Saturday, May 5, 2012

Review: Ibanez Rocket Roll Sr.

Features: The Ibanez Rocket Roll Sr. is a Japanese copy of a Gibson 58 Korina Flying V, that they made from 1975 to 1977. Ibanez had yet to put serial numbers on their guitars back then, but I know mine is from early 1975, because the back of the headstock isn't painted black. Being a copy of 58 Flying V, it pretty much has the same features: Rosewood fretboard, 22 frets, 24.3/4 inch scale length, 2 humbuckers, 2 volume - one tone knob, transparent yellow finish, and the gold plated hardware, including the Cadillac tailpiece.

The wood differs from the original. It has an Ash body, and a maple neck, as opposed to a korina body and a mahogany (?) neck. Other differences are the headstock angle, which is a little to shallow, and the location of the input jack, in the lower wing. // 9

Sound: The guitar is loaded with the stock super 70's pickups, which are very PAF'ish sounding, but a tiny bit more powerful, due to the stronger alnico 8 magnets. These pickups are becoming very sought after because Eddie Van Halen used them on half of the first Van Halen album. Their sounds reaches a lot further than the brown sound however. Being a classic humbucker, they nail blues and jazz tones as well, and anything in between. This makes the Rocket Roll a lot more versatile than the standard Gibson Flying V's, which are equipped with extremely HOT ceramic pickups, not suited for anything but hard rock... // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: It plays like a dream. The action is nice and low, intonation is precise, and it stays in tune wonderfully.

Some bad points are the locations of the strap buttons and of the input jack. The strap buttons are placed on the heel and on the tip of the wing, which makes the guitar left leaning and neck heavy. The input jack is placed inside the wings, which makes it impossible to play it sitting down, and hard to stick your leg between it to strike a cool pose on stage. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The guitar seems to be rock solid, no flaws at all. I would play it without a backup.The only thing one must take in a count is that the neck doesn't stick very deep into the body, which makes it easy to break the neck joint. As long as you don't drop the guitar, you're fine. // 8

Impression: The quality of these old Japanese copies is often measured by how well they compare to the originals. The Ibanez sounds a lot warmer, and is more versatile. I don't know how it compares to a real 58 Flying V, or the reissue one, but hey, it's supposed to be a copy. The 59 reissue costs about as much as a car, and the original as much as a house. The Ibanez Rocket Roll is an amazing guitar, still available for around a 1000 dollars, and no Gibson is able to compete against it at that price point. // 9

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday Wisdom: Simple Ways To Improve Guitar Tone

Many players on the unending quest for guitar tone often overlook key elements of the sound in favor of some new gadget. There are quite a few simple, and often inexpensive, ways to improve your sound.

Picks come in all shapes and sizes. Experiment to find the best for you in terms of feel, thickness, and precision.

There are as many styles and varieties of strings as there are players. Wound, unwound, different composite metals, gauges, and on. Experiment! Beware that changing string gauge affects other aspects of the guitar, like tension on the neck, intonation, and more. It can become even more complicated if you use a floating tremolo like a Floyd Rose.

Set It Up
A proper setup is absolutely critical. Your instrument can be set up in a variety of ways. Neck relief, action, intonation, pickup tuning, and proper contact points are just some of the factors in a thorough setup. Some players favor a lot of relief, some guys like to shred with really low action. Some players prefer the sound of the pickups close to the strings with polepieces flat, other prefer to move the pickups farther from the strings and crank the polepieces up higher. In the end, it's all about what gets your sound where you want it to be.

Overwound Pickups
If you play really loud or with a lot of gain, overwound pickups can do you more harm than good. Many of the greatest guitar sounds of all time came from weaker pickups through a cranked up amplifier.

Guts and Glory
It takes a little more electronics knowledge, but get in to the electronics cavity of your guitar and look around. Your electronics could probably use an upgrade, especially if you have a lower-end model. Often times the electronics is skimped in favor of cutting manufacturing cost, so replacing the wire, capacitors, and potentiometers can often yield a better response from the instrument. You can also have fun with different pickup wiring configurations and the versatility they can provide.

Swapping speakers is a great way to improve the response of your amp or cabinet and get different tones.

Don't Plug In
Try playing without plugging in from time to time. It can reveal sloppy playing when not hidden behind a bunch of gain. On the other hand, if you often play without plugging in, practice some more plugged in. The feel and response of the guitar definitely changes when an amp is involved, but the bottom line is: practice how you are going to perform!

