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.

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World Music Supply | ESP Ltd VIPER 256

Hey guys its Brian with World Music Supply here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s blog I got to check out some cool goodies from our friends over at ESP.  We here at WMS have a special place in our cumulative heart for ESP, they’re cool looking, they don’t cost an arm and a leg, and they sound great no matter what you throw at them, and when it comes to guitars you just cant do better than that. So lets get down to business with the center piece of today’s review, the Viper256.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

The Viper256 comes in two rather attractive finishes, the see thru black cherry, and my personal favorite, black with gold hardware; you just can’t get classier than that. This guitar is a work horse, a solid chunk of Mahogany, 24 big easy playing frets on a fast Thin U shaped Mahogany neck, topped with a nice looking Ebony fretboard. The Tonepros TOM bridge is nice, straightforward, easy to intonate and get working. The part that I really loved about the 256 is the ESP designed LH-150 humbuckers, they have a bold sound with lots of midrange and lows, with just enough high end cut to get you through the mix, but not treble-y enough to cut your head off. The LH-150’s are also coil-tappable by pulling up on the tone-knob, which means you get rich, full sounding humbuckers, and with a flick of your wrist, you have sparkly, shimmering single coils, amazing.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

Clean, this guitar sounded very big, it really has a ton of low end body to it, which I love in a guitar, the mids were thick, and really filled out the area you would expect a guitar to, and the highs were just cutting enough to really sculpt the sound out, not too bright, it left enough room for a band, but more than filled out all of the area a guitar should. With the single coils engaged, you of course notice a tiny drop in volume which I compensated for with a little help from my Electro Harmonix LPB-1. The tone was slinky, it had a lot of Tele style tones to it, but without the high end twang you typically get from a Fender scale length, bolt neck guitar. This meant it had a lot of jangly, almost acoustic sounding vibe, and I really dug the funky kind of bite I could get out of it.

Distorted, this guitar was down right animalistic! The distorted growl of the bridge pickup was very rich, and had a great lead and rhythm tone to it, without having to fiddle with the tone or volume knobs, and I didn’t even have to mess around with any pedals, the bridge pickup was so balanced sounding that it just did everything. The middle position was a tad bit more tame sounding, with a warmer low end, and a little less high end cut, and the neck position had very warm, very bluesy tones hidden in it. Shred work was easy, the shorter 24.75 scale length and the big frets on an ebony board made this guy super fast. The single coil tone had quite a bit of vibe to it; it had that clarity of a single coil with a lot less hum, and not as much treble response. I personally loved this guitar, it looks cool, it feels nice, it plays great, and the sounds it made were pure rock star. I would have to be crazy to not award the Viper 250 a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | New and Improved Jackson 7 and 8 String Guitars

Hi everyone, it’s Brian with World Music Supply here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews, and do I have a treat in store for you all today! Today I am going to be talking about some of the new Jacksons that came out at NAMM this year, more specifically their new line of entry level seven and eight string guitars. Now they won’t be out on the market until the end of the month, but I got a chance to sit down, and quickly give these guys a once over just for you guys.

Jackson JS32-7 Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar Satin Black

Jackson JS32-7 Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar Satin Black

First up on the block today is easily the nicest, cleanest looking entry level seven string I have ever seen, the Jackson JS32-7 Dinky. Sure, it is an entry level guitar so the appointments aren’t stellar by any means. You have some nice high output Jackson made pickups an arched basswood body covered in a satin black finish, a comfy 26.5” scale length maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard with a consistent 16” radius. You also have 24 Jumbo frets and those cool Piranha fin inlays they debuted on the Slat series not too long ago. The stamped hard tail bridge is simplistic, but it would easily get the job done, nothing too complex.

Strung up with some lighter strings, the clean tone was tight and punchy, with lots of bright strat-y tones on the high strings and thick growl on the lows. The neck was surprisingly fast, my issue with seven strings is simply, I don’t own one, and I don’t really get to review enough of them to really get used to the girth of the neck. This guitar however, didn’t feel hugely different from a six string, sure there was that chunky low B down at the bottom, but my hand still fit the guitar perfectly well. The pickups were high enough output that even uncompressed there wasn’t a world of volume difference between all seven strings, and the dynamic range of the guitar was surprisingly wide as well. Clean tones rang out with plenty of snap and sustain, and of course the distorted tones were just brutal.

