World Music Supply | MXR Pedals

Hey guys, Brian here again with World Music Supply, and I’m back with another dose of gear and guitar reviews. Today might have been a slightly slower day, as we’re getting ready to head off to NAMM, and find some tasty new treats for all of you gear lovers, as such I didn’t have a ton of time to sit down and review something super complicated for you all, but what I did certainly have an appeal all their own. Today I got to look at two classics from our friends over at MXR. First up to bat today, is a personal favorite, the MXR Dyna-Comp.

MXR Dyna-Comp Guitar Compression Pedal

MXR Dyna-Comp Guitar Compression Pedal

The Dyna-Comp is one of the simplest, most straight forward compressors ever made. You get two knobs, output, and sensitivity. Output increases the over all volume and clean gain of the pedal, and the sensitivity allows you to adjust just how much squash you get out of this guy. Today we are going back to our normal test amp, the Marshall DSL40C, and with good reason, one of the first things I do when trying out a compressor, is to test and see if it can copy a trick I learned from watching old Paul Gilbert videos. The basic idea is to get a good sounding dirty tone from your amp, and set the output of the compressor low, and the sensitivity high.  This allows you to go from a growling distortion tone, to a bold, 80’s style clean with the touch of a button, and the MXR passed with flying colors.

The second thing I always try and do, is dial in a good country tone, which with its two knob simplicity, I was able to dial in a snappy chicken pickin’ tone lighting fast. Volume swells had a violin like quality now, as it deleted the attack. Finger picking had a very even, very clean quality, and the tone of the guitar was brightened up, and made far more present. I personally love the tone of the MXR, with its quick sudden squash, and its slightly brighter quality, that’s why I keep one on my board. I know it might seem biased, but with a pedal this simple, that does everything you could ever want from a compressor, the MXR Dyna-Comp earns itself a well earned 10 out of 10.

MXR M-103 Blue Box Distortion / Fuzz Pedal with Octaver

MXR M-103 Blue Box Distortion / Fuzz Pedal with Octaver

Next up is the MXR Blue Box. I always loved the name of the blue box, because in my minds eye it was named after the old gadget they used to “hack” telephones back in the 70’s to get free long distance, because they both make really computer-y sounding bleeps and boops. That is the best way to describe what the Blue Box does, it in all actuality is a complex Fuzz circuit, that creates a synth like lower octave below the guitar, which can be blended in to create glitchy computer noises.

Turning the pedal on, you are instantly greeted with a very thick, rich analog fuzz. If you have it set just about noon on both knobs you get almost Nintendo sounding growls, with a grumbly two octave bass line below your psychedelic fuzzed out guitar. Be careful as this second octave is old school analog, and as such can sometimes be a little glitchy, but in a good way, as it allows the pitch to waver between two points and sometimes seem to disappear altogether. It works better on single lines for this reason, but it can take smaller chords as well.

Sure as a stand alone Fuzz, it’s a smooth and rich, and its easily an A+ Fuzz. But as an effect, or a color pedal, the Blue Box is great, as it’s like having an old school keyboard instead of a guitar, and really whose music couldn’t use more glitchy vintage keyboard style tones? Its not everybodies bag of tricks, but it certainly deserves to be tried out by anyone who plays heavy music, and wants a Fuzz box that does more than usual, the MXR Blue box might just be your right choice. Solid 9 out of 10.

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World Music Supply | TC Electonic Classic 450

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

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

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

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

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

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

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

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

World Music Supply | 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 | Visual Sounds Guitar Pedals

Hey guys, Brian here again with World Music Supply, back to bring you another dose of Guitar and gear reviews. Today starts off a lot like last week ended, simply because today we are again reviewing some amazing stomp boxes, but this time around from our friends over at Visual Sounds.  I have been a big fan of Visual Sounds pedals ever since I got to play with a Jekyll and Hyde overdrive that a friend of mine owned, it was big and red, and it sounded amazing, also my friend said you could back a truck over the housing and it wouldn’t break. We never tested that last part, but I’ve seen Youtube videos that prove its true. However that is enough reminiscing, its on to the reviews!

