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Archive for the ‘new gear’ Category

When you’ve got a guy like Lance Keltner singing the praises of your equipment and calling you a genius to boot, you must be doing something right. Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps is someone I’ve been praising for quite awhile, and I’m glad he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.

As far as the DAG unit is concerned, that’s available exclusively through Destroy All Guitars. I’ve played through one of those units myself, and the high-cut filter works great, and definitely takes the edge off, without throwing a blanket over your tone and dynamics like many attenuators do that include one. If you have an amp that outputs lots of highs when cranked – or somehow hear high-frequency transients –  then the DAG unit is the way to go.

Coming up…

While Jeff has gained lots of popularity with his attenuators, often overlooked are his wonderful amplifiers of which I have three. In the next couple of days, I will be getting a 50 Watt Evolver to test out in my studio. I’m so excited! I’ve played through an Evolver at Jeff’s workshop and that amp has tons of balls! It’s definitely Marshall-esque, but with Jeff’s particular twists. I’m excited to be getting this unit for a full test!

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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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How gear performs in the studio is one thing, how it performs in a public venue is an entirely different matter. Unless it’s just not practical, I almost always take gear I’m testing to a gig because to me at least, that’s the best test of gear as gigs are so unpredictable – you never know what might happen, and good gear will almost always be adaptable to the changing environment of a gig.

So how did the Nighthawk perform? In a word, spectacular!

In my recent review of the Nighthawk, the word that came to mind for me to describe the guitar was “comfortable,” and that was completely evident when I played it at my church gig this evening. The Nighthawk is comfortable in every way imaginable; from its light weight to its playability, and its ability to fit into any genre of music.

Now before you poo-poo that a church gig is not a “real” gig, guess again. I’ve played in a variety of venues over they years, and playing at church is one of the most challenging venues to play.

The reason for this is that the music at a church service isn’t the same style from song to song. Since I do kind of a “rock” service, we usually start and end with rockin’ songs with copious amounts of overdrive. But in the middle or meat of the service, we have to back it off a bit. Sometimes it’s bluesy, softer, classic rock with a bit of overdrive, but a lot of the songs are much softer: ballads and slower tunes that require playing clean. So versatility is absolutely crucial with the gear that I use for the service, and the Nighthawk delivers the versatility I require in spades.

For this particular service, I kept my rig very simple. For my amp, I used my trusty Aracom VRX22 hooked up to my Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator, then out to my custom Aracom 1 X 12 cab with a Jensen P12N. In front of the amp, I used just one pedal: my Boss TU-2. 🙂 I normally bring my entire board that has a variety of drives and modulation effects, but this time I wanted to capture the raw tone of the guitar, and all I could say after the service was, “WOW!”

The Nighthawk can produce some very nice grind with the P-90 and Burstbucker 3, but it can also produce rich and pristine cleans; cleans that’ll just make you close your eyes and soak up all the tonal goodness. The P-90 produces lush, fat cleans, while the BB 3 – as expected – produces bright cleans. But engaging the middle selector position allows you mix the two in varying quantities and this lets you dial in all sorts of clean tones, from super fat to ringing. The thin body of the Nighthawk is exceptionally resonant, providing great sustain and tonal complexity, producing an almost reverb-like effect. I was absolutely floored by the gorgeous clean tones I was able to dial in. It was purely inspiring!

For more overdriven tones, the middle pickup again makes this guitar so versatile. In fact, I played most of the service in this position, and simply varied the amount of neck and bridge pickup volumes to get the overdrive tones I wanted. For our more rockin’ tunes, I switched the amp to the drive channel. On the Nighthawk, I dimed the treble pickup, and when I wanted more heavy crunch, would just dial in more P-90. It was so cool! Dialing in more P-90 didn’t result in significantly more volume; a slight amount, but nothing significant. When I got to a lead break, it was a simple flick of the toggle to the treble pickup, and I could get that classic Les Paul treble pickup tone! F$%kin-A!

