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

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World Music Supply | TC Electonic Classic 450

Hey guys its Brian with World Music Supply again, here to bring you another dose of gear and guitar reviews. In todays blog I am going to bring you a nice change of pace, I get to bring a review of a really cool amp from our friends over at TC electronics, the Classic450. I know I do a lot of reviews for guitars and guitar equipment, and while I did start out on guitar, I started out playing for my first band as the bass player. I tested the amplifier today with my personal Fender 4 string Jazz bass that I have used for years, and an active 5 string fretless that we keep laying around the warehouse,  all plugged into a TC Electronics RS410 speaker cabinet.

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

I liked the overall look of the amp, its compact enough to fit in a backpack, and the simplified control layout leaves little room for error. The amp looks rather diminutive atop the RS410, although that is part of its charm. I tested the 450 in the most classic way possible, plugged it right in, put all the EQ at 12 o’clock and left everything else alone. Even without the spectracomp, or the tubetone control (which I will explain in a moment) the 450 has a very cool, clean tone. Very, very even attack, and a smooth even sound to it altogether.

Sitting down, actually reading through the control manual and watching a handful of youtube videos, I started to see the genius behind the TC’s overall amp design. First off, the gain structure is very clean, it doesn’t really start to distort until way after 12 o’clock and even then, it distorts in a much more subtle way. The selling point for me on this amp, are the spectracomp and the tube tone knobs. The spectracomp is actually a plethora of compressors, which compress each frequency range individually, rather than altogether. This means one compressed the low end, one the lo mid, another the hi-mid, and finally the treble response. This results in a much more even sound, which has more of the organic quality of the instrument allowing for much more dynamic alterations than if you run through a global compressor, like a compressor pedal like I had for years.

Next up is the tube tone circuit which mimics in a rather realistic way the way a tube reacts when its overdriven, but it doesn’t just mimic the power amp or pre amp stage of a tube amp, instead it actually changes parameters across the entire amp, and shapes it to sound more like an actual tube amp. I have gotten to play a few tube bass amps over the years, and I know that they distort in a very particular way, they don’t have a nice angry buzz, or a warm bark like a guitar amp does, they have a very dark, growling quality to them which work particularly well with a fretless.

Turning the tubetone up, I was actually surprised by how close this circuit got to the real thing, sure it isn’t perfect, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. The growling quality was there in spades, and slowly raising the spectracomp really helped to enrich this voice. With the tube tone turned up around 3 or 4 and the spectracomp about noon, playing slap on it I got a very good mid 90’s rock/funk sound, with just enough teeth to keep me heard, and enough low end to keep the snaps from sounding thin or whimpy. Turning up the tube tone and gain, and picking some heavier lines out, I was amazed at how even and aggressive I could get this amp to sound.

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

Playing some mellower jazz lines was amazing with the tube tone turned up just a bit to keep it sounding warm, the lows and mids raised a bit above noon, and the treble up a bit more than I should have it up, with the comp at about 7 I got smooth, warm low end, and with enough body to support a whole group, and enough presence to keep my solos and fills in the mix without falling below everyone else. This amp is amazingly versatile, and as I later found out, this control layout, is the one that TC uses for almost all of their bass amps, and it’s easy to see why. For the simple fact that it sounded perfect for what ever I wanted to play, from punk, to funk, and metal to jazz, the Classic 450 is amazing, and lets not forget it can fit in a backpack with ease, and for all of those reasons and more the Classic 450 earns itself a 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Five String Washburn Basses

Hey guys its Brian here from World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk to you guys about some cool five string basses from Washburn, specifically the Force5K, the T25NM, and the AB45-VS. Five and Six string basses appeared in the late 70s as a way for contemporary and studio bassists to stay competitive in a market that was quickly being absorbed by the synthesizer, as it was cheaper to pay one musician to do five jobs, than it was to pay five musicians to all do one job. This meant that a lot of pop music at the time had bass parts that went below the low E string of a standard four string bass. Adding a low B string, that if need be could be dropped to a low A seemed to be the perfect solution.

The Washburn Force5K

The Washburn Force5K

        Since then, the five string bass has gotten its metaphorical hands into almost every genre of music, from rock and metal, to funk and R&B, even country. It’s because of this universal use, and reliance on the five string bass, that I figured it would be a good time to show case some of the finest five strings Washburn has to offer. First and foremost, is the Force5K, which is a neck through, active pickup equipped beast of an instrument. The first thing that strikes me about the Force5K, is its light weight design, which came in at about the same weight as a Squier Stratocaster. The neck profile is a Washburn design that has a flatter back profile than I was used to, but after playing it for a while, it felt comfortable, and almost more ergonomic then a standard, more rounded profile. The Force5K is also equipped with Washburn designed active electronics, which are amazingly responsive and smooth sounding.