Visual Sound GTDRIVE Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive Pedal

Visual Sound GTDRIVE Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive Pedal

First up is the Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive. The Drivetone was originally designed as the Reverend Drivetrain for Reverend Guitars, which has now grown overtime into this current model. For today’s reviews, I used a Bugera V22, and a Washburn RX12FRMB, both of which are quickly becoming two of my favorite pieces of gear. Setting the V22 to a pretty clean setting, that only started to show a bit of teeth when I really hit the guitar, I started the pedal on a pretty mild drive setting, with the treble and bass pretty close to 12 o’clock. The pedal reacted nicely to my pick attack, getting more subtle as I picked lighter, and becoming far crunchier as I dug into the strings, with a tone halfway between a Digitech Bad Monkey, and a Boss Blues Driver.

The Drivetrain kept this cool retro sounding distortion as I cranked up the gain, it just got a lot more raw sounding, and added a plethora of fun harmonics to my sound. Chords rung out with a big, arena rock style fullness, and single lines sung out with a throaty, late 70s style rock sound. I could go on and on about this pedal, but the truth of it is, it’s a trooper. Its got a tough metal housing, with sounds that could be useful for everyone from a country guitarist needing to liven up their solos a bit, a rock guitarist looking to get a fuller sound, or even a punk guitarist who just needs something a little less ragged sounding, this pedal can do it all. For all of that and more the Visual Sound Garage Tone Drivetrain earns itself a solid 9 out of 10, and the only reason it doesn’t score a 10 is because people wanting something a little more high gain might not find what they want with this guy.

Visual Sound V2SOH Son of Hyde Distortion

Visual Sound V2SOH Son of Hyde Distortion

Next up is the solution for those people whose lust for gain couldn’t be satiated by the Drivetrain. I’m talking about the V2 Son of Hyde. Basically the Son of Hyde is the amazing Distortion channel that I loved so much from the Jekyll & Hyde and puts it in a stand alone stomp box. The Son of Hyde is just as straight ahead as the Drivetrain, just Drive, Treble, Mid and Volume, as well as a bright switch. Yes there isn’t a bass knob, which struck me as odd, but the bass is controlled easily enough with the bright switch, which shifts the whole sound around and gives it a brighter overall feeling.

On lower gain settings, this pedal was fairly tame, it gave me a nice, smooth, almost violin like sustain, with lots of rich harmonics and none of that typical distortion edginess. Turning up the drive a bit, gave me a huge sound, with tons of raw power. The low end was massive and playing huge chunky power chords resulted in an amazing wall of fury. Solos soared out with heavily compressed sizzle, and chords sustained almost indefinitely. Big metal saturation was always on tap, and shred head approved leads were fluid and amazingly easy to achieve. The Son of Hyde might be only half of the standard package, but this pedal to the metal style stomp box does its job, and it does it well, earning it an easy 10 out of 10.

Visual Sound Route 66 American Overdrive

Visual Sound Route 66 American Overdrive

Next up is easily one of the smartest double pedal designs I’ve seen in years, the Visual Sounds Route 66 All American Overdrive. There is no better way to describe this pedal than all American, the tones locked inside of this pedal go from Detroit, to Boston, to Tennessee to Texas, and they cover all of the biggest, boldest rock and roll and raunchy country tones of the past fifty years. The amazing simplicity that this pedal brings to a rig, with its amazing sounding overdrive paired with an equally amazing sounding compressor. The overdrive side starts with the three standard Tube Screamer style control knobs, Gain, Tone and Volume but also an added bass boost to help thicken up the grind.  The compressor side, has the standard comp and gain controls, sort of like an MXR but paired with that, is a tone control which can be turned on and off as need be to help shape and control the overall sound.

While this seems simple enough, this pedal has some amazing sounds hidden away in it. From twangy Brad Paisley style cluck, to Journey style soaring leads, this pedal has it all, crammed neatly into one nearly indestructible aluminum housing. Most guitarists could be perfectly happy with either side of this double pedal, but put together, this little double pedal is just amazing, heck I’m pretty sure most country players could live the rest of their musical lives with just this pedal, a Fender 65 Deluxe and a fat Telecaster. Chords had a bold semi clean, semi dirty tone to them with the gain down low, and when you cranked the gain up, they had a very Marshally crunch to them that kept the clarity of the note but added the beefy power of an overdrive. Single notes lasted forever with an intensity that just can’t be matched. Playing complex chords was simple, and no matter the setting, the notes very rarely lost their clarity or their character.

