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Posts Tagged ‘new gear’

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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There’s something about “Fender” and “high-gain” that seems like an oxymoron. Most people equate the Fender tone with lush cleans and open, low-gain overdrive. They’ve tried to break into the high-gain market in the past with the ProSonic and SuperSonic models, and they haven’t fared too badly, considering the likes of Matthias Jabs of the Scorpions uses a ProSonic. But it’s hard to break through an image, decades-long in the making.

To help “cut” (pun intended) through that image, Fender recently released the new Machete. This is a two-channel, 50 Watt, 1 X 12 combo that has the capability of producing the classic Fender cleans we all know and love, to some very high and over-the-top high-gain tones. Each channel has independent 3-band EQ. But there are other features that will help players dial in their tones such as an input pad switch for use with guitars with active pickups; a Notch control that changes the midrange point, and a Damper control to roll off highs.

All in all, this is a pretty smart offering from Fender. Here’s Fender’s official demo video:

It’s very cool-looking with that 60’s-70’s, black, retro styling. But it does cost around $1900. That’s actually not too bad of a price, but it’s not cheap either. That’s the other image thing with Fender. They’re known for inexpensive gear relative to their competition. I suppose if they’re competing against the boutique manufacturers, then they’re staying true to that practice. However, most popular boutique amps follow a more vintage path to tone.  I suppose they could be going after Soldano and Hughes & Kettner for high-gain.

No matter, it’ll be interesting to see how this amp fares in the market.

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Just this email from Fender this morning. Usually I take my time with manufacturer ad emails, and this particular one was no exception. So I waited until a few minutes ago to read the email, and my mind stopped dead in its tracks. For on my screen in front of me was a Strat that has finally blown me away. Don’t get me wrong, I love my American Deluxe Strat. For single-coil work and especially the Kinman pickups it has, I get some freakin’ awesome tones.

But I was always thinking that I would love a Strat that had two humbuckers as opposed to the HSS; in fact, my wish was to have an HSH. My thought was that I would love a Strat that always had the fat tones of a humbucker, while still retaining that Strat vibe, and lo and behold, here was a picture of a brand-new American Standard Hand Stained Ash Stratocaster® HSH!!!

Talk about getting some serious GAS! Not only does it have the HSH pickup configuration, it has an alder body, a maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard: Exactly how I like my Strats! Fender lists it at $1569 MSRP, but I’ve seen some stores online advertising it pre-order for $1149.

You can read details on the Fender product page.

Damn! Just when I was over my latest GAS attack with my DV Mark Little 30 L34, here comes more gear that’s seriously – and I mean seriously – giving me GAS.

I’ll take the Wine Red one, please!

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Okay, boys and girls… After announcing this guitar over a year ago, Gibson has finally released the Firebird X er… system. Not just a guitar, this baby packs built-in effects, completely on/off switchable and coil-tapped pickups. It also includes a piezo pickup for getting an acoustic sound. But wait! There’s more! The pickups can be switched to run in series and parallel. But we won’t stop there! The on-board effects can be controlled by sliders on the upper bout of the body, and with the included switch pedal, you can activate those effects.

But just to make sure Gibson didn’t forget anything, they also include an expression pedal for the effects. By the way, the effects are all programmable via USB interface to a computer. Oh yeah… There’s also a boatload of software included.

Even the case is revolutionary (Gibson’s words). It’s lightweight, and includes the obligatory straps, but it’s strong enough to withstand a fall from a six-story building (I wonder if that’s with the guitar in it). 🙂 Oh! And let’s not forget the robot tuning system.

So what’ll all this cost? Supposedly, somewhere in the neighborhood of US$5500.

My thoughts? I’m not sure. It’s certainly very cool. All this in a 7 pound guitar! Wait! It’s not a guitar, it’s a system! 🙂

It certainly is a system, and mind you, I only mentioned a fraction of the features of this guit… er… system. The technology that has gone into it is pretty amazing in both breadth and depth. That, I can’t deny. And to have your pedalboard right in your guitar is pretty freakin’ cool – ala Matthew Bellamy of Muse.

There’s a part of me that says this screams of overkill. But on the other hand, it’s not as if this guitar will be a high-production model. It’s a limited edition. But who knows? If demand is high, Gibby may turn it into a sales platform.

Also, for myself, and myself only, I just want to play. I’m not sure that I’d want to spend a lot of time niggling over effects patches. And besides, though the effects may very well be good – perhaps even awesome – I’ve got the effects I like on my board, and for the most part, especially for my modulation effects, I rarely change where they’re set to (well… except for my Deep Blue Delay).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m really not trying to be cynical here, but something like this would take me awhile to dial in. Like I said, I’d rather pick up a guitar and just start playing, knowing what sounds the guitar will make.

For more information, check out Gibson’s Firebird X site!

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If you look on my rig page, you’ll see that for my solo gigs, I use the very wonderful Fishman SoloAmp. This is a great, integrated PA that I’ve been using to great success for the past year or so. Very easy to set up, and it has a nice on-board mixer with decent reverb effects (which I never use, since I always use my vocalizer’s reverb). But the other day, I demoed the HK Audio Elements system while I was browsing “The Music Tree” in Morgan Hill, CA. This is an audio system that is similar to the Bose L1, but unlike the Bose L1, the Elements system allows you to expand by adding more “elements” as your audience size grows. Super-cool!!!

Sound-wise, I plugged an acoustic guitar directly into the system, and was absolutely blown away by the sound! While I love my Fishman, and it has served me well, compared to something like the Elements system, a subwoofer really makes a difference, despite the fact that the SoloAmp’s speakers have good bass response.

But honestly, this entry isn’t about the Elements system. 🙂 While trying to get more information online about the Elements system, I ran across another, just-released, integrated PA system from HK Audio called the Sound Caddy One, that is based upon the same audio technology as the Elements system. But with the Sound Caddy One, there are NO parts to put together! The line array is housed within the PA’s body (which also serves as the housing for the subwoofers), and to set up the system, you release the line array, that pops up out of the housing, secure it, plug in, turn on and you’re ready to go! Damn!

Check out this demo video from Musikmesse 2011:

Here are the Sound Caddy’s technical features:

Model SOUNDCADDY ONE
Max SPL calculated 125 dB
Max SPL peak 125 dB
Max SPL 120 dB @10% THD
Output power system 600W Class D
Frequency response +/- 3 dB 49 Hz – 18 kHz
Frequency response -10 dB 42 Hz – 18 kHz
Connections integrated 4-channel-mixer
LF Speaker 3x 6″
Mid/High Speaker 6x 3,5″
Directivity 70° x 15°
Crossover frequency 150 Hz, 12 dB/oct.
Enclosure 15 mm (5/8“), 13-ply (plywood)
Dimensions (WxHxD) 27 x 102 x 34 cm 10-5/8“ x 40-5/32 x 13-25/64
Weight 29 kg / 63,9lbs

Delivering a max 125dB at 600 Watts, this unit can move some air. Some people have said it isn’t powerful enough for their uses, but for a solo musician, this is more than enough power! Also, I have to question the negative feedback because systems like this are all about sound dispersal, getting an even volume anywhere within the sound dispersal cone which, for this system, is 70 degrees. When I first started using a line array system, it took me awhile to get used to the volume seemingly not being as loud. But it’s deceptive with a line array because the sound actually reaches fairly extreme angles, and what you’re trying to do is get your sound dispersed, and not necessarily through volume.

I dig that unlike the Elements system which is pure sound reinforcement, this has an integrated 4-channel mixer, which is an absolute MUST for me. But the only thing that I’d be wary of is the stability of the system. The base seems rather narrow, and I’m wondering how it would fair in windy conditions. In any case, here’s another demo video that demonstrates the sound. The singer aside, even through the camcorder’s microphone, it’s clear that the Sound Caddy One provides some very clear, clean sound.

As for cost, the video above mentioned a price of “2000.” If that’s in German deutsche marks, then the price would be around $1450 USD. That’s not bad, even as an MSRP, which would make the street price even lower. I’ll have to find out more information.

In any case, for more information on HK Audio products, go to: http://www.hkaudio.com.

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The other day, I was at my good friend Jeff Aragaki’s (of Aracom Amps fame) home/workshop and noticed his ProLine multi-guitar stand where he always keeps five or six guitars. I was thinking to myself that I could use one of these in my home studio, as I have at least five guitars and a bass out at any time; especially as of late, since I’ve been recording quite a bit. All my guitars are on individual stage stands, and they take up a lot of space. I was thinking that with a multi-guitar rack, I could put out several guitars and not take up too much space on my studio floor.

But one thing that I thought about when considering a multi-guitar stand was it would be great if there was one made of wood. It just looks better to me. And wouldn’t you know it, today I received an email announcing a new company called Rock Solid Guitar Stands that make their stands out of wood. Cool! Check this out!

THAT is exactly what I was looking for in a multi-guitar stand!

Here’s the press release they sent:

———–

NEW MULTI-GUITAR STANDS FROM ROCK SOLID GUITAR STANDS
Two new models coming in October 2011.

Is your studio, family room, or living space crowded with guitar cases or single stands? Rock Solid Guitar Stands will compliment your space, and more importantly, showcase your collection at the same time. Rock Solid Guitar Stands are multi guitar stands that were specifically designed for the home or studio and designed by a collector. Your guitars and basses will truly be at home, and finally given the attention they deserve.

Unlike the typical metal multi-guitar stands out there, which are not very stable or attractive, Rock Solid Guitar Stands flow quite well in any decor in your home or studio. They are also very stable. For more information visit http://www.rocksolidguitarstands.com.

In October of 2011, we will be introducing “The Classic 4,” and “The Show 5.” These two new multi-guitar stand models will offer an alternative for players with guitar collections of various sizes.

The Classic 4 is perfect for someone with limited space. It is only 33” wide x 28” high x 18” deep.

The Show 5 is truly a unique design. Let’s face it, you want to show off your favorite guitar and have it accessible at all times. That’s why The Show 5 has a specially designed fifth slot which let’s your most precious guitar stand out and get some extra loving!
Be sure to visit Rock Solid Guitar Stands on the web in the following places:
Official website: http://www.rocksolidguitarstands.com
Store: http://shop.rocksolidguitarstands.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rocksolidstands
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rock-Solid-Guitar-Stands/178352512182913

———–

The stands come in three different colors: Honey, Dark Cherry, and Ivory. Personally, I like the Dark Cherry color. Also, they only weight 12 lbs.; not at all heavy, which is cool. The price is $199 direct, which might be a bit steep, but these are solid wood, not press-board. When you order one, assembly is required, but an allen wrench is provided and you’ll just need an adjustable wrench or pliers. From what I gather, the kit takes less than a half-hour to assemble.

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I know, I usually do a gig report AFTER I write a review of a product, but I used the speaker in a gig yesterday, and had to write about it. First though, let’s go over some general stuff…

The Jet series from Jensen is a break from Jensen’s vintage roots to go after more modern styles of music. Having two of their Jet Falcon 12″ speakers, I readily concur. For a long time I was into vintage tone, but as the music I’ve been writing as of late has taken on a bit more of an edge, the warmth and general mellowness of Alnico just hasn’t done it for me, let alone my music. Going to speakers that have a bad-ass attitude has really helped me explore different musical depths.

When I first heard the Falcon, I absolutely fell in love with that speaker. It has a big, bold tone and is supposedly reminiscent of old “green backs.” I’ve never heard original green backs, but I do know one thing: For straight-up rock and roll, the Falcon excels!

Enter the Electric Lightning. I got an announcement from the Jensen distributor that the Electric Lightning 10 had just come out, so I asked him if I could do a review on it. He replied by sending me a speaker for review. He’s not getting it back (I’ll pay for it), and I’m going to order one more to create a 2 X 10, or maybe get a couple of more to build a 3 X 10.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I don’t bullshit when it comes to gear. Gone are the days when I buy something based on hype. I have to play it to see if I like it, and with the Electric Lightning 10″, I found a speaker that completely blows me away – enough so that I’m going to be buying it!

To test the speaker out, I installed it in my VHT Special 6, which has a pretty small cabinet, and I expected that the speaker would be pretty bright, considering the small resonating space, and the size of the speaker. I was completely wrong.

I happened to be working on a new song before I installed the speaker, so the I just grabbed the guitar I was using, which was my Yamaha APX900 acoustic-electric. I took one strum, and got a queer look on my face thinking, “Does it really sound that rich?” I couldn’t believe it! I started playing through a few different tunes, and I just couldn’t believe my ears! The lows that I was expecting to be subdued were big and bold, and not at all flabby or mushy. Mids were well-controlled and smooth, and the highs were nice and dynamic without being over-pronounced. Even with an acoustic-electric, the net result was that this speaker had lots of presence.

As you can see on the frequency response chart below, the graph supports what I described above:

The low-end response is nice and wide, with gentler mids, and with a sharp high-frequency peak to help round things out.

Of course, this speaker is touted as a speaker to be used for heavier music, and perhaps that wide bottom definitely supports that, but I then used the amp in my church gig yesterday to test the speaker out in a live setting. For the service, though I was tempted to bring a couple of guitars, I just brought my American Deluxe Strat.

In a word, the combination of the Strat with that amp and speaker was stupendous. I chose to use my Strat because I haven’t liked any single coil guitar with that amp since I got it. But the bottom-end on the speaker completely tones down the highs; though I do have to admit that the amp itself is pretty bright, so I turned the tone knob down to about 11am to roll off some of the real high-freq sounds that amp makes.

Did I mention that the speaker is loud? It really is. Even with a little 6 watt amp, that speaker is so efficient that it seriously moves air. Another guitarist in my band looked at the amp quizzically, to which I said, “Don’t sound like a 10″ speaker, does it?” He replied, “Well, not just that, I mean, look at the size of the cabinet it’s in, and it’s making that kind of tone and volume.”

That really just sums it up for the Electric Lightning. A 10″ speaker is not supposed to sound this big and loud; especially when it’s only being driven by a little 6 watt amp. It’s simply uncanny.

