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 | 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

World Music Supply | Washburn 12 String Guitars

Hey guys, it’s Brian again from World Music Supply. Sorry for the super long break between posts, what with the holiday shopping season, a lot of snow, and few other distractions, its been a little difficult to get back into the typical routine. But luckily for us all, I’m back and ready to bring you some brand new gear and guitar reviews just in time for the new year!

Washburn WJ45S12 Jumbo Acoustic 12 String Guitar

Washburn WJ45S12 Jumbo Acoustic 12 String Guitar

On Today’s agenda, I get to take a look at some new Washburn 12 Strings that just came in. First up is the WJ45S12, which is a 12 String version of the already popular WJ45. This guitar features a Solid Sitka Spruce top, and flamed maple back and sides, which greatly compliment its giant Jumbo style body. The first thing you notice about this guitar is just how good it looks. With all of the Abalone, the gold tuners, and of course the stunning flame on the maple back and sides, this guitar just looks amazing.

But looks aside, this is still a player’s guitar, with tones that just cant be beat. Twelve strings are a strange beast, with all of those octaves, and intonation abnormalities creating strange chorus effects, with almost piano like overtones, its amazing when you really think about it. This all comes at a cost though, as the guitar requires greater reinforcements to cope with the greater stresses, and occasionally this can lead to 12 strings sounding a little lifeless, and less organic then their 6 string counterparts. When it comes to the WJ45S12, this is just not the case at all.

Washburn WJ45S12 Jumbo Acoustic 12 String Guitar

Washburn WJ45S12 Jumbo Acoustic 12 String Guitar

This guitar sounds gigantic! It intonates surprisingly well, and the solid Spruce top has a very broad sound to it, with tons of highs and mid definition, but also a lot of very powerful low end to it too. The neck is surprisingly comfortable too, which while it is wider to accommodate the added strings, it is still thin enough to play comfortable chords, and even single note parts if you’re really careful with your picking technique. Trying to play quick lines on a 12 string is always a tricky affair, as the extra weight of the strings tends to get in the way of the speed of a fretboard, but thanks to the WJ45’s flat action, and its comfortable fingerboard radius, it is not only possible, but its also relatively easy on this guitar.

At the end of the day, the WJ45S12 is a simply amazing 12 string, even more so when you see just how little you have to pay to get these kinds of tones, and its because of that bang for your buck kind of power, that this guitar scores an easy 10 out of 10.

Washburn WD30S12 12 String Acoustic Guitar

Washburn WD30S12 12 String Acoustic Guitar

Next up is the WD30S12 and its sibling, the WD30SCE12. First off, the WD30S12 is a 12 string variant of the standard WD30, which features the unusual appointment of Tamo Ash back and sides, now why Tamo Ash is so rarely used is beyond me, because it looks and sounds amazing. The sound that Tamo Ash lends to a guitar is similar to Flamed Maple, but with a subtler, I would almost say softer high end to it, which really helps to even out the typically bright sound of a 12 String.

This guitar, like the last one, features an Alaskan Sitka Spruce top which has an amazingly clear and robust voice to the WD30, with plenty of clarity between all twelve of the strings. The bone saddle helped to improve this clarity as it was intonated surprisingly well, with very few of the typical intonation issues that plague 12 Strings. The neck on this one also had the same surprisingly thin and comfortable feel to it that the WJ45S12 had, which meant both easy chording, and even single note lines.

Washburn WD30S12 12 String Acoustic Guitar

Washburn WD30S12 12 String Acoustic Guitar

Far and apart, this guitar brought something new to the world of 12 String production guitars, it had a nice quality to it that we rarely see from others. The look and feel of it was astounding, and the handsome Tamo Ash back and sides was a nice touch as well. For all of this and more, the WD30S12 earns itself a deserved 10 out of 10.

Washburn WD30SCE12 Acoustic Electric 12 String Guitar

Washburn WD30SCE12 Acoustic Electric 12 String Guitar

Finally in today’s blog, is the WD30SCE12, which is an electric cutaway version of the WD30S12 we just looked at. I’ve always loved the idea of cut away 12 Strings, just the idea that you could climb all the way up to the 20th fret and enjoy that strange, mild chorusing that you can only get from a 12 string, especially from the octave strings, which have a very strange, and interesting sound to them up on the higher frets.

To these expectations, the WD30SCE12 did not disappoint. The Fishman Presys preamp had that tasty Fishman piezo tone, with lots of boom and low end, some nice midrange presence, and that nice sizzling piezo high end that I’ve come to love over the years. The sound of it through a good acoustic amp, or a PA cabinet is pretty close to the actual sound of the instrument, which even without EQ adjustments would cut through a band mix just fine, although I guarantee that you will need a sound hole cover as this guitar is very resonate, and very lively in front of a speaker.

