Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back from Borneo + Review: Aria MAC-45

   Okay people, i'm finally back and can probably get back to posting regularly. My internship program in Borneo was great and I'm looking forward to further my studies there but that being said, its a relief to be back. Well, without further ado, lets get on with the review!

Features: Year - don't know, but it was brand new from ordering
Frets - 24
See-thru black finish
Body - Alder? I think
Neck - Maple with rosewood fingerboard
Superstrat shape
Bolt on neck
Lisensed Floyd Rose
Passive pickups
1 vol, 1 tone
5 way switch
Coil tap switch
2 'buckers, 1 coil
no-name tuners
Locking nut (with floyd)
no accessories

Pretty average really, what would you expect from a £300 axe. One thing I must say, this guitar is like a Les Paul, Strat and Ibanez all in one. It dosnt look like it, but it weighs a TON. // 7

The pickups aren't great, just ordinary stock pickups. They can handle high-gain, but not as well as EMG's. But this also means it can do really good cleans. I use all pickup con-figs, a total of 9 becaues of the CT. It has so much variaty its almost unbelivable. it can do strat, LP, anything. It has balls too, just like a LP.

It is very versatile sound-wise. I can get Hendrix, Metallica, Clapton, almost anything out of this guitar!

This guitar also has so much sustain! Strum and E powerchord and just listen to it resonate! I timed it, 30+ seconds! Now that is a long time.

I gave it 7 because it has variaty, but it can't do somthing extrodinarly well, like a start, or a full on metal axe. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: It still wasn't set up well, the action was waay to low. I ajusted the pickups to my height, got it properly set up. But no visible flaws or anything.

Fortunately, the floyd stays in tune nicely. You might have pay to set it up properly though. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I would immediately put strap-locks on it. This guitar is built like a tank. This guitar would break the floor, not itself! I would with a backup, only because of the Floyd Rose though, not the electronics or anything. // 8

Impression: Overall, this is a nice guitar! If your looking for a good, not to expensive 2nd guitar, then this is a good choice. If you play a lot of diffrent styles, then its about as good as you can get in this price range. If your looking to be more metal though, I would recomend the LTD MH250 (trem or no trem) as it has EMG HZ's, thru neck and a floyd

I gave it an 8 overall because its just a good guitar, sure there are better but this is £300, what more do you want! If you wana be picky just same up 3x as much and buy a guitar not 3x better.

The onlything I don't like is the fret acses. Not the greatest for shred but you can still get up there. Its a bolt-on.. What can you do.  // 8

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: Tokai SG60

Well guys, here's an update. I'll be off to Borneo pretty soon for an internship program as a research assistant for a biologist. So, I'll be off the net for a couple of weeks. However, I'll get my friend or my brother to do me a favour by updating this blog and keeping everything running. Anyways, enjoy today's post!

Features: The SG60 has 22 frets and was made in China. Both the set in neck and body are in a glossy cherry red finish with a fixed black half pickguard, normal for most SG copies. It has the expected humbucker pickups and full controls with a Tune-O-Matic bridge but terrible stock tuners with a puke green plastic cover that can barely handle tuning between Standard and drop D. It is really comfortable and light, espcially good for a damaged left shoulder. Other than the let down with the tuners the rest of the guitar is really good quality. // 8

Sound: It play really well and produces a sound that can be compared to the sound from a Gibson SG. I play through a 15 watt practice amp with an analogue delay pedal and an overdrive distortion pedal. For distortion I generally use the bridge pickup as I have set up in such a way for maximum sound quality, the neck pickup sounds bright and full of tone. With gain up high it can get a bit noisy but nothing that is too awful but other than that no noise whatsoever. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: Other than the screwed up tuners, the guitar set up was reasonable but the action and pickup heights needed adjusting. The is only 1 REALLY annoying problem with the jack input which was not put in correctly and, after taking it in to another store, needs replacing. Everything else is in top shape. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I am yet to gig with this guitar but it looks like it is solid and could easily take a gig without backup. The strap buttons are good but I have straplocks of course and the hardware looks good too that will definitely last. The finish is good but gets a bit fingerprinty but that is nothing a cloth can't handle // 9

