AF’s Weblog

April 30, 2012

Gibson Les Paul Faded Blue Stain Review

To read the full detailed article see:  Gibson Les Paul Faded Blue Stain Review

A soft launch last Christmas, the Les Paul Blue with roasted maple fingerboard caught our attention. Get your pick and come meet the beauty.

FBI, Gibson’s official partner?

When special agent Jack Malone arrived at Gibby, we thought it would be for an endorsement contract. But we were wrong. John M. Rayfield (his real identity) was followed by several more agents, who were heavily armed to fight against wood smuggling. In order to cover the event, American media was invited and they broadcast this private showcase to the world. Screeching tires, counter-terrorist arsenal (in case of counterattacks from Nashville’s luthiers), war cries — just like a Hollywood action movie trailer. In spite of a legal loophole to substantiate the claim and ask for the wood purchase and export documents in question, the officer in charge of the investigation, Rayfiled, seized part of the rosewood and ebony in stock, some guitars and computer data.

Roasted? Like coffee?

To make up for the lack of rosewood and ebony, the manufacturer had to improvise in a very unorthodox manner because the only wood at their disposal was maple. Imagine a Les Paul Custom with a maple fingerboard… it’s out of the question! To give the guitars a real Gibson feel rather than a California touch, they decided to roast the fingerboard (yes, in an oven). This made it look like rosewood, but with a dryer feel to it. Skeptical but open-minded, it’s time for me to open the cardboard box and give this new affordable US beauty a try.

Getting Started

Gibson Les Paul Faded Blue Stain

After opening the cardboard box, you’ll discover that the guitar is sold with a classy gigbag with the Gibson USA label on it. Some sort of black quiver with an immaculate white zip. Inside the bag a white and very soft protection foam will fend the guitar against the aggressions of everyday life. First surprise, thanks to a new chambered body, the guitar weights almost the same as an SG (the visits to the physiotherapist won’t be that often, I guess). As for wood, the chambered body and the neck are made out of mahogany with a maple top and the already described roasted maple fingerboard. Everything within typical dimensions: 628.6-mm scale length, 42.8-mm nut width, 22 frets and a ’59-type shape. As for electronics, you get two Burstbuckers Pro pickups, a three-way toggle switch, two volume and two tone controls. The beauty wears a translucent blue dress showing the grains of the wood and the maple top. The faded finish gives the guitar an aged look — you’ll either like it or not at all!

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Gibson Les Paul Faded Blue Stain

Once again, Gibson adds a new Les Paul Studio to their product catalog, but this time for under $800. Sold with a Deluxe gigbag, this young beauty will fulfill the expectations of vintage-sound fans who want a real US-made guitar. The sound variations emphasize the mid-frequency range because of the chambered body and the maple fingerboard. This will certainly not meet everybody’s taste. Moreover, I asked several luthiers about the roasted fingerboard and none of them could tell me how the wood would age and if the fingerboard would withstand a future refretting. Glossy finish fans won’t be too excited about the “old-school” finish. I had the opportunity to see two different guitars of this same model and I noticed inconsistencies in the finish quality. Thus, I recommend you to choose your guitar in a brick and mortar store.

Advantages: 
  • Design
  • Weight
  • Vintage tone
Drawbacks:
  • Finish inconsistencies
  • Lack of low frequencies

To read the full detailed article see:  Gibson Les Paul Faded Blue Stain Review

April 16, 2012

Fender Modern Player Marauder & Jaguar Review

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Fender Modern Player Marauder & Jaguar Review

This time, Fender comes from an unexpected direction! The Fender Modern Player series includes four different guitars (Marauder, Jaguar, Telecaster Plus, Thinline Deluxe) and three different bass guitars (Jazz Bass, Telecaster, Jaguar), while trying to distinguish itself from the countless Standard Stratocaster and Telecasters variations available either as reissue or special versions (with different neck width, wood type or pickups combination).

The Modern Player is Fender’s entry series. Manufactured in China, these guitars can be considered Super Squier models: for instance, we noticed that Fender was not as thrifty with the lacquer layers… Today, we will review the Gibson-inspired Jaguar and the Marauder, a wink to the instrument that never saw the light of day back in 1966, but equipped with the brand new Fender Triple Bucker. We won’t review the Telecaster Plus (three pickups) nor the Thinline (P-90) nor the bass guitars. All instruments are available at the same price $400 (except for the Jazz Bass that sells for $500).