I honestly think myself, and hundreds of other guitarists could easily replace a good number of pedals with this one double box, and our sounds would benefit immensely from it, this reason alone earns the Route 66 a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | TC Electronic Guitar Pedals

Hey guys this is Brian with World Music Supply again, here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s blog I got to do something I haven’t gotten to review in a while, good ol’ pedals. I personally love the simplistic fun that comes from having a couple of pedals on the floor in front of you,  being able to press a button and have that instant gratification of a brand new sound, just cant be beat. Today I get to take a look at two of the best, by our good friends over at TC Electronics and first up to bat is the Vortex Flanger.

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal

Flanger pedals to me are sort of touch and go, some are really good when they’re slow, but when you ramp them up they sound like cheesy ray gun sounds off of a child’s toy, and by the same rule, some pedals sound really good and swirly at high speeds, but sound like a sea sick roller coaster at slower speeds. Some are way too 3D, and some are too flat. Call me picky, but this is an issue that has kept a dedicated flanger pedal off of my main board for years. In steps the Vortex though, and my world was changed. The pedal only has four simple controls, and at first glance it doesn’t seem anything special, delay, feedback, depth and speed, with a toggle to switch from standard flanger, to a simulated tape flange, and if need be over to a tone print, which allows you to download artist presets into the pedal, letting you really nail the tones of some of your favorite artists, and once you step on it the whole illusion of simplicity goes right out the window! this whole illusion of simplicity goes right out the window!

I tested this pedal with a Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster and two Mustang IIs, so I could run in stereo. I picked a cleaner twin reverb style sound, and got to work. I started out with a pretty standard slow sweep, mid depth, medium feedback setting, with the delay time backed off to keep it from sounding too metallic, something almost akin to a early Van Halen flange tone. The wave form was pleasing, not too dramatic, and not to subtle with just that perfect amount of rise and fall. It wasn’t too hard to dial in a good sound, some flangers take a while to really find their sweet spot, but with the Vortex I didn’t have any difficulty at all finding a good sound.

A slightly faster setting, with the delay cranked for a more metallic, almost ring mod style sound, with a slightly deeper depth setting, and the speed at 12 o’clock, and the feedback a little below half way worked wonders on slower passages as it added a bit of movement to the sound that would otherwise be lacking. It made the sound fatter, and the stereo field really helped to make the effect almost otherworldly. Cranking the speed almost all the way up, and keeping the depth a little lower to keep it from having too much of an almost out of tune vibrato to it, I found the tones useful and almost Leslie like in a certain light.

Overall the Vortex Flanger is one of the best, if not the best Flanger I have ever used. Because of its amazing sound, and incredible flexibility though this pedal easily deserves a 10 out of 10, I just wish it didn’t cost so much.

TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato Guitar Effects Pedal

TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato Guitar Effects Pedal

Next up is a fun, and slightly unusual pedal, the Shaker Vibrato. Typically us guitarists tend to get tremolo and vibrato confused, thanks to the late Leo Fenders misnomer when labeling the vibrato system on his Stratocaster guitar as a tremolo, and the tremolo circuit on his amps as vibrato, luckily most pedals are unaffected by this labeling issue that has plagued the guitar industry for years. When I first unboxed this pedal however, I thought it was going to be a tremolo pedal, just labeled wrong to appeal to us guitarists, but I plugged the Shaker in, and I got what sounded like the Vibrato effect on my old Yamaha B6B electric organ, just a lot better quality, I was down right excited.

An honest to goodness Vibrato is a hard find for guitarists; Keyboardists have had it for decades in one form or another, but to find a good sounding vibrato for the guitar, that’s almost impossible. This one works a lot like a good combo organ vibrato circuit too, and as I have been playing organ for years thanks to the spinet style Yamaha that used to be in our family room as a kid, I have thirsted for this effect on a guitar for years.

you have a few basic controls that work very well at replicating this age old effect, a speed knob that adjusts the length from the top and bottom of the vibrato, a depth that determines how wide the vibrato travels from top to bottom (at its peak its almost going a whole step up and down, which creates a fun sea sick feeling) a rise time that imitates the rising of a Leslie speaker when you kick it on, and a global tone control that adjusts how bright or dark your overall tone is. At slower speeds, and still using a clean Mustang II, this pedal added a very retro, very jazzy character to my playing. Big jazzy chords had a shimmering quality, which gave them a much different voice, something my ears weren’t used to when it comes to guitar.