Impression:This is a great guitar but if I had the money, I would buy an Epiphone G-400. I would recommend this guitar for the awesome upper fret accessibility and the SG look and style but for that there is Gibson, I would recommend this to beginners however. I just wish that the tuners were better. // 9

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Epiphone SG Tony Iommi Signature

Well guys, with all the news about Black Sabbath reuniting, Tony Iommi's cancer and Bill Ward refusing to join them, I guessed it would be a good time to do a review on this baby here, the Epiphone SG Tony Iommi Signature.

Features: This is a japanese made model (I am presuming at least). 24 frets and 24.75" neck, solid top, two-tone, two-volume, standard push/pull Gibson 3 way switching, passive H/H setup with two 'Iommibuckers', mahogany SG body obviously, Stop bar bridge, black finish (not matt), Grover tuners. Got a groovy chequer strap and full SG fitted hardcase for free with it. No tremolo, but I don't use it anyway, so I'm not bothered. //8

Sound: I know what you're thinking, Iommi SG = for Black Sabbath wannabes only. Wrong. If you play hardcore and standard rock, this baby can swing with the best of them. The Iommibuckers are extremely powerful, with a great crisp edge to them, but still a full, rich sound. The feedbacking is fine too, even if you play loud in small rooms. The only gripe is that like all highpower pickups, the clean sound leaves something to be desired. // 6

Action, Fit & Action came nice and low. Its neck is smooth and creamy, I also belive it's slightly thinner than other gibson/epiphone necks. But not so thin that it feels horrible. The black finish is nice, but I wish it had chrome hardware instead of the boring black. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The strap buttons were coming loose. Apart from that, it's fine. You shouldn't gig it without backup. Apart from that, it's all good. // 8

Impression: I personally love this guitar, but I can see why other people may not like it. The clean sound in particular is quite flat and the powerful pickups knock the amp into overdrive unless you play very quietly. Ideal for metal or heavier stuff. This isn't a classic axe, and it doesn't do anything unusual, but for what it's built for (grinding overdriven stoner rock or sludge metal) it's great, and it's certainly changed my view on signature guitars. // 8

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Album Review: Cynic - Carbon-Based Anatomy

 Well guys, for the sake of something different, I decided that I shall start doing album reviews. I mainly listen to 70's and 80's rock/metal and also a lot of grunge related music. However, my recent dabbling in Pink Floyd's music has lead me to this death metal/jazz fusion/psychedelic/ambient band (I know, sounds hipster as fuck), Cynic. Don't ask me how Pink Floyd leads to Cynic, I really don't know what happened. At first I was a cynic (pun intended). I never fancied the harsh growls and deep screams of death metal. But this band was different. It's light and airy jazz riffs seem to balance the dark sounds and gave an air of 'spirituality' which fit in with their lyrical themes quite well. Also the ambient sounds serve to create a soothing atmosphere amid the grinding riffs. Its hard to explain but it feels 'balanced'. Anyways, I found myself liking the band a lot (especially after their "Traced in Air") and when they announced a new EP, I was pretty damn excited. Anyways, lets get on with the review!

Sound: An oddity if there ever was one, Cynic have been keeping busy since their enthralling comeback album "Traced In Air". While creative output has been minimal since then, they’ve hit the road hard, showcasing their discography, flinging business cards every which way, getting stuck into life as working artists again.  "Carbon-Based Anatomy" feels like a story being told about humankind. Its a journey of rediscovering ourselves. But somehow, I just don't get it. The meditative, spiritualist side to eccentric frontman Paul Masvidal has really come to the fore on this, their third major collection of original material. While the size is light and the style even lighter – you can forget about this EP sounding much like "Traced In Air", yet alone 90s death metal gem "Focus" – the placement of unusual mood tracks makes it a serious listen. Exotic washes of ambience mark the beginning, middle and end of this 23-minute affair and are coloured by, among other things, spoken word ("Hieroglyph") and tribal chants ("Amidst The Coals"). What may be decoration on most full-lengths (and superfluous decoration at that) becomes an important factor in a short release, and these three tracks give the EP a prevailing air of peace, despite the harder hitting stuff elsewhere.