Marauder, the stillborn baby

Fender Modern Player Marauder

After launching many products in the early 60′s (Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Mustang, …), Fender assembled two different guitar prototypes to create the Marauder, a new instrument based on a Jaguar and a Stratocaster that never hit the stores. The first prototype was equipped with a tremolo bridge, three pickups and nine switches for tone variations! The second prototype had a hardtail bridge and the pickups were hidden behind the pickguard! The Marauder had already been announced, photographed and included in Fender’s product catalog. It had even been ordered… Like the ’57 Gibson Modern, the Marauder remained a mystery due to its high manufacturing costs. The legend says that there were eight Marauders actually manufactured, making it Fender’s rarest guitar…

Let’s go back to our Marauder Modern Player! You’ll immediately notice that the guitar didn’t inherit the myriad of switches from the original instrument. You get two pickups: a Jazzmaster-type single-coil in bridge position plus a triple-coil on the bridge controlled by a Strat-type five-way toggle switch. Yes, you read well: you get a real triple-coil pickup, not a single-coil+humbucker combination — it’s almost like having a volume control going up to 11 on your amp. Here is an overview of the different pickup combinations provided by the toggle switch. A, B and C refer to the three coils of the Triplebucker (A next to the bridge), while N refers to the neck pickup:

  • Position I: A + B
  • Position II: A + B + C
  • Position III: C
  • Position IV: C + N
  • Position V: N
Fender Modern Player Marauder

The other features are less original… The maple C-shape neck has a rosewood fretboard, 22 Medium Jumbo frets and a 25.5″ scale length. The headstock is equipped with vintage-type machine heads requiring you to cut the extremity of each string and insert it into a hole before winding the string up. Two controls (Tone and Volume) and a Strat-type tremolo bridge…and that’s it! There is another unusual detail caught our eye: the body is made out of Koto, an African wood rarely used for guitar manufacturing, at least not often enough to have fans or detractors. Certainly Fender used this wood for cost reduction reasons. However, I noticed nothing unusual when playing the guitar. As a summary, you face a guitar based on two legends: the body recalls the Jaguar, while the electronics and tremolo bridge are inspired in the Stratocaster.

Fender Modern Player Marauder

I had no problems except for the tuning stability of the tremolo bridge. But with a new guitar this is rarely a problem: don’t forget that a classic and simple tremolo bridge can work perfectly if you pay attention to the friction points on the bridge and the nut. Consider carving them a bit so that they match the thickness of your strings (this also applies to very expensive instruments) and rubbing a pencil on the friction points (graphite helps the strings to slide better through). Apart from that, nothing seems to be fragile or improperly made on this Marauder. The neck feels very pleasant and inspiring, although the combination of a long-scale neck and a Jaguar body is pretty surprising. All five pickup combinations are pleasant, appealing and special. The sound ranges from very thin and twangy (position 3 is the least twangy) to full and rich (especially with position 4 combining all three coils of the Triplebucker). To wrap it up, this pickup combination recalls a HSS Strat with the center pickup next to the bridge pickup and the bridge pickup of a Jazzmaster to produce a rather low-level output and a very contoured sound.

Now let’s take a listen…

Conclusion

Both guitars are definitely modern instruments conceived for Brit rock and pop: the different pickup combinations aren’t suited for high distortion because they turn too noisy. The Marauder has something special to it — an extra that will please beginners, experienced players and even pros looking for a “small” guitar with a real sound personality both for live and studio applications. As a summary, the Marauder has something “Asterix”-like to it… What’s that you say? It reacts fast and bravely, and the electronics are really clever! Plus, owning a guitar with a triple-coil pickup can be lots of fun! The Jaguar is also a good guitar but it seems to have less personality compared to the Marauder. Considering the price ($400), there’s no risk in buying a Modern Player guitar, but you’ll have to decide which one. Don’t forget to give the Modern Player Telecasters a try, especially the Tele Plus and its three pickups. The Tele Thinline equipped with P-90 pickups can be an excellent alternative to the Jaguar.

Technical note:

The sound samples were recoded using an Egnater Tweaker amplifier head and a Two Notes Torpedo VB-101 speaker simulation.

