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Archive for the ‘gear announcements’ Category

I’ve been looking at envelope filters for a long time, and I just haven’t had a need to use one yet with any regularity. But this latest vowel-shaper from EH makes me think I might just give it a whirl to see where it takes me creatively. I was just thinking yesterday that I hadn’t really thought of any new songs in the last couple of weeks; not too much of a surprise as I’ve been really focusing on delivering a major project at my regular job. But now that I can come up for some air, I’m starting to get a bit of a creative spark again, and an envelope filter might just be the pill that the doctor ordered.

As far as the Stereo Talking Machine goes, what I think is attractive is that it has a fairly straight-forward interface. There aren’t too many voices, and it seems you can get a lot out of it. This is definitely on my “things to check out” list!

Here’s a demo video:

For more information, check out the Stereo Talking Machine page!

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Got a call over the weekend from Bill Dunham at Sebago Sound who wanted to tell me that he was releasing a Steel String Slinger based upon the topology of a SSS owned by a well-known, grammy-award-winning, blues/pop artist (I know who it is, and based upon the description, you should be able to figure it out).

Don’t have a lot of details on it right now, though I will be doing a demo/review of his pre-production prototype. I’m excited about playing around with the on-board reverb that is in its own loop to control the signal going in and out of the reverb unit. Very cool.

From what I know of the original SSS, the amp is a single-channel amp, but has two inputs: Normal and FET. The FET input is like having an on-board overdrive. Having played with a real Dumble, that FET circuit is pretty special. The prototype will not have this feature, though Bill does have plans to put that in.

For more information on the Sebago SSS, check out Sebago Sound!

In other news with Sebago, Bill has done a fantastic job of creating Dumble clones with his Double Trouble 50 and 100 Watt amps based upon the Dumble Overdrive Special. But more importantly, unlike other boutique Dumble cloners out there such as Two Rock and Bludotone, Bill’s mission is to create Dumble-style amps and not charge a premium. For instance, Sebago’s 50 Watt Double Trouble is only $1995. Believe me, it’s a well-made amp, and the retailers who carry that amp can’t keep it on their shelves for more than a couple of days. I’m not quite sure what the price-point for the SSS will be, but it will be far less than the competition; and you won’t have to wait more than a couple of weeks at most to get one, as opposed to having to wait up 18 months for other builders’ Dumble-style amps.

So lower price, short wait time (if any, if you get it from one of the local retailers)? Kind of a no-brainer, if you ask me… In any case, stay tuned for my review! I’m getting the amp tomorrow evening and will be playing with it for the rest of the week.

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Kinman is generally known for its excellent – and I mean really excellent – single-coil pickups. My Strat American Deluxe Standard has a set of Kinman HSX single coils, and they’re the reason I went back to playing a Strat. They’re a bit higher output than the stock single-coils, and are also much fatter and smoother in tone. You still know you’re playing a single-coil with them, but you don’t get that “ice-pick-in-your-ear” tone that I just couldn’t deal with my other Strats.

A year ago, I went to the Kinman site to see if Chris made humbuckers, as I wanted to replace the pickups in my Epi Korina Explorer. Unfortunately, he didn’t make them. But he sent out an email to his mailing list this morning, announcing his new humbuckers. I may have to try a set out. In any case, here’s a video that he provided demoing one of his models.

The pricing is fantastic on these pickups. A single pickup costs just $139. That’s really competitive. Check out the new ‘pups here!

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Though I’m pretty satisfied with my current rig – actually, I’m pretty settled now as far as pedals are concerned – that doesn’t mean that I don’t look to see what’s out there. While surfing this morning before going off to work, I came across the new Voodoo TC line of pedals from Roger Mayer. These pedals feature huge knobs for changing the main pedal parameters, and they’re meant to be changed with your foot!

What a cool concept! No more bending over to change the drive on a drive pedal or the intensity or pulse of a vibe. Not only that, the Voodoo TC line has this retro, art-deco look, and sporting colors that were apparently inspired by 1950’s Chevy’s!

There are nine pedals in the line thus far, and from what I can tell from the descriptions, they’re heavily inspired by Jimi Hendrix tones, with a few drive pedals, a vibe, and an octavia. But there is one specifically geared towards bass distortion.

For more information, check out the Roger Mayer TC Series page. There are a couple of videos on the page from the Japan Music Fair, with one of the videos being an interview with Roger Mayer, explaining the motivation behind the pedals.

