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!

marshall-code-970-80

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?

fender_7

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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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

World Music Supply | Takamine Guitars

Hey guys it’s Brian with World Music Supply again, here to bring you another dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog, I got to take a look at two great guitars from our friends over at Takamine. I always love Takamines, they make such consistently good guitars, that sometimes its easy to get caught up in the sound of one, and totally ignore how amazing they look, and how good their build quality is. Today however I got to play a few that just couldn’t be ignored, and the list begins with one of our best sellers right now, the EF340SCGN.

Takamine EF340SCGN Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine EF340SCGN Acoustic Electric Guitar

The very first thing you notice about this guitar, is that stunning vintage finished Cedar top, which is an almost caramel or cognac color and is down right beautiful. The workmanship is as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen, and the Nato back and sides are just as handsomely (although a little more subtlety) finished. The guitar also features a real bone nut, and real bone saddle to provide very clear, and resonant tones. Acoustically this guitar has a very vintage character to it, with lots of warm mid tones, sparkly high end, and a nice soft, almost jazzy low end. The neck is a very comfortable shape, and the Indian rosewood fingerboard is amazingly quick. Chords rung out with a distinctive boom, and single note lines had a very clear, defined character to them.

Amplified, this guitar was amazing. Acoustic guitar amplification has come leaps and bounds over the years, and the preamp technology always surprises me, how even with the same pickup, the guitars can sound miles apart based solely on their preamps. Sure, even low end instruments can have a pleasing character to them, but as you move up in quality, the quality of the sound changes dramatically. Sitting high atop the list of Takamines dozens of preamp designs is the Cool Tube series, which uses a small 12AU7 dual triode vacuum tube to help flesh out, and “warm up” the sound of the guitar.

The CT4BII pickup in the EF340SCGN is no different, and the second you hear this guitar, you understand just how important the cool tube is to the sound. The sound through a good acoustic guitar amp, or a good PA cabinet is just spectacular, with a sound that actually rivals the unamplified sound in beauty and clarity. The guitar was surprisingly resistant to feedback, and actually took quite a bit of volume to slide into that typical violent acoustic guitar feedback, and with a soundhole cover applied it took a ton of volume to switch into feedback mode. Tone wise the guitar has a lot like the actual acoustic tone, but with a bit fuller low end, and a slightly warmer sounding high end. Chords had a nice smooth character to them, with almost none of that usual piezo sizzle.

The sound of the EF340SCGN was amazing both amplified and unamplified, with tones that could cover anything you threw at it. For all of that, and its amazing looks, the EF340SCGN earns itself an easy 10 out of 10.

Takamine EF508K Noveau Series Acoustic Electric Guitar Koa

Takamine EF508K Noveau Series Acoustic Electric Guitar Koa

Next up is the Takamine EF508K which has the unusual appointment of having a Figured Koa top. I’ve seen Figured Koa as a back plate, and I’ve seen Figured Koa as sides on a guitar, but I’ve never seen it on a production guitar as a top wood. The reason its so rare as a top wood is because, first off its typically very expensive, as it is only grown in a few places around the world, and the cost tends to go up when it is as curly as the top on the EF508K. The sound of Koa is distinctive, with a lot of sparkly high end, some very warm mids, but not a whole ton of bass. This means it cuts through the mix very well, and helps to support the mix very well without overpowering it.

The feel of the NEXC body is nice, with its slightly smaller body, and a bit more even sound to the guitar, it really compliments all of the Koa in the guitar. Acoustically the EF508K has a pleasing, even sounding voice, with lots of note definition, and sustain. Chords ring out with almost piano like clarity, and they really do sustain for quite a while, far longer than almost any other acoustic I’ve had the pleasure to play thus far in my musical life. The only drawback is that Koa is hardwood, and as such is a slightly quieter wood, so the overall volume of the guitar is slightly quieter than say a spruce top guitar, although the fact it is an electric acoustic makes this point rather moot, as it can actually be as loud as your amplifier is.

The sound acoustically is remarkable, with tons of fantastic warmth and presence. The clarity of the guitar was also just dumbfounding, I was playing big jazz chords, full of 7ths and flat 5ths and there was never any overlay or woofy dissonance, just pure tone. The guitar was a tad bit quieter, athough no quieter than a smaller body size, like a mini jumbo or a parlor, and the guitar was still plenty loud enough to sing with as long as you aren’t really belting.

