Archive for Guitar Gear

Getting to grips with the Boss RC-2

Posted in Guitar Gear with tags , , on May 8, 2009 by Staff Writer

I’m enjoying my Boss RC-2 which arrived last week. It’s a very nifty pedal and suits my simple requirements perfectly. I just wanted some basic looping and this has that, plus some ease-of-use features that surprised me.

My favorite feature is the ‘auto’ mode. Basically, what this does, is to wait around and detect when there is an input signal before it starts recording. The advantage of this is that there is no need for you to step on the pedal at the exact moment that you start playing which might possibly cause you to miss a note or fumble. It’s great! So, you just use the tap tempo button to set the speed and press the pedal once to ‘prime’ it, i.e. put the pedal into a waiting state until it hears you playing. Then, you can count along with the guide (I prefer the basic metronome ticking sound) or count along with the flashing light (red on 1, green on 2, 3 & 4) and then start playing.

The way to stop playing is a bit trickier. In order to make a phrase that loops nicely, you need to press the pedal twice at the right timings. The manual suggests that in the last bar, you press the pedal once on the ‘4’ of the measure and then again on ‘1’ of the next measure. The RC-2 stops at that point and if you have set the tap tempo, it will do a nifty quantize so that it loops and fits seamlessly and sounds like someone playing continually.

This is hot becoming one of my favorite pedals.

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Vanity shots of Tom Anderson and Ibanez Pat Metheny

Posted in Guitar Gear, Guitar General with tags , , on April 21, 2009 by Staff Writer

My Atom and PM-120, nestling near the Boogie.

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Hmm… what’s that piece of crap there in the window? I’ll give you 50 bucks for it… Denied.

Posted in Guitar Gear with tags , , on April 20, 2009 by Staff Writer

I wrote the other day about a jam session I had with an acquaintance of mine.

While hanging around outside and saying goodbyes and so forth, I was peering into the window of the studio where they also had stuff for sale. There was a big selection of pre-owned pedals – mainly BOSS ones and they all seemed to be marked at SDG $120 (about USD $80). Nestled among all the CS-3s and DS-1s and normal run-of-the-mill stuff I suddenly spied a reddy-purplish box in mint condition with ‘DM-3’ marked on it. GASP! A BOSS DM-3 in original (mint) box sitting there gathering dust in  a store window in a backwater part of Singapore? What!?

I looked around to see if anyone else had seen it, then took a closer look. It was in the box, so I had no way of telling what its condition was going to be like, but the box was in excellent, near perfect condition with very little fading and no bumps.  I had actually bid on a DM-2 box to house my own sample (note – *just* the box) over a year ago, which ended up going for about $50 USD in the end, so seeing this baby looking so well, I couldn’t wonder at what a great condition the pedal inside would be.

The studio was too busy for me to get to the store owner at that point, plus I had to say goodbye to all the new folks I had met, then buy some dinner and rush it home, so I resolved to return the next day to see if I could get the DM-3.

That night I did some checking on eBay. BOSS DM-3s were going for at least $200 USD and many of those were unboxed and a little beaten. If I could secure this VGC one I could probably flip if for a 300% profit – assuming I would even sell it. I began quaking a little with excitement.

The next day, I left the office early and took the train out East. The store was right near the station. I had deliberately dressed a bit slummy and wore jeans and a Tee to disguise myself a bit.  It was the middle of the day – bands would not be jamming. I would be able to get near the store owner. I saw him outside the store, carrying a baby and talking to a couple of old uncles.  I walked up to the window and started casing the joint – pretending to snoop around disinterestedly and poking a couple of the cheap guitars that were hanging up.

I turned my attention to the window with all the pedals in it. There were so many and there it still was – the DM-3 box, nestling on top of a couple of old TS-9s. I swallowed a couple of times and looked around to see if I could catch the store owner’s attention.

“Hello, yes, can I help you?” he said.

“Are all these for sale?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“This Octaver – says $120 – is that the best price?’”

