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HOLY RELICS

The world's rarest


KRIS BARRAS
From champion cage
SPIRIT OF ’64
Eastman’s stunning
Esquires & Strats fighter to blues pilgrim Casino-style semi

Johnny Prog licks to stretch

MARR
your soloing skills
P149

ON THE SMITHS, NEW RIFFS AND THE


GEAR THAT'S SHAPED HIS CAREER

EXCLUSIVE: INSIDE
MARR'S INCREDIBLE
GUITAR COLLECTION

Vs. CLONES

GUITAR SHOOTOUT

PED
DALS TO
BE
E WON!
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Interesting Times
Recent news of Gibson filing for bankruptcy protection had an
air, perhaps, of inevitability. No one takes any pleasure in the
humbling of a mighty name in guitars but there are some bright
notes amid the gloom. The way forward seems to involve Gibson
unburdening itself of a sprawling portfolio of non-core brands and
placing a renewed focus on making guitars – a part of the business
which has never struggled to sell its products.
“We have sold non-core brands, increased earnings and reduced
working capital demands,” CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said. “The decision to re-focus
on our core business, musical instruments, combined with the significant support
from our noteholders, we believe will assure the company’s long-term stability
and financial health. Importantly, this process will be virtually invisible to
customers, all of whom can continue to rely on Gibson to provide unparalleled
products and customer service.”
In other words, shut up and make yer guitars, to paraphrase Frank Zappa. It’s
just the sort of back-to-basics plan that many longtime fans of Gibson have wanted
to hear. From Dusk Tigers and the Firebird X to G Force automatic tuners, many
of Gibson’s bolder innovations left ordinary players wondering why Gibson didn’t
just focus on making sensibly-priced and solidly-built Les Pauls, 335s and so on.
But even as Gibson turns its back on blue-sky thinking and comes back down to
earth with a bump, it’s worth remembering that the company has always been an
innovator – and some of its boldest products weren’t always instant hits. Sunburst
Les Pauls weren’t all that popular in 1958. They are considerably more so today.
If Gibson can strike a balance between honouring its much-loved heritage and
making innovations that guitar players actually want, then there could be a bright
silver lining to this cloudy chapter in the company’s history. Gibson are going to
have to listen carefully, rather than dictate, to players, but they have every incentive to
do so. Look out for a full report next month. Until then, enjoy the issue.

Jamie Dickson Editor

Editor’s Highlights
Johnny Marr Rare Birds Hollow Victory
Always a provocative voice in We return to Chattanooga’s Eastman are making some
guitar, the ex-Smiths man also Songbirds Guitar Museum this seriously good guitars right now.
has a stunning collection of month to feast our eyes on Their 330-inspired T-64/V-GB is
vintage instruments that we some of Fender’s rarest vintage one of the sweetest semis we’ve
explore in detail on p68 custom colour electrics p62 played in ages. Review on p10

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 3


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EDITORIAL
Editor-In-Chief
Jamie Dickson
Art Editor jamie.dickson@futurenet.com
Reviews Editor
Darren Phillips Dave Burrluck
darren.phillips@futurenet.com Deputy Editor dave@daveburrluck.com

David Mead
Managing Editor david.mead@futurenet.com
Senior Music Editor
Lucy Rice Jason Sidwell
lucy.rice@futurenet.com Group Editor-In-Chief jason.sidwell@futurenet.com

Daniel Griffiths
daniel.griffiths@futurenet.com

Contributors
Richard Barrett, Rod Brakes, Trevor Curwen, Adam Goldsmith, Nick Guppy, Phil Hilborne,
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In-House Photography
Neil Godwin, Olly Curtis, Phil Barker, Adam Gasson,
Joe Branston, Joby Sessions, Will Ireland

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Contents
COVER FEATURE
JOHNNY MARR
68 The ex-Smiths man on
new riffs, old inspiration
and a hell of a lot of guitars

cover photography by
Joby Sessions

6 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Contents

ISSUE 434 JULY 2018

REGULARS
028......... TheWishlist
031......... The Lineup
034......... The Mod Squad
036......... Opinion
040......... Substitute
042......... Perfect 10
044......... Feedback
048......... New Music SUBSCRIBE &
050......... One For The Road GET A FREE
104......... Subscribe MINI AMP
114......... Board Games See p104 for details…
128......... Longterm Test
133......... Gear Q&A
136......... Pickup Lines
138......... Classic Gear
142......... Old Gold
153......... Reader Ads
154......... Next Month

COVER FEATURE
068......... Johnny Marr on music and guitars

FEATURES
056 ......... Kirs Barras
062 ......... The Songbirds Guitar Museum’s Fenders
084......... Malina Moye
122......... Workshop: Gray Guitars

NEW GEAR
010 ......... Eastman T64/V-GB
016 ......... Music Man Cutlass HSS
& Valentine Tremolo
022 ......... Sigma GMC-STE+ & DM-SG5
088 ......... Strat-Alikes: Fret-King Corona Fluence,
Fender American Professional Stratocaster
& Suhr Classic Antique
106 ......... Origin Effects RevivalDRIVE CUSTOM
108 ......... Fender Santa Ana Overdrive, The Bends
Compressor & Level Set Buffer
112 ......... LR Baggs Align Reverb, Align Equalizer
& Align Session
116 ......... Vintage V6 Reissued
118 ......... Orange Crush Mini combo,
Positive Grid BIAS Amp 2 & IK Multimedia

TECHNIQUES
142 ......... Phil Hilborne on scales
149 ......... Blues Headlines with Richard Barrett

VIDEO & AUDIO


To enjoy all of the video and audio
content in this issue, type the
following link into your browser and
follow the instructions in the post
entitled ‘Guitarist video and audio’:
http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 7


f i r st p l ay

EASTMAN T64/V-GB
£1,769

WHAT IS IT? Chinese-made


ES-330-style hollowbody with top
USA and Japanese-made parts
and unique old-style finish

Got To Get
You Into
My Life
A great looking, aged hollowbody
semi that wouldn’t look out of place
in Abbey Road Studio 2

Words Neville Marten Photography Olly Curtis

T
he thinline semi is one of the most
enduring of all guitar designs. At home
in almost any musical setting it rarely
looks or sounds out of place, and is therefore
one of the most versatile instruments you
can own. Not surprising then that everyone
wants a piece of the pie that Gibson famously
first baked in 1958, when the ES-300 range
launched. Since then companies as diverse
as Guild, Gretsch, Fender, Höfner, Hagstrom,
Heritage, Ibanez, Yamaha, Epiphone and
dozens more have used the template as the
basis for some fine instruments.
Today though we are examining something
from Chinese manufacturer Eastman,
whose products consistently impress with
both styling and build. With its all-hollow
construction and P90 pickups the T64/V-GB
pays homage to the ES-330 and Epiphone
Casino rather than the centre-blocked
ES-335 etc. In fact, does the ‘64’ denote 1964
perchance; the year Paul McCartney bought
The Beatles’ first Casino?

10 GUITARIST JULY 2018


EASTMAN T64/V-GB first play

JUNE 2018 GUITARIST 11


first play EASTMAN T64/V-GB

1 2

1. A semi body wouldn’t The first thing we notice is that, while A quick word about the finish: Eastman
be complete without the T64’s shape is broadly similar to that calls it ‘antique varnish’ and it’s a six-step
that iconic f-hole, here
adorned with ivoroid
of a Casino the body tapers into the waist process carried out by the company’s
borders that leap out a little more and the cutaways and horns team of violin and mandolin stainers and
from the classy ‘antique are shaped slightly differently, but in a finishers. Essentially a base coat fills the
varnish’ finish perfectly pleasing way. Also obvious, is the grain before the colour is hand-applied
2. The Gotoh relic series ivoroid-bound ebony fingerboard with then sealed with layers of French polish.
green tulip tuners large parallelogram inlay markers (another The ageing doesn’t aim to ape Gibson’s or
certainly pique our nod to Epiphone), the bound body itself Fender’s approach of mimicking 50 years of
interest and add to the
charm of an instrument
and similarly adorned f-holes. Hardware hard road wear; instead it’s more like a high-
that’s been turning is typical of the style with attractively aged class furniture or violin maker who simply
heads whenever Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge, USA-made wants to evoke the general patina of age.
we’ve brought it out Bigsby vibrato and a set of Gotoh relic series
of the case
‘green tulip’ tuners that look rather more Feel & Sounds
convincing than those on this reviewer’s It won’t have escaped the attention of the
own Murphy aged R7 Les Paul. sharp-eyed that the T64’s neck has less
Electrics follow the tried and trusted available playing area at the top end than
format of twin volume and tone pots, with an ES-335 due to its 16th fret body join.
a three-way Switchcraft toggle governing Of course, this was the approach taken by
the upmarket Lollar P90-style pickups. Gibson on the 330 and Epiphone Casino
Eastman has really gone to town outfitting (both built, as we all know, in the same
the instrument with some of the best factory), and why these models were often
electrics and hardware available, and we regarded as ‘rhythm’ guitars.
certainly applaud them for that. But latterly they’ve become a great choice
for jazzy blues or earthy pop guitarists
who don’t require 22 frets for ultra top-end
It’s loud, resonant and widdling but prefer the added warmth of an
all-hollow guitar and love that area between
musical, with the fat bottom 3rd and 15th for perhaps more relaxed
forays. Although, that said, Hendrix played
and cutting top end that a Strat whose neck, when inverted as he
characterises archtop jazzers chose to do, also joins at the 16th fret and it

12 GUITARIST JULY 2018


EASTMAN T64/V-GB first play

3 5

didn’t exactly inhibit Jimi’s creativity. might suspect. We’re not joking when we 3. The sizeable Jescar frets
It’s a comfortable thing to play though, say that, sitting around with an acoustic and wide flat neck make
the guitar comfortable
that’s for sure. Eastman refers to the neck rhythm guitar, acoustic bass and perhaps for chord lovers and
profile as ‘traditional even C’, and it reminds a cajón adding rhythm, the T64 could just soloists alike
us of the 1960/’61-era Gibsons where there about hold its own without even plugging
was little discernible taper from one end in. It’s loud, resonant and musical, with that 4. The 16th fret body join
does limit the amount of
to the other – garnering the ‘wide flat’ mix of fat bottom and cutting top that also playing you can do on the
moniker. With a generous 44.45mm (1.75- characterises full archtop jazzers. In fact, Al Eastman, but such models
inch) bone nut and medium-jumbo Jescar Gorgoni who played lead on Van Morrison’s are generally suited to a
relaxed, rhythmic approach
frets it’s a chord lover’s delight. And if you Brown Eyed Girl (on a Gibson L-5), told us
do want to break out with some tasty licks that Hugh McCracken played the rhythm 5. You can’t fault the effort
and a few well chosen bends that’s all on tap parts on his Epiphone Howard Roberts – Eastman has put into
too, courtesy of the medium-jumbo frets. just mic’d up and not plugged in at all. procuring the finest
parts, as Lollar P90-style
Sonically this all-hollow style of However, connect the Eastman to a low- pickups and US Bigsby
instrument is way more versatile than you wattage valve amp like our ubiquitous Blues vibrato both show

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 13


first play EASTMAN T64/V-GB

EASTMAN T64/V-GB
Price: £1,769 (inc case)
Origin: China
Type: Double-cutaway six-string
thinline hollowbody
Body: Multiple-bound maple
laminate with single-bound f-holes
Neck: Maple, with pearl inlaid ebony
headstock veneer
SCALE LENGTH: 629mm (24.75”)
NUT/WIDTH: Bone/44.45mm
FINGERBOARD: Bound ebony, large
pearl parallelogram markers,
305mm (12”) radius
FRETS: 22 Jescar medium/jumbo
HARDWARE: Gotoh ABR-1 style
tune-o-matic, USA Bigsby B7 vibrato
tailpiece, Gotoh aged ‘green button’
Kluson-type tuners
STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52mm
ELECTRICS: Two Lollar P90-style
single coil pickups, two volumes (CTS
250K), two tones (CTS 250K),
Switchcraft three-way selector and
output jack
Junior and the world opens up. Imagine Verdict WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.86/6.3
how much more dynamic an ES-335 is than It’s hard to recall a guitar that’s made so OPTIONS: None
a Les Paul, then picture the same amount many positive waves in the Guitarist office. RANGE OPTIONS: The T64/V
– or more – again. The Eastman and its From its looks to its lovely light weight, (£1,679) is essentially the same
fabulous Lollar P90s can conjure up all instantly welcoming playability and guitar but fitted with Seymour
manner of great tones, from the plummiest extraordinary breadth of tones it’s gained Duncan Antiquity P90s. Other semis
jazz voice (neck pickup, tone rolled back), more friends than guitars costing several in the Vintage laminated range
to that delightful ‘just pushing into drive’ times the price. include the centre block T59/V
sound that either the neck pickup alone or No, it’s not perfectly made: there are (£1,499) with Seymour Duncan Seth
both on together can supply. Bridge P90s cosmetic flaws here and there but that’s Lover humbuckers
can be a bit honky and, while this does have all part of hand finishing, and anyway LEFT-HANDERS: No
some of that, it’s also a very musical honk they pale into insignificance when FINISHES: Antique Violin Varnish,
that, while never as sharp as a Tele, does everything about the T64/V-GB is just hand applied French polish
cut through supremely well. Add further so joyous. Every one will be different,
preamp gain or stomp on a nice pedal and too, not simply spat off the end of a Eastman Guitars
things turn smooth and fruity (The Beatles’ production line. www.eastmanguitars.eu
album Revolver is full of such tones); or Having this Eastman around has awoken
turn right down for an almost pure acoustic a few stirrings among the players here;
timbre. It’s more versatile than many some who would have never considered
guitarists could ever imagine. this type of fully-hollow semi, are starting
to imagine a place for one in their armoury.
We’ve always had a soft spot for Eastman’s
9
The Eastman and its fabulous approach to guitar building, and the T64/ PROS: Light weight, range of
V-GB has cemented that in spades. And if excellent tones, surprisingly
Lollar P90s can conjure up all you’ve not considered an all-hollow semi, playable for 16th fret neck join,
manner of great tones from we suggest you give one of these a try post
haste. Now, how does that riff to Paperback
eminently likeable

sweet jazz to Revolver grunt Writer go again? CONS: Not perfect cosmetically,
but that’s all part of the charm

14 GUITARIST JULY 2018


f i r st p l ay

MUSIC MAN CUTLASS HSS


PRICE: £2,749

What Is It? Special finish


version of Music Man’s active
nod to Fender’s finest

MUSIC MAN
VALENTINE TREMOLO
PRICE: £2,649

What Is It? A vibrato-equipped


version of James Valentine’s
ultra versatile signature

Valentine’s
Day
Like many big brands, Music Man’s 2018 offerings
are more about tweaking and expanding what
they already have rather than launching the next
‘big thing’. We take a look at two cool updates
Words Dave Burrluck Photography Olly Curtis

A
s one of the most carefully considered
makers out there, Music Man
defines the high-end production
electric, never afraid to incorporate new
concepts like active boosts, hum-cancelling
circuits, stainless steel frets, compensated
nuts and, on an increasing number of models
including the Cutlass, roasted (aka torrified)
maple necks. These on-going additions, of
course, come on top of design elements that
go back to the mid-eighties like the highly
distinct and practical 4-over-2 headstock, or
the wheel-style truss rod adjustment that is
now copied by many, Fender included.
Both the Cutlass and Valentine launched
back in 2016. The following year saw the
Cutlass HSS while the Valentine, along with a
trio of natty new colours, got a vibrato option
to herald 2018. As ever, if it ain’t broke…
The Valentine is, of course, the signature
model of Maroon 5’s James Valentine – one
of the very select and hugely eclectic artists

16 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra MUSIC MAN CUTLASS HSS & VALENTINE TREMOLO first play

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 17


first play MUSIC MAN CUTLASS HSS & VALENTINE TREMOLO

that have MM signatures. His original Not all of us live in a


signature model was a big hit in the
Guitarist office not least due to the fact it 1950s Strat bungalow
introduced a new body shape, interesting
pickups and electronics and featured one of
and so appreciate the
those necks that have really helped to put balance of the Cutlass
MM on the map over the past four decades.
And while new colours help to stimulate the Both guitars share numerous features: that
interest, the addition of Music Man’s modern headstock, the compensated nut (which
vibrato to this previously hard-tail only design improves lower position intonation), the 22
elevates it into quite the stylistic hybrid. medium/tall frets superbly loaded onto the
The Cutlass, of course, caused its own stir 254mm- (10-inch) radius fingerboard. And
a couple of years back. While ‘doing a although the material is different,
Fender’ has become de rigeur, the Cutlass’ dimensionally the necks are very similar
overly Stratocaster-like appearance hid with very Fender-width nuts: the Cutlass
numerous charms not least its lower tier measures 51.76mm at the 12th, the Valentine
‘Modern Classic’ pricing, active buffer and virtually identical at 51.23mm. The Cutlass’
hum-cancelling Silent Circuit which, neck is a little deeper (21mm at the 1st fret,
bundled in with stainless steel frets, fired a 23mm at the 12th) with a very slightly V’d
shot across the bows of many higher-priced feel in lower positions; the Valentine goes
boutique makers. The addition of a bridge for a similar rounded C overall which is just
humbucking HSS version is a no-brainer a little skinnier front-to-back measuring
not least when it’s offered in this Stealth 19.3mm at the 1st and 21.5mm by the 12th.
Black finish (a slightly shiny satin, not a Both feature that wheel-style, and very
matt) with ebony fingerboard. But things practical, truss rod adjustment along with
1. Its inspiration is obvious have changed, primarily the price which is Music Man’s own five-bolt neck-to-body
but the Cutlass alters
the classic recipe in now over 50 per cent higher than the three join on a nicely rounded body heel that’s
numerous ways, not single coil model we looked at back in issue chamfered a little more on the Cutlass.
least with a master 413: while the original model looked set to Both guitars also share the same (plating
volume and master
do battle with Fender’s USA models, the aside) hardware: Music Man’s Modern
tone control, plus a hum-
cancelling circuit and 2018 version sits more with brands like Suhr vibrato mixes old-school bent-steel saddles
buffered output and PRS’s Silver Sky bolt-ons. with two height adjustable pivot posts, a

18 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra MUSIC MAN CUTLASS HSS & VALENTINE TREMOLO first play

2 3

push-fit, tension adjustable arm and a steel jackplate. Although the black single-ply 2. In line with the Stealth 4. The overall balance of
scratchplate ‘disappears’ in this colour, the Black finish the the Cutlass’ sound is
top-plate, although the deep-drilled block
fingerboard is ebony, unmistakably modern,
material isn’t specified. Both units, by design, bass-side especially is very different to a not rosewood. Frets are with the neck pickup
sit flat on the body’s face with no up-bend; Fender design. The two single-coils offer a stainless steel – the giving a distinctive
down bend is virtually to slack and, partly stagger that reflects the arc of the strings choice for numerous high-end attack
high-end builders
thanks to the Schaller rear-lock tuners, rather than some historic reference, while
return-to-pitch stability is excellent. the bridge humbucker, in a plastic cover, 3. The truss rod is easy
Where the guitars primarily differ is their melds in with the vibe nicely. to adjust thanks to the
pickups and internal electronics. The wheel at the end of the
neck. It was used by
Valentine originally (sort of ) aimed to cross Feel & Sounds numerous budget brands
a Telecaster with an ES-335 and although Sticking with the Cutlass, there’s plenty to back in the 60s and
both pickups look like humbuckers, appreciate here though its modern Fender added it to their
American Elite models
mounted in proprietary recessed rings with presentation certainly reflects what we
both height and tilt adjustment, the bridge hear. While we don’t get the usual pickup
unit is a single coil with its protruding hum there is a very slight active ‘hiss’, which
diagonal magnetic poles staggered to match may annoy some, and overall it’s voiced, to 4
the camber of the strings. But the Valentine our ears, on the more modern side of the
has a few more tricks up its sleeve, not least Strat tracks. String-to-string balance is
Music Man’s latest hum-reducing Silent noticeably more regular than our reference
Circuit plus a gain boost (pre-set to around Fender American Pro, which has a slightly
10dB but it can via an internal trim pot be dominant G and softer B and E. While many
increased to around +22dB) introduced by will say ‘Well that’s what a Strat is supposed
the push/push volume control. to sound like’, not all of us live in a 1950s
The Cutlass is a little simpler but again far bungalow – the balance here is certainly
from standard, employing both the Silent appreciated. It’s nice, too, that the bridge
Circuit and a buffered output – effectively humbucker isn’t over-loud, again
an active guitar. It goes for a simplified it’s pretty well balanced in terms of output
master volume and tone set-up (hugely with the single coils and has an expected
overlooked on so many guitars like this) and smoother, fuller voice. Certainly in bridge
puts the output jack on the side, avoiding and middle it still creates that typical
the oh-so-Fender look of the original dished hollowed texture, which along with the

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 19


first play MUSIC MAN CUTLASS HSS & VALENTINE TREMOLO

neck and middle sound a little produced, in The vibrato addition


a good way. The neck doesn’t shy away from
high-end attack and, as ever, the middle on the Valentine is
provides extremely good contrast. Certainly
if you’re mixing funkier, poppier voices with
simply the icing on
a bit of good ol’ classic rock ’n’ blues in your a very tasty cake
set this and a few basic effects will get you
there in exemplary fashion. sounds. Split though, the neck humbucker
The Valentine is a beautiful mash-up of throws a nod to that smoother Tele neck
numerous instruments and inspirations: single coil, but here it sounds clearer than
its Les Paul-ish rounded lower bouts blend most, and with an appropriate amp voice
with a sort of double-cut Tele vibe, not this Tele-like side of the Valentine would
least with its slab style and smaller radius easily cover your Americana tour alone.
top edges. There’s no body contouring but But it’s just one facet of the Valentine’s
the body – from bass-side to treble – is multi-voicing; clean up the reverb and kick
tapered with edge depths running from in a little compression and the pickup mix
approximately 35mm to 41mm. The weight encourages your Rogers funk or Cropper
is excellent too and it feels really, really soul, the choice of either the split or full
comfortable. The oil and wax-finished neck humbucker adding tonal shade.
feels superb in the hand and the Valentine Switching to a rockier set-up and there’s
summons up as many sounds as the a glorious bright but not sharp-edged
5. Split or in unison, the instruments that inspired it. rhythm tone from the bridge that’d cover
neck humbucker gives
you a classic Tele-style
Kicking off clean on the single coil bridge the bluster of the E-Street Band on full tilt
sound that you can hang there’s plenty of a Tele’s steely honk, which or classic era Britpop jangle. The boost is
your hat on is contrasted by the neck’s thicker and equally multifaceted: from a simple solo
chewier humbucking voice: two very boost for those jam gigs, adding just a little
6. The major change is the
addition of the two-post different characters. In combination they hair, to light crunch or frankly another level
Modern vibrato to the work superbly for a mix that has hollowness of saturation to an already cranked amp.
Valentine model. By and sparkle in equal measure; hit the tone You choose. And that’s the thing about the
design it sits flat on the
switch to split the neck humbucker and it Valentine: it references so much but never
body for no upbend and
uses steel saddles and becomes a little thinner with a little more of sounds clichéd and with simple, easy-to-
top plate the Tele’s wide pickup mix – both timeless drive controls you’re very much in charge.

20 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra MUSIC MAN CUTLASS HSS & VALENTINE TREMOLO first play

MUSIC MAN MUSIC MAN


CUTLASS HSS VALENTINE
PRICE: £2,749 (inc case)
TREMOLO
ORIGIN: USA PRICE: £2,649 (inc case)
TYPE: Offset double-cutaway ORIGIN: USA
solidbody electric TYPE: Offset double-cutaway, bolt-on-
BODY: Alder neck electric
NECK: Roasted maple, bolt-on BODY: Solid figured ash (tapered from
SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”) bottom to top)
NUT/WIDTH: Compensated/41.3mm NECK: Roasted maple, bolt-on
FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, 6.4mm SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
white dots, 254mm (10-inch) radius NUT/WIDTH: Compensated/41.3mm
FRETS: 22, high profile, medium, FINGERBOARD: Roasted maple,
stainless steel 6.4mm black dots, 254mm (10”) radius
HARDWARE: Music Man Modern FRETS: 22, stainless steel tall/
vibrato, Schaller M6-IND locking – medium-fine
black-plated HARDWARE: Music Man Modern
7 STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 54mm vibrato with vintage bent steel
ELECTRICS: MM humbucking bridge saddles, Schaller M6-IND locking –
pickup, two custom single coils with chrome-plated
The vibrato addition here is simply the icing 7. Schaller rear-lock tuners Silent Circuit, five-way lever pickup STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 54mm
on a very tasty cake indeed. make restringing easy selector switch, master volume and ELECTRICS: Custom wound Music
and reduce the number
of winds around the tone with transparent buffered output Man ceramic humbucker in neck
Verdict string post – ideal WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.45/7.59 position and slanted pole-piece single
Music Man builds some of the finest for vibrato tuning OPTIONS: Rosewood or maple coil at the bridge, three-way pickup
modern electrics money can buy. The key stability. Along with the
fingerboards. £2,499 for all colours, selector, volume with push/push
compensated nut these
word here is modern: from design to set-up are very in-tune and except Vintage Sunburst (£2,599) switch for active gain boost, tone with
it’s extremely hard to find fault. Yes, the stable guitars and Stealth Black push/push switch for coil-split (neck)
Cutlass doesn’t hide its inspiration but it’s RANGE OPTIONS: The original WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.2/7.04
an entirely more up-to-date dish with the Cutlass SSS, in 2018 spec, now OPTIONS: No
sort of specification we’re coming to expect £2,399 (£2,549 in Vintage Sunburst) RANGE OPTIONS: The original, hard-
from the cream of modern bolt-on makers: LEFT-HANDERS: No tail Valentine costs £2,549
sophisticated hum-cancelling, stainless FINISHES: Stealth Black, Firemist LEFT-HANDERS: No
steel frets, an improved vibrato and, more Silver, Coral Red, Ivory White,Vintage FINISHES: Husker Red (as reviewed),
unique to Music Man, a buffered output. Turquoise, Charcoal Frost,Vintage Saturn Gold,Toluca Lake Blue,Trans
Add in the 2018 change to roasted maple Sunburst – satin polyester body, Black,Trans Maroon,Trans Buttermilk.
for the necks and, certainly, it’s state-of- satin polyurethane finish to neck Gloss polyester body, gunstock oil
the-art. and hand-rubbed special wax blend
While the all-over Stealth black won’t be Strings & Things to neck
to everyone’s taste Music Man offers plenty 01273 440 442
of more classic-looking hues. The down- www.music-man.com
side might be the substantial price increase
but alongside makers like Suhr it’s less of a
‘which is best?’ shoot out, more a ‘which do
you prefer?’
The Valentine, however, takes the ball and
8 9
runs it out of the park. It’s simply one of the PROS: Upgraded spec and neck. PROS: Build, sound, playability and
classiest, most intelligent new designs that Top specification, build, plus Silent style plus versatile sounds the Silent
we’ve encountered that covers huge sonic Circuit and buffered output Circuit and onboard boost
ground with style and class. It’s Valentine’s
day indeed! CONS: Probably won’t entertain CONS: Hard-tail version aside, what
the vintage-blinkered among us you see is what you get. No lefties

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 21


first play SIGMA GMC-STE+ & DM-SG5

22 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

f i r st p l ay

SIGMA GMC-STE+
£299

WHAT IS IT? One of the most


competitively priced electros
in the one-time Martin brand’s
line, this grand OM features the
Fishman Isys preamp.