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Even though I got this news via a press release, it doesn’t surprise me at all that DBZ won the Best In Show award this year. I’ve been quietly following DBZ since they hit the scene, and I’ve appreciated what Dean Zelinsky  (founder of DBZ and famous for Dean Guitars) has been trying to accomplish with his guitars from the start; that is, build great looking, great sounding, and great playing guitars at a GREAT price. Yeah, that’s a common formula, and lots of people try to do that, but Dean has accomplished that.

Take, for instance, the Imperial Premier model to the left. I had the chance to hold and play around with one of these exact models in Transparent Wine a couple of weeks ago (didn’t get to plug it in, though hopefully the DBZ rep will let me borrow one for a review). The Imperial has some classic styling – it’s shaped very similarly to a Gibson SG, but that’s where the similarities end. If you look at the picture to the right, you’ll see how incredibly thin the body is. That makes for a super, super, super light weight. All I could say when I first picked it up was, “Wow!”

Now you might think that that would never fly, but I have to tell you, that guitar felt absolutely wonderful, and I could feel the string vibrations resonating through the body as I played. The soft v-shape of the neck stands for Very comfortable. The fretboard is nice and smooth. DBZ calls it “ebonized” rosewood – not sure what that means, but it’s as smooth as ebony, and I just love the feel of ebony fretboards.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to plug it in because I was busy picking up my Fishman Solo Amp. But just based upon my initial inspection, and just holding it it in my hands, if I wasn’t getting the Fishman, I wouldn’t have let the rep leave the shop with the guitar. Yup, I was THAT impressed! Even the store manager was completely blown away by the guitar. He’s a jazz player, and while he said he prefers archtops, he loved that guitar.

Here are some specs:

  • Construction/Scale: Set Neck 24.75″
  • Body: Mahogany/Maple Top
  • Flamed Maple Top
  • Natural Scrape Binding
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany Soft V Neck
  • Frets: 22
  • Inlays: Premier Series
  • Pickups: DBZB/DBZ5
  • Electronics: Vol/Tone/3-way
  • Tuners: Grover
  • Hardware: Gold
  • Bridge: DBZ Custom Stop Tail

Pretty nice features. You can see more pictures and other information on the DBZ site.

Here’s the real kicker: You can get this guitar for $649 online!!! Fat Tone Guitars outside of Chicago has these in stock. So how is the price so low? Simply put, it’s due to technology. Dean Zelinsky isn’t shy nor embarrassed by this blatant use of tech to build guitars. And why not? With computerized routers, you can ensure build consistency. Plus, I believe all the heavy work is done overseas, so that keeps the prices down. Even though I try to stick to US-made gear where I can, in the end, geographic location is far less important to me than how the gear plays and sounds.

DBZ is still trying to build its dealer base, but I encourage you to check one out if there’s a shop near you.

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Why? Because every time I satisfy my GAS, they come out with new stuff that gets me GAS-ing all over again, dammit! 🙂 Here I was innocently reading my e-mail this morning when I got Prestige’s latest newsletter that said they were about to release a line of acoustic guitars! Knowing the fantastic stuff they produce, and given that they didn’t release anything more than announcement that they were releasing a new line, I had to give them a call to get more information. I shouldn’t’ve done that. I’m now GAS-ing so damn bad that it’s killing me!

But I got the scoop on these guitars, and before you start thinking, “Yeah, here we go, another import guitar… How good could it be?” Well, let me just say that a major publication already reviewed it and gave their top-of-the-line model a very – excuse the pun – prestigious award. And after I heard the details of these guitars, it’s not a surprise that even before their official release, they already won an award. So here’s at least some preliminary information that I found out…

They will have three guitars in various price ranges. I didn’t get model names, but I did get the makes of each model:

  • The top-of-the-line model has a koa body and koa top
  • The intermediate features a rosewood body and Adirondack spruce top
  • The lowest tier (and only by materials) features a mahogany body and Adirondack spruce top

Though not set, the guitars will range in price from about $1000 to $2100 street, so even the lowest-tier model isn’t anything to shake a stick at; and before you balk at the price, there’s a good reason for the pricing. Prestige didn’t skimp on the features that all three models share:

