World Music Supply | Parker Guitars PDF Series

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

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

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Vintage Sunburst Finish

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Vintage Sunburst Finish

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

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

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Black Burst Finish

Parker PDF Radial Neck Series Black Burst Finish

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

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

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

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

World Music Supply | 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 | Jackson Slat Series

Hey guys, its Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog I get the chance to look over, and review a few new guitars by our friends over at Jackson Guitars. The Model in question is their new SLAT series, which is a new model being released within their very affordable X series of guitars. SLAT stands for SoLoist Arch Top, as the guitar is overall based on the standard Soloist body, and architecture, however this guitar will not look, or sound like a typical soloist. The first and most obvious difference is the headstock, which rather than the typical triangle design, taken from the early Randy Rhoads designs, to a spear like design, with a 3X3 layout. The next most obvious difference is the smaller fretboard inlays that Jackson refers to as “Piranha” rather than their typical shark inlay.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Matte Black

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Matte Black

There are a few different overall variants to the SLAT layout, with the main differences being, the addition of a 4A quilted maple top, the switch from a TonePros tune-o-matic string thru bridge, to a Floyd Rose Special Tremolo system, and the SLAT is also available as a seven string. For my review today, lets begin with the SLATTXMG3-6 which is a straight ahead rock machine, covered in a slick looking, Matte Black finish, and armed with the same equipment its whole family is armed with, and that is a super powered set of EMG 81 and 85 humbuckers.

Clean this guy is a joy to play, as the compound radius neck makes it super comfortable to play big open position chords, and as you move up the neck you slowly shift into the equally comfortable flattened out radius section of the neck, which while it is still comfortable to chord on, it is ideal for soloing or just noodling on. The sound of the EMG pickups was strangely not as dark as I usually find them this time around, whether that was the combonation of body woods, the fact that this guitar is a neck through style or what, but what ever it is let it be known that it sounds down right amazing. The tone was bold and snappy, but big enough that you could easily just strum chords all night and genuinely not sound bad.

The heart of this guitar however is its sound when you crank the amp and let this guitar open up. The tone is pure, and singing with sustain for days thanks to the neck through design, and the graphite reinforced three piece neck, which results in one of the most stable necks I have ever had the pleasure of playing. The fast neck profile is thin and quick to play on, but with enough girth to it that it never got uncomfortable. The tone was tight, and heavy as possible, with lots of note definition, and clarity. Drop tuned chords spoke with a dark and booming grunt, solos sang with a brilliant almost vocal quality, and you could even get away with playing full open position chords without the sound getting overly muddy or dark if you had the gain dropped a little bit.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Trans Red

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Trans Red

This model is also available with a 4A quilt maple top in the SLATTXMGQ3-6, and while they look visually quite different, tonally they have a very similar flavor. The only real tonal difference is a slightly brighter attack in the Quilt maple version.

The  Jackson X Series SLATXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

The Jackson X Series SLATXMG3-6 Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

However, there is a much different version of this guitar, with the Floyd Rose equipped version, which is available in gloss black as the SLATXMG3-6, and with a sunburst finished Quilt maple top in the SLATXMGQ3-6. The inclusion of a Floyd totally changes the voice of this guitar, giving it a lot more mid range punch and growl, not to mention allowing you to do monstrous dive bombs and up bends. The clean tone is still there, with all of the clarity and bright biting tone that the string thru version possessed.   

Dirty however, and this guitar possesses quite a different voice than its brother, with that extra mid range growl this guitar suddenly becomes a screamer. The power of a Floyd rose always takes the typical guitar, and gives it super powers, suddenly you can bend notes up a fourth, a fifth, well as high as you want if you don’t mind breaking strings. Power chords now bark out, single notes scream off the fretboard, and yet, the smoothness never leaves this instrument, this guitar is powerful.

The Jackson X Series SLATXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Sunburst

The Jackson X Series SLATXMGQ3-6 Electric Guitar in Sunburst

The quilt top version of this guitar, renamed the SLATTXMGQ3-6 has slightly different voice than its gloss black brother, with the mid range heavy voice, now shifting into a more upper mid range area, and the bottom end of the guitar now possessing a slightly darker character. I still liked this version mind you, as it sounded glassier, and a little more refined. But lets not forget the beast that lays at the end of this review, the SLATTXMG3-7 7 String.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMG3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

Now I want this to be mentioned before I start, I don’t play a ton of 7 string, anytime I’ve ever needed to go that low, I just use a baritone guitar. So to me, these two ranges have always existed on separate instruments, and have been treated as such. So suddenly not having that minor third after the D was a little wonky, and being able to move from my E down to a low B or even a low A, that was a strange feeling. However the one thing that felt like home to me was the EMG 707 pickups, as they have a very clear and even voice to them. The scale length was also a little different and foreign to me, as it was a strange scale length at 26.5 which is somewhere between a baritone and a standard fender length. This meant that when I tuned the B down to A to get huge, metal power chords, the string didn’t feel floppy or weird.