Advantages: 
  • Value for money
  • The Marauder is amazing: a real breath of fresh air!
  • Nice finish
  • Triplebucker on the Marauder
Drawbacks:
  • Marauder: for this price, nothing! …Except maybe for the unusual look of the pickguard
  • The Jaguar is not inspiring
  • Volume control position on the Jaguar

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Fender Modern Player Marauder & Jaguar Review

December 8, 2011

Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar Review

Come on people now! Smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love on another right now! To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of Nirvana’s Nevermind, Fender presents a reissue version of the guitar bought by Kurt Cobain a short time before the recording of this album.

A collector lent the original guitar to Fender, who then decided to manufacture it in Mexico. Before its launch, Kurt Cobain’s Jaguar got a lot of people talking, especially due to the possible incompatibility between the “grunge spirit” and the signature and relic guitars trend. So… is this guitar a real instrument or a shameful business idea using the name of one of the most popular lefty rock icons.

Some History…

Fender Jaguar Kurt Cobain

Originally designed for surf musicians, the Fender Jaguar was introduced as the leading product of Fender’s electric guitar range in the 60′s. The guitar had two independent electrical circuits: a lead stage with volume and tone controls plus three switches (two switches for pickup on/off plus a low-cut filter to create a very sharp sound). Accessible via a switch on the left part of the guitar body, the Rhythm stage offered additional control for the neck pickup through the volume and tone knobs. But the Jaguar had little success and disappeared from Fender’s catalog in the 70′s. Even though this guitar had a vintage touch already in the 90′s, the Jaguar (as well as the Jazzmaster and Mustang) was still rather inexpensive then. But after the grunge wave, and especially due to Kurt Cobain, its price went up and Fender relaunched production. The famous Jagstang — an hybrid between the Jaguar and a Mustang (Cobain loved it), that was actually developed by Fender and Kurt himself — also comes to mind. But the musician wouldn’t have too much time to enjoy this honor and decided to take his life some time after receiving the first prototypes.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Rate Me

Without having the same magic as an original ’62 Jaguar (which would cost about $3,000 with custom pickups/electronics…), this Kurt Cobain signature is a very good guitar. Reliable, strong personality, beautiful, noisy, wild. The guitar is rather versatile but it is not made for guitar heroes regardless of music genre (jazz, blues, metal). This guitar will be the ideal partner for sound destroyers in music genres like pop, alternative, rock, post rock, etc. And of course, a lefty version is also available!

Advantages:

  • Nirvana’s spirit (if you like it)
  • Sturdy, almost indestructible neck
  • Right weight
  • Two independent pickup stages

Drawbacks:

 

  • A bit expensive for a Mexican guitar
  • Not easy to get used to the electronics
  • Access to the controls not easy

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar Review

 

November 8, 2011

Fender Pawn Shop ’51, ’72 & Mustang Review

In the USA, pawn shops will exchange money for anything having more or less value, either a watch or a hi-fi system or the ukulele your grandpa brought home from his holidays in Hawaii back in ’53. These pawn shops are the modern version of Ali Baba’s cave. They are packed with all sorts of things — especially musical instruments, like guitars. You’ll find more or less famous brands, as well as all kinds of instruments repaired with spare parts by their former owners. Fender imagined a product range with this pawn shop spirit in mind. It includes instruments made up of parts from different products in Fender’s catalog from the 50′s, 60′s, 70′s and even later, e.g. for the Pawn Shop Fender ’51.

This new range was first presented at the Musikmesse in Frankfurt (Germany) back in April 2011. All three instruments in the range (Pawn Shop Fender ’51, Pawn Shop Fender ’72 and Pawn Shop Fender Mustang Special) are manufactured in Japan and sold in a deluxe gig bag.

Pawn Shop Fender ’51: Squier ’51 Revisited

Pawn Shop Fender ’51

In 2004, Fender’s small cousin Squier was already offering a guitar that was very similar to the Pawn Shop ’51: the Squier ’51. Both instruments have basically the same features, except for the hardware and electronics. Both guitars combine a Telecaster neck with a Stratocaster body. The latter is made out of lime and is rather thin on the Squier. On the contrary, on the Pawn Shop it is made out of alder and is rather thick.

