WMS at NAMM 2016

Hey guy’s Brian here again with more promised info from NAMM, just covering some of the cool new stuff that we can expect to see in the year ahead from some of our friends. Let’s start off with Marshall, who came out swinging with their new Code amplifiers. They were designed as part of a collaboration between classic amp manufacturer Marshall and Next generation plug-in designers Softube as an “authentic modelling” of classic and contemporary Marshall tones via their new Marshall-Softube (MST) modelling, in addition to its banks and banks of high quality effects, CODE offers 14 preamps, four power amps and eight speaker cabinets. These include the JTM45 2245, 1962 Bluesbreaker, 1959SLP Plexi, JCM800 2203, JCM2555 Silver Jubilee, JCM2000 DSL100, JVM410H and more, while power amp voicings on offer are EL34, 5881, EL84 & 6L6 – there’s a selection of speaker cabs, too: 1960, 1960V, 1960AX, 1936V, 1912, 1974X and more. Also, just because I find it awesome, it’s also Bluetooth, so you can control certain aspects of it via your phone or tablet, send music to it, and even (so I’ve heard) control it via a Bluetooth foot controller!

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Next let’s talk about Fender, now every year it seems like Fender is trying to top themselves in some way, and for the past few years that has been their custom shop offerings. This year they had a few that stood out to me, firstly is the Repeater Telecaster designed by Master Builder Yuriy Shishkov, that’s modeled after an 18th century watch

Fender Music Repeater Tele.jpg

And by far my favorite, because of my love for weird old esoteric Fender models, is the Katana, Fender’s shot at a hyper modern Metal guitar re-imagined by Custom Shop Master Builder Todd Krause.

Katana

oh and before I Forget it, we can’t forget the viral youtube sensation of CARDBOARD STRAT

Waller

So aside from their custom shop offerings what’ve we got to look forward to?

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Yes folks, you see that right, Telemasters!
…or as their calling them “offset telecasters”somehwat-mad-completely-mad-u-mad-madad1

now for those out of the loop, Telemasters are sort of this cool parts guitar blue print that a lot of indie manufacturers and amateur builders have been busying themselves with for years now, and sure Fender made one or two in the past as trade show talk pieces, and for the most part they were more Esquier than Tele, but this is still super cool! to see such an interesting blend of vintage and modern pulled off with such style, I love it. Oh and what’s that on the other end of the display? Are those Jazzmasters with proper jazz tailpieces? Yup, bigsby equipped jazzmasters, imitating one of the most popular mods to their hard tail jazzmasters, and at the same time pulling it off with a style that only Fender could, no extra switches or knobs, just a black pickguard, simple, subdued single tone finishes, very stylish, love it.

Lastly for Fender is the new American Elite Series, which is replacing the long running Deluxe line. I liked them, from what I’m hearing on their youtube videos they sound fantastic, and the smaller touches like the sort of rubberized knobs are cool too, everything looks vintage enough but still very modern. The new color options are modern too, and yet still feel like Fender, with new satin bursts, and light blue to dark blue bursts, as well as the return of that lovely Camaro Orange color they call Autumn Blaze Metallic, I loved that color about 4 or 5ish years ago when that was one of their regular colors, just so unusual for a guitar, flashy and yet still sorta normal.

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All and all I loved what Fender is up to this year, and I can’t wait to actually get my hands on some of it!

NEXT UP
let’s take a deep dive into Charvel, who looks to be actually reissuing their pro mod San-Dimas and So-Cal series in some very exciting colors, clearly inspired by their 80’s aesthetic

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These look awesome, so retro and cool! I’m just happy to see that Charvel is starting to move out of the cookie cutter metal guitar scene, or at the very least peppering some color in there.  I would love for them to reissue the Style 2, because I haven’t seen a super tele in years! That being said, Charvel is shaping up to have some rad new stuff coming out that is sure to impress even the most discerning of players

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Lastly I want to talk about Washburn who had a TON of cool stuff going on at their booth this year, I wish I had more to say about it, but I feel like the pictures will speak for themselves, lets start with some new parallaxe models

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To their new, rather Californian influenced, electrics

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And of course let’s not forget their acoustics, with new rather affordable new designs coming to their heritage range, as well as their woodline series, both of which are shaping up to be just beautiful (really sorry I don’t have a picture of them from the showroom floor)
WASHOWL

So there you have it guys, tons of cool new stuff coming this year in terms of gear, with lots to look forward too! and you bet as soon as I can get my hands on it, I’ll be reviewing it right here for you guys.

~Hoover

 

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The History Of NAMM, And Why It’s Important

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Well, it’s that time of year again. A good chunk of our work force gets to fly down to Anaheim California, get wined and dined by our reps, party with Rockstars, and see what this year will hold for the music industry…except for me, I’m stuck here because of school, and because we need a few good men to hold down the fort. But I got to talking with some of the new guys here, and amazingly, a few of the newbies had never heard of NAMM before. So I figured, it was my duty to explain it, and I figured I would bring some of my know how to you good people!