Switching to a distorted setting, this pedal gave me a very strange, almost mid 90s metal sound, with that sickly rhythmic wobble that only a few pedals can really do correctly. I honestly adore this pedal, to have a pedal that really nails this many great sounds. For the ability to sound like everything from a shimmering jazzy swirl, a wobbly rhythmic tool, and even a guitar that has been strapped in to a tilt-o-whirl at top speeds, the Shaker Vibrato earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | ESP Bela Lugosi Limited Edition Guitar

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here once again, to bring you your usual dose of Guitar and Gear reviews. In today’s blog, I got a chance to sit down with, and look over another great piece from our friends over at ESP. Now typically, I wouldn’t do one brand for two blogs straight in a row, but today’s blog is all about one specific guitar, the Bela Lugosi Limited Edition Guitar.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Initially, we only had one of these, and it sold out so quick I didn’t even get a chance to get decent pictures taken of it, let alone do a proper blog about it. Let me be blunt, even though the guitar itself is a rather good guitar with some pretty standard, albeit very player friendly appointments, the big selling point for this is Bela Lugosi himself. Bela might not be a name that is known to anyone who isn’t either a film buff, or a horror movie fan, but he is the man who played Dracula in the early days of motion pictures, and the man who created the now rather stereotypical accent that Dracula has been known for all these years, even though it was just his natural accent.

Luckily for you guys, we received two of these guitars from ESP rather recently, when initially we had only been promised one. ESP only made 325 of these guitars for the entire world, and they only sent them to a few select stores, and artists world wide, lucky us. All of the art work was done by comic book artist Kerry Gammil, and is based on his artwork for the Tales of The Grave comic books, which to my understanding; uses Lugosi’s likeness with the permission of his estate. These guitars are just amazing to look at, as the graphics are vibrant, and really powerful, albeit sort of creepy to look at across the room.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Now that I’ve talked about it as a piece of art, lets move on to the fun part, talking about it as a guitar. The guitar itself features a pretty dense piece of alder, I say dense because it is a bit heavier than a typical alder guitar, the guitar isn’t heavy mind you just heavier than your typical alder bodied guitar. The neck is ESP’s Thin U contour neck, which has a nice even feel all along it, and would be just perfect for fast runs and quick riffs. The one thing that must be addressed is the absolutely brilliant inlay work on the fretboard, as it was fun to look at; It’s also perfectly smooth, and very, very cool. The hardware is pretty bare bones, with a string through body, a black TOM style bridge, and a single EMG 81 humbucker in the bridge.

I’m a fan of single pickup guitars, they have a raw-ness to them, they’re the meat and potatoes of what an electric guitar really is. No extra tones to jump to, no extra tricks, just you, a guitar, and your amp (and a couple of pedals for good measure). Now this being said, I have to admit I was a little confused by it only having a single EMG, as I’ve never played a single pickup guitar with EMGs and I honestly didn’t know how it would fare. So plugging this guy into our new test amp, the Marshall DSL 40C, and turning up the lone volume knob I was shocked to find that this guitar was pretty par for the course when it comes to single pickup guitars.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Sure it had a little more output, some extra power in the low and highs, and a little bit more attack to it, but this guitar still felt and played like a standard lone pickup equipped guitar, which I just loved. Clean the Bela Lugosi was a little menacing, the darker sort of cleans I’m used to from an EMG were no where to be found, this wasn’t a bad thing just not something I was used to, I blame this on the rather Spartan wiring scheme. The brighter clean tone sounded very strident and was useful on some slower passages, and had an almost country flair to them when I played up higher on the neck. Even on the clean channel, this guitar had a lot of sustain, and resonance to it. The fundamental of the strings stayed around for quite a while, and this mean that chords had an almost pad like quality to them.