Move It
Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective. Consider transposing licks played on the bass strings to a treble string variation, or the other way around. Moving licks to different registers is a great way to come up with alternate arrangements or new riffs entirely.

Guitar Strap Height
Yes, the guitar-around-the-knees gunslinger look still drives rock n' roll (at least the photoshoots!), but play with the guitar where it feels right to you. Don't sacrifice sounding good for looking cool.

Quality of cable, as well as total run length can have a huge effect on your sound. Running a large amount of stompboxes can add to tone degradation. Use a high-quality, low-capacitance (which most are) cable like Mogami.

Direct Current is Your Friend
Instead of powering your stompboxes with a daisy-chain or wall-wart, consider using 9v batteries. Batteries provide a direct (DC) form of power over the alternating (AC) provided by plugging into the wall. This leads to a more consistent, even flow of power and many will say a better tone. It also frees up your pedal board from having to be “X” distance away from an electrical outlet.

Do you use a lot of stompboxes? Consider getting a buffer pedal to restore “tone suck” that can happen due to long cable runs. A dark or muddy tone can be an indicator of this. Without going into too much detail about buffers, beware that many pedals (like BOSS) have buffers in them. Adding more buffers won't necessarily hurt you, but it won't really do much good.

Effects Loop
Some pedals sound great through the loop, especially time-based and modulation effects. Some loops are buffered, which can be another benefit. The sound can become much more defined when these effects are added post preamp, and the delay repeats aren't washing out that awesome preamp distortion.

Overdrive It!
Many beloved amps (namely tube amps) don't really hit their sweet spot until they're pretty cranked. Needless to say, this is not always plausible or possible to achieve. Consider finding an overdrive pedal that can get you where you want to be. Some of the higher-end ones sound phenomenal.

Another option would be to put an overdrive in front of the amp to push the breakup of the tubes more. This can be a compromise, as some gain can be acquired through the pedal, and some from the amp.

You can probably cut more bass frequencies from your sound than you think. Once the bassist starts thumping away, you will disappear.

Cut the Gain
Less distortion means more dynamics, a more pronounced and definitive sound, and less of a playing crutch. It can also help you cut through a band that has many players, or other instruments that are competing for your frequency range.

Play with Dynamics
Let the dynamics of you, as a player shine through. If you play with massive amounts of overdrive, distortion, or compression, the more of your dynamics are lost.

Don't Wash Yourself Out
Time-based effects can sometimes wash out your sound, especially in a band with instruments that compete for frequencies like two guitars, guitar and keyboard, and so on.

Read the Room
Every place you will play is different, from the sound reinforcement system to the physical dimensions of the space. Your overall sound will be up to the skills of the front-of-house engineer, but reading the room can help you tailor your effect settings so your echo repeats aren't being eaten alive.

Art is expression. If it weren't for the crazy dude who wanted to clip the hell out of a sine wave, we may never have gotten the first fuzz pedal. Break the rules and see what happens!


Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm back!

Well last week was a busy week so i didn't come here at all. But I'm back so we shall be posting regularly again. 

Also, if you like rock and roll, you may like this webcomics series that I stumbled upon. Its mainly about rock music and the writer actually dues a little of music sharing and reviewing as well. check it out!

The writer is currently away for a week but hey, that just gives you a chance to catch up on the crapton of work he had done earlier. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guide on buying guitars (part 2)

Here is part two of the guide. I'm in a hurry so please, forgive the grammar.

So now comes the technical parts or the specs if you want to call it, i will divide them into sections:

a) tuners
b) bridges
c) neck
d) pups
e) controls
f) wood

a) Tuners

Tuners are probably the most important part of your axe, unfortunately its also one of the hardest thing to select. most guitars come with stock tuners, the upper end ones come with brands like gotoh. I have yet to find out what is the best means to test if a guitar has good tuning (in a shop), all i know is i go by the price and by experiences of others. one trick i know, is to aggressively bend the string when testing teh guitar, pull the string up a few times with slight force. if the guitar gets out of tune fast with a slight tug on the strings it likely will have bad tuning, thus trick unfortunately doesnt really work on floyd roses.

c) bridges

floating vs non-floating

personally despite not owning one, i find that fixed bridges are the best and most beginners or budget hunters should stay away from floyds as much as they can. why? floyds are feeble, they break often and they are unreliable, did i also mention that they eat tone? yes floyds eat tone and sustain.