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MUSIC MERCHANTS (NAMM) 2013 SHOW FLOOR

So what is NAMM at its core? Well NAMM stands for National Associations of Music Merchants, which might seem like a cumbersome name for a trade show, but that’s because the name is as old as it is, we’ll get to that in a second. It basically shows a sort of pre-release of all of the years upcoming new gear. You get big name companies like Fender and Taylor releasing what they are coming out with for the new year, and you get younger up and coming companies making their debut to try and get dealers (the primary attendees of the convention) to take a chance on them, and add them to their repertoire of brands. Because every company is competing for your attention, you get big guys like Gibson and Fender bringing in their A-List stars, with guys like Slash, Stevie Wonder and Eddie Van Halen being regular attendees. But after the trade floor cools down for the night, you also have the reps for all of these companies trying to get contracts signed, and relationships strengthened with afterhours parties, dinners and just general fun stuff happening all over Anaheim. All and all, it’s amazing, and I always want to go, but I can’t because it conflicts with my college class schedule, and the fact that I, and the remainders of the crew here right now are as important to the day to day operation as we are, it would be ill advised to send any of us…I’m not jealous I promise, I’m just saying that hanging out with rock stars on a sunny 70 degree beach sounds much better than shoveling snow and doing course work.

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So let’s jump in the way back and figure out why NAMM is what it is? As I find that kind of stuff very interesting. Basically NAMM started in 1901 by what was at that time the American Piano Manufacturers Association, as a way of curbing the growing problem of fraudulent advertising, where people would charge what they knew you could afford rather than what an item really should have cost you, so you saw pianos in New York costing less than in Detroit, but more than in Las Angeles, just because they knew they could charge more money for them, regardless of what they really cost to make and ship. So, they established a trade organization to help set some ground rules so that no one was acting “unfairly”. Through these early interactions they organized the NAPDA, or the National Association of Piano Dealers of America (which would eventually evolve into NAMM) which established those ground rules, tackled trade problems they were all having and organized their first convention. Some of them had to travel as far as 2,500 miles via railroad, but this was successful at improving conditions nationwide.

Over the years they have changed locations off and on, and seen countless innovative products introduced at it. From the First mass production electric guitars, to the innovative Ovation acoustic guitars, to Solid State amplifiers and even piezo acoustic pickups, they all saw their debut on that trade show floor. While things have grown, moved, changed and evolved, one thing has remained the same. They have always tried to bring the best things forward, to try and help the industry steer itself into the future. As the week goes on and NAMM draws to a close, and in the weeks ahead, I will likely bring you a few more blogs, covering what all cool, new gear has come out this year. But right now I think I have given you more than enough info, but I can’t wait to tell you about some of the cool stuff that is coming your way.

~Hoover

Winter Weather, Your Guitar and its Finish

Now while we covered Truss rod maintenance last week, this week I am going to cover something that pertains more to the average joe who plays out regularly, or who is ordering guitars over the internet this time of year, the finish on your guitar. The finish on your guitar is a lot like the finish on a car, it is there not only to look nice, but it is also there to keep the elements from destroying it. The finish on a guitar keeps the wood from absorbing too much moisture, or being too easily damaged by things like your pick hitting it, or your arm resting against it. The reason I bring this up is because of what cold can do to the finish of a guitar. On most modern consumer priced electrics, your finish is poly urethane, which is hard and flexible. So cold, hot, wet, dry, it won’t shrink or warp. Older guitars, and some high end modern guitars are finished in Nitro Cellulose, which is a much thinner and far less flexible than modern finishes, and can crack, crumble, and “check” when you take them from a cold environment to a hot environment too quickly, like say from a cold car to a warm living room. I’ve even heard stories from some of our reps about expensive guitars cracking like ice on a lake from them opening a guitar infront of a fire place after a long January car ride.

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The adverse effect of this is that once the cracks form, the body of the guitar can change temperature, humidity and size and shape much quicker, and thus the cracks will multiply much faster once they start forming.  Now on an electric, this isn’t that big of a deal, it can look pretty cool, and some guys like Rory Gallagher, Andy Summers, and John Mayer, actually prefer the feeling of a guitar whose finish is falling off of it, and some people like Nuno Bettencourt, actually like it best when there is no finish on the guitar at all, and their guitars are structurally just fine. The real problems start to show up when something acoustics finish starts to come off, as its finish serves a double purpose of also helping the guitar retain moisture. Because the underside of the wood is left bare, and the top is finished (typically with a heavy coat of poly urethane on a modern guitar) the moisture can only leave the thin sheet of wood from one side, meaning it takes longer for the wood to shift, allowing the moisture to leave at a slower rate. If you’ve ever had a guitar that got too cold, you might notice a significant amount of dehydration, this can cause weakness in the wood, and can cause a type of waviness to appear in the finish, which while rarer in poly-urethane finished guitars, does occur. This can usually be fixed by re-hydrating the guitar, but on some older guitars it does appear to be permanent.