The compound radius was far more helpful and noticeable on this model than it was on the other variants of the guitar, which I chalk up to the fact that this guitars neck is just that little bit wider. The sustain on this guitar was still amazing, and the dark voice of this guitar really helped to accentuate the darker things that tend to get played on a 7 string.

chording on this guitar felt a little weird to me, but after a bit it started to feel pretty natural, and the chords still rung out with a clear, articulate voice. Moving up the neck to that nice flatter area, it is readily apparent how quick you really can play on a guitar like this. Distorted, this guitars voice is massive, sheer metal obnoxiousness. I was able to play straight ahead rock on most of the neck, and if I wanted to dip into some old Korn riffs, or more modern djent stylings, it was all there for the taking.

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Trans Black

The Jackson X Series SLATTXMGQ3-7 7 String Electric Guitar in Trans Black

There is also a maple top version of the 7 string, called the SLATTXMGQ3 with its very handsome trans black finish, sounds just amazing, as adding that extra high end zing to an instrument with a darker voice really helps to accentuate its entire range. I was able to keep from sounding bass heavy even when I tuned the whole guitar down, even as far as two whole steps down, and never once did the guitar start to sound muddy or bass heavy.

Clean tones were janglier, with a more twangy edge to them, low note chords ringing out with piano like sustain. In a distorted setting, the maple topped 7 string roared out, with a thick, searing tone. The darker voice of the guitar that was present before, now with a tangy upper midrange, and even a little high end sizzle helping to pull this guitar up into a really focused midrange seat.

The Slat series is astounding, all of the models in the line are comfortable, the distinctive headstock shape looks really cool, and the finishes are a cool dash of classic Jackson, and modern metal flair. I could list reasons off for days why these models deserve their score, but I think my writing, and the numerous youtube videos Jackson released for these guitars speak for themselves, even if the guitarist screws up here and again. At the end of the day though, any metal guitarist, rock guitarist, or anyone just looking for a guitar to put in their stable with a distinctive voice, the new Jackson Slat series earns an easy 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | B.C Rich Guitars

Hey guys Brian from World Music Supply here, bringing you some more gear and guitar reviews. If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve probably gotten the impression by now, that we are really trying to dial in the Halloween theme, and I’m doing my part by filling the remainder of the month of October with some more metal themed reviews. On Monday it was Jackson guitars, and today I have something just as frightening, because today I finally get to review some guitars from our friends over at B.C Rich.

B.C Rich Guitars

B.C Rich Guitars

B.C Rich actually didn’t start out as the metal guitar creating company they are today,  once upon a time, in the early 60’s a man named Bernardo Chavez Rico exclusively constructed, and worked on flamenco guitars in Bernardo’s Guitar Shop in Las Angeles. He kept at his construction of classical and Flemenco guitars for many years, until around 1969 when he began his first attempts at constructing electric guitars and basses, based around popular designs of the time, few of which survive to this day. However in 1972 he constructed his first original design, the Seagull, and later in 1976, with the help of his growing team of craftsmen came the Mockingbird and the Eagle. The late 70’s saw the rise of the Bich, with its unusual 10 string design, and the early 80’s welcomed the Warlock to the ever growing B.C Rich family.  The transition from classical guitar maker, to metal guitar master is a slow process, but through the years these guitars have gained a level of class and detail that is a signature of the whole brand.

The BC Rich Avenge SOB Electric Guitar

The BC Rich Avenge SOB Electric Guitar

In today’s review, the first guitar I got to put my greedy paws on was the B.C Rich Avenge SOB, which is a much more modern and distinct version of their already distinctive Warlock, with a slimmer, less bulky body than their Beast model. This is important to keep in mind, as even though it might look like a vampiric version of the warlock, the SOB actually translates to Son Of Beast, and boy is this thing a beast. The guitar is surprisingly comfortable, and the light weight basswood body is actually very ergonomic. The sharp pointy body is wrapped in B.C Rich’s signature Onyx black finish, with bright bloody red bevels all over the guitar, which translates to a very ominous appearance.