The bulk of the material though, and the material most recognisable as Cynic, is explorative prog rock. While most metal elements are toned down, the technical exuberance of the band actually comes through in a new way, emanating more psychedelia than the jazz fusion they built their name on. Without compromising identity, this slickly and commendably bridges the gap between the space-rock wastrels and the drugged-up academics that shared a stage in the 1970s. To forge such a sound through technical and meticulous playing is a credit in particular to drummer Sean Reinert, whose contributions are as much a trademark of the band as their vocals or glistening guitar tone. // 8

Lyrics and Singing: Perhaps due to the weirdness being dialed up elsewhere, Masvidal has slimmed down on the vocoders and other processing effects put on his voice. Coupled with the absence of death growls, this marks a fairly significant change in the way Cynic’s lyrics are communicated, and it pays dividends on "Box Up My Bones". The song exercises all that’s good about the band in the 21st century, and the human quality of the voice adds to its euphoria, delivering Masvidal’s story of self-realisation with more potency than he could ever have dreamed of before. // 8

Impression: Despite the stylistic framing that tracks like "Hieroglyph" provide, "Carbon-Based Anatomy" does feel incredibly short, and not necessarily because we don’t want it to be over. Perhaps it’s that the tales of transcendence are not mirrored by a clear sense of direction over the course of the record; in fact the alien territory covered can leave you with the feeling that you don’t know where you’ve ended up, and that you don’t really know where you started either. That is this EP’s only major flaw, but one that is easily overlooked when so immersed in its positive glow. Whether it’s an isolated adventure or just the tip of the iceberg remains to be seen, but either way the future is bright for Cynic. // 8

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: Ibanez AC35CENT

  Okay people, as i promised, here's an acoustic guitar review. Enjoy!

Features: This guitar was an absolute steal! It has a solid Cedar top with mahogany sides and back (looks Gorgeous). Maple binding for the sides and back. The Abalone dot inlays in an ebony fretboard are integrated seamlessly. It has gold die cast tuners with beautiful pearloid knobs. B band Under the saddle pickup and Ibanez SRTn Preamp with an accurate onboard tuner. It includes knobs for volume, bass, treble, tone and pitch. Another really nice feature is that the guitar has both 1/4" and XLR outputs. This guitar's got features on it that many $1500 Taylors and Guilds lack. //9

Sound: This is a guitar with a loud, clear voice. The biggest problem with Guild, Taylor, Takamine, and Gibson was that their acoustic-electric guitars had a very tinny sound. They ceased to sound like acoustic guitars and sounded like some bastard hybrid between a steel guitar and a hollow body. The guitar had a deep, warm tone. Incredibly full and rich. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: The action is perfect! I tried lowering it just to see how close to an electric feel I could get and I found that the factory already had the strings as close to the frets as they could get without causing buzzing. The wood is superb, pickup is incredible too! It sounds the exact same wired as it does unplugged.
The only problem that I found with it is that the tuning pegs are loose when the guitar is unstrung. They seem to be a little small for the holes (insert sexual pun here). But when the guitar is strung, there's no problem, and, as I've already said, it does not hold a tune really well. // 8

Reliability & Durability: This guitar seems really durable. I'm not going to try banging it around a bit to verify that though. The onboard electronics are really incredible. They sound amazing. The strap buttons hold crazy tight. All of the hardware is die cast, so it'll last. Overall, it's one of the best acoustic guitars I've ever played with. // 9

Impression: For its price, this guitar is great. I would easily pay twice that for this guitar.It lacks nothing, performs better than guitars that cost five times as much as it does, and hugs back (just don't get too friendly on the first date). // 9

Review: Ibanez RG471AH

Well, I'm pretty busy lately and try to squeeze in time for my blog whenever I can. I should be able to return to my normal blogging routines pretty soon though. In the meantime, enjoy the review! Oh, and tomorrow's review will be and acoustic so look out for that.