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Now, the danger of a dehydrated guitar is usually pretty minor, maybe a rather flat sounding set, or you might have some trouble with the action on your higher frets, but most of the time it’s very minor. But if you leave it unchecked, the wood can start to get very brittle, and can more easily be damaged by say, your picking hand, and sometimes, if it gets cold enough, the wood itself can begin to shrink, and if the wood is dry and brittle, you can start to see splitting in the wood itself. Sometimes they are tiny and easily fixed, and well sometimes, they aren’t.

So how do we prevent this? Well first off, always keep your guitar hydrated, and as often as you can keep it warm, not hot, but warm. Only about as warm as you would want to be, if you would be too cold in a room, or too hot, the guitar likely would be too. The next is don’t be too sudden when opening a guitar case when moving it from in doors to outdoors, or outdoors to indoors, the temperature change can cause the rippling we talked about or on a thinner finished guitar, can cause checking and cracking as well. A good rule of thumb is wait 12-24 hours after you arrive before you open it to be safe. Lastly, keep the strings slacked if it is going to have to endure the elements for too long, because the added tension on the top can often cause problems, yet again this is normally only on acoustic guitars, but it’s good practice regardless. Proper guitar care is easy, not something to be feared or fretted about, and when done regularly, you can greatly extend the life of the instrument, and keep it in mint condition for years to come.

~Hoover

Winter Weather & Truss Rod Maintenance

There’s a golden rule that a lot of guitarists starting out either don’t hear about, or don’t want to hear, and that is, your guitar is going to need regular maintenance. Guitars are instruments, carved from wood, and because of this they are going to face some issues that are very specific to that medium, namely, shifting and warping. Now don’t get scared newbie guitarists, those words aren’t scary, it just means that the wood moves with temperature and humidity. Luthiers (the people who build and craft guitars) are aware of this and long ago figured out a solution for dealing with that, namely the truss rod. Now there is a myth that some other big name guitar stores like to spread around, that you shouldn’t ever mess with your truss rod, because it will ruin your guitar, which simply isn’t true. Thanks to the oft present modern two way truss rod designs, and a little bit of patience, and studying one or two Youtube videos, you can adjust it just as well as any $50 an hour guitar tech from those big chain guitar stores.

This is Tony, our Guitar Tech here at World Music Supply, guy’s a genius

All you need to do is eye ball down the neck and see how close to being flat it is, you never want it totally flat, or at a negative degree, because both of those make your fretboard either buzz or start fretting out, which is a bad thing. But having the truss rod too loose can make your action too high which makes the guitar difficult to intonate, and worse, difficult to play. So, like I said earlier, read, and watch a Youtube video or too and you will get the basic idea, left loose, right tight, tighter brings the neck bow back away from the fretboard, and looser lets the strings of the guitar pull it forward. I like to keep my E,A, & B,e strings tuned up, while slacking the D and G strings, and then adjusting on whichever side of the neck the truss rod can be accessed from (electrics are usually on the head stock and acoustics are usually through the sound hole, although some can vary) and I tighten it just a bit too far, so that the added string tension (and I tend to use heavier strings) will pull it up to where it is just shy of perfect, so that I can go without touching it for as long as the weather stays similar to where it is, and I do that about once every 3-4 months or so, give or take.

A lot of times we run into an issue here at WMS when we ship out a great guitar to someone, and they claim it doesn’t work, or is broken, and literally 98% of the time, it’s just the truss rod. We are located in Muncie Indiana, and right now it is about 19 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and all of our guitars are kept in a heated and humidity controlled warehouse, but when we ship them, they are put in the back of a Fedex truck, or a US mail truck and driven around for days in cold weather.  What this does it can cause the neck on the guitar to “bottom out”, because cold makes the cells in the wood shrink, and this issue can cause a lot of first time guitarists, expecting this new guitar to feel just like the one they played at a music store that had been set up by a tech within the last 72 hours, to just assume it’s broken. I remember my sister was the same way the year she got her Jazz bass from our mom for Christmas, and my mom was totally bent on getting it fixed immediately talking about how you know “we got a broken this” and “a defective that.”I grabbed the bass, sat down on the couch, turned the truss rod two and a half times and boom! like magic that bass was perfect, still is too. This isn’t a bad business practice, a poorly made guitar, or a shoddy sales company, it’s just science. We get so used to everything we own being injection molded and die cast that sometimes we forget that some things, like wood, just change sometimes, and it’s up to us to fix them.