The electronics are rather straight forward, as is the over all set up of the guitar, just a single high output BDSM humbucker, a single volume, and a string thru body, and Tune-O-Matic bridge. Plugged in this bad boy had loads of cut, with a bright cutting sound. Clean the sound was a little brittle, but nothing some good old EQ couldn’t take care of. Although, if you can’t tell from the shape or over all vibe of this guitar, it probably won’t see much time on a clean setting, so I didn’t test this guitar on one for very long. Dropping the tuning a little, and turning up the gain was everything this guitar needed, as this guitar’s slightly bright sound, translates into thick, destructive distortion when the strings are tuned down a tad.

This guitar was great for hours of down tuned riffing, sweep picking, and chugging, machine gun style riffing, and although it’s not normally my cup of tea, this guitar definitely draws those angry riffs out of you. The neck was super comfortable, and was thin enough that shredding on it was no real problem. The simplified controls weren’t an issue either, because most shred heavy guitarists know you don’t really use a tone control, or a neck pickup all that often, however it would have helped warm the sound up a bit. Overall the Avenge SOB was one beast of a guitar, and easily deserves its 9 out of 10 rating, to be honest the only reason I didn’t give it a 10, is I feel like the lack of tonal options might be a slight turn off to lead guitarists, even though most rhythm guitarists will be over joyed at the simplicty.

The B.C Rich JRV Standard in Metallic Red

The B.C Rich JRV Standard in Metallic Red

Next up is the B.C Rich JRV Standard which is their answer to the standard flying V. With its sharp corners, and fighter jet than lines, this guitar is metal through and through. The metallic red finish was a nice touch, and helps add to the late 80’s shred feel that the most flying V’s tends to give off. The Floyd Rose trem, and blistering Duncan designed pickups also give this guitar all of the power it needs to hang with even the heaviest of shredders.

On a clean setting this guitar is actually pleasing, with big warm tones, and smooth, even sustain, but just like with the last guitar, this one will probably only see, at the most, 10% of its life in a clean channel, because guitars with this many sharp corners just look like they need to be distorted. Cranking the gain, and dropping the tuning a tad, this V screamed to life.

The tone was biting, but with a full, even body thanks to the Duncan designed pickups. There was plenty of output on tap, and the sound of the chugging rhythms this guitar can create are just down right brutal. However this guitar is no slouch when it comes to shred style runs either, with a flatter fingerboard radius, and a full 24 frets of room to run, I had no problem climbing up and down at break neck speeds. This guitar is a metal machine, and most hard rock or metal guitarists wouldn’t go wrong choosing it for their go to guitar. For its bad to the bone sound, and do anything attitude the B.C Rich JRV Standard earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Jackson Guitars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jackson SLX Soloist Electric Guitar Floyd Rose Special Kawasabi Green

The Jackson SLX Soloist Electric Guitar Floyd Rose Special Kawasabi Green

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

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

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

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

World Music Supply | ESP Guitars

Hi guys, its Brian from World Music Supply here again, to bring you another healthy dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have a few guitars from our friends at ESP. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, ESP, which means Electric Sound Products, was founded by one Hisatake Shibuya in Tokyo in the mid 70’s making replacement parts for guitar. They eventually relocated to the US in the early 80’s and quickly made a name for themselves by making custom guitars for the likes of Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and George Lynch. Since the early days ESP has prided itself on making beautifully crafted instruments at reasonable prices, and they keep this mind set in all of their products. Today I’m going to cover a few models from their LTD line, mainly their more aggressive and out there models, specifically the AX50, and the F100FM.

The ESP AX50 in Black

The ESP AX50 in Black

These guitars are designed, and built from the ground up to play hardcore, low down, metal. This aspect is reflected not only in their tones, but also in their modern styling. First up on the chopping block today is the AX50-BK, which is their most oddly shaped guitar to date, and looking at it, with its X shape, with plenty of rounded curves and macho vibe, it’s clear that this guitar was designed with the modern shredder in mind. The guitars circular back cut out strangely reminds me of a sci-fi flick, or a battle axe from a horror movie, and its tones match that description pretty well. Plugging into a Randall RT503H, this guitar was rather impressive, its clean tones were smooth and soulful, which I wasn’t expecting out of a guitar that looks like you could slay demons with it. The bridge pickup is gritty and biting, but it isn’t so trebly that it stings when you slam into it on a clean setting, the middle position was warm and airy, with an almost acoustic flavor, and the neck pickup was round, and rather jazzy…another happy yet unexpected sound.