Sure it doesn’t do everything, and it doesn’t have a dozen different pick up combinations or special add-ons that make it into some dream machine of a guitar, but what it does have is a solid sound, and a comfortable feel. This guitar could easily be someone’s work horse, an affordable, no nonsense guitar, with enough muscle to get the job done in almost any situation in which you would need a seven string (which is getting to be more and more common nowadays) so for all of that, I would have to be crazy to award the JS32-7 anything less than a 10 out of 10.

Jackson JS32-7 Q Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar

Jackson JS32-7 Q Dinky 7 String Electric Guitar

Next up is the JS32-7 Q which is very similar to our last guitar, except for the fact that its basswood body is topped with a stunning quilted maple top, and the inclusion of the HT-7 fully adjustable bridge. Play wise, this did a bit for the playability, the bridge felt a little more comfortable, and the strat style 3 way switch was a nice change too, sure it might just be a tiny change, but I’m just sort of biased towards the strat/tele style switch. Sound wise, the guitar had more spank to it, with a brighter, glassier top end, and a little tighter sounding low end. But what this really does for the guitar is make it look a thousand times nicer, sure the simple matte black finish might do it for some people, but some of us guitarists getting into the extended range territory aren’t always going to be metal heads, so its nice to see a guitar that appeals to my aesthetic senses as well.

I liked this guitar, and the addition of the quilted top and beefier bridge were nice touches, but I cant say I found a world of difference between it and its more cost friendly sibling, so I am afraid I can only award the JS32-7 Q an 8 out of 10.

Jackson JS32-8 Q Dinky Trans Red 8 String Electric Guitar

Jackson JS32-8 Q Dinky Trans Red 8 String Electric Guitar

Last up for the day is the JS32-8 Q which is officially the first 8 string I have ever personally held. Until now, I have had admittedly had very little experience with this range of guitar, with the only one I have ever seen in person being Charlie Hunters fan fretted Novax, although I’m sure this guitar wasn’t meant for his style of music, this guitar was designed for forward thinking metal. As I’ve said before, I’m not the most metal of guitarists, and I’ve discussed before at how weird I felt on a seven string, so an 8 string felt as unfamiliar to me as a 6 string bass. So please take this review with a grain of salt.

The quilted trans red top was stunning, very rich, and very heavily quilted. The guitar balanced surprisingly well on a strap, and it wasn’t too heavy which impressed me. The pickups ultra high output pickups had a very deep, very dark sound when I played on the lower register, and simply sang on the high strings. The clean tone had a wonderfully wide range across the guitar, with dark short scale style bass tones on the one hand, and quasi strat tones on the other, a wonderful all in one style instrument. Playing thunderous rhythm parts was sort of simple after my hand got adjusted to the width of the guitar neck, which was pretty comfortable all things considered. The dark metal tone was apparent as soon as I kicked in some distortion, and dropping the tuning a step resulted in down right awesome sounding riffs. Its no wonder these things are popular all of a sudden.

Playing tapping riffs was probably the best part of my experience with the eight string, as I got to enjoy the extended range, without having to stretch my hand out so much. All in all, it was a fun experiment, and I could see how someone could get used to an instrument like this, all those extra notes, and the ability to play in the same range as a standard bass guitar was pretty fun, if a little intimidating. For the price this is going at, I was down right amazed at how good it looked, and at how great it sounded. There is just nothing else on the market right now that has this kind of bang for your buck attitude, and for that the JS32-8 Q earns itself a well deserved 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Takamine Pro Series

Hey guys its Brian from World Music Supply, sorry for yet another rather lengthy hiatus from the blog, what with all of these new products flying in after NAMM, its difficult to find time to even breathe, let alone sit down and review a guitar or three, just not enough hours in the day.  Well today I got a free minutes, so I used it  to look at a couple of cool guitars by way of our friends over at Takamine. Over the past couple of years Takamine has been more or less consolidating some of their higher end models to try and get a better, more applicable guitar into the hands of some of today’s most demanding musicians.