~Hoover

World Music Supply | DBZ Guitars

Hey guys, I know its been a long, long time, but Brian of the World Music Supply blog has made his return! I was finally able to move around things in my schedule to yet again reasonably accommodate the blog, so lets get down to business. I am here to today to talk about some awesome guitars we have right now from our good friends over at DBZ. We here at World Music Supply love DBZ Guitars. Its as simple as that. They are high quality guitars, made with high quality parts, with precision workmanship, what’s not to like?
DBZ BARFMPL-FR-NS Barchetta FM Plus Series Electric Guitar

First up on the block today are the Barchetta Plus FM Series, these guys are amazing. I’ve been a big fan of the Barchetta body style since I first saw them a year or so back, their sleek strat style body, with its futuristic carved top body, and the classic vibe of the 3×3 headstock. It all adds up to a very stunning looking guitar. Back in those days though, the only versions of this guitar that I had ever laid eyes on were red, black and gray. Don’t get me wrong, those guitars were beautiful, and they played like a dream, but these guitars though, with their abalone binding, deep flamed maple tops, and matching headstock, they’re just a whole other level.

now of course they still have all of the same appointments as their non flamed maple counterparts, the DBZ signature neck contour, the floyd rose, the DBZ signature pickups with a push pull knob, and that big metal badge on the headstock, all of it puts this guitar some where between a workhorse of a guitar, and a luxury art piece. Form and functionality in harmony.

DBZ BARFM-FR-TBK Barchetta FM Flamed Maple Top Electric Guitar

DBZ BARFM-FR-TBK Barchetta FM Flamed Maple Top Electric Guitar

Amplified, the flamed maple adds a tiny bit to the guitars overall tone, but the big difference in tone seems to come from the mahogany, as opposed to the alder bodies of the LT series I am so familiar with. The tone seemed to be a little thicker, with a much heavier lower midrange bark. Alder had a balanced and almost focused sound, but this guitar paired with its mahogany body and stunning flamed maple top, well… it really growls at you. Chording on it felt nice and smooth, with enough presence to make sure I was heard over even the most over the top of drummers, and single note lines had a ferocity to them, an attitude almost. Someone could make a career off of this guitar, carry it with them from day one, be the symbol their recognized for. That’s the kind of guitar this is, it’s a guitar that will leave an impression.

DBZ BARFMPL-FR-SF Barchetta FM Plus Series Electric Guitar

DBZ BARFMPL-FR-SF Barchetta FM Plus Series Electric Guitar

Overall score, easy 10 out of 10

Long time readers of the WMS Blog will know that when it comes to guitars I have two real weaknesses, Telecasters, and White Lespauls. I really don’t know why its these two guitar styles, but they’re really powerful to me. So when the DBZ Bolero Calavera made its way into the WMS offices I had to look at the thing. Just stare at it. Its just so flashy, with its stylized metal truss rod cover, the old DBZ signature tailpiece, and oh yea, the giant metal tramp stamp (that’s what they call it, not me) that’s anchored to the lower bout of the guitar.

DBZ BOLCAL-WH Bolero Calavera Series Single Cutaway Electric Guitar

DBZ BOLCAL-WH Bolero Calavera Series Single Cutaway Electric Guitar

Other than the unusual appointments at either end of the guitar, this is a fairly typical Bolero. Mahogany body, maple top, ebonized rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and their DBZB and DBZ5 Pickups. Their also given some cool Pearloid purfling around the body as well, which really makes this guitar stand out. It might feel like a normal Bolero, but when I was playing it felt so different, it was almost like the sheer attitude of the guitar, made it another guitar. Like when you listen to some really old classic rock, you know the guitarists really aren’t that good, but you can’t quit listening. Even though their entire education must have come from one or at the most two mel bay guitar method books, you’re just captured by that sheer attitude that is exuded from their guitar.

That’s how this guitar felt, I knew it sounded almost the same as the bolero, maybe a tiny, tiny bit different because of the chunks of metal on the guitar, but this guitar just made me want to play different. It made me really slam into the guitar, dig in with my pick. I was all power chords and grit, sure the clean sound is cool and jazzy, and the single note lines are fat and clear, but look at this thing, your likely never going to play a clean line on this guitar, and sure you might play a solo here and there, but most of the work on a guitar like this is going to be very power chord heavy.

I loved this guitar, if not for the fact that it is a fantastic guitar just like the standard Bolero, but also because of its really heavy attitude. It made me play different, act different, it made me really want to crank up my amp, make my neighbors angry. That’s what this guitar felt like, it felt like what we all thought Rock & Roll was when we were little kids.

Overall score 9 out of 10. Because even though it is almost perfect, it is for a certain kind of guitarist, and that isn’t everyone.

World Music Supply | Parker Guitars PDF Series

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply again, bringing you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. Today I got to check out something I have only dreamed of since I was say 13 or so, I got to review a Parker guitar. I remember when Parkers first started getting big, I had the joy of trying one out in a store, it was weird, but in the same way being weightless would be weird, cool but confusing. The body was so amazingly thin and light that had I not felt strings under my fingers I might not have known I was wearing a guitar at all. From its arrays of knobs and switches, its ability to sound like an acoustic with the flick of a switch, its weird knob behind the bridge that controlled the flat spring for the vibrato, heck even its shape was out of this world.

