World Music Supply | DBZ Guitars

Hey guys, I know its been a long, long time, but Brian of the World Music Supply blog has made his return! I was finally able to move around things in my schedule to yet again reasonably accommodate the blog, so lets get down to business. I am here to today to talk about some awesome guitars we have right now from our good friends over at DBZ. We here at World Music Supply love DBZ Guitars. Its as simple as that. They are high quality guitars, made with high quality parts, with precision workmanship, what’s not to like?
DBZ BARFMPL-FR-NS Barchetta FM Plus Series Electric Guitar

First up on the block today are the Barchetta Plus FM Series, these guys are amazing. I’ve been a big fan of the Barchetta body style since I first saw them a year or so back, their sleek strat style body, with its futuristic carved top body, and the classic vibe of the 3×3 headstock. It all adds up to a very stunning looking guitar. Back in those days though, the only versions of this guitar that I had ever laid eyes on were red, black and gray. Don’t get me wrong, those guitars were beautiful, and they played like a dream, but these guitars though, with their abalone binding, deep flamed maple tops, and matching headstock, they’re just a whole other level.

now of course they still have all of the same appointments as their non flamed maple counterparts, the DBZ signature neck contour, the floyd rose, the DBZ signature pickups with a push pull knob, and that big metal badge on the headstock, all of it puts this guitar some where between a workhorse of a guitar, and a luxury art piece. Form and functionality in harmony.

DBZ BARFM-FR-TBK Barchetta FM Flamed Maple Top Electric Guitar

DBZ BARFM-FR-TBK Barchetta FM Flamed Maple Top Electric Guitar

Amplified, the flamed maple adds a tiny bit to the guitars overall tone, but the big difference in tone seems to come from the mahogany, as opposed to the alder bodies of the LT series I am so familiar with. The tone seemed to be a little thicker, with a much heavier lower midrange bark. Alder had a balanced and almost focused sound, but this guitar paired with its mahogany body and stunning flamed maple top, well… it really growls at you. Chording on it felt nice and smooth, with enough presence to make sure I was heard over even the most over the top of drummers, and single note lines had a ferocity to them, an attitude almost. Someone could make a career off of this guitar, carry it with them from day one, be the symbol their recognized for. That’s the kind of guitar this is, it’s a guitar that will leave an impression.

DBZ BARFMPL-FR-SF Barchetta FM Plus Series Electric Guitar

DBZ BARFMPL-FR-SF Barchetta FM Plus Series Electric Guitar

Overall score, easy 10 out of 10

Long time readers of the WMS Blog will know that when it comes to guitars I have two real weaknesses, Telecasters, and White Lespauls. I really don’t know why its these two guitar styles, but they’re really powerful to me. So when the DBZ Bolero Calavera made its way into the WMS offices I had to look at the thing. Just stare at it. Its just so flashy, with its stylized metal truss rod cover, the old DBZ signature tailpiece, and oh yea, the giant metal tramp stamp (that’s what they call it, not me) that’s anchored to the lower bout of the guitar.

DBZ BOLCAL-WH Bolero Calavera Series Single Cutaway Electric Guitar

DBZ BOLCAL-WH Bolero Calavera Series Single Cutaway Electric Guitar

Other than the unusual appointments at either end of the guitar, this is a fairly typical Bolero. Mahogany body, maple top, ebonized rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and their DBZB and DBZ5 Pickups. Their also given some cool Pearloid purfling around the body as well, which really makes this guitar stand out. It might feel like a normal Bolero, but when I was playing it felt so different, it was almost like the sheer attitude of the guitar, made it another guitar. Like when you listen to some really old classic rock, you know the guitarists really aren’t that good, but you can’t quit listening. Even though their entire education must have come from one or at the most two mel bay guitar method books, you’re just captured by that sheer attitude that is exuded from their guitar.

That’s how this guitar felt, I knew it sounded almost the same as the bolero, maybe a tiny, tiny bit different because of the chunks of metal on the guitar, but this guitar just made me want to play different. It made me really slam into the guitar, dig in with my pick. I was all power chords and grit, sure the clean sound is cool and jazzy, and the single note lines are fat and clear, but look at this thing, your likely never going to play a clean line on this guitar, and sure you might play a solo here and there, but most of the work on a guitar like this is going to be very power chord heavy.

I loved this guitar, if not for the fact that it is a fantastic guitar just like the standard Bolero, but also because of its really heavy attitude. It made me play different, act different, it made me really want to crank up my amp, make my neighbors angry. That’s what this guitar felt like, it felt like what we all thought Rock & Roll was when we were little kids.