but thats not really the issue about floyds, the problem is its very hard to tell the good from teh bad. the ibanez catalog itself has countless floyd roses with qualities ranging from great legendary stuff to something that you want to beat the stray cat with. even the OFR has a few "models", the high end german ones, "stable" korean made ones, the taiwanese made ones, and the china made ones.

its a safe bet to assume guitars below 2k have got terrible floyds, but this is not a assured bet there are reviews that the recent floyds in Horizon FR's are of terrible quality. so be midnful, do your research, personally i feel that its not worth it to spend more money and effort on something that allows you to do crazy dive bombs.

d) neck

this plays a huge role in your guitar playing but not a definitive role, some like thin some like thick, i personally like high gloss necks. understand that it doesnt mean the neck is thin means its fast, speed comes from practice not which neck you have.

d) i. neck finishes

Currently I guess these are the finishes available for the neck:

Painted - satin : available for models, dull/matte feel
Painted - glossy : most makes have this kind of finish, same finish with the body

Wood - oiled (tung, gunstock- based oils) : available for guitar with natural finishes, or sometimes for bolt-ons
Wood - raw/unfinished : somewhat rare, I can't recall whether rosewood necks are oiled or not
Wood - satin : nitrocellulosed without the paint, quite common too

Translucent - rarely found in a satin finish, most likely painted/dyed over then buffed to a gloss finish.

d) pups

this section is probably the least you should worry about, pups are like an engine to a guitar but its also the easiest to change.

e) controls

This is the one that people dont bother about, but very under-rated. good control placing allows you to mess with them at play, ever seen youtube videos of people shredding and mixing up their pups with a flick of a switch (often used in passages with appregios). again find one that suits you, personally strats fit me the best as i learned some finger techniques along the way. yes there are techniques for controls

f) wood

first thing, bass wood is not bass wood. confusing ? yes. but why i put it this way?? ask the guitar companies. often you pick up a ibanez RG and you see it features basswood, then you look at a JEM777 (which costs about x7 that RG) and its bass wood. some of us will think "same wood what" unfortunately.. no

now whats the difference? wood has got grades, like everything in life there's good wood and bad wood. the JEM777 will likely feature a large chunk piece of american basswood where else your RG might have multiple pieces of such a wood. this is not only to a single company, MIM fender is known to have 4-5 pieces of alder wood in their body alone. MIA 2-3 which is why the latter normally has better finishes.

how much this affects your overall tone is still questionable, some say the less wood the better the sustain but no one knows for sure.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Guide on buying guitars

Today's post will be about how to choose a guitar. This is part 1 so stay tuned for part 2!

Before i head on to the more technical sides of this topic let me put down a few ground principals:

Not all great guitarists was born with a 1959' Gibson LP in his room.

Some guitarists are lucky, some not, but we tend to believe that all of them started guitar at age 5 with a Gibson Lp in their room with a Marshall Plexi and an array of pedals to waste time with. Fortunately for you, this is untrue.

A number of them start with pretty much nothing, some with less cash than what you have now. For example today the "Number One" used by SRV would fetch crazy prices from fender custom shop, but if you were to spot a similar guitar in a guitar shop there is a high chance most of us will regard it as trash. why? it can be considered as a broken and worn partcaster, now there are some part-casters in the world but its definitely not a fender deluxe strat, LP Custom shop, etc etc etc. Don’t worry if you cant afford a ESP or a prestige - its normal.

Dont compare yourself with the gears of the greats.

First I said this before; no amount of vai signature equipment will make you vai. This is very true, you can get every JEM in town a matching amp and you would not achieve it. The best way to sound like vai? Learn his phrasing, how he does his notes and play them, it wont be perfect but you will definitely sound nearer.

The greats got gear that can buy you a car or even a house, they normally have stack effects, at least 1 guitar a year (mustaine got 11 guitars a year from Jackson), a team of legendary roadies and guitar tech. For you you probably get a guitar every 3 years and you need to save up for it (painfully), which comes to an advice get a guitar that suits you, not because malmsteem used his sweaty hands on it.

Some great guitarists also can lie about their stuff, these people are marketers mind you. EVH is quoted to fabricate information on his gear so that his guitar tech gets more business; even his 5150 amp is not the amp he used in his early van halen days. (EVH used a Marshall in those days, and made HUGE modifications to it.)

How to look at hot axes

You must always look at a guitar as a whole a sum of its parts not like how you see a computer and what specs it has. Guitars never work that way, you can have all the best specs in the world with shoddy workmanship or some strange means the guitar can still fail.

You also cant buy an Ibanez GIO and put stuff into it to make it “like” a prestige, it doesn’t work. Both guitars are made differently and you will find that at the end of the day buying another guitar would suit your needs more.