SIGMA DM-SG5+
£495

WHAT IS IT? Part of Sigma’s


Gibson-influenced SG series of
acoustics, this electro is inspired
by the iconic Hummingbird

Alpha
Acoustics
The German company with a reputation for value
now finds inspiration in classic designs from
the Gibson and Martin stables…
Words Rob Laing Photography Joseph Branston

D
espite its history as a CF Martin & Co
brand at the beginning of the 70s,
there’s still the sense that today Sigma
is a dark horse in the contemporary acoustic
world. Indeed, many newcomers may not
even be aware of its roots as an affordable
Japanese-made entry-level to the Martin
family. Although the rights to the Sigma
name were purchased by German company
AMI ahead of a 2011 relaunch, the familiar
Martin shapes and logo remain along with a
reputation for quality in the lower and middle
areas of the acoustic market for these Chinese-
made instruments. Still, the sense that Sigma
is a little under the radar in terms of visibility
in the UK remains, but its line continues to
expand and so does its sources of inspiration
beyond its originator’s classic flat tops.

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 23


first play SIGMA GMC-STE+ & DM-SG5

1. The Sigma logo and


1 headstock shape retain
a lot of original parent
company Martin’s style

2. The level of
workmanship and
attention to detail are
surprisingly good on
the GMC-STE+

3. Fishman’s renowned
Sonitone system
features volume and
tone controls neatly
stowed away inside the
guitar’s soundhole

4. A lot of Gibson’s
Hummingbird aesthetic
has been carried over to
Sigma’s DM-SG5

Like Martin, Gibson has its own iconic


examples of acoustic design. Models that
are part of the lineage of rock ’n’ roll, folk
and country music — the J-45, SJ-200 and
Hummingbird. And Sigma has its sights on
them with the JM-SG45+ and the GJA-
SG200+, as well as the DM-SG5+ we have
here. With a 2018 Gibson Hummingbird
retailing at just under £3,000, it’s beyond the
reach of many, although Epiphone, of
course, offer their own affordable spec
electro at a fraction of the price.
Meanwhile, the GMC-STE is an electro
cutaway that’s very much in keeping with
Sigma’s roots in Nazareth – an OM cutaway
that comes in at a price that’s viable for
newcomers to electro-acoustics and those
who may need one for the occasional
acoustic set or songs live.
It’s understandable to approach a £300
acoustic guitar with muted expectations.
Unsurprisingly, the back and sides of the
GMC-STE are laminate mahogany. The
Sitka spruce top is solid and our model’s
top has characterful streaks in its grain.
The overall impression of the build is an
instrument above its price-point. The low
profile mahogany neck is satin-like, as is
the case with the body, the edges of the

24 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra SIGMA GMC-STE+ & DM-SG5 first play

Micarta ’board rounded. It should be a the smooth action and stable performance ears, or ageing potential of its nitro-
welcoming experience for new acoustic of Grover tuners. The scratchplate isn’t finished solid wood-constructed
players, with the shallower OM depth of the thickness of Gibson’s traditional inspiration, but it’s not as far away as
bringing the guitar closer in a seated tortoise Hummingbird motif, and the gold some might imagine. And for those priced
position than most of the ever-popular in the plant and hummingbird etchings out of Gibson ownership (and have
dreadnoughts. It’s heartening to see a bone seem duller, but the design itself is always lusted after a Hummingbird),
saddle and nut here too, a calling card of remarkably close. that’s welcome news.
the kind of value Sigma offers and features The thin UV Heritage Cherry finish of the It’s a vintage-y voice that feels at home
that have an impact on longevity and top is key to the aesthetic here, lacking the within the plains of Americana and country.
tonal performance. warmer red tones of Gibson’s hummingbird The higher end is warm and rounded and
While the logo on the GMC-STE could be at the edges. We’re not sure how ‘cherry’ blends with deep, robust lows. But while
mistaken for its founder’s from a distance, you can call this, but the paler tones have some dreadnoughts reward a lighter touch,
Sigma has changed tack with the more their own appealing, cloudy quality. it feels like you need to dig in a little more to
vintage look of the square-shouldered mine the qualities of this guitar and its
dreadnought DM-SG5+. The decidedly 70s Feel & Sound medium action. A heavier plectrum pays
typeface isn’t coincidental – this guitar is What’s surprising is how close to dividends for the dynamics of rock
apparently a recreation of a Japanese model Hummingbird territory this DM-SG5+ strumming and wringing resonance from
the company produced in that first decade gets. It may not have the breadth of single notes too. It highlights how easy it
of its existence. But the scratchplate and dynamic response to more experienced is to overlook the importance of pairing
parallelogram inlays highlight another the right pick with your playing approach
inspiration. After all, Gibson isn’t shy about and instrument.
calling the Hummingbird “the world’s most In contrast, the GMC-STE offers a lower
distinctive acoustic guitar”. It’s heartening to see a action and brighter character all round.
Sigma does a fine job of capturing the bone saddle and nut Zingy highs and punchy mids are in keeping
American heartland vibe. Like the GMC, with what we’d hope from a Martin-style
it’s another 14-fret body flat-top with Sitka here too – a calling OM, but the sense of balance with a
spruce top and the bold flame afforded resonant low end is still a surprise for a
by laminate mahogany back and sides. And
card of the kind of guitar at this price. It feels tactile for
like Gibson’s own Hummingbird, it features value Sigma offers fingerstyle folk, rewarding the dynamics of

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 25


first play SIGMA GMC-STE+ & DM-SG5

5. The DM-SG5 benefits


5 from solid-as-a-rock
Grover tuners

6. The Fishman
Isys system has a
comprehensive range
of preamp controls – as
well as a handy tuner

7. Both guitars feature


bone nuts and saddles
– an unusual feature on
acoustics in this sub-
£500 price range

touch and suggesting a guitar that could go


the distance with a beginner.
Undersaddle pickups are a compromise
by their very nature. But that has advantages
when players need to make themselves
heard in a full-band sound. The cheaper
GMC-STE offers more control with
Fishman’s Isys+ preamp’s volume, bass,
treble, phase and tuner. But the DM-SG5’s
Sonitone has the advantage of steering
clear of interrupting its vintage allure with
streamlined tone (treble roll-off ) and
volume controls just inside the soundhole.
Our Martin-style GMC benefits most
from the character of its piezo, and the bass
control is useful to shape the low end to
taste for different playing applications.
But the qualities of the guitar come through
more than one might imagine with a high
output and far less of the brittle nature
that can surface from electros in this
price bracket.
We wondered if the DM-SG5’s lack of
dedicated bass control would prove an issue
on a guitar that has such a bold low end, but
it feels well-balanced and quite warm for
an active piezo system. But the Sonitone
performance would benefit from the added
EQ control offered by an acoustic combo or
preamp unit for gigging acoustic players.

26 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra SIGMA GMC-STE+ & DM-SG5 first play

SIGMA GMC-STE+ SIGMA DM-SG5+


PRICE: £299 PRICE: £495
ORIGIN: China ORIGIN: China
TYPE: Grand OM cutaway electro TYPE: Dreadnought electro acoustic
acoustic TOP: Solid Sitka spruce
TOP: Solid Sitka spruce BACK/SIDES: Laminate mahogany
BACK/SIDES: Laminated mahogany MAX RIM DEPTH: 126mm
MAX RIM DEPTH: 112mm MAX BODY WIDTH: 400mm
MAX BODY WIDTH: 400mm NECK: Mahogany
NECK: Mahogany SCALE LENGTH: 628mm (24.75”)
7
SCALE LENGTH: 645mm (25.4”) TUNERS: Grover chrome
TUNERS: Chrome, diecast NUT/WIDTH: Bone/44.5mm
NUT/WIDTH: Bone/44.5mm FINGERBOARD: Micarta
FINGERBOARD: Micarta FRETS: 20, medium
FRETS: 20, medium BRIDGE/SPACING: Micarta/59mm
BRIDGE/SPACING: Micarta/58mm ELECTRICS: Fishman Sonitone
ELECTRICS: Fishman Isys+ preamp WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.8/3.96
WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.8/3.96 RANGE OPTIONS: The SG series
LEFT-HANDERS: No features electros including the J-45-
RANGE OPTIONS: Dreadnought style dreadnoughts; JM-SG160E+ with
cutaway DMC-STE+ (£299), a Series laminate mahogany back and sides
1 GMC-1STE+ with the same spec as and P-90 Tesla pickup (£549),
the GMC-STE but with an ultra-thin JM-SGE+ with Sigma preamp and
UV-finish (£365) laminate mahogany back and sides
FINISH: Natural (as reviewed), (£295), and the 00-shape SLM-
Blackburst SG00+ with solid Adirondack spruce
and solid mahogany back and sides
Westside Distribution with Fishman Sonitone (£899)
0844 326 2000 LEFT-HANDERS: No
Verdict www.westsidedistribution.com FINISH: Heritage Cherry Sunburst
Since Sigma’s return in 2011, its consistency (as reviewed)
has been notable and these two distinctly
different models add to that reputation.
With the continuing development of
manufacturing technology and fierce
competition between brands, the GMC-
STE+ shows how much value is on offer for
acoustic players at the entry level. We found
it to be of a standard that transcends the
connotations of a starter guitar – it’s hard to
think of a better electro to begin on for the
price. The DM-SG5 offers some of the
Hummingbird character and charm at a
9 8
more accessible price. PROS: Fine playability and plugged- PROS: Offers some of the
The performance of these two guitars in performance combine with a tidy Hummingbird aesthetic and tonal
further strengthens this company’s build for some serious Martin- flavours at a more accessible price
commitment to its founding values. It’s also esque bang for your buck
a reminder that this often-overlooked name CONS: A gigbag would have been
really should be a go-to for players to try. CONS: At this price, none that we nice; some players may want more
can think of EQ control from its preamp

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 27


wishlist Palir Skinny Titan

theWishlist
Dream gear to beg, borrow and steal for…

Palir Skinny Titan £2,595


CONTACT WORLD GUITARS PHONE 01453 824306 442 WEB WWW.PALIRGUITARS.COM

Words Dave Burrluck Photography Joby Sessions

1. A 21-fret guitar like the


original, the Titan might
not be breaking any new 3 4
ground sonically but
Alnico 5-loaded Lollar
Tele Specials increase
the heat, offering a
“rounder top end with
more midrange and
bottom end”

2. It’s all about the details,


right? Well, this distinct
neckplate tells you
exactly what you’re
playing. Note too the
open grain and medium/
heavy level distressing
of the Candy Apple Red
finished swamp ash
body. Oh, and a Palir
Custom G&G Black
Tweed case is included 4. Yet another take
in the price on Fender’s classic
headstock, again it gives
3. The USA Bigsby B5 the Titan a unique spin
‘horseshoe’ vibrato, but remains both classy
in a far from common and, of course, highly
colour, certainly adds to functional, not least with
the vibe. The open-back the non-vintage truss
walled bridgeplate, with rod access placement
its trio of compensated and standard Graph
brass saddles, ensures Tech Tusq nut
enough back angle
for the strings as they
angle down under the
string bar

28 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Palir Skinny Titan wishlist

ADE IN LOUISIANA by John Palir

M and his wife Katie, Palir Guitars


got underway as a professional
business in 2014, although the pair had
been building guitars under their own name
for a couple of years by that point and John
had become “very interested in ageing
guitar parts and ageing necks”, back in
2009. Palir is typical of the rising number
of small shop builders concentrating on
quality and feel and, in the case of Palir,
quite an eye for artwork, not to mention
that ageing and distressing.
Palir’s range centres on Fender’s classics
as this Titan illustrates – a bashed about
beauty that looks like it’s had a hard life.
And coming in considerably lower in price
than Fender’s own Custom Shop with
top-line boutique components, not to
mention highly creative colour options,
gives Palir validity.
Of course, a maker like this has a huge
palette of options so do check out their
Custom Order form on their website. This
Titan, for example, uses a chambered
swamp ash body (the Skinny bit of the name)
with a white bound top edge that’s been
beautifully distressed. Like many makers
roasted maple is the neck wood of choice
and here it feels as good as it looks – “we
have a special ‘secret sauce’ for aging
our necks to make them smooth and as
comfortable as possible.” Topped with an
ebony ‘board with a 254mm (10 inch) radius
and an excellent fret job using Dunlop 6105
wire, set up and playability is first class.
Hardware is artfully aged too, the black
plated Bigsby frame adding a hot rod bike
vibe and pickups and electronics come
from Lollar and Emerson.
Quality, comfort, vibe, a great weight of
just under 7.5lbs, and exactly the sort of
sound you’d expect, here’s a slice of modern
boutique build that might stylistically be
hugely derivative but remains a very good
guitar. As the great Billy F Gibbons said of
a Palir Titan: “Swamp Righteous!”
Since we featured the Palir Titan on the
cover of issue 433 it’s been bought by
reader Jason Couch, who tells us: “Straight
out of the box it’s a beauty. A couple of
things that stood out acoustically – the
bright and defined clear tone – and the
neck, it’s not until you hold one that you
truly understand what people are raving
about. The first time I powered it up the
T-style sounds radiated from the bridge
pickup but the neck pickup drove a much
fuller sound than you would expect.”
It sounds to us like the Titan has gone
to a good home!

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 29


The Lineup
News and happenings from the world of guitar

The Tennessee Shuffle


Just what is going on with Gibson and what could its future hold?
t’s been a painful, gradually unfolding So is all this debt because Gibson isn’t its operation in Memphis. Manufacturing in

I process and impossible to ignore, but the


revelations regarding Gibson’s calamitous
financial woes in the last year have made
selling enough guitars?
It’s Gibson’s ventures outside of its core
guitar manufacturing that have been the
Nashville and Bozeman, Montana, continues.
The internet is awash with opinions on
Gibson’s contemporary output, but wherever
for depressing reading. There’s been a host most disastrous. “My dream was to be you stand there’s an argument that it has
of misinformation online too, including the Nike of music lifestyle,” CEO Henry never shied from asserting itself as an
everything from how culpable its CEO might Juszkiewicz said in an interview. “At this point, aspirational brand for players. Buying your first
be to whether Bonamassa could bail them I have to cut back on that ambition, frankly.” Gibson has traditionally been a landmark. But
out. Ultimately, we just need to know how He and president David Berryman have been with fiercer competition in the industry than
Gibson got here and how deep of a hole it’s in. the driving forces behind trying to expand ever, what will that mean to tomorrow’s guitar-
the Gibson brand into markets where other playing generation?
Has Gibson really filed for bankruptcy? established consumer electronics brands
Following debts of around $375m (£276m) have carved formidable reputations already. So what now?
Gibson Brands Inc filed a case under chapter The purchase of audio electronics This restructure isn’t just about offloading
11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code companies WOOX Innovations from Phillips in debt; most guitar fans can see that Gibson
last month. This is also known as a 2014, following Stanton Magnetics and Tokyo now has a dilemma to come to grips with.
reorganisation bankruptcy and is commonly Electro Acoustic Company in 2011 and in What does it want to be going forward?
filed by corporations that require some 2013 were significant financial commitments. Juszkiewicz himself has spoken of a desire
time to hold off their creditors so they can And investing in ventures such as Trainer by to innovate versus the expectation to be
restructure debts they have amassed. It Gibson, an active lifestyle-focused headphone beholden to the past. But Fender’s success
can give the debtor, in this case Gibson, the brand, have seen the company moving away – CEO Andy Mooney says the company’s
chance to fulfil obligations under a plan of from its roots to invest in these new areas and sales have increased in the past 10 years –
reorganisation and put their house in order. taking on significant debt in the process. suggests an iconic guitar manufacture can
It’s still not a step to be taken lightly, and thrive both ways. An optimist would argue
usually comes after other alternatives have How does all this affect Gibson guitars? this could be Gibson’s dark before the dawn,
been explored and exhausted. The business The company’s focus in restructuring will and we could yet see a re-focused brand
is banned from making certain decisions be on selling off its electronic-based assets, return to core values.
without the express permission of the courts but its guitar manufacturing has certainly
and that can include any sale of assets felt the pinch too. Last October Gibson took
beyond inventory and expansion. the decision to make savings by downsizing Guitarist will be returning to Gibson’s story as it develops.

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 31


The Lineup

What’s Goin’ On
This Summer
With warm evenings and cold beers beckoning, it’s time for
a special double-dose of guitar events to put in the diary...

Steve Earle & The Dukes


17 to 29 July
Various UK and Ireland venues

Although Earle has been celebrating the 30th anniversary of his landmark outlaw release
Copperhead Road, this tour’s set is looking to be more of a wide ranging affair with his band The Jukes
in tow. And there’s plenty of compelling material to draw from with the three-time Grammy-winner’s
catalogue. But while Earle has left behind the vices of the Copperhead Road days and replaced them
with an ever-growing collection of vintage acoustics, he tends to stick to more replaceable models
on the road; “I carry two new, well ten-year-old, M-size Martins,” he explains, “which are an M-21
Steve Earle [signature model] with a two-tone brown shaded top, and an M-36, which I could replace
tomorrow, to be honest, if it breaks.”
www.steveearle.com

Stone Free Festival out a reputation up and down the 23 June Tremonti
16 and 17 June country as a promising young British Rainton Meadow Arena, Durham 30 June to 5 July
London O2 Arena bluesman. Now he’s returning to where Various UK and Ireland venues
his journey began to mark the tenth Solid Entertainments tour agency are
The third year of the festival schedules anniversary of debut album Open Road responsible for a number of grassroots It’s another busy summer for Alter
its blues rock talents on the second day with a maturity that should put an events around the country that Bridge axe-slinger Mark Tremonti.
when Quintessential Yes (Anderson, interesting spin on his early material. promote UK blues musicians, grouping Following the release of his impressive
Rabin, Wakeman) headline. Joanne www.olibrownofficial.com them together on bills and combining signature PRS head, he’s releasing his
Shaw Taylor had a vintage 2017 that’s their fanbases for mutual benefit. This is first ever full concept album A Dying
been rewarded with her recent signing Black Deer Festival a prime example with Laurence Jones, Machine with his solo project, and a
to major labour Silvertone Sony – a rare 22 to 24 June Chantel McGregor, Kris Barras, Climax tie-in science fiction novel to follow.
achievement for any contemporary Eridge Park, Kent Blues Band, Stevie Nimmo’s trio, Félix He’s also judging our Guitarist Of The
British blues artist. Our other picks for Rabin and Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs Year competition.
are stateside talents: fast-rising and This new festival of Americana and offering a varied day of blues. www.marktremonti.com
charismatic young Les Paul/Blackstar country reflects the growing interest www.durhambluesfestival.co.uk
man Jared James Nichols; and a real in the styles on this side of the Atlantic Sons Of Apollo
player’s player who headlines the Indigo and in Jason Isbell, Eric Bibb, Iron & Ramblin Man Fair 1 to 8 July
stage, the inimitable Richie Kotzen who Wine, John Moreland and Striking 30 June to 1 July Various UK and Ireland venues
is also over for UK headline dates. Matches, it represents some superb Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent
www.stonefreefestival.com guitar talent. Artisans, children’s It’s going to be a busy summer for the
activities and BBQs galore also make The Blues stage on the Sunday of this prog collective before and after they
Oli Brown this a family-friendly affair. two-dayer is where we’re focussing our hit the UK for dates, featuring Ron
From 22 June www.blackdeerfestival.com attention; specifically Gov’t Mule led by ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal on guitar and Billy
Various UK venues former Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Sheehan on bass alongside former
Durham Blues, Haynes, a formidable and well-honed Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy
Before Brown went into heavier rock Rhythm & Rock live force with ten studio albums. and keyboardist Derek Sherinian
with trio RavenEye he was carving Festival www.ramblinmanfair.com with one-time Journey and Yngwie

32 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Malmsteen vocalist Jeff Scott Soto. a regular band, it hasn’t been easy Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire The Studio That
www.sonsofapollo.com to get all these friends in the same Became A Legend
place and at the same time, but finally, Starting small in the riverside town 3 to 12 August
Supersonic Blues thanks to the overwhelming fans back in 2001, the festival has now Abbey Road Studios, London
Machine support and demand, we were able to grown into ten pubs and two main
4 July start off the Machine and finally get it and an acoustic stage with 130 What better place to learn about the
Shepherds Bush Empire on the road for more than a just one- performances over three days. legendary Abbey Road than in Studio
off festival appearance at the time.” Incredibly it’s all free. The Quireboys Two itself? The Abbey Road Lectures,
With Lance Lopez’s solo career taking www.supersonicblues.com feature alongside acts including honed a series of talks detailing the 86-year
flight, the rapidly-rising Brit Kris Barras blues outfits like Glastonbury heroes history of the Studios given by Brian
has been drafted into the the fold for Swampgrass. Kehew and Kevin Ryan, producers and
European dates, including the tour’s The White Buffalo www.uptonbluesfestival.com authors of Recording The Beatles.
first stop in the Capital that will be 11 July www.abbeyroad.com
their debut UK headline show. The O2 Academy Bristol Graham Nash
impressive collective is based around 20 to 31 July Gomez
nucleus, bassist/producer Fabrizio Following his successful show at the Various UK and Ireland venues 24 August to 2
Grossi with Billy F. Gibbons as very same venue in April, Jake Smith’s trio September
special guest and legend in residence, returns to prove again just how much Billed as “an intimate evening of Various UK venues
drummer Kenny Aronoff, keyboardist acoustic Americana can rock and stories and songs”, this is a chance
Alex Alessandroni Jr, backing vocalists roll. This time they’re bringing Lukas to find out more about the genesis Following a successful sold-out run last
Supersonnets and Grossi’s main Nelson, song of Willie, and his band of the classic songs the Hollies and month playing their Mercury Award-
co-writer in the band Serge Simic on Promise Of The Real. None other than Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young man winning debut album Bring It On in full
second guitar and vocals. For this Neil Young’s regular backing band. has written and contributed to. He’ll for its 20th anniversary, the Southport
London show Davy Knowles will also www.thewhitebuffalo.com also perform songs from his solo band return for more dates after a US
guest. “I am really excited about this catalogue, most recently 2016’s This tour, where they remain a live draw. It
tour,” says Fabrizio. “Since by mission, Upton Blues Festival Path Tonight. all coincides with a deluxe reissue.
we’re more of a music community than 20 to 22 July www.grahamnash.com www.gomeztheband.com

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 33


STRAT’S THE WAY
Is it possible to increase the output of a Strat in such a way that it becomes comparable with a twin
humbucker equipped guitar? Dave Burrluck considers some alternatives…

T
urning back the clock some years,
I learned a lesson the hard way. I Radioshop Pickups’
owned an SG copy (which sounded ID:Evolution single coils
increase the power and
okay for the doom-laden riffs I was required keep (most of) the sparkle
to play) but I really wanted a Strat. Luckily,
I managed to borrow one and thought I’d
pull it out mid-set and all my mates would be
gobsmacked as I turned into Hendrix right
in front of them.
Ability aside, nobody told me a Strat
sounds very different to a twin-humbucking
mahogany plank. Instead of the thick,
saturated power-chord riffage that was
needed, the Strat sounded bright, bass-light
and clean. I struggled through one number
and didn’t play a Strat again for years.
The intentional disparity in the typical
output of a single-coil guitar and a
humbucking guitar can still catch us out,
not least if our Strats are vintage spec. With
the original tone control setup – tone 1, neck on your style – if you want a beefier, rockier crunchier, rockier voices easy to dial in too.
pickup; tone 2, middle – the bridge pickup sound then those reduced highs and extra And it’s this bridge pickup that seals the deal.
has no tone control so you can’t roll off power will probably help. But you just need Whereas so many can simply sound too thin
some highs and maybe kick in a level boost a bit more power… and bright, there’s a strength and a hint-of-
to compensate for the lower output and One solution comes from Radioshop Tele that suits this positon, clean or cranked.
thinner tone. Those highs can be rounded Pickups. With this Strat/Les Paul dilemma Swapping between a Seth Lover-equipped
by changing the tone controls – for example, in mind they’ve created a set of single coils, Knaggs Kenai and the Radioshop’d Strat we
running both the neck and middle to tone 1 the ID: Evolution (ID stands for increased still hear plenty of Fender-versus-Gibson
and the bridge to tone 2 – a typical set-up on dynamics) that have increased power but character yet the outputs are a lot closer.
many modern Strat-alikes. Another popular aim to retain that high-end sparkle. Another Interesting stuff.
linkage is to run tone 1 to the neck and tone trick they’ve added is a steel baseplate to the Pickups are hugely time-consuming to
2 to the bridge leaving the middle pickup bridge pickup, like a Tele’s bridge pickup, evaluate and hugely personal to the player,
without a tone control. Or, you can run tone which alters the magnetic field and sound. their style and their signal chain not to
2 as a master tone for all three pickups and They offer plenty of vintage mojo: “hand- mention the instrument you put them on.
leave tone 1 unwired. bevelled, vintage-staggered [slightly wider This Radioshop set offers extra oomph for
Experiment with the height and tilt of that and taller] 5.25mm diameter Alnico V those that need more heat but don’t want
bridge pickup pulling it down a little on the magnets, vintage cloth hook-up wire, black to eradicate their Strat’s signature sound. It
treble side and raising it a little on the bass- fibreboard bobbins dipped in nitrocellulose, really is quite a find.
side. As ever consider your string choice – a unique Radioshop ‘ID’ wax potting
going up a gauge and using darker sounding procedure to reduce microphonic feedback
strings can help. while boosting clarity and dynamics.” The RADIO SHOP ID:
If you’re just using your Strat you can DC resistances reflect their hotter stance: EVOLUTION ‘STRAT’ SET
obviously tune your FX/amp to balance out 7.2k ohms for the neck and middle and 7.8k
its voice. But, if you’re using other guitars, at the bridge. Cost: £208 (set of three), £72 (single),
not least that Les Paul with its humbuckers, Loaded into our Fender Road Worn £272 (loaded pickguard)
things are far from even and, before you Strat there’s certainly extra power on Skill level: If you can solder, it’s easy
know it, you’ve added a clean boost (or an tap. The individual voices have strength www.radioshoppickups.com
EQ pedal) early in your chain to compensate. and fullness albeit still with slightly less
Another option, of course, is to swap out – compared to other Strats we’ve had for Pros: Slightly higher output without
single coils for something hotter. The danger comparison – high-end sparkle. The (non- sounding over-dark
is you can lose the character of your Strat as hum-cancelling) pickup mixes, especially, Cons: A simple clean boost on your
the increased power often means a darker
sound without the sparkle. Again, it depends
sound strong yet textured, while the bridge
pickup balances beef with clarity that makes
pedalboard will easily compensate
the output level of your Strat 8
That should keep you busy till next issue.
In the meantime, if you have any modding questions or suggestions, drop us a line at: guitarist@futurenet.com

34 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Opinion

SESSION DIARY
Saturday Night’s Alright
A DA M Adam’s been emulating famous tones for some recent
GOLDSMITH prime time TV work. He shares his secrets here...