Washburn WD30SCE12 Acoustic Electric 12 String Guitar

Washburn WD30SCE12 Acoustic Electric 12 String Guitar

The sound of this guitar on the upper frets is fantastic, with plenty of sparkle and jangle to keep your playing interesting and creative. The ability to play fingerstyle on this guitar is unmatched, as the added note definition thanks to the Fishman electronics and that perfect neck profile really lends themselves to that style of play. With the added harmonic content of the octave and doubled strings, the sound was just amazing, with an almost piano like texture.

Sure 12 Strings might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, and there is a little bit more to worry about than your average acoustic, what with all of those extra strings to tune, and that octave G string is always an issue for those who play lots of 12 string. But the rewards are worth it. That big, jangly sound of a 12 String guitar is something worth having at least once on every album, and it’s more than worth owning one or two just to keep around for color. When it comes to that kind of color instruments, with lots of wonderful tones to be pulled from them, the WD30SCE12 is definitely pretty high up on the list. For an instrument that many consider a one trick pony, the WD30SCE12 is wonderfully versatile. From Fingerstyle to Folk, and from classic rock, to modern, the WD30SCE12 easily won its rating of 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Taylor Limited Edition Guitars

Hey guys, its Brian from World Music Supply here again, bringing you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews, and in today’s blog I get to talk to you guys about a few of the amazing new Limited Edition Taylors that are available here at WMS. These Taylors are very limited and as such, I was only able to play them for the briefest of brief reviews, but never the less, I was floored by these guitars.

The Taylor 410CE-TZBK Limited Edition Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Taylor 410CE-TZBK Limited Edition Acoustic Electric Guitar

The first guitar I had the luxury to review, was the 410CE-TZBk, which is a modified version of their standard 410CE guitar, which features a Cedar top, and Tasmanian Blackwood back and sides. I am a sucker for Cedar top guitars, as they just have that classic sound, with warm, dry lows, and springy quick highs, and just the right amount of mids. Now Tasmanian Blackwood is one of those exotic tonewoods that you don’t hear enough of, with a very cool, rather unique sound. Tasmanian Blackwood has a darker sound, slightly reminiscent of rosewood, but with a faster attack, and more presence to it, similar to Koa, and in fact while trying to look up a nice way to word how Blackwood sounds I found it often described as “Koa on Steroids” which I found to be pretty accurate.

The Tasmanian Blackwood back of the 410CE-TZBK

The Tasmanian Blackwood back of the 410CE-TZBK

The Taylor Expression System

The Taylor Expression System

The action is perfect, as Taylors technique of setting the neck is far and above almost any other major acoustic guitar company, and the shape of the neck is beyond perfect for an acoustic guitar, smooth, comfortable, just thin enough, just fat enough. The sound of the guitar unplugged was gigantic, with lots and lots of warm tone, with a quick piano like attack and sustain. Plugged in the tone is exactly the same, thanks to Taylors revolutionary expression system, no Piezo sizzle, no overly boomy body noises, just the sound of the guitar, louder. This guitar is an amazing achievement, both as a stunning work of Luthiery, and as a musical instrument, and as such it would be a crime for me to award it anything but a well earned 10 out of 10.

The Taylor 314CE Limited Edition Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Taylor 314CE Limited Edition Acoustic Electric Guitar

Next up is the 314CE-Koa, which as its name implies features Koa back and sides rather than the usual African Mahogany. This is a slightly smaller guitar style, being a grand auditorium, which has a slightly brighter more present attack, and at the same time, more than enough bottom end to serve it well on stage. The Koa helps to add a little bit of this bottom end, and it does sound a little dryer, and a little more harmonically rich than its non-Koa counterpart. Koa is one of those woods that is used in guitars, but because of its difficulty to work with, and expense it is not seen nearly enough in the guitar industry.

The Koa Back of The Taylor 314CE

The Koa Back of The Taylor 314CE

Unplugged the 314 is amazingly versatile, it has a sound that would be at home onstage with a country band, a rock band, a folk group, R&B the list goes on, it just does anything you ask of it. The neck is absolutely fantastic, as it is the same perfectly set neck as the 410, and you can really move fast and play quick on a guitar like this and not feel weird about it, it never feels like an electric guitar, it always feels like an acoustic just with a lightning fast neck.