Amplified, this guitar is breathtaking, the definition and tone are just beyond anything I could have imagined. The sustain lasts far longer than a typical acoustic and the fact the top is made of a hardwood, the guitar is also very feedback resistant. Meaning I could play this guitar without a sound hole cover for quite some time, and at a pretty high volume without the body resonating to the speaker too much.

The EF508K was a downright magnificent guitar, with features well above your average acoustic. The figured Koa sounded like nothing else I had ever heard in an acoustic guitar, and the beauty of it was equally as profound. The EF508K easily earns itself a10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Marshall DSL Amplifiers

Hey guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, to bring you another dose of gear and guitar reviews. Today though, I have an awesome treat, I get to review the Marshall DSL series of all tube amplifiers.  Surprisingly, this is the first Marshall I have had the privilege to actually review, a fact that I hope to rectify in the coming months. Regardless, the DSL stands for Double Super Lead, because the amp is based around a two channel design. All of the amps in the line have the same overall design and a similar sound, with the only noticeable difference from amp to amp is volume and headroom, as well as the controls layout.

The Marshall DSL15H 15 Watt All Tube Amplifier Head

The Marshall DSL15H 15 Watt All Tube Amplifier Head

First up on the block today is the 15 Watt head, which is also available in a combo which is equipped with a Celestion 12” speaker. The 15 watt DSL is laid out like the other amplifiers in the family, with a classic gain, an ultra gain, a mid shift button which contours the mids for a much more metal friendly setting, and a deep button, which shifts the resonance frequency to boost the bass up. The amp is also equipped with a Pentode/Triode switch that drops the power down to 7.5 watts as well as shifting the tone to a smoother less aggressive styled sound.

The Marshall DSL15C 15 Watt All Tube Combo Amplifier

The Marshall DSL15C 15 Watt All Tube Combo Amplifier

The first thing that needs to be mentioned, is this amp is plenty loud, but I could so see the point behind an amp like this in the studio, as you can crank it, and get that classic Marshall on the brink sound, without being evicted or going deaf. The sound does have everything a great Marshall should have, that great Nashville style clean tone, with just a bit of an edge to help you cut out above the band, a crunch AC/DC style sound, and switching to the Ultra gain side of the amp, you get everything from late 80s hair metal gain, all the way up to mid 90s angry at the world style gain. All of the settings are very, very usable, and voice perfectly for what they are designed for, the classic side ranges from the aforementioned Nashville style clean, and right up to what you recognize as the Marshall sound of the late 70s, with tons of bottom end, mid range cut, and all of the harmonic glory that cemented the Marshall name into the fabric of history.

The Ultra side, is much more aimed at really hard rock, and metal players, as the levels of gain are amazingly high, it is great as a lead boost for solos, and as a rhythm channel for a metal guitarist, as with the tone switch engaged, the mid range chunk that this channel has is perfect for big, brutal rhythm, and just devistating when you play big down tuned chords.

The Marshall DSL40C 40 Watt All Tube Combo Amplifier

The Marshall DSL40C 40 Watt All Tube Combo Amplifier

Next up is the 40 Watt combo version of the DSL, which incorporates all of the features of the 100 watt head, into a 40 watt package you could fit in the trunk of your car. The two channels now are split, with a clean/crunch switch on the classic channel, and a lead one and lead two switch on the ultra channel. There is also an expanded EQ with a presence and resonance control taking over for the bass shift button, as well as two different types of reverb on hand.

The division between the channels was cool, and being able to switch from clean to AC/DC style crunch to a metal lead tone was pretty cool. The division of the ultra channel made for an interesting conundrum as I loved everything about the ultra on the 15 watt version, but now being able to switch from that metal grind tone I got before over to an equally amazing Lead two was just great for down tuned glory. It was hard to choose which side of the Lead section I liked more, but the one part that floored me was, it really isn’t all that noisy, you still might need a noise gate, but compared to many other high gain amplifiers, there really isn’t all that much hiss.

The Marshall DSL100H 100 Watt All Tube Amplifier Head

The Marshall DSL100H 100 Watt All Tube Amplifier Head

Finally there is the matter of the 100watt head, which took everything I liked about the 40 Watt version and pumped it up a lot.  What I love about this head though is that it is everything a Marshall should be, versatile, dramatic, roadworthy and loud! As with any 100 Watt amp, you have to handle them with a certain amount of care, as they are amazingly loud, I was able to keep the clean channel clean no matter how loud I turned up, well I should say, as loud as my ear drums would let me turn up. The Crunch channel had a lot more boom to it when it was pushed through a 4×12, and likewise the lead channels had a lot more thump to them, and by that I mean you get a lot more of that punched in the chest feeling when they are coming at you from a Marshall 4×12 cabinet.