But, lets be honest, this guitar will probably never run through a clean amp on purpose, guitars that are shapes like this are meant to do two things, play metal, and look awesome, and this guitar does those two things well. Playing on a slightly overdriven setting this guitar had a nice classic rock vibe, with plenty of warmth, and some old school punk style bite. Cranking the gain stage some more, this guitar started to really get into its element, and after dropping the tuning a whole step, and really letting this guitar take off, it becomes readily apparent that this guitar is capable of some serious grind. The two octave range of the thin neck, with its flatter fingerboard radius, and jumbo frets meant that I could really climb up the neck, and pull out some serious shred tones, but still have all of the girth and chunk available at the other end of the board, where the real ferocity of this beast lives. This guitar has a pure, aggressive tone, with some shimmer and sparkle on tap, if the need for it ever arises, and its that kind of jack of all trades ability that I love when it comes to guitars, however, this guitar does look like a giant battle axe, and that mark alone will keep it out of the hands of many guitarists who would need that kind of versatility. So at the end of the day, the AX50-BK earns itself an 8 out of 10 for many guitarists, but if metal is your forte, the AX50-BK easily snags a 10 out of 10.

The ESP F100FM in See Through Black

The ESP F100FM in See Through Black

Next up to bat, is the F100FM-STBK, which is a part of the now infamous ESP F series of guitars, which are like Stratocasters, if the Strat had been designed by a Transylvanian warlock rather than a radio repairman from southern California. The heavily beveled body, and roaring tones of the F series have been a trademark of everyone from big touring metal acts, to local shredders who are just starting to cut their teeth in the music biz. It’s that kind of universal reliance that has made the F series so well known, and after plugging this bad boy in, it’s clear the rumors are true.

Clean tones are sparkly and spanky, just like you would expect from an instrument that bares even a passing resemblance to a Strat. However, this is a double humbucking guitar, meaning it has a much beefier foot print than its three single coil equipped cousin, which means that its snappy tones are fatter, and its round tones are rounder still. However, like the AX50, this is a guitar that thrives on distorted settings, and after a few minutes playing this guitar clean, I decided I had waited long enough, and switched to the Overdrive one stage of the RT503H, and turned the gain up to what I would consider an obnoxious setting, and just let this guitar loose. The shear power that this guitar exhibits is astonishing, there is some real muscle behind this thing, with plenty of punch, but a nice round low end, even with all of the blistering distortion that was caking up around it. This guitar just has tone for days, and the comfortable shape of the neck, with the 24 jumbo frets, all made for one amazingly playable, amazing sounding guitar. The F100FM has a far more mainstream shape than the AX50, however it still falls squarely in metal guitar territory, meaning even though it sounds so good, with tons of tone on tap, the F100FM-STBK can only score a 9 out of 10, because even though it sounds almost perfect, it doesn’t seem like something you would see on stage with say, a country act. However, as with the AX50, if you are a shredder, or metal is your area of expertise, than the F100Fm-STBK than this guitar easily gets itself a 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Charvel Guitars

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

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

The Charvel DS-1

The Charvel DS-1

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

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

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

The Charvel Skatecaster SK-1

The Charvel Skatecaster SK-1

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

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

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

The Charvel So-Cal

The Charvel So-Cal

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

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

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

World Music Supply | ESP & LTD Electrics

Hey guys it’s Brian here with World Music Supply again and today I’m going to talk a little bit about ESP guitars. ESP, which means Electric Sound Products, was founded by one Hisatake Shibuya in Tokyo in the mid 70’s making replacement parts for guitar. They eventually relocated to the US in the early 80’s and quickly made a name for themselves by making custom guitars for the likes of Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and George Lynch. Since the early days ESP has prided itself on making beautifully crafted instruments at reasonable prices, and they keep this mind set in all of their products. Today I’m going to cover a few models from their LTD line, the VIPER 300, the EC1000, and the MH327.

The ESP Ltd Viper 300FM See-Thru Black Cherry

The ESP Ltd Viper 300FM See-Thru Black Cherry

The VIPER is a classic ESP shape, a modified, and heavily sculpted variation on an already classic double cutaway design, the VIPER 300 fits you like a dream. Its odd asymmetrical shape gives it a cool stylistic edge, and its powerful EMG Pickups provide it with a heavy sonic edge like no other active pickup can provide. The heavily flamed top gives it a nice classy look, and the flag inlays help to give it a very high class look.

Sitting down with the VIPER 300 and running it through its paces was revealing. The first thing I always notice about guitars with EMG pickups is how big and dark their clean sounds are, and this guitar is no exception. With big dark tones, which are almost jazzy in tonality, I was able to run through some slick changes with a very musical tone, and with its 24 frets, I was able to travel a lot further through these jazz runs than usual.