Overall score 9 out of 10. Because even though it is almost perfect, it is for a certain kind of guitarist, and that isn’t everyone.

World Music Supply | Parker Guitars PDF Series

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply again, bringing you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. Today I got to check out something I have only dreamed of since I was say 13 or so, I got to review a Parker guitar. I remember when Parkers first started getting big, I had the joy of trying one out in a store, it was weird, but in the same way being weightless would be weird, cool but confusing. The body was so amazingly thin and light that had I not felt strings under my fingers I might not have known I was wearing a guitar at all. From its arrays of knobs and switches, its ability to sound like an acoustic with the flick of a switch, its weird knob behind the bridge that controlled the flat spring for the vibrato, heck even its shape was out of this world.

Everything on the guitar felt like it was from the future, from that strange looking asymmetrical vibrato that just didn’t seem to want to slip out of tune, the carbon glass fretboard, the stainless steel fret wire, the weird not really there headstock, according to the flyer attached to the guitar, even the body and neck woods were weird, something like a sandwich of hard super resonant woods, and soft absorbent poplar to help shape the sound into perfection. The guitar felt, and sounded downright amazing, but just like everything else on this guitar the price tag was outlandish, like vintage guitar outlandish.

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Vintage Sunburst Finish

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Vintage Sunburst Finish

So fast forward to today, when I got to sit down with a few, amazingly affordable new designs by Parkers, the most notable of which was the PDF105QVSB. The first super noticeable thing to me is they have modified the shape a tad bit to make it a little less outlandish looking, with a more standard profile with all of the same Parker flair. The Vibrato system has been redone, to have a more conventional spring arrangement, but it still has all of the bells and whistles of the old days, just without the big roller wheel on the back of the guitar. The Carbon glass fretboard has been replaced with Ebony, and the Materials of the body were a little easier to remember this time around too, as this guy was a good ol’ chunk of mahogany, granted carved down into a thinner profile quite like the older Parker models.

The PDF105 is also part of their radial neck series, which is designed to give a stronger, more musical connection to the body by eliminating the foot of the neck that connects to the body. This allowed the neck and the body to resonate a little more in tune with each other, resulting in more harmonic richness, and longer sustain of the fundamental. The PDF105 also features a Graphtech Ghost piezo system, which has down right fantastic sounding acoustic tones thanks to the Graphtech proprietary polymer that was designed just for them, with a built in compression, meaning they never clip or get fizzy like some piezo units. Lastly add in the fact that the PDF105 comes armed with Seymour Duncan humbuckers and you have a guitar that is just ready to take over your life.

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Black Burst Finish

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Black Burst Finish

Clean, this guitar sounds amazingly articulate, with lots of chime and snap, but it was still warm, and harmonically rich. The bridge pickup was bright, but still full sounding, it never lacked the character of a bridge pickup, but it was never too thin and bright, it just did what it needed to do. The neck pickup was smooth and rather jazzy, with a bit of pop-y snap to keep things interesting.

The acoustic tones through a PA speaker were just amazing; they were so close to a real acoustic guitar that it was jaw dropping. The slight compressing that the Graphtech saddles have built in, really do keep it from sounding like a Piezo, and it really, really does sound like a well mic’d dreadnaught. The illusion was daunted however by my constant use of the whammy bar, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

My real favorite tone of this guitar however was not the stellar clean sound, or the stunning acoustic sounds, it was the roaring electric tone. The shape of this guitar feels familiar but still a little ethereal, which makes you play just a little bit off from what you usually play. This tiny bit of vibe in the guitar really did a lot for me, and the vibe doesn’t stop with the looks, let me assure you of that. Cranked up through our test amp, the Marshall DSL40C, this guy was a beast! The bridge pickup was rich, and clear too, playing whole chords on even medium to high distortion settings were still articulate and full, never muddy or noisy. Single note lines rung out for what seemed like forever, and that snappy, punchy character that this guitar had when clean was amplified ten fold when distorted. Power chords had punch and attack, and single line sung out with force I couldn’t have imagined. The vibrato system might have changed from the original Parker design, but the bulk of what made it play like a parker is still there. I could swing it around for days and it kept coming up in tune.

I loved this guitar, it sounds great, it feels great and it looks like nothing else. Of course, I am sort of biased, as I did love the old Parkers too. For what its worth though, this guitar is geared towards more conventional guitarists, with a vibrato that actually is set up in a way most people will understand it, body wood that a guitarist can recognize, rather than a list of space aged composites and different layers of different density wood. This guitar is like a turbo charged sports car, its as much fun as a super car without the giant price tag. At the end of a day though, the fun factor of these new Parkers really does show, and I dare anyone to play one of these guys and not smile the whole time, the Parker PDF105 series earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | 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.