All in all , the DSL series are some of the best Marshalls I’ve ever gotten to play through, with a liveliness to them, and a brashness about them that reminds me of the amps of yesteryear, but at the same time retaining all of the power tube punch you need to play modern metal. For all of these reasons the entire DSL family scores a well earned 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Bugera Infinium

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, supplying you with your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. Now I believe I’ve mentioned that as much as I can, I am going to try and keep this week as Halloween themed as possible, and that means supplying you with the most dark and brutal equipment I can find, and today that includes a few amplifiers from our friends over at Bugera. These amplifers all feature their Infinium technology, which regulates and closely monitors the tubes, and even rebiasing them as necessary, allowing them to last at full potential much longer than normal. This means that over the life of the amp, you will spend substantially less on replacing tubes, as you will no longer have to spend huge sums of money on whole matched sets of tubes.

The Bugera 333XL 120 Watt 3 Channel All Tube Guitar Amplifier Head

The Bugera 333XL 120 Watt 3 Channel All Tube Guitar Amplifier Head

The First amp in today’s review is the Bugera 333XL which is a massivly high gain, high wattage amplifier designed to let you play loud and proud. The 333XL is a hand built 120 watt monster, driven by four EL34 tubes, which can be switched out for 6L6s for a totally different tone, and the preamp is powered by four 12AX7s. Bugera integrated a high class digital reverb, which is a little cleaner, and clearer than a more typical spring reverb, which tend to get rather muddy when it comes to high gain tones.

Clean, this reverb added a ton of depth and body to my guitar tone, the feeling of having a small hall style reverb, as opposed to a spring does a lot to boost the quality of your sound, giving you studio style sounds in a live setting. The amp was sweet and clear, and all of my notes sang out with a clean, singing voice, never muddying up, no matter how much I messed with the EQ. Switching over to the Crunch channel, I was greeted with classic, AC/DC style bark. The classic rock vibe was nice, and comping 70s rock rhythms with it was no problem. Flicking on the XL switch, which is a low mid boost, the sound suddenly was chunckier, and could almost pull off some early Metallica style tones as well.

Finally switching over to the Lead channel, I was greeted with gigantic, over the top roaring distortion, with overtones and harmonics galore. I was clearly in modern metal territory, and the addition of a built in noise gate really was a great idea, as it really does clean up the over the top roaring hiss that you tend to get from a setting like this. The distortion is more than enough to do anything from modern rock, to full on shred metal, so there is plenty or room to move around with a sound like this. The XL switch on the Lead setting would be an ideal tone for anyone who spends most of their time in a dropped tuning, as it really keeps your sound tight, and heavy. Overall the Bugera 333XL is a beast of a machine, and easily deserves its 10 out of 10 rating.

The Bugera TriRec INFINIUM Guitar Amp Head

The Bugera TriRec INFINIUM Guitar Amp Head

Next up is something I really wish I could be more discriptive about, but sadly due to some production restraints, they haven’t exactly came in just yet, and that would be the Bugera TriRec. I was able to briefly scope out, and listen to the TriRec at NAMM and was blown away by its sound, and power. A few features stuck out to me, and because I know so many of you have already preordered it, and are waiting patiently to get your very own, I figured I would give you my opinions on it, to help satiate your want for this high gain beast.

The name TriRec comes from its three fully independent channels, as well as its switchable silicon diode rectifier, and tube rectifiers, which allows it to have everything from roaring modern rock tones, hyper overdriven metal tones, to soaring almost synth like lead tones. It also features what Bugera has termed the varipower switch, which is a type of attenuator, that you can dial down, rather than use fixed power points, which was a really cool feature as it acted as a sort of mega-volume knob.  

The few moments I was able to actually to hear it clean, as a majority of the time getting to hear the amp was spent with them amp on a much higher gain setting, the clean sounded rich and pure, with a slight bit of that tangy solid state character you sometimes get from hybrid style amps. The overdrive setting, was big and beefy, with a sort of woofing quality to it, almost reminiscent of the XL boost on the 333XL. The lead sounds though; those were heavy as possible, just raw, metal heaviness. Chugging drop tune chords, and searing, vocal like lead tones, this amp really is going to be killer. Sadly it still might be a little while before the TriRec actually hits our warehouse shelves and I get to do a proper test for all of you. However, I will go ahead and say that the tone of this monster easily deserves a 10 out of 10, Now to sit and wait for a chance to actually play it for myself.

