World Music Supply | Fender Pawn Shop Guitars

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again, to bring you another healthy dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s review I got the chance to check out some to look at some slightly older members of the Pawnshop Family of instruments from Fender. Way back when I covered the Fender Pawnshop series, I had to start with the models that had just come out on the market, the Jaguarillo, the reverse Jaguar, the Mustang special etc. The reason I’m bringing this up, is because I didn’t get the chance at the time to review the flagship models, the 51, and the 72, now that I finally had some spare time, I sat down and ran these two wonderful guitars through their paces.

The Fender 51 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

The Fender 51 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

First up is the 51, which was based off of the unexpectedly successful Squier 51, and is a strange Tele, Strat hybrid that looks like an old 51 P bass scaled down to a normal guitar size. I personally loved this guitar with its weird switching system, and no tone control. It took everything I loved about the Squier and supersized it. Fender gave it a hotter humbucker in the bridge, a bolder sounding neck pickup, and a much cleaner, and more intuitive switching system, with a more balanced and dynamic tone. The inclusion of the push pull knob, for splitting the humbucker into a cutting single coil instead was also a nice touch.

Running through a clean amp, this guitar certainly has a very Telecaster style sound to it, with more twang and bite on tap than any of the other members of the Pawn shop family. The neck was easy to play, and with the slightly thicker U shaped neck it certainly felt a lot more vintage than many Fenders rolling off the line nowadays. The comfort of bending on this neck, and the loose feel of it all really lent itself to playing fast, and cleanly, something that I always look for in new guitars.

Running through a dirty amp however, with the bridge pickup in humbucker mode, really took this guitar out of Tele territory, and turned it into a more modern sounding axe, able to throw down hard rock and even metal riffs with the best of them. The bridge in both positions had body, but still loads of cut to it, while the neck pickup was smooth and straty, with lots of roundness to the tone that never made the guitar sound wooly or overly bass heavy. This guitar can hang with anyone, rockers, country, blues guys, heck if you get it in black it can probably hold its own with a metal band, the 51 can really do it all and its because of this that I award it a solid 10 out of 10.

The Fender 72 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

The Fender 72 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

Next up is the 72, which is the natural evolution of the 51, taking the one third Tele, one third P bass, and one third Strat formula, and switching the telecaster part of the formula from a standard butterscotch Tele, and instead replacing it with the Thinline Tele, which leant its semi hollow F-hole equipped body, its 70’s esc colors, and its fullrange humbucker to the 51 formula, thus creating the beauty we call the 72. Most of the controls remain the same, with the single volume, no tone, and a blend knob to slide between pickup combinations.

The clean tone of the 72 was far, smoother than the 51. With a more mellow tone, without as much snap and twang on tap, this guitar has an almost jazz box like tone to it. With its crisp, round highs, and its tight, tubby low end this guitar has as tone to it that very few do. The bridge pickup was just as beefy but with a slightly more airy quality to it, thanks to the added resonance of the semi-hollow body. The neck pickup, when used alone, and when used with touches of the bridge pickup had a very big sound, with lots of beefy low end, but crystal clear highs, something that you really don’t find with any humbucker but the Fender wide range.

Running into a dirty amp this all still held true, with the bridge pickup sounding just as heavy and destructive as ever. While the neck pickup remained clear and pristine with all of the added harmonics of the distorted channel, but with all of the shimmer and shine that it had in the clean position. This guitar could easily get metal too, and the amount of feedback resistance in this guitar was amazing, as it took way more volume then I could even stand. Tuning it down, and turning the gain up, I was amazed at how metal this guitar really sounded with all of the searing, screaming power of the bridge pickup, and even the neck pickup remained pristine even at these high gain levels, truly amazing. The 72 in my book is one amazing machine, and it easily deserves a 10 out of 10 rating.

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World Music Supply | Washburn Nuno Bettencourt Signature Models

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again, to talk to you good people about some more cool guitars from our friends, Nuno Bettencourt, and Washburn Guitars. Today I got the chance to take a look at two more of Mr.Bettencourts signature models, each with their own defining features that help them stand out from the crowd.

The Washburn N24FNMK Nuno Bettencourt Electric Guitar

The Washburn N24FNMK Nuno Bettencourt Electric Guitar

First up is the N24FNMK, which is a flamed maple top version of the N24. The N24FNMK features the aforementioned flamed maple top, which is finished in a matte coating, there is also a Floyd Rose Special, a coil tap switch, and as with all Nuno Bettencourt models, it comes armed with Nuno’s favorite Bill Lawrence bridge humbucker and Stephens Extended Cutaway. Aesthetically this guitar is beautiful, with its tiny, light weight agathis body which is capped with that stunningly flamed maple top. Plugged in, this guitar sounds fantastic, with pure clear tone, which has great string to string definition and amazing body and warmth.

The neck pickup has plenty of acoustic like qualities to it, which makes it great for just strumming out chords, and playing warm sounding snappy licks, it has plenty of body too it, but not so much that it seems wooly or overly bass-y. The bridge pickup is bright sounding, but in a good way. It has a lot of body to it, but it definitely favors the treble frequencies, which is great for lead playing, although it is a little over kill on a bone dry setting. Compressed however, the Bill Lawrence humbucker has a very funky characteristic, which still retains its bright sounding punch, but it takes away the snap and twang from the tone, which helps the sound of this pickup work in a clean situation.

Distorted, this guitar is on fire! The power of the sound that is delivered from the combination of this guitar and our resident Randall RT503H, full of gritty metal tones, biting hard rock swagger, and 80s style sizzle. The neck lends itself to lighting fast runs, and the Stephens Extended Cutaway really lets you slide all the way to the top of the neck. The sound of this guy through the amp was heavy, with tons of screaming overtones and harmonics that just aren’t present with other bridge pickups, its clear after a few moments why Mr. Bettencourt favors this pickup so heavily. Try as I might I couldn’t get a bad tone out of this guitar, and I honestly have to say that if you’re looking for a jack of all trades super strat, the N24FNMK might just be your man. The N24FNMK earns itself an awesome 10 out of 10.