Plugged in, this guitar sounded just as wonderful thanks yet again to the Taylor expression system, there is no hint of the myriad of problems that have haunted the world of amplified acoustics for years, instead you get a perfectly acoustic sound, just louder. There is no wonder in my mind why Taylor is one of the reigning champs in the acoustic world right now when you look at these guitars, and just like the 410, it would be a travesty if I didn’t award the 314CE-Koa an honorable 10 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 | New and Improved The Behringer Firepower Interface

Hey guys, Brian here again with World Music Supply bringing you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s blog, I get to talk about some more new gear from our good friends over at Behringer. It’s almost unheard of for even a beginning musician to not have some software here or there for recording in this day and age. The days of having to rent studio time, or even the days of needing a multi million dollar deal to produce a good record are almost gone. Its thanks to equipment like the piece I am going to review today that this has become our reality, because why spend a few thousand dollars to produce a good album, when for the same price, you can buy all the equipment to make one yourself. Today, I get to take a rather preemptive look at the soon to be released Behringer Firepower. We have gotten to see it previewed at NAMM, and in dozens of videos all over the internet, that’s where World Music Supply and I come in, to whet your appetite for this soon to be released recording titan.

The Behringer FIREPOWER FCA610

The Behringer FIREPOWER FCA610

The soon to be released Behringer Firepower is one of the most straight ahead, and well thought out additions to the home recording market in years. Thanks to Behringers absorption of MIDAS, they have begun including their new, state of the art MIDAs designed mic pre amps complete with phantom power, in many of their upper level equipment. But the Firepower doesn’t stop there, with its multi-channel audio and MIDI operation via Firewire, or USB2.0, as well as being bundled with free software, including a set of 100 virtual instruments and 50 FX plug ins, which all by itself turns your laptop into a mobile recording studio.

The Behringer FIREPOWER FCA610

The Behringer FIREPOWER FCA610

The Firepower comes in two versions, the much easier to carry around FCA610 which features six inputs and ten outputs, two Midas preamps, and it can receive power straight from the 6-pin FireWire bus or via the included power supply. It features built in MIDI I/O which means you can connect a keyboard or sequencer straight into it. The small size means this can travel with you where ever you go, with room to spare. No more shows unrecorded, no more reasons not to write down your ideas.

The Behringer FIREPOWER FCA1616

The Behringer FIREPOWER FCA1616

The other version is the FCA1616, which has much more functionality than its pint sized companion, as it features an expanded 16 I/O interface and ADA8000 ADAT connectivity. Since it is a rack mountable piece of equipment, this is ideal for permanent applications, such as home and professional recording. My favorite application for rackmountable I/O recorders is to take them, place them in my stage rack, and record a show live at the venue. Now while this is a great use for this piece of gear, keep in mind that just like their X32 that was reviewed earlier in the month, this thing is versatile. You can use it for studio work, for live work, it can be the centerpiece of your recording equipment or a very powerful add on.

The Firepower series is named correctly, because it really is going to give you some serious audio fire power. Taking up very little room, giving you tons of options, and a lot of very great sounding, easy to use musical firepower. That is why, even though it has yet to hit the market, I believe it goes without saying that the Behringer Firepower easily deserves a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Jackson Slat Series

Hey guys, its Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog I get the chance to look over, and review a few new guitars by our friends over at Jackson Guitars. The Model in question is their new SLAT series, which is a new model being released within their very affordable X series of guitars. SLAT stands for SoLoist Arch Top, as the guitar is overall based on the standard Soloist body, and architecture, however this guitar will not look, or sound like a typical soloist. The first and most obvious difference is the headstock, which rather than the typical triangle design, taken from the early Randy Rhoads designs, to a spear like design, with a 3X3 layout. The next most obvious difference is the smaller fretboard inlays that Jackson refers to as “Piranha” rather than their typical shark inlay.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Matte Black

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Matte Black

There are a few different overall variants to the SLAT layout, with the main differences being, the addition of a 4A quilted maple top, the switch from a TonePros tune-o-matic string thru bridge, to a Floyd Rose Special Tremolo system, and the SLAT is also available as a seven string. For my review today, lets begin with the SLATTXMG3-6 which is a straight ahead rock machine, covered in a slick looking, Matte Black finish, and armed with the same equipment its whole family is armed with, and that is a super powered set of EMG 81 and 85 humbuckers.

Clean this guy is a joy to play, as the compound radius neck makes it super comfortable to play big open position chords, and as you move up the neck you slowly shift into the equally comfortable flattened out radius section of the neck, which while it is still comfortable to chord on, it is ideal for soloing or just noodling on. The sound of the EMG pickups was strangely not as dark as I usually find them this time around, whether that was the combonation of body woods, the fact that this guitar is a neck through style or what, but what ever it is let it be known that it sounds down right amazing. The tone was bold and snappy, but big enough that you could easily just strum chords all night and genuinely not sound bad.