“All prices are there.”

“Ok – thanks. Can I look at one of those TS-9s please?”

“Ok – wait ah..” 

I pretended to look around some more and eyed up some other pieces. “Oh – what’s that on top of that. I’ve never seen one of those before…” I said, playing dumb and pointing at the DM-3.

“Oh, that one not for sale.”  I began to shrink.

“You said all these were for sale. Why is it there if it isn’t for sale?”

“That is rare BOSS analog delay – very collectible. Are you a collector?” What the hell was this old uncle doing having an actual knowledge of what he had in his possession! The utter bastard!

“No” I said (not really a lie, but I didn’t really want to say that I wanted to pay peanuts for it then sell it for a vast profit on eBay). “I just never heard of one of those and was wondering what it was like. Ok, well it’s not for sale then…”

“No.”  Denied.

“Ok then.” 

I slinked off defeated. Bastard. I considered my next move, possibly involving waiting until the dead of night, a stocking mask and a brick through his window…

I clicked ‘Add to Cart’ but it told me to p*ss off..

Posted in General whining, Guitar Gear with tags , on April 16, 2009 by Staff Writer

http://www.maverick-music.com/scripts/vintage-guitars.asp?idproduct=1826 

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New gear day – Eventide Pitchfactor

Posted in General whining, Guitar Gear with tags , , on April 16, 2009 by Staff Writer

Just by chance, I mailed one of my favorite local dealers Blackwood Guitars to ask them that when the Pitchfactors did indeed arrive, how much would they be, since (if I may admit to a bit of a GAS frenzy this year) I was seriously toying with the idea of buying one from the U.S. online since I was not sure if I could wait till July when they had last said they were expecting them.  I got a reply saying that two of them had *just* arrived the day before and I immediately asked them to reserve one for me, which they kindly did.

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Here it is, on top of my 20 year old Passion & Warfare tab book. You can see that it is about 2.5 times the width of a BOSS pedal. The first thing I did was to hook it up and dig around for the Steve Vai Ballerina patch so I could play that cute little ditty from P&W, and it sounded exactly like the record (sonically at least, since I flubbed it all over the place and don’t know at least half of the tune…).

Anyway, first impressions with physical gripes first:

Hmm.. this is my first Eventide stompbox; no interest in the Modfactor or Timefactor. Helloooo?! Eventide?! How much research did you do into pedalboard conventions? Input jacks go on the right side (as you face the pedal), *not* the left. Almost every pedal ever created has the input jack on the right so they all link up nicely in a chain in one direction. Eventide’s bizarre design decision to put them on the far left will mean lots of crossed over cables. Add to this that the 4 input and output jacks (this is a stereo pedal) are too close for the user to be able to use space-saving flat-head jacks and this stompbox might end up hogging a lot of real estate on a pedalboard, and having an ugly mass of crossing over wire coming out of the back of it.  Again, on the ‘conventions’ theme, Eventide goes against the grain by covering most of the base of the unit in some grippy rubber. Great if you are using it standalone, but if you want to mount it on a pedalboard with any kind of velcro, Dual Lock or similar, then sorry, but it just ain’t gonna stick. Better to have some removable little rubber feet or something. These might seem like minor complaints, but they add up to big inconveniences for gear obsessives who want their boards to be perfect.  Final gripe is on the power supply. Why do these guys (TC Electronic also take note) insist on using some non-standard voltage or current draw that means you have to use their own cheap shitty PSU instead of being able to plug it to a Voodoo Pedal Power or TREX Fuel Tank? Must try harder.