Interestingly enough, the Nighthawk isn’t a bright guitar. In fact, its tone is the deepest of any guitar I’ve gigged with, save my old ES-333, which was both darker and boomy. But that darker tone isn’t a bad thing at all because the Nighthawk has BIG HAIRY BALLS. There is nothing subtle about its tone. It’s incredibly expressive and in your face, whether you’re playing clean or dirty, and it forces you to engage in a never-ending musical conversation while you play it. You can’t be timid with this guitar. It won’t let you. There were times when I was playing where I would normally hold back, but with the Nighthawk in my hands, it seemed to coax me to go outside my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Damn! If I were single and the Nighthawk was a woman… no, I better not go there. 🙂

As you can tell, I quite simply dig this guitar. I know, I say that about a lot of gear, and it’s genuine. But there’s gear that I dig and there’s gear that I REALLY DIG, like Blondie, my Squier CV Tele, and all my Aracom equipment. The Nighthawk definitely falls into that REALLY DIG camp!

By the way, not that it really matters a lot to me because I didn’t even think about what number guitar I got in the limited run of 350, but to my very pleasant surprise, I discovered that I have #29 in the lot. Like I said, I didn’t even think to check this, but a member on the My Les Paul forum asked me what number I got – it was first time I looked. Not sure if this really means anything because I’m not really a collector – I’ll never sell this guitar. But it’s still kind of cool to get a low number.

There’s a certain magic about the Nighthawk that harkens me back to the first Harry Potter movie when he went to the wand shop. The shopkeeper told Harry (paraphrasing), “The wizard doesn’t choose the wand. The wand chooses the wizard.” And in the case of this guitar, despite the fact that I was going to pull the trigger on an R9 Les Paul, this guitar reached out and chose me. I have absolutely no regrets about passing over the LP in this case, and I’m looking forward to the magic the Nighthawk and I can create!

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Click on the picture to see an enlarged view.

Gibson Limited Run Nighthawk 2009


Summary: After a 10 year hiatus, Gibson returns the Nighthawk to market, with a slightly different look and electronics. Make no bones about it; this guitar is SWEET!

Pros:Looking for a super-light but versatile guitar? Look no further. The Nighthawk has it all, and can do it all from swampy blues to all out RAWK! Its thinline body makes it absolutely comfortable to play, and the neck is perfect!

Cons:None.

Features:

  • Style: Contoured single-cutaway
  • Top: AAA Maple
  • Body: Bound mahogany
  • Neck: Set mahogany
  • Scale length: 24-3/4″
  • Neck profile: ’60s thin
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard radius: 12″
  • No. of frets: 22
  • Nut width: 1.69″
  • Neck pickup: P-90 single-coil
  • Bridge pickup: BurstBucker 3 humbucker
  • Controls: Volume, Volume, Tone, 3-way toggle pickup selector
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Tuners: Kluson
  • Bridge: Tune-O-Matic
  • Tailpiece: Stopbar
  • Finish: Lacquer
  • Case: Hardshell
  • Other: Certificate of Authenticity.

Price: $1400-$1700 street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ Talk about love at first strum! The Nighthawk is like a cross between an SG and a Les Paul, and I can’t say enough about how great this guitar plays and sounds!

When I have enough time to go to my favorite shop near work, like any gear freak, I’m like a kid in a candy store; especially this little place in Redwood City, CA called Gelb Music. I’ve known the guys there for a number of years, and they’ve always steered me in the right direction. Unfortunately for me, they also know that I have a HUGE weak spot for non-mainstream gear. Such was the case when I walked into the shop today to ogle some Les Pauls. They’ve known that I’ve been jonesing for one for awhile, but they must have a sense about what appeals to me, because one of ’em will say, “Dude, those Pauls are nice, but you gotta check out this…” And in “checking it out,” I’ve since ended up with a MIM Strat, a Roland Cube 60, a Squire Classic Vibe Tele, an Ibanez GSR200 Bass and numerous pedals.