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 Electrics

Hey guys, Brian with World Music Supply here to bring you some much needed guitar and gear reviews for the weekend. This Saturday I got the chance to review two guitars that just came into the warehouse from our friends over at Washburn. One of the things we love about Washburn, is they cater to every price bracket, and every genre of guitarist, from Metal to country, from acoustics for singer songwriters to jazz cats with their arch top hollow bodies. Today I get to sample some of these instruments, one that is universal, one that is a little less…traditional. First up, let’s start off with that more universal guitar, the Washburn WINSTDWH.

The Washburn WINSTDWH Idol WIN Standard Series Electric Guitar

The Washburn WINSTDWH Idol WIN Standard Series Electric Guitar

I used the term “universal” for a reason, the single cutaway, mahogany body with maple top, and two humbuckers is a real universal combination. Worn on stages around the world by everyone from metal guitarists, who love the huge sound of the two hot humbuckers, to country guitarists who like its more conservative look, and its bright twangy tones, this guitar really has a universally loved design, and an equally loved sound. I picked the white finish, as I personally just love white Les Paul style guitars; call it a hold over from my teenage years of idolizing Randy Rhoads. The WINSTDWH comes pretty well armed when it comes to everything from tonewoods to it’s Duncan USM Alnico 5 pickups, and over all they make this guitar sound just amazing.

Running clean this guitar has a bright and strident tone, with lots of girth and body. The neck feels super comfortable, with plenty of body to it, so it didn’t feel super modern, but thin enough that you can still play fast without too much extra effort. The bridge pickup was a tad bright, with a warm vintage character. The neck humbucker is warm and fat sounding, without sounding muddy or bass heavy. The different control layout of the volume and tone controls makes doing pinky volume swells far easier than with the typical volume and tone layout, which is something I have had a problem with for years.

Running into a dirty amp, this guitar sounds massive! The sustain is fantastic thanks to its proven tone woods and set neck design, and the Alnico 5 pickups are hot, with a searing quality to them that is just delightful. I was able to coax everything out of this guitar, from classic 70’s style blues rock, to down tuned metal, to good old rock and roll grind. The sound is distinct, but familiar, with a sound that is both old and new. That’s what I love about this style of guitar, every generation has re-invented it, taken it in a new direction, and made it their own. You can play rock on it, metal, country, heck even jazz, this guy really does everything! You just cant go wrong with this guy, and that’s why the WINSTDWH earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

The Washburn PS7000-HBK PAUL STANLEY Electric Guitar

The Washburn PS7000-HBK PAUL STANLEY Electric Guitar

Next up, is the Paul Stanley PS7000 series, and in today’s review specifically, the PS7000HBK. I labeled this guitar as untraditional earlier in the blog, and there is a definite reason why. From its weird drooping lower cutaway, its upper bout that looks far different than most, and its over all asymmetrical design, the PS7000 might look like a typical les paul from far away, up close it looks like one, but only in the surrealist sense of the word.  

As weird as this guitar might look, it sounds down right awesome. The clean tones are deep and rich, with perfect intonation all across the neck thanks to the inclusion of the Buzz Feiten tuning system. The action was smooth and clean, and try as I might I couldn’t find any lick that didn’t sound awesome on this guitar. All of the KISS songs I know also sounded just perfect on this guitar, as the tone was clearly designed from the ground up to compliment them.

Dirty, this guitar was a treat. The warm characteristic it leant to the overdriven amp was just to die for, it felt vintage, but it looks like it came from outer space. The sustain was tremendous, lasting on and on with a warm vocal quality. Overall this guitar is a great addition to the growing Paul Stanley family of Washburn guitars, and a great LP style guitar for anyone who wants one, but doesn’t want to look like everyone else. For its unusual looks, and super powered sounds, the PS7000HBK scores itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Jackson Guitars

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, sorry for the lack of a post Monday, but it was Labor day here in the good ol’ US of A and I had to spend it getting caught up on school work, so to all of our American readers, I hope you had a better Labor day than I, and to our foreign readers, I hope you had a pleasant Monday. Getting down to business, in today’s blog, I get to take a look at some cool guitars from our friends over at Jackson. As I’ve mentioned before, the formation of Jackson guitars is actually pretty weird, the company was formed by Grover Jackson shortly after he acquired Charvel Guitars. Jackson was initially a brand name applied to models that were so far from the norm, that he was worried releasing them under the Charvel name might damage the image of the brand. The First major guitar designed for the Jackson brand was the Concorde, which was designed in conjunction with one Randy Rhoads. This sleek revamp of the Flying V design was a radical departure for guitar design at the time (the very beginning of the 80s) and the redesign of many other older designs became a hallmark of Jackson guitars, and by association the majority of the guitar scene of the 1980s, with sleeker, more slender, and pointier versions of classic designs.

