AF’s Weblog

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

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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.

October 25, 2008

SKB Stage5 review

t’s no secret that many guitarists like effects and that some are even addicted to their pedals. But of course there comes a time when it becomes necessary to make all these small boxes easier to transport and connect. That is partly why pedalboards were invented and marketed by brands such as SKB with their Stagefive, which we’ll be taking a closer look at …

Vue générale

In Audiofanzine’s forums or elsewhere it’s clear that when it comes to guitar effects, 2 schools of thought battle it out on this almost philosophical question. If you don’t count the “direct into the guitar amp” believers (poor guys), there’s on one side the multi-effect enthusiasts with it’s cumbersome digital programming and sub-sub-sub menus. And on the other, the stompbox fans (2-knobs and let’s play).

So you ask, how has the ultra-archaic effects pedal resisted the digital invader? There are objective reasons on the one hand: ease of use due to there being only a few knobs, the “one pedal, one effect” concept , the case where guitarists only need one or two effects (yes they exist!), and their robustness compared to the average multi effect. On the other hand, we find more subjective reasons: people talk about the warmth of analog compared to digital, not to mention trying to get the exact effects used by many of our idols, who recorded legendary music way before the advent of digital technology. What would “Voodoo Chile” be without a Wha Wha? “Message in a bottle” without a Boss Chorus, or any U2 song without 2 truck loads of all kinds of pedals?

 

After several weeks of use, Stagefive has proven to be a well thought out guitar pedal tool. The possibilities for routing and electrical power, plus the extra cable tester meets 90% of the needs of digital-phobic effect lovers.. If its weight and dimensions are somewhat imposing (start weightlifting immediately), it is unfortunately the price to pay for a single, comprehensive, and safe solution! And still it’s nothing compared to the weight of some custom wooden pedal boards. Among its slight shortcomings are the too concise manual, and the lack of a switch button between the 2 effects loops. At about 400 €, it’s not for everybody, but its strength and quality, in my view, make it worth the price.

Ruggedness
Quality of power outputs
The integrated cable tester!

Manual too light
Doesn’t handle some less common adapters – check before!
Lacks an A/B switch to go from one effects loop to the other

Read the full review of SKB Stage5 on Audiofanzine.

 

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