wife recently asked me, to which she added, “You already have a bunch of guitars, and amps are sometimes stacked like a wall in the garage, and you’ve got pedals on the floor that aren’t even on the board that you gig with. It’s not that I want to you to get rid of anything, I’m just trying to understand your obsession with gear.”

I replied, “I’ve been trying to understand that myself, and for years. Just when I think I’ve found the perfect tone, I come across some piece of gear that really turns me on, and well, I just have to get it.”

That brief conversation led me to into a bit of introspection, and I asked myself, “Is there a perfect tone out there?” And the answer I came up with is: Yes and No.

“Yes” from the perspective that for certain periods of time, I totally dig my tone. But “No” from the perspective that that satisfaction is fleeting. It’s not that I get tired of my tone, it’s just that I periodically want to enhance it; add a different kind of distortion color, try out a British-style amp. Fundamentally, it still sounds like me, but just different. Sometimes the changes I make are good, and they become permanent, other times, I tire of them. And there are times where I go practically bare-bones, and strip back to the basics.

So I guess it’s not really about searching for the perfect tone, but exploring the different types of tones that may tickle my fancy from time to time. Sometimes it involves buying gear. But the kicker is that I won’t get rid of anything because I never know when I might return to a different tone from days gone by. Besides, who doesn’t like a bit of change from time to time?

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Tone Freak EffectsI love serendipitous moments, when I stumble upon something new when I’m doing something else entirely. Such was the case of me stumbling upon Tone Freak pedals. I was seeing if the domain name “tonefreak.com” was taken, and at the top of the search results was Tone Freak Effects. You know me and overdrive and distortion pedals. I LOVE ‘EM! And Tone Freak Effects specializes in two kinds of overdrive, two kinds of distortion pedals, plus a buffer/booster and a really nice trem pedal.

The OD and distortion pedal clips I listened to demonstrate a very diverse set of pedals that have a classic character, but also sound fairly unique as well. For instance the Abunai 2 clips sounded a lot like a classic Tube Screamer – nice and open – but with a bit more low-end while maintaining that openness. In fact, all the pedal clips I listened to portrayed familiar OD and distortion sounds, but were also wonderfully different in very good ways. This could likely be because almost all the pedals are the result of collaborations with various guitarists.

No matter, these pedals sound awesome!

I’m particularly interested in the Buff Puff, a signal buffer, plus a clean boost. The buffer is on all the time, and helps restore the signal loss that can occur in a long effects chain. When you switch the pedal on, you get some clean boost. Not sure how many dB, but that is something that I find totally cool. In addition to my love for OD pedals, I’ve really started getting into clean boost – not just to up my volume, but to also slam the front-end of an amp. It’s wonderful!

Anyway, check Tone Freak Effects out at: http://www.tonefreak.com!

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