The Jackson RRXMG Rhoads Electric Guitar Snow White with Black Pin Stripes

The Jackson RRXMG Rhoads Electric Guitar Snow White with Black Pin Stripes

In today’s blog I get a chance to review a “proper” Randy Rhoads with the RRXMG in Snow White with Black Pin Stripes, and a more typical Jackson with the SLX Soloist in Kawasabi Green. First up is the RRXMG, which is a fairly liberal take on the classic Randy Rhoads Concorde, with the smaller modern Rhoads shape, and more modern details, like a compound radius fretboard, a Floyd Rose Special, and a set of EMG 81 and 85 pickups. This Rhoads is a sight to behold, its sleek white basswood and maple neck through body create an amazingly resonant and tuneful guitar.

Plugged in this guitar has that standard 81 85 speaking voice, with it’s darker clean sounds, with a warm, mellow attack and long singing sustain. The added body that the EMGs give to your clean tone are very noticeable on a guitar like this, as the neck through design adds plenty of body to the tone as well, resulting in a big, fat tone, even on the thinner sounding bridge pickup. Playing all of the neo-classical clean passages that Randy strategically placed throughout many famous Ozzy songs on a guitar like this really helps define why these modern modifications to a classic design are so useful. The addition of a modern compound radius means that all of those single notes runs and complex chords without worrying about your hand cramping up or fretting out during fast runs, and the fuller sounding active pickups add a clarity and body that normal humbucking pickups just couldn’t replicate.

Plugged into a Randall RT503H and its matching cabinet, this guitar has more than enough power to match those classic RR tones, with all of the punch and power that made the Rhoads guitar so infamous. Running through every Ozzy song I had memorized, this guitar pulled more than its weight, with tones that were as close to the record as I’ve ever heard them, and with more than enough power on hand to go far further thanks to the powerful EMG pickups. Switching out of Ozzy mode, I was able to comp some more modern metal tones from this guitar as well, simply by dropping the tuning a little, and letting the EMG pickups do what they do best, be as loud as absolutely possible. EMGs have the ability to stay tight no matter how high, or how low the tuning, with increased sustain and harmonic response thanks to their increased output.

In short the RRXMG is one powerful machine, with sustain for days, and a look and feel of one of the most famous guitars in metal history.  For all of these facts the RRXMG earns itself a much deserved 10 out of 10.

The Jackson SLX Soloist Electric Guitar Floyd Rose Special Kawasabi Green

The Jackson SLX Soloist Electric Guitar Floyd Rose Special Kawasabi Green

Next up is the SLX Soloist, which while I picked the rather distinctive Kawasabi Green for the review, it’s available in both Black and Snow White as well. The reason  I picked Kawasabi Green out of the other two colors is simply, because one, it is very distinct looking, and two, because Jackson Guitars was made famous by a handful of shredders back in the 80’s, and nothing says 80’s quite the same as a neon green guitar. This guitar comes outfitted with a through body maple neck, a Floyd Rose Special tremolo, a compound radius fretboard, and a set of Duncan Designed HB102 pickups.

Plugged into a clean amp, the HB102 humbuckers are smooth and warm sounding, allowing for clean jazzy runs and slick chord tones, made all the more enjoyable thanks to the comfortable neck profile and the compound fretboard radius, which made it easier to chord on the low end of the neck, and play quick runs on the upper end, without ever feeling strange or inappropriate. The bridge pickup was just snappy enough to help me cut through, but not so brash as to make using it on its own painful or annoying to listen to, and the neck was warm and clear, without being too bass heavy or muddy sounding.

Plugged into the same Randall RT503H and matching Randall Cabinet, the SLX proved itself quite versatile, able to pull off everything from modern metal grind, with dropped chords having a big beefy low end to them without losing too much high end, and having just as much power when it came to playing more traditional styles of rock. Tuned up in standard, this guitar had no problem banging out classic 80’s riffs that range from two handed Van Halen style brashness, to Police style chordal runs. The comfortable radius of the neck made this all the better, allowing me to play more natural all along the neck, and the Floyd Rose made any style of dive bomb, swirling vibrato, and high flying trem arm acrobatics a breeze, always coming back to tune no matter what I threw at it.