This cool, long even sustain was even more evident when I switched over to the dirty channel of the amp, and really saw what this guitar was made of. The real power of this guitar, and I’m sure the real point of this beast, is to play heavy music. It is set up to be a straight ahead metal guitar, and its looks surely help to fuel this fire. The good news is, along with its big powerful sound, and its very bold image, this guitar also takes low tuning very well, I was able to get down to a C# with very few intonation issues. Playing in such low tunings is just too much on this guitar, and it was almost hard to resist playing brooding Black Sabbath style grooves, and big chugging BLS style rhythms as the feel of this guitar almost craves for horror movie style riffs played on it.

Sure you could play this guitar on just about anything if you really worked at it, but a guitar covered in zombies, bats, a hazy moon off in the distance, and the giant floating face of Bela Lugosi, with what could possibly be, one of the most powerful stares in history… it would be a shame to use this guitar for anything less than some properly horrifying music. Placing the guitar back into its equally impressive coffin case, with the silhouetted face of Bela himself, I am confident that this guitar will go down as one of my favorite to review, not only was it amazing to look at, and amazing to play, this guitar felt like it belonged to go somewhere, like it should belong to a rock star, not be sitting in a warehouse, being reviewed by me. This guitar feels fit for a rock star, and there are very few guitars that right away strike you with that feeling, and for that fact alone this guitar scores itself a solid 10 out of 10.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

World Music Supply | ESP Guitars

Hey guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply again, bringing your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. Today I get to bring you a few gems from our friends over at ESP, what I love about ESP and LTD guitars are just how lead friendly they are. As someone who grew up playing metal guitar, and even though I have transitioned away from that style of playing and into less labor intensive styles of music, I still love the feel of a guitar with a thin neck, and nearly flat radius, and when it comes to big, thick metal lead tones, ESP has always been my go to brand. So think of the theme of today, as guitars crafted for metal, but with enough stylistic wiggle room to fit in well enough almost anywhere.

ESP Ltd M103FM See-Thru Black

ESP Ltd M103FM See-Thru Black

First up on the list for today is the M103FM-STBK, which is part of their Mirage series of guitars, which are your rather typical Super Strat affair. Shred friendly necks, nice flattened radius, bold sounding pickups, and of course that perfectly setup Floyd Rose Special tremolo. The LH-150 humbucking bridge pickup had a wonderfully full sound, with a rather nice low end to it, which is something I always look for in a bridge pickup, the LS-120 middle and neck pickups had a nice clarity to them, but still had a very full sound, more so than you typically find in single coil pickups.

To play this guitar is a thing of beauty, the neck is lighting fast, and the combination of a maple fretboard and a trans black flamed maple top is a true thing of beauty. The feel of the neck is perfect for those who need to play fast, with big tall frets, and a nice flattened out radius, not to mention the delivering big bends with the Floyd Rose. Clean this translates to a guitar that has a all of the spank and sparkle that you expect of a strat, but when you crank up the distortion this guitar becomes a thing of power! With fiery rhythm tones, that have all of the weight and girth you could ever need, and with enough punchy lead sounds, or if you switch to the neck pickup, glassy lead sounds to keep your lead work sounding fresh for years.

so what is the M103FM-STBK? Well to put it briefly, it’s a workhorse. This guitar has all of the tones you could ever need, a Floyd Rose, and a neck that is perfect for shred friendly guitarists, all at a price point that is more than accessible to the beginning metal guitarist, and this is why the M103FM-STBK earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

EC1000FR-STBLK

EC1000FR-STBLK

Next up is something a little less conventional than a super strat, a super LP, the EC1000FR-STBLK. This isn’t your average LP, this guitar comes armed to the teeth with all the appointments of a modern metal machine. Covered in a trans black flamed maple top, with plenty of abalone appointments, and not to mention the delicious black nickel hardware and the really cool Earvana Compensated Nut.

First off, this guitar does still carry a lot of the already amazing specifications of a standard LP, Mahogany body, Flamed Maple top, nice Thin U Mahogany Neck, but this guitar is definitely hotrodded. This all starts with the 24 fret neck, with 24 big XJ sized frets which are just great for lighting fast legato runs. You also get an amazing set of EMG pickups, with an 80 in the bridge, and a 60 in the neck. These pickups have a very big, full tone to them, with plenty of smooth clean signal, and enough output to drive even the heaviest of metal. Next you get the obvious addition of the black nickel Floyd Rose 1000 tremolo, with an Earvana compensated locking nut.