World Music Supply | VOX AC30 Review

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews, and today I got the chance to review a very special amplifier, the VOX AC30. Now once in a while, I will take a break from my regular duties of reviewing two or three guitars, amps, or pedals, and sit down with something I think is very influential, and just work out and explain why it is so important. I’ve done a review like this for the Line 6 Variax, the Fender Deluxe Reverb, and the Nuno Bettnecourt N4, but today I get to review something that virtually shaped an entire generation worth of music.

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired 2x12 Combo amp

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired 2×12 Combo amp

The Amplifier has a very particular sound, with a distinctive top end jangle, and a simplistic, and straight forward design. The sound of the amplifier is heavily influenced by its lack of negative feedback, which is an amplification technique used by most major manufacturers to help with gain stability, frequency response and reduced distortion. This lack of negative feedback causes the upper harmonics of the notes to jump out, creating an otherworldly distorted tone that has characterized the sounds of dozens of guitarists throughout history. The sound is also modified by its inclusion of a rectifier, which is often a buzz word for “metal” amplifiers, but what a rectifier does in effect is take all of the “valleys” of the sound wave and pulls them up into “peaks” resulting in a brighter, cleaner, more sine wave like sound.

The Vox AC30VR 30 Watt 2 Channel Guitar Amp

The Vox AC30VR 30 Watt 2 Channel Guitar Amp

Enough tech mumbo jumbo though, what this all translates to is a sound that was, and still is miles apart from its competitors, as the AC30 and the whole family of VOX amps for that matter, sound nothing like their Fender and Marshall contemporaries. Playing a Fender Strat on the cleanest of clean settings, this amp had two things going for it, one was it was amazingly loud for only being 30 watts, this is thanks to the two unique characteristics mentioned earlier, the AC30’s lack of negative feedback, and its rectifier help keep the volume high and pristine even on cleaner settings. The clean tones were very cool too, with lots of clarity and note definition, with lots of high end jangle and twang, and mid range bite and growl. Now while every variant of the AC30 that has come out over the years have different specs, and additions to them, most of them still have about the same sound, so these sentiments should ring true for every model in the line.

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired Amp Head

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired Amp Head

I remember about the time I was turning 17 or 18, I saw a documentary on the VOX company, and in particular the AC30. I remember hearing all of the different sound bites of the different bands and being marveled at how broad a scope they were, from classic rock, to country, to blues, to alternative rock. They all had this one amp, and none of them sounded the same. I remember hearing a worker at the factory talk about how the Rolling Stones didn’t know if the AC30 would be road worthy enough to tour with, and someone at the factory actually took one of the amps, and threw it down two or three flights of stairs. They then plugged it in, and it played just fine. I was amazed that a company would put that much trust in their product. So now that I had some spare time on my hands to take an in depth look at one specific product, I wanted to make it count, I wanted to hear what made this amp so timeless and sought after.

The Vox AC30C2 Custom Back Panel

The Vox AC30C2 Custom Back Panel

Turning the volume up, and letting the amp creep into natural overdrive, it becomes very clear why the likes of Brian May of Queen, The Edge of U2, and Thom Yorke of Radiohead all love this amp so very much. The sound is big and powerful, but with a different sort of tonality and harmonic response than what many guitarists would be used to, as the dynamics of this amp are very touch sensitive, and as well the controls to the amp itself are very precise, as their ranges are very wide. Turning the bass knob from side to side, doesn’t just suck away some bass or add on a little bit, it can delete the bass entirely, or emit enough low end to shake the foundation of most houses. This is unusual for a guitar amp, and you will find that many guitarists will actually tape down, or glue the knobs in place on their AC30, or if your Brian May, you might even just eliminate all of the knobs except the volume, and have the controls set one way forever. It should be noted that Brian May no longer does this to his amps, but the point still holds, that this amp has a very broad scope of sound.