The Soloist has been a hallmark of the Jackson line for decades, and playing this guitar I understand why. I think it’s easier to understand what a super-strat really is, and why that style of guitar ruled the market place for nearly 20 years when you play a guitar like this, with all of it’s amazing appointments and its sheer array of tones, the SLX Soloist earns itself an easy 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Line 6 Variax JTV-59

Hi guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, and today I have one heck of a treat for you guys today, because I get to do a hands on review of the Line 6 JTV-59. The JTV is a continuation of the musical dynamo that was the original Variax, this new and improved version improves upon the design in a multitude of ways. The first and most important being, that this features a new dual core processor, which really shines up, and improves the models from the original Variax, adding everything from the addition of body resonance, to the ability to do altered tuning on 12 string guitars. However, this is all “under the hood details” the real “in your face” difference about this guitar, is the fact that this guitar looks nothing like the first range of Variax guitars. This guitar is a classic Single cut, with a wrap around bridge, and two James Tyler humbuckers.

The Line 6 James Taylor JTV59 Variax

The Line 6 James Taylor JTV59 Variax

That’s right, this guitar also functions as well…just a guitar! You can just play though the standard humbuckers and never even have to fiddle with the wealth of electronics that live inside the body, and you wouldn’t be disappointed in the sound at all. The JTV-59 has a very respectable, vintage style voice to it, with clean tones that shimmer and distorted tones that just sing.  However, while having a great sounding guitar is good, most great sounding guitars don’t have a computer sitting in the back of them, most of them don’t have a thousandth the power that a guitar like this has.

because with the flip of a switch, this guitar quickly transforms from a great sounding single cut guitar, with some rather PAF sounding pickups, to an acoustic 12 string, or a Stratocaster, or for that matter, a banjo. Because this is, after all, a Variax. That means that this is a modeling guitar at heart, even if it covers it up well. The tones available to a guitar like this rise exponentially when you use it with almost any of the Line 6 PODs, or almost any of their amplifiers, as you will quickly have the ability to change your pedals, the sound of the amp, and the guitar that you’re playing with the flick of a switch or the push of a button.

The Line 6 Variax JTV-59

The Line 6 Variax JTV-59

The models included onboard the Variax are a regular cavalcade of the most sought after studio guitars and sounds you could ever dream of. Sure, it doesn’t have everything, but it does have everything you could really need in a studio, or live situation. As a normal guitar, you have more than enough tones at your finger tips, as the PAF style humbuckers are a real force to be reckoned with tonally. However, activating the Variax circuit and suddenly having a telecaster would be a god send on a country gig, being able to switch from a dirty LP sound, to a clean spanky tele without having to switch guitars or deal with the not-so-realistic sound of a coil splitter in a live setting, perfection. On a rock gig, during the big ballad-y numbers, being able to switch from a soft acoustic 12 string to a soaring shred solo, without having to deal with one of those acoustics on a stand, now that is something that you just cant live without.

Some of the more out there sounds, like the Resonator guitars, the banjo, or the sitar are surprisingly handy, and you’ll quickly find them worming their way into your playing in no time. They also are surprisingly accurate, having played a good deal of Dobro, and tricone reso’s in my time, these models are surprisingly accurate with all of that steely snap and sparkle that made these guitars so iconic. The banjo is a fun thing to mess with here and there, and the ability to change tunings with the twirl of a knob makes this model so much more accurate.

Speaking of a tunings, this guitar has the ability to change tunings in the blink of an eye, which is amazingly useful once you get the hang of it. As someone who regularly has to carry around a spare guitar just so he can play slide in open G, having the ability to just transform the tuning, without having to actually retune would be amazing. It works a lot better than expected as well, as long as your amplifier is loud enough to mask the “real” note of the string, which doesn’t change, as the guitar actually digitally changes the pitch, rather than mechanically changes it. There is even room to store custom settings and create custom guitars with the Line 6 Workbench software.

The Variax was a game changer when it hit the scene a few years ago, and now the James Tyler versions of these fine instruments are set to do the same, with the combination of killer looks, killer tones, and killer computing, these guitars really are in a league all their own. Having the ability to carry around 26 guitars in one discrete gig bag is a power that just can’t be denied. All of the models are as accurate as the human ear can tell, probably more so thanks to the power of the new processors and hi-tech computing inside the Variax’s internal computer. For its ability to be a litteral Jack of all trades, being the ultimate studio and live guitar, the Line 6 JTV-59 earns an easy 10 out of 10, and if I wasn’t stuck with a 10 out of 10 grading scale, you can bet I would give this a higher score.