B
ritain, it seems, does have some We usually record these at Angel Recording upright bass and James Powell on drums.
talent. Quite a lot of it in the recording Studios in Islington, North London, under The first day we encountered some Motown
studios, a more limited amount on the able leadership of Musical Director tracks, which, to retain the element of
your TV screens. As you may have guessed Matt Brind and producer Graham Stack. surprise for the show, will have to remain a
we have been recording some of the backing Matt spends his time preparing charts and secret for now, save for the original artists
tracks for the ubiquitous ITV show Britain’s conducting (as well as playing the piano who were Marvin Gaye and Charles Bradley.
Got Talent. I’ve been involved with recording parts) for the various ensembles, which I took my small studio amp of choice, a
guitars for this show for two or three years could be anything from a string quartet, a Fender Princeton with uprated speakers,
now, also doing some occasional tracks gospel choir or a full big band with a and various effects. From my memory all
for the American Idol big band, (both being large orchestra. I ended up using was the amp reverb and
owned by the same people) which for some tremolo (nothing sounds like real Fender
reason known to people higher up the What’s Going On? amp tremolo) and a touch of my J Rockett
food chain than a lowly guitar player, they For the first of two full days of sessions Archer pedal. For those of you that don’t
sometimes record this side of the pond. It’s a we had a rhythm section plus medium know this is a recreation of the fabled and
great gig to do as one of my favourite aspects sized horn section. The rhythm section now overpriced Klon Centaur, mine was
of studio recording is having to recreate comprises Matt on piano and conducting given to me over some brandy by Paul
classic guitar sounds as close as possible to (he usually overdubs the piano after the Stacey. He’s not getting it back.
the original. main session), Steve Pearce on electric or The guitar sound on the Marvin Gaye
track was slightly difficult to nail. It was
quite a musically prominent part, but
drenched in reverb and tape delay on the
original, and had an acoustic quality, which
proved quite difficult to replicate exactly.
We got there in the end by bypassing the
amp entirely and using the middle pickup
of my ’67 335 directly into the desk, with a
mic on the strings of the electric. This mic
technique I learned off the late producer
Phil Ramone who told me (funnily enough,
in a conversation in the same studio) that’s
how they got the guitar sound for the intro
of Paul Simon’s Me And Julio Down By The
Schoolyard, which he produced. It can be a
tricky one to spot but once you’ve heard it
you’ll know for future reference.
This week we’ll be doing some big band
tracks where the main emphasis will be
on the brass and wind sections, however,
there’s some Brian Setzer style rockabilly
big band so I’m planning on taking my
Setzer model Gretsch (with the string-thru
Bigsby, which is a godsend in a quick
fire studio situation, as anyone who
has had to change strings on a Bigsby
will no doubt testify) and possibly my old
Adam (left) and bassist Watkins Copycat tape delay, which will of
Steve Pearce (right)
course instantly break and I’ll have to dig
showing their talent in
Angel Recording Studios out a Boss pedal. Oh well, nice idea while
it lasted!

36 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Opinion

NEVILLE’S
ADVOCATE
NEVILLE Nev Marten explains why he loves to play the
MARTEN field when it comes to guitars

his guitar thing is fickle. My role from blues to jazz, or rock to indie; it on the bridge pickup it can do almost

T allegiances change almost on a


weekly basis and I find it impossible
to remain faithful to just one instrument.
will always do you proud. It’s the only guitar
I need. But then I happen to find myself
noodling on the Goldtop...
everything the others can do, plus it has
those extra Strat-only tones I always think I
won’t use because they’re clichéd, but then
So... Strat, Tele, Les Paul or 335? There’s something about a Les Paul. find myself reverting to all the time. Plus it
I love good guitars because of the While the ES-335 can do all those other has a brilliantly designed vibrato.
different things that they are and the things, it can’t quite do ‘that’ thing. Yes, My Strat is perfect. It’s the right colour
different things that they do. But, since it’s more dynamic and will visually and (same as the first one I ever played), it plays
childhood, my love has always been sonically fit in anywhere, but it can’t quite and sounds amazing, and Fender built it for
for Gibsons and Fenders. But that’s not do ‘express train at full pelt while still me. I feel so attached to it that I’ve even had
surprising, really, because the moment being utterly controllable’. I like the fact Heistercamp make me a red leather strap
I began to take my playing a little more the Goldtop is not blingy like the more for it – with conchos!
seriously than just strumming Beatles ostentatious ’59s, but I have to confess of the Of course, modern brands have bettered
chords, the guitarists I looked up to played four models here the Les Paul is the one I’ve the old designs, with the aid of hindsight,
Les Pauls, ES-335s, Strats and Teles. So struggled most with over the years. I’ve had modern construction processes and so on,
these were what I aspired to. so many, of all persuasions, but they don’t and I really do love them all too. But Peter
seem to last. The only one I regret selling Green played a Les Paul, Jimi a Strat, Jimmy
Complete Collection was a fab P90 Goldtop, so perhaps I’ll find a Tele and Eric a 335 and I simply can’t get
As I’ve said many times, I’m not a guitar myself back there again sometime. away from those formative influences.
hoarder as such. But I’m definitely on It’s obvious why I’ve left the Strat till last, I’d love to hear which players influenced
the edge of that ballpark, and I have to isn’t it? It’s the guitar I’d have to make my you to lust after the instruments you do, and
have one of each of my four favourites to desert island electric. With a tone control which guitar would be your ‘one and only’.
feel complete… Thus part of my current
collection comprises modern reissues of all
four, having traded in and up to get here. NEV’S GAS OF THE MONTH
My red Strat has previously graced the And here’s the modern summation of
pages of this publication; my Les Paul guitar brilliance.
’57 Goldtop (Murphy aged) featured on What? PRS Custom 22 in Flame Amber
issue 432’s cover; my 335 was used for the Where seen? Manson’s Guitar Shop, Exeter
Cream gig with Mick Taylor and Jamie Price? £1,399
Dickson; and my Tele is a Candy Apple red, Description? PRS really got it right here.
bound-bodied Custom that I bought used. The 24-fret models had smashed the
I mention these instruments because at boundaries of guitar innovation but (for me
various times each one could be that ‘best at least) they squashed the pickups a little
guitar of all’. too closely together and my playing didn’t
When I’m in Tele mode I genuinely demand those extra frets anyway. So when
justify it as the essence of what the Paul Smith tweaked his fabulous design it
solidbody electric should be. Its purity, relaxed and breathed a little more. This used
clarity and simplicity make it the supreme one, in the truly classic Amber, is a 21-year-old
workhorse for any clean-toned task. But masterpiece that you could gig without fear
crank up the gain on the bridge pickup and of adding the odd dent. It’s a ton of guitar for
it’s a thing of wondrous beauty – just ask this money – the brilliant Dragon humbuckers
Jimmy Page. So my Tele becomes my main offer serious tone and, once you’re used to
gigging and recording guitar and I wax the rotary five-way, will provide many of the
superlative about it... until a few weeks sounds pioneered by the ‘big two’. Original
later when I get the 335 out of its case. pearl bird inlays, Schaller/PRS quick-change
Then of course it’s more of the same: it’s locking tuners and that foolproof vibrato
the perfect instrument, the summing up system complete a very compelling picture.
of all Gibson does best; it can handle any

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 37


Opinion

HERE I GO AGAIN
Now You’re Gone
BERNIE As Bernie bids farewell to Guitarist he takes us
MARSDEN back to one iconic guitar that got away

T
his will be my last monthly column in and regretted… that isn’t easy! I have also I’m still collecting guitars, of course, in
the magazine, and I’ve really enjoyed recorded a special CD to include in the fact only recently I seem to have acquired
writing these words over the last year. book, with 10 of the guitars you can read a few more! That’s the thing with guitar
I have a hugely exciting project that is about inside. You’ll get the sound of guitar collecting, it’s a sickness that you don’t
almost ready for the end of this year. I have and the image of it in one. recover from. I was with Joe Bonamassa
put together a very luxurious book full of It’s been a lot of work, but worth every recently in Birmingham and Brighton, he
my entire guitar collection. It’s the ultimate minute. I have a lot of guitar books, believe will definitely never get over the addiction,
book for guitar lovers and the photography me, and I was determined to make mine and he had bought a cracking Gibson
is truly outstanding. I’ve never seen photos the best. Tales of Tone and Volume will be 335 the very day we played together in
of guitars like it – they are exceptional. I available in three editions later in the year. Brighton. He played it that night as if he
will be adding anecdotes and stories about As you can tell I’m very excited and I’m had owned it for years instead of hours.
each instrument: how I acquired them, sure the guys at the magazine will keep
traded them, recovered the ones I sold you informed when the release is closer. Come An’ Get It
So, this takes me to a final tale of guitar
collecting. Many years ago, I used to hang
out in Denmark Street in London at the
Top Gear Music Store. Top Gear was a truly
great shop, a place to be seen in, for sure.
Around 1974 a guitar appeared on the
wall at Top Gear. It was an original 1958
Gibson Flying V in excellent condition.
Even in 1974, it was still very much a curio
amongst guitar players. We all knew that
Dave Davies of The Kinks played one, but
our great heroes Clapton, Green, Hendrix
and all the other top guys were playing
anything else. Except Jimi, of course, but
that’s another story.
So, one afternoon, not thinking very
much about it at all, I played the V. I
plugged it into a small amp, the sound was
decent, but without a strap it kept slipping
off my knee. I found it very inconvenient
and so after a few minutes it was back on
the wall. A few days later, I found myself
back in the store, trying it again, with the
same outcome. This continued for a few
weeks, but the guitar stayed on the wall. A
month later it was still on the wall, and by
this time my great friend Mick Ralphs of
Mott the Hoople was putting together the
very early days of Bad Company. He also
tried the V, and he pretty soon put it back
PHOTO BY BRIAN COOKE/REDFERNS

on the wall, too. The ‘Guitar of the Month’


Mick Ralphs is a was then reduced from £550 to £500 and
lifelong devotee of still no takers – but bear in mind that at the
Gibson’s Flying V,
point in time you could buy an original Les
shown here playing
a later ‘67 style Paul Standard for less money than that.
Another month went buy, it lost its ‘Guitar

38 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Opinion

A striking example
of a late ‘50s Flying
V from the fabulous
collection at Umea’s
Guitars – The Museum

“The moral of the story


is if you want a guitar,
don’t think too long
about it…”

·
of the Month’ accolade, and the lonely
V was reduced again to £450. I had an
internal debate: I could get it as a spare
guitar, maybe try and knock another £50
from the price. It turned out that Mick
and I were the only people to show any
kind of serious interest in the V. Top Gear
telephoned me soon after, and told me
that Mick was going to buy the guitar. The
bugger! I knew Mick well, we had shared a
house just before I moved to Paddington,
so I didn’t want him to get the guitar before
me. I said I would be in the shop ASAP.
I was with Wild Turkey at the time and I
had to go to my management, Chrysalis
Records, to get an advance on my wages.
They agreed, but I had to go to the office
and then to a bank in Oxford Street to
get the needed cash. Mick, being a more
affluent musician at the time, had the
money at home and a car! I walked to
Denmark Street with the cash burning a
hole in my pocket, and sauntered into Top
Gear smiling and waving the cash. The
guys were in hysterics: Mick had already
been in, paid for the guitar, and left for a
Bad Company rehearsal. The guys in Top 1958. Oh dear… Never mind, some you win in the course. Chris Buck is a rising force
Gear had phoned both me and Mick saying and some you definitely lose, but I’m not in the guitar world, still in his 20s, a very
the other was going to buy it! complaining. I’m informed that an original tasteful and exciting player. Stowe is a
case for a Flying V can cost £10,000 these place of exceptional beauty, the grounds
Mean Business days, and it’s harder to find a case than a have been voted the best in the UK, and if
Herein lies the moral of the story: if you guitar! Take note future collectors. you will be joining me there, don’t think you
want a guitar, don’t think too long about So, here I am at the end of my final are going the wrong way when you drive a
it, just make sure that you go out and get column. I should mention that the half mile to the venue, it’s quite magical.
it! Mick used that guitar all through Bad inaugural ‘Bernie Marsden Guitar Mojo We’ll start each day with a Q&A session
Company, there are many pictures of him Experience’ will be held at Stowe House before morning and afternoon tutorials.
playing it. I was at his house in the early in Buckinghamshire from July 11th until I’m very much looking forward to it and
1980s and took pictures of his guitars July 13th this summer. Head to po.st/ I hope to see you there. Please contact
– one of them was the ’58 V. As if all of GuitarMojo for more details. Numbers thearts@stowe.co.uk or Deborah Howe
this is not traumatic enough, there is a will be limited so call early if you want on 01280 818012 for more info.
postscript. Mick later sold the guitar for to improve your guitar playing, pick up So, that’s it folks! I hope you have found
a great sum, as he had the right to do. A performance tips and even getting to the column helpful and entertaining. I’ve
respected guitar collector called Armand record with me in the on-site studio. really enjoyed contributing each month. As
Serra bought it, and through extensive I am proud to have Jim Kirkpatrick and ever, thanks for all the support. If you’ve
research discovered through old Gibson Chris Buck as my mentoring colleagues enjoyed my column, you’ll enjoy my book
shipping numbers that the guitar was for the week. Yours truly will, of course, be Where’s My Guitar? (www.berniemarsden.
the very first Gibson Flying V ever made. there too. Jim has worked with me for a com). Many thanks for all the emails,
First. Ever. Made. Probably around late while now, plays with FM, and is a very fine Facebook and Twitter posts, I really do
1957, and it was shipped to a dealer in slide player. Slide guitar will be included appreciate your thoughts. Stay in touch!

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 39


The Lineup AUDIO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

Substitute
This Issue: Extended Minor Chords
Essentially, these ‘deluxe’ versions of when soloing over the heaviest of metal… contexts too, so take your time to
minor 7th chords can add a little class to This is an enormous and fascinating fully absorb the info here and you’ll
any chord progression – maybe not in subject, but we’re taking it on a small start noticing it in use in all sorts of
heavy rock, but even then, these added chunk at a time, though many of these contexts, be that vocal melody lines,
notes can inform your melodic choices principles hold true in other musical solos or chord progressions.

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3


This E minor 9th chord is essentially an E minor 11th also extends the chord by This second version of E minor 11th
E minor 7th (containing the notes E, G, adding in extra notes from the scale. In juggles the order of notes to have the
B, D) adding an F# from further up the this case, an A. It’s not the highest note in A on top. This gives a more ‘piano
scale. This is where the term ‘extended’ this voicing, but this is due to the limited style’ voicing which sounds like a D
comes from. Even though the F# in this amount of simultaneous notes available, major chord superimposed over an E
case is not the highest note, this unique and the amount of fingers to play them! minor – but that’s another article!
combination of notes is known as The closely voiced G and A on the middle
E minor 9th – staple of many a jazz two strings give this a distinctive sound –
standard and rock ballad! more complex than the E minor 9th.

Example 4 Example 5 Example 6


Voiced in this position,A minor 9th makes Shifting position and adding in a D on Shifting position again, we have this
use of the open 5th string, though just the 3rd string gives us A minor 11th. second voicing of A minor 11th, with the
using the top four strings renders it Sometimes these chords are mixed up 11th (D) on top at the 10th fret. This is a
movable to any key. The adjacent B with sus2, but these contain a minor movable chord, loved by Eric Johnson and
and C on the 2nd and 3rd strings give 3rd (in this case C), and so this cannot used extensively in the jazz repertoire.
a dissonance to what is still a very be the case… Like the earlier E minor 11th, this appears
harmonious sounding chord overall. to superimpose one chord over another
– look at that G major triad on the top
three strings!

40 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Greg Koch
He’s Milwaukee’s hottest guitar export and fusioneer deluxe –
but how will he deal with the 10 questions we ask everyone?

1
What was your first guitar and then away we go. But that’s about it, I don’t
when did you get it? really have a routine. Afterwards, you know,
“The first guitar I owned was an I’ll get among the people quick, especially
Applause acoustic – the entry-level Ovation if we’re touring with the band I’ll get out
with a plastic back, or whatever those things and sign stuff and hang out. So nothing too
were made from. I purchased it with the ritualistic, it’s pretty much on the fly.”
proceeds of my paper route in eighth grade

8
and so I would have been around 12 years What would you play on an
old. I remember I learned an A chord at acoustic around a campfire?
the second fret from my buddy across the “I’d just do a kind of blues thing…
street and going back and forth with the I have a tune of mine in mind. Either that
open strings playing what I thought was an or Cannonball Rag always seems to work.
effective rendition of Cocaine!” That’s probably one that would be towards
the top of the list. As opposed to Kumbaya!”

2
Suppose the building were

9
burning down, which guitar from What aspect of guitar playing
your collection would you save? would you like to be better at?
“I have a ’53 Telecaster – that would be the “I keep on learning more about
one that I would save. I don’t really have playing solo guitar. For years on end I was
much of a sentimental attachment to guitars always the one that needed to play in an
in general, but I always wanted a real, ensemble. Later in my guitaring I came
honest-to-goodness vintage Telecaster and · up with a repertoire of solo things and I
I finally got one. So now it’s here, if the place continue to work on that. And there’s room
is burning, I’m grabbing that one.” for improvement, whether that means
“I always wanted a reworking a standard, doing my own

3
What’s your oldest guitar? songs or doing some cooler folky stuff or
“The Telecaster would be it, although
real, honest-to-goodness alternative tuning things – just being able to
I do have a ’55 refin Les Paul as well, vintage Telecaster and play a meaningful set of solo guitar, whether
but the Tele takes the cake. The Les Paul I finally got one” it be on acoustic guitar or electric.”
was, as far as we know, a factory refin and it’s

10
kind of a transparent cherry. It’s beautiful to What advice would you give
behold, I got it from the owner of Wildwood · your younger self about the
Guitars – he was selling some of his own guitar if you had the chance?
collection… it sounds unbelievable.” because I like a floating tremolo and they’re “Particularly in the case of improvising,
temperamental, but I have found just that it’s just a matter of telling the story and

4
When was the last time you simple technique to be very effective.” not worrying about that little voice in your
practised and what did you play? mind saying, ‘Oh, I’d better do something

6
“I would say this morning at some If you could change one thing flashy here or I’ll lose people’s attention…’
point I picked up the guitar and started about a recording you’ve been [laughs]. If I’m teaching a Skype lesson or
playing. I can’t remember what I played, on, what would it be and why? something and people say, ‘I always play the
though. I think I just played one of my tunes “You know what? I don’t obsess about that same things over and over again,’ I say it’s
– played the chords a little bit and started stuff. That’s what was so refreshing about not about licks – that’s like having a verbal
improvising. Nothing’s set per se, I kinda the Toby Arrives record. It was live in the vocabulary where you have some excellent
have a loosey-goosey practice schedule, studio, we played the stuff and we were words that are very descriptive but if you
which is a combination of improvising, done. So I kinda have an attitude of ‘what threw them in all the time no one would
maintaining my own repertoire, practising happens, happens…’” care. So instead I say what you’re about to
other people’s tunes and learning new stuff.” play should be influenced by what you’ve

7
What are you doing five minutes just played, so think of it in terms of building

5
When was the last time you before you go on stage and five a conversation rather than just talking.”
changed your own strings? minutes afterwards?
“Just yesterday! I always change my “Sometimes I’ll be noodling before, but
own strings. I change one string at a time most of the time not. Usually I’m securing Greg Koch’s latest CD Toby Arrives
and I tune it up to the rest of the strings and whatever beverage I’ll be consuming – my is available now via the Mascot Label
yank on it until it submits and then I go to dual attack is sparkling water and coffee or Group’s The Players’ Club.
the next string. I find that useful on Strats some kind of espresso-fuelled drink – and www.gregkoch.com

42 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Feedback

Feedback
Your letters to the Guitarist editor. Drop us a line at guitarist@futurenet.com

PEARLS OF WISDOM
Star Letter I read with interest your article in Guitarist
about building a Tele-style guitar from a kit
CUTTING REMARKS (see Boston Teaser review, issue 432) as
two months ago I did the same thing. You
Your review of the Boss Katana Artist in indicated how easy it might be to customise
issue 432 refers to players who prefer the finish on one of these kit guitars, so I
valve amps as ‘diehards’. I am simply thought I would tell you about what I tried.
insulted that the reviewer uses this term. I bought the kit from Gear4music because
I’m sure Watford Valves and Hot Rox who this was the only outlet I found offering a Les
rent advertising space from you, whose Paul-style body. I needed this style of body
stock in trade are thermionic valves, are because I wanted to try and do a Zemaitis-
also insulted. Guitarist has done articles style pearl front. First, I filled in both the
on valve technology on many occasions, pickup cavities and made a new cavity for
reviewed valve amps and eulogised a DiMarzio humbucker I had spare. Then I
about their tone. Many top guitarists use routed out a recess about 2.5mm deep to
valves – and the Fender Deluxe remains take the mother-of-pearl pieces that would
one of the biggest selling amps. In the cover the top.
70s, ‘transistorised’ became a buzzword, Next, I found several manufacturers of
yet here we are almost 50 years from bathroom tiles that produce small mother-of-
the HH IC100 and we still have valves pearl tiles, attached to a backing sheet. The
and the amp manufacturers still want only drawback is that if you buy them new the
to incorporate the humble valve in their minimum purchase is several square metres
circuit designs. So, yes, you could buy of tile. However, I found people selling leftover
a Boss Katana, which has valve amp quantities of such tiles in small amounts, on
leanings – or you could buy a valve amp. eBay. As a result, I was able to get a sufficient
Michael Channer, via email quantity of two contrasting tile colours for
about £30. Each tile was then individually cut
Stop mincing words and tell us what you really think, Michael! Joking aside, we think to the required shape using a Dremel-type
you might have missed the tongue-in-cheek spirit in which reviewer Nick Guppy used drill fitted with a diamond cutting wheel. The
that term ‘diehard’. No one is more passionate about valve amps old and new than trimmed-down tile pieces were then stuck
Nick is, so if it’s a joke at the expense of guitarists who enjoy using them it’s a joke down with adhesive and the spaces left
that is most definitely on him too. Editorially, we’re anything but ‘over’ the allure of
valve amps, both as music-making tools and as objects of desire – as you tellingly Paul Hilton takes
point out, the pages of Guitarist are full of features on the same. That’s because we mother of pearl to
whole new heights
love ’em, so please don’t take the term ‘diehard’ too much to heart.
However, we do think it’s also worth showing how modelling amps can open new
doors for guitarists – be it the convenience of a lightweight, multifunction combo
such as the Katana or the ultimate versatility of high-end profiling amps, such as
Kemper’s well-known wares. The only thing we’re against is having a closed mind –
so, in fact, we seem to be furiously agreeing with each other!
We hope the Star Letter prize of a Korg Pitch Black Custom Tuner will help you
see the lighter side...