So here I was, minding my own business, admiring the Les Pauls hanging from the ceiling, when Tommy did the “dude you gotta check this out,” I told him, “Tommy, don’t do this to me. You know what happens when you do that.”

“I know, man,” he replied, “And I know you’ve been looking at the Pauls, but you gotta check this out [pulling down this gorgeous honey-colored Gibby from the hanger]. It’s the most playable f-in guitar in the shop, and dude! The tone this thing produces is incredible. Here. Check out the neck!” Handing me the guitar in the process.

I was immediately overtaken by the light weight of the guitar. If that axe weighed 6 lbs, I’d be surprised (a look at the Gibson Nighthawk site lists the average weight at 4.6 lbs). Then as I moved the guitar into a playing position, I noticed how absolutely perfect the neck is. I love that 60’s thin neck! It’s a shallow “C” with a slightly wider profile. It’s faster than all get-out, and oh so comfortable to play! But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

Fit and Finish

This is one beautiful guitar! The bookmatched figured maple top is absolutely stunning, and the transparent amber lacquer brings out the three-dimensionality of the wood grain. The high gloss of the lacquer further enhances the effect – it’s like liquid sunshine. To provide definition both body and neck are bound with a white binding.

Speaking of wood, the light mahogany is flawless and all the joints and seams are perfect.

The Nighthawk 2009 is quite a bit different from the original that came out in 1993, even though it retains the same body shape. The original seemed to be Gibson’s answer to the HSS Strat, and had a 5-way pickup selector. With this version, Gibson has gone with a BFG setup with a P-90 in the neck and an awesome BurstBucker 3 in the bridge. The pickup selector switch is now a 3-way toggle and has been moved to the upper bout like a Les Paul (which I love). The neck sports a solid mahogany base with a rosewood fretboard and medium-jumbo frets with a scale length of 24 3/4 inches – just like a Les Paul.

The hardware provides an added touch of vintage feel to the look of the guitar, from the Kluson tuners and chrome Tune-o-matic bridge and stop tail piece, to the gold top hat volume and tone knobs. Even though the Nighthawk 2009 is a limited run guitar, it’s clear that Gibson didn’t just want this to be novelty guitar where they could get away with using cheap materials. Everything about this guitar screams high-quality down to the little details. I’m impressed!

In fact, at a distance, you might easily mistake this guitar for a different Les Paul model. I certainly did when I saw Billy Joel in concert. His guitarist was slinging this gorgeous Gibson that looked like a Les Paul. But it kind of confused me with its body shape and three knob setup. I kept on wondering, “Did Gibson create a new model Les Paul?” I’ve since been corrected.

Playability

There’s one word that comes to mind when I play this guitar: Comfortable. My favorite guitars have always been those that sound, play, and feel comfortable, and the Nighthawk is all about comfort. The 60’s thinline neck with wide profile is so easy to play. I found myself not worrying at all about where my fingers were and just playing. The action is low and fretting notes is so easy. But with the medium-jumbo frets, wiggling your fingers creates some very nice vibrato without even bending the strings! The pickups are in the perfect place for where I strum, which is right between them, so no chance of banging my finger on a pickup in a hard strum as well.

To me, this is a player’s guitar. I know that some people have complained that it doesn’t faithfully reproduce the original. But I believe that the original was just too quirky and didn’t really have player ergonomics in mind. For instance, the pickup selector switch. I dig that it’s in the classic Gibson position. It is so much more accessible – I don’t even have to look to switch pickups.

The Les Paul scale length on the Nighthawk makes bending – even the slightly brittle shop strings which I will replace today – a breeze. The setup is perfect and there’s nary a string that frets out or dulls. Like I said, this is a player’s guitar.

How It Sounds

Gibson states, “Today’s version is still all about a guitarist keeping his options open. With two volume controls, a master tone knob and two heavy-duty pickups, guitarists can experiment with endless sounds.” In other words, the Nighthawk is all about tonal diversity, capable of producing super-smooth and sexy cleans to all out snarling dog drive. I’ve played the guitar a little less than a couple of hours, and I’m absolutely blown away by the tones this guitar produces.