Cranking the gain on my amp up a little bit resulted in deep, full saturation. The EMG 81 and 85 Pickups provide big tone at any range, pulling up far more frequencies than their passive counterparts. This ability to pull up frequencies means that your tone has all of that sparkle that you get from compressors, but without the lack of dynamic control. The VIPER played smooth across its whole length, and with its thin U profile neck and its XJ Frets meant that it was also super fast across its whole length, and super easy to play lightning fast shred lines for hours without ever having to slow down.

The VIPER 300 is a fantastic guitar, with more than enough power to play even the darkest, heaviest metal, or even the most mellow of jazz licks. The VIPER 300 is a great guitar for literally any collection, and it gets a 10 out of 10, as its classic looks, powerfully versatile sounds, and handsome flamed top all add up to one monster of a guitar. 

The ESP LTD EC1000 Flamed Maple Antique Sunburst

The ESP LTD EC1000 Flamed Maple Antique Sunburst

Next up on the chopping block is the EC1000FM specifically the Aged Vintage Sunburst which features Seymour Duncan pickups, Tonepros locking TOM style bridge, and Sperzel  locking tuners. This guitar features a very handsome take on the classic LP style body shape, with a sharp looking florentine cutaway and stunning abalone inlays and binding all over the guitar.

Plugging the guitar in, I was confronted with some very powerful tones. This guitar practically cried out to play classic rock riffs, with its classic pairing of a mahogany body and a flamed maple top, and its powerful Seymour Duncan pickups, this guitar screamed. On clean settings it dazzled me with some of the most pristine cleans possible, able to be both bright and chimey and yet mellow and full all at once, and on a dirty setting it was able to bark and shout with the best of them. Like the last guitar, the EC1000 also features a Thin U neck contour and 24 XJ frets, which means that it still is a lighting quick shred machine. Now while this fit great with the more metal stylings of the  VIPER 300, it seems a tad out of place with the classic rock stylings of the EC1000, but it does give the EC1000 a very modern, shred friendly feel.

I personally love the EC1000, with its stunning good looks, and tones that just don’t stop, it’s no wonder that the EC series is one of ESP’s most popular models. For its ability to play almost any style of music and still look good doing it, the EC1000 gets a solid 9 out of 10, as while it is amazingly handsome, its flamed maple top might keep it from fitting in with some of the heavier genres of music, who tend to shy away from guitars that aren’t flat black shred machines.

The ESP LTD MH327 in See Thru Red

The ESP LTD MH327 in See Thru Red

Last up is the MH327, which has some rather unique qualities to this list of guitars, first off because it is the only one in this list which has a Floyd Rose tremolo, but more importantly, because this guitar has 27 frets. That means you can climb all the way up to a high G on the high E string without ever having to bend up to a note, when will you ever need this ability? I don’t know, but I want to find out. This guitar features the familiar Mahogany body with a flamed maple top that all of the other guitars, and it also features Seymour Duncan pickups like EC1000, however these pickups do differ from those on the EC1000, in that they are Custom 5 in the bridge and a Hot Rail in the neck.

The guitar sounded fantastic when plugged in too, with bright spanky mids, and a big full bottome end. I quickly found this guitar also had one final trick up its metaphorical sleeves in that, it also features a coil tap. This means that this guitar has more features than a swiss army knife, a floating double locking tremolo, a 27 fret neck, and the ability to sound like a big bold humbucker equipped guitar, or a bright, chimey single coil equipped guitar. The clean tones on the humbucker setting were full and fat, with enough body to be useful in any situation, and in single coil mode, it had a very convincing strat style tone.

Dirtying up the tone a bit, this guitar yielded some amazing shred worthy tones, with quick attack, and big powerful sustain. Playing within the key of G the extra frets proved worthy by allowing me to glide all the way up to that 27th fret without having to bend my way into that high G. The 27 frets however proved more useful when I dropped the tuning a full step and realized that I hadn’t lost any of the standard range of a 24 fret guitar in the process, and thanks to its Fender style 25.5’ scale length, I could drop my tuning without the strings feeling loose, or uncomfortable. In this dropped tuning, the MH327 loosed powerful metal tones left and right, and its Floyd Rose let me dive bomb and scream to my hearts contents.

The MH327 is one amazing machine, with more frets than almost any production guitar on the market today, and the fact that it comes stock with Seymour Duncan pickups which can be coil split, as well as a Floyd Rose, means this really is the swiss army knife of guitars. For its astonishing versatility and bold powerful tones, the MH327 snags a well deserved 10 out of 10.

so as you can tell, ESP produces some amazing guitars, all with their own particular style, voice and purpose. With the razor sharp looks of the VIPER, the vintage styling of the EC1000 or the futuristic design of the MH327, its clear that with so many styles, there is bound to be one that fits your specific need, and fits your personal budget, and their all available right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!