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.

Advertisements

World Music Supply | Jay Turser 220 Serpent in Tiger Eye Finish

Hi everybody, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, and I have something awesome to talk about today. The awesome item in question is the Jay Turser 220Serpent Tiger Eye , this guitar is just stunning, with a top of gorgeous AA Flamed Maple, and a body of delightful looking figured mahogany. The Serpent comes stock with gold hardware, two equally gold vintage voiced humbuckers, a Graphtech nut, and all of it is binded with beautiful abalone all along the body and the headstock, but what really sets this guitar apart is the inlay work.

Jay Turser JT-220SERPENT-TE

Jay Turser JT-220SERPENT-TE

All along the rosewood fretboard, is an intricately inlayed abalone and mother of pearl scene of a Chinese dragon flying through clouds, with a yellow sun offset in the distance. I have never seen inlay work like this on a guitar that didn’t cost atleast a few grand, let alone on a guitar in this price range, this is just unheard of.  When these guitars first came in, I remember looking at them one by one, and seeing how all of the flames were just slightly different, some more pronounced with rather wide stripes, some far more “tiger” like with many dark and light stripes all running together beautifully. These guitars are all in a word unique gems, all with their own beautifully unique qualities, from the figuring of the mahogany back, the style of the tiger striping on the top, all of it is unique to the pieces of woods that were chosen for each individual guitar.

Plugging in to what is rapidly growing to be my favorite amp, the Randall RT503H, the Jay Turser showed its true colors. The clean tones had a nice vintage warmth to them, with clean tones that evoke an almost acoustic quality. The bridge tone is bright, but balanced enough that chording on it is never harsh or “quaky”. The neck humbucker had a nice jazzy tone, with a big body and when playing jazz lines, it had that nice ethereal dark quality that made octave runs just a delight to play. Turning up the gain stage on channel one, I got to that classic AC/DC level of gain, which this guitar quickly transformed into some amazing vintage tone. Sounding somewhere between Jimmy page, and Peter Frampton, this stage of the amp and this guitar worked perfectly. The medium jumbo frets are perfectly smooth, and playing lightning fast runs on this neck is easy as butter, even with the gorgeous fretboard inlay, you never lose your place thanks to the side markers, and amazingly, the inlays beauty is only slightly distracting while playing, only once making me want to quit playing so I could stare at the way the light refracted through the abalone Dragon.

Jay Turser JT-220SERPENT-TE

Jay Turser JT-220SERPENT-TE

Cranking the amp up however revealed a very modern sounding side to this guitar, with body and boldness that made the “vintage” title of the humbuckers a little misleading, I was able to play drop tuned riffs for close to an hour, never once thinking the guitar sounded odd, or out of line playing any of the more modern metal style material I threw at it. This guitar really is a machine, with even the highest of high notes cutting through with a body that was really amazing.

At the end of the day, this guitar has surprised me more than any other guitar I have played since this blog began. Sure it might not be the best at everything, its not going to find favor with super shredders, or more conservative guitarists who have a problem with delightful works of art occupying their fretboard, but this guitar has a tone that is really stunning, never sounding thin, or overly dark, always a perfect balance of modern and vintage tones waiting under my finger tips. As for the “serpent” artwork, with the abalone dragon flying across your fretboard, you are going to get noticed, I wasn’t lucky enough to get to take this guitar on stage with me, but I imagine that the reaction from a crowd to having a dragon flying across your guitar would be a good one. For all of these factors, the Jay Turser Tiger Eye Serpent scores a well deserved 10 out of 10.

Jay Turser JT-220SERPENT-TE

Jay Turser JT-220SERPENT-TE

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.

World Music Supply | Washburn Guitars

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

The Washburn WIN14FVSB

The Washburn WIN14FVSB

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

The Washburn WINSTDCB

The Washburn WINSTDCB

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

Seymour Duncan USM

Seymour Duncan USM

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

The Washburn WINSTDCB

The Washburn WINSTDCB

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

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

The Washburn WINSTDLITEG

The Washburn WINSTDLITEG

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