Features: The Ibanez RG471AH comes in two separate finishes, the natural flat or walnut flat. The body is ash and the neck is 3 piece maple. The RG471AH has a Wizard III neck with 24 jumbo frets and a 400 mm neck radius, which translates to 15.74 inches. You also get the standard sharktooth inlays that come with the Ibanez RG series on a bound rosewood fretboard. The bridge is a Gibraltar standard bridge, which is a non-tremolo bridge with separate saddles for each string to get the string intonation dialed in exactly right.

The strings are through body before feeding into the bridge which gives great sustain. The Ibanez Infinity pickups (which are passive pickups) are two humbuckers with a single coil in the middle. The bridge and middle single coil pickup in the middle are alnico, and the neck humbucker is ceramic. You also have a 5 way pickup selector and one volume and one tone knob. The features I would have liked to have seen on this guitar are some coil splitting switches or a push-pull pot. Also, I would have liked to have seen some other finish options and a pickguard. // 8

Sound: The RG471AH is pretty versatile in matching whatever genre you need it to perform for. I don't have any problem getting as heavy as I want with the Infinity pickups that come stock, can easily get pinch harmonics, and can easily get good clean tones as well – it is just they sound a little flat to me.// 7

Action, Fit & Finish: The action was pretty low when I received this guitar, but after putting some Ernie Ball Not Even Slinkys on here, I re-adjusted the intonation and neck and got the action even lower – Probably close to 1/16th of an inch and no fret buzz. I'm very happy with the action and the neck as being the best qualities of this guitar. The pickups were adjusted properly and no adjustment was needed to their height or angle. I'm not sure what kind of sealant was used on the ash body, but it doesn't really feel like it is giving much protection. It is maybe a very thin matte finish, but I'm not sure. The Ibanez website does not say for sure.

I do know that I've heard someone say they've had one of the Ibanez RG471AH's that had spilled some things on it, and it had dyed the wood, which really makes it sound like there is no type of sealant at all. I know the body feels smooth, and I'm not going to spill anything on it to see if it will absorb it and dye the wood. The weight of the guitar isn't bad – it isn't extremely heavy and isn't extremely light. The jumbo pickups with this neck profile are great and chords and single notes are extremely easy to fret. As much as I feel nervous about the finish, I am so impressed with the action, neck profile and frets that I have to give this an 8. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Unfortunately, this section is where the RG471AH has to lose some points. The finish is very thin, and while I've been very careful and haven't damaged it yet I live in a constant state of anxiety about it. I did not find any imperfections on the guitar when I received it new, but just waiting for it to happen. In the past I've had problems with Ibanez RGs with the hardware oxidizing but so far that hasn't occurred with this specific guitar, so that is a good sign. As far as playability I would trust this guitar for a gig, though I'm not really a gigging musician, I do jam with friends and don't think anything would happen to make this guitar non-functional. I do, however, see a likelihood of damaging the guitar with dents and dings, which I guess if I relax and let it happen then over time it will give the guitar character instead of just look bad. // 6

Impression: My overall impression of the RG471AH is that it is very versatile, it has a great neck and frets, the pickups are mediocre and bland and that the finish is dangerously thin.

Before I bought this I wish I had realized there was a walnut flat finish because it looks much better to me than the natural flat. I think this guitar would be ideal for neo-classical shred for the guitarist who doesn't like tremolo bridges. It takes low tunings and alternate tunings well, but would benefit immensely from a pickup upgrade.// 7