        For my sound test I played the Force5K through a Fender Rumble, and was surprised at the range of sounds that I was able to coax out of this little guy. Everything from deep throaty reggae style bounce, to big funky snap, the Force5K’s flexible electronics did not disappoint, no matter what I threw at it. Tuning the B down to an A I was also able to get big metal growl out of the Force, with minimal effort, I was jamming out big heavy bass lines in no time. A bass like this is one of those great studio tools that seem to be the one you just go to, with its simple looks it might not seem like much, but underneath the hood is one amazing musical engine. The Force5K did everything I wanted it too, and then some, with a big snappy texture that is more than happy to fall into almost any genre that is needed of it, and its because of this and its great value, that the Force5K gains a well deserved 9 out of 10, because while it is musically amazing, it is a little average looking.

The Washburn T25NM

The Washburn T25NM

        Next up is the T25NM, which stands for Taurus 25 Natural Matte, the Taurus line of basses has been a stable of Washburn for years now, with their unique upper horn and distinctive “funky” shape. The T25 is no exception, with its unique shape, the same flatter back profile neck, and some really good sounding J style pickups. This bass is similar to the Force5K in that it is also a neck through five string, with 24 frets on the neck. The T25 however has passive pickups, which still sound bold and full, even playing the same lines as the Force5K, through the same rig.

        Testing the T25 was a delight, even though it only has a slightly different configuration than the Force5K, it has a completely different sound. The T25 sounds far less snappy, and far more round and “jazzy”. Playing slap on the T25 with some nice round wounds was a dream, with plenty of vintage style snap and bite to it. But rolling back the tone, or throwing a good set of flat wounds on it yields some of the most amazing jazz tones I have ever heard from a bass in this price range, with all of the body and soul of a truly vintage bass. The T25 is a slightly more old school feeling bass, which tends to lend itself more towards more old school sounds, classic rock, blues, jazz, and sly and the family stones era funk, which is delightful, although the pickups aren’t really on par to pull off really heavy music, or really progressive styles of bass playing, they are perfect for what they do best, which is sound like a classic bass from back in the day. For its ability to sound and feel just as vintage as it does, the T25 gets a well deserved 9 out of 10, because yet again, its passive pickups don’t lend themselves to heavier styles of music as well as some five string players would want.

The Washburn AB45-VS

The Washburn AB45-VS

        Last up in our review is the strangest by far, the AB45-VS. This big bodied acoustic bass has a sound and a style all its own, from warm hollow body jazz riffs, to big funk slap sounds, this thing has it all in spades. Its got to be something about its unique sound hole pattern, or because of its rigid maple back and sides, because even at higher volumes the AB45 seems to cope with feedback like a champ, never booming and rattling apart like some basses. The piezo pickups sound good too, with a nice bit of that lovely piezo sizzle that just adds enough spice to an acoustic tone to give it that little extra cut in the mix.

        Testing this bass the same as the others was a treat, as even through the same old Fender amp, the bigger acoustic range of the AB45 still had all the kick and rumble it needed to get the job done, but through a good P.A like a Mackie Thump, it really came to life, with a warmer, more hollow body character that added a very different vibe to the instrument. Slapping the AB45 yielded a fun, funky tone that sounded surprisingly familiar, even though it definitely isn’t your standard P or J bass. Switching it to flat wounds gave it a nice upright character that was completely unexpected, but fully appreciated. For its ability to do everything you wouldn’t expect it to, and everything you want it to, the AB45 gets a well earned 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Fender Basses

Hey guys it’s Brian here with World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk to you about something that hasn’t been covered before in depth in this blog, and that is basses, specifically Fender basses. Fender basses have been the industry standard for bass guitars since the beginning, probably because Fender is the company that invented the modern electric bass guitar.

Clearly one of Leo Fender and the Fender company’s most illustrious achievements has to be the invention of  the Precision Bass, taking the musical range and sound of the upright bass, and making it a compact and easily transportable form. Fender also decided to add a fretted fingerboard, so that bassists could play in tune quickly and easily. Eventually, Fender also produced the Jazz bass, with its thinner faster neck profile, and its much mellower sound. So lets go through a brief rundown and review of some of the most popular Fender basses on the market today.

The Fender American Standard Precision Bass

The Fender American Standard Precision Bass

First and foremost, is the Fender American Standard Precision Bass. With a tone that is bold, punchy, and iconic, it’s widely understood that the P bass can fit in almost any situation. Sure, you would assume that one pickup doesn’t give you much versatility, but that has never stopped the P bass from playing in everything from rock and blues, to funk and R&B, all the way to shred metal, modern pop and hip hop. There is nothing that a P bass can’t do.