Playing lead lines with the amp cranked you begin to notice something peculiar, as the note sustains, and the fundamental frequency falls away, a tone that is either a perfect fifth, or an octave above the tone begins to pull itself to the surface. This almost octave like effect is almost certainly thanks to the unique wiring of this amp, but all I know is that it is awesome! It took me some fiddling around with the controls to really dial in specific sounds of specific artists that I liked, but once you get the sound set, you really do notice the unique and unusual properties of this amplifier. You can dial in Revolver era Beatles grind, Jangly echo laden U2 tones, and when I used a EQ pedal to act like a treble booster, I was even able to dial in a very convincing Brian May style sound.

The Vox AC30C2 Custom

The Vox AC30C2 Custom

The VOX AC30 has a sound that is unique, and timeless. This is the amp that drove The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, U2, and millions more, to international stardom. This one amp has been the voice of many a guitarist, a symbol of technical ingenuity, and a timeless reminder of classic rock history. For all of these reasons, and surely many more, the VOX AC30 lands itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Randall Signature Combo Amplifiers

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, and today I get to bring you three cool little combo amps from our friends over at Randall. The combos in question are all signature models, which are all patterned after their larger, higher wattage brethren. The three I got to test today are the Kirk Hammett Signature KH15, the George Lynch signature LB15, and the Nuno Bettencourt NB15.

Now lets be honest, these amps are only 15 watts, running through a 6.5 inch Randall Jaguar speaker, these amps are not designed to compete with a band, and they certainly aren’t designed for stage use. These are practice amps, but what I’ve found out over the past few years, is “practice amps” tend to make great recording amps. The point of a practice amp is to get a good sound, but at a very low volume, and while this is great for jamming out in your bedroom, it’s also a great feature to have in the studio. Using a simple set up of a single SM57 and a cheap little USB Mixer, I was able to get what sounded like a giant 4×12 version of these little amps, all with the signature tone of their namesake intact.   

The Randall KH15 Kirk Hammet Signature Series 12 Watt Guitar Amplifer

The Randall KH15 Kirk Hammet Signature Series 12 Watt Guitar Amplifer

First up was the KH15, which to my understanding was based around the swappable preamp modules that were featured in his signature amp head. The KH15, and for that matter all of the amplifiers in today’s review, features a three band EQ, a clean channel, an overdrive channel, a boosted overdrive channel, and lastly a master volume. I was a really big Metallica fan when I first started playing guitar, and as such I have my fair share of Metallica licks memorized, and while the tone of this little amp wasn’t 100% accurate, it was as close as an amp can get that won’t set you back a few hundred, if not a few thousand dollars.

The clean tone was majestic, which I honestly found strange as when you hear Kirk Hammett, the first thing that comes to mind certainly isn’t sparkling Fender like clean tones. All things considered this amp sounded great just as a practice amp, but it also sounded pretty awesome when I had it all mic’d up running into my simple recording rig. This amp starts to have far more of that classic Black album style Metallica vibe once you flip it into the overdrive channel.

The overdriven tone had none of that annoying fizz that you can sometimes get from smaller speaker equipped practice amps, instead you were awarded with lots of tight sounding, barking, Metallica esc grind. Running through a barrage of Metallica riffs, this amp sounded almost perfect, especially through the recording rig, where the tiny 6.5 inch speaker suddenly sounded like a full 4×12 set of roaring speakers. Switching over to the boost channel, and of course cutting back the mids a great deal resulted in an almost exact replication of those classic mid scooped tones from those beloved early Metallica albums. For its ability to react and sound far bigger, and far bolder then you would expect it to, the KH15 earns itself a 10 out of 10.

The Randall LB15 15 Watt George Lynch Combo Guitar Amplifier

The Randall LB15 15 Watt George Lynch Combo Guitar Amplifier

Next up is the LB15, which is based on the Lynch Boxs circuitry, and the result is just amazing. The clean sound was just gigantic, with lots of head room, and sparkling high end, with just then enough mid cut to help you get through the mix. Recording with this amp was great, because tiny little mic tweaks really transform the sound, with all of the tones sounding smooth, and musical.

This held true more so when I switched it to the overdrive setting, as I was able to get what sounded like totally different amplifiers by slight tweaks of the microphone, which I think had to do with the large harmonic content being driven through such a small speaker. This actually was a good things, and pulling the mic back a foot or so, or using two microphones gave me dozens of very useable, very heavy tones.

No matter what you feed this little amp you always get a very Lynch style tone, with those tight lows, thick midrange, and piercing highs which create Dokken esc bite and power. Fans of George Lynch will no doubt love this little amp, but so will fans of recording with littler amps, or people who have to record in a home or apartment as even though it sounds massive, its all at a level that won’t get the cops called on you. For all of this power in such a small box, the LB15 easily scores itself a 10 out of 10.  