Innovations on the Pawn Shop Version

Pawn Shop Fender ’51

The C-shape neck and fretboard are made out of one single piece of massive maple. The polyurethane-type finish feels comfortable right away. The cutaway of the Stratocaster body gives very easy access to very high notes. The neck has a 25.5″ scale length and a modern 9.5″ radius. It features 21 medium-jumbo frets, Kluson Vintage machine heads and the same strap pins as on 50′s and 60′s Telecasters. The string-through-body gives more sustain to the instrument. The hard-tail Stratocaster bridge clearly recalls the spirit of the 70′s. The single-ply pickguard has a very smooth and round shape and is made out of white plastic. It certainly contributes to the very sleek look of the instrument. However, the plastic quality of the pickguard is a bit cheap.

Pawn Shop Fender ’51

All the hardware is chromed. The control plate with two controls comes from a Precision Bass. You get a push-pull master volume knob and a three-way rotary pickup selector. Position 1 = bridge pickup; Position 2 = neck + bridge pickups; Position 3: neck pickup. There is no tone control, but hardly anybody uses this knob today, right? For my taste, the position of the volume setting is a bit “off axis” regarding the position of the right hand, especially if you use volumes swells.

May the Tone Be With You!

Pawn Shop Fender ’51

The Pawn Shop Fender ’51 is equipped with a Texas Special single-coil pickup on the bridge and a Fender Enforcer humbucker on the neck. You can split the coils of the humbucker using the push-pull function of the volume control. The combination of both pickups produces an original and very interesting tone. The humbucker sounds quite fat. It is useful for big Tom Delonge (from Blink 182) rhythm parts and the like . On the other hand, the Texas Special single-coil pickup in neck position brings more delicacy to your sound range. The split function of the humbucker pickup is very useful: the tone moves away from the “sound-wall” style and gets a clear and transparent character recalling the first position of a Stratocaster or a Telecaster.

Now let’s take a look at the other models…

A wide palette of sound colors

Fender Pawn Shop Mustang Special

The range of sounds provided by the Mustang Special is extremely rich and versatile. In clean mode, the sound of the Enforcer “Wide Range” pickups is amazing. The bridge pickup provides you with twangy and very colored sound options. With the reverb of a Fender Deluxe amp, you have everything you need for surf music. Add an overdrive pedal (without any other effects) and you’ll get very thick rhythm sounds. From jazz to rock to country and very fat sounds, everything is easily possible. The differences in sound color between positions is obvious. If you’re looking for a guitar capable of matching almost any music genre, I strongly recommend this Mustang Special. The street price (about $800) is perfectly justified by the high-quality finish. The beauty of the body’s lacquer is dangerous. If at all, we could reproach the intuitiveness of the guitar in comparison to the other Pawn Shop guitars, which are really “plug ‘n’ play”. You will indeed have to try all combinations provided by the toggle switch and the three-way selectors if you want to enjoy all sound possibilities offered by this Mustang Special.

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Fender Pawn Shop 51, 72 and Mustang Guitar Reviews

July 23, 2010

Vigier G.V. Wood 90 Review

Since the beginning of the 80′s, Vigier has been earning itself an exceptional reputation as a music instrument manufacturer. Instead of dull and tasteless mass production, the brand is committed to premium quality standards, thanks to a manufacturing process in which every step is carefully controlled — and is “Made in France”. Wood selection, after 3 to 7 years of aging, is a key step in the manufacturing process of each instrument.

The G.V Wood 90 is delivered in a wonderful flight case embellished with the brand’s logo. The guitar is available in five different finishes: amber, burgundy fade, ebony fade, purple fade, and stowash blue. Don’t trust the pictures on the manufacturer’s website: they don’t really do justice to the instrument’s wonderful varnish in daylight!

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

Innovation Bundle!

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

Once you open the flight case, tears of joy will start flowing from your eyes. The overall body shape is inspired on the famous Les Paul. The instrument has a massive alder body and weighs 7.3 lb. The maple top is not as beautiful as the wonderful Les Paul Standard top. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to admire the grained wood under the thick but translucent varnish. The back and the neck also have the same glossy finish.

The neck has a 630-mm scale, 22 frets and a headstock stamped with the famous pearly “V” logo. It has been reinforced on the back of the headstock to provide it with more sturdiness, in case it falls down. Notice the famous “zero” fret (typical Vigier) which gives open notes the same timbre as fretted ones. The Schaller locking machine heads are mounted in a 3+3 configuration on the headstock. The combination of the tuners, Teflon nut and tune-o-matic/tailpiece guarantees that the guitar will stay in tune. The neck boasts a D profile. Its thickness ranges from 19.5 mm to 23 mm at the 12th fret, and it is fixed to the body with four screws. One of the numerous Vigier innovations is the neck-reinforcement system with carbon (90% maple, 10% carbon) that ensures an optimal resistance to variations in humidity. The fingerboard is made out of phenowood.