The Washburn N2PSNM Nuno Bettencourt Signature Electric Guitar

The Washburn N2PSNM Nuno Bettencourt Signature Electric Guitar

Next up on the rundown, is the N2PSNM which is a Padauk version of the popular entry level N2 model. The sound of Padauk is something that I have loved for awhile now, but first and foremost, you have to love the look of this tone wood, with its clear beautiful grain, and bright red coloring. The sound has often been compared to rosewood, which is a fair comparison, there is a lot of mid and high end definition, with a slightly glassy character, with the low end remaining tight and round. The combination of Padauk and the standard equipment of the N2 series, the Bill Lawrence pickup and Floyd Rose, this guitar sounds absolutely amazing.

Clean, the N2PSNM has a very full texture, with a lot of big bold tones, that really favor chords all over the neck, as there is just tons of definition to be found in this guitar. There is also loads of sustain to be found here, which has a tendency to hold the fundamental far longer than most other guitars that are armed with a floating trem system, which can sometimes rob the guitar of sustain.

Distorted, this guitar has a much more aggressive sound than any of the other variants of the Nuno Bettencourt signature I have yet played, which lots and lots of bite and grind to its sound. The amount of metal grind that you can kick out even at lower gain settings is just amazing. The lead flavor is round but with lots of sustain and bite on tap, and the rhythm sound has definition, but it really eats up any amount of distortion you feed it, always maintaining its clear crisp voice, but with all of the growl and thunder that you want from it.

I love the way this guitar sounds, I really, really do. The sound of Padauk is powerful, and exotic, leading me to ask why a tonewood that is in such large supply, with a cool exotic color and sound that you just don’t get with the standard maple, mahogany combo. Regardless, all wondering about tonewoods aside, the N2PSNM is one heck of an instrument, and easily deserves its score of a 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Washburn Nuno Bettencourt Signature

World Music Supply | Washburn Nuno Bettencourt Signature

World Music Supply | Nuno Bettencourt Signature N4-Vintage

Hey guys Brian from World Music Supply here again to talk to you all about a few cool guitars designed by our friends over at Washburn for another one of our friends, Mr. Nuno Bettencourt. Nuno Bettencourt, most well known for his time as the lead guitarists of Extreme, and recently as the touring guitarist for Rihanna, has had a long standing relationship with Washburn who has produced his signature series guitars for the past 22 years, many of them carrying similar or identical features with one or two things changing, while the rest of the guitar remained the same, those being the locking tremolo system, Natural finished body and the Bill Lawrence bridge pickup. Other common features include the Stephens Extended cutaway, and the occasional use of Padauk wood.

The Nuno Bettencourt Washburn N4-Vintage Electric Guitar

The Nuno Bettencourt Washburn N4-Vintage Electric Guitar

In today’s review I got the chance to review one of the higher end models, the N4-Vintage, which was built right here in the good ol’ US of A, and it comes decked to the nines in any and everything Mr. Bettencourt could imagine. The Matte finished aged alder body feels comfortable and smooth, and the aged hardware looks just grungy enough to make you feel important with a guitar like this, like you were carrying around a guitar that really had seen that much time on the road. But not so grungy that it felt unclean, or maltreated in its tenure on the road.

Plugged into our resident tube amp, the glorious RT503, The N4 sounded exactly as I had imagined, biting, but with clarity for days on the bridge pickup, and smooth and soulful on the neck pickup. The action on the neck was super flat, but without even a hint of string buzz, and the response from the Floyd Rose was just divine. Clean, this guitar had everything you could dream of in one simple package, and for the most part, the absence of a tone control didn’t seem to bother me, although it made comping jazz tones a little more difficult. Granted, not many people with this guitar are getting it to play smooth, crystal clear jazz licks; most of them are getting it to play rock, really, really hard rock.

Through a distorted channel, this guitar just sang, with the bridge pickup driving the amp into a blistering grind, and the neck pickup taking it to a soulful, smooth singing lead tone. I understand why a guitarist like Nuno would want something like this around his neck all day, with its light body, its resonant singing tone, and its lightning fast action, for what it was designed to do, play like a dream, and look handsome doing it the N4-Vintage gets an EASY 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Fender Acoustic Guitars

Hey guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, to supply you with your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have a few cool acoustics from our friends over at Fender. Fender has always been a company that really tries to push the limits of what a guitar really is, and in the past they took this mentality to the rather conservative world of acoustic guitars. Many of these guitars went by rather clever monikers, like the Kingman, the Malibu, and the Newporter. Fender tried to introduce their “reinventing the wheel” style of production which had served them so well in the world of electric guitars, basses and amplifiers, however, in the hyper traditional world of acoustic guitars, their efforts failed for much of the companies history. Guitarists just weren’t comfortable having an acoustic with a bolt on neck, or an intonatable metal bridge on their flat top acoustics.

        For many years, Fender just couldn’t figure out what to do to with their acoustic guitar line to make them more acceptable by the mainstream world of guitar players, and it wasn’t until Fender was bought from CBS by FMIC that the quality of their acoustic guitars improved substantially. Nowadays, the acoustic guitars being produced by fender are some of the best selling, and best sounding in the industry. For today’s review I am going to start with the Fender CD-220SCE which features a solid spruce top, laminate ovangkol back and sides, and a fishman pickup system.

The Fender CD-220SCE Solid Spruce Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Fender CD-220SCE Solid Spruce Acoustic Electric Guitar

        The Fender CD-220SCE might seem like a relatively standard acoustic affair, with some relatively standard tones, and some rather typical looks, but while on the surface it looks simple and straight forward, it has so much more depth. The CD-220SCE has a very comfortable neck profile, which is slightly more reminiscent of an electric than a normal acoustic, and the body of the guitar, while being labeled a dreadnought, this guitar feels slightly more slimmed down, and more comfortable than a standard dread. The attached strap button is a nice addition, as surprisingly many acoustic guitars still don’t feature one, and I’ve personally had to install a few on acoustic guitars and am always worried what it will do to the guitars overall value. The inclusion of a strap button makes this guitar extremely comfortable to hold on stage, and the fast playing neck makes it easy to do everything from basic chord work, to lead runs and all the familiar electric guitar style work that acoustic guitars sometimes keep us from executing correctly.