World Music Supply | Jackson Guitars

            Hi guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, bringing you another dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have something for the metal head in all of us, today I get the chance to review some awesome guitars from none other than Jackson guitars. The formation of Jackson guitars is actually a pretty weird story of happenstance and hard work, the company was formed by Grover Jackson shortly after he acquired Charvel Guitars from Mr. Wayne Charvel. Jackson was initially a brand name applied to models that were so far from the standard California guitar formula of Stratocasters, and telecasters, that Grover Jackson decided to brand them with his own name. The First major guitar designed for the Jackson brand was the Concorde, which was designed in conjunction with Ozzy guitarist Randy Rhoads. This sleek revamp of the Flying V design was a radical departure for guitar design at the time (the very beginning of the 80s) the sleek revamp of older designs became a hallmark of Jackson guitars, and by association the majority of the guitar scene of the 1980s, with sleeker, more slender, and pointier versions of classic designs.

Today I will be reviewing some of these pointy guitars, the budget conscious JS23 Dinky, the JS32T Rhoads model, and the DK2S Pro model. So without further ado, first up is the JS23 which is a budget conscious version of the famous Jackson Dinky design. The Dinky is a smaller “dinkier” version of the equally famous soloist, by smaller I don’t mean scale lengh, I mean the size of the body, which has been slimmed down to help it feel more comfortable, and to help reduce weight. Even though it is only 7/8ths the size of a soloist, they really do feel like two different guitars. This one in particular, because this guitar is outfitted with an HSS setup, to help it have a much broader range of tones than your average two humbucker equipped metal guitars.

The Jackson JS23 Dinky Natural Finish Electric Guitar

The Jackson JS23 Dinky Natural Finish Electric Guitar

The body is a slab of beautifully figured Indian cedro wood, which has a nice smooth tone, but still has plenty of body to supply the right amount of bite and bark that heavier styles of guitar requires. The 2-point fulcrum trem unit is nice, and it works well although you do have to learn to work with it like you have to with most non-locking trem systems. Clean this guitar has a very strat style tone, which is to be expected, but it has a little bit of extra girth and body to it, giving it a fuller sound than your average strat arrangement. However, guitars like this wont spend much time on a clean channel, we all know that, even though its clean sound is sparkling and beautiful, but the point of a guitar with a big pointy headstock is to play fast, and loud.

So plugging into a Randall Rt503H, and cranking the OD1 channel this guitars speaking voice finally revealed itself, big, warm, and powerful. The bridge sound was great for big rythem tones, and dropping the tuning was no problem with this guitar, and it supplied all of the metal friendly tones that you would expect from a Jackson. The single coil tones were sparkly, and smooth, which is a great contrast to the big, barking humbucker at the bridge. This guitar would be a perfect first guitar, as it feels comfortable, and sounds great. The ability to play low down and dirty metal, all the way up to bright, jangly clean strat tones, is a fantastic ability that few guitars share nowadays, and its because of this that the Jackson JS23 gets a nice 8 out of 10, as it’s a great beginner guitar, or a nice guitar if you’re looking into getting into metal guitar.

The Jackson JS32T Rhoads Electric Guitar Black

The Jackson JS32T Rhoads Electric Guitar Black

Next up is the Jackson JS32T Rhoads, which is designed after the second Guitar that Randy Rhoads had built by Jackson guitars, he decided that his Concorde guitar wasn’t different enough from a normal flying V, so he had the top point elongated to make it look more like a shark fin, and he had his normal tremolo tailpiece replaced with a string through design instead, for improved tuning stability. This evolved version of the Rhoads shape features a full 24 fret neck, and a nice set of high output Jackson CVR2 pickups.

Playing this guitar clean is oddly a treat, this guitar really has a very pleasant clean tone, which has a very acoustic character, with a lot of cut and bite, but still plenty of body and boldness. This is the type of thing you don’t expect on a guitar that is this sharp and pointy looking, I would actually be able to play this guitar and comp a good country tone from this guitar, although I’m not so sure a country audience would appreciate the look of this guitar.

