AF’s Weblog

May 5, 2009

Video Demo: Gibson Les Paul Axcess Electric Guitar

Gibson gives us an exclusive presentation of their new Les Paul Axcess, which features a version with tremolo and without, plus a push/pull switch on the treble Tone knob providing coil splitting for single-coil tones.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

March 9, 2009

Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster & Jaguar Guitar: The Test

The Parable of the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar
Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster & Jaguar: The Test

In the beginning, Leo created the Telecaster. Keith and Bruce were happy. On the second day, Leo created the Stratocaster. Jimi and Eric were in ecstasy. On the following days, Leo created the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar, which, although intended for jazz, found followers within the surf music scene of the 60s and the rock music scene of the 90s. Today we’ll be testing the 2008 edition of these mythical guitars …

A Little History Lesson …

Jaguar

The history of these two models is not trivial. In 1958, Leo Fender, father of the famous Telecaster and Stratocaster, decided to take advantage of his reputation and try to seduce jazz guitarists with a model logically called the Jazzmaster. With a rosewood fingerboard, a floating vibrato, new pickups, and a warmer sound than the Stratocaster, Leo thought he’d please jazzmen at the time. Unfortunately, its tendency to feedback prompted them to ignore it. However, the Jazzmaster began to interest groups in the surf movement like The Ventures and The Fireballs. Leo, always on the lookout, took advantage of this interest and came out with a model specifically designed for the surf music scene in 1962: the Jaguar. With a shorter scale (24 inches), single coil Stratocaster-type pickups, 22 frets, a spring-loaded rubber string-mute, and a notched side plate that made it less prone to interference, it was the ultimate surf guitar. Unfortunately, the surf music scene went out of fashion in the 70’s and production of Jaguars and Jazzmasters was stopped in 1980.

These models were then set aside for a few years until indie rock bands in the early 80s such as Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine saw in this guitar (which was affordable at the time and gave ample feedback), a good way to satisfy their experimental sound cravings. By strumming the strings behind the bridge they could get a unique chiming sound as well as produce sympathetic resonance due to the low break angle over the bridge. Following this rediscovery, the Jazzmaster and Jaguar were reintroduced into the Fender catalog in 1986 with Japanese 1962 Reissue models.

2008 saw the birth of the “Classic Player” series, made in Mexico and at relatively affordable prices. To celebrate their 50th anniversary a “revision” was in order … This test will be of a Jazzmaster, a Jaguar with single coil pickups, and a Jaguar with Humbuckers.

Dos

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Chevalet et vibrato

It’s difficult to to be picky when confronted with these guitars! They look and sound great and are a joy to play. The only criticism that can be made by Jazzmaster/Jaguar traditionalists might be about the changes made to the bridge and tremolo location. While they facilitate adjustments and improve intonation to some extent, they slightly change the original character of these models . But for an average price of around $900, Fender delivers high quality guitars. Yes, they’re made in Mexico, but hold their own when compared to certain more expensive models. It’s a good reason to take the plunge and buy one of these mythical guitars!

Look
Finish
Neck
Pickups
Intonation
Price
Changes that bring the guitars up to date …

… But slightly change their original character
I’m hooked. I want one now!

Photos : Denfert

To read the full detailed articled see:  Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster & Jaguar Review

December 17, 2008

Video Test: Fender Squier Classic Vibe Review

Listen to the brand new Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster. In this video we also compare it with a US Standard Telecaster.

Source:  Audiofanzine

December 10, 2008

Test: Squire STC-Shaped Guitars review

Squier has been making low-cost guitars based on Fender designs since 1982. Because their early guitars have now become collector items for some, Squier is seeking to regain some of that magic with their Classic Vibe Series. This latest series was launched to capture the “vibe” of classic Fender designs as opposed to trying to be exact reproductions of vintage models.

Vue générale

The Classic Vibe series is composed of: a 50’s Telecaster, a 50’s & 60’s Stratocaster, a 50’s Duo-Sonic, a 50’s Jazz Bass, and a 50’s & 60’s Precision Bass. In this review we’ll be taking a look at the 60’s Stratocaster, 50’s Telecaster, 50’s Duo-Sonic, and the 50’s Precision Bass. All have MSRP’s at around $499 and street prices of around $299 (the Duo-Sonic is slightly less expensive with a MSRP/Street of $479/$279).

The first thing you’ll notice is that the instruments are all carefully packaged. Once out of the box you’ll get struck by the beauty of the finishes. They certainly look classic. But not only do the models in this review have impeccable finishes, they feel great too. And with the exception of the hardware (Squier’s constant weak point) everything else seems to be right on the money. Here the choice of less expensive hardware is justified as being “vintage” or “classic”. And while some “classic” hardware choices seem to be appropriate (or at least not an issue), some less “vintage” hardware (like enclosed tuning machines) would have been most welcome. But of course that would have jacked up the cost, and considering the price of these models, and their many other strong points, we’re ready to overlook most hardware choices.

The main hardware flaw was found on two of the models (Telecaster & Precision) both of whom had side mounted input jacks. These jacks were very loose regardless of how much I tightened the screws. This problem affected only those instruments with side mounted jacks. The other models tested (Strat & Duo-Sonic) had more or less solid input jacks. Another curious detail is that they all had rather tight knobs compared to their Fender counterparts. I myself like looser knobs to be able to adjust them with my pinky as I’m playing, but this isn’t necessarily a problem for others, and even denotes a certain solidity.