I sat down with the American Standard P Bass, and put it through its paces. I was able to get everything from thundering low growls, which were great for quick jazz runs, to bright sounding rock tones with nothing more then a quick roll of the tone knob. The neck felt smooth and comfortable, and the body shape fits you like an old friend. There is nothing I could dream of adding to, or changing about this lovely instrument, and I would give it a 10 out of 10, except it would be unfair of me to grade the P bass. As the P bass was the first real bass guitar, all other bass guitars are judged by the bar it set all of those years ago.

The Fender American Standard Jazz Bass

The Fender American Standard Jazz Bass

Next up, is the Fender American Standard Jazz bass. Invented as a part of the plan by fender to help bring jazz players into the electrified world, the Jazz bass was given a thinner neck, an offset body style, two redesigned pickups to help give it a darker, more mellow tone, and a different control scheme that gave it far more versatility tone wise. Yes, it was designed for jazz, but that has never stopped it from being played in everything from metal to country, and anything in-between. As with its brother the P bass, it seems that there is nothing the Jazz bass isn’t capable of.

Sitting down with the American Standard Jazz bass, I was impressed by how it all felt. Playing jazz lines, on a jazz bass will always just sound and feel right, because Fender really got this instrument right. The tones were delicate and bold at the same time, with punch and growl, but playing softly resulted in those classic soulful, yet whispery tones. Being able to zip from really bright tones on the bridge pickup, and then by a twist of the two volume controls, and a whirl of the tone, go bright bridge tones to the darkest neck tones imaginable is a testament to how versatile this instrument really is. Slapping and popping gave me all of those old tones, that would be more then at home on any old funk record ala Sly and the Family stones. Playing with the pads of my fingers gave me big open jazz tones, and switching to a pick gave me all of the big rock style tones I could ever need. It really just does it all, and does it all with style.

This is a bass that can do it all, easily a 10 out of 10, but like I said with the P bass, these two basses are the ones that started it all, without them the instrument as we know it would be far different indeed.

The Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar Bass

The Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar Bass

The next bass in the review is the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass. Fender tends to use their Squier brand to produce one of two things, cheaper versions of their Fender made instruments, or they use them to create radically different instruments for markets that would be too expensive to fill with their higher dollar instruments. This is a good example of the latter.

The smaller scale length of this instrument seems fitting, as Fender has made many quirky short scale basses over the years, with models like the Bronco, or the Mustang bass, as Fender has always attempted to figure out a way to exploit that niche as much as possible. The neck on the Short Scale Jaguar felt comfortable, and after it was strung up with heavier strings, this thing came to life. The super versatile electronics of this guitar include a jazz bass style volume and tone layout, with both a Jazz bass pickup in the bridge, and a Precision bass pickup in the neck. Being able to have the punchy-ness of the P bass, and all of the mellow growl, and the ability to pan between pickups like a Jazz bass just gives this instrument way too much power.

The body feels strangely unlike a bass, and the short scale of the neck does make it feel a lot more like a guitar then a bass. This can lead the odd syndrome of wanting to play guitar style lines on a bass, with big huge jumps between notes, leading you away from the standard walk along the neck that bass players have done for so many decades. The only downside I can find about the Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass, is that they didn’t include the active bass circuit of the rest of the Jaguar bass models in the Vintage Modified line, a feature that would have given this already dark sounding bass a little extra edge . Overall though this little addition to the Fender family does exactly what it needs to, and is one amazing little bass at a really affordable price. For its versatility and cool short scale playability, the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass gets an easy 9 out of 10, because while it’s not every bassist will like the short scale length, every bass player should own atleast one short scale bass, for their unique dark mellow tone.

The Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz Bass

The Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz Bass

The last guitar in this review is another Squier, and the bass in question is the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz bass. I’ve always loved the added versatility that a low B gives you, and with the big bold tone that Duncan designed pickups gives you, this bass definitely has a lot more power then anything in its price range. This is an amazingly high quality bass, not just a high quality Squier, but definitely a true high quality bass all around.

Sitting down with the bass, I loved the added body, and sustain that the extra wood and weight gives to the Jazz basses tone. Playing through standard jazz changes is far easier when you can shift down to that low B as you walk higher up the neck, as you can leap around within the changes much easier then on a standard four string. Dropping the low B to an A, I was able to play everything from some deep down funk, some bright rock, even some dark metal chugging, without the low A ever seeming unnecessary or misplaced. As far as bass guitars go, the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz Bass is miles above and beyond its competition, and nothing in its price bracket comes close to its power, and tone. The Vintage Modified Five String easily snags a 10 out of 10, for just being so practical, and affordable.

As you can see, even though Fenders range of basses isn’t that gigantic, and even though the design of said basses have rarely changed in sixty or so years, they are still just as important and revolutionary to modern music as they have ever been. So why don’t you start playing the same basses that revolutionized modern music all those years ago, and go pick up a Precision, a Jazz, or even the newer Jaguar basses over at Worldmusicsupply.com today!