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.

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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 | 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 | 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.