The Randall NB15 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Practice Combo

The Randall NB15 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Practice Combo

Last up in today’s rundown, is the NB15 which modeled after Mr. Bettencourts unusually designed, and fantastically voiced line of Randall amplifiers. While its two tone grill cloth might make it seem otherwise at first, this little guy features the same 6.5 inch Randall Jaguar speaker as the other amplifiers in this review. Its voice is a different in many ways from the other amplifiers in today’s review, as its clean channel is far less pristine then the other amps thus far, by this I mean that this amp features a much warmer sound, as opposed to the sparkling clean tones that the LB15 and the KH15 featured, the NB15 had a much warmer, and low end focused sound.

This was great in all honesty, as I was able to comp thicker sounding jazz lines, and warmer sounding country licks, not to mention swirly chorus tones without taking everyone’s head off with a ton of high end, which can sometimes happen with smaller speakers.  Overdriven this little guy had a very 80s sound, with tons of focused, soaring lead tones on tap, and when used in conjunction with Nuno’s signature guitar, this set up sounded almost identical to anything he did with extreme, or solo, which was truly surprising.

On the boost setting the NB15 was just piercing, able to comp a giant roaring lead tone, in a package that fits in a back pack, and isn’t loud enough to wake up the whole neighborhood, so just like its brothers in this little series of signature amps, the NB15 also earns itself a very well deserved 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again, bringing you all another dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I get to talk  about one of my favorite amps of all time, and that is the Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb. I got my first real experience with this amplifier when I had just started playing guitar, and a friend of mine had a vintage one of these that his father had given him to play with, as it was just collecting dust in his garage. Luckily, even after all of those years it worked just fine, after we replaced the tubes of course. After all of these years, it’s good to know that an amp like this still has all of the power to move me just like that vintage one had, just without all of its wear and tear from years of playing in bars.

Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue

Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue

I tested this amp and remembered at once how powerful the sounds from it really are, with that perfect fender tone, with its big meaty low end, and a bell like chiming high end, with the sweetest mids I’ve heard from almost any other amp. Everything I gave the amp, it gave right back to me, with an airy SRV style snappiness that certainly has its place in any guitarists rig. The weird part about this amp that always confused me as a young guitarist, was that the two channels aren’t connected, you actually have to use a splitter box to go from one channel to another. You do still have a footswitch, but that’s to turn on and off the tube driven reverb and vibrato settings, which have a very distinct sound, that just screams late 60s style rock. The reverb is very twangy, with a very nice country edge to it that really helps establish that vintage Fender Vibe. The Vibrato setting is actually a tremolo effect, which was named inaccurately, which seems to be a hallmark of Fender, because lets not forget that the famous tremolo bridge piece on their Stratocaster guitar, actually creates a vibrato effect, confusing isn’t it.

After playing the amp for a few minutes, you will quickly realize why it’s loved by everyone from classic rock and blues guys to country players. The “normal” clean channel is very, very clean, with all of the crisp and airy power that people have come to expect from Fender, all of the notes perfectly defined, with the true tone of the guitar always shining through. The Normal channel is a little restrictive, as the reverb and vibrato controls aren’t in the circuit, but it does a great job of giving you a nice warm, thick sounding clean slate to add to with a palette of pedals.

The Vibrato channel is a lot more dynamic, with a lot more tone shaping options, but you still can get that classic Fender clean sound, as long as you keep the volume backed off. However, this channel has a very distinctive distorted tone, which has been heard on countless hit records throughout the years. This channel was great for playing everything from bluesy riffs, to a few different classic rock songs I had laying around waiting to test an amp like this, and the 65 did a great job of giving them that familiar body and spank that only a Fender could. Adding in the vibrato is great for emulating a few great C.C.R songs, and the tube driven reverb of this amp was so famous that BOSS even made a pedal just to replicate its warm spacious clamor.

For the years and years of countless songs the tone of this amp has inspired, the 65 Deluxe Reverb reissue definitely gets a solid 10 out of 10. However it should be noted that this amp doesn’t have a master volume, so getting a good distorted tone out of it does require you to crank the amp quite a bit, which can get a little loud, but hey, that’s just how we like it right!

