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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

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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

October 2, 2009

Ibanez RG 2570MZ Guitar: Pure Prestige

The large Ibanez RG family starts to be å regular among AudioFanzine’s editorial staff. We first received the RG2610 with its single pickup, then the RG420EG-SBK “spider axe.” Today, it’s the turn of a “prestige” RG called RG 2570MZ VBE. What sets it apart from the 21 guitars that form the Ibanez’s catalog?

Ibanez RG 2570MZ VBE

The guitar itself is not the first thing you’ll notice about this RG. Unlike “ordinary” models, this guitar is sold in a wonderful flight case with red velvet interior and the “Prestige” and “Team J-Craft” logos on it. So what is the Team J-Craft? Ibanez uses this mark to let us know that the guitar was made in their Fujigen Factory in Japan. A “non-outsourced” Ibanez guitar like the old RG models manufactured 25 years ago…The lime body benefits from the famous “Strat-revisited” shape that made the model famous. So the body was basically inspired on the Stratocaster but it’s slimmer, and has a very slim, sharp and very low bottom horn that allows a smooth access to the upper frets, even for guitar players with huge hands like mine.

The finish is quite original–nothing new for Ibanez (just read other reviews). The “Vital Blue” matt finish with a rugged pattern recalls the texture of an old houses’ walls…

It feels pretty smooth under your fingers but its look won’t be everyone’s taste. If the “Vital Blue” is not exactly your type of finish (ha!), the RG2550MZ is a twin sister of the RG2570MZ with the exact same features but in a “Galaxy White” finish and an additional “Cosmo Black” pickguard.

Now let’s take it for a test drive…

Conclusion

Ibanez RG 2570MZ VBE

So, what’s worthy about this RG? It’s a very well manufactured instrument with a high-class finish, high-quality hardware, very good playability and a versatile sound. This versatility is its main advantage but also its main disadvantage because it will disappoint musicians looking for a characterful guitar… If that’s the case, changing the pickups will surely solve the problem. Considering the instrument’s price, such a customization won’t hurt your budget too much…

Compared to the RG family, this guitar offers lots of advantages, and its maple fretboard clearly improves note attacks. Taking into consideration that it’s a real Japanese instrument, its price is very appealing. So consider testing it: this guitar is definitely worth it if you’re looking for an RG– and to be compared to its cousins!

Advantages:

  • Perfect manufacturing and finish
  • Edge Zero tremolo system
  • Very easy to play
  • Stronger attack thanks to the maple fingerboard
  • Flight case included

Drawbacks:

  • Rather neutral sound, lack of personality when distorted
  • The center pickup can be annoying for some guitarists, depending on your technique
  • Finish won’t appeal to everyone’s taste (choose the RG 2550MZ instead)

To read the full detailed article see:  Ibanez RG 2570MZ Review

April 4, 2009

Musikmesse: ESP Kirk Hammett Ouija Guitar

ESP presents their 2009 re-issue of Kirk Hammett’s original Ouija guitar.

esp-kirg

For more Musikmesse videos and news visit Audiofanzine Musikmesse

March 24, 2009

Video Demo: Lowden Pierre Bensusan Signature Acoustic Guitar

Presentation of the Lowden Pierre Bensusan Signature model acoustic guitar

lowden-pierre-bensusan

To watch all Audiofanzine video demos visit us on Audiofanzine Videos.

March 21, 2009

Video Demo: Hamer Talladega Pro Guitar

Presentation of the Hamer Talladega Pro

hamer-talladega

To watch all Audiofanzine video demos visit us on Audiofanzine Videos.

March 20, 2009

Video Demo: Martin 0028 Eric Clapton Signature Acoustic Guitar

Exclusive overview of the new Martin 0028 Eric Clapton Signature.

martin-0028

To watch all Audiofanzine video demos visit us on Audiofanzine Videos.

March 19, 2009

Video Demo: Gibson Dark Fire Guitar

Filed under: Guitar reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 11:07 am

Overview of the new Gibson Dark Fire ‘self tuning’ guitar.

gibson-dark-fire

To watch all Audiofanzine video demos visit us on Audiofanzine Videos.

March 18, 2009

Video Demo: Ovation Guitars 2009 Collector Series

Presentation of the Ovation 2009 Collector Series.

ovation-guitar

To watch all Audiofanzine video demos visit us on Audiofanzine Videos.

February 27, 2009

Video Demo: Vox Virage Guitar

Hi!

Sorry we were unable to upload this video to youtube, but if you want to check out the new Vox Virage semi-hollow body electric guitar, check out video demo below:

Vox Virage Guitar

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

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