Each issue’s Star Letter wins a Korg Pitchblack Custom


– a smart pedal tuner with ultra-high +/-0.1 precision for
sharp visibility and pinpoint accuracy right at your feet.
www.korg.co.uk

44 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Feedback

Graeme Harper’s
charity-shop Tokai
proved to be a
winner for all

between the tiles filled with grout.You can


see the results in the accompanying picture.
The result? Well, it turned out that the body
was in fact softwood – and to be honest the
guitar doesn’t sound fantastic. I bought the
‘cheap’ kit in case I made a mess of it and
wasted a good body. However, I was pleased
with the way the guitar looks and perhaps I
should have bought a mahogany body from
someone like Warmoth in the States.
Paul Hilton, via email

Thanks for sending pics of your stunning After more research and taking the thing looking at the Silver Sky is the desire to
work in Paul – your Zemaitis-a-like really apart I found that my guess was correct. It reconcile what I feel is an awkward pairing of
looks the business and, even if it doesn’t is indeed a Tokai Goldstar Stratocaster from the Strat body with the PRS headstock.
sound as good as it looks, we agree 1984. It’s not as collectable as the models Your review in issue 432 was helpful in
that’s the perfect justification for having from the previous years (before they changed telling the story of how and why this guitar
another go with a body blank that’s a bit the logo slightly), but is still a pretty accurate was created. The attention to detail is
more upmarket. But in the meantime, recreation of an early-60s Strat, which of admirable, and gives the guitar character
that cheap kit sounds like it’s provided an course is what Tokai were aiming to build. in itself. However, John Mayer is as liked for
absorbing project and some interesting A friend has a real ’62 Strat and I think the his style as much as his guitar playing – yet,
insights into the luthier’s art. Has Tokai is very close in feel, build and tone. It’s to my eyes at least, the guitar doesn’t look
anybody else got any good home-build a lovely guitar to play and probably worth quite as cool or as original as its creator. All
stories? Tell us about them, preferably about £500 but I’ll never sell it. It just goes to this controversy, however, should mean one
with pics, and we’ll print the best here. show there are still some gems to be found thing, though — in 50 years’ time guitarists
out there. will be talking about the time PRS made a
SWEET CHARITY Graeme Harper, via email Stratocaster with John Mayer. It’s one for the
history books, I guess we will have to wait and
I read your invitation to readers to share their An 80s Tokai for a couple of hundred see what will be remembered about it. This is
stories of charity-shop and second-hand quid is a good catch, we’d say, Graeme. the first issue I’ve read of your magazine and I
guitar finds and thought you might like my Well worth taking a punt on, especially as loved it. The design is spot on too!
story. Two years ago I was driving past my such guitars are rising in desirability and Joel Clements, via email
local charity shop on a Sunday and, as always, value. There’s nothing like the excitement
glanced across see if there was anything of making a bit of a find and getting to it Thanks for your thoughts, Joel. The Silver
guitar-shaped in the window. There was, so before someone else snaps it up. Sky has attracted its share of rotten
I stopped to investigate. I saw what appeared tomatoes – yet PRS is, by all accounts,
to be a Tokai Stratocaster-style electric SKY FALL overwhelmed with orders. A reminder,
towards the back of the window but I couldn’t perhaps, that there’s no such thing as
see clearly enough and the shop was closed. John Mayer’s latest signature model guitar, bad publicity! Also, regardless of how
The next day I was outside the shop in time the PRS Silver Sky has, I think, left Fender fans you feel about its looks or undeniably
for it opening. The guitar was indeed a Tokai feeling like he’s cheated on them. The Silver Strat-inspired features, the PRS is a deftly
Strat copy and the shop wanted £200 for it. Sky is a good-looking guitar, but it’s hard to executed, highly playable guitar. And
They’d obviously done some research and get the image of a Strat out of your head, so I even the harshest critic of the Silver Sky
knew it was a cut above the average Strat can’t help but be slightly disappointed each can’t claim it’s the first time the Strat has
copy they see on a regular basis but that was time I look at it. The non-Fender headstocks inspired clones by other makers. Over
about it. As an avid amateur guitar historian can remind you of the cheap alternatives time, certain legendary designs become
I knew of the 1980s ‘lawsuit’Tokais but I’d knocking around – yet when the price tag is archetypes that other makers simply
never seen one. Could this be one? I still as high as it is, it’s important that what you’re have to address or risk creating a gap in
wasn’t certain but the guitar was in fantastic looking at makes you think it’s ‘worth it’. What their own range. With that in mind, we’ve
condition, played really well, and as I was keeps me looking at my Fender Jazzmaster rounded up 20 Strat-style guitars and
feeling charitable, I decided to take a risk and is the awesome body shape, and the Olympic reviewed them alongside Fender’s original.
parted with £200. White finish. By contrast, what keeps me Turn to page 88 to see how they stack up.

Send your letters to: guitarist@futurenet.com

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 45


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46 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Music
The month’s best guitar music, plus top players in the studio

Joseph Arthur & Peter Buck


Arthur Buck
New West Records 8
Seasoned songsmiths collide in
frenzied popathon
Old pals Peter Buck and
fellow songwriter Joseph Arthur met
up by chance in Mexico last year and
spontaneously began collaborating on
material. “I started showing him songs,”
Arthur tells us. “But he was like, ‘That’s
cool. Now check this out’. So I put my
guitar down and began singing over
his changes, and it was magical.” The
marriage of styles is a fruitful one as
both reside in similar musical territories
– melodic verses, catchy choruses all
set to atmospheric electric and layered
acoustic instruments that gel together
with an enviable symmetry. There’s
obviously a flavour of R.E.M. to the
proceedings but not slavishly so, with
Arthur’s prowess as a tunesmith adding
its own unique brand of colour. [DM]
Standout track: If You Wake Up In Time

Johnny Marr For fans of: R.E.M., Dhani Harrison

Mr Big
Call The Comet Live From Milan
New Voodoo 9 Frontiers Music 7
Sweeping, dramatic masterclass the guitar has definitely still got it – and Hard rock supergroup still very
in melodic alt-rock mastery Marr’s got a crate of the good stuff under much kicking onstage
Too often, we define great the counter. Though coming a bit too late in
guitar playing by the Elsewhere, we find more classic the 80s glam-metal heyday to experience
intensity and dexterity of the hallmarks of Marr’s guitar style: In Hi Hello the same glories of the stadium-filling
soloing rather than artful melodic playing we encounter the dreaming, chiming behemoths of the era, Mr Big have
that envelopes the listener in an irrisistible chordal lines that made Smiths tracks remained more than a curiosity having
wave of cresting sound. Johnny Marr’s such as The Boy With The Thorn In His Side produced a string of great albums. Even
latest album is the ideal antidote to that so captivating. Marr also has a talent for though this live effort sounds like the
narrow way of thinking. Marr’s credentials shimmering sonic grandeur that has been crowd is barely into double figures and
as guitarist in The Smiths are well known but hugely influential on cerebral indie outfits Eric Martin’s banter borders on annoying,
decades have passed since then – and he such as Editors – a kind of latter-day the band sound great, with Paul Gilbert’s
has not been idle. equivalent to The Byrds’ ‘blizzard of nails’ histrionic noodling on Alive and Kicking
Call The Comet is both familiar and sound. The listener is reminded of this as and cool tones of ballads Just Take My
electrifyingly of the moment. Its mood is you listen to tracks such as the sweeping Heart and Take Cover stealing the show.
dark, edgy and dynamic – but the whole is Spiral Cities and the excellent A Different Elsewhere the swagger of numbers
held together with those lithe and perfectly Gun. In every track, Marr’s sure handling of like Everybody Needs A Little Trouble
constructed melodic lines that run like a vein song structure and melody tell of his long and bluesy Price You Gotta Pay shows
of silver through Marr’s entire catalogue. experience as one of the country’s great their varied palette a lot better than the
Excitement and energy is the currency exponents of what was once known as acoustic mid-set run through the jarring
of Marr’s writing on the album: Hey indie guitar. Today, we’d simply call it great Wild World, and Damn, I’m In Love Again,
Angel expresses the volatile chemistry of guitar playing, no qualifier needed. [JD] while few do the shred-backed chorus of
attraction in every propulsive pick-stroke of Around The World better. [AR]
its driving main riff. As a machine for bottling Standout track: Hey Angel Standout track: Alive and Kicking
desire and turning it into intoxicating sound, For fans of: Editors, Feeder, The Smiths For fans of: Van Halen, Extreme

48 GUITARIST JULY 2018


TesseracT Bill Wyman’s
Sonder Rhythm Kings
Kscope 8 Studio Time
Edsel 7
Sublime sounds from
tech-metal masters Legendary bassist
For all the bands still gathers no moss
influenced by the low-end, As far as side
palm-muted, syncopated projects go, Bill Wyman’s
riffing style of Meshuggah, Rhythm Kings was a doozy.
TesseracT are arguably The bassist set about
the ones who’ve most assembling guest musicians
ably crafted a unique around a static rhythm
vision, pairing intelligent section – and considering
songwriting with technical these guests include the
heaviness. Though lacking likes of Gary Brooker,
some of the immediacy of Georgie Fame, Andy
predecessor Polaris, the lush Fairweather Low, Albert Lee
expanses of Juno and Mirror and Martin Taylor, you know
Image soon pull you in with the stage is set for some
the vocals of Dan Tompkins eclectic rhythm ’n’ blues.
on Orbital complementing This is the outfit’s first album
the kaleidoscope of planes for 14 years and comprises
conjured by the waves of outtakes from eight different
guitar. Like the best prog sessions reaching back to
behemoths of yesteryear, 1987. The material is drawn
this is music that’s as from Willie Dixon, Canned
musically accomplished Heat and Jimmie Rodgers,
as it is effective fuel for the among others, plus a
imagination. [AR] smattering of originals. [DM]
Standout track: Orbital Standout track: Long
For fans of: Meshuggah, Comma Viper
Radiohead, Tool For fans of: The Blues Band

Start me up
On-the-rise guitar acts to look out for
Parker Millsap
Other Arrangements
Okra Homa/Thirty Tigers 8
Amazingly strong album from
Stateside songwriter
Despite this being the Nashville-
based singer’s third album, he’s
still pretty unknown outside the
US but we predict that will soon
change. The music contains
touches of country, funk and
blues embroidered upon mature songwriting with some
very capable guitar playing – check out the gutsy Tell Me
or the acoustic folkiness of Good Night. [DM]
Standout track: Tell Me
For fans of: John Lennon, Jeff Buckley
Music

Elliot
Easton
The Cars’ Elliot Easton
reflects on the wisdom of
checking the setlist before
embarking on Townshend-
style guitar demolition…

Words Elliot earnig his post-


David Mead gig Chinese takeaway

What was your first gig and how making sure it’s as quiet as can be. I’ll try and What’s the nearest you’ve come to
did it go? remember everything that’s on there: there’s a Spinal Tap moment on tour?
“My first ever gig was probably playing surf a Janglebox compressor, a Dunlop Echoplex, “It was the last show of a tour, I believe it was
music on my backyard patio with some an MI Audio Crunch Box, a Hermida Zendrive, the 1982 Shake It Up tour and I wanted to see
friends for the neighbourhood kids sitting a Dunlop reverb, a Keeley 30MS ADT pedal what it was like to break a guitar on stage like
around the yard. But I had a high school band and I have a Dunlop tremolo on there and an Pete Townshend. So it came to what felt like
and we won a battle of the bands and stuff ISP Technologies Decimator noise reduction the last song and I looked over at the rack
like that. One thing we did have was a regular pedal. Then there’s a switcher that makes of guitars – beautiful Gibsons and Fenders
gig on weekends at this place called Mr two loops out of it so if I’m going from the – and there’s this Dean guitar painted in a
Magoo’s in the town where I grew up, which heavier distortion to overdrive with the cheetah print. I had my guitar tech hand me
was Massapequa in Long Island, New York. We Zendrive, instead of having to turn one pedal the Dean, I played the song and then I did
alternated with a stripper! We were just 17 and off and another on, you can do that with the the whole thing; I smashed the guitar on the
there was a stage in one corner and another press of a button.” stage and the neck breaks off, I threw the
stage for the dancers in the other corner, so neck out to the audience… and then I find
we’d play our set and then the strippers would What piece of gear is most essential out we had to do one more song!
do their thing. I noticed that my dad suddenly to your live sound? Anti-climactic, shall we say?”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES

became very interested in my career…” “If I could only take one pedal with me I would
take the Crunch Box because that can give What’s on your rider?
Describe your current stage rig me a tone that gives me a voice. I can solo on “There’s always that joke about Van Halen
“I’m using Marshall JCM 800 half stacks. I that, turn it down and it cleans up – it’s like a and the brown M&Ms and The Cars had one
primarily play a Custom Shop Les Paul 1960 Marshall in a box; I could be given a Twin with like that, too. Besides all the usual stuff we
reissue, because I like the thinner neck, and JBL speakers in, one of the cleanest amps had one order of Moo Goo Gai Pan from a
an SG/Les Paul reissue – a ’61 with a wide, you can imagine, but the Crunch Box would Chinese restaurant. Everywhere we went
flat neck which I also love – and some form transform it into a Marshall, even with those we’d get back to the dressing room at these
of Telecaster. I had a pedalboard made by a low-end transients. That’s like my desert basketball arenas and there’d be a little
company in Ohio called Tonetronix and they island piece of gear, I can’t say enough nice paper bag with ‘Chinese takeout’. The reason
just do a great job of routing everything and things about that pedal.” was the same as the M&Ms – you knew if

50 GUITARIST JULY 2018


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beautifully presented print and
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making music on six strings?

Call now on
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY EBET ROBERTS/REDFERNS

they’d fulfilled that, they’d fulfilled the other Creedence and we played this gig in the
obligations with the rider. So it was a quick way middle of nowhere in Canada on an Indian
of making sure they were paying attention.” reservation. There was no place to fly into,
we had to fly into a local commuter airport
What’s the best venue you’ve played and then get this really tiny plane – I was just
in from a musician’s point of view? scared for my life! We landed on a dirt airstrip
“Doing shows for Bill Graham in the San and it was really harrowing. We got there and
Francisco area was always a pleasure. He had the hotel consisted of a bunch or trailers and
a reputation for being a hothead but he was the registration desk had bulletproof glass in
the guy who would always lay on the best front of it – this was rough. The rooms were so
accommodations when you played a show for dirty that we slept in our clothes on top of our
him. You’d go back in the dressing room and laundry. That was probably the worst one.”
there’d be real furniture like you’d have in a
living room: sofas, chairs, really comfortable. What’s your favourite live album?
Good food and he’d have a little gift for “Jerry Lee Lewis Live At The Star Club backed
everybody in the band – I remember one by The Nashville Teens. Some people would
time he gave us each leather shoulder bags say, ‘Oh, it’s got to be BB King Live At The
with our initials embossed into them. He was Regal or The Allman Brothers live At Fillmore
just a great promoter and so doing shows East or Frampton Comes Alive or all the
for Bill was a great pleasure because he famous live albums, but that album is the
treated you like a king.” most stomping, out of control, rocking-est
live album I think I’ve ever heard.”
What’s the worst journey you’ve
had to or from a gig? Expanded and remastered editions
“For 11 years I played with a band called of Shake It Up and Heartbeat City
Creedence Clearwater Revisited with Stu are available now via Rhino
Cook and Doug Clifford from the original www.thecars.org
BACKTRACKING
Our pick of recently reissued classic albums, essential compilations
and vintage guitar recordings you must hear

DEEP CUTS
PHOTO: GEORGE CHIN

Nigel Pulsford on lost-classic


guitar albums you must hear
Tom Waits
Rain Dogs Island Records 1985
Eric Clapton
Life In 12 Bars UMC/Universal 10 The songs of Rain Dogs marry
perfectly with Waits’ eclectic
Ol’ Slowhand revisits his glorious past… choice of instrumentation to
Released to coincide with the biographical DVD of the same name, this compilation is not so much create an idiosyncratic vision
a soundtrack per se, more of an accompanying audio document that acts as a backdrop to the of a crumbling cityscape, like a journey
video’s chronology.As such it visits Clapton’s career from the Yardbirds, moving through John across town just before dawn with Tom
Mayall to Derek And The Dominos and beyond.There are some gems which might not be so familiar, lurching from bar to bar to perform a song
like EC’s contribution to Aretha Franklin’s Good To Me As I Am To You – but the hardcore completists with different house bands. The tracks move
will applaud the inclusion of previously unreleased versions of Cream’s epic 17 minute Spoonful, effortlessly across genres, every song a
The Dominos’ High and remixes of solo material like After Midnight and Let It Rain. Priceless. [DM] perfectly-illustrated novella.
Standout track: Crossroads The sound of Rain Dogs is organic. Nothing
For fans of: EC from all eras,JJ Cale,John Mayall manufactured by Roland here. The drums
and percussion clatter and rattle. Marimbas,
horns, guitars, accordions, violins, banjos
Various Artists Grant Green and organs punctuate, inform and corrupt
Beside Bowie: The Mick Funk In France resonance the soundscape. There’s such beauty within
Ronson Story UMC 9 9 the chaos, from the pathos of Downtown
Train to the New Orleans swagger of
Glitter-encrusted survey of an A masterwork in streetwise Anywhere I Lay My Head. There’s even a
underrated guitarist’s work 60s jazz-funk virtuosity nod to Mingus with Midtown!
The late David Bowie remembers Somehow it feels like Grant Green has Guitar-wise it never fails to inspire and
Mick Ronson thus:“I thought we were every bit never quite been ranked in the very forefront of surprise. Marc Ribot had his first real
as good as Mick and Keith, or Axl and Slash. Ziggy 60s jazz guitarists but this double-disc set of live introduction to the wider public with
and Mick were the personification of that rock ’n’roll recordings made in Paris and Antibes from 1969- this album. His style – a sort of skewed
dualism.” Last year saw the premiere of the film from 1970 presents enthralling evidence that the St Louis- marriage of jazz, blues, soul and absurdity
which this soundtrack is derived, detailing the career born player deserves better from posterity. From the all performed with chutzpah – is
of Bowie’s faithful stage companion during the elegant, poised chordal work of How Insensitive to mesmerising. Keith Richards appears on
riotous Ziggy glam ’n’ pop era of the early 70s. The the nimble, icebox-cool soloing of Oleo, Green is so a few tracks, slotting easily into Waits’
material draws from this and other sideman projects very classy and composed in every play he makes. groove. Robert Quine is also notable along
like Elton John (Madman Across The Water) and Ian He’s known as the funkiest of jazz guitarists and it’s with Tom who plays a lot of accompanying
Hunter (Once Bitten Twice Shy). But it’s the Freddie his incredible deftness with free-flowing rhythmic guitar himself.
Mercury Tribute Concert tracks – Heroes and All The phrasing that makes this welcome retrospective so Further Listening: Swordfishtrombones,
Young Dudes that get our pulses racing. [DM] impressive and engaging. Listen and learn. [JD] Bad As Me, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers &
Standout track: Heroes Standout track: How Insensitive Bastards
For fans of: David Bowie, Ian Hunter For fans of: Howard Roberts, Wes Montgomery

52 GUITARIST JULY 2018


interview Kris Barras
Kris Barras interview

KRIS
BARRAS
It's not every day that you hear about an ex-cage fighter becoming one of the
most talked about blues rock guitarists on the UK touring circuit…

Words: David Mead Photography: Olly Curtis

usic and martial arts have front The Supersonic Blues Machine’s

M
How old were you when you started
always had equal billing in forthcoming European tour with no less playing gigs?
Kris Barras’s life, from as early than Billy Gibbons guesting with the band. “I started getting out on the local pub
as he can recall. He started “Supersonic Blues Machine have been one circuit when I was about 15, 16. When I
playing guitar at the age of five, around the of my favourite bands for the past couple was 18 a manager guy took us on and took
same time he began studying karate. His of years,” enthuses Kris. “They’re always us to the States twice, recorded an album –
early memories of live music consist of on in our tour van – both their albums – kind of poppy rock – and then it all fell a
watching his guitar and bass playing father and I really love what they do.” It seems bit flat, didn’t really go anywhere. I started
performing in pubs at weekends and it was that he’ll be in the company of other guitar getting more into the shreddy stuff, did
from this that his early musical influences megastars, too, as more guests for the tour some stuff for Lick Library and did a DVD
were drawn. “My dad’s favourite guitarist are being announced shortly. for Chops From Hell, which was a really
was always Gary Moore,” Kris tells us, Meanwhile, we thought it was best to big shred company back in the day.”
“and so he quickly became my first guitar track the rise of Kris’s musical career from
hero. I just listened to whatever was in my the very start. After being drawn to music What other influences started creeping
dad’s collection and through Gary Moore’s by his father, we were curious to know into your playing?
collaborations with guys like BB King and how things developed… “In my late teens I started getting more
Albert Collins I discovered the blues.” “I started off on just a little three-quarter into jazzy stuff, lots of the fusion guys like
His musical development continued in size classical Argos special on the proviso Pat Metheny, and getting into more heavy
tandem with his interest in professional that if I put the effort in and showed that duty players like Greg Howe, Tony
fighting, the two pursuits combining and I really wanted to do it then my parents Macalpine or Frank Gambale, those kind
colliding over the ensuing years. After would get me an electric guitar,” Kris of people. I think I was always looking for
retiring from the fighting circuit a few recalls of his route into playing seriously. more with guitar and I wanted something
years ago the emphasis was put firmly “I got my first electric on my seventh that really taxed me. That phase lasted a
back onto music, with his recent album birthday, it was a S-type copy made by few years and obviously I was doing the
The Divine And Dirty receiving acclaim Encore. That served me well for a couple fighting thing for years and I was just
from critics and fans alike. of years but then I got a 27-fret Hohner keeping cover bands alongside it, just
Just recently Kris’s career took another Revelation – a real weird bit of kit, but it doing weddings and stuff and that paid for
quantum leap when he was asked to was cool, I liked it.” me to train full-time. So I was doing rock

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 57


interview Kris Barras

Photo by Marcin Kaniak


Having achieved everything
he wanted to in cage fighting,
Kris is now tearing a path
through the UK blues scene

and blues covers at the weekend and I · to worry about the production side of
would train full-time during the week.” things, just go in and worry about playing.
The other albums were self-produced
So where does the fighting career fit in “When I stopped fighting and you’re constantly thinking about the
with all of this? I needed that other production side or engineering when you
“In my teens I started a bit of kickboxing, should be concentrating on the playing. I
things like that. I had a few years off when
outlet to keep me wanted someone I could trust who would
I was really hammering the music side occupied and I just go, ‘No, that’s crap… Try this’. We went in
of things and then I was getting a bit started writing songs” and recorded four tracks and that was
disenchanted with everything. So I started never intended to be released like that; I
training again when I was about 18 and I didn’t want to do an EP – I’d done an
loved it. I had a complete lifestyle change, · album before, I didn’t want to just chuck
started eating more healthily, stopped out four tracks.
drinking and, before I knew it, started songs. Whilst I wouldn’t particularly say I “I met with Mascot at Ramblin’ Man Fair
competing and it just kind of rolled on was strictly a blues guitarist, the blues in the summer and had a conversation
from there. influence is strong throughout the tunes.” over a beer in the bar and got on really
“When I decided to retire from fighting well. Then a message came through from
in 2014 I felt that I’d achieved everything How did you come to make The Divine the form on my website from Ed, the big
I wanted to achieve and felt that I’d And Dirty? boss at Mascot, and it said, ‘Hi Kris, I came
sacrificed enough of my life because as “My first proper album was Lucky 13 across your stuff online, it sounds great.
enjoyable as some of it is, the dieting, the in 2016. That one got us a lot more Are you signed?’ I thought, ‘This is
dedication and the training takes over your recognition and did well on the Amazon someone winding me up, just having a
life. I finished in Thailand, I was fighting blues charts, that kind of stuff. It got us laugh’ but we phoned up and, sure enough,
out there and I said to my other half, to bigger festivals, a lot more fans and it was legit and three days later we had the
‘That’s it; I feel like I’ve done it’. more notice. Then I started writing The offer on the table. After that it was all
“When I stopped fighting I needed that Divine And Dirty. Lucky 13 got us into signed, done and dusted.”
other outlet to keep me occupied and I just conversations with different labels and
started writing some songs. I didn’t really stuff, but it’s a tough industry – you can You’ve used Telecasters for quite a while…
put much thought into what I was going talk to someone but it doesn’t necessarily “I borrowed one from someone who
to do, I didn’t set out saying, ‘I’m going to mean anything’s going to happen. bought it from a pawn shop in America for
write a blues album…’ It just so happened “With this album I wanted to work with 80 bucks or something, it’s a Japanese
that a lot of the blues influence that I had a producer, wanted to go into a studio and Squier. That was what I was playing a lot
from an early age was coming out in the be told what to do, essentially and not have of the time while I was writing my first

58 GUITARIST JULY 2018


interview Kris Barras

Photo by Marcin Kaniak


Kris knocks out a solo while
touring his impressive The
Divine And Dirty album

batch of tunes. I decided I loved it and I · it was going to go down or sell us in the
loved the Telecaster; I’d always played a best possible light because it’s not what we
Strat before that, I’ve got a 1984 Strat that normally do, but we did really well.”
I’ve had since I was 15 and I was gigging it “I just wanted to do a
for a while but I decided I should get my guest solo on a Supersonic How did the gig with The Supersonic
own Tele. The one I’ve got now came up Blues Machine come about?
on eBay and I got a good price. It’s a ’68
Blues Machine track, so “It was a bit of a weird one. I was put
humbucker model from the Custom it’s crazy that I’m now forward as a support act for their London
Shop… I don’t get too geeked up on stuff – their frontman” date at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and
if I like something, I like it and I don’t get unbeknownst to us at the time they were
too anal about the details. I liked the looking for a new frontman. I think they
sound, I liked the way it played, loved · had it whittled down to one of two guys – I
the Bare Knuckle pickups…” don’t know who they were – and when
amp and did it all from the volume on the Fabrizio [Grossi] saw the videos that my
What are you currently using for guitar, but I’m singing, I’ve got guitar agent put across he really liked what I did.
your amplification? changes and stuff like that – it’s too much So my agent asked if I could be considered
“I’ve got a Laney Lionheart 50w Head – to think about, the Octa-Switch does for frontman and I got chosen for the job.”
Class A, all valve – and at the moment I use everything for me.”
a 2x12 cab. It’s a great amp, really clean and You must be incredibly chuffed!
sparkly. But it’s got two channels and the You’ve just come back from another bout “It’s funny, when I got signed to Mascot I
second channel has got the grit I need for of touring. How has the release of the new set myself a goal, I said, ‘Within the next
the heavier stuff and I use the amp album affected audience numbers? two to three years I want to be asked to do
exclusively for all the rhythm sounds. “It was much better than we were a guest solo on a Supersonic Blues
“On the solo channel I use a Wampler expecting. We did two tours back-to-back: Machine track!’ Because obviously that’s
Paisley Deluxe, but other than that it’s there was our headline tour where over what they do, they grab loads of different
straight from the amp. Other pedals I use half the shows sold out and the other guys. To think that within six months I’m
are compression, an MXR Micro Amp shows were not far behind, which was their brand new frontman, it’s crazy!”
Boost, a POG octave pedal that I use on great for us. Then we moved on to the Beth
one song and I’ve got the Wampler Tape Hart tour, which was an acoustic support
The Divine And Dirty is out now
Echo, which I use just on my solos. I’ve slot in much bigger venues, so we were
on Mascot/Provogue.
just started using a Carl Martin Octa- playing to 1,000 to 2,000 people a night
switch, which has made life a bit easier. and we were really surprised at the
For years I only used one channel on the response to that. We didn’t know how well www.krisbarrasband.com

60 GUITARIST JULY 2018


feature Songbirds Guitar Museum

DREAM COATS
We return to Tennessee’s Songbirds Guitar Museum to
view some spectacular vintage Fender electrics that shine
vibrant light on some of Leo’s rarest factory finishes…