World Music Supply | Line 6 POD HD500

Hey guys, it’s Brian here from World Music Supply again, here to bring you your regular does of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog I got the chance to review the Line 6 POD HD500 Pedalboard, which is a floor version of Line 6’s POD HD.  POD revolutionized the recording industry a few years back, taking the power of an entire arsenal of guitar amps, cabinets, and pedals and shoved it all in a little red kidney bean. Flash forward to the POD HD, when technology finally got to a point where they could take all the things that made the first POD so great, and make it even better. They did more then map the sound of each amplifier; instead, they actually digitally replicated every aspect of the amplifier, from simple things like cabinet noise to more complex ideas like how a tube amp sags at higher volume.

The Line 6 POD HD500 Pedalboard

The Line 6 POD HD500 Pedalboard

The Line 6 POD HD500 is the top of the line floor unit available right now for Line 6. With the ability to have two separate rigs running in parallel, run a microphone through the foot pedal, and even control almost any other current line 6 products directly from the HD500.  I conducted my test of the HD 500 with a few simple pieces of gear, I tested it with my standard test rig, a Fender Fat Strat, and a Randall RT503H, running straight through a P.A cabinet, as well as a purely Line 6 rig, so I could test the effectiveness of the hyper connectivity of the HD500. Set up was easy, you just plug in, and play. There are tons of presets ready to go, and no matter what you play, there are atleast one or two that will suit your needs, I mean there are even a few really convincing synth presets.

Playing through a few of the standard presets it becomes readily apparent that these models are as close to the real thing as possible, this impression was readily apparent when it transformed the standard tones of the Randall with its gritty rock and roll attitude into a near perfect imitation of a Bassman, changing the settings on the HD500 readily transformed the amp from what it really was, into a great imitation of what I wanted it to be. Whether that be a Marshall, a VOX, or any of the 16 powerful amp models that are inside the HD500, through a standard guitar amp, they all sound as close to the real thing as possible. The actual best way to use this board in conjunction with a standard guitar and amp is to use the pedal board as well…just a normal pedal board.

The I/O Section of the The Line 6 POD HD500 Pedalboard

The I/O Section of the The Line 6 POD HD500 Pedalboard

The number of effects within the HD500 is immense, all of them are either fantastic imitations of famous boxes, like tube screamers, octavers, and the like, or original effects designed by Line 6, usually taken from either their tone core pedals, or created just for the POD HD. Using the HD500 as a pedal board is a fantastic use of both your favorite amps, and of the massive amount of power within the HD500.

A better use of the amplifier models within the HD500, is to run it into a standard P.A. as suddenly, the models sound perfect, the bassman rather than sounding a lot like a bassman, sounds, and more importantly, feels like a bassman. The Marshall, sounds and feels like a Marshall, with the volume control sensitive gain stage, the push and pull of the power tubs and the range of screaming tones, to the softer subtler sounds when you roll back the volume. These models do so much more justice to their namesake when they are run through something transparent like a P.A or mixer.

The Line 6 DT50 50 Watt 2x12 Adaptive Guitar Combo Amplifier

The Line 6 DT50 50 Watt 2×12 Adaptive Guitar Combo Amplifier

last in the test, was to run it with pure Line 6 power. This meant that I was now playing a Variax guitar, and running the pedal board out to a DT50 amplifier. This setup worked far better than the last two, with the cool part about it all being, that the DT50 can be programmed along with the HD500. Suddenly you can press a button and change how the actual digital models in the DT50 respond to the digital models of the HD500, working in unison to replicate the feel and sound of each model. Alongside this however, there is the Variax, which can also be controlled via the HD500, which allows you to control the models within the guitar, so with the push of a button, you can change not only your amplifiers, and your pedals, but also your guitar. You can go from a spanky 1968 Tele tone running through a Fender Bassman, with a simple slapback delay and some room reverb, to with the click of a button, suddenly you really are playing a 1952 Les Paul Gold top through a raging Marshall, to a Guild 12 string in a big cathedral, even a Danelectro Coral sitar playing through a weird 70s style synthesizer effect.

The long and short of it is, Line 6 made the POD, they then made amplifiers which worked like, or in unison with the POD, and now with introduction of the POD HD Live series of floor processors, and their extensive line of Tube and Modeling hybrids you can replace amounts of gear that would fill up anything from the spare room of your house, to the better half of a recording studio, with one or two amps, a floor board, and a guitar or two, and because of that, the heart of this modern arsenal of electronics, the POD HD500 earns itself easily a 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Bugera Vintage Amplifiers

Hey guys its Brian here with World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk to you about the Bugera Vintage series of Amplifiers. Bugera has made it their mission to get classic great sounding tube amplifiers to the world, at a very affordable price. Within the Vintage line of Amplifiers are the V-5, the V-22, and the V-55 combo and head.