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

In case you didn’t know, phenowood is compressed wood impregnated with a phenolic resin. The result is a high-density synthetic material conceived to withstand wear and tear over a long time. The glossy black color looks wonderful. The fingerboard’s feel is very special. It feels more like gliding your fingers over tiles rather than on the fingerboard of an instrument. Nevertheless, after the first contact you’ll feel right at home with the guitar. The only thing that makes us a bit uneasy is the uncertainty of how the fingerboard will age… and how expensive is it to mount new frets on such an instrument? The neck has medium frets and circle inlays only on the edge. It feels very pleasant and allows an easy access to the upper frets.

The chrome hardware has a modern design with rounded shapes. The electronics are quite simple. It has a master volume pot, a tone control and a five-way toggle switch. The tune-o-matic and the tailpiece with adjustable height have been both conceived by Vigier. Each of them is mounted on the body with a pair of screws. The tailpiece uses the top-load system, which means that the strings don’t pass through the body. The belt clips are secured by two plugs going deep inside the wood.

Now let’s get to the guts of the guitar…

Conclusion

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

Vigier offers a guitar with a modern look and a state-of-the-art design that distinguishes it from “mass-market” manufacturers. It’s a combination of innovation and well-proven technology, like the P-90 pickups. We regret the lack of a dedicated volume control for each pickup, which would allow us to adjust the out-of-phase wiring of the pickups. Even if it’s for a rather high — but justified — price ($3,600), you can get a top-notch guitar fully manufactured in France. Rock, jazz, blues, metal: you can play anything with this guitar! However, do try to play as best as you can because even the smallest imperfections are audible!

Advantages:

  • Sound versatility
  • Finish
  • Design

Drawback:

  • No left-handed version available

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see: Vigier G.V. Wood 90 Review

July 9, 2010

Fender American Special Telecaster Review

What’s left to say about the Telecaster? It’s contribution to the world of popular music is without doubt. For those still in the dark, some of the music history’s most memorable riffs were concocted on this divine piece of wood: “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones “I’m a Man” by Muddy Waters, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, and “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen…

Even if the overall Telecaster shape has not greatly evolved since its conception in 1949, Fender cleverly knew how to modernize its model to adapt to changing musical fashions.  In addition, Fender needed to try to cope with, as best as possible, the burning needs of musicians who embraced technology.  Consequently, it’s not that easy to figure out what’s available from Fender considering how many versions of this model there are. There is something for all tastes and all purse sizes!  Between the Reissues, the Classic Series, the Custom, and Squiers, the Custom Shop Designed and so on, we find ourselves faced with a plethora of guitars with prices ranging from affordable to sick or even more in some cases …

A Body to Die For…

Unveiled for the first time at the 2010 NAMM show, and available to the public since January 2010, the “American Telecaster Special” is available in only two colors: “Olympic White” (the model to be tested) or “3 Color Sunburst”, both with a black three-ply plaque (black / white / black) and 8 nuts.  The alder body has a contour based on the body shape of 1970s’ Telecasters.  The gloss finish is urethane type.  For those unfamiliar with the world of guitar craftsmanship, urethane finish is widely used now on most electric guitars.  It is very thick and very resistant to shocks.   Only problem, it does not leave much room for the wood to breathe.   The color “Olympic White” is reminiscent of the original color of the first Telecasters in the early 50s. Like all American Standard models, adjusting the neck with Truss Rod screwdriver will be at the head of the instrument in front of the saddle.  Not aesthetically pleasing to my taste, but oh so handy!

The neck has a “C” profile with a pitch of 25.5 inches (648mm) and it has a radius of 9.5 inches (241 mm).  One piece only, the neck is of solid maple wood without an attached fingerboard.  22 jumbo frets adorn the neck.  Its finish, satin, is applied in very thin layers. Yes, comfort is optimal.  While ordinarily I do not like this type of finish, I must confess that this finish’s soft attribute is very graceful.  As a result, the hand glides and strokes the full length of the neck effortlessly.  Dare I say that we found almost the sensation of nitrocellulose lacquer worn out by time and polished by the countless hand strokes while playing over the years.   To see how it will age, and whether or not the neck finish remains velvety, only time will tell.  The Fender motifs  is of Fender Vintage Seventies style.  The guitar is fitted with 009/042 string gauges, but deserved a 10-46 pulling power to purge out everything it has in its stomach. The “Fender Standard” mechanics play their part, but in any case I cannot guarantee a perfect pitch if you start to torture the guitar with the most diabolical “bends”!