The big surprise is the P-90 in the neck. I was expecting it to be bright, but it’s thick and ballsy, with a real emphasis on the lower mids. It might get lost in the mix when played dirty, but the cleans is where this pickup really stands out. The voicing is creamy smooth, and very acoustic sounding.

The treble pickup is classic Les Paul, but just a tad darker which I absolutely love! The Burstbucker 3 produces a rich tone that’s full of harmonics and overtones, without being overly bright.

But the real magic comes in mixing the two pickups in the middle position. Holy crap!!! Talk about tonal complexity! The guys at the shop said that the middle position was their favorite, and I now see why. I immediately fell in love using this setting.

As far as volume balance is concerned, both pickups put out about the same volume, so there’s not this big gain boost when you switch to the treble pickup like you’d get from a Les Paul. I’m thinking Gibson did this to emphasize using the middle position, and blending the pickups together. Nice.

In any case, I got ambitious and put some sound clips together:

Neck Pickup

Clean

Dirty Lead

Rock Rhythm

Both Pickups

Clean

Dirty Lead

Rock Rhythm

Treble Pickup

Clean

Dirty Lead

Rock Rhythm

All clips were played with the Nighthawk (with both volume knobs set at about 7 and tone at 10) plugged straight into my Aracom VRX22 which then ran into my Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator then out to a 1 X 12 cab with a Jensen P12N. I used a Sennheiser e609 instrument mic, and recorded directly into GarageBand with no volume leveling.

Overall Impressions

I’m still getting acquainted with this axe, but with all the tones that it can produce, I can easily see it becoming my go-to axe, and it isn’t just initial infatuation speaking. This guitar – at least to me – is so sexy from its looks to its sounds! If you get a chance to play one, you’ll see what I mean.

As a limited run, there are not many out there. In fact, some online stores no longer carry them. But you can still find some at online retailers, and if you’re lucky, your local shop will have one. Give it a try!

For more information, please check out the Nighthawk site!

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As you may know, I own a Prestige Guitars axe – actually one they no longer have in their current model lineup (though they list it in their models area) – the Heritage Elite, which I call “Sugar” because she actually smells sweet in addition to sounding sweet. The Heritage Elite is a very ornate take on a Les Paul copy; a lot of people actually don’t like how busy all the decorations are, which might account for why it’s not on their current model lineup. But the tone and sustain are wonderful, so that guitar is a keeper for sure. But I suppose in an effort to be a bit more “true to form,” Prestige has come out with a new axe, called the “Classic,” that I am sure will turn heads.

The Classic is a very nice take on a classic Les Paul design. It features a AAA flame maple top, on a super-light, carved, mahogany body and mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard. As with the Heritage, it sports the classic Seymour Duncan 59/JB Neck/Bridge pickup combination, independent volume and tone knobs, and a 3-way selector switch. Not sure what the bridge is, but when I last spoke with Prestige, they were moving away from Gotoh Tone-o-matic to GraphTech. Sure looks like a Gotoh to me, but I’d have to see it up close to tell.

When I look at the picture, if it weren’t for the lower horn, I’d swear this was a Les Paul! I dig the mother of pearl inlays on the fretboard, and the graceful lines of the body; speaking of which, the back is contoured, so in addition to being light, it is apparently incredibly comfortable as well. Great combination!

Here are specs from the Prestige Site:

  • 24 3/4” scale length
  • 1 11/16” nut width
  • Carved mahogany, maple bound body
  • AAA Grade flame maple top
  • Mahogany neck
  • Bound rosewood fingerboard
  • Mother of pearl trapeze 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
  • Grover tuners
  • Tune-o-matic bridge & Stop Bar
  • All chrome hardware
  • Available in natural sunburst finish

And to top it of, here’s a Guitar World video demo of the Classic:

Even with the low quality video, you can hear how that guitar just sings. It has a sweet sound, but can also get really aggressive. That’s one of the reasons I love playing my Sugar, which is a great guitar. But I might just have to get me one of these classics to gig with… OMG! More GAS!!!!