Unplugged this guitar has a very warm tone, with plenty of snap and bite on top. The tone of the CD-220SCE is very modern with lots of bite and chime, the tone is exactly what you would want from a solid spruce guitar, and the ovangkol back and sides add just enough bite to help boost the slightly darker tone of spruce up out of the mix. Plugged in this guitar has a very true acoustic tone, with a nice darker spruce style tone, with enough of that nice piezo sizzle to help really lift your guitar out of the mix. The snappy tone really does a lot for this guitar, and the CD-220SCE is surprisingly resistant to feedback despite the very resonant spruce top.  The CD-220SCE is a nice straight forward acoustic electric, with plenty of modern sound and stage worthy power. For its ability to cover so much ground, at such an affordable price point, the CD-220SCE earns a solid 8 out of 10.

The Fender CD-230 SCE Cedar Top Acoustic Guitar

The Fender CD-230 SCE Cedar Top Acoustic Guitar

Next up is the CD-230SCE which is a slight variation on the CD-220SCE in that this version features a solid cedar top and mahogany back and sides. Cedar features a slightly more vintage sound than spruce does, and has a more “worn in” feel to it, and this guitar features the same super comfortable mahogany neck as the CD-220SCE. Unplugged the CD-230SCE certainly features a more worn in sound than the CD-220, with a lot more mid range warmth. This means that the CD-230 sits in a mix in a nice comfortable place, where it sits along side vocals without taking up any of the frequencies of the singers’ voice, and instead just lives around it.

Plugged in this guitar has a similarly powerful sound to the CD-220SCE, but instead of the darker tone of spruce, the 230SCE has the nice, strident midrange focused tone of cedar, which is great when playing with a band, as it avoids the frequency ranges of the lows of the bass, and the highs of the cymbals, allowing the guitar to cut through the mix with ease. The comfortable neck profile is great for playing lead lines, and the added body in the mix that cedar provides definitely helps fill out the sound, and make your acoustic playing really pop. For its more full bodied tone in comparison to the CD-220, but still retaining the comfortable feel and style, the Fender CD-230SCE earns itself a solid 9 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Hamer Guitars

Hey guys, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply again, to bring you another dose of gear and guitar reviews, and today I am pleased to bring you some more tasty treats from our good friends over at Hamer. As I’ve mentioned before, Hamer guitars was founded by three guys in Illinois during the early half of the 1970s, all united by their shared love of vintage instruments. They all worked to revive the craft of guitar making in a time when the art of making guitars had fallen to the lowest point it has ever been in electric guitar history. So for today’s review, I want to take some time and look at three finely crafted guitars all crafted with the same love for fine guitars that made Hamer so famous all those years ago.

Hamer SATP90-GT Arched Gold Top Electric Guitar

Hamer SATP90-GT Arched Gold Top Electric Guitar

First up on that list of finely crafted guitars is the SATP90-GT, which is a classic double cut design, with a vintage styled gold top body and two Hamer designed Soapbar style P-90s. The SATP90 has a lot of very vintage style to it, with a body that conjures up the classic double cut LP shape that is so iconic, but with a style and craftsmanship that can only come from Hamer. The body features a nicely carved maple top, which is always smooth and comfortable, and covered in that vintage gold top finish that is so endearing. All of that is mated to the Mahogany body, and that is fitted with a set mahogany neck which is just about the perfect size, not too big that it’s too hard to play lead, and not so thin that it’s uncomfortable to chord on.

Plugged in, this guitar has a sound that is about as vintage sounding as possible. The P-90 pickups have a plenty of bite to them, but never sacrificing the body that you would expect from a guitar like this. Clean this guitar has all of the sounds you expect out of a double P-90 guitar, with plenty of fat single coil tones, but with the added body and resonance of a maple topped mahogany body. The sparkle and jangle of the P-90s is always something that you really have to play to understand, as the added girth that a P-90 adds to that sparkle that you get from a single coil is really amazing. The neck pickup had a very acoustic sounding speaking voice as well, but with a slightly warmer tone than you would expect from say, a tele in the same position.

Running into a dirty amp however proves this to be a very different beast, suddenly this guitars real voice really starts to show itself, having the added body of a p-90, the chunk and power that you can drag out of this guitar is impressive to say the least. Suddenly I was able to get thick singing sustain, and big, bouncing rhythms, the added output of a P-90 really does wonders for an overdriven amp, as it just adds so many extra harmonics than a standard strat style single coil, or a typical humbucker.  It’s because of this ability to do everything from the most sparkling of cleans, to the raunchiest distortion that the SATP90-GT earns a respectable 9 out of 10, simply because I know the vintage vibe won’t float everyone’s boat.

Hamer SFX2-BK Electric Guitar Black

Hamer SFX2-BK Electric Guitar Black

Next up on the block is the SFX2-BK, which is a variation on the double cut design just like the SATP90-GT was, except this time, they’ve replaced the standard maple topped mahogany body and mahogany neck, for a basswood body, and a maple neck. This does a lot to the tone of the instrument, first and foremost being, Basswood has a much different sound than mahogany with a much more focused midrange, with a  softened high end response, and a much tighter bass response than its mahogany cousin. The maple neck, while sharing a similar shape to the SATP-90’s neck, has a vastly different tone. Maple imparts a snappy and almost twangy feeling to notes, while mahogany tends to have a much warmer, softer attack. Add to that the set of hot Hamer designed humbuckers and you start to get the picture that the SFX2 is a much more focused sounding guitar.

This becomes readily apparent when plugged into an amp. The SFX2 has a much dryer, more funky sound than the SATP-90, which had an almost acoustic tone. The tone of the SFX2 was more akin to what you assume an electric guitar will sound like clean, with very jazzy clean sounds, as opposed to acoustic sounding, which is actually pretty cool. The sound was warm, with just enough bite to really cut through the mix. The basswood really did lend something nice to the two Hamer humbuckers as they had a very modern sound, with plenty of snap and jangle, albeit with a very electric voice. The bridge pickup was nice and full without being overly bright, with just enough snap to really do what a bridge pickup needs to do, and the neck pickup was dark and jazzy, without being so dark that it becomes bland and droning.