  • Adirondack spruce X-bracing designed in partnership with Balaz Prohaszka, a well-known European luthier
  • 12″ radius
  • 25.35″ scale length
  • 1 3/4″ nut width
  • D-shape neck
  • Split Bridge Saddles
  • Bone nut, Bone Saddles
  • Ebony Fingerboard, Ebony Bridge, Ebony Bridge Pins, Ebony Strap Pin.
  • Ebony Headstock face
  • Satin Mahogany Neck, Laser Etched Logo and Serial Number behind the headstock.
  • Beveled Cutaway with Paduck inlay, Mother of Pearl Logo, Mother of
  • Pearl Eclipse Fingerboard Inlay, Abalone Rosette
  • Gotoh 501 21:1 Tuners with Ebony Buttons.
  • Paduck/Abalone Body Binding, Paduck/Maple fingerboard binding.

An option for each guitar is the Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend pickup system. This is a very non-invasive soundhole pickup system that combines an undersaddle pickup with a gooseneck condenser mic. I’ve heard one of these installed in a Taylor acoustic, and it sounds marvelous!

So the pricing is really a reflection in the difference in tone woods used; otherwise, they’re all the same. That is incredibly COOL!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t have pictures, so here are a couple of the Koa/Koa model. These aren’t the pro pics as you can see the reflections of background objects – that’s how glossy the bodies are! Freakin’ awesome!!!

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These are serious guitars, folks. Can’t you just DIG that beveled cutaway? Damn! I dig little things like that, and the outer bracing is absolutely superb! And another nice touch is the satin finish on the neck. I always prefer that because it allows me to polish it with my own body oils after time. For me, the ebony fretboard is a HUGE selling item! There is absolutely nothing like the feel of ebony; it’s smooth as silk and feels so nice to the touch!

I can’t wait to get a demo into my studio to give it a whirl! I TOTALLY DIG the Koa/Koa! Now do you see why I hate Prestige Guitars?!!! 🙂

For more information, please go to the Prestige Guitar web site!

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Yup, you guessed it… yet another overdrive pedal. I came across this pedal while perusing the forums over at Mark Wein Guitar Lessons. Mark occasionally posts “Pedal of the Day” entries, and this was his latest. I know, lots of people complain about “yet another OD pedal.” But if you stop to think about it, there’s probably a great reason why there are so many OD’s on the market. What comes to mind for me is that no one overdrive can cover everything. Let’s face it, a Tube Screamer or TS-like OD can only take you so far tonally.

Don’t get me wrong: Not all OD’s are created equally. Admittedly, there’s lots of crap out there, which is a fallout of the boutique gear movement. I’ve suspected several boutique gear “manufacturers” of simply building gear based on kits, putting a nice paint job on them, then selling the pedal for hundreds of dollars; which is why I’ve always stressed to folks – try before you buy!

The LovePedal Kalamazoo is no exception to this rule. While it has some very cool features (I’ll list them below), you really never know how a pedal will work with your rig until you put it in your chain. But despite that, I’m really intrigued by LovePedal’s twist on the overdrive with the Kalamazoo.

So what’s to like? As you can see, there are two little knobs called Tone and Glass under the common Level and Drive knobs. I believe this is where the magic of the pedal lies. Tone is a treble content roll-off, while glass is a treble booster that doesn’t affect the lows. These are wired in series, so they interact with each other. From what I could gather from the demo from ProGuitarShops I’ve seen, these two knobs offer up a world of tonal possibilities.

Another thing that appeals to me is that I prefer a more “open” kind of overdrive to let my power tubes do the compression. To me, it sounds more natural that way. The Kalamazoo was designed to create an “open” type overdrive tone. With it, you can slam the front-end of your amp, and make that gain push the power tubes into compression.

And from what I could gather, the Kalamazoo is VERY responsive to input gain, which is demonstrated in the ProGuitarShops video.

Here are the pedal’s features (from the Love Pedal site):

9VDC Input
True Bypass LED Status
Compact Die cast Aluminum Case 4.37″ X 2.37″ X 1.07″

Controls:
DRIVE – Sets the amount of overdrive
LEVEL – Master volume control
TONE – Softens the treble content
GLASS – Increases treble without cutting bass response
STOMPSWITCH – Turns effect ON or OFF

Cost: $199

To top it off, the pedal has a mirror finish! I really dig that! My Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 booster has a mirror finish as well. Sweet! And at $199, this is a pedal that will not break the bank!

Here’s LovePedal’s Intro Video:

And here’s ProGuitarShop’s Demo:

For more information, visit the LovePedal site!

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