My understanding of the Earvana system is it slightly offsets the scale length of each string to help keep each string in tune better, and help eliminate the inherent intonation issues of the guitar. What this translated to, while subtle, was an ability to play in tune perfectly next to very unforgiving instruments. What I mean by this, is when you are a guitarist who only plays with other guitarists, if you’re slightly out of tune, its not too easy to notice, as it almost creates a chorusing or doubling effect, which your brain will translate as musical rather than an out of tune note. But, if you’re like me, and often play guitar next to a synthesizer, you know that if you are out of tune, you can’t try and hide it, because the keyboard can’t really be slightly sharp or flat, and your guitar can be.  

With these kinds of appointments, you would expect this guitar to play like a dream, and you would not be disappointed. The neck was perfect, thin and quick enough for super fast lead work, but still with enough meat left on it that I didn’t feel weird playing chords on it. The Earvana nut was a subtle improvement, but it made playing chords sound just a little bit sweeter, and when I played next to a keyboard on a synth pad, I noticed my guitar sounded a little more “on” than usual, almost like there were more riffs that worked with the chord than usual. All of my lead work sounded a little more alive too, thanks to the EMGs distinctive sound, and I wanted to keep playing longer, just because this guitar is so cool to look at, I just didn’t want to put it down.

At the end of the day, what more could you ask for? This guitar is everything you love about a standard LP, but with a dozen or so amazing additions to it’s already genius design that make it so much more to cherish. For the simple fact that they took one of the greatest designs for a guitar in history, and turned it up to 11, the EC1000FR-STBLK earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

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 | Washburn Acoustics

Hey guys, Brian again from World Music Supply, here to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog I get to take a look at some acoustic guitars from our good friends over at Washburn. Today I am going to cover two of the most popular Washburn acoustic electrics here at WMS, the WD115SWCE and the WJ7SCEBM.

The Washburn WJ7SCEBM Jumbo Matte Black Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Washburn WJ7SCEBM Jumbo Matte Black Acoustic Electric Guitar

First up to bat is the WJ7SCEBM, which is a Jumbo acoustic electric, sporting a solid Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides, and a cool, matte black paint job. The WJ7 also sports a Washburn made EQ4-T preamp that sounds surprisingly strident and musical. Unplugged this guitar has a very warm, big tone. Thanks to its jumbo size, and choice of tone woods, you get a luxuriously large sound, with lots and lots of bass, and more than enough mids and highs to keep your sound clean, and pristine. Plugged in this guitar has a very good electric tone, it’s not super accurate to the true sound of the guitar, as it does add a little bit of body to the high end, and gives it a little of that familiar Piezo sizzle, but the sound is close enough that if you weren’t trying to dissect the tone, you probably wouldn’t notice it too much.

The guitar feels great, the neck isn’t super big, but it is nice and chunky, which meant comfortable chording and relaxed riffing. With a band this guitar can be a little hard to handle, as the body is rather sensitive to sympathetic resonance, and so adding a sound hole cover is a must. Once it’s on however, this guitar does a good job of supporting a mix, it doesn’t jump right out of it, at least not without some EQ tweaking, but it does do a great job as a rhythm guitar. For what it is, this guitar would be right at home in a studio or stage setting, and it could easily deal with the stress of the road thanks to its no nonsense paint job, it’s for these reasons that the WJ7SCEBM scores a solid 9 out of 10.

The Washburn WD115SWCE Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Washburn WD115SWCE Acoustic Electric Guitar

Next up for the day is the WD115SWCE which is an all solid wood Dreadnaught with a Solid Spruce top, and Solid Mahogany back and sides, and the whole ensemble is powered by a Fishman Presys 501T blend system with Microphone and under saddle pickup. First off it needs to be mentioned how good this guitar looks, the entire guitar is finished in a sleek looking gloss finish, that is shiny enough to see yourself in, when in the right light. The sound of this guitar unplugged is big, and robust. Chords ring out with far more body than a standard laminate guitar, and added definition of the solid mahogany back and sides gives the guitar an added darkness and much more musical bottom end.