Playing this guitar through the OD1 channel of the Randall RT503H is exactly what you would expect it to be, amazing. Playing all of the Ozzy riffs I know on this guitar just felt right, sure it might be a little cliché to play them on this guitar, but I don’t care, this is (more or less) what they were written on, and this is how they should sound. Full of biting rhythm sounds, and screaming lead tones this guitar is exactly what I had always wanted it to be. Sure Jackson makes some more expensive versions, but that’s not the point, the point of this guitar is the aesthetic, the power and the brawn that comes from a shape like this. It’s the shape, and the power of the tone alone that makes you feel like you could shred the fretboard in half, and play so fast your hands should rip off. This guitar just has that power, and that’s why this guitar is cemented in history, and that’s why this guitar gets a 10 out of 10. Because no one ever feels like they cant play guitar when they’re holding a flying V, because you always feel like a rock star, just look at yourself in a mirror with it on, and try and not feel awesome.

The Jackson DK2S Dinky Electric Guitar

The Jackson DK2S Dinky Electric Guitar

Last up on the list, is the DK2S which is a lot like the JS model mentioned earlier, except that this one is armed to the teeth with technology. You get a massive Floyd Rose trem that is fantastic for doing, well what a floyd is perfect for, which is diving and sliding all over the place and staying perfectly in tune the whole time. Couple that to the fact that this guitar is equipped with a Sustainiac pickup, and this guitar suddenly takes on a totally different meaning. This guitar is loaded with both sweet singing sustain, and loud roaring distortion.

Clean it was a great experiment to ring out the harmonic sustain, running it through a delay pedal this guitar was suddenly great at creating big sound-scapes, full of body and shimmering glory. Chords ring out great thanks to the compound radius which was great for playing chords at one end of the neck, and soloing at the other, this was a great feeling and in all honestly I don’t get why more guitars don’t feature a neck like this.

Distorted this guitar has a voice all its own, sure it has all of the big Seymour Duncan tones which are great for everything from chugging rhythm work, or soaring sustain, but this guitar has a sustainiac pickup, and as such this guitar takes you to places that a normal guitar just cant. Suddenly I was doing volume swells that actually sounded like a violin, harmonic sustain can evoke almost organ like tones which are just fantastic when used correctly. Playing power chords with the harmonic sustainer on is a fun experiment and its clear that using this guitar as your main guitar would definitely rewrite the way you play guitar.  

For its ability to do everything a working metal guitarist needs, and for being everything an experimental guitarist needs the DK2S easily snags the 10 out of 10 spot. Be for warned though, a Sustainiac is a beat all its own, it’s not your average pickup, and its sustain isn’t even across all of the strings, so it takes some getting used to. Learning when a note will and wont sustain is a puzzle at first, but after using one for a week or so, you learn where your attack should move to as to not effect the singing tone of the guitar.

Randy Rhoads with his Concorde

Randy Rhoads with his Concorde

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 tasty treats from our good friends over at Hamer. 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.

Back in the early 70’s, guitars weren’t all nice and shiny like they are now, heck nowadays a cheap 80 dollar Korean guitar can actually be a decent guitar, with decent parts, and it’ll probably even sound good, but back then…things were different. Back in the early 70s, after Fender had been sold to CBS and Gibson was bought by a South American Brewing conglomerate the quality of even the highest level of guitars had dropped like a led balloon. This isn’t even factoring in the first waves of cheap Japanese and Chinese copies of these beloved guitars which had just begun to hit American shores. It is generally accepted that the quality of guitars during this period is lower then almost any other point in electric guitar history.

Enter Hamer guitars, a group of three guys who just wanted things to be “made like they used to”, they made their living buying, repairing, and selling vintage guitars from the fifties and sixties, and if lucky, getting them into the hands of bands like Bad Company, Jethro Tull, and of course Cheap Trick. Eventually, Hamer began producing their instruments, which were designed, and built just like the guitars of the decades prior, when craftsmanship, and more importantly, tone, mattered.

Cheap Tricks Rick Nielsen with one of his five neck Hamers

Cheap Tricks Rick Nielsen with one of his five neck Hamers

So that’s what led up to today, when Hamers are available, with all of the same craftsmanship, and stunning tone that made them famous, but at a price point that is affordable, even to the working guitarist. Now, I am going to go about reviewing three of their stunning guitars, the SPJ, the Monaco and the Vector. First up to bat, is the SPJ, more specifically the SPJ-NT. The SPJ is based on a classic double cut away Les Paul Junior shape, with a stunningly figured Nato body, a dog eared Hamer P-90 Pickup, and not much else…but really what else do you need?