Switching to a dirtier setting, the SFX2 suddenly had a very modern rock sound. Basswood has been a favorite for making super strat style guitars since the mid to late 80s as it adds a lot of mids, which Floyd Rose tremolos tend to lack, but on a guitar like this which is already rather mid heavy, the basswood gives it a lot of cut, and power without over doing it. This translated to rock tones that were clear, and present in the mix, without dominating the mix, which makes it great for rhythm guitar tracks, or leads that don’t need to be super in your face. The maple neck added a nice little twang to the sound, which was helpful at keeping the sound ever present in the mix, and keeping it from getting muddy. Overall the SFX2-Bk is a great guitar, with plenty of modern tones, and vintage style vibe, and it’s great for a guitarist who wants to keep one foot in the past, and one in the future, it’s for that do it all attitude that the SFX2-Bk gets itself a nice 9 out of 10.

Hamer STD-CS Standard Set Neck Flamed Top Electric Guitar Cherry Burst

Hamer STD-CS Standard Set Neck Flamed Top Electric Guitar Cherry Burst

Last up on today’s blog, is the STD-CS which is one of the shapes that made Hamer famous. The STD-CS is a stunning looking guitar, with its flamed maple top, mated to an alder body. Alder has a warm sound, with a deep, and tight low end, this makes for a really full sounding guitar when it’s mated to the maple top, and set maple neck. The combination of the sparkling highs that are added by the maple top, and the warm and distinct sound you get from alder is rather unusual, but it works for this guitar as the added density and mass of the body also create long, long sustain.

Plugging in the STD-CS, the raw power of this guitar immediately makes itself apparent. The clean tones, supplied by the duncan designed humbuckers, are big, and bold, as subtlety isn’t really this guitars forte. Chords are big, and in your face with a  power that a clean guitar tone doesn’t tend to have, lead lines are glassy and smooth, and running through a few U2 tunes with this guitar was just awesome. The tones are all there, but this guitars strange combo of maple and alder result in a guitar that has sustain for days, on top of having a very distinct sound.

Playing through an overdriven channel however was a treat. This guitar has a fullness and body to its tone that is familiar and foreign at the same time, as the sound of alder and maple really is a little different than the standard mahogany and maple in a number of ways, especially when overdriven. While they have a similar speaking voice, the feel of the sustain, and the way the guitar articulates the midrange and low end is a lot tighter than normal, this resulted in far more punch in a mix, which is always nice to have. The guitar was a joy to play, and the neck was that same near perfect shape, making shredding simple, and chords comfortable. The STD-CS is a gem of a guitar, with tones from the cleanest of shimmering cleans, and distorted barks that can run with even the biggest of names, and its for that power that this guitar gets a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Takamine Guitars

Hey guys, Brian with World Music Supply here again, to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have a great set of acoustic starter packages from our friends at Takamine. as I’ve mentioned in the past,Takamine was founded in 1962 in Sakashita Japan, as a small family business crafting well made acoustic guitars. In all of the years since then, they have kept the tradition of building affordable good quality guitars alive.

More than all of that, the guitars I’m reviewing today are starter kits, meaning they are great first guitars, but more than that these are great guitars to hold on to, great guitars to keep around long after you’ve learned your craft. One of the best pieces of advice I give to people calling in to ask about buying their first guitar is, think about where you’ll be in five years? in ten years? and will this guitar still be what you want? will it still be relevant musically to you? When it comes to guitars like these, that answer is a resounding yes. Beautifully crafted guitars, with good grained spruce tops, and stunningly figured mahogany back and sides, all satin finished for maximum style and comfort. So without further ado, let’s move into the review of the first guitar in the round up.

The Takamine G320-NS

The Takamine G320-NS

First up is the G320-NS, which is a great sounding spruce and mahogany bodied Dreadnought. The Dreadnought is the typical acoustic guitar shape, having been more or less the standard guitar shape since its inception, when it became one of the biggest guitar shapes of the time, and soon became famous for its big, full bodied tones. The G320-NS carries on this illustrious tradition in stride, with its big full sound, and bright chimey top end. This guitar feels great right out of the box, as its satin finished body and neck make it both comfortable, and a super fast playing neck. Now the G320-NS is marketed in a kit, as a starter guitar, but as someone who has been playing guitar for quite some time now, I can solidly say that the G320-NS would be a great guitar for any collection, as it is loaded with tons of great tones, has a great feeling, and great playing neck, and on top of that, it’s a Takamine which means it’s made by one of the leading guitar manufacturers in the world.

This is by and large the most common style of guitar to learn on, as the Dreadnoughts body isn’t too big, or too small, and more comfortable to get accustomed to, than say a flying V. Not only that, the Dreadnought is by and large the most commonly played, and most commonly recorded guitar style, as almost every artist has recorded at least one or two songs with a Dreadnought. When it comes to learning to play guitar, nothing beats lessons, but these can tend to be expensive, and sometimes not as effective as the student would like, which is why Takamine has included an instruction book that includes a  DVD, CD combo pack full of hands on, lesson material to get you started off on a good note. The kit also comes with a deluxe padded gig bag for the guitar, an electric tuner, and a set of picks. For its ability to get any guitarist started off right, and to just be a great playing guitar to add to your collection the G320-NS gets a solid 10 out of 10.

The Takamine G220-NS

The Takamine G220-NS

Next up is the G220-NS which is another great guitar starter kit, but instead of a Dreadnought, the G220-NS is one of Takamines signature shapes called a NEX, which is like a mini jumbo but with smaller shoulders. What this means is the G220-NS has a very even, and overall homogenous voice. So you have a guitar that sounds just as bold at the 12th fret as you do at the 1st. The NEX is also a very focused sounding guitar shape, with bass that is tight and punchy, and a high end that is snappy without being too sharp.