But this also means that, by some strange means cheap guitars and partcasters can be good. The number one was a good guitar while being cheap, it featured a neck that SRV loved, then theres the frankenstrat. You will also find a lot of cheap guitars around that are good, you just need a good ear and be very very picky.

Always get an axe that feels good to you. I personally hate thin neck profiles cause they don’t “feel” right, i can play on them but at the back of my head its always this is too thin the feel sucks. How you get the feel? Simple and cheap, go to each guitar shop in town and test their guitars, if they don’t let you test don’t buy, if they want to be snobbish screw em’ its your money.

Why don’t buy a guitar before testing them? First unless you like the risk, every guitar is different even by factory standards. Some shops i come across set their guitars with terribly low action making it “easier” to play, some set their guitar up with a very light trem bar so when you sway the guitar a bit the trem bar shakes, both of which can be irritating to the aspiring buyer. But there are other things also, the more major ones are like certain gibsons don’t meet requirements, just as certain fenders don’t too, be mindful of what you buy. While most times it comes out alright, there is a certain risk to buying a guitar which you have yet to touch before

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Most Expensive Guitars

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you; the worlds most expensive guitar! Its a strat which sold for 2.8 mil. Why you may ask? Well, thats because its signed by the most awesome guitar gods ever! this is a pretty old article which I dug up. Thought It would be interesting! Enjoy!

An autographed Fender Stratocaster® guitar auctioned off on Nov. 16 in the tiny Middle Eastern kingdom of Qatar fetched an astounding $2.8 million, shattering the previous world record for a guitar sold at auction.

Auctioning the guitar was the work of internationally acclaimed Canadian songwriter/musician/photographer Bryan Adams and Fender Europe Artist Relations Manager Jamie Crompton, who both wanted to find a way to raise money for Asian disaster relief in the wake of last year’s deadly Indian Ocean tsunami.

The buyer was Her Highness Sheihka Miyyassah Al Thani, heir to the throne of Qatar and chairwoman of Reach Out To Asia, a fund-raising campaign dedicated to supporting numerous relief efforts on the Asian continent, with a special focus on promoting global responsibility for basic, quality education to children and adults throughout Asia and the Middle East.

The previous world-record price for a guitar sold at auction was held by Eric Clapton’s famous “Blackie” Stratocaster, which went for $959,000 at Christie’s in New York on June 24, 2004.

The auction was part of that evening’s gala charity dinner at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha, the inaugural event in Reach Out to Asia’s planned yearlong campaign of high-profile fund-raising events for the 10-year (2005-2015) Fund For Asia. Adams and members of the Qatari royal family were joined by guests including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, British entrepreneur Richard Branson, Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx, actor Jet Li and CNN presenter Richard Quest.

“I decided to launch a fund-raising event to benefit those who had been affected by the disaster,” said Adams, who also gave a short performance at the event. “I asked my peers to sign one single guitar, which could be auctioned in aid of the cause, with the guitar acting as a kind of symbol of hope and solidarity.”

Early in 2005, Adams, acting under the banner of his own Tsunami Guitar Project, procured from Fender an Arctic White Standard Series Stratocaster, which he then had signed by a veritable who’s who of rock royalty. In addition to Adams himself, the guitar was eventually autographed by Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Brian May, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Mark Knopfler, Angus and Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney and Sting.

Another member of Qatar’s royal family bought the guitar from Adams at an auction in early 2005 for $270,000. Adams surprised guests at the Nov. 16 event in Doha by announcing that the original buyer was donating the instrument to Reach Out to Asia for re-auction, after which it soon reached its world-record price.

“The result was overwhelming,” Adams said. “With the donation of a Stratocaster guitar from Fender and a very kind donation from Her Highness Sheihka Miyyassah Al Thani, we will finance two very important projects: the re-building and supply of equipment for a school in Thailand and the building of a village sports center to provide facilities for seven village schools in Sri Lanka. My sincere thanks to all of my fellow musicians and friends for their time, generosity and kindness.”

Adams said the project was exciting and added that he is “delighted to be able to support the efforts of those involved in the Reach Out to Asia campaign.”


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Manson / Matthew Bellamy (MUSE) M1D1 Manson

Iv'e Just got back from somewhere, which explains the lack of posting these past few days. I will start again tomorrow. For today though, lets chill out and check out this cool guitar right here. Although it's not my piece of cake, I have to admit that its interesting! Not sure if its up for sale though.