For more information, check out the Prestige Guitars product page!

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I’m not a metal player, not even a real fan of metal, or I should say the real heavy stuff, and being more of a middle-of-the-road kind of guy in real life, have never really gotten into the fashion. That doesn’t mean it’s bad to me, it’s just not, well, me. So my appreciation of metal and the metal culture and style has always been somewhat on the periphery at best. But I do have to say that some of the styling cues are so over the top, I find them very intriguing.

This morning I received a press release about a new company called Ikon Custom Guitars. The picture of the guitar that accompanied the press release gave me a bit of pause. It was one of those moments where you think, “That has to be about the fugliest goddam guitar I’ve ever seen, but at the same time, it’s cool. By the way, this company is so new that their web site isn’t even complete – it’s just a splash page.

The guitar shown here is called the Arachnoid 1. When you take a close look at it, it really looks like a spider. In fact, the first impression I got was Gene Simmons meets the Lord of the Rings. Here’s an excerpt of the press release copy:

Guitar Strikes Fear in Community

Custom guitar builder, Ikon Customs takes guitar building to a new level with unique custom body shapes and materials…all without sacrificing the tones and performance of the instrument.

Houston TX  February 10, 2010 – Ikon Custom Guitars is introducing its first production models to the guitar market.  The Arachnoid 1is 100% hand built in the USA using traditional and innovative techniques.  After years of effort to challenge conventional appearances and styles of guitars, Ikon Customs feels it has finally reached a new pinnacle in guitar design, appearance and manufacturing.

The body of the Arachnoid 1 is constructed of a poplar wood core for strength and tone and a proprietary resin compound that allows the builders to sculpt and shape finished bodies into new and innovative designs.  The resin compound took many prototypes and years to finalize before committing to final production.  In addition to the proprietary compounds, Ikon Customs also builds bodies using other materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber and Kevlar.  Founder and President, Marc Anthony H. Bertone feels that with these new materials, his design concepts will be limitless.

The Arachnoid 1 is available in three models:

Arachnoid1 Weaver:

  • Red Oak neck and fretboard
  • Dyed fretboard, printed graphic “tatooed” on
  • Poplar headstock with a walnut veneer
  • Death Dealer high output passive pickup
  • Top loading fixed IKON USA Bridge
  • IKON Grip USA locking tuners
  • Proprietary resin formula over Poplar body
  • Adjustable aluminum nut
  • Custom airbrushed paintjob
  • Available in Flat, Satin or High Gloss finish
  • chrome, black or gold hardware
  • 25.5″ scale, 24 jumbo frets, available in flat or 20″ radius
  • MSRP: $999

Arachnoid1 Recluse:

  • Maple, Walnut, Bloodwood or Purpleheart neck and fretboard
  • Inlaid Aliencult Skull logo
  • Poplar headstock with Carbon Fiber or exotic burl veneer
  • Death Dealer high output pickup or Stealth active pickup
  • Top loading fixed IKON USA Bridge
  • IKON Grip USA locking tuners
  • Proprietary resin formula with  hand-laid fiberglass over Walnut body
  • Adjustable aluminum nut
  • Custom airbrushed paintjob
  • Available in Flat, Satin or High Gloss finish
  • chrome, black or gold hardware
  • 25.5″ scale, 24 jumbo frets, available in flat or 20″ radius
  • MSRP: $1999

Arachnoid1 Widow:

  • Cocobolo or Bocote (or any other exotic wood; subject to availability and may affect final pricing) neck and fretboard
  • Inlaid Aliencult Skull logo, LED glowing fret markers
  • Poplar headstock with Carbon Fiber or exotic burl veneer
  • Death Dealer high output pickup or Stealth active pickup
  • Top loading fixed IKON USA Bridge
  • IKON Grip USA locking tuners
  • Proprietary resin formula with  hand-laid fiberglass and carbon-fiber over Walnut body
  • Adjustable aluminum nut
  • Custom airbrushed paintjob; ours or your choice of colors
  • Available in Flat, Satin or High Gloss finish
  • chrome, black, gold or any painted color hardware
  • 25.5″ scale, 24 jumbo frets, available in flat or 20″ radius
  • MSRP: $2999

About Ikon Customs

Established in 2006 with the intent of changing the world of guitars and musical instruments, Founder and President Marc Anthony H. Bertone set out to find new and unique approaches to designing musical instruments that defied tradition and style.  What started as a hobby in the garage has now turned into a lifetime pursuit and career.  www.ikoncustoms.com

On a final note…

While I’m intrigued by the offering, weird body shapes for guitars aren’t anything new. Halo Guitars was doing that for a long time, though they seem to have gone back to selling more traditional styles – go figure. So I do wish Ikon luck. Hopefully Marc Anthony Bertone will achieve a following.

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or… Doc Brown in Back to the Future saying, “I finally invented something that works!” Speaking in reference to the Flux Capacitor. Nah, it’s nothing of the sort, but it is by no means less cool. The Flux Density Modulation Speakers are a new approach to attenuation where the attenuation happens right at the speaker! Giving you up to -9 dB attenuation, while keeping your tone, that is what I call cool, and something I must check out! You know me, I’m an attenuator fan, and something like this has me absolutely GAS-ing! From what I could tell from the videos below, the tone is really preserved. Now, mind you that -9 dB of attenuation won’t get you down to conversation levels, but it’ll sure provide enough attenuation to take the bite off the volume. If you need to go lower, hell! Get an Aracom attenuator, and get it down REAL LOW! Check out the NAMM vids!

and from GuitarWorld…

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Could this be the last tuner pedal you’ll ever need?

I don’t see how I missed this! I scour the ‘net daily for new stuff, especially from companies that are known to create really high-quality stuff – like TC Electronic. These Scandinavians are incredible inventors, and I haven’t seen or played one one thing of theirs that I didn’t like – though I could rarely afford it. But they’ve come out with a new tuner – yes, a tuner, of all things – that is completely different from any other tuner on the market. It’s called the “Polytune.” As its name implies, it is a polyphonic tuner; that is, the tuner can detect all your strings at once, and you can see which ones aren’t in tune at the click of a foot switch. Unlike traditional tuners that require you to check each string individually, with the Polytune, you strum your open strings. The LED’s will show you which strings are in tune and which aren’t.

In my experience, more likely than not, at any given time only one or two will be out of tune. So imagine the time you save by NOT having to check and tune each string – only the ones that need it! Check out this video to see how it works!

And at $99 bucks… SOLD!!!

Here are some features:

  • 0.5 cent accuracy
  • Standard size box
  • Tune by strumming
  • Can automatically switch between chromatic and polyphonic tuning (it will detect if you’re hitting a single string)
  • Customizable preference settings
  • Has a 9V output jack for powering other pedals
  • True bypass
  • Adjustable reference pitch from 435Hz to 445Hz
  • Supports drop tuning all the way down to B!
  • Works with 4 and 5 string basses as well

It may not have the accuracy of a TurboTuner, but who the hell gives a flying f$%k! .5 cent accuracy is nothing to shake a stick at, and the fact that you can see the tuning of all your strings at once is incredible! Can  you say KICK ASS!!! I’ve never even seen this thing and I want to give it 5 Tone Bones! Check out the TC Electronic web site for some detailed information!

Could this be the last tuner I’ll ever want? Until someone comes out with something better – and at a better price, for that matter, probably not. I want to get one right now. Unfortunately, they’re only available for pre-order. Hmm… oh well, I supposed I can wait. 🙂

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