Plugged in, this guitar is a handful. Anyone who has ever used an acoustic with a band knows the danger of having something so resonant around things that can make it resonate, and this guitar is no exception. The solid woods tend to respond to this sonic phenomenon a little bit more so than most, so a sound hole cover is key. The Presys is a blendable system, meaning there is both a small microphone and a saddle Piezo unit. Alone the microphone has a bit of a “boxed in” character, atleast with the sound hole cover on, when its off the sound is a tad bass heavy, but no more so than if you placed a condenser right in front of the sound hole, the secret to the system is mixing this rather bass heavy sound, with the typically treble heavy sound of the Piezo. Used in conjunction this guitar sounds absolutely magnificent amplified, just like a finely mic’d studio sound. As long as you know where to stand on stage, this guitar would work perfectly for most stage work, and would work absolutely amazingly for studio work.

This guitar is by and far one of the best Washburn acoustics I have gotten the chance to play thus far, with its comfortable familiar shape, its sleek, fast neck, and its amazing sound, the WD115SWCE scores itself a deserved 10 out of 10.

The Washburn WD115SWCE Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Washburn WD115SWCE Acoustic Electric Guitar

World Music Supply | The Washburn RX12 Series

Hey guys, Brian with World Music Supply here again, bringing you your typical dose of gear and guitar reviews, and today I get to bring you guys a review of a guitars that has just been flying off the shelves here at WMS, the Washburn RX12. The Washburn RX12 comes in two basic formats, the string thru version, which features chrome hardware and a vintage TOM style bridge, or the RX12 is also available in a Floyd Rose equipped version, which features black hardware.

The String Thru Washburn RX12 Electric Guitar

The String Thru Washburn RX12 Electric Guitar

The standard string thru model features Washburn designed humbuckers, a solid basswood body, a bolt on maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. Although its features sound rather blasé, it actually sounds really good. The humbuckers are surprisingly powerful, on a clean setting I actually really dug the sound of the bridge pickup, as it wasn’t super bright, but it had enough cut to do its job, and the neck pickup was fluty and warm, almost jazzy in the right light. The neck was thin, but not too thin, with enough girth to it to keep the guitar toneful, and to make chording a breeze. Turning up the dirt this guitar really started to sing, with big bold tones that sustained for days, with plenty of midrange cut and bite to it.

The plus of having a string thru body is that the added mass attached at the strings anchor point increases not only the sustain, but also the harmonic content of the strings as they are connected to a much more solid, stable base. This means that the RX12 not only has sustain for days, but when you crank up the volume, and turn up the distortion, this guitar has a very rich complex sound, which lends itself to everything from classic rock chording, to modern soloing. The String thru version is also available in a lot more colors than the Floyd Rose model, as it comes in black, white, red, and sunburst all of which are very classy, and attractive.

The Floyd Rose Equipped Washburn RX12FRMB

The Floyd Rose Equipped Washburn RX12FRMB

The Floyd Rose model, the RX12FR on the other hand is available in only one color at the moment , Metallic Black, which I lovingly keep calling “bowling ball black” as it has tiny, star like flecks of reflective material in it, which reminds me of a bowling ball far more than say, a motor cycle paint job, which I find attractive. I honestly love this guitar, its simple, its straight forward, and it sounds great. Now granted I might be biased, because as of a week ago, I actually bought and own one of these bad boys. The floating trem is perfect for any kind of hard rock styling, from Steve Vai style warble, Satriani screams, Dimebag dive bombs, to anything you can dream up. The sound of this guitar is a tad different as there is less mass to the guitar, and the bridge is made of different densities of steel, and has more moving parts than the string thru variant. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t sound amazing, because it does!

Clean, this guitar still has that same fluty, clear tone as the string thru version, but with a broader, more even sound. The sustain is surprisingly good, I say surprising as I suspected it would be less so. What with all the extra moving parts and less mass in the overall design, but the sustain was at least comparable to the string thru version. The harmonic content was different however, where as the string thru guitar sounded fuller, this guitar sounded much more focused, with a sound that seems more suited to lead playing, where the string thru seems more suited to rhythm work, as the Floyd Rose guitar seems to leap out of the mix and the string thru seems to sit in the mix far better.

A Myriad of Washburn RX12 Electric Guitars

A Myriad of Washburn RX12 Electric Guitars

What ever your need, and what ever your style there is an RX12 for you, and they have never been as affordable as they are right now. Their design is simple, and attractive, their sound is complex and dynamic, and their price is unbelievable. For all of these reasons, I have to give the RX12 series a deserved 10 out of 10.