Words Jamie Dickson Photography Joby Sessions

R
egular readers will rare-finish Fenders that he’s tracked as to give maximum protection from
recall our cover feature down at Songbirds, a collection of the bleaching effect of sunlight, so
a few months ago in over 500 rare guitars that’s open future generations can experience
issue 428 where we to the public at a custom-designed the dazzling visual effect Fender’s
opened the doors to premises overlooking the station designers were trying to achieve
an Aladdin’s Cave of vintage guitar where the fabled Chattanooga Choo with automobile paint finishes.
greatness that is the Songbirds Guitar Choo used to pull in to the city. While But although the Vault is crammed
Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. the museum’s main exhibition halls to the ceiling with exotica, it’s not
As mentioned at the end of that are stunning in their own right, the necessarily the most colourful guitars
feature, there was a lot more on best stuff is kept till last in a climate- here that have the most interesting
show at Songbirds than we could controlled Vault at the rear of the history, as David explains as he shows
possibly fit into one article. So we building. As mentioned in the last us inside. The very first guitar in
return now to the museum’s Vault to feature, the guitars inside aren’t the Vault is a relatively unassuming
take a second bite at the cherry with hermetically sealed away from the one, appearing very much like any
curator David Davidson, one of the world but taken out of their cases for Sunburst Tele. In fact, it’s not a
world’s most foremost vintage guitar groups of visitors to examine at close Telecaster and that Sunburst is far
experts. David is a lifelong devotee of hand and, in some cases, play. Part of from ordinary. The guitar hails from
Fender’s Custom Colour electrics and the reason certain guitars are stored 1950, when Fender was just finding
the search for guitars clad in scarce in the Vault area is that its heavily its feet in the uncharted waters of
and, in some cases, unique Fender filtered lighting conditions preserve making solidbody electric guitars.
factory finishes is his ruling passion. the finishes of guitars in such a way Intrigued by Fender’s all-solid vision
He explains that when you follow for the electric guitar, as compared
the trail all the way back to some to Gibson and Gretsch’s traditional
of Fender’s first experiments with archtops, one potential buyer
bolder finishes, you encounter some travelled a distance to go and see
truly stunning one-off instruments the guitars at first hand in Fullerton,
that sometimes heralded the shape “Truly stunning California, where Fender originally
of things to come – and sometimes had its manufacturing plant. He had
offered tantalising glimpses of what
one-off instruments... money burning a hole in his pocket
might have been. heralded the shape – probably one of the earliest cases
After decades of meticulous of things to come” of GAS-ing for a new Fender – and
detective work, David has been able to he wanted to buy a Broadcaster,
present some of the best examples of · the name the Tele was originally

62 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Songbirds Guitar Museum feature

This beautiful ‘56


Esquire is clad in a
forerunner off the
Shell Pink cusstom
colour opption

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 63


feature Songbirds Guitar Museum

The first ever Sunburst


Fender was a modded
Esquire sold to a visitor to
the Fender factory

marketed under. David Davidson “The interesting thing about


picks up the story from there. Verlin’s visit is that because he
“A gentleman named Verlin was disappointed he couldn’t get
Whitford walked into the Fender a Broadcaster, the Fender people
plant at Fullerton, which was a small were nice enough to take him on
cinderblock building that had a little a factory tour. So they walked him
counter in the front, much like a dry around, and they walked him down
cleaner or an auto parts store,” he to where amp production was going
explains. “In there, they had a cashier, on, and Sam Hutton was tweaking
a cash register in the corner and a the amplifiers. And while he was
parts person or a counter person walking around he found a guitar
dressed in a Fender shirt, like a gas- on a workbench, something he had
station shirt. never really seen before.
“So Verlin Whitford went in there “He found a Fender Esquire that
and he was looking for a new guitar was laying there that was a different
that was called a Broadcaster. It was colour than he’d ever seen. He says,
1950, he was very, very interested, ‘It looks like a Gibson,’ and they said,
and he was told at the time that they ‘Well, we’re just experimenting with
did not have a single Broadcaster this right now, it’s a Sunburst finish,
available and that they were waiting and we haven’t committed to it yet’.
on some new decals – but they could So Verlin says, ‘Well, I love it, and
sell him an Esquire. can I buy it?’ and Fender told him
“Well, he really wasn’t too happy it was not for sale. They told him
about having a one-pickup guitar, ‘We want to perfect it, because it’s
and he explained that he’d made kind of ugly right now’.
the trip specially, and everything “Anyway, Verlin persisted. And
else. So they offered to make him it paid off because eventually what
an Esquire and they would put a he came home with was the very
second pick-up in the guitar for him, first Sunburst Fender guitar. It’s
which was something that they had a two pick-up Esquire. It’s got a
done before. As a matter of fact, it’s very small, thin headstock: it’s very
known that Fender did this eight prototypically done. He played this
times: they made eight factory, two- guitar for years and he did re-fret it,
pickup Esquires. but otherwise it is original.”

64 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Songbirds Guitar Museum feature

This ’56 Esquire is notable


not only for its stunning Surf
Green finish but the rare
omission of a string tree

Perhaps because of their relative neck. Other customs were simply


unpopularity compared to the twin- built to look outrageously cool, in an
pickup Telecaster, many of the Vault’s era in which bold colour ruled.
rarest Custom Colour Fenders are “The 1956 Esquire in this pink
drawn from the Esquire model line. colour, which we call Shell Pink, is
In the case of the earliest attempts at beautiful – although the chances are it
Custom Colours, the finishes often really isn’t actually Shell Pink. But we
don’t conform exactly to the settled, do have the matching ’54 Stratocaster
standard hues that we know today, and both belonged to a female
being subtly different shades in some rockabilly guitarist,” David explains.
cases – prototype colours, if you “Both the Strat and the Esquire are
will. Like the Oscar Moore Nocaster Shell Pink or a derivative of that – but
in Olympic White that graced the they didn’t have formal paint names
cover of issue 428, many were made back then,” David adds.
as special orders to give well-known Another Esquire on display is
artists of the era extra stage presence. notable not just for its Surf Green
The Oscar Moore guitar’s unique finish – far rarer than you might
features went deeper than the finish think on an original ’56 Esquire – but
alone and included an ultra-slim for the evidence it bears of a rare
screw-up in Fender’s quality control
department, which was known for
the meticulous care its staff took in
making sure early Fenders left the
factory exactly as Leo intended
“Verlin Whitford them to be.
“This ’56 Fender Esquire is the
persisted and it paid only Fender guitar I have ever seen
off as he eventually with factory error,” David says.
came home with the “Now, interestingly enough, all final
inspections on Fender guitars were
very first Sunburst done by females, and it is very, very
Fender guitar” rare to find a guitar that leaves the
factory with a problem. They would
· send their guitars back under quality

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 65


feature Songbirds Guitar Museum

The car-inspired Tahoe


Turquoise finish marks this
’56 Strat as a very rare bird

control many, many times to have the bought a Buick or a Cadillac, you
tiniest problems fixed, but I believe could get upgraded paint.
that she was probably out to lunch “So what you see on this guitar
that day, and Joe the janitor was is a Tahoe Turquoise, which is
watching the desk. This guitar [also known as] a ’53 Buick colour
is made without a string tree, and called Biscay Green. It was specially
made without a hole for the string ordered, two guitars were made
tree. So two processes were ignored – identically the same: one ordered by
it’s a pretty amazing thing. So I a store in Texas, one ordered by a
love that guitar.” store in Maine.”
But among all the striking finishes Seemingly a superficial detail, the
on display in the Vault, one guitar finishes that Fender applied to some
keeps leaping out with its almost of its early creations in fact shine a
Kingfisher-like vividness – one of the vibrant light on the kinds of decisions
most beautiful Fenders we’ve seen the company grappled with in its
anywhere and representative of the early years regarding what musicians
close link between guitar finishes would find appealing. They also
and paints used by the US automobile highlight what a personal, almost
industry in the 1950s. Matching cottage industry Fender was at first
rare guitar finishes to the equivalent – the kind of place where, in 1950, a
car paints they derived from often guitarist could walk in off the street
involves quite a lot of detective and change history simply by buying
work and one stunning 1956 Strat a Sunburst electric guitar.
on display at Songbirds is a perfect
example of the cross-pollination
between the two industries. GOING FOR A SONG?
“This 1956 Fender Stratocaster is
finished in Tahoe Turquoise, which If this has whetted your appetite for visiting
was a 1954 automobile colour,” David the museum, a connecting flight from Atlanta
explains. “Keep in mind that the more reaches Chattanooga in well under an hour.
expensive cars in the United States General admission is $15.95, while an all-
could be ordered with metallic paint, access guided tour of the museum including
unlike your cheaper Chevrolets or the Vault will set you back $38.95.
Dodges, for instance. So if you songbirdsguitars.com

66 GUITARIST JULY 2018


interview Johnny Marr

arist i its - mi at h s stu o a ea of striin


la ch s w r his la , et…

Wor Rod

pearheaded on guitar by Johnny Marr, Electronic, Johnny Marr and the Healers,
The Smiths’ unique output of music Modest Mouse and The Cribs.
from 1982 guaranteed them the solid Johnny’s latest solo album, Call The
title of ‘timeless institution’, even after Comet, comes after an intense period of
their split in 1987. And with every decade reflection, which saw him delving deep into
since, their influence and futureproof the past with his autobiography Set The Boy
back catalogue has continued to inform Free. And now, with his mind firmly back in
generations of aspiring musicians. the present, Guitaristt dropped by to find out
Although Johnny is perhaps best known more about his new work.
for the five years he spent with The Smiths, We arrive at his imposing red-brick
that time represents just a fraction of his life Victorian factory building in Manchester
in music, after leaving the band more than and take the lift to the top floor – the
30 years ago at the age of 23. location of his private studio space. After a
Always in demand, his prolific nature warm welcome and a quick brew, we take a
and restlessly creative disposition has seen close look at some of the wonderful guitars
him collaborate with an array of artists in Johnny’s collection and make ourselves
over the years including Bryan Ferry, comfortable in the control room among
Beck, Talking Heads, The Pretenders, the various instruments, amps, pedals and
Hans Zimmer and Noel Gallagher’s High gizmos lying around in the aftermath of
Flying Birds, in addition to longer term the album’s recording (perfect timing for a
projects that he embarked on with The The, Guitaristt photoshoot!).

68 GUITARIST JULY 2018


U 2018
8 U AR T
UI 69
interview Johnny Marr

Johnny’s 1976 Martin


D-12-28 is a go-to
guitar in the studio
“There’s no doubt
about it – making the
record was an escape,
and most of the themes
of the record are
about escape through
alternative thinking”

Congratulations on your new album,


Call The Comet. How are you feeling
now that it’s finished?
“Thanks very much. I’m really proud of
it. It’s exciting. To be honest with you, I
don’t really talk to people a lot about it.
I’m still feeling a little bit like I’m rubbing
my eyes coming out of the studio...”

What was the inspiration behind it?


“I wanted to make a modern rock record.
I had an instinct about what that would
be, but I didn’t analyse or conceptualise
it – I just walked into this place with one
song written, which was Spiral Cities,
and I just fell into trying to find this
feeling of contemporary rock music.
That’s one of the great things about
having a life in music – I’ve learned
that I can follow a feeling. A couple
of other times in my career – Meat
Is Murder was another time – I was
following a feeling. I was following a
different idea on Call The Comet. that rock music does very well – or rock mood, and using rock music to do it.
“Sometimes I follow a concept – like music as I’ve always thought of it. I went Because the book was directly about the
putting the solo band together, that was into this record being drawn to that events that had happened in my life and
more ideas about the kind of group I feeling without even being aware of it, was quite big in the mainstream, I found
wanted to be in and the kind of songs until I wrote The Tracers.” myself in a lot of mainstream media, and
I wanted to write. I had a lot of time to that’s quite intrusive, I think. I wanted
think about putting a solo band together Did it feel good to get back to the book to get the attention, but it
when I was with The Cribs and Modest making music and playing guitar after definitely took it out of me. So, I was very
Mouse. I collected titles and developed concentrating on your autobiography, eager to get in and play music, almost as a
a certain kind of idea about what I Set The Boy Free? kind of refuge.
wanted to sing about.” “I spent a year writing the book and I “There’s no doubt about it – making
found the promotion of it quite draining the record was an escape, and most of
What was the feeling behind the first to be honest. I think, because I’d written the themes of the record are about
single from the album, The Tracers? the book, I had, literally, filled up all escape through alternative thinking.
“It’s inspired by Tyrannosaurus Rex. the pages, so everything was blank to Whether that’s being a musician, or
The feeling, when I got The Tracers me. Ordinarily that might be scary, but living in an alternative society, or being
together, was all about this rumbling in because making records and being in a character in the song Rise, or escaping
the drums and bass, and this idea that it a band is what I do, I just had to get on with The Tracers, or escaping into Spiral
was night time outside, the moon was out with it. My only direction was to follow Cities… ‘Fall in all in detournement,
and there was a sense of portent – that a feeling, cross my fingers and hope for Follow illumination’ [Spiral Cities song
kind of excitement you get when you’re the best. I was in the process of escaping lyrics] – that’s very much about going to
a kid and you stay up too late and there’s into this big factory and into my new a place. The lyrics for New Dominions
a sort of mystery in the air and potential record and hopefully coming out the are also concerned with escaping to a
danger. That, to me, is one of the things other end having gone through a whole different environment.”

70 GUITARIST JULY 2018


y Marr interview

“Music expressed
emotional truths that
didn’t necessarily have
to be expressed
through language”

AAre you
ffeeling more
g
grounded
h
having gone through
tthat process?
““Yeah, there’s no escaping the way
ssociety effects people – the difficulties,
t hardships, the frustrations and just a
the
w
weird feeling in the air. To deal with that,
I kind of took full advantage of the fact
t I’d been a musician since I was a kid
that
aand decided to honour the fact that being
a musician gives me a means of escape.
“When you’ve been doing it a long
t
time – particularly if it’s your livelihood
– you can sometimes overlook just how
mmuch of an escape creativity and being
aan artist is.”

DDoes music often feel more real to


yyou than what other people might
ccall ‘real life’?
““That was entirely the conclusion I came
tto as a child, but it expressed emotional
interview Johnny Marr

Marr’s Roger Giffin Tele-


style electric features a
figured maple top and
appeared on the guitarist’s
“I had this idea of an Smiths work and more
approach to the guitar
that I knew was going
to take some thinking
about. I always thought
the guitar should make
its presence known in the
first three seconds”

truths that didn’t necessarily have to be


expressed through language. I think the
abstract nature of sound and music is the
most effective means of communication.
For example, if you make some really
insane discordant, disorientating sound
on a drill through reverb – as an industrial
musician would – that’s going to convey
the horror of potential doom probably
better than any language!
“I bought into the abstract nature of
music being more descriptive and better
at evoking emotions when I was about
seven years old during Irish house parties
at the house I lived in with my family
– usually these very dramatic and sad
tunes. That would then come out in stuff
that I would write.”

As a kid, when you heard music


were you listening out for the guitar?
“Always, yeah! That’s how I started out –
just always looking out for guitar sounds, “I remember being brought into “Luckily, I’d followed Rory Gallagher
really. I identified to myself that the guitar Chris Sievey’s [of The Freshies] flat by around and had seen Thin Lizzy so many
was my main interest at a really young this older guy and paraded about, as times that I knew what really great blues
age. The grownups used to talk about me Chris was told, ‘You should get this kid rock and impressive, flash guitar playing
and my guitar, so it was reinforced – that in your band, ’cause he’s a shit-hot guitar was all about. That twin-guitar thing was
was my thing. My parents were probably player’. Chris looked at him, then looked really flash and was a great sound, and
amazed by it, and also they really liked at me and said, ‘Yeah, but he’s a kid?’ and it did the teenage boy thing, but it’s not
that idea because they loved music. Even I was standing there going, ‘Yeah, this pointless, silly shredding that doesn’t
when I was a teenager and I was playing is kind of ridiculous. I’d much rather sound anything like music. I wasn’t a
really loud in my room and everything be with my mates at the moment’. Also, snob about it, but as a teenager I had this
was all about the guitar!” I also knew that I had loads to learn. I idea of an approach to the guitar that I
knew what kind of standard I wanted knew was going to take some thinking
You threw yourself into it early. What to get to.” about. A lot of it was about discarding the
was it like gigging with a band like stuff that I didn’t need. Right from the off
Sister Ray at such a young age? What was the focus behind on a record I always thought the guitar
“I kind of saw it as clocking on to an concentrating on your technique? should make its presence known in the
apprenticeship, really. It was scary being “I was just so into using the guitar as first three seconds.”
in Sister Ray for that time. They sounded a machine to make a great 45. I never
like Hawkwind and The Stooges and forgot that. It was always in the service Was it as much about the production
they took really bad drugs – speed and of not only a song, but also of making of rock music you listened to that
acid, but particularly barbiturates and all a record. I discarded loads of shreddy informed your technique?
of that business. But I was so young – 14 stuff because it wasn’t interesting to me “I think growing up and being smitten by
– that I felt like if I were to do any more and still isn’t. I would listen to records of glam rock as an 11-year-old guitar player,
than five gigs with them then it was going that stuff and think, ‘This is rubbish – I’d and hearing all those great arrangements
to start to be a freak show. rather be listening to The Temptations’. – whether it was Mick Ronson, Mick

72 GUITARIST JULY 2018


interview Johnny Marr

“For me, when it comes


to technique and
expression, it’s all there
in John McLaughlin,
because the technique
facilitates the music”

Ralphs, Chris Spedding, and the guys


in The Sweet – all those guys who were
making these great 3-and-a-half-minute
guitar records. I never dropped that. The
impression those glam records made on
me and that excitement never, ever went
away and is still with me now.
“I think the song Bug off the new
record has got a bit of that in it. It
deliberately doesn’t have a solo in it and
it comes back to the intro riff and it’s a
chant. I feel like I’ve made a guitar record
– it’s a record that happens to be made
by guitars, but it’s not about necessarily
about the guitarist.”

Considering Hendrix and all the past


masters, it almost seems pointless to
try and make a statement based on
After writing his autobiography
technique alone… the new album proved to be a
“I always thought being an authentic creative escape for Johnny
musician was to aspire to or develop
your own unique and original style,
whether it was fancy and impressive or Les Paul – not just him whizzing up and I think many would agree that there’s
not. For me, when it comes to technique down the neck playing really fast. You something magical about guitars…
and expression, it’s all there in John need to understand what he was about “There’s a lot about the guitar that is
McLaughlin, in My Goal’s Beyond (the and the technology. Understanding the different to other instruments – the fact
first acoustic record he made), because context of it is a fascinating thing.” that electricity is involved and the really
the technique facilitates the music. He’s fabulous colours! One of the benefits of
trying to say something fast, not just for Perhaps the pinnacle of technique is learning the guitar, for me, was that it
the sake of it, but for the feel of it – and when reacting to emotional responses was something where I could be on my
then it’s completely valid.” becomes second nature… own and just fuck everybody off and do
“I think that’s what everybody is really something really engaging on my own. I
How important do you think is it looking for in an instrument. That’s what feel very lucky to have found something
for guitarists to know the history I understand about John Coltrane and that’s been a lifelong obsession, let alone
of their instrument? Jimi Hendrix – there’s no gap between get paid for it.
“I think it’s the same in any artform, the impulse and the expression. It’s “It’s a great thing if you’ve got an
whether it be painting, poetry, or about trying to make the instrument identifiable style. As Chet Atkins said,
whatever. People who are into doing invisible, at least during improvisation, ‘If your mother hears you playing on the
something truly great study the past anyway, which kind of goes against a radio and she knows it’s you, you’re a
masters. It’s partly just because of lot of what some people think being a good guitar player’. There’s a lot to be
obsession, but I made it my business musician is about (the worship of the said for that.”
to find out what Les Paul, Django instrument). It’s the closest thing to what
Reinhardt and people like that were all we understand as being magic, that I
Johnny Marr’s latest album
about, and I think young musicians will know of – that improvisation between
Call The Comet is out on
always do that. I can’t imagine a really people when in a split second someone 15 June on New Voodoo.
great guitar player not knowing those reacts to someone else is pretty magical. Find out more at
things. You really need to have heard The guitar is a conduit.” johnnymarr.com

74 GUITARIST JULY 2018


interview Johnny Marr

In a never-ending quest for new and inspiring sounds,


Johnny’s obsession with guitars has yielded an
impressive collection – here are just a few…

sP hy y S ss s

alking into Johnny’s studio, we Saturday’ thing is all part of guitar culture.
were confronted with a sight that is When I was growing up, guitars were really
every guitar-lover’s dream. As tools exotic and hard to get your hands on. Sadly,
of the trade, his diverse collection there aren’t as many guitar shops around
of tried-and-trusted guitars – each with now, so it’s even more difficult to get your
their own merits – are positioned within hands on them, I guess. They still hold
swift reaching distance and are always ready wonder for someone who’s 14, though.
for action whenever inspiration strikes. “I always had an instinct for finding good
Each instrument tells its own story, but they guitars – at least for what suited me. The
are all the result of a lifelong passion. moment I pick up a guitar in a shop, I kind
“My story is the same as everyone else’s,” of know whether I’m going to click with
says Johnny. “That whole ‘you and your it or not – even before I’ve put my second
mates going down to the guitar shop on a hand on it!”

76 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Johnny Marr

1959 GIBSON
ES-355 TDSV

O
ne of the better-known guitars
in the collection is this ’59 355,
which was bought for Johnny by
Seymour Stein from We Buy Guitars
on 48th Street in New York, as part of
the deal when The Smiths signed to
Sire in 1984. As soon as Johnny got his
hands on this cherry red beauty back
at the hotel room, he immediately
wrote The Smiths’ hit Heaven Knows
I’m Miserable Now, shortly followed
by the B-side Girl Afraid. “It’s a really
well-balanced instrument,” says
Johnny. “The neck’s so nice on it.”
1954 GIBSON ES-295

H
aving seen its fair share of action over
the years, this ’54 ES-295 can
be seen being played by Johnny in
the video for The Smiths’ 1985 single The
Boy With The Thorn In His Side. The rare
and highly sought after ES-295 is also
synonymous with Elvis Presley’s guitarist
Scotty Moore, who used one to record Elvis’
seminal Sun Records singles. Along with the
original Les Paul model (also released in
1952), the green-tinged finish wear is typical
of gold Gibson guitars of this period, as the
brass flakes in the paint oxidise over time.
Johnny Marr interview

GRETSCH 6122 CHET GRETSCH 6120 CHET


ATKINS COUNTRY ATKINS HOLLOW
GENTLEMAN BODY/NASHVILLE

The best workhorse guitars aren’t This Gretsch 6120 is one of several
always completely factory original. guitars acquired by Johnny that
This firm studio favourite is referred once belonged to Pete Townshend.
to by Johnny as his “black Country It was used to write and record
Gent” on account of its stunning Stretch Out And Wait on the
black refinish. B-side of The Smiths’ single
Shakespeare’s Sister.

1963 FENDER 1984 GIBSON


JAZZMASTER LES PAUL STANDARD

During his time with Modest This ’84 Les Paul – fitted with
Mouse in the mid 2000s, Johnny Seymour Duncan humbuckers and a
became obsessed with Jazzmasters Bigsby tailpiece – was acquired by
and Jaguars, ultimately leading to Johnny for The Smiths album Meat
his affiliation with Fender and the Is Murder and was used to write
launch of the Johnny Marr Jaguar That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore and
signature model. I Want The One I Can’t Have.

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 79


interview Johnny Marr

1983 RICKENBACKER 330/6 1962 EPIPHONE CORONET


This now iconic Jetglo-finish 330 This ’62 Coronet is one of several
was Johnny’s go-to live guitar during guitars used by Johnny for alternative
The Smiths’ early days and was used tunings and was used to record
to record What Difference Does It overdubs on William It Was Really
Make? and Reel Around The Fountain Nothing, as well as the Shoplifters Of
from the band’s debut album. The World Unite B-side Half A Person.

1963 GIBSON J-160E GRETSCH 7680


ATKINS SUPER AXE
Taking inspiration from The
Beatles and Herman’s Hermits,
Johnny picked up this ’63 J-160E “I swapped my old 1980 Les Paul
during one of his regular trips to Standard for this. It needs fixing,
Denmark Street in London and but I’ve kept it in exactly the same
subsequently used it to write condition it was in at the last Smiths
William It Was Really Nothing. gig I used it for. I never used the
[built-in] phaser, but the compressor
is amazing!” says Johnny.

80 GUITARIST JULY 2018


1964 EPIPHONE
CASINO

T
his ’64 Casino was bought along
with Johnny’s ’63 Gibson J-160E
during a shopping trip to Denmark
Street in London shortly after he
moved to Earls Court in the 80s. The
guitar was used to record the main
guitar parts for one of The Smiths’ best-
known songs How Soon Is Now?. In a
moment of creative exploration during
the session he decided to re-amp the
tracks using a quartet of Fender Twin
Reverbs at high volume and stumbled
upon perhaps one of the most instantly
recognisable and inspired examples of
amp tremolo in recorded history.
interview Johnny Marr

Johnny’s G E A R
A selection of cool devices from the guitarist’s formative years

1 2

3 4

1 TEAC A-108 SYNC 2LOVETONE 3 ROLAND JC-120 4 CLASSIC


TAPE MACHINE PEDALS JAZZ CHORUS TRANSISTOR RADIO
TRANSISTOR AMP
Johnny traded his old 1980 Les Sonic experimentation is and An important musical relic
Paul for this TEAC A-108 Sync has always been an important part With plenty of clean headroom dating back to his childhood,
tape machine and the Gretsch of Johnny’s approach to playing at high volume and a particularly some of the first music Johnny
7680 Atkins Super Axe shortly guitar. This set of Lovetone pedals good-sounding chorus circuit, Marr ever heard emanated from
before the formation of The is a studio mainstay and includes the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus this old radio in the Maher family
Smiths. Enabling him to (clockwise, left to right): the Ring transistor amp was an important home in Manchester during the
experiment with layers of guitar Stinger ring modulator/octave part of Johnny Marr’s live rig since 1960s. Johnny’s mum would
overdubs, this machine was key fuzz; the Doppelganger phaser/ The Smiths’ first major tour of the hoist him up on a chair in front
to developing his imagination vibrato; the Meatball envelope UK (along with more traditional of this radio as he stood, for
and skills in the art of writing filter; the Big Cheese fuzz; and tube amplifiers, such as the 1956 hours at a time, transfixed by
and recording. the Brown Source overdrive. Fender Bassman on previous page). the guitar parts.