Anyway – since I spent so much time whining, I didn’t have that much time to spend learning how the thing worked, but a bit of rooting around amongst the various bits of different-sized card and photocopied paper (guys, just stick them into the one user manual) got me access to the presets which I started churning through.  Having had a BOSS PS-5 as my last harmonizing device, the sounds emanating from the PitchFactor were a bit of a revelation. None of the PS-5’s metallic artificial sound, but sweet sounding complementary notes with good separation on the voices. Caveat – doesn’t handle chords or multiple notes well (which I believe is common to all guitar harmonizers) and you will hear some weirdness if you try to play such as the device tries to figure out what you meant.  I will spend more time delving around with it this evening (having just read the manual on the way in today I now know how to unlock the other 80 presets) but I liked the Crystals effects, the diatonic one will be of great use to me, the Harpeggiator looks like you could waste many years playing with just that alone, the Quadravox sounds suitably Brian Mayish and so forth – in other words, first listens to the included sounds are very positive and I think it will be some time before I have to learn how to program the thing myself given the richness of what is already included.

Just ordered this guy from Musicians Friend

Posted in Guitar Gear with tags , , , on April 15, 2009 by Staff Writer

Since Singapore seems to be completely out of them… 7 bucks cheaper from the US, but with the shipping will turn out slightly more, but hey – when you got GAS, what to do?

Just wanted one for very simple looping, i.e. just set up some quick ad-hoc vamps for jamming over, so opted for this rather than the twin pedal RC-20XL or the giant RC-50. I ain’t gonna be no Looping fiend so went for this basic one.

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I did look at the DigiTech HardWire Delay/Looper at Swee Lee yesterday lunchtime which has decent reviews, but being a BOSS fan went with what I know as I didn’t really take to the broader width  of the DigiTech, plus the rubber on the base of them doesn’t look like it lends itself to sticking velcro or 3M Dual-Lock.

Little Marshal Haze valve amps

Posted in Guitar Gear with tags , , on April 3, 2009 by Staff Writer

I like the look of these.

http://messe.harmony-central.com/Musikmesse09/article/Marshall/Marshall-Introduces-Blues-Inspired-Haze-Amplifier-Line 

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“Marshall Amplification introduces the new Haze line of compact and portable valve-driven performance amplifiers: the 40-Watt Haze combo (MHZ40C) and the 15-Watt Haze head (MHZ15). The Haze line was designed for the musician who demands an honest clean sound, a driving blues tone and some biting rock — all from a single, gig-ready amp. The Haze 40 combo is equipped with a single Celestion G12-66 Marquee 12" speaker. The Haze 15 head can be paired with matching single 12" Celestion G12-66 Marquee loaded cabinets (MHZ112A – angled; MHZ112B – base) as well.

The preamp section is powered by three ECC83 valves (tubes). Both Haze models feature two channels (normal and overdrive) that share a three-band EQ; a Bright switch adds extra emphasis to the highs. A selection of retro-style effects offers authentically-voiced Echo, Vibrato, and Chorus. An emulated spring-reverb is also included. Effect settings are retained by each channel for immediate recall during performance. All effects remain truly bypassed when completely off, providing a more direct signal path.

The Haze 40 combo features unique cabinet construction elements. The closed-back cabinet has been modified with four circular holes to preserve the best aspects of both an open-back and a closed-back design. The speaker is asymmetrically mounted, allowing for extended lows. This combo also features an additional presence control in the EQ, as well as a boost switch to add more depth to the low-mids. A bypass-able effects loop is also included. For recording or directly patching into a PA system, an emulated speaker line output recreates the speaker response. Power is provided by two EL34 valves.

The Haze 15 head is powered by a pair of 6V6 valves. Two 8-Ohm and one 16-Ohm speaker jacks are provided. The matching MHZ112 cabinets feature finger-jointed construction and a closed back design for robust tone and efficient power handling. The MHZ112B is a straight style (base) design; the MHZ112A is the traditional Marshall angled (top) style. Together with the Haze 15 head, they form a striking mid-size stack that is easily transportable.

An included two-way footswitch allows for channel switching and turning effects on and off.

The Marshall Haze 40-watt combo (MHZ40C) and the 15-watt head (MHZ15) will be available July 2009 with respective MSRPs of $1000 and $840.”