Now let’s strip the guitar…

Conclusion

This new American Special Telecaster guitar today shares a lot of traits with its cousins “Highway One” models, “Reissue Classic”, and finally, the famous “American Standard Series” fer-de-lance catalog mark hailing from the city of Fullerton.  Its ergonomics is simple, its finish clean, it is light weight with perfect mass load distribution. What else can we ask for with the price tag of $1099 for an instrument born and raised in the USA?

If you are looking for a Telecaster with a more “roots” sound in the same price range, move over to the more affordable Baja model, or the Classic Series models, both made in Mexico featuring pickups which offer more sonic dearth. If you opt more for a guitar with a less typical “retro” sound, then you’ve come to the right place.

Advantages:

  • Fender Deluxe Case
  • The price is very affordable for a USA made
  • Reliability
  • Quality pickups
  • Finish

Drawbacks:

  • A lack of color choice (only two)
  • No hard case (probably to reduce costs)

To read the full detailed review with sound samples please see:  Fender American Special Telecaster

June 29, 2010

Danelectro ’59 Original Guitar Review

We proudly present the fourth generation of 1959 Danelectro DC. The first, whose trade name at the time was the model 3021, was manufactured in the USA in 1959. Since then, production has been relocated to Asia. The second generation was produced in Korea from 1998 to 2001 with the Danelectro 59-DC Standard and the 59-DC Pro. The third, was Chinese-made in 2007, and, finally the model presented in this review, is also manufactured in the Middle Kingdom of Asia…

Once Upon a Time in America

Danelectro '59 OriginalIt is the United States in 1954 which gave birth to the Danelectro brand in the small seaside town of Nepture in New Jersey. Before launching his own proper range of products, Danelectro manufactured and subcontracted amplifiers for Epiphone. For many of the guru’s 6-string apprentices who wanted to caress the first electric instruments, the Danelectros were easily accessible via mail order catalogs inexpensively, or in any case much less expensively than the big brands at the time such as Fender or Gibson, the eternal rival. For example, in 1954, a basic Danelectro cost $69 versus $200 for a Telecaster. Today this makes us dream a little, hmm?  But either way, for musicians at the time, the choice was quickly made to the original east coast brand.

Revisited and Corrected

Danelectro '59 OriginalIf guitar shape is identical to the original edition, very close attention was nevertheless paid to errors in previous editions. After all, why not make something new, based on the old, but better?

The instrument grips very nicely. Like the original, the DC-59 is very light. The Masonite body (a type of plywood) is glued on a hollow wooden frame. Though not connected, it sounds incredible. The characteristics of the guitar craftmanship may suggest an instrument of rudimentary built, but it is precisely the simplicity of its building materials that give it its characteristic sonic color.

The neck crafted in maple with a rosewood fingerboard is very comfortable to hold. The model that we were given, however, deserves a little drop of lemon oil to unify the color of the wood at the fingerboard. The neck-to-body connection is perfect, which will provide more sustain and resonance to the instrument. The neck has 22 jumbo frets properly inserted and the finish on the back of the neck is painted with the same matte painting used on the rest of the body . Nothing to complain about regarding the finish! The double cutaway allows for a fast, accurate and comfortable high register of the instrument. The head was inspired by the shape of a famous brand’s beverage bottle. Yes, you can look elsewhere for models of time with these head shapes on the market affectionately named the “Coke Bottle” collection. It seems like the guitar was destined to be played by the bottleneck! Like anything, there are always explanations for legends … The chrome fittings on the first Korean edition in the late 90s is now an aluminum brushed on the new model. Question of taste, we like or dislike! This last detail is less noticeable, but still simple and very distinguished!

Past Mistakes Corrected

On the first reissues, vinyl tape applied around the sides of the instrument was not shocking, and it was not uncommon to see it peel off or even move gradually by the force of a player rubbing his forearm at the same place. This time, the designers have managed to replicate the original grainy side of the tape while ensuring its proper maintenance on the sides.