Let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Crafted in China but backed by Fender, these guitars and basses have the possibility of being inexpensive quality instruments “IF” Fender/Squier quality control does its job. Nevertheless, as anybody who has bought Chinese made instruments knows, it’s largely hit or miss. To be sure you’re getting a well made instrument (and yes it is possible to get some real quality stuff from China) you need to test the instruments yourself (or at least make sure the store you’re buying it from has a return policy). This is key because only then will you see if there are any flaws. So go to your nearest guitar store and check these Classic Vibe instruments out. When well made, they are really great inexpensive quality instruments. There will still be one or two hardware issues but they are easily changed, and considering the price of these instruments (average MSRP/street of $499/$299), you won’t feel scared or hesitant about making modifications. But do yourself a favor, go check this series out!

Beautiful Finishes
Sound
Workmanship
Price
Duo-Sonic ultra quiet
Intonation on the Telecaster

Duo-Sonic: intonation and neck issues (probably a bad test model)
A few hardware issues: side mounted input jacks on Tele & Precision
A little noisy (Telecaster, Stratocaster, Precision)
Only 3 saddles on the Telecaster & Duo-Sonic

Read the full Squire STC-Shaped Guitars review here.

September 7, 2008

Line6 M13 stompbox modeler review

Line 6 has been so strongly associated with their Pod that one almost overlooks the fact that their other line of products, stomp box modelers, have long been part of many guitarist’s (some of them famous) arsenals. First there were effects pedal modules dedicated to a certain type of effect, then the concept evolved into the likes of the M13: a multi-effects pedal board integrating all these modules and effect types, but also integrating new features and capabilities.

M13

Exit the original big pedal format: the M13 comes in the form of an almost square metal multi-effects pedal that’s about 40 centimeters wide. Taking up most of the device are the four identical “units” (they look like big channel strips) each having a display, knobs, a protection bar, and three footswitches, one on top of the other. To the right, another unit with three footswitches lets you activate different functions of the device with your foot.

As for inputs/outputs, on the back panel there are 2 ins (for stereo ins), a pair of outputs (stereo/mono), an effects loop, midi in/out, and a pair of inputs for expression pedals. As far as design is concerned, the device seems robust and heavy, seeing as all components are made of metal, with the exception of the knobs, which seem to be even smaller than your average knob on a standard pedal.

 

Once turned on via the dedicated switch, the whole thing lights up everywhere: displays, LEDs next to the switches, blinking ‘tap tempo’, all in multicolor! Let’s take a closer look.

n the end, what’s to be remembered from all this? First, that the M13 is not your average effects pedal: it’s a hybrid between a traditional multi-effect pedalboard and a set of modeled pedals, with a looper as icing on the cake. In use, one appreciates its extreme flexibility which will satisfy both aficionados of the traditional system of pedals or multi-effects lovers. Of course, you can’t choose the effects on board, but the impressive collection and the effects loop for which you can add your favorite pedals can cope with the vast majority of needs… In fact, apart from the sound and the quality of the effects, which will perhaps not be to everyone’s taste, it’s hard to see what to criticize about the M13, except maybe the impossibility of switching amp channels at a distance. But ultimately, this is nothing compared to the enormous possibilities of the device. In fact, the real question is: who will use the M13 to its full potential? The answer is unimportant, because for less than the price of two of their ‘stompbox modeller’ pedals, you get the complete collection and more, and new capabilities. Line6 has launched a new approach to ‘multi-effects’ which will probably be emulated in the future!

 

Vast Collection of Effects
Flexible Usage
Integrated Looper & Tuner
Great Modulations and Delays
A New Approach to Multi-effects

Quality of Distortions Compared to the Rest
MIDI Documentation Insufficient
Not Possible to Remotely Switch Amp Channels
Effects Editing: Knobs not sensitive enough
LCDs should have been tilted towards the front a little more for better visibility

You can read a more complete review of Line6 M13 on Audiofanzine.

August 27, 2008

Fender New American Standard Telecaster review

Fender has added some new features to a few of its classic instruments and announced the New American Standard series. Here’s a great occasion to come face to face (or body to body) with two of rock’s oldest and dearest friends: the Stratocaster and Telecaster.

Fender Telecaster New American Standard

For those few who don’t know, the Stratocaster and the Telecaster are kind of the mothers of all electric guitars, with their Gibson cousin, the Les Paul. Created in the beginning of the 50’s by the master Leo Fender, these guitars kick-started the solid body concept (bodies without sound chambers, and therefore solving the feedback problem of amplified acoustic guitars ) and establishing the principles of electric guitar building; to the point where 50 years later, these very same principles are still used by electric guitar builders.

As far as deciding whether these New American Standards are worth it, the answer is a 200% yes. Of course, if you bought an older model a few months ago, don’t worry:, the new features, though all valid, aren’t major. So if you’re thinking about getting yourself a Strat or a Tele, you can rest assured: The Fender sound is there.

Two legendary guitars with classic sound and playability
Nice new cases that are both light and rugged
Sustain Improvements
Neck varnish gives it a nice feel

Nothing really revolutionary, but we weren’t expecting it anway

Read the full Fender New American Standard Telecaster review on Audiofanzine.

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