82 GUITARIST JULY 2018


interview Malina Moye

MALINA
M OY E
She has been hailed as one of the most powerful guitarists working
today by both Carlos Santana and Stevie Wonder. We join her to
talk about making blues in Trump’s America and how to conquer
fear of failure to find guitar greatness beyond

Words: Jamie Dickson Photography: Olly Curtis

G
iven that she’s been on a plane playing it backwards, and then I said, depends on what you fancy, but I feel like
as often than she’s been on ‘Now, this works. This is perfect.’ My dad one note can have just as much emotion as
terra firma during her whistle- comes back and he’s, like, ‘Malina, this is 20. It just depends on what you’re bringing
stop tour of Europe, jet lag backwards. Nobody plays like this’. He’s, to the table.”
hasn’t dried up Malina Moye’s flow of like, ‘I don’t even think Jimi is playing it
observations on music, life and, well, just backwards like that [with treble strings Does being a lefty give you a different
about everything. uppermost]. He’s, like, you know, playing it approach to playing? If so, in what ways?
She talks as she plays: in cascading ideas another way.’ I just said, ‘Daddy, this “Absolutely, completely different. Even
that tumble one into the next but which works,’ and I just kept playing. today, if there’s something I love, I’m, like,
cut to the heart of the matter like an arrow. “My dad is a bassist as well as a guitarist, ‘Man, show this to me.’ Normally, what
Today, we’re talking about guitar – the so he showed me what he knew – and then happens is I say, ‘Just play,’ and then my
childhood love that blossomed into a the goal was always to be around players mind has to process what you’re doing
career that has seen her lauded by Joe who were better than me. Even now, it’s because I have to put it in my mind
Bonamassa and become the first female the same thing, you know? So as you just backwards... Also, the way I play with the
guitarist to join the Experience Hendrix start to develop a lot of my basis was high E string on the top means I can’t always
Tour alongside Eric Gales, Buddy Guy and learning from people. Meaning that instead hit the low end of chords. So even when
other luminaries. But with the launch of of going to Berklee and hearing about you play a 7th, a 9th or an 11th, you can’t
her new album Bad As I Wanna Be, she’s Buddy Guy, you’re on stage with Buddy tell me how to play it. I’ll just say, ‘Play the
got her own axe to grind – in the best Guy, he’s actually showing you what he chord,’ and my fingers are going to have
possible sense. We join her to talk about was doing. So it was, like, sink or swim. to find an inversion that works, because
Hendrix’s most important lesson for other “So a lot of the things that happened for we’re doing the same thing, but we’re not.”
guitarists, how to channel grace and me were definitely on-the-job training. I
feeling into every note, even under think that is what helped me to really So many great blues guitarists are
pressure, and why DiMarzios are a develop, because Brad Whitford was also strong vocalists, like yourself. Is
girl’s best friend... another one: he told me, ‘When you don’t interweaving vocal and guitar lines
know the rules, and you have to really start something you find effective?
What was your path into playing guitar? thinking outside the box and it helps you “Absolutely, absolutely, because if I can
“My father gave me a right-handed guitar to be more creative.’ So for me it’s about sing the line, then I can play the line.
when I was nine. But when he left the the soul and the feel. Looking at BB King I’m a person who likes to keep melodies
room, I flipped it upside down and started and a few other greats… again, it just extremely simple. I’ll find the minor in any

84 GUITARIST JULY 2018


interview Malina Moye

America and I’m seeing what Donald


Trump is doing and how he’s treating
people… It’s crazy. I was never raised to
disrespect people, I don’t do that. So, as a
black woman in rock, I started to feel like
people were trying to erase me, or replace
me. And that’s where this album came
from. I felt like this is a personal letter
· from me, and I’m using my guitar as my
weapon to tell you how I feel and give you
“The players who my perspective, in my shoes.
“For instance, in the middle of the song
really hit you in Better Than You, I sing, ‘Wait in the water’.
The reason I wanted to use that is because
the gut so you back in the days of slavery, [escaping]
slaves would go into the water to throw
remember and the dogs off the scent. I put this in the
middle of my record, because I feel like
you feel it, that not just for myself, but a lot for women,
that a new dawn, a new day is coming
is something you because right now we don’t see ourselves
cannot teach” represented in an equal situation, period.
So that line is just to say: keep doing what
· you’re doing and wait in the water –
meaning that I know a new change is
coming for us, for all of us.”

Being able to tap into the core emotions


of a song while performing is massively
important, but a lot of people struggle
to stay focused on feel and phrasing,
due to nerves or excitement. What’s
your advice?
major – I love the pentatonic scale. It’s so that’s it. I play a Custom Shop signature “I would say to you to get out of your
soulful, it’s so real. I go back to the word Strat with a left-handed body but a comfort zone, and do not be afraid to fail.
‘feel’ constantly because that is how you right-handed headstock – and it also Confidence comes from the ability to have
start to pool your emotion, and then that has 24 frets.” people knock you down. Don’t be afraid to
emotion begins to go into your writing. have life happen. When life happens, this
That [kind of ] writing needs some kind of You’ve often cited Jimi, another lefty, is the most incredible thing because these
response, so here’s your guitar line, then as a core influence. Fifty years on, why are the elements that really give you the
you go to another vocal line. You know is he still a such a touchstone? art, that really give you the emotion and
what I mean? So the guitar line has to be as “Freedom. Freedom as a player. And the passion that actually comes out.
powerful as the lead vocal because that is also his tone, phrasing, but I go back “Whether that is with a paintbrush, a
your answer to whatever you’re saying. So to freedom as a lead player… melody, guitar, or your voice. I would encourage
that’s why I think that it works that way.” soul. That’s something that you can’t all your readers to look [for emotional
learn, I don’t think, from a school. The touchstones]. Sometimes it’s not even
How important is tone to your style? players who really hit you in the gut something to do with an instrument, it’s
“I’m one of those people who is meticulous so you remember and you feel it, that is something that happened to you. Look
on trying to find that right tone. I like something you cannot teach. I think that at that one thing and be, like, ‘You know
my Hot Rod DeVille 212 amp – that amp is something that you actually have in you. what? I’m going to take all the emotion
kicks ass and I love the sound. It sounds Where it’s like your body and your mind from this,’ or ‘They made me feel like this,’
great in a club but also when you take it to are all one with the note and what you’re and put that inside – as my mom would say
a festival, you know what I mean? But I do playing, and it’s coming through you. – inside the belly of your stomach and just
like to keep it simple. People go, ‘What are You’re not even thinking about it anymore. go. That’s the hardest thing in the world,
you using?’ And they laugh when I say, That’s like, ‘fifth gear’, as my brother because everybody wants to be accepted
‘I’ve got to be honest. I use Dean Markley would say. Fifth-gear playing, that’s what and loved, but the person who decides
0.008 gauge strings, I do.’ I compensate Jimi brings. Every time he gets up to do it, that they’re going to take chance is always
Photo by Mary Grace McKernan

a little by using DiMarzio True Velvet it’s fifth gear. For me, that’s we should going to be the person that realises that
pickups in the bridge and the neck aspire to. on the other side of fear is greatness.”
position, which are incredible. They “It’s funny, when I heard If 6 Was 9 I felt
completely just make my strings sing and like, ‘Man, I really want to do this record.’
As Bad As I Want To Be by Malina
sound thicker. Then, for overdrive, I use What’s crazy is that this is 2018, and he did
Moye is out now on Leopard
Boss Blues Driver and Metal Zone pedals. that record a long time ago. Yet, for me, it
In most of my solos I will alternate feels like the times haven’t changed. I don’t
between those two with a delay, and want to get political, but when I look at www.malinamoye.com

86 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Malina at the Starlight
Bowl in 2012, in full flight
review STRAT-ALIKES

REACH
FOR THE
SKY Though PRS was heavily criticised for its
Strat-derived Silver Sky, the truth is that
the Fender Stratocaster-inspired market
is already huge… and getting bigger.
We pick out the main contenders

Words: Dave Burrluck


Photography: Olly Curtis

T
he release of PRS’s Silver Today, it seems, that so long as
Sky Strat-alike earlier you don’t directly copy the iconic
this year resulted in a headstock or, of course, steal the
huge amount of debate name ‘Strat’ or ‘Stratocaster’, it’s
that bordered on the fair game, which has resulted in
hysterical. It seemed like every a huge choice at virtually
guitar player on the planet had an every price point imaginable.
opinion on the right of PRS do such In the following feature we split
a blatant clone of someone else’s the S-type market into three bands
design. But as we also observed, – sub £1,000, £1,000-£2,000 and
companies ‘doing a Fender’ is far £2,000-£3,000 – picking out our
from new or rare and the history of main choice S-type and highlight
the electric guitar is littered with another six contenders to suit
lawsuits and cease and desist letters. your pocket.

88 GUITARIST JULY 2018


STRAT-ALIKES review

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 89


review STRAT-ALIKES

FRET-KING CORONA FLUENCE


£749
CONTACT JHS PHONE 01132 865381 WEB www.fret-king.com

W
e could have picked numerous
guitars to fill this sub £1,000 1 2
slot but Fret-King’s take is
really quite unique. Not only do we get a
competently made bolt-on but it comes
with Fishman’s active Fluence single width
pickups and USB rechargeable battery pack
already installed.
The clever redrawing of the outline adds
a slightly offset base and waist with thinner,
less bulbous horns. The two-tone ’burst
allows clear view of the centre-joined, two-
piece body contrasted by the white/black/
white scratchplate, again quite dramatically
redrawn while keeping the flavour. The
output jack – a Tele barrel-style – is side-
placed, again removing one of the Strat’s
most identifying features.
The maple neck, like a PRS CE, doesn’t sit 1. Thinner horns than a 2. Though similar to the
on a protruding body heel: the heel is part normal Strat flank the Strat’s headstock the
10" maple neck with wavy ‘W’ at the base
of the one-piece maple neck and extends robust screws and singles the guitar out as
into the body under the neck pickup where washers to avoid any Trev Wilkinson’s work
it’s held via four screws in thick recessed neck movement
washers. There’s very little chance with this
design of any sideways neck movement. standard 241mm (9.5 inches). The medium screws. Tuners, meanwhile, have staggered
Fingerboard radius is 254mm (10 inches), nickel silver frets are well installed; likewise height posts (the E and A being higher than
which is extremely close to Fender’s now the pearloid dots. Obviously, the Corona the other four) with chunky, knurled-wheel
avoids the Fender headstock outline, the rear locks. There are no string trees and the
“We get a competently dual batwing-like curves apparently taken nicely cut nut is lubricated Wilkaloid.
from the base of a ‘W’, from designer Trev We’ve covered these Fluence solid
made bolt-on with Wilkinson’s signature. core active designs in depth on previous
Trev Wilkinson’s hardware is what he occasions, but again with a current retail
Fishman’s active Fluence built his empire on and here the bridge is price of over £300 (not including the
single width pickups and typically tweaked from Fender’s design recharger) they add a lot to the package
with offset deep drilled holes in the steel not least with their dual-voicing selected
USB rechargeable battery block, a push fit arm with (rather hard to from a pull/push switch on the second tone
pack already installed access) tension adjustment and plated control. The necessary power comes via a
bent steel saddles – which are a little sharp USB battery pack, installed on the rear of
for under £1k” around the threads for the adjustment the guitar. It’s a dead simple system.

90 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra STRAT-ALIKES review

FENDER AMERICAN
PROFESSIONAL STRATOCASTER
£1,449
CONTACT Fender Musical Instruments EMEA PHONE 01342 331700 WEB www.fender.com

T
urn the clock back to the start of
2017 when Fender’s reboot of the 3 4
long-standing American Standard
series became the American Professional.
These were bookended by the slightly
more modern and upmarket American
Elite series and this year’s more retro-
aimed American Original (previously the
American Vintage range).
The Am Pro, whichever way you look at it
remains the standard USA Strat and it takes
some beating, distilling some six decades
of the design into a highly functional, and
pretty affordable, everyman package.
There’s nothing exceptional or
unexpected in this dish but for so many
of us that is precisely the appeal. The
weight is good, likewise the colour choice, 3. The different magnets 4. The Am Pro’s bolted-on
maple or rosewood ’boards of course, in the V-Mod single maple ‘deep C’ neck
coil pickups mean supports Fender’s
left-handed option and, let’s not overlook,
they look the business standard 9.5"
an extremely smart lightweight and while also delivering fingerboard
durable case. The specs define the modern sublime tone
instrument without being too modern, so
the fingerboard radius clocks in at 241mm has bent steel saddles, steel block and, bass and 5 on the treble of middle pickup,
(9.5 inches), and the two-post vibrato yes, push fit, tension adjustable arm. The while the bridge is all Alnico 5. They all
tuners aren’t locking but have staggered use 42 gauge Formvar wire and are
height posts: again the E and A string posts calibrated for their positions, plus the
“Highly functional and are taller than the other four and sensibly centre pickup is RWRP so the parallel
a single string tree maximises the down mixes are hum-cancelling.
pretty affordable, there’s pressure at the nut of the top two strings. Another change for this year is a slightly
nothing exceptional or But it’s the ‘engine’ here that elevates this tweaked control circuit in that the volume
reboot. Designed by pickup guru Tim Shaw, uses a treble bleed capacitor and resistor
unexpected in this dish but the vintage stagger V-Mod single coils look (an RC network) on the volume control
for so many of us that is ordinary enough but mix magnet types. So, to retain the high-end as you turn your
it’s Alnico 2 in the bass and 3 on the treble volume down.
precisely the appeal” side of the neck single coil; Alnico 2 on the Trust Fender to nail their own creation.

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 91


review STRAT-ALIKES

SUHR CLASSIC ANTIQUE


£2,599
CONTACT Suhr UK WEB www.suhr.com

A
s we move into the £2-3k area most B and E. And then there’s the Gotoh 510
players lean towards Suhr. While vibrato. A superb two-post unit with steel
our Antique version is lightly aged, block and pressed steel saddles but (deep
the standard Classic Pro would cost £2,099. drilled) and with a tension adjustable
Aside from the more pointed headstock push-fit arm.
and the two-post Gotoh 510 vibrato, The overwound ML (Mike Landau)
visually, it ticks the classic recipe to a tee. single coils have a light magnet stagger –
The weight is excellent and who’s going to plus we get the Suhr SSCII hum-cancelling
argue with the vintage tint to the quarter- system – and are controlled by a five-way
sawn maple neck or the nitro finish, which pickup selector, master volume and the
adds to the allure of a hardworking guitar ‘re-wired’ tone set-up of tone 1 (neck and
that’s far from over-relic’d. While the middle), tone 2 (bridge).
appearance and chassis are familiar it’s, Again, the six standard colour options
typically, the finer details that have been are classic, there’s a maple fingerboard
upgraded – not least with the decades of option plus you can choose to have an SSV
John Suhr’s experience. It has the feel of an ’bucker at the bridge. It’s a finely tuned, high
old working guitar that’s been repaired and performance instrument that retains – not
modded along the way. least in this Antique guise – a very familiar
Medium gauge stainless frets, for look and feel. Superb.
example, sit on a compound radius ’board.
Truss rod adjustment is behind the nut, SOUNDS & FEEL
not vintage-style, and all the better for it, With very similar weights, nicely on the the Fret-King is very similar, slightly fuller
allowing a perfectly dialled in set-up. right side of 3.6kg/8lb there’s very little to in the lower positions but similarly shaped
The hardware, in our modded scenario, distinguish between our trio in terms of in the upper portions; the Suhr feels like
has been ‘replaced’: rear-lock Suhr tuners strapped on or seated feel. Materials aside, it has a little more shoulder. All three are
with staggered post heights dropping in the same can be said for the finishing, too. perfectly fit for purpose.
pairs from the highest E and A to the lowest The real feel difference then lies in the Fingerboard radius is – seemingly – an
neck shapes, fingerboard, frets and, of emotive specification but our advice is to
course, set-up. Neck depths and widths give play ’em. Again they are remarkably similar
“While the appearance and us some comparison and it’s interesting and we think Suhr has the edge for the high
chassis of this superb Suhr that the widest nut with the widest string fret virtuosos not least in that the set-up is
spacing is the Fender. Depth-wise all three just a little more dialled-in with the smallest
are familiar it’s, typically, are remarkably similar by the 12th fret; the relief and lowest string height, with not a
the finer details that have Fret-king is a little deeper in lower positions buzz or choke in sight. The Fender feels
but it’s the shape that’s the crucial thing, yet a bit more ‘production’ but mixes a low
been upgraded – not least again they are more similar than the price- treble string height with more room on the
point might suggest. The rounded lower bass. The Fret-King’s strings, we felt, didn’t
with the decades of John positions of the Fender fill out width-wise reflect the guitar’s potential so we went
Suhr’s experience” while the shape moves to a flatter, classic C; up to 10s and adjusted both string height

92 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra STRAT-ALIKES review

5. The Fret-King’s able


active Fluence single
5 6 width pickups are a
steal at this price point

6. Not only does the Am


Pro feel and sound
like a Strat should, its
iconic headstock and
‘Fender’ logo prove its
credentials

7. The Goth 510 vibrato


on the Suhr again ticks
all the visual boxes as
well as adding those
classy pitch bends

and relief accordingly. Fret size is similar deep drilled, not the Suhr, while the Fender platform – there’s a beautifully buttery
on the Fender and Fret-King; the Suhr, the block is tapered and deep drilled. smooth feel without that ‘clack’ we have
only one that uses stainless steel, is slightly The unplugged acoustic response should experienced on a more vintage-specific
narrower and super-smooth but we have to be another illustrator of quality, and for Strat refretted with stainless steel.
say the other two are pretty damn good. all its class the Fret-King does sound a Time and time again we say it: the Fender
Vibrato set-ups are also slightly different; little brasher and sharper with slightly Stratocaster is arguably the most distinctive
the Suhr is virtually, but not quite, flat on less resonance noticeable with less body sounding electric guitar there is yet why is
the body; the Fender has the most tilt and vibration; there’s plenty of attack but it that they all sound subtly, or profoundly,
the Fret-King sits in the middle. If you want less development in terms of the sustain different? The Fret-King might employ
to deck the vibratos on any, get out that envelope. The Fender pulls back some of Fishman’s extremely good active pickups
screwdriver. And again preference reflects that brashness for a little more balance, but there’s not really any active artefacts:
locking tuners with no string trees (Fret more give in its vibration and more sustain the sound is clean, clear and on the brighter
King and Suhr) against standard tuners development after a chord. The Suhr subtly side. Of course, it has those two voices: the
and a single tree (Fender). If vibrato antics increases that with less metallic attack first (with the lower tone switch down) is
are your bag the former should give you a and a little more enveloping sustain as you the thinner and brighter, pulling up the tone
gnat’s more tuning stability while again the voice chords up the neck. Some makers switch introduces a bigger, slightly rounder
Fender feels very everyman – with strings and players dislike the ‘sound’ of stainless and slightly darker voice. We prefer the
properly attached and stretched to typical steel frets but we couldn’t hear that on this latter and we’d probably swap the switching
use, it’s more than good. around so that it’s voiced in down position.
As set, the Suhr supplies just shy of a The Fender scores a direct hit, sounding
full-tone upbend on the G and pretty slack “The Fender Stratocaster like a Strat should! It’s very organic, a little
on full down-bend. The Fender up-bends softer and springier and not huge in the heft
a tone-and-a-half on the G string, again is arguably the most department. The magnet stagger, however,
with plenty of down-bend, almost to slack. distinctive sounding electric does emphasise the dominant G string and
The Fret-King is a little more limited with the softer B and E, which for so many rootsy
approximately a full tone-up but down- guitar there is, yet they styles just sounds right, but can take a more
bends are limited by the block hitting the all sound subtly, or experienced player to eke the best from it.
back of the cavity. Both the Suhr and Fret- The Suhr? There’s an extremely good
King have full steel blocks; the Fret-King’s is profoundly, different” reason why these guitars end up in so

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 93


review STRAT-ALIKES

DIMENSIONS (in mm unless stated)

FRET-KING CORONA FENDER AM PRO SUHR CLASSIC


Nut width 41.95 43 42.06
Nut spacing 33.5
33 5 35.4
35 4 34.5
34 5
Neck width (12th fret) 52.39 51.75 51.8
Neck depth (1st fret) 22.6 21 21.7
Neck depth (12th fret) 23.5 23.5 23.4
Bridge spacing 53.5 52 52.5
Weight (kg/lbs) 3.5/7.7 3.45/7.59 3.45/7.59
Bridge PU DC resistance (ohms) n/a 6.44 7.20
Middle PU DC resistance (ohms) n/a 6.25 6.73
Neck PU DC resistance (ohms) n/a 6.25 6.69

many pros’ hands: it’s like we’ve added One consideration may well be pickup engine, supplies plenty of potential, not
an expander to the sound. Big, beefy, hum. The Fender’s mixes are hum- least for the practising and recording player
authoritative, hugely organic and dynamic. cancelling but not the solo pickup voices. or those of us that have to coax a lot of
There’s plenty to like about each of these. The Suhr didn’t seem bothered by hum at sounds for grass-roots and function gigs.
The Fret-King, aside from being completely all and, as we said, the Fret-King’s Fluence Many makers and players love to knock
quiet, does some great funky, poppy rhythm pickups… what hum? Fender just like we’re all happy to knock
with quite vicious compression and careful major artists or celebs. That might be
adjustment of the high-end and presence. VERDICT the way of the world but for an awful lot
The Suhr is just a drop-in for hairier or We like quality, but justifying £2k, £3k or of Strat-lovers among us, the American
quite gained roots rock and blues. The more, is hard. That said, if money wasn’t Professional is an excellent tool that’s
politer Fender needs a little lift to match a problem, we’d take the Suhr: state-of- sensibly priced with impressive spec.
the latter. That harder hitting voice 2 on the-art bolt-on making aimed squarely at Our advice is not to obsess about on-paper
the Fret-King captures a really viable the hard-working guitarist. With a little specification but get out and play as many as
textured rock voice while the Fender dialling in, however, the lowly-priced Fret- you can. Just remember, the ‘best’ guitar is
and Suhr relax into soulful rhythm. King, with its own state-of-the-art active the one that suits you and your budget.

94 GUITARIST JULY 2018


review STRAT-ALIKES VIDEO DEMO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

FRET-KING CORONA FENDER AMERICAN SUHR CLASSIC


FLUENCE PROFESSIONAL ANTIQUE
STRATOCASTER
PRICE: £749 (inc gigbag) PRICE: £2,599 (inc gigbag)
ORIGIN: Korea PRICE: £1,449 (inc case) ORIGIN: USA
TYPE: Double-cutaway, solidbody electric ORIGIN: USA TYPE: Double-cutaway solidbody electric
BODY: American alder TYPE: Double-cutaway solidbody electric BODY: Alder
NECK: Canadian hard rock maple, bolt-on BODY: Alder NECK: Maple, Even C Medium profile, bolt-on
SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”) NECK: Maple, modern ‘deep C’ profile, bolt-on SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5-inch)
NUT/WIDTH: Wilkaloid/42.5mm SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5-inch) NUT: Tusq
FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, pearloid dots, NUT: Bone FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, ‘clay’ dot markers,
254mm (10”) radius FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, ‘clay’ dot markers, 241-305mm (9.5-12”) compound radius
FRETS: 22, medium jumbo 241mm (9.5”) radius FRETS: 22, Medium stainless steel (0.055”
HARDWARE: Wilkinson WV6SB vibrato, Wilkinson FRETS: 22, narrow tall x 0.90”)
WJ07 E-Z Lok tuners with dual height posts HARDWARE: Nickel/chromed-plated two-point HARDWARE: Gotoh 510 vibrato w/ steel block,
STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 53.5mm synchronized vibrato with bent steel saddles and Suhr rear-lock tuners – chrome plated
ELECTRICS: Fishman Fluence single width pop-in arm, Fender Standard cast/sealed ELECTRICS: 3x Suhr ML Standard single coils,
pickup system (PRF-STR-WH3) with rechargeable staggered tuners five-position lever pickup selector switch, master
battery pack, five-way lever pickup selector STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52.5mm volume, tone 1 (neck & Middle), tone 2 (bridge)
switch, master volume, tone 1 (neck) and tone 2 ELECTRICS: 3x Fender V-Mod single coil Strat OPTIONS: Maple fingerboard, SSV humbucker
(middle) with pull/push Fluence voice switch pickups, five-position lever pickup selector at bridge
WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.44/7.57 switch, master volume (w/ treble bleed), tone 1 RANGE OPTIONS: The un-aged Classic Pro has
OPTIONS: None (neck), tone 2 (middle and bridge) with aged the same specs without the nitro finish (£2,099).
RANGE OPTIONS: The standard Corona features white plastic knobs Speak to a Suhr dealer for Custom specification
a P90-style single coil at bridge and is available in OPTIONS: Maple fingerboard. LEFT-HANDERS: Yes, same price
three colours at £529 RANGE OPTIONS: The HSS Shawbucker FINISHES: Three-Tone Burst, Olympic White,
LEFT-HANDERS: No Strat and HH Shawbucker (£1,479) expand Black, Sonic Blue, Surf Green, Fiesta Red – gloss
FINISHES: Original Classic Burst only – gloss the platform nitro neck, aged nitro body
body and headstock face, satin neck LEFT-HANDERS: Yes, at £1,519 with maple or
rosewood ‘boards in three-colour sunburst, Guitarist would like to thank guitarguitar
Olympic White, and Black (0800 456 1959) for the loan of this guitar.
FINISHES: Three-Colour Sunburst, Antique Olive,
Black, Candy apple Red (as reviewed), Natural,
Olympic White, Sienna Sunburst, Sonic Gray –
gloss body and headstock face; satin neck

9 9 9
PROS Quite original take on the classic recipe; PROS Price versus build and spec is impressive. PROS Impeccable build and detailed ‘modded’
competent build and state-of-the art engine A great workingman’s tool with lots of specification. Glorious sounds to match. Good
colour choice colour choice
CONS That vibrato cavity might need a look.
Just the one colour CONS None really… CONS A serious outlay but a very serious guitar