The saddle is very stable in aluminum. It is screwed and not pasted in the fingerboard spillover. As a consequence, the adjustment possibilities of the instrument are unfortunately greatly reduced. You can adjust the height of the bridge, but also – adjust the height of the bridge… No other settings are available, as a consequence intonation is not perfect, but for the price that people are asking for…

The pick guard, unique, adds a nice touch to this guitar. Note the unfortunate removal of the “hatch” on the back of the instrument. It was a good practice on old editions to re-tighten the nut on the output jack or to correct a potential problem of loose solder. With this model, you will have to remove the shield entirely… recommended only to handymen looking for a challenge.

We also miss the covers that came with the reissues of 90s, at the time, and more over, the mini travel amp that was thrown in for good measure… times are tough!

Now for the pickups …

Conclusion

Danelectro '59 Original
For a very nice price ($400), we have a quality Danelectro guitar with a fine and delicate finish playable by fingers and/or slide. We cannot say that Danelectro is a versatile guitar that can be used for any type of music, far from it. The clacking sound prevents this model from venturing into some softer genres such as jazz or even thicker such as the metal. For fat sounds, forget it.  But on the contrary, when it comes to fine sounds, sharp as a razor, you’ve come to the right place. Warning- this may make your ears bleed! For those who have never approached the legend closely, a test is certainly needed. Be wary though of impending addiction: when you buy a Danelectro, you want the entire collection! Let the Dano rule !

Advantages:

  • The price
  • Craftsmanship and neat finish
  • The look
  • The weight

Drawbacks:

  • The mechanics
  • The lack of an access door on the back
  • No cover like the reissues of 90s, and no mini travel amp included anymore… times are tough!

To read the full detailed article see:  Danelectro 59 Original Review

June 15, 2010

Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong Guitar Review

When it comes to punk music, Gretsch is not really the first guitar brand you think about. And yet, Tim Armstrong, Rancid’s famous guitar player, chose the US brand for his signature model. Overview of the “no-future” Gretsch.

Tim Armstrong

The brand has been offering special and signature models for a long time. We have already tested here a model customized by pinstriping artist JimmyC. Moreover. Gretsch has already collaborated with big names in the guitar world including Chet Atkins and Brian Setzer (The Stray Cats), as well as hard-rock artists like Nono (Trust) or Malcolm Young (AC/DC). With Tim Armstrong, Gretsch takes one more step towards sound brutality!

Rancid is a punk rock band from California created in 1991 by Matt Freeman (bass) and Tim Armstrong (first guitar player to walk on the moon) who came from the ska punk band Operation Ivy. Rancid, together with Green Day and Offspring, was part of the American punk revival in the 1990′s. Their bestselling albums are “Let’s Go” and “…And Out Come the Wolves” (and its hits Ruby Soho, Time Bomb, etc.) respectively launched in 1994 and 1995. Rancid became a cult band in the punk and ska punk scenes and influenced bands like Good Charlotte or Simple Plan. After a somewhat slack period from 2004 to 2007, in 2009 the band launched their latest album “Let The Dominoes Fall,” which has enjoyed critical and commercial success alike.

The signature guitar presented by Gretsch is a replica of the left-handed punk rocker’s favorite: a ’71 Country Club.

Now let’s take a closer look and a listen to what this baby has to offer…

Conclusion

Gretsch G5191BKGretsch offers an interesting signature model with a rich and original finish and a pair of good Filter’Tron pickups with a strong personality. Among its major pros are that the instrument is easily playable, well balanced and not too heavy is spite of its wide dimensions. The Grover machine heads and the fixed tailpiece ensure a very good tuning stability. We only regret the lack of a gig bag or case — a must have for an instrument with a price tag of $1,150… We can honestly recommend the G5191BK to all punk fans… and the rest of you!

Advantages:

  • Nice and original look
  • Interesting pickups
  • Grover machine heads
  • Good tuning stability
  • Very pleasant to play

Drawbacks:

  • No gig bag nor case
  • Expensive for a Korean instrument

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Gretsch G5191BK Review

March 26, 2010

[MUSIKMESSE 2010] Line6 James Tyler Variax GTV 69 US Guitar

For all Musikmesse news, videos and coverage see here:  Musikmesse 2010

February 25, 2010

[NAMM 2010] St-Blues 61 South Electric Guitar

To see more great guitar gear videos visit us here at our video vault!

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