The Bugera V-5

The Bugera V-5

First up on the chopping block is the V-5, an amplifier that is close to my heart, as it has been my “secret weapon” so to speak in the studio for a while now. The V-5 is a simple Class A, 5 watt amp driven by one EL84 and one 12AX7. This amp might not be as feature laden as some little practice amps, but what it lacks in technology, it makes up for in amazing tone. Right out of the box, the V-5 is certainly a handsome little devil, and so are the rest in its family, with their two tone cream and black coverings. Mic’d up this little amp is down right amazing, at low gain settings it adds that tube “girth” that even high end solid state amps seem to lack, giving your playing a very warm character, with added harmonics thanks to its hyper simple design.

Running straight into the amp, the guitar has a character all its own, and sure enough, swapping out guitars changes the sound entirely, even when they are very similar guitars. This is in part due to the Class A design, which while I wont go into explaining its benefits, it’s worth reading into. The long and short of it is, Class A amplifiers sound fantastic, even though they are only low power amplifiers. The V-5 also accepts pedals rather well, although you will notice a loss of signal clarity the longer the chain is, and similarly the longer your cable is. The V-5 produces big classic rock tones when you crank the gain and volume up, which are halfway between later Led Zeppelin and early Van Halen. You can hear the Amp distort and feel it pulse and sag with your playing, as well the V-5 is equipped with a power attenuator so you can drop it from 5 watts to 1, to 0.1 watts, meaning you can have awesome tone at any volume. For its ability to be a beast in most studio situations, and for being one awesome practice amp the V-5 scores a nice 9 out of 10.

The Bugera V-22 Combo Amp

The Bugera V-22 Combo Amp

The V-22 is a slightly different beast to its little brother the V-5, in that it is a A/B style amplifier and has a much more versatile and “live friendly” feature set.  The V-22 is a straight forward 22 Watt amp that features two channels, clean and dirty, and two inputs bright and normal much like most vintage amplifiers. The amp has a very different character to the V-5 when it comes to tone, with a much brighter, sweeter sounds with a very, lets say Californian feeling clean section, and a rather British feeling dirty channel.

The clean channel still has that nice girth thanks to the tubes warming them up, although it doesn’t have the guitar to guitar sensitivity of the smaller V-5 it still has a slightly different character from guitar to guitar. The dirt channel has a nice very Queen sounding tone, and thanks to the included mid boost switch, you can even get a very good AC/DC tone out of it. The bass, mid and treble controls are very sensitive and moving them a little does result in some rather dramatic changes, which is good for people who get frustrated with never having enough Bass in their guitar tone. For bedroom practicing there is a Pentode Triode switch on the amp to drop its power threshold to take it to a much friendlier volume, which is great for recording as well. The V-22 also includes a footswitch to switch between the two fantastic channels, and for its ability to have some rather classic tones in an amazingly affordable package the V-22 gets a well deserved 9 out of 10.

The Bugera V-55 Head

The Bugera V-55 Head

Last in the line up are the V-55 head and combo. The V-55 is the most powerful in the line up, with all of the features of the V-22 but far more output and much more headroom in the clean section. The clean tone is still nice and fat, although it does lack some of the tube character of the smaller, lower watt amplifiers, although this is to be expected. The clean channel has a very rock vibe to it, and it is a tad dark, which felt great for jazz and for some rockabilly style country tinged licks. The Dirty channel has a much more distinct sound then the V-22, and a much higher level of gain on tap, which makes this perfect for everything from blues to modern metal.

The Bugera V-55 Combo Amplifier

The Bugera V-55 Combo Amplifier

The tone still has a very classic rock vibe to it, with plenty of over the top saturation and jangly overdriven chords. Out of all of the amplifiers in this review, the V-55 makes you feel like your playing on a real vintage amp the most, with its beefy clean channel, and its super Californian vibe, and its drive channel for all of its British bark and bite. For the price the V-55 has the most complex and convincing vintage amp vibe to it, and this fact snakes it a deserved 10 out of 10.
 

The Bugera Vintage line of amplifiers are amazing rock machines, they feature tones and looks that feel like they were yanked out of the late 60s. They have all of the bark and bite of those classic amps from way back in the day, but at prices that the working guitarist can afford, and you can get them right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!