Another thing about this speaker is that it is very well-behaved with overdrive and distortion. Before our service I cranked up the amp to really drive the speaker so I could get some speaker distortion, and the sound that speaker made was heavenly. Then I cranked up my EWS Little Brute Drive distortion pedal, and it took it with ease. No matter what type of drive/distortion I threw at it, note separation and clarity was fantastic!

As for cleans, if you’re into that scooped clean sound, this is your speaker. The wide bottom-end really helps give clean notes lots of oomph, while the high-freq spike provides for warmth and sparkle.

All in all, I’m totally impressed with this speaker! I’ll be doing a review with sound clips in the near future, so stay tuned! I know, there’s not much information on the speaker on the Internet right now, but there are some decent sound clips and videos that can be found.

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I get lots of press releases, but there are some that compel me to share. This is one of them:

Pigtronix announces release of the Class A Boost – Elegance In Tone

Pigtronix Class A Boost is the final word in high performance guitar preamps. This pedal’s elegant exterior and single knob layout cloth an ingenious “Class A” J-FET design that will fatten up the sound of any instrument or sound source.

Featuring discreet transistor topology (no opamps) this device can boost passive or active pickups and even line level signals up to 20db without ever clipping. Perfectly flat frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz ensures that your instrument’s tone and expressive character remain intact as signal power is increased.

The Class A Boost’s noise free performance allows you to put the effect anywhere in your pedal chain. It adds punch and extra output when placed after a classic overdrive or will happily push your gain pedals into new levels of saturation. The Class A Boost is also ideal for hitting the front end of a tube amp to achieve an added layer of sweetness and fat tone without unwanted clipping or noise.

The Class A Boost runs fine on a standard 9-volt supply, but ships with a Pigtronix 18-volt adapter in order to achieve superior headroom and maximum punch. Make your sound 1 louder with this handsomely dressed, J-FET masterpiece from Pigtronix.

“Pigtronix Class A Boost is crucial to my sound because it makes my guitar tone clearer and louder, without adding distortion.”  – Eric Krasno (Soulive)

Pigtronix Class A Boost carries a list price of $149 and is available now at Pigtronix dealers everywhere.  Check out the Class A Boost and the whole line of 2011 Pigtronix effects at http://www.pigtronix.com.

I’m a big proponent of boost pedals, especially when used to slam the front end of a tube amp to push it into full-on overdrive. What’s attractive about this particular pedal is that it is Class A – at least from an audiophile’s perspective – which means that it will not clip throughout its operating range. Don’t confuse this with the definition of Class A for an amplifier. They’re two different things. Here’s a great explanation of Class A operation with respect to amps.

In any case, this could be a VERY cool pedal to have…

For more information, visit the Pigtronix Class A Boost page!

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Just got an e-mail from Fender today, announcing the 60th Anniversary of the Telecaster. They’re calling it their “Tele-bration.” Nice. The beauty above is called the “Modern Thinline” Tele, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous guitar! Fender calls it a chambered body.

In any case, in honor of the 60th Anniversary, Fender is releasing special edition models throughout the year; some of which you can see here. One of the models that has particularly caught my eye is the “Old Growth Redwood” model. This is made from salvaged redwood from old buildings, and has the knots and nail holes from those buildings to give the guitar a really distinctive look.

MSRP on all these guitars is $2499, so count on street prices being around the $1500-$1800 price mark. That’s very attractive pricing for these models. 🙂

BTW, I found a GREAT video demo of the Old Growth Redwood model from none other than Andy @ ProGuitarShop.com:

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AH! HA-HA-HA HAHAHA! <manic laughter>

I guess my love affair with overdrive pedals hasn’t waned one bit – even with getting my Timmy. Don’t get me wrong, my Timmy will NEVER leave my board, but this totally cool, ultra-compact “Little Brute Drive” from EWS Japan is nothing short of amazing to me. Lots of overdrive/distortion on tap, right out of the box! And look at the bottom of the picture to the left: It ain’t much bigger than a freakin’ 9V battery! Amazing!

The way I envision using this particular pedal is for when I need heavier distortion than my Timmy, which is a light- to medium-gain device. The Little Brute has a much wider range of distortion; from fairly light to searing. And like the Timmy, the distortion is fairly open and uncompressed from what I could tell from clips. But even more important is that like the Timmy, it’s fairly transparent. I couldn’t detect much tone alteration from the clips I heard. So awesome!

You can fine-tune the output level and tone from inside the box – see the two blue adjustment screws in the picture? But from what I could tell, the factory settings are perfect.

Here are a couple of video clips:

Cost? $129, which is as much as a Timmy, but unlike the Timmy, you can get this online. Here’s a link where you can buy the pedal.

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