Takamine P1JC PRO Series 1 Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine P1JC PRO Series 1 Acoustic Electric Guitar

First up on that list is the Takamine P1JC, which is part of their Pro Series 1 level of guitars. The Pro Series is divided into different levels, to help really hone in what a guitarist needs, so that each series can really be just about what the guitar plays and sounds like, rather than having to worry about having a guitar of every type of tone wood in every series, or having to worry about different inlay work for one specific guitar, or different brands of tuners etc. because each series level is outfitted the same, the only thing that changes is the body style.

I picked what I consider the quintessential model from the Pro Series 1 Level, the Jumbo. I love the way Takamine does Jumbos, especially when they use warmer sounding tone woods like Cedar and Sapele, which long time readers will know, I simply adore. So maybe I’m a little biased, but when it comes to guitars, aren’t we all? The Cedar top on the P1JC was stunning, with tons of super tight grain, and a gorgeous orange hue to it. The sapele back and sides were rather nicely figured, and since they are within the same general family as mahogany, it had a similar bold, yet warm sound.

Combined together, these two tone woods, and the jumbo body generate a plethora of amazing sounds. With gigantic low end, a driving powerful midrange, and crisp, pristine highs, the P1JC was really something to behold. Fingerstyle lines really popped, with clear definition, but still lots of body to even single notes. Strummed, this thing was a cannon, it was amazingly rich in harmonics and sustain, with all of the tone you have come to expect from Takamine, oh and did I mention it was loud!

Plugged in, the Palathetic pickup and the CT4B II preamp come together to recreate the sound of the acoustic guitar with flying colors, and more so, this guitar almost sounds better through an amplifier, as the already harmonically rich sound of the Jumbo Cedar top is further enriched by the natural harmonics inherent within the preamp tube. The sound was clean, pristine, and amazing. The guitar is a little more prone to feedback than I am used to, but with a top carved so eloquently to resonate like this one does, it can only be expected to respond to harmonic feedback just as well, so a sound hole cover is a must.

For the first guitar I got to review in over two weeks, this one was a genuine treat. The tones were jaw dropping, the looks were subdued yet handsome, and the playability of the whole ensemble was just to die for. The P1JC easily snags itself a solid 10 out of 10.

Takamine P2DC PRO Series 2 Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine P2DC PRO Series 2 Acoustic Electric Guitar

The other guitar I got my hands on today was the P2DC which is part of the Pro Series 2. The construction between the Pro Series 1 and 2 at first seemed rather minuscule, the Series 1 has a Cedar top, while the 2 has Spruce. Now while the differences are small, the sounds are worlds apart. While the Cedar has that familiar old world warmth, and charm, the Pro Series 2 with its Spruce top had something else, something new. I love Spruce topped guitars, I do have a personal bias towards Cedar, but my main guitar on and off stage for years was a cheap no name Spruce topped guitar that I have put through its paces for close to 10 years now, so I know how Spruce tends to sound, but this guitar, it was so much richer.

The sound was crystal clear, big huge low end, mid range that had a depth to it that ate up a ton of frequencies, but left more than enough room for my voice to live within, and enough high end presence to bring the guitars jangly side out to the fore front. This guitar had a classy, very round sound to it, that took fingerstyle amazingly, with tons of definition between notes, with a brilliant warmth and harmonic richness that you just don’t usually hear with many spruce topped guitars.

Plugged in, this guitar has a very crisp sound, thanks in part to the palathetic pickups unique construction technique, but also thanks to the CT4B II Preamp which enhanced the pure sound of the guitar, with its added harmonic richness. The sound was as close to the true sound of this guitar as I think you can get without a microphone, all of the highs and lows recreated perfectly, and the mids were as close to the real thing as possible. The guitar wasn’t as prone to feedback as the P1JC, but I think it had more to do with the actual size of the guitar this time around, as it is slightly smaller and thus less prone to feedback than the jumbo, but still with the volume up much past 5 or 6 I had to put a sound hole cover in.