The G220-NS would also be a great candidate for a first guitar, or just another guitar to add to your collection, as the NEX body shape is a little bit different than your average acoustic, it does have a rather distinct voice that is favored by everyone from jazz guitarists, to country players, to even singer songwriters. The clean and focused tone  of the G220-NS makes for a versatile guitar, while never being overbearing or dense sounding, and just like the G320-NS, this guitar comes with an instructional book with a  DVD CD combo pack, a gig bag, a tuner, and a set of picks.

So even if you’ve played a few other guitars, and you’re just looking for something different, or this is your first guitar and you want to stand out from the crowd a bit. The G220-NS with its cool NEX body shape might be right up your alley, with its smooth, warm tones, and its super fast neck, the G220-NS easily snags itself a 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Charvel Guitars

Hey everyone, it’s Brian here from World Music Supply again, to bring you yet another round of guitar reviews. Today we have a special treat, and that is because today we’re reviewing Charvel guitars Desolation, Skatecaster, and So-Cal series of guitars. Charvel Guitars was started by Wayne Charvel after working for three years at Fender in the early 70’s. Wayne Charvel left and started “Charvel’s Guitar Repair” to repair and refinish older Fender instruments. The shop earned a reputation among local musicians for its custom finishes, and handmade upgrade parts. After a number of foreign manufactures began to copy and sell Charvel style parts, Charvel made the decision to start producing complete guitars.

First up on the block today is the Desolation series, which are Charvels more modern shred ready guitars, available in single and double cutaway variants as well as a soloist version. They all feature sleek body shapes, a thin, and very fast neck profile, as well, most of the models in the desolation line come loaded with either active Seymour Duncan, or EMG humbuckers, and are decorated with abalone binding and inlays. For my review I picked a nice representative of the line, in the guise of the DS-1 Standard in transparent “blue smear”.  

The Charvel DS-1

The Charvel DS-1

Aesthetically, this guitar is fantastic, with its majestically sculpted body, and the stunning wood grain on the flamed maple top and headstock cover, this thing really does look great. Sonically this guitar is also a treat, as its Seymour Duncan pickups sound far different and much more natural than many other active pickups I’ve heard thus far, with much more clarity and “spank” then you would expect from a guitar like this.

With the Desolation running through a clean rig, this guitar had all of the body and brightness, as well as the dynamic response that you would expect out of a passive guitar, but with all of the volume and clarity that you would expect out of an active system, meaning my clean tones were huge! The neck is the right kind of thin to where you can still chord on it, without your hand cramping up, but you can also shred on it, without your hand likewise cramping up. The tone was lively and surprisingly jazz friendly, with all of the sparkle and shimmer that you need to play really smooth, all without ever losing its low end definition or bite. Chording on the neck was surprisingly comfortable, and the tone was always lush and complex.

Switching to a dirtier channel, it felt like the guitar “woke up” so to speak, it suddenly had all of those big searing distorted tones that you would typically expect out of an active guitar, but it also has all of the definition of its clean setting counterpart. This means that your dirty tones have all of the bite and punch that you want them too, but also so much clarity that you can still play big chords without it sounding muddy. Lead lines are bold and easy to play with the thin neck profile, and they always had a big warm edge to them thanks to the mahogany body and neck through design. Overall the Charvel Desolation series seems like they’re a real contender when it comes to the modern guitar market, and should not be overlooked. Thanks to their superb construction, jaw dropping good looks, and sweet sounds, the Desolation series earns itself a well earned 10 out of 10.

The Charvel Skatecaster SK-1

The Charvel Skatecaster SK-1

Next up, is the Skatecaster, a slick re-imagining of Charvels famous Surfcaster guitar, which was one of their more famous models of the 90’s and early 2000’s. The Skatecaster is Charvels attempt to breath new life into an old guitar, by taking all of the things that made the Surfcaster smooth, and vintage looking, and seemingly replacing them with a modern, hard edged, metal attitude. The first and most strikingly obvious differences are the lack of a pickgaurd, and a hollow body, making it actually more closely related to the Jackson Outcaster, but I digress. The lack of the pickgaurd makes it look less like the Italian guitars it once resembled, like Eko or Galanti, and more like a Jazzmaster that has been left in the sun too long, which if I’m honest, is still a pretty cool shape.

The lack of its hollowbody seems to be purely based on functionality, because now that this guitar has been redesigned for hard rock and metal, a hollow body would just feed back at the volumes this guitar has been designed for. For my sound test, I’ve decided on the SK-1 FR in Flat Black, which seemed like exactly the point of this new line, shear, shred metal power. With its hot EMG pickups, the SK-1 had a clean tone that was expectedly smooth and dark, with all the tones I have come to expect from these wonderful pickups. Everything I played was exaggerated, all of my highs were higher, and all of my lows were lower, all of my chicken pickin’ was snappier, and all of my jazzy chording was wider and more complex.

Turning up the gain on the amp however, and yet again I was assaulted by that familiar EMG 81/85 shout, with all of the snarl and aggression they were designed for. The best part about this guitar however, was by far the neck, which was lightning fast, and with the handsome abalone inlays, was just as good looking as it was sounding. The Floyd felt like a nice addition to this guitar, as it gave the guitar a slightly different personality than the guitar it is succeeding, the Surfcaster, which had a two point non locking trem. The lead tones to this guitar are searing and poignant, with the right amount of high end to cut through the mix, but never sound sharp or “buzzsaw” like. In the end, I like the Skatecaster, it takes the fun loving, guitar for guitarists vibe of the Surfcaster, and paints it black, loads it with active humbuckers, a floyd rose, and tons of abalone, all of which I whole heartedly approve of, for that fact alone this guitar easily grabs a 10 out of 10.

The Charvel So-Cal

The Charvel So-Cal

Last up is an old friend, the So-Cal. Based off of Charvel guitars that were in production during the hair metal heydays of the 80’s, this guitar would have reigned like a king, with its candy colored finishes, its overpowered pickups, and of course its Floyd Rose. Through a clean setting, its Dimarzio pickups have a specific kind of chime and character that is surely different from any other on the market. The So-Cal feels familiar to almost anyone who has ever picked up a Fender guitar at any point in their guitar playing life, except with a compound radius neck of 12 to 16 inches, and a slightly different color combination than a normal Fender style guitar.  