The heart of this guitar however is its sound when you crank the amp and let this guitar open up. The tone is pure, and singing with sustain for days thanks to the neck through design, and the graphite reinforced three piece neck, which results in one of the most stable necks I have ever had the pleasure of playing. The fast neck profile is thin and quick to play on, but with enough girth to it that it never got uncomfortable. The tone was tight, and heavy as possible, with lots of note definition, and clarity. Drop tuned chords spoke with a dark and booming grunt, solos sang with a brilliant almost vocal quality, and you could even get away with playing full open position chords without the sound getting overly muddy or dark if you had the gain dropped a little bit.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Trans Red

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Trans Red

This model is also available with a 4A quilt maple top in the SLATTXMGQ3-6, and while they look visually quite different, tonally they have a very similar flavor. The only real tonal difference is a slightly brighter attack in the Quilt maple version.

The  Jackson X Series SLATXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

The Jackson X Series SLATXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

However, there is a much different version of this guitar, with the Floyd Rose equipped version, which is available in gloss black as the SLATXMG3-6, and with a sunburst finished Quilt maple top in the SLATXMGQ3-6. The inclusion of a Floyd totally changes the voice of this guitar, giving it a lot more mid range punch and growl, not to mention allowing you to do monstrous dive bombs and up bends. The clean tone is still there, with all of the clarity and bright biting tone that the string thru version possessed.   

Dirty however, and this guitar possesses quite a different voice than its brother, with that extra mid range growl this guitar suddenly becomes a screamer. The power of a Floyd rose always takes the typical guitar, and gives it super powers, suddenly you can bend notes up a fourth, a fifth, well as high as you want if you don’t mind breaking strings. Power chords now bark out, single notes scream off the fretboard, and yet, the smoothness never leaves this instrument, this guitar is powerful.

The Jackson X Series SLATXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Sunburst

The Jackson X Series SLATXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Sunburst

The quilt top version of this guitar, renamed the SLATTXMGQ3-6 has slightly different voice than its gloss black brother, with the mid range heavy voice, now shifting into a more upper mid range area, and the bottom end of the guitar now possessing a slightly darker character. I still liked this version mind you, as it sounded glassier, and a little more refined. But lets not forget the beast that lays at the end of this review, the SLATTXMG3-7 7 String.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

Now I want this to be mentioned before I start, I don’t play a ton of 7 string, anytime I’ve ever needed to go that low, I just use a baritone guitar. So to me, these two ranges have always existed on separate instruments, and have been treated as such. So suddenly not having that minor third after the D was a little wonky, and being able to move from my E down to a low B or even a low A, that was a strange feeling. However the one thing that felt like home to me was the EMG 707 pickups, as they have a very clear and even voice to them. The scale length was also a little different and foreign to me, as it was a strange scale length at 26.5 which is somewhere between a baritone and a standard fender length. This meant that when I tuned the B down to A to get huge, metal power chords, the string didn’t feel floppy or weird.

The compound radius was far more helpful and noticeable on this model than it was on the other variants of the guitar, which I chalk up to the fact that this guitars neck is just that little bit wider. The sustain on this guitar was still amazing, and the dark voice of this guitar really helped to accentuate the darker things that tend to get played on a 7 string.

chording on this guitar felt a little weird to me, but after a bit it started to feel pretty natural, and the chords still rung out with a clear, articulate voice. Moving up the neck to that nice flatter area, it is readily apparent how quick you really can play on a guitar like this. Distorted, this guitars voice is massive, sheer metal obnoxiousness. I was able to play straight ahead rock on most of the neck, and if I wanted to dip into some old Korn riffs, or more modern djent stylings, it was all there for the taking.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Trans Black

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Trans Black

There is also a maple top version of the 7 string, called the SLATTXMGQ3 with its very handsome trans black finish, sounds just amazing, as adding that extra high end zing to an instrument with a darker voice really helps to accentuate its entire range. I was able to keep from sounding bass heavy even when I tuned the whole guitar down, even as far as two whole steps down, and never once did the guitar start to sound muddy or bass heavy.

Clean tones were janglier, with a more twangy edge to them, low note chords ringing out with piano like sustain. In a distorted setting, the maple topped 7 string roared out, with a thick, searing tone. The darker voice of the guitar that was present before, now with a tangy upper midrange, and even a little high end sizzle helping to pull this guitar up into a really focused midrange seat.