The P2DC seems perfectly suited for any job you would usually leave to a dreadnaught, be that studio work, stage work, or song writing, the bold, beautiful voice of the P2DC is second to none in its class. It easily deserves its score of 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Winter NAMM Day 1 and 2

Hey guys, its Brian here again with World Music Supply. Today I get to talk about some really cool stuff from Winter NAMM 2013, sadly I can’t really discuss how it sounds or feels, as I didnt get to go due to school. Instead our resident Web Designer, and my Supervisor Mr. Danny Dunn got to go out to California to enjoy everything from hanging out with Rock Stars, checking out new gear, being wined and dined by our sales reps, and the best part (in my eyes) not having to deal with this sudden cold snap here in Indiana. Sure hanging out with rock stars is cool and all, but 70 degrees sounds pretty good when your shoveling snow just to get out of your driveway, but I digress. So here it is folks, some of the cool new stuff you can expect over the course of the next year!

and so it begins

and so it begins

So where to start? Who has come out with the coolest new stuff so far this year? Well while I highly doubt these will production models, that award easily goes to the folks over at ESP. ESP has a habit of coming out with some jaw dropping pieces of gear, usually covered in clever graphics, or in outlandish shapes. I’ve seen everything from a guitar carved like the grim reaper, to guitars sporting graphics that are more at home in a comic book or a tattoo parlor than on the face of a Strat.

The Angel Guitar from ESP, you really can't get much more elaborate than that

The Angel Guitar from ESP, you really can’t get much more elaborate than that

Their graphic work is just amazing.

Their graphic work is just amazing.

Next up are some cool pieces from our buddies over at Charvel, who (much to my excitement) have come out with some new San Dimas, and Pro Mod style guitars, and of course they have gorgeous looking single cuts coming out too, with some very out there looking colors, and bindings, not to mention the cool multi colored humbuckers. 

I want all of them!

I want all of them!

looking fancy

Takamine was there too, and they brought along some of the finest pieces of Japanese luthiery I have ever seen, which is saying something. Granted a few of their finer pieces were kept in glass cases, but from what I was told, these things sounded absolutely amazing, even over the noise of a packed convention hall, these guitars just sounded fantastic.

Just Stunning

Just Stunning

The attention to detail was just amazing

Just amazing Luthiery

Just amazing Luthiery

Ovation brought out a few new things, and a handful of their finer pieces to the show. The carbon fiber topped mandolin was cool, and the new front soundhole design on the guitar right next to it was neat, although the top wood of that guitar caught my eye a little more than the new soundhole design. They also brought out the new versions of the Yngwie Malmsteen Viper, which is a fantastic design, although I wish they would bring back the original Viper myself, this new one looks like it would be a little more comfortable on stage if you play at the speed of sound like Yngwie, less guitar to get in the way of your picking hand.

no one does Carbon Fiber quite like Ovation

no one does Carbon Fiber quite like Ovation

The new soundhole design is almost as eye catching as that Koa top

The new soundhole design is almost as eye catching as that Koa top

Say what you will, but I want that Kaki King model

Say what you will, but I want that Kaki King model

So handsome

So handsome

There was plenty more to see from the show floor, but alas, that will have to wait for Monday, when I can bring you everything from tonight, and Saturday. I’m as excited as you all no doubt are to see what else is being released, and I can’t wait to see what twists and turns are headed our way from California. But for the time being, I hope you guys enjoyed this little glimpse into the weird world that is Winter NAMM, and I cant wait to share the rest with you next week.

one last thing, I really want the Vincent Price guitar from ESP, it’s just perfect.
   

That Gargoyle guitar stand is pretty wicked too

That Gargoyle guitar stand is pretty wicked too

World Music Supply | 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 | TC Electonic Classic 450

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

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

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

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

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

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

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

TC Electronic Classic 450 Bass Amplifier Head

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

World Music Supply | Takamine Guitars

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

Takamine EF340SCGN Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine EF340SCGN Acoustic Electric Guitar

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

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

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

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

Takamine EF508K Noveau Series Acoustic Electric Guitar Koa

Takamine EF508K Noveau Series Acoustic Electric Guitar Koa

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

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

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

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

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

World Music Supply | Visual Sounds Guitar Pedals

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

Visual Sound GTDRIVE Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive Pedal

Visual Sound GTDRIVE Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive Pedal

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

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

Visual Sound V2SOH Son of Hyde Distortion

Visual Sound V2SOH Son of Hyde Distortion

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

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

Visual Sound Route 66 American Overdrive

Visual Sound Route 66 American Overdrive

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

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

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

World Music Supply | TC Electronic Guitar Pedals

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

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal

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

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

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

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

TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato Guitar Effects Pedal

TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato Guitar Effects Pedal

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

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

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

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