96 GUITARIST JULY 2018


review STRAT-ALIKES GALLERY

STRAT-ALIKES
ROUND-UP
Sub £1,000

VINTAGE V6 REISSUED BLADE TEXAS PRO £699 SQUIER CLASSIC VIBE


From £319 STRATOCASTER 60S £455
Gary Levinson’s Blade guitars burst onto the
There are numerous Strat-alike flavours offered scene back in 1987 with the RH-4, which featured Fender’s long-running affordable sister brand has
by Vintage – SSS, HSS, three P90s, hardtail, with numerous upgrades including the Variable long been the place to find Far Eastern versions
flame maple veneer top, maple or rosewood Spectrum Control (VSC) – an active mid-boost of Fender’s finest. Prices start at an unbelievably
fingerboards, left-handers, ash or alder bodies and or combined treble and bass boost, and finishes trim £125 for the classic-spec Bullet Strat (also
a selection of colour choices. There’s considerable that were very evocative of the period. Back available in HSS) rising to the Classic Vibe 50s
value for money too with Wilkinson parts and then it provided a hugely viable option to Fender. and 60s with left-handed options. Colour choice
pickups and a Chinese-build quality that will Today, Blade has a lower visibility but with nicely is narrow – Sherwood Metallic Green and Black
surprise many as our Audition section review vintage-y features, the Texas Pro, in five colours, (50s) or Three-Colour Sunburst (60s) but necks
on page 116 illustrates. Perfect for the modding that still includes that VSC, remains very valid and are tinted gloss with a C profile and Alnico V loaded
community too. pretty unique at this price. single-coils.
www.jhs.co.uk www.bladeguitars.com www.fender.com

98 GUITARIST JULY 2018


STRAT-ALIKES GALLERY review

FENDER CLASSIC 50s YAMAHA PACIFICA 612V CHAPMAN ML1 PRO


STRATOCASTER £709 MK II £740 TRADITIONAL £869

For years the Mexican-made Classic Series has Here’s another bolt-on that has a place in This brand was conceived by internet wiz Rob
been the go-to if you want the classic recipe at Strat-alike history by introducing an affordable Chapman and is going from strength to strength.
a pub-gigging price. Along with the 50s model, solid-wood body (rather than plywood), in 1990. The ML1 Pro Traditional provides a modern take on
available in four colours, the 60s version (£729) The current version, the 112V, now costs £276 – Fender’s finest. The ultra-thin satin-finished body
sports a pau ferro fingerboard in three colours, the 012 is just £197 – while the range rises to the has a carved top, for example, rear-lock tuners,
while the large headstock, ash-bodied 70s model 612V, which boasts Seymour Duncan HSS pickups, two-post brass-block vibrato, Alnico V Venus Witch
(£799), in natural ash or Olympic White, is maple Wilkinson vibrato and Grover locking tuners an single coils, stainless steel frets and side-mounted
only with bullet truss-rod adjustment and three- alder body, maple neck and 13.75-inch radius output jack. Its originality and ‘boutique’ spec,
bolt/micro-tilt neck joint. All have the controversial rosewood ’board. There are flame maple veneer at this price, is hugely commendable and highly
7.25-inch fingerboard radius and small frets. top versions, left-handers, but no SSS models. recommended. Read the review in issue 424.
www.fender.com www.yamahamusiclondon.com www.chapmanguitars.co.uk

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 99


review STRAT-ALIKES GALLERY

STRAT-ALIKES
ROUND-UP
£1,000 - £2,000

VOLA OZ £1,049 JOHN PAGE CLASSIC FENDER AMERICAN


ASHBURN SPECIAL £1,629 ORIGINAL 60 S STRAT
A new name for us too, Vola offers both Japanese- (inc gigbag) £1,639 (inc case)
and USA-made models, though it’ll be the former
that are available shortly in the UK. The Oz veers These Japanese-made guitars, designed by ex- The 2018 reboot of the previous American Vintage
on the modern-rock side of the classic recipe Fender veteran John Page, show how the Strat can series, the American Originals give us a 50s and
with its stylised shape, and more-pointed-than- be thoughtfully reimagined. This Special version 60s Strat (both available left-handed) in a choice
Suhr headstock, in either HSS or HH pickup of the standard Ashburn offers tinted maple of three nitro colours per model. They’re obviously
configurations, a 22-fret 12-inch radius fingerboard, neck and ash body. It’s a proper bolt-on too with the most vintage-specific USA-production models
Gotoh 510 two-post vibrato and Gotoh tuners with a 12-inch radius ’board, Gotoh 510 vibrato and with the more contemporary 9.5-inch fingerboards.
height-adjustable posts and an altogether modern- rear-lock Gotoh tuners. Throw in the Page-designed If you like your USA Strats more vintage-spec but
vintage vibe in Daphne Blue or Vintage Ivory gloss. JP-1 single coils and you have quite a piece. It's a can’t afford £3k in the Custom Shop, these are the
We’ll be reviewing them very soon. Guitarist fave, as you can read in issue 422. obvious choice. Reviewed in issue 431.
www.volaguitar.com www.johnpageclassic.com www.fender.com

100 GUITARIST JULY 2018


STRAT-ALIKES GALLERY review

FENDER AMERICAN ELITE IBANEZ AZ AZ2204F G&L LEGACY £1,899


STRAT £1,799 (inc case) PRESTIGE £1,799
We really liked this guitar when we reviewed it
The American Elite series offers an innovation- Reviewed next issue, the AZ could be a game- back in issue 427. It is the more classic Strat-alike
laden approach with features such as fourth- changer judging from the AZ2204 we’ve just got made in Fullerton, USA, by G&L and remains a
generation noiseless single coils, expansive our hands on. Bringing £2k-plus specs to a wider valid option, not least when USA guitars seem to
S-1 switching, 9.5-14-inch compound radius audience, highlights include the roasted-maple be escalating in cost by the month. Combining a
fingerboard, truss-rod adjustment wheel, locking neck and 12-inch fingerboard, stainless-steel frets, distinct headstock design with an equally distinct
short-post tuners, two-post vibrato and even ‘soft- oil-impregnated bone nut, All Access neck joint, two-post vibrato, the sounds from the CLF-100
touch’ control knobs. You have a choice of seven Ibanez-design/Gotoh-made vibrato, and Seymour Alnico V pickups are unmistakable. Unique features
colours with both maple or rosewood fingerboards Duncan Hyperion HSS pickups with passive dyna- include the treble and bass tone controls while the
plus there’s the HSS Shawbucker-equipped Elite MIX 9 switching, offering four additional sounds. It 9.5-inch radius fingerboard and Jescar frets offer a
Strat at £1,769. Reviewed in issue 403. might be the best Ibanez guitar we’ve ever played. smattering of modernism.
www.fender.com www.ibanez.com www.glguitars.com

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 101


review LLERY
STRAT-ALIKES GAL

STRAT-ALIKES
ROUND-UP
£2,000 - £3,000

LSL SATICOY ONE £2,099 VIGIER EXPERT CLASSIC MUSIC MAN CUTLASS £2,399
(approx) ROCK £2,275 (inc case)
Originally introduced as a sub-£2k ‘Modern Classic’,
Founded in 2008 by husband and wife Lance S Known for numerous out-there designs, Vigier’s the Cutlass has increased in price and specification
and Lisa S Lerman, LsL from Santa Clarita follow Expert offers exceptional build and innovation such to include, for this year, a roasted maple neck. It’s
a strong vintage vibe that started with the T-Bone. as the 10/90 graphite-reinforced neck design, a typically considered build with both an active
The Saticoy was originally based on the first year of paired with hugely modern style. It employs buffered output and MM’s hum-cancelling Silent
the Stratocaster and typical specs include a nitro German-made Amber single-coils, a Schaller/Vigier Circuit, not to mention stainless-steel frets. There’s
‘cracked’ finish (in plenty of colours), LsL hand- 2011 vibrato with ball-bearing pivot, stainless-steel a good colour choice and options include an HSS
wound pickups, Wilkinson steel-block vintage-style frets, rear-lock tuners, good finish choice while pickup configuration and a Stealth Black version
vibrato, a choice of body woods (swamp ash, sugar the Schaller Mega switch offers, in centre position, (see review in this issue). Certainly a modern-
pine, alder or korina) and either maple or rosewood neck and bridge pickups in parallel, not the usual voiced Strat-alike, there’s a lot to like here for the
fingerboards with 7.25- or 9.5-inch cambers. solo middle pickup. It’s up there with the best. non-vintage obsessed among us.
www.lslinstruments.com www.vigier.co.uk www.music-man.com

102 GUITARIST JULY 2018


STRAT-ALIKES GALLERY review

PRS SILVER SKY SCHECTER USA CUSTOM XOTIC CALIFORNIA


£2,549 (inc gigbag) SHOP TR ADITIONAL CLASSIC XSC-1 £2,699
WEMBLEY £2,649
Reviewed in issue 432, this is the most talked about Yes, it’s the same company that makes the
electric guitar this year. PRS’s alliance with John Marketing neck, bodies and parts back in the 70s, pedals and they are extremely transparent about
Mayer has produced a superbly detailed Strat-alike Schecter booked its place in Strat-alike history. where their parts are made and where they are
that’s hard not to like. Yes, birds and a reversed/ Numerous builds (by Schecter and others such as assembled, using locations in Taiwan and Japan to
offset headstock aside it lacks PRS vibe, but it’s Chandler Guitars in the UK) graced the hands of keep costs of these hand-built products “affordable
present in the obsessive detailing. The vintage- many a big pro and from the Custom Shop models yet sturdy and roadworthy". The results are superb
inspired voice is married with, by design, more we’ve seen, the quality is excellent. This Wembley with up-to-the-minute must-haves – nitro-finished
modern finishes and it comes in a new do-it-all was a limited run from 2017; check out the Dream bodies, oil-finished roasted maple necks, boutique
gigbag. It’s only the lack of options that separates it Machine III for classic Schecter-style and, of Raw Vintage pickups balanced by old-school neck
from the spec of quite a few other high-line makers. course, you can ‘build your own’. shapes and, no, you can’t have stainless steel frets!
www.prsguitars.com www.schecterguitars.com xotic.us/instruments/guitars

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 103


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JULY 2018 GUITARIST 105


M A N U FAC T U R E R PR IC E

PEDALBOARD
ORIGIN EFFECTS £559

MODE L C ON TAC T
REVIVALDRIVE CUSTOM 0800 810 1070/WWW.ORIGINEFFECTS.COM

ORIGIN EFFECTS

RevivalDRIVE CUSTOM
Designed to recreate the sound and behaviour of a classic vintage
amp, this may be the most flexible analogue drive pedal out there
Words Trevor Curwen Photography Olly Curtis

hen Origin Effects designer The resulting dual-channel pedal has switchage than we’ve seen on just about

W Simon Keats put his mind to


making a guitar compressor he
smashed it with the Cali 76 and SlideRig
one bypass footswitch and a second to
toggle between the channels. Each have
an identical set of controls but while one
any drive pedal. The two channels are
sufficiently different, the Silicon channel
having a tighter, more aggressive feel to the
family, which have ended up on the channel is based on a valve rectifier, the squishier sag of the Valve channel – note
’boards of many pro players including other has a solid-state (Silicon) rectifier you can actually have two Silicon channels
David Gilmour and Pete Townshend. The for the different responses associated if you prefer via a rear panel DIP switch.
RevivalDRIVE aims to do the same trick with each. There is also a range of EQ Of the six knobs, the Volume (Gain)
for overdrive and is based on the idea that adjustment features designed to match and Output are pretty standard, while
the ultimate overdriven tone comes from the pedal to the amp it’s plugged into, Blend allows you to roll back from the
a non-master volume valve amp turned up including flat-response power amps. fully overdriven sound to add in some
loud. To that end, Origin Effects analysed These post-EQ features are expanded dry sound for clarity, but the other three
a range of classic amps, both British and beyond the standard pedal in the knobs address various intriguing aspects
American, to recreate the entire signal RevivalDRIVE CUSTOM we have, with of amp behaviour. Lows mimics the way
path using all-analogue components that an extra front panel to deliver even greater low frequencies can drive a power amp
would work in a pedal (substituting discrete flexibility in amp matching. to distort more – you can exploit this for
transistor-based circuitry for valves), with a thicker sound or roll it back for leaner
the aim of delivering the sound and circuit SOUNDS and cleaner. More/Pres controls negative
behaviour of a classic amp in a fully variable Immaculately built, the RevivalDRIVE feedback as used in the output or power
and controllable format. CUSTOM has far more knobbage and stage of some amplifiers.

106 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Tech Spec

ORIGIN: UK
0 1 . BRIGHT CAP TYPE: Drive pedal
SWITCH FEATURES: Buffered
Replicates a vintage amp’s bypass with an extra
feature of a capacitor over option to bypass all tone
the volume knob that lets shaping, going directly to
full treble through at lower the output via a high-
volume levels for sparkle quality buffer
CONTROLS: 2x Volume,
0 2. GHOST KNOB 2x Lows, 2x More/Pres, 2x
Turning up this knob reduces 3 Output, 2x Blend, 2x
1
capacitance in the pedal’s Ghost, 2x Bright-Cap
simulated power supply, switch (GB/O/US), 2x
creating more of the effect Preamp switch (GB/O/
of a second underlying US), Mid Assign switch,
‘ghost’ note 2 Mid level, Mid Freq, Dry
Gain, Re-Amp EQ switch
0 3.OPTIONAL (PWR AMP/EQ2/EQ1),
DUAL FOOTSWITCH Hi-Shelf, Bri-Cap Cut,
Operates on the active Shelf Freq switch (I/II/III),
channel – footswitches EQ2, Freq switch (I/II/III),
for midrange boost and Mode switch (I/II), Cut
overriding the channel’s 4 Freq switch (I/II/III), DIP
Blend knob for full overdrive switches x 3, Channel
with no dry signal Selector footswitch,
Bypass footswitch
04. RE -AMP EQ CONNECTIONS:
Three choices for brighter or Standard input, standard
darker sounding amps or for output, Footswitch socket
going straight into a power POWER: 9VDC adaptor
amp/interface/mixer plus 120 mA (not included)
options for top-end tweaking DIMENSIONS: 117 (w) x
158 (d) x 60 mm (h)
05. FRONT PANEL
EQ2 SECTION
The main knob combines 5
shelving boost and cut filters
so you can simultaneously
reduce treble and boost bass
or vice versa (with options
9
for the frequency range)

To the left things get a little more untamed proportion of the dry sound in it. Plugged more complex and nuanced proposition
with early onset of distortion, while to the in with the Re-Amp EQ dialled-in to match that begs careful adjustment but feels
right it’s familiar top-end presence boost. the darkness/brightness of your amp, the and sounds like playing through a sorted
Ghost addresses the phenomenon of low- pedal can run the range from clean to fully vintage amp. With an ability to mimic a
frequency notes occurring within vintage cranked amp, all with wonderful touch whole range of amps, notably Marshall
amp circuitry, underneath those you’re sensitivity and volume knob cleanup. and Fender models, or provide overdrive
actually fretting – something heard more This is really organic tone reminiscent that’s perfectly tailored to be an extension
when soloing up the neck. It’s a cool effect of amps from the 50s through the 70s. of your clean amp tone, it will give you
that adds an extra dimension to notes when Preamp switch options that are based a proper cranked vintage amp sound at
you find the sweet spot. on a Fender Twin and a Marshall 1959 practical stage and home levels whatever
Besides the knobs you get a pair of Super Lead show you where the pedal’s amp you are using. And, with two
three-way voicing switches, Bright Cap designer is coming from and he puts all channels plus the options provided by the
and Preamp with US (Fender) and GB the adjustment tools at your disposal to supplementary footswitch, there’s plenty
(Marshall) tone-shaping options, while conjure up the flavours of many more of onstage flexibility.
another section offers level and frequency classics with every degree of subtle sound
knobs for a mid-range boost, assigned shading you could wish for. PROS The sound and feel of a vintage amp,
to either channel or an optional dual adaptable to work with any amp, Blend
footswitch, which can also override the VERDICT knob allows great dry/dirt blends, unique
Blend knob so you can switch between This is no ‘bish bash bosh and you’ve Ghost notes facility
a fully driven sound and one with a got a sound’ overdrive pedal: it’s a much CONS The price will put it out of reach of many

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 107


M A N U FAC T U R E R PR IC E

PEDALBOARD
FENDER FROM £87

MODE L C ON TAC T
VARIOUS 01342 331700/WWW.FENDER.COM

FENDER

Fender pedals
Smart, shiny and practical
pedals to adorn your ’board
Words Trevor Curwen Photography Phil Barker & Joby Sessions

H
ere’s the second of our
two-part look at Fender’s
new 2018 pedal range.
This time we focus on
the Santa Ana Overdrive, The Bends
Compressor and the Level Set Buffer.
If you missed our last issue, there we
covered the Marine Layer Reverb,
the Mirror Image Delay and the
Pugilist Distortion.
Designed by a team led by Stan
Cotey, the new pedals come in a
rugged housing that features a curvy
anodised aluminium top with a shiny
metallic sheen. All can run from a 9V
power adapter or battery and feature
a new battery compartment with a
magnetically latched hinged flap at
Santa Ana Overdrive
the end of the pedal (which just pulls £160
down and flips back when you let go
of it). With offset input and output

A Tech Spec
jack sockets to save space on your n overdrive pedal with
’board, illuminated knobs (which you two voicings and an extra
can switch off ), a very Fender amp- footswitch for added boost, ORIGIN: China
like LED ‘jewel’ bypass indicator, the Santa Ana is designed with FET TYPE: Overdrive pedal
there’s definitely plenty for you to circuitry to deliver valve amp-style FEATURES: True or
like here. drive and it does just that. This is a buffered bypass
pedal that has nicely expressive touch CONTROLS: Bass, Middle,
sensitivity and cleans up naturally Treble, Presence, Level,
with guitar volume. There’s quite a Drive A/B Voice switch,
range of tones available from cleanish LEDs On/Off switch,True/
boost to driven amp, shaded with a Buffered switch, FS Select
set of four EQ knobs reminiscent of a (Drive/Level) switch,
Fender amp front panel. The two amp Boost footswitch,
voicings are designated American Bypass footswitch
and British – the former is brighter CONNECTIONS:
with a sharper almost percussive Standard input,
chime, while the latter is darker and standard output
a practical choice in front of overly POWER: 9V battery or 9V
bright amps. The Boost knob can DC adaptor (not supplied)
be set to either boost the drive stage 130mA
where it can successfully bring in a DIMENSIONS: 100 (w) x
more aggressive upper mid presence 125 (d) x 62mm (h)
or to boost the output volume –
perhaps by a slightly larger margin
than we would have liked in the
absence of a boost level control.

VERDICT Natural-sounding overdrive


and switchable boost in one box makes
this a practical pedalboard proposition
8
108 GUITARIST JULY 2018
VIDEO & AUDIO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

The Bends Compressor Level Set Buffer


£96 £87

T Tech Spec
B Tech Spec
he Bends is an OTA esides the useful buffering
(operational transconductance for signal consistency, this
amplifier) based compressor, ORIGIN: China pedal’s main aim is to provide ORIGIN: China
and follows in a long line of classic TYPE: Compressor pedal something for the guitarist who uses TYPE: Buffer pedal
guitar compressors that have used FEATURES: True bypass multiple guitars on a gig and needs FEATURES: Level and
similar technology (Ross, Dyna Comp CONTROLS: Drive, to match the levels. The idea is that treble attenuation, Mute,
etc), but has a Blend control so you Recovery, Blend, Level, the default 12 o’clock position on tuner connection
don’t have to compress the whole LEDs On/Off switch, a Level knob with up to +/-12dB of CONTROLS: Level,
signal. The Drive knob turns up the Bypass footswitch adjustment is for your main guitar Hi-Freq, Load switch, LEDs
compression with the LED glowing CONNECTIONS: and you can, say, roll it back a touch On/Off switch, Mute
pink rather than white when you are Standard input, standard moving from the single coils of a footswitch
compressing the signal. There are output Strat to a Les Paul with humbuckers CONNECTIONS:
also knobs for release time for the POWER: 9V battery or 9V and a higher output. There’s also a Standard input, standard
compression (Recovery) and output DC adaptor (not supplied) high-frequency knob that works on output, standard Tuner
volume, which has plenty in reserve to 60mA the sparkly top-end sheen, so you Output
boost your amp’s front end even when DIMENSIONS: 75 (w) x can subtly compensate for dark or POWER: 9V battery or 9V
using minimal compression amounts 125 (d) x 62 m overly spiky pickups. The pedal is DC adaptor (not supplied)
– compression and boost together always on but the footswitch can 64mA
offer a natural jump to a second stage be used to mute the signal, perhaps DIMENSIONS: 75 (w) x
for solos. when tuning – a dedicated output 125 (d) x 62 mm (h)
The pedal has little hiss, adds a nice keeps your tuner out of the audio
snap to your note envelope without signal path. There’s also a switch that
being too obtrusive and, via the Blend applies input capacitance to load
knob, can add compression effects, guitar pickups – it’s a subtle effect but
such as increased sustain, without it’s a worthwhile tonal variant that
totally squashing your core sound. may suit your set-up.

VERDICT Very well-designed this is one


of the best affordable guitar
compressors we’ve seen recently
9 VERDICT A practical utility for ’boards.
Iron out level and tone disparities while
improving your signal path
8
JULY 2018 GUITARIST 109
PEDALBOARD TONE MAKERS

Mike Piera
Mike Piera explains the magic behind Analog Man
pedals and why less if often more…

1 What was the first pedal you


built and how did the design
come about?
as we can every week. We’re in the 13,000
range now. Which isn’t a lot. I mean
some companies will do that in one
6 Tell us a secret about effects
you’ve discovered...
“This is something a lot of people don’t
“The first pedal I built from scratch was or two years, but they don’t make them know about, but to me is huge: a delay
a clone of the Sam Ash fuzz [Astrotone/ by hand!” pedal’s settings need to change drastically
Fuzzz Boxx]. I just thought it was a based on the hardness and compression
really cool sound and they were very
rare, even when I bought one 20 years
ago. That’s one of the pedals Analog
4 Which notable players/bands have
used Analog Man pedals?
“There’re so many I don’t even know
of the amp you’re going in to. I just bought
a small wattage Traynor amp with a tube
rectifier, and that’s a very compressed
Man manufactures now – it’s called where to start! I don’t really sponsor amp that doesn’t have much headroom;
the Astro Tone. I’ve got one of those on musicians, so I don’t like to use their in an amp like that, if you use your
my pedalboard and I use it a lot. I use names. That’s why a lot of musicians come standard Fender Twin Reverb delay
humbuckers and play rhythm guitar to me – because we’re not commercial. settings, the delay level will be much
quite a bit and the Astro Tone is perfect We don’t hype up our pedals. Almost louder because your signal gets
for that.” every great guitar hero of mine has used compressed down.”
my pedals. That’s always nice. People just

2 What do you think makes Analog


Man unique?
“We are definitely unique, that’s for sure.
go on my website and order something –
that’s very cool.” 7 What’s your best tone tip?
“Start out with a dry sound that’s
sufficiently thick enough and has enough
Our main philosophy is to preserve your
guitar tone; we’re trying to make pedals
for people who have the best guitars and
5 Is there anything new on the
horizon with Analog Man?
“We have a couple of new things in
tone for you to base your effected sounds
on and keep your drive levels lower than
you think you need. When I listen back
the best amps and who don’t want to lose planning. We’ve tried to fill out the range to things, I always think I sound a little
touch with them. By basing our pedals with all the different types of pedals, more distorted than I had anticipated. If
on tried and true circuits and tuning them but we still don’t have a phaser or a you listen to some distorted sounds, like
to improve the tone and using the best of flanger. I’ve got a really good idea for AC/DC, they’re really quite clean!”
the old parts, I think we’ve managed to the phaser, but it’ll take some time. We
do that.” want to round out our Tone Bender range
one at a time. If I had a time machine I 8 Name some common mistakes that
guitarists make with effects...

3 What’s your best-selling pedal?


“The King of Tone is our best-selling
pedal. We concentrate our production
could build them all, but I need to find
a sufficient quantity of transistors that
work to my satisfaction in that circuit in
“Putting a buffered tuner too early in
your signal chain where it can mess with
things like fuzz pedals and boosters.
on producing as many King of Tones order to come up with a product.” Most people are learning about that
nowadays, although I still see that a
lot. But don’t put your tuner after a
modulation pedal!”

9 What’s your favourite vintage


pedal and why?
“If I could only keep one pedal it would be
the [EMS] Synthi Hi-FLi. The sounds are
very unique, but the thing that’s really cool
is the way they implemented the controls
– you can control any parameter with
any pedal and have it sweep up or down.
Anything it could do, it can do!”

10 Are there any long-lost gems


that you think would be
worth reissuing?
“I don’t know if anybody makes the Full
Range Booster from Maestro. That has
Analog Man have a good tone. A lot of people like boosters
handmade upwards of and there were some good bands that
13,000 King of Tone used those. That would nice to make in a
overdrive pedals
small box with some mini toggles.”

110 GUITARIST JULY 2018


M A N U FAC T U R E R PR IC E

PEDALBOARD
LR BAGGS £219

MODE L C ON TAC T
ALIGN SERIES 01273 440 442/WWW.LRBAGGS.COM

LR BAGGS

Align Series
pedals
A unique trio to get the most
out of electric-acoustics
Words Trevor Curwen Photography Olly Curtis

O
ur pedal reviews are usually
dedicated to those designed
for electric guitar. However,
anyone with a pickup-equipped guitar
can use pedals, and it’s not too rare to
see the stage in front of electro-acoustic
guitars players festooned with chorus,
delay, looper and reverb pedals.
Here, though, is a range of pedals
designed from the ground up for acoustic
guitar players. Californian company, LR
Baggs, well-known for their pickups,
has released the Align Series of pedals,
each cutely adorned in a different
simulated wood finish, which, when
LR Baggs Align Session
put together on a single pedalboard, £219
could make a really compelling set . The
Align Active DI (£199) is intended to go

T Tech Spec
last and features a useful signal-muting his is designed to bring
footswitch for tuning or instrument studio tone to your live rig by
changes and XLR and standard 6.4mm providing enhancement to ORIGIN: China
jack outputs as well as standard ground your sound in the shape of saturation TYPE: Acoustic pedal
lift, phase-reverse and pad facilities. But and compression that’s especially with saturation and
here we are focusing on the other three tailored for acoustic guitars. The compression
Align-series pedals, as they are the ones compression is multiband so you FEATURES:
that directly influence your sound. have different amounts applied to the Buffered bypass
low, mid and high frequencies rather CONTROLS: Volume,
than a blanket compression over the Gain, Saturate, Comp EQ,
whole signal. While that may sound Bypass footswitch
complicated, it’s actually a no-brainer CONNECTIONS:
to use with just a single knob, which Standard input,
ushers in natural compression that’s standard output
very responsive to how you play. POWER: 9V battery or
Pretty transparent with no obvious 9V-16V DC adaptor
squashing or unwanted altering of (not supplied)
note transients, this is smooth and DIMENSIONS: 82 (w) x
silky compression that keeps the 125 (d) x 60 mm (h)
sound consistently solid and prevents
any spiky frequencies from getting
too prominent. Saturation, similarly
added by a single knob, adds warmth,
giving your sound more body.
Combine them and you’ll find a sweet
spot that improves and enriches.