The Hamer SPJ-NT

The Hamer SPJ-NT

I’ve always loved guitars that are just rough, utilitarian work horses, that’s why I love telecasters, that’s why I love dreadnaught acoustics and that’s why I love this guitar. It has all of the things you need, no fluff, no filler, and no tricks up its metaphorical sleeves. Guitars like this are designed to be instruments first and foremost, not pieces of art, not family heirlooms, just a chunk of wood, a pickup, basic controls, and a neck that is so perfectly crafted that it feels like it alone would cost as much as this whole guitar. Nato has a tone that is roughly similar to Mahogany, although it has slightly more mid response, and a slightly brighter attack, this coupled with the lone P-90 on this guitar, results in a tone that is full bodied and full of punch, and power.

Plugged in, the first thing that strikes me is, this guitar isn’t really that bright sounding, my test to see if I like a bridge pickup or not has always been to play some big, chunky first position chords, and hope that it isn’t so bright that it hurts my teeth. This guitar passed with flying colors, it had a nice warm sound, with just a hint of that P-90 snarl, not too bright, not too dark, just a big warm tone. Sure you can roll the tone back a bit to dial in just the right mix of warmth and bite, but over all the tone of this P-90 was far above what I was expecting, this is probably to do with the fact that this guitar has virtually no cavities in it, almost no routing to absorb the resonance, so the only thing resonating are the solid Nato in the body, and the mahogany in the neck, nothing else. This all translated to sparkling clean tones that had all of the shimmer you want, but with a bit of extra bite and swagger, resting somewhere between a Stratocaster, and a bull dog.

Overdriven the SPJ came to life, with a tone that was reminiscent of early Van Halen, or AC/DC. All of that pleasant acoustic resonance and barking P-90 definition translated into chords that, no matter the amount of distortion, never lost their clarity or string to string definition. Playing classic rock riffs on a guitar like this just seems right, all of the greats played a guitar that was this simplistic and straightforward at some point, be it an esquire, a Junior, or just some off brand, they all cut their teeth on a guitar like this with one lone pickup, a volume and a tone, and nothing else but their own talent to guide them. For its ability to feel like a real vintage guitar, but cost about as much as a good iPod, the SPJ gets a cool 8 out of 10. The reason it gets an 8 is because clearly this isn’t a guitar for everyone, it has no paint, no neck pickup, and not much else. What it does have, is spirit, and an amazing tone.  

The Hamer Monaco

The Hamer Monaco

Next up is the Hamer Monaco, a guitar that while based on a tried and true formula, still manages to bring something new to the table. This something new, is not just the strangely familiar yet completely original body shape, or the horizontal control layout, but it’s also the sound, which has as vibe and a jangle to it all its own. The Monaco I tested out is the MONF-CS, which has a lovely Cherry burst that pictures of just don’t do it justice, the flaming on the top was just three dimensionally deep,  and the sculpting on the top is just phenomenal.

Plugged in, the Monaco had a rather pristine sound, its two Duncan designed humbuckers providing all of the girth that you would expect from a guitar like this, but with enough bite, and chime to please anyone. Country riffs loved this guitar, and so did big strummed chords, the latter of which had an almost acoustic flair to them. Distorted this guitar had a big round tone similar to those classic Slash style les paul riffs, the Monaco really does sound, and play like a well played, vintage guitar. It’s for that reason alone that the Monaco gets a well deserved 10 out of 10, because this guitar does it all.

The Hamer Vector

The Hamer Vector

Last up on the block today is the Vector, which is a nice take on the classic Flying V shape. All of the hardware and flair for this guitar is almost the same as the Monaco, but lets face it, the Vector just looks so much more Rock & Roll. A guitar like this feels like its from both the past and the future, which is what made designs like the flying V and the Explorer so well loved, they have such a futuristic shape, but made out of such classic guitar materials. The Vector is a slight exception to this as it mixes up the classic formula of mahogany neck and body, and flamed maple top, by replacing  the mahogany body with alder, the mahogany neck with maple, but it keeps the look of that flamed maple top.

These different tone woods give the Vector a much livelier tone then either of the guitars reviewed thus far today, with a  much more vocal quality to its sound. Played through a clean channel, the Vector had a twangy, almost surf like tone. This was interesting and unexpected from a guitar like this, but it was appreciated and useful all the same. Chords rung out with a clear definition between strings and single note lines had a warm singing quality to them. Distorted however was a different story, because this guitar is a rock machine! It had all of the booming, biting tone that made the flying V so famous, but this time, it had a little bit extra note definition to help pull it up out of the mix. Clearly this isn’t everyones flying V, as many aficionados will never budge from their tried and true mahogany/ maple formula, but even with its unusual mix of tone woods, the Vector still looks and sounds amazing, and easily deserves a 9 out of 10.