Everything on the guitar felt like it was from the future, from that strange looking asymmetrical vibrato that just didn’t seem to want to slip out of tune, the carbon glass fretboard, the stainless steel fret wire, the weird not really there headstock, according to the flyer attached to the guitar, even the body and neck woods were weird, something like a sandwich of hard super resonant woods, and soft absorbent poplar to help shape the sound into perfection. The guitar felt, and sounded downright amazing, but just like everything else on this guitar the price tag was outlandish, like vintage guitar outlandish.

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Vintage Sunburst Finish

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Vintage Sunburst Finish

So fast forward to today, when I got to sit down with a few, amazingly affordable new designs by Parkers, the most notable of which was the PDF105QVSB. The first super noticeable thing to me is they have modified the shape a tad bit to make it a little less outlandish looking, with a more standard profile with all of the same Parker flair. The Vibrato system has been redone, to have a more conventional spring arrangement, but it still has all of the bells and whistles of the old days, just without the big roller wheel on the back of the guitar. The Carbon glass fretboard has been replaced with Ebony, and the Materials of the body were a little easier to remember this time around too, as this guy was a good ol’ chunk of mahogany, granted carved down into a thinner profile quite like the older Parker models.

The PDF105 is also part of their radial neck series, which is designed to give a stronger, more musical connection to the body by eliminating the foot of the neck that connects to the body. This allowed the neck and the body to resonate a little more in tune with each other, resulting in more harmonic richness, and longer sustain of the fundamental. The PDF105 also features a Graphtech Ghost piezo system, which has down right fantastic sounding acoustic tones thanks to the Graphtech proprietary polymer that was designed just for them, with a built in compression, meaning they never clip or get fizzy like some piezo units. Lastly add in the fact that the PDF105 comes armed with Seymour Duncan humbuckers and you have a guitar that is just ready to take over your life.

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Black Burst Finish

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Black Burst Finish

Clean, this guitar sounds amazingly articulate, with lots of chime and snap, but it was still warm, and harmonically rich. The bridge pickup was bright, but still full sounding, it never lacked the character of a bridge pickup, but it was never too thin and bright, it just did what it needed to do. The neck pickup was smooth and rather jazzy, with a bit of pop-y snap to keep things interesting.

The acoustic tones through a PA speaker were just amazing; they were so close to a real acoustic guitar that it was jaw dropping. The slight compressing that the Graphtech saddles have built in, really do keep it from sounding like a Piezo, and it really, really does sound like a well mic’d dreadnaught. The illusion was daunted however by my constant use of the whammy bar, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

My real favorite tone of this guitar however was not the stellar clean sound, or the stunning acoustic sounds, it was the roaring electric tone. The shape of this guitar feels familiar but still a little ethereal, which makes you play just a little bit off from what you usually play. This tiny bit of vibe in the guitar really did a lot for me, and the vibe doesn’t stop with the looks, let me assure you of that. Cranked up through our test amp, the Marshall DSL40C, this guy was a beast! The bridge pickup was rich, and clear too, playing whole chords on even medium to high distortion settings were still articulate and full, never muddy or noisy. Single note lines rung out for what seemed like forever, and that snappy, punchy character that this guitar had when clean was amplified ten fold when distorted. Power chords had punch and attack, and single line sung out with force I couldn’t have imagined. The vibrato system might have changed from the original Parker design, but the bulk of what made it play like a parker is still there. I could swing it around for days and it kept coming up in tune.

I loved this guitar, it sounds great, it feels great and it looks like nothing else. Of course, I am sort of biased, as I did love the old Parkers too. For what its worth though, this guitar is geared towards more conventional guitarists, with a vibrato that actually is set up in a way most people will understand it, body wood that a guitarist can recognize, rather than a list of space aged composites and different layers of different density wood. This guitar is like a turbo charged sports car, its as much fun as a super car without the giant price tag. At the end of a day though, the fun factor of these new Parkers really does show, and I dare anyone to play one of these guys and not smile the whole time, the Parker PDF105 series earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | ESP Ltd VIPER 256

Hey guys its Brian with World Music Supply here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s blog I got to check out some cool goodies from our friends over at ESP.  We here at WMS have a special place in our cumulative heart for ESP, they’re cool looking, they don’t cost an arm and a leg, and they sound great no matter what you throw at them, and when it comes to guitars you just cant do better than that. So lets get down to business with the center piece of today’s review, the Viper256.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

The Viper256 comes in two rather attractive finishes, the see thru black cherry, and my personal favorite, black with gold hardware; you just can’t get classier than that. This guitar is a work horse, a solid chunk of Mahogany, 24 big easy playing frets on a fast Thin U shaped Mahogany neck, topped with a nice looking Ebony fretboard. The Tonepros TOM bridge is nice, straightforward, easy to intonate and get working. The part that I really loved about the 256 is the ESP designed LH-150 humbuckers, they have a bold sound with lots of midrange and lows, with just enough high end cut to get you through the mix, but not treble-y enough to cut your head off. The LH-150’s are also coil-tappable by pulling up on the tone-knob, which means you get rich, full sounding humbuckers, and with a flick of your wrist, you have sparkly, shimmering single coils, amazing.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