The Slat series is astounding, all of the models in the line are comfortable, the distinctive headstock shape looks really cool, and the finishes are a cool dash of classic Jackson, and modern metal flair. I could list reasons off for days why these models deserve their score, but I think my writing, and the numerous youtube videos Jackson released for these guitars speak for themselves, even if the guitarist screws up here and again. At the end of the day though, any metal guitarist, rock guitarist, or anyone just looking for a guitar to put in their stable with a distinctive voice, the new Jackson Slat series earns an easy 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | New and Improved The Behringer P16 Powerplay System

Hi guys Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I get to take a look at something that complements a previous review quite well, in this addition of New and Improved, I get to talk about the Behringer Powerplay P16 series of personal monitors. Designed to work in conjunction with the X32 mixer, the whole Powerplay series is designed to give each individual their own custom mix, no matter where they are, and no matter what they need.

The Behringer P16-M 16 Channel Personal Mixer Station

The Behringer P16-M 16 Channel Personal Mixer Station

One of selling points of a lot of mixers as of late, was that you could work monitor mixes from on stage via an iPad, but this does something negative as well, it’s only useful if you are using the traditional floor wedge style monitor, if you’re using in ears, then you are way out of luck. The other problem with this is, you can’t just have your sound man run onstage mid show and start tuning your monitors just because you aren’t 100% happy with the way its sounding, it’s just not practical.

The P16 system works by allowing each individual their own private mix that they can adjust to their liking. This is ideal for dozen upon dozens of different mixing situations, and the most commonly advertised one is using it onstage. Just think about it, you can now tune your own in ear mix without having to worry about yelling at the sound guy, or hoping they get it just right, factor in the limiter and gate on the mixer and there is no more worrying about ear damaging sound levels on stage ever again. The Cat 5e cables used to connect the system can be run very long distances without negatively effecting sound quality, so you can still have your mixer way out front so the soundman can do his job, and now you are free to do yours, except now with a perfect monitor mix.

The I/O Section of the Behringer P16-M 16 Channel Personal Mixer Station

The I/O Section of the Behringer P16-M 16 Channel Personal Mixer Station

But let’s not stop at simply using this for stage, because a system like this is as versatile as the X32 mixer it is designed to work with. In my review of the X32 mixer, I mentioned that it is sort of a Jack of all Trades, its great for live work, for studio work, you can use it for theaters and plays, you can use it for houses of worship, it just is designed to do anything you want it to, and the P16 system is designed to do all of that and more. In most professional recording studios, they have had little boxes like these for years, but the problem was the price point was well out of the way of everyday people like you and me. So most of us have had to deal with using splitter jacks to hook multiple sets of headphones up to our computers or mixing boards to try and give everyone the ability to listen back during recording, and that never works because not everyone wants to hear the mix the same way. Suddenly with the Powerplay system, and the X32 mixer, you can now have real, pro level studio equipment, at about the price of renting a studio long enough to make a decent demo.

Imagine using this for theatre work, most people who have ever had to do musical work, know what its like to wear those little skin colored headset mic, and a set of in ears, all wired up to you. I know the annoyance of having to sit and work the mix out on these at the beginning of the night, and hope that no one gets louder, or softer as the night goes on. You could actually set an entire arsenal of these up back stage, and if at any point during a scene change, someone is unhappy with how their mix sounded, they could go back and actually tweak their levels before going back out on stage, pure genius.

The Behringer P16-1 16 Channel Rackmount Personal Monitor

The Behringer P16-1 16 Channel Rackmount Personal Monitor

Or what about houses of worship? Now I’m not talking little four piece youth bands, or a solo singer with an acoustic guitar, they already see how the P16 system could benefit them. Let’s talk about the giant groups, with 15, 20 musicians all up on stage, with a few dozen singers all up there, all at once. What about them? For years they have either had to just listen really hard, and do their best to fall into where they need to be, or just go by muscle memory, and hope it sounds good. Not anymore, you can set the entire P16 system up as a permanent installation, and now everyone can have their own private mix, all of them can hear just what they need to hear to do their job, and when you can hear yourself better, you can perform better.

As you can plainly see, the P16 Powerplay is just like its companion the X32, designed for anything and everything you could throw at it. It does a job that almost every musician needs done, at a price point that isn’t out of the range of possibilities for most working musicians, and the entire system is well within the combined budget of a band, theatre or house of worship. For all of these reasons, from its affordability, its simplicity, and the fact that it does a job many of us have needed done for ages, the P16 Powerplay system earns itself a definitive 10 out of 10.

The Behringer P16-M 16 Channel Personal Mixer Station

The Behringer P16-M 16 Channel Personal Mixer Station