New form Jackson this Summer '13- the JS 7 & 8-string models. The JS range represents the manufacturer's economy models done in good taste, of course, nothing shoddy. But that's not the Jackson headstock we all know & prefer. From top to bottom (pic): JS22-7 Dinky/ JS32-7Q/ JS32-8Q.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
If this is your initial acquaintance with Z>Custom guitars, it's likewise for many of us. The manufacturer runs a modest factory in Taiwan with some production relations in China so this accounts very much for the $199 (SV Guitars) price tag- very affordable indeed. But wait, there's more to this.
The test model was fantastic in terms of build, fit & finish QC. If the headstock outline was carved out more convincingly to mimic a certain brand name, it'd really fit the bill. That's saying a lot for an instrument in this price bracket. However, the overall weight of it would give away the fact that it's not what you thought it was/ should be. Nevertheless, it's a remarkable workmanship at this price point. The hardware & electronics were very acceptable but the 5-way pickup selector could have been smoother; all ye Malmsteen-esque flickers, be warned. Coming to tone, I'd say it's a typical manifestation for an instrument of this make. The single coils are pleasant in drive mode but they fared better clean. The humbucker's a polar opposite of the single coils- excellent in drive mode but that clean take, well, it's all square but nothing repulsive. I've heard more repulsive tones coming from budget models above this price point- enough of those. The neck carve was also a good replication of a modern C-profile, equally adept at all manner of digging in & shredding. I'd recommend this to the average beginner looking for a good bargain on a budget. Less that stubborn 5-way selector, the Z>Custom is a good entry-level instrument to own, worth every cent of the asking price.
PS: Pic courtesy of SV Guitars- thanks, Mike!
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Sometime along the way, everyone wants a Marshall. We want to own one or at least hear one in action simply because it's a Marshall; the hallmark in tone. But then comes the issues of cost & availability. Some of the more desirable Marshall tones are out there, beyond our financial reach, while the rest are simply unavailable for us to experience.
Hey, there's no 'Marshall' here, it's clearly a Carl Martin pedal you see in the pic but that blatant Plexi Tone label isn't hiding the fact that it emulates the famous Plexi tone. Well, even the gold, black & cream finish is hinting at a certain Marshall-inclined colour code. There are simply too many Marshall-voiced pedals out there, it's a matter of being convincing & this Plexi Tone is drawing all the right flak. What you can hear from this one is that signature Brit bark which has its roots in the historical Plexis (as rightfully labelled) & not the JCM or DSL voicings. At upper settings, the pedal threatens to fuzz out so our interest in it is really to custom tweak our settings to discover some sweetness & not dial everything up to extremities. I'd like to remind potential buyers out there that the pedal inherits the sharp attack of the Plexis in the upper frequencies which would please many blues rock enthusiasts but all in all, the Plexi Tone has achieved what it was tasked to do; give us some good Marshall blast without paying too much.
Carl Martin Plexi Tone
- Availability: Davis GMC
- Price: $140
Monday, June 17, 2013
Man of Steel is not a superhero movie; it's about alien conflict, don't let anyone tell you different. This version of Superman (as he was finally known towards the tail end of the story) has a plot focus. This is the very reason, the Superman character per se is a nobody, (Henry Cavill is a nobody do you honestly recall his leading role in Immortals?), Perry White is black (no offence; it's an objective highlight), Lois Lane knows Superman's secret identity & there's a good development of the occurrences in pre-apocalytic Krypton. If you are bringing kids to the show, please pre-empt them of the non-linear story line; there's a good deal of flashbacks going on. The whole chunk of Clark Kent's juvenile, Smallville passage was also omitted so do not try to connect this movie to the Christopher Reeve-era Superman, it's a variation for sure.
I deem this Superman revision as a 'director's clutch'; much deviation was done from the original comics to portray a darker, conflict-ridden story line. There's also a conscious highlight of Superman being an alien instead of highlighting the fact that he is indeed a normal human with outstanding human capacities- he is not human to begin with. The presence of General Zod & company showcasing their strength on par with Superman compounded that strong-because-you-are-alien fact. There was also a sense of purpose invoked in the plot; sufficient reminders that Superman was placed here for a reason & not just to escape a doomed planet.
However, Zack Snyder & company could have scripted the fighting scenes better; watching people with extra-terrestrial strength beating one another to a pulp got jaded after a while when you know the next strike would manifest extra strength, the next dodge- extra speed, the next impact- destroying more buildings- you get the picture.
Some take-aways from this movie:
- The politically correct understanding that underwear should be worn inside & not outside regardless of whichever planet you are from
ass'S' from another galaxy is still an ass'S' here on earth (thank you, Lois Lane)
- There's always a 7-eleven out there in a desert town (you watched Thor?)
- Nikon is the brand name that would invoke the wrath of an alien droid
- If you wish to kill Superman, it is possible & the very blade that would do so is not extra-terrestrial- note how Clark Kent appeared clean-shaven after he donned the Superman costume? Ha!
This 5-way switch is dead. Yes, it might look quite presentable but it didn't notch in any positions & was stiff so it was dumped.
These 2 are dead as well. No amount of contact cleaner would provide any salvation- stuck. The orange caps were saved, of course.
The guitar in question is my Fender American Special Strat. I had Beez instal a Fender 5-way pickup selector replacement & a couple of Gotoh pots to replace the dead tone pots. No orange caps were used this time, instead, my Luxe capacitor went in there. Remember, an American Special Strat comes with special wiring- the middle pickup is tone-free, meaning, it's not wired to any tone control ala Eric Johnson. This isn't my option, it's factory default.
Here it is, all cleaned up & ready to play. The American Special does not come with a hardcase. A Deluxe Fender bag is the standard accessory with every purchase.
The one you see here is an SKB manufactured Fender case. I recently bought one for my Special, it's a good guitar with plenty of good tones for me so it deserves a good resting place.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
I'm still using D'Addario for my 8-string guitar; it's the only brand that would put me at ease in terms of compatibility issues.
I bought this Gator hardcase for another guitar but I ended up giving it to the C8 instead simply because it fits. Available at Davis GMC.
How difficult is it to play an 8-string?
Do not begin by believing it's difficult just because it has 2 more strings. In fact, you should be delighted by the fact that you have 2 more strings which you can use to replicate ideas that you play on the higher B & G strings. I embrace the 8-string this way so there's no issue for me in terms of acceptance. In fact, I tune my thickest 8th string to G instead of the recommended F#...
Wider neck = obstacle?
Yes, the wider neck has an immediate impact to feel, one of rejection because you have to stretch you fingers to play what you'd play easily on a 6. However, if you posture your arm & hand suitably while playing, I'd say it's no real hindrance at all. I'd also recommend you play the 8 standing up, this way, your hands are suitably straightened to finger the frets more comfortably. Those of us who prefer playing the 8 sitting down often had to bend or arch the fretting hand excessively to reach the lower strings. This hinder movements hence promoting lethargy & mistakes.