VERDICT Enhancement for your electro-


acoustic guitar – once you’ve turned this
on you won’t want to turn it off
8
112 GUITARIST JULY 2018
VIDEO & AUDIO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

LR Baggs Align Equalizer LR Baggs Align Reverb


£219 £219

B Tech Spec
T Tech Spec
ased on the circuit found in his reverb pedal may seem
the Para Acoustic DI, the Align pretty basic compared to those
Equalizer offers a range of ORIGIN: China that offer many types of ’verb ORIGIN: China
practical tone-shaping facilities. A TYPE: EQ pedal in one box, but sometimes simplicity TYPE: Reverb pedal
three-position high-pass filter switch FEATURES: can be strength. The single reverb FEATURES:
rolls off the bottom end below certain Buffered bypass voice here has been shaped by LR Buffered bypass
frequencies and can be set to tame CONTROLS: Volume, Baggs to reflect the natural voice of an CONTROLS: Volume,
boominess, but the main thrust of the Notch, 85, 350, 700, 1.6k, acoustic instrument and complement Tone, Reverb, Decay,
pedal has to be the six small centre- 4.8k, 10k, hpf switch its dynamics. The reverb does wrap Bypass footswitch
detented knobs each with up to 9dB (40/80/120), Phase itself nicely around your sound with CONNECTIONS:
of cut or boost at the frequencies of switch, Gain switch a range that runs from just a touch of Standard input,
85Hz, 350Hz, 700Hz, 1.6kHz, 4.8kHz (+6/0/-6), Bypass extra ambience to a sense of a much standard output
and 10kHz. These offer plenty of footswitch larger space. The reverb amount and POWER: 9V battery or
scope for improving the sound of your CONNECTIONS: size is easily dialled in with the Reverb 9V-16V DC adaptor
acoustic guitar’s pickups with carefully Standard input, and Decay knobs but you also get a (not supplied)
applied cuts and/or boosts that can standard output very practically-ranged Tone knob DIMENSIONS: 82 (w) x
get your tone right where you want it. POWER: 9V battery or that brightens or subdues to taste. 125 (d) x 60 mm (h)
There’s also a useful aid to feedback 9V-16V DC adaptor For the money there are more
suppression via a notch filter that can (not supplied) versatile reverb pedals on the market
attenuate a narrow band (notch) of DIMENSIONS: 82 (w) x but this one matches the style of the
the offending frequencies with a 20dB 125 (d) x 60 mm (h) other pedals so is the obvious choice
reduction. You simply find the problem if you are building an LR Baggs signal
area by moving the rotary knob until chain and really is all you need if
the feedback stops – it covers the you want an easily operated pedal
bottom end and lower mids in a range to provide a sense of space that
that runs from 40 to 300Hz. complements your sound.

VERDICT: Sorts problems, balances


tone, can match various instruments
and tailor a specific EQ for each one
9 VERDICT: It’s about as simple a reverb
as we’ve seen but it’s a fine fit for
electro-acoustic guitar
7
JULY 2018 GUITARIST 113
PEDALBOARD BOARD GAMES YOUR PEDALBOARD
PROBLEMS SOLVED

THE BACKGROUND THE QUESTIONS

M ARK ROWL E Y, 1 CAN I NAIL THE ROTARY SPEAKER


GUITARIST READER: THING ON A BUDGET? I DID WONDER
IF I COULD USE A PHASER AND I’VE
I caught a soul band in action recently. It was proper old BEEN SEEING MXR PHASE 90S ON
school 60s stuff with a Hammond organ player: Stax, Mod, EBAY. IF I COULD GET THAT SOUND
Small Faces... you get the picture. Anyway, the keyboard FOR UNDER £100 I’D BE CHUFFED
bloke had his organ running through one of those big
rotary speaker cabinets. Since I heard him in action, I’ve 2 IS THE SWIRLY SOUND OF A ROTARY
been determined to get that swirling sound from my guitar. SPEAKER THE ONLY ASPECT OF ITS
I know you can get stompbox-sized simulators of these PERFORMANCE I NEED TO COPY?
rotary things but I’m not experienced enough with them WOULD A COMBINATION OF PEDALS
to know just how close they get. There’s no way I have the GIVE ME WHAT I NEED?
budget or floor space for the real thing so your input here
is invaluable. 3 WHAT’S THE BEST GEAR OUT THERE
FOR THE JOB WITHOUT ACTUALLY
GETTING A REAL ROTARY CABINET,
IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT BUT
PORTABILITY WAS?

T H E BAD G E OF HONOU R ...

Dunlop JHM7 Strymon


Jimi Hendrix Uni-Vibbe Lexx Rotary Effect

THE ANSWERS

The thing you’re obsessing over is the Leslie vibrato circuit. If you’re only interested in a convincing emulation of a rotating cabinet
rotating speaker cabinet. Originally designed bagging the swirl of a Leslie then consider isn’t as straightforward as it appears.
for Hammond organs, it became popular the Dunlop JHM7 Jimi Hendrix Uni-Vibe
with guitarists in the 60s after Chicago blues (c£119), which is heavily associated with Jimi 03 There are enough Leslie simulators
icon Buddy Guy, Brian Wilson of The Beach at his most psychedelic. out there to keep your head spinning.
Boys and The Beatles, recorded with them. Narrow your search and spend some
It’s that swirly sound you hear on George 02 There are a bunch of things within the quality time with the Strymon Lex (c£299).
Harrison’s parts on stuff like Lucy In The workings of a rotating speaker cabinet that This stompbox addresses the real thing’s
Sky With Diamonds, and Eric Clapton’s you need to consider. Your classic Leslie idiosyncrasies with controls for the rotor
Badge. Sharing a stage with the real deal consists of a tube amplifier, a rotating treble speed, treble horn volume, and preamp
is exhilarating. But the big fat fly trudging horn and a bass woofer. What gives the Leslie drive. What makes it so effective is a mic
through the ointment is the sheer weight of its unique sound is that the organist/guitarist distance control which gives the illusion
the thing. If you don’t have roadies, forget it. can control the speed of the moving parts. The of space around the virtual Leslie, and the
slow setting is known as ‘chorale’. Fast is best slow/fast footswitch. Step off the switch
01 Much missed ‘Redneck Jazz’ genius described as our old friend ‘tremolo’. Throw and the effect gradually slows down; apply
Danny Gatton could emulate a Leslie, and a in the Leslie’s now iconic overdriven grunt some sole and it speeds up. The Lex gives you
Hammond B3 organ, by rolling off his Tele’s that emerges when the internal preamp is everything but the bad back – we also rate
tone knob and cranking uphisFenderamp’s pushedtoohardandyoucanseewhygetting theNeoInstruments Mini Vent II.

EM AIL US YOUR QUES T IONS: GUITARIS T@FUTURENET.COM

114 GUITARIST JULY 2018


We test the best of the rest
of the month’s new gear
Words Nick Guppy Photography Adam Gasson

116 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VINTAGE V6 REISSUED £329
CONTACT JHS PHONE 01132 865381 WEB www.jhs.co.uk

As we illustrate throughout this issue, Sounds


the market for the bolt-on three single At a shade under 3.6kg/8lb in weight this
coil guitar modelled on Fender’s iconic V6 feels right straight from the off. Body
masterstroke is huge. Vintage is the house contouring isn’t as vintage-thin as a more
brand of giant UK distributor John upmarket build might be but the gloss
Skewes (JHS) and has long offered copies finishing is extremely clean and the neck
and clones of the world’s most famous has an appealing, C-meets-D shape (it’s
guitars. Yes, they’ve had their run-ins called a ‘soft C’) that is actually closer in
with the legal eagles from some of those feel to the Suhr Classic Antique we feature
companies, yet as we’ve shown, when it on page p88. Nut width is 43.29mm, on
comes to Fender’s finest, the horse has par with Fender’s American Professional,
bolted. So long as you don’t copy the iconic likewise the 35mm string spacing, while
headstock, or call your bolt-on three single the depth (22.2mm at the 1st, 23.7mm at
coil guitar a Strat or Stratocaster, it’s game on. the 12th) is, perhaps not surprisingly, very
Where you stand on the whole subject similar to the also Wilkinson-designed
of originality is up to you. But the fact is Fret-King Corona. The medium jumbo
that there are plentiful examples of highly wire feels like a re-fret, there’s certainly
affordable bolt-ons from Far Eastern more meat here than numerous narrow/
origins, many are far from rubbish. Like tall types we come across and lends the V6
this new version of Vintage’s long-running a really familiar, quite old-school modded
V6. Clearly aimed at Fender’s low-end feeling even though a little more polish
Squiers and the like, this maple fingerboard to the fret tops would give a smoother
version (also available left-handed, in bending feel. The ’board radius is quoted
Natural Ash and Firenza Red, also at £329, as both 10 inches and 12 inches – we’d say
plus Boulevard Black, at £349) typically it was the former and certainly fits that
offers huge bang for your buck. One reason re-fretted vibe.
these guitars are so good is that hardware You know what it’s going to sound like,
and guitar designer Trev Wilkinson has of course, and if you like your three single
gradually tweaked and teased them – coil bolt-ons on the cleaner, airier side, it’s
indeed as the back of the headstock game on. Nailed. The pickups measure
says they are “designed in conjunction pretty classic 6.20, 5.76 and 5.84 kilo-ohms
with” one of the world’s most experienced from bridge to neck and running through
guitar designers. a Helix LT it’s embarrassingly good. It’s
It means, straight off the block we get wired as per the original in terms of tone
a Wilkinson WVC vibrato with chromed controls and the bridge could do with
bent-steel saddles, a push fit tension being wired into the tone as we raise the
adjustable arm and off-set ‘stagger-drilled’ wick but, as we’re illustrated countless
sustain block; Wilkinson WJ55 patented times, Leo gave us such an easy modding
E-Z-Lok tuners – which have two string platform so that is a simple five-minute job.
holes in the post so you can chose which
you want to use or lock the string between Verdict
both – with dual post heights giving Whichever way you spin it, the V6
excellent behind-the-nut string angle performs well above its price with a very
without the need for a string tree. Then appealing modded-vintage vibe that is
we get a trio of Wilkinson WVS vintage- good enough for the learning player or
voiced Alnico V pickups with bevelled those of us that simply can’t justify more
edged Alnico V magnets, the middle is cash . It’s a highly viable modding
reverse wound/reverse polarity so there’s platform too and the body is pre-routed
hum-cancelling in position 2 and 4 on for a humbucker at bridge position
the five-way. Aside from the natural ash which is something to bear in mind.
version, all these V6’s use an alder body Mr Wilkinson really does make
that here is two-piece, centre-joined. exceedingly good cakes. [DB]

9
JULY 2018 GUITARIST 117
ORANGE CRUSH POSITIVE GRID
MINI COMBO £45 BIAS AMP 2 $99
CONTACT OMEC PHONE020 8905 2828 WEB www.orangeamps.com CONTACT POSITIVE GRID WEB www.positivegrid.com

Another new amp from Orange Sounds If you were looking at more Sounds
unveiled at NAMM earlier this In use, the Crush Mini is than just selecting the different However, there’s plenty in the
year is the small but perfectly- capable of the full spectrum amps in your amp simulation Standard version to get your
formed three-watt Crush Mini, of modern Orange tone, from software, Positive Grid’s BIAS juices flowing. New valves
an upgrade on the popular but fat cleans, thick crunches and Amp was one of the places to and an updated transformer
now discontinued Micro Crush. huge distortions at maximum go, offering the possibilities all contribute to creating your
Even though it’s only around gain. It’s very responsive of creating a custom amp at sound as does the excellent new
six inches high, the Mini is and suits single coils and component level by swapping multi-microphone possibiities
still a proper Orange, with a humbuckers equally well, with valves, transformers and more. of the cabinet module while the
basketweave speaker grill, an impressively full sound Now, BIAS Amp 2, a major parametric EQ section at the
powder coated steel chassis, from the built-in loudspeaker, upgrade, promises a greater end of the chain is a powerful
and of course orange vinyl. although for a real head-turner level of customisation and tonal shaper that comes
The ‘pics only’ controls are you need to plug it into a 4x12 improved touch sensitivity. equipped with a real time
all you need, volume, gain to hear how big the Crush Mini The new interface is frequency analyser so you can
and shape, which scoops or sounds: it’s insanely loud and straightforward and makes it actually see the ‘shape’ of your
boosts the midrange relative full of tone for such a small box. easy to put your custom amp sound and adjust accordingly.
to treble and bass frequencies. together. A bunch of presets
The circuit is similar to the Verdict in various categories (Clean, Verdict
Micro Dark, but done in solid Orange like to throw surprises Crunch, Metal etc) are your Capable of creating a wide
state. Despite the smaller scale, at us, and the Crush Mini is starting point for tweaks to the range of mic’d amp tones
Orange have still shoehorned one to look out for. If you need signal chain of preamp, tone with good touch-sensitive
in a 4" loudspeaker. There’s a Orange tone you can take stack, power amp, transformer, playability, this will let you
tuner, a headphones socket, anywhere, this is what you’ve cab, and EQ. A Pro version at tweak and personalise your
an aux in and most usefully, an been waiting for. [NG] $199 adds an extra EQ section, sound to the nth degree. [TC]
8-ohm external speaker outlet, impulse response loading and
with a DC socket and a 9-volt an ‘Amp Match’ facility that lets
PP3 battery holder, so you can
plug in anywhere. 8 you match the tone of any mic’d
reference amp. 8
118 GUITARIST JULY 2018
IK MULTIMEDIA AMPLITUBE LESLIE €155
CONTACT IK Multimedia WEB www.ikmultimedia.com

Think rotary speaker and Leslie is always The main deal, though, is that unique interesting as it’s designed for guitar and
the name that comes to mind. Originally rotary speaker modulation with its sense its valve preamp features an overdrive
designed as an add-on for a Hammond of motion which is faithfully simulated in channel with adjustable gain so can get
organ it certainly proved cool-sounding full stereo – or mono. You get options for down and dirty.
on guitar too: check out the arpeggiated 90° and 180° mic positioning, adjustable What’s not modelled here are the sort
riffing on Cream’s Badge for starters. Now mic’ing distance plus an overall parametric of Leslies that had just a drum and no
IK Multimedia has collaborated with EQ and, of course, you get control over horn, but the mic level adjustment lets you
Hammond USA and Suzuki Music Corp the fast and slow rotation speed and effectively shut down the horn so you are
of Japan to create AmpliTube Leslie, a acceleration/deceleration between the two. covered and, as there’s already a Fender
collection of five Leslie amps and six Leslie Where the amp was actually an integral Vibratone in Amplitube’s Fender collection,
rotary-speaker cabinets with adjustable part of the cabinet in the Leslie examples Amplitube now has probably all the rotary
mic’ing options. These are all available IK has chosen, they are separated here for speaker action you could wish for.
as a collection to add on to your existing mix-and-match flexibility, with the Leslie
Amplitube software but if you don’t want amp in Amplitube’s amp A slot and the Verdict
the whole lot you can buy the amps and speaker in the cabinet A slot in the supplied This collection is well worth checking out
cabs individually. presets so you get the original combination if you want to impart rotary speaker flavour
but you can swap models to get a Leslie amp to your guitar but, for anyone who records
Sounds driving a normal speaker cab or a standard on computer, it’s also a useful production
The classic vintage Leslies – the huge guitar amp driving a Leslie cabinet for a and mixing tool to keep in the plug-in
wooden cabinets with the rotating horn at gutsy driven modulation. locker for use with any instrument. [TC]
the top and rotating drum at the bottom, Other models include a modern 122 with
– are the 147 and the 122, both of which a more in-yer-face tone, and the powerful
were powered by a valve amp that could be 3300w, featuring a solid-state amplifier
overdriven for a distinctive growl adding with a valve preamp. There’s also two of
aggression to the organ sound; but it’s also a the more portable Leslies – the G37 and
grittiness that can work well with guitar and
the modelling here reproduces that well.
the Studio 12 – both currently still available
as hardware units. The G37 is the most 9
120 GUITARIST JULY 2018
GRAY
GUITARS
We take a trip to a leafy London suburb to meet one of the UK’s most talked-about
new luthiers, Thomas Gray, whose guitar-making began as a serious hobby but is
now championed by Blur hero Graham Coxon among many others…

Words Jamie Dickson Photography Will Ireland

T
he phrase ‘fairytale success story’ “I strapped my old Telecaster to a picnic he invested in building a proper workshop
might be a cliché, but for Thomas table and just went to Wickes and bought and acquiring professional tools. Soon,
Gray his journey into guitar- some tools – it worked really well. A week beautifully crafted, original guitars started
making definitely qualifies. After later I went back to YouTube and typed emerging from the workshop – and to
time spent languishing as a schoolteacher, ‘How do you cut a belly contour into a Thomas’s surprise, people wanted to buy
Thomas was asked to teach his music Telecaster?’ The same video channel came them, including highly influential early
students how to maintain guitars – it was up, and so I tried the tutorial on it, too.” adopters, such as Blur’s much-feted
this simple beginning that set him on the Thomas went on to devour scores of guitarist Graham Coxon, and Daniel
path to a dream career as a high-end luthier. instruction videos on guitar-making by Steinhardt, founder of TheGigRig and
“I was teaching GCSE and A-Level music Australian YouTuber David Fletcher, co-presenter of That Pedal Show.
and was asked to teach a BTEC in Music which gave him the confidence to make “It went so well and I loved it,” Thomas
Technology,” Thomas recalls. “One of his first guitar completely from scratch. recalls. “I didn’t like being a schoolteacher
the modules was backline technical “I watched how he carved a neck, what at all, I really hated it. So when the school I
management and part of that was looking measurements to take, and I just tried it. was teaching at eventually said, ‘Look, we
after guitars, amplifiers and fuses and stuff. I went and bought some wood that was don’t need you after this holiday. Thanks
“I looked down the list of things I had to vaguely neck shaped, about the right very much’, I was like, ‘Okay, all right’. But I
teach, and with the basics, such as tuning thickness and the right width. By then I had did walk back thinking, ‘Fuck, what do I do?
and changing strings, and setting pickup some basic Fender templates, which I’d got Maybe this is the right time to go into
height and stuff like that, I thought, ‘Fine, I on eBay or somewhere, so I had some making guitars full time?’
can do that’. But when it came to intonation, outlines that allowed me to rout round “I’d made Graham Coxon’s guitar by
checking the action and wiring and stuff, I things. Again, it kind of worked well.” then. I’d also made Daniel Steinhardt’s
realised I’d have to bone up a bit. So I did the As Thomas became first proficient and guitar by then, so I knew it could work. The
research and before long I was teaching 16 then highly skilled in hand-building guitars, Graham thing had kicked off a little bit and
year olds how to do all that, which was we became friends. So I thought, ‘Well, this
really good fun.” “I strapped my could really happen’. Then a couple of
Thomas explains he soon acquired the people bought guitars so I thought, ‘Great,
bug for modding guitars and his curiosity old Telecaster to well that’s like three months of money just
led him to tackle ever more complex jobs, sat there, three months of teaching money
until he decided to have a go at shaping the a picnic table and right there’, and I thought, ‘I’ll just see what
body wood itself. just went to Wickes happens, I just won’t go back to school on
“I was playing Telecasters a lot at that Monday and see what happens’.”
time, so I decided to see how hard it would and bought some
be to cut a forearm contour on a Telecaster tools – it worked INTO THE FUTURE
body. I went to YouTube and a video came Thomas stated that this was his leap-of-
up of this guy showing you how to do it. really well” faith moment. It was flattering and

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 123


1. Top-spec components,
lovingly hand-wired,
1 help hone the tone 3
of Gray Guitars
2. All major processes,
from preparing finishes
to hand-shaping necks,
are performed in Gray’s
compact but capable
workshop
3. Thomas pays close
attention to the shape
and feel of his necks,
which have become a
selling point

encouraging that two well-known figures rationalised his output into a core range of ‘Brimstone’. It’s like a korina guitar in the
in the music industry had started playing models that takes inspiration from an insect style of a Gibson. Not in the outline,
his guitars but, back in the real world, it still known for its powers of transformation. because it has a Telecaster kind of outline,
had to add up to a regular livelihood that “We sell three of my models in the shop. but in the fact it’s made of korina, with a
paid as well as his teaching gig. All my guitars are named after butterflies korina neck and ebony fingerboard with
Once again Daniel Steinhardt was to play and my logo is a butterfly. There are the one Bare Knuckle Nailbomb in the bridge.
a supportive role, setting up an introduction ‘Emperors’, which are the Strat types, the It’s like a hotrod Gibson Les Paul Junior
to award-winning retailer Andertons that ‘Admirals’, which are Telecaster types, kind of idea.”
helped put Gray Guitars on the map. and the ‘Grayling’ is like a 335-meets-
“I met Lee Anderton last year through Telecaster mashup. PICKUP PROWESS
Dan Steinhardt,” Thomas explains. “I went “The Grayling is the one I made for Thomas prefers to use Bare Knuckle for
to see Lee with a couple of guitars that I Graham that became a model in its own all his guitars – a choice typical of his
liked, and Danish Pete [Anderton’s Peter right. It’s like a Telecaster outline. It’s about thoughtful approach to wringing as much
Honoré] was there as well, and we went up 5mm thicker than a Tele. Like a 335, it’s tone as possible from his instruments
and sat in the video studio behind the shop solid down the middle with a mahogany through careful selection of top-spec
and I gave him two guitars to try. back and the flame maple top, with P90s in. hardware and tonewoods.
“I thought I would be there for half an It’s got a 25-inch scale length, which is “I grew up in Cornwall and I was always
hour, but when I eventually left we’d been in-between a Fender and Gibson so gives very interested in this guy who made
talking the whole day. In that meeting I it a spongier feel, plus a 12-inch radius. pickups across the water from where I
went from being a guitar builder making “There’s also the guitar that I used for lived,” he explains. “When I first heard
one-off commissions to taking orders for the photoshoot today, which is called a Bare Knuckle’s P90s that was it – I thought,
guitars that would be stocked in Andertons. ‘This is for me.’ Then I got more familiar
“These instruments are now hung up in with their humbuckers and the Tele and
the boutique room next to private stock “My instruments the Strat stuff, and now Bare Knuckle is my
PRS and all the top-of-the-line Custom go-to, they’re incredible, I love their stuff.
Shop Fender stuff that they’re selling, are now in Andertons “The bridges are also important. A lot of
which is amazing for a new brand. Before next to private stock people like the vintage-style Tele bridges
that point, I just made guitars in my but struggle with the intonation issue. The
workshop and sold them to people, that PRS and top-of- Mastery bridges have solved that problem
was it! So it was a steep learning curve…”
As befits a small-scale luthier who is now
the-line Custom well I think. I’m not sure how aware you
are of those. The saddle design on those
supplying a major league retailer, Thomas Shop Fenders” means that when the six strings go over the

124 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Thomas with a stunning example
of his stripped-down Brimstone
4

4. Oodles of hand-work go
into every Gray guitar,
lending them a sculpted,
organic feel
5. The Brimstone is
designed to evoke a
Les Paul Junior-style
simplicity and power
6. Like the Brimstone,
Gray’s Strat-style
Emperor model is
named after a butterfly
7. The rich nitro finishes
applied to Gray guitars
are all part of the vibe

5 6 7

fixed saddle, there’s nowhere to go [that you can find plenty of evidence of an Wudtone bridge. I handspray the finishes
isn’t the correct position]. If you string independent spirit in his guitars, which here, with nitrocellulose.”
up a ’52 reissue Telecaster with big brass often take the form of tweaks that enhance It’s clearly been a dizzying ride from
saddles, though, the string can be anywhere the playability and organic feel of each one. backyard to boutique. What, we ask, has
– it just moves left to right. You have to “I put belly cuts in all my Telecaster-style been the hardest thing about the journey?
make sure as you tighten the string up it’s guitars because I think why would you not “I think the most challenging part was
still in exactly the right spot it was in last have that? I like quite deep ones, too, so you the self-doubt. When I first said I was going
time. The Mastery bridges solve that and haven’t got that whole ribcage-battering to make guitars a lot of people I knew
sound great.” thing. I tend to put a Strat-size body radius (especially older people including older
on the top as well. So, it has a half-inch guitarists) said, ‘You’re mad, how is that
QUALITY WOODS radius on the top rather than an eighth- or a going to work? People can buy guitars from
Gray guitars are also admired for their quarter-inch radius on the top.” China for £200. How can you compete with
necks, which are typically built from Thomas also champions the use of that?’ Well, I always knew I was only going
stunningly figured maple-family non-traditional tonewoods alongside the to make top-end stuff, I was never going to
tonewoods sourced from Canada. Tom is a old standards. “My guitars in stock at try to compete with the entry-level stuff.
devotee of bolt-on electrics and says that Andertons are made from horse chestnut “I’m now at the stage where it’s almost
such guitars stand or fall on the quality of or poplar for the bodies and the necks are time to start looking for some new
the tonewoods and the integrity of the fit sycamore. They have laburnum premises and find an assistant,” says
between neck and body. fingerboards, or bog oak fingerboards, or Thomas. “I’ve got a lot of commissioned
“If you have a lovely piece of quarter- plum fingerboards. Lee’s one has a plum builds in the book, so it’s kind of getting to
sawn, roasted flame maple, and you’ve got a fingerboard, Bare Knuckle pickups and a that stage. I can just about cope with it but
nice piece of alder and the neck and the if I get a couple more… Let’s just say I don’t
body meet beautifully, that’s the start of it really want to have a year-long waiting list.
for me. I’ve got a ’76 Strat where if you take “I don’t really want Nice for your ego or whatever, but it’s not
the neck screws off that bad boy…” best for your customers. But that’s another
He trails off, at a loss when it comes to to have a year-long thing I have to balance out, you know?
describing how poorly the neck fits into the waiting list. Nