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Archive for the ‘prestige guitars’ Category

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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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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When I first reviewed the Fane Medusa 150, though I gave it a pretty good rating at 4.5 Tone Bones, I wasn’t really blown away by its tone because of its big bottom end, and recommended that the speaker be put into a 2 X 12 balanced out by a speaker with more top-end sparkle. What I didn’t consider was how it could be used to balance out the tone of a naturally bright amp.

Take, for instance, my review on the Aracom PLX18 BB Trem. One of the nits I had with the combo was that the Eminence Red Coat Red Fang was way too bright for the already naturally bright amp, causing me to bleed off highs when I was mixing the song. FYI, EQ’ing my guitars in my recordings is usually a real no-no with me because I like the pure sound of my guitars and amps on a recording. The only things I’ll add in production are reverb or a touch of delay if necessary. I love the tone of the PLX18, but that speaker just didn’t work for me.

Enter the Fane Medusa 150. That speaker is actually on loan from Tonic Amps. I’ve actually had it for a few months now, and I keep on forgetting to drop it off at Darin’s new place. Well, it looks like I’m probably going to buy it off him after all because I swapped out the Red Fang for the Medusa 150 in the PLX18, and suddenly the seas parted and a way was made clear! The PLX18 tone was completely transformed! Instead of being a purely bright amp, the PLX18’s tone became much more balanced. The highs and high-mids were still present but were much more tame. This resulted in a much richer tone.

As you may know, I’ve been working on a new song called “Strutter.” I actually had the song completely recorded, but I hadn’t finished it because I just haven’t been completely satisfied with the lead guitar tone. When I got the PLX18, I knew it would be the amp I’d use to record the song. But with the stock speaker, and even with my Jensen P12N, it still wasn’t cutting it for me. I even mentioned that the amp loves the Red Coat “The Governor,” and it does, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied. Now, with the Medusa 150 in the cabinet, I’ll be completing the song. Let’s compare, shall we?

Here’s the original, recorded with the PLX18 BB with the stock Red Coat. I’m playing my LP copy, Prestige Guitars Heritage Elite:

Now, here’s a clip of the song with the Fane Medusa 150. I’m playing Goldie in her bridge pickup:

Sorry for the differences in volume levels. But where the Red Fang has much more presence, and an in-your-face presentation, the Medusa’s tone is so much more three-dimensional and more refined. The mids and highs are still present and incredibly articulate, but they’re so much less piercing! And one thing that I noticed immediately with the Medusa is the clarity of the notes through the entire EQ spectrum, whereas the Red Fang seemed to lose a bit of clarity at high-gain settings – especially when I play those transition chords. Note that the amp and mix settings stayed completely the same between the two recordings, and both guitars were played through the Trem channel which was completely dimed. I also removed the wah from the second clip because I didn’t feel the need to mix it up. For that part, I did stack my KASHA Overdrive and Geek Driver overdrive pedals, but set to unity gain, and to add just a touch of compression and sustain. Not much, but just a touch.

So what’s the moral of the story? Simple: Amp and speaker combinations are critical to good tone. Some speakers, like my P12N work with a bunch of different amps. But some speakers, like the Medusa, work much better at balancing out certain amp characteristics. I’ve learned a good lesson here: You have to try out gear in different configurations and situations. Had I not tried to experiment with the Medusa, I probably would’ve just passed it off as a good speaker that belongs in a 2 X 12 cabinet with a bright speaker.

For more information on Fane speakers, talk to Darin at Tonic Amps! Tonic is the North American distributor for Fane speakers.

For more information about the incredible Aracom PLX18 BB Trem, please go to Aracom Amplifiers.

By the way, both clips were recorded at conversation levels using the fantastic Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator, by far the best attenuator on the planet, from my perspective. I just couldn’t live without this device!

Now, both amp and speaker get:

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My friend Jeff Aragaki, of Aracom Amps is an incredible inventor. Today he brought over a new unit that among other things, allows me to re-amp my amplified signal into another amp. I’ve heard of this being done before – it’s not new. I just never had the means to do it until today. The clip I recorded – and excuse me for the sometimes sloppy areas – is my Prestige Heritage Elite plugged into my Aracom VRX22 into Jeff’s new invention, then out to my little 1 X 12 cabinet and re-amped through my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Re-amping through the Hot Rod allowed me to take advantage of its reverb, but with two amps going at the same time, it totally fattened up my sound without making it murky. Freakin’ incredible. Anyway, give it a listen!

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Prestige Heritage Elite - Lite Sunburst

Prestige Heritage Elite - Lite Sunburst

Pictured to the left is “Sugar,” my beloved Prestige Heritage Elite. It lists for $1800 Canadian (~$1450 US). But amazingly enough, you can get this guitar for $700-$800 on EBay!!! Click on this link to see items up for sale on EBay.

I’m absolutely amazed by this pricing! This is a guitar that has workmanship and features, not to mention sound and playability that rival boutique guitars five times its price! I’m so blown away by the prices that these are going for on the street, and it’s another reason to consider getting one of these guitars! Here are some sample clips:

Clean or dirty, this guitar sounds amazing!

Prestige Amps

Prestige also carries two tube amps, the VT-10 and VT-30. Here’s an EBay link to a VT-10 for $160!!! That’s absolutely ridiculous! Based on the price alone, I’m going to pick one of these up!!!

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I admit it: I’m an incurable GEAR SLUT! I jones for vintage and vintage style gear, as the music I play leans toward the blues and classic rock. And to satisfy that never-ending craving, I pore over the Internet and various magazines in search of all sorts of gear; hence, the existence of GuitarGear.org where I share with you, dear reader, the things that I come across.

Now in my search for gear, I occasionally buy things. They tend to be vintage-style modern gear because I just don’t have the money to buy real vintage gear; and that usually means I gravitate towards boutique gear; but not just any boutique gear. Remember, I don’t usually have all that much money to afford the real high-end stuff, so I spend a lot of my scouring my information resources to find boutique gear that I can afford. That’s what gravitated me towards Aracom Amps.

When I saw the price of a VRX series amp, my jaw dropped! Here was a hand-wired, vintage-style tube amp for $895!!! When I finally hooked up with Jeff Aragaki (founder of Aracom), and got a chance to play the VRX18, he shared that one of the ways he was able to keep the cost down was by using a solid-state sag simulating rectifier circuit. When I heard the words “solid-state,” the purist in me started reeling a bit. But then that amp sounded so freakin’ good that I didn’t give a flying you-know-what about the rectifier!

And that’s the point of this article. When you’re looking for and buying gear, don’t let yourself be swayed by an instrument’s or equipment’s pedigree or “all-tubeness” or lack thereof. LISTEN to the fuckin’ thing, and see if it turns you on! If it sounds good, and it works for YOU, then that’s all that matters, in my not so humble opinion on the subject. 🙂 If I had let the purist in me take over, I would’ve never ended up with my VRX22! And for the record, I’ve listened to many, many, many amps, with and without tube rectifiers, and the circuit that Jeff Aragaki employs in the VRX series simulates the sag of a rectifier tube so well, I can’t tell the difference. And if there is one, it’s probably so minute that it doesn’t matter anyway. I’ll put that amp up against any other boutique amp in the same wattage range, and it’ll sound just as good, if not better. And I paid less than half the price of a similarly configured amp!

Give the following clip a listen. I’m playing my Strat plugged straight into the clean channel of the VRX22. In some sections you could swear that the amp has a reverb, but that’s the solid-state rectifier simulating the sag of a tube rectifier. Also, this is the raw recording of the amp: No EQ, no filtering. The master volume was flat out, with the gain control around midway. My mic was about about 10″ away pointed directly at the center of the speaker cone.

I originally recorded that clip with my Prestige Heritage Elite. But that guitar has so much inherent sustain, it would’ve been cheating. 🙂 A Strat on the other hand doesn’t have that much sustain, so it brings out the sustaining quality of the amp much better. The result is just amazing.

And as to the tube vs. solid state rectifier issue, at least in the Aracom VRX series, it doesn’t make one whit of difference, especially when you’re playing live at gig levels. When I’m gigging, I almost never use reverb unless it’s a song where I can really isolate my guitar. Sag gives the effect of reverb, but at loud gig levels, you’ll never hear it.

Another great example of buying what sounds good to you is my friend Vinni Smith of V-Picks. That dude is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever known, and he gigs all the time! You know what he plays through? A freakin’ Roland Cube 30 cranked all the way up and miked into the PA. When he told me that, I almost flipped. Here was a true pro guitarist,  playing through a $200 amp!

So don’t be taken in by pedigree. Buy what sounds good to you, and what you can make sound good. After all, 90% of your tone is in your hands.

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runningaway

Ever been in one of those situations where you have to face up to something you’d said or done, but avoid it all costs because it gives you this feeling of impending doom? I was recently in a situation like this, and it wasn’t at all comfortable going through the emotional and psychic turmoil leading up to the conversation the ultimately resulted in – nothing. No slap on the wrist, no punishment. Just a good conversation where everyone involved learned from the experience.

Anyway, last night I was noodling on my guitar; my eyes were closed, letting my emotions drive my playing. Then I remembered that situation, and came up with the rhythm track for the song. It’s all instrumental – it’s not something I would ever want to put to words, but I did want to convey the emotions. Give it a listen let me know what you think:

Gear Used:

Rhythm Guitars: Strat and Prestige Heritage Elite
Lead: Prestige Heritage Elite
Amps: Hot Rod Deluxe (Strat); Aracom VRX22 (Heritage)

For the rhythm parts, the Strat/Hot Rod is panned to the left of the mix, and the Heritage/VRX22 (clean channel) is panned to the right. The lead part sits dead center.

I’m particularly pleased with the Hot Rod’s tone. The clean tone with that awesome spring reverb is to die for (though I had the reverb down pretty low on it to give the Strat more presence). I’m also diggin’ the Prestige Heritage Elite; especially after I set it up. In particular, I adjusted the pickup heights to smooth out the treble pickup, and to get less boom from the rhythm pickup. It’s now very balanced; and played through the VRX22, it sounds just awesome. I played the lead part through the drive channel of the amp, and set the volume so that it was just on the edge of breakup, so if I dug in a bit, I’d get just a touch of overdrive. I wanted to create an effect of subdued aggression, and the VRX22 is so dynamic, I can achieve that easily.

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