Clean, this guitar sounded very big, it really has a ton of low end body to it, which I love in a guitar, the mids were thick, and really filled out the area you would expect a guitar to, and the highs were just cutting enough to really sculpt the sound out, not too bright, it left enough room for a band, but more than filled out all of the area a guitar should. With the single coils engaged, you of course notice a tiny drop in volume which I compensated for with a little help from my Electro Harmonix LPB-1. The tone was slinky, it had a lot of Tele style tones to it, but without the high end twang you typically get from a Fender scale length, bolt neck guitar. This meant it had a lot of jangly, almost acoustic sounding vibe, and I really dug the funky kind of bite I could get out of it.

Distorted, this guitar was down right animalistic! The distorted growl of the bridge pickup was very rich, and had a great lead and rhythm tone to it, without having to fiddle with the tone or volume knobs, and I didn’t even have to mess around with any pedals, the bridge pickup was so balanced sounding that it just did everything. The middle position was a tad bit more tame sounding, with a warmer low end, and a little less high end cut, and the neck position had very warm, very bluesy tones hidden in it. Shred work was easy, the shorter 24.75 scale length and the big frets on an ebony board made this guy super fast. The single coil tone had quite a bit of vibe to it; it had that clarity of a single coil with a lot less hum, and not as much treble response. I personally loved this guitar, it looks cool, it feels nice, it plays great, and the sounds it made were pure rock star. I would have to be crazy to not award the Viper 250 a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | New and Improved Jackson 7 and 8 String Guitars

Hi everyone, it’s Brian with World Music Supply here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews, and do I have a treat in store for you all today! Today I am going to be talking about some of the new Jacksons that came out at NAMM this year, more specifically their new line of entry level seven and eight string guitars. Now they won’t be out on the market until the end of the month, but I got a chance to sit down, and quickly give these guys a once over just for you guys.

Jackson JS32-7 Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar Satin Black

Jackson JS32-7 Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar Satin Black

First up on the block today is easily the nicest, cleanest looking entry level seven string I have ever seen, the Jackson JS32-7 Dinky. Sure, it is an entry level guitar so the appointments aren’t stellar by any means. You have some nice high output Jackson made pickups an arched basswood body covered in a satin black finish, a comfy 26.5” scale length maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard with a consistent 16” radius. You also have 24 Jumbo frets and those cool Piranha fin inlays they debuted on the Slat series not too long ago. The stamped hard tail bridge is simplistic, but it would easily get the job done, nothing too complex.

Strung up with some lighter strings, the clean tone was tight and punchy, with lots of bright strat-y tones on the high strings and thick growl on the lows. The neck was surprisingly fast, my issue with seven strings is simply, I don’t own one, and I don’t really get to review enough of them to really get used to the girth of the neck. This guitar however, didn’t feel hugely different from a six string, sure there was that chunky low B down at the bottom, but my hand still fit the guitar perfectly well. The pickups were high enough output that even uncompressed there wasn’t a world of volume difference between all seven strings, and the dynamic range of the guitar was surprisingly wide as well. Clean tones rang out with plenty of snap and sustain, and of course the distorted tones were just brutal.

Sure it doesn’t do everything, and it doesn’t have a dozen different pick up combinations or special add-ons that make it into some dream machine of a guitar, but what it does have is a solid sound, and a comfortable feel. This guitar could easily be someone’s work horse, an affordable, no nonsense guitar, with enough muscle to get the job done in almost any situation in which you would need a seven string (which is getting to be more and more common nowadays) so for all of that, I would have to be crazy to award the JS32-7 anything less than a 10 out of 10.

Jackson JS32-7 Q Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar

Jackson JS32-7 Q Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar

Next up is the JS32-7 Q which is very similar to our last guitar, except for the fact that its basswood body is topped with a stunning quilted maple top, and the inclusion of the HT-7 fully adjustable bridge. Play wise, this did a bit for the playability, the bridge felt a little more comfortable, and the strat style 3 way switch was a nice change too, sure it might just be a tiny change, but I’m just sort of biased towards the strat/tele style switch. Sound wise, the guitar had more spank to it, with a brighter, glassier top end, and a little tighter sounding low end. But what this really does for the guitar is make it look a thousand times nicer, sure the simple matte black finish might do it for some people, but some of us guitarists getting into the extended range territory aren’t always going to be metal heads, so its nice to see a guitar that appeals to my aesthetic senses as well.

I liked this guitar, and the addition of the quilted top and beefier bridge were nice touches, but I cant say I found a world of difference between it and its more cost friendly sibling, so I am afraid I can only award the JS32-7 Q an 8 out of 10.

Jackson JS32-8 Q Dinky Trans Red 8 String Electric Guitar

Jackson JS32-8 Q Dinky Trans Red 8 String Electric Guitar

Last up for the day is the JS32-8 Q which is officially the first 8 string I have ever personally held. Until now, I have had admittedly had very little experience with this range of guitar, with the only one I have ever seen in person being Charlie Hunters fan fretted Novax, although I’m sure this guitar wasn’t meant for his style of music, this guitar was designed for forward thinking metal. As I’ve said before, I’m not the most metal of guitarists, and I’ve discussed before at how weird I felt on a seven string, so an 8 string felt as unfamiliar to me as a 6 string bass. So please take this review with a grain of salt.

The quilted trans red top was stunning, very rich, and very heavily quilted. The guitar balanced surprisingly well on a strap, and it wasn’t too heavy which impressed me. The pickups ultra high output pickups had a very deep, very dark sound when I played on the lower register, and simply sang on the high strings. The clean tone had a wonderfully wide range across the guitar, with dark short scale style bass tones on the one hand, and quasi strat tones on the other, a wonderful all in one style instrument. Playing thunderous rhythm parts was sort of simple after my hand got adjusted to the width of the guitar neck, which was pretty comfortable all things considered. The dark metal tone was apparent as soon as I kicked in some distortion, and dropping the tuning a step resulted in down right awesome sounding riffs. Its no wonder these things are popular all of a sudden.

Playing tapping riffs was probably the best part of my experience with the eight string, as I got to enjoy the extended range, without having to stretch my hand out so much. All in all, it was a fun experiment, and I could see how someone could get used to an instrument like this, all those extra notes, and the ability to play in the same range as a standard bass guitar was pretty fun, if a little intimidating. For the price this is going at, I was down right amazed at how good it looked, and at how great it sounded. There is just nothing else on the market right now that has this kind of bang for your buck attitude, and for that the JS32-8 Q earns itself a well deserved 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Takamine Pro Series

Hey guys its Brian from World Music Supply, sorry for yet another rather lengthy hiatus from the blog, what with all of these new products flying in after NAMM, its difficult to find time to even breathe, let alone sit down and review a guitar or three, just not enough hours in the day.  Well today I got a free minutes, so I used it  to look at a couple of cool guitars by way of our friends over at Takamine. Over the past couple of years Takamine has been more or less consolidating some of their higher end models to try and get a better, more applicable guitar into the hands of some of today’s most demanding musicians.

Takamine P1JC PRO Series 1 Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine P1JC PRO Series 1 Acoustic Electric Guitar

First up on that list is the Takamine P1JC, which is part of their Pro Series 1 level of guitars. The Pro Series is divided into different levels, to help really hone in what a guitarist needs, so that each series can really be just about what the guitar plays and sounds like, rather than having to worry about having a guitar of every type of tone wood in every series, or having to worry about different inlay work for one specific guitar, or different brands of tuners etc. because each series level is outfitted the same, the only thing that changes is the body style.

I picked what I consider the quintessential model from the Pro Series 1 Level, the Jumbo. I love the way Takamine does Jumbos, especially when they use warmer sounding tone woods like Cedar and Sapele, which long time readers will know, I simply adore. So maybe I’m a little biased, but when it comes to guitars, aren’t we all? The Cedar top on the P1JC was stunning, with tons of super tight grain, and a gorgeous orange hue to it. The sapele back and sides were rather nicely figured, and since they are within the same general family as mahogany, it had a similar bold, yet warm sound.

Combined together, these two tone woods, and the jumbo body generate a plethora of amazing sounds. With gigantic low end, a driving powerful midrange, and crisp, pristine highs, the P1JC was really something to behold. Fingerstyle lines really popped, with clear definition, but still lots of body to even single notes. Strummed, this thing was a cannon, it was amazingly rich in harmonics and sustain, with all of the tone you have come to expect from Takamine, oh and did I mention it was loud!

Plugged in, the Palathetic pickup and the CT4B II preamp come together to recreate the sound of the acoustic guitar with flying colors, and more so, this guitar almost sounds better through an amplifier, as the already harmonically rich sound of the Jumbo Cedar top is further enriched by the natural harmonics inherent within the preamp tube. The sound was clean, pristine, and amazing. The guitar is a little more prone to feedback than I am used to, but with a top carved so eloquently to resonate like this one does, it can only be expected to respond to harmonic feedback just as well, so a sound hole cover is a must.

For the first guitar I got to review in over two weeks, this one was a genuine treat. The tones were jaw dropping, the looks were subdued yet handsome, and the playability of the whole ensemble was just to die for. The P1JC easily snags itself a solid 10 out of 10.

Takamine P2DC PRO Series 2 Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine P2DC PRO Series 2 Acoustic Electric Guitar

The other guitar I got my hands on today was the P2DC which is part of the Pro Series 2. The construction between the Pro Series 1 and 2 at first seemed rather minuscule, the Series 1 has a Cedar top, while the 2 has Spruce. Now while the differences are small, the sounds are worlds apart. While the Cedar has that familiar old world warmth, and charm, the Pro Series 2 with its Spruce top had something else, something new. I love Spruce topped guitars, I do have a personal bias towards Cedar, but my main guitar on and off stage for years was a cheap no name Spruce topped guitar that I have put through its paces for close to 10 years now, so I know how Spruce tends to sound, but this guitar, it was so much richer.

The sound was crystal clear, big huge low end, mid range that had a depth to it that ate up a ton of frequencies, but left more than enough room for my voice to live within, and enough high end presence to bring the guitars jangly side out to the fore front. This guitar had a classy, very round sound to it, that took fingerstyle amazingly, with tons of definition between notes, with a brilliant warmth and harmonic richness that you just don’t usually hear with many spruce topped guitars.

Plugged in, this guitar has a very crisp sound, thanks in part to the palathetic pickups unique construction technique, but also thanks to the CT4B II Preamp which enhanced the pure sound of the guitar, with its added harmonic richness. The sound was as close to the true sound of this guitar as I think you can get without a microphone, all of the highs and lows recreated perfectly, and the mids were as close to the real thing as possible. The guitar wasn’t as prone to feedback as the P1JC, but I think it had more to do with the actual size of the guitar this time around, as it is slightly smaller and thus less prone to feedback than the jumbo, but still with the volume up much past 5 or 6 I had to put a sound hole cover in.

The P2DC seems perfectly suited for any job you would usually leave to a dreadnaught, be that studio work, stage work, or song writing, the bold, beautiful voice of the P2DC is second to none in its class. It easily deserves its score of 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Winter NAMM Day 1 and 2

Hey guys, its Brian here again with World Music Supply. Today I get to talk about some really cool stuff from Winter NAMM 2013, sadly I can’t really discuss how it sounds or feels, as I didnt get to go due to school. Instead our resident Web Designer, and my Supervisor Mr. Danny Dunn got to go out to California to enjoy everything from hanging out with Rock Stars, checking out new gear, being wined and dined by our sales reps, and the best part (in my eyes) not having to deal with this sudden cold snap here in Indiana. Sure hanging out with rock stars is cool and all, but 70 degrees sounds pretty good when your shoveling snow just to get out of your driveway, but I digress. So here it is folks, some of the cool new stuff you can expect over the course of the next year!

and so it begins

and so it begins

So where to start? Who has come out with the coolest new stuff so far this year? Well while I highly doubt these will production models, that award easily goes to the folks over at ESP. ESP has a habit of coming out with some jaw dropping pieces of gear, usually covered in clever graphics, or in outlandish shapes. I’ve seen everything from a guitar carved like the grim reaper, to guitars sporting graphics that are more at home in a comic book or a tattoo parlor than on the face of a Strat.

The Angel Guitar from ESP, you really can't get much more elaborate than that

The Angel Guitar from ESP, you really can’t get much more elaborate than that

Their graphic work is just amazing.

Their graphic work is just amazing.

Next up are some cool pieces from our buddies over at Charvel, who (much to my excitement) have come out with some new San Dimas, and Pro Mod style guitars, and of course they have gorgeous looking single cuts coming out too, with some very out there looking colors, and bindings, not to mention the cool multi colored humbuckers. 

I want all of them!

I want all of them!

looking fancy

Takamine was there too, and they brought along some of the finest pieces of Japanese luthiery I have ever seen, which is saying something. Granted a few of their finer pieces were kept in glass cases, but from what I was told, these things sounded absolutely amazing, even over the noise of a packed convention hall, these guitars just sounded fantastic.

Just Stunning

Just Stunning

The attention to detail was just amazing

Just amazing Luthiery

Just amazing Luthiery

Ovation brought out a few new things, and a handful of their finer pieces to the show. The carbon fiber topped mandolin was cool, and the new front soundhole design on the guitar right next to it was neat, although the top wood of that guitar caught my eye a little more than the new soundhole design. They also brought out the new versions of the Yngwie Malmsteen Viper, which is a fantastic design, although I wish they would bring back the original Viper myself, this new one looks like it would be a little more comfortable on stage if you play at the speed of sound like Yngwie, less guitar to get in the way of your picking hand.

no one does Carbon Fiber quite like Ovation

no one does Carbon Fiber quite like Ovation

The new soundhole design is almost as eye catching as that Koa top

The new soundhole design is almost as eye catching as that Koa top

Say what you will, but I want that Kaki King model

Say what you will, but I want that Kaki King model

So handsome

So handsome

There was plenty more to see from the show floor, but alas, that will have to wait for Monday, when I can bring you everything from tonight, and Saturday. I’m as excited as you all no doubt are to see what else is being released, and I can’t wait to see what twists and turns are headed our way from California. But for the time being, I hope you guys enjoyed this little glimpse into the weird world that is Winter NAMM, and I cant wait to share the rest with you next week.

one last thing, I really want the Vincent Price guitar from ESP, it’s just perfect.
   

That Gargoyle guitar stand is pretty wicked too

That Gargoyle guitar stand is pretty wicked too