Playing it on a clean setting, the So-Cal has a rather dark character with a particular emphasis on the mids, which suits jazz, and the few clean toned 80’s riffs I know just fine. However, we both know what this guitar was designed for, and with that though in mind, I plugged this guitar into a Randall RT503, and let it rip. The So-Cal did its job, letting loose tons of EVH style riffs, all with a tone that could more than comp the feel of almost anything that came out while Reagan was in office.

The So-Cal is a throw back to an American classic, and just like the Corvette, or a Charger, it just gets better with age. Sure you can’t climb up to the 24th fret, and your only controls are a pick up switch and a volume knob, but that’s all you really need for most things. The So-Cal is what was great about guitar in the 80’s it was fun, and straightforward. For the fact that the So-Cal is designed as a catch all of guitars, and built from the ground up to be a machine of rock and roll fury, the So-Cal earns a deserved 10 out of 10

World Music Supply | DBZ Guitars

Hey everybody, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply, and I’m here to talk to you about some of the cool new stuff that we’re getting here at WMS. Today, I want to talk a little more about DBZ Guitars. As I’ve mentioned before, DBZ is the brain child of Dean B. Zelinsky, who parted ways with Dean Guitars in mid 2008. In order to give Mr. Zelinsky “personal control over design, direction and quality” he started DBZ guitars shortly after his parting ways with his former company. Since then he has been crafting a lot of sleek, beautiful guitars, a few of which I’m going to discuss in today’s blog.

The DBZ Bolero

The DBZ Bolero

First up is the Bolero, a tasteful new take on the classic LP single cut design. This guitar is just different enough to feel interesting and just familiar enough as to not be off putting, it features the iconic mahogany body with a maple top, and a comfortable soft V neck profile on its mahogany neck. It features the DBZB/DBZ5 that I reviewed so favorably on the barchettas a few posts back, and they don’t disappoint here either. They have the right mix of bright and dark from the bridge pickup to the neck pickup so you never run out of useful tones in this guitar, and with the inclusion of a coil split, you also have some decent strat and tele esc tones hidden away in this guitar too. With its more iconic wood combination, of a maple and mahogany body, and a mahogany neck, this guitar tends to sound a little warmer than the Barchetta LT, and a little rounder the fire breathing monsters in the bare bones line. Overall this is a nice choice for the guitarist who wants to have an LP style guitar, but doesn’t want to look like everyone else, with so many powerful tones, and such handsome looks, I give the Bolero a 10 out of 10 easy.

The DBZ Imperial in Cherry Sunburst

The DBZ Imperial in Cherry Sunburst

Next up on the chopping block is the Imperial line, a guitar that I am outright amazed by. It’s a relatively standard looking jazz guitar shape, like a semi hollow body, but without the hollow part, what amazes me is that the Imperial has such a thin body, and when I say thin I mean 5/8 of an inch at the edge thick, that is THIN. 

The DBZ Imperial

The DBZ Imperial

The body curves out a bit more in the middle, but by and large, this guitar is so thin, when you wear an Imperial, it almost doesn’t feel like it’s there, which is an interesting, and comfortable feeling. This guitar sounds a lot snappier than the Bolero thanks to this thinner body, it’s somewhere between a jazz box, and a telecaster, as it has a little bit more of a twangy edge when played clean and a little more presence in the mix when played distorted, but it also has that warm round bottom end that is reminiscent of big body jazz guitars. With the inclusion of the coil splitter this guitar can do basically anything, from twangy country licks, big bodied rock rhythms, and if you drop the tuning a little, it can even grind out some serious metal. The neck is the same as the Bolero, that soft V that fits your hand like a glove, making playing very long sessions so much more comfortable. For its plethora of awesome tones, and its unique razor thin body, the Imperial easily snags a 10 out of 10.

The DBZ Cavallo

The DBZ Cavallo

Then we have the Cavallo, which is a classic V style guitar, with the slight exception of having a heavily sculpted maple top. This carving seemed strange at first, but once you start playing it, you realize that it is thinned only around the controls, and where your arm would naturally either swing when playing standing up, or where your arm would rest when sitting down. The Cavallo is oddly comfortable, and the sounds are just as pleasing. The Cavallo has the same pickup combo as the rest of the guitars thus far in the review. Its tones are a little bit bolder than the Imperial, but not as defined as the Bolero, playing it through a little tube amp, the Cavallo gave me everything from bone dry clean tones, dirty AC/DC style drive, all the way to big hair metal style grind. All in all I like the Cavallo, and as far as V’s go, this one is easily in my top 3. I give the Cavallo a 9 out of 10, only because those carves in the top might be a little off putting to people who like a more traditional V.

The Floyd Rose Equipped DBZ Cavallo

The Floyd Rose Equipped DBZ Cavallo

However, stepping a little more away from the traditional V mold we do have a variant of the Cavallo which sports a locking floyd rose, a welcome change of pace. Now I was able to do light fluttery warbles in the clean setting, Van Halen style dive bombs when I had the amp dimed, and when I used some real distortion I got everything from Dimebag style squeals to Joe Satriani style screaming harmonics. Adding the agility that a floyd affords you to an already amazingly versatile guitar takes it from a 9 out of 10 to a solid 10 out of 10, who would have thought such a little change would bring out so much more potential in this guitar

The DBZ Venom

The DBZ Venom

Lastly in the line up is something way out of the traditional, but what we all honestly expected from DBZ guitars, a solid down to earth metal guitar. The Venom is a V style guitar that more closely resembles a battle axe than it does the 1950s era styling of its cousins. Along with the much more metal stylings, it comes in gun metal grey, and silver, both of which help to accentuate the battle axe feeling of this instrument. Unlike all the other guitars in this review, this guitar is equipped with different pickups, that’s right folks, the Venom is armed with a pair of USA made EMG 81/85s that just scream when you play this thing. Its clean tone is a tad darker than the rest of the DBZs as a result, but this isn’t a bad thing as these guitars probably wont spend much time in a clean, low gain setting. With a distorted tone, these guitars come alive, with full bodied tones that have more than enough output for any situation, and more than enough bark and bite to fulfill any hard rock or metal guitarists wildest dreams. With its Floyd rose trem, and its wickedly hot EMG pickups, this guitar deserves more than the 10 out of 10 I can award it. Lets just say this, if you are hunting for the cream of the crop of metal guitars, the Venom might just be it.

So there you have it folks, some amazingly versatile, and amazingly powerful new guitars from DBZ, all of them with a unique voice, and their own amazingly unique styling,  so how about you go on over to World Music Supply today and order your own DBZ today, and quit looking and sounding like everyone else out there, start being unique with a new DBZ!

World Music Supply | Washburn Guitars

Hey guys its Brian from World Music Supply here again, and today I’m here to talk to you about some great guitars from Washburn. Washburn has always been known for making fantastic guitars, at bargain basement prices, and these are no exception. These guitars all sound, and play like instruments that cost three or four times as much.

The Washburn WIN14FVSB

The Washburn WIN14FVSB

Lets start with the WIN14FVSB, a nice single cut style guitar. The WIN14FVSB fits you like an old friend, it just feels right. The WIN14FVSB has a classic tobacco burst finish, with a basswood body, a bolt on maple neck with a nice carved cutaway, making it easier for your hand to slide up to the top of the neck. The power of the WIN14FVSB comes from the Washburn designed humbuckers, the sound of them is quite meaty, and musical. It filled out lead lines well, with thick harmonic sustain, and when I sat back and just strummed some chords, it was bright and resilient sounding, almost kind of twangy when in the bridge position, and in the neck position it sounded nice and round with all of the body and warmth you would expect. The control layout is slightly rearranged then a standard singlecut guitar, which is nice, because it makes doing pinky volume swells a lot easier. Overall I really like the WIN14FVSB, probably because I’ve always loved double humbucker guitars with basswood bodies, I give the WIN14FVSB a 9 out of 10, because I know people usually want a set neck on a guitar like this, but I love this guitar nonetheless.

The Washburn WINSTDCB

The Washburn WINSTDCB

Then lets move onto the WINSTDCB, which is a lot more typical of what you expect in a guitar this shape, carved mahogany body, maple top, and a bound body and neck. However you also get the extended relief neck joint, which makes it easier to slide up the higher frets, it also features a graphtech graphite nut, meaning the tuning on this guitar is a lot more stable than your average guitar. The WINSTDCB sounds big and fat, with more than enough sustain on tap for anyone, it has that classic sound that you can only get from a guitar like this.

Seymour Duncan USM

Seymour Duncan USM

The WINSTDCB also features Seymour Duncan USM humbuckers, which sound amazing, running it through a slightly overdriven tube amp I got plenty of classic blues rock style leads, with that nice fluid tone, that kind of sound that just soars when you bend it up just right.

The Washburn WINSTDCB

The Washburn WINSTDCB

Adding in some more gain, I got some serious chunk, with enough punch so it never got muddy. Later on, I dropped the tuning a step or so, and the WINSTDCB just growled and grinded through some chunky metal riffs, I personally love how versatile guitars like this are, it has all the right sounds for all the right situations, from bone dry jazz licks, to searing metal riffing, the WINSTDCB has it all. I give it a 9 out of 10, only because just like most LP style guitars, the WINSTDCB is a little on the heavy side, but it’s thanks to that weight that the WINSTDCB sustains as well as it does.

Lastly there is the WINSTDLITEG, a classic gold top style guitar, with a slimmer LITE style body. The guitar is a bit thinner than the other two guitars in today’s round-up, which means it weighs a bit less, meaning the WINSTDLITEG is more comfortable if you have to carry it around all night.  The WINSTDLITEG features a smooth and rather comfortable feeling carved maple top, ontop of the mahogany body. The set mahogany neck features a nice slightly slimmer profile then the other two, its not too thick to where it feels awkward to play leads, but it’s not too thin to where it feels uncomfortable to play chords, and just like the other two, the WINSTDLITEG is comfortable enough to play for hours and hours. The WINSTDLITEG has the same searing tones as the WINSTDCB thanks to those Seymour Duncan USM Pickups, with the same versatility as the WINSTDCB, with tones that range from smooth, warm jazz licks, to shred runs, this guitar has all of the power to give you the tones you want. Overall the WINSTDLITEG feels comfortable, and its slimmer body meant I could keep playing it for hours without it ever feeling heavy. I give the WINSTDLITEG a 10 out of 10 easy, because it has all of the tonal power of the WINSTDCB in a unique slimmer style body.

The Washburn WINSTDLITEG

The Washburn WINSTDLITEG

The long and short of it is, these guitars are awesome. You get all of the classic LP style guitar tones, and at a fraction of the cost. So if you’re looking for a great guitar, at a fantastic price, why don’t you go and head on over to WorldMusicSupply, and look through our long list of Washburn guitars and pick yourself one up today!

World Music Supply | Fender Pawn Shop

Hey Guys, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply and I’m here to talk to you about the new line of Fender Pawnshop Guitars. By now we’re all at least semi-familiar with this new line of Fender guitars, but if you aren’t, let me fill you in. The Pawnshop line is in Fender’s own words are “guitars that never were but should have been.” They’re patterned after some of the more eccentric models that were produced during the latter years of Pre-CBS Fender, when they were coming out with models like the electric XII, the Musiclander, the Marauder, the Bass VI and let’s not forget the Starcaster or the Coronado.
 

          In truth though, the first line of these guitars, the 51 and the 72 are based off of the unexpectedly successful Squier 51, a strange Tele, Strat hybrid that looked like an old 51 P bass scaled down to a normal guitar size. I personally loved the Squier version, with its weird switching system, and no tone control. The fender model though? It took everything I loved about the Squier and supersized it. Fender gave it a hotter humbucker in the bridge, a bolder sounding neck pickup, and a much cleaner, and more intuitive switching system, and don’t even get me started on the 72. I am in love with that guitar, and if they offered it in fiesta red, I would pick one up in a heartbeat….but I digress. Now, Fender has created a new set of wild, retro looking guitars. The Pawn Shop line now includes the Offset Special, the Jaguarillo, a reverse Jaguar bass, and the Mustang Special.

The Fender Offset Special

The Fender Offset Special

 

Let’s start first with the Offset Special, the strange, mutant love child of a Fender Jazzmaster, and what looks like a Stratocaster. You want a weird and quirky guitar? This guitar has it in spades. The Jazzmaster has always been one of my favorite guitars, made as an attempt by Mr. Leo Fender to try and diversify his company away from making “country” guitars, he made what he figured jazz guitarists would love, big, full sounding pickups, a floating tremolo, and a circuit just for the neck pickup, so you could get two different flavors of smooth tone. Problem was…jazz guitarists tend to be a pretty conservative bunch, and they didn’t want any part of it.

    The only people to give the model recognition were surf guitarists during the 60’s, but they soon migrated back to their Stratocasters with the success of bands like The Shadows and Dick Dale, and when Fender came out with the Jaguar, the Jazzmaster fell into disuse and mediocrity. It wasn’t until bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth got their hands on these old relics that Leo had designed for jazz guitarists, now found acceptances by post rockers and grunge players alike. So why did I go through this short history lesson on the Jazzmaster? Well I want to point out just how weird the Offset Special is. They took most of the hardware from the Jazzmaster, one of their least successful guitars of all time, and mated it with the Stratocaster, arguably one of their finest guitars of all time, and what do we end up with? Something amazing, a guitar with all the smooth tone and class of a Jazzmaster, and all the power and playability of a Strat. So in short, what do you get with the Offset Special? We get a hollow, offset, Strat style body, with big steel guitar style pickups, a floating tremolo, and a 21 fret Strat style neck, and the sounds of this thing is huge! It’s like a cross between a Gretch Country Gentleman, and a Jazzmaster. Thanks to the hollow body, and the shorter distance from the tremolo to the bridge, the Offset Special defiantly sounds bigger then a normal Jazzmaster, a bit fuller, a bit rounder, and the floating trem lends itself well to smooth jazzy bends. I love the period correct style of the guitar, what with it looking like a cross between a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a 72 Tele, the Offset Special has something for everybody. I give it an 8 out of 10 stars, because even though it does have a very distinct tone thanks to the Jazzmaster style pickups which are well suited to country, jazz and certain brands of alternative rock, that same distinctive tone that gives it that signature shimmer and spank, might not lend themselves to heavier styles of music as well. 

The Fender Jaguarillo

The Fender Jaguarillo

          Next up is the Jaguarillo, my personal favorite of the new line up, because its just one of those “really why didn’t they do that sooner?” kind of designs. I’ve seen people do this with Jaguars for years, take out bridge pickup and replace it with a humbucker. By itself that would be enough to make the Jaguarillo a great little guitar, but pair that with a much simpler switching system and a slanted HSS configuration, and you have one monster of a guitar. The Jazzmaster style trem is well suited to bigsby style flutter, or some light vibrato. The HSS configuration is slanted, meaning it makes the low strings sound a little fatter, and the high strings a tiny bit brighter, so it sounds like a Strat, just with a little wider range of tones.  Lastly, something about the offset pickups and the simplified control scheme, just makes this guitar look so, so good. Out of the new pawnshop line up, I like the Jaguarillo the best, especially in the faded sonic blue, easily  9 out of 10 stars, simply because some people might have reservations about buying a guitar with slanted pickups. Regardless, the Jaguarillo looks and sounds amazing!

The Fender Mustang Special

The Fender Mustang Special

Then, rounding out the Pawnshop Guitar line is the Mustang Special. Now this is something I’ve been hoping fender would do for a long time, introduce a nice small guitar again. Sure I loved the old Mustang, but that tremolo unit on it always frustrated me, sure it worked, but it was just so tedious to maintain, and though I love the sound of fender single-coils, on an instrument this small, they just sounded a tad too bright even for my tastes. So the addition of a good hardtail bridge and some nice fender full-range humbuckers is just what this guitar deserves. The Mustang style switching system is still there, but now with the more powerful pickups, its given a whole new twist of being able to do strange coil tapping, where you can either have the back, or front pickup of the humbucker. Overall I give it a 9 out of 10, because even though I love it, I’m sure a Fender purist is going to be mad that the mustang trem and phase switching isn’t there. This guitar sounds amazing though, purists aside, and I’m glad that Fender finally has a good sounding, and good looking little guitar again, and at an affordable price.

The Fender Reverse Jaguar Bass

The Fender Reverse Jaguar Bass

Now a strange turn for the line is the more modern flavor of the new Reverse Jaguar Bass. Featuring a Fender high mass modern bridge, a bigblock humbucker in the neck, a reverse jaguar special humbucker in the bridge, and a short-ish scale 32” neck with a reverse headstock and trust me, this thing sounds massive. I like the shorter scale length, but I also like that they didn’t go as low as 30” like fender used to with the mustang basses, which always sounded a little dark to me. This thing though? It’s the perfect place between too dark and too bright, with more then enough power on tap for even the most modern bass players. The reverse design is something I love too, it reminds me of old Mosrite guitars, and basses from the 70’s All in all, this bass is a nice addition to the new line up that is the Fender Jaguar bass range. Easily the best idea fender has had in a while. I easily give the Fender Reverse Jaguar 10 out of 10 stars, because even a Fender purist can’t get mad, because the jaguar line is such a new line of basses. Now if only they would make a guitar version of a reverse jaguar, maybe with some modern touches as well? Some high output humbuckers and a Floyd Rose anybody?

the four new additions to the Fender family

the four new additions to the Fender family

At the end of the day, I like the Pawnshop line up, probably because I love all those weird Fenders from back when Leo ran the show, and let’s be honest, these guitars are beautiful. So what if they don’t look like your standard Strat or Tele, if you get one of these, you will have a weird little gem of a guitar that is quirky and unique, with all the spank and sparkle that you have come to expect from Fender. So how about you go on over to Worldmusicsupply.com, find something unique, and start standing out from the crowd, go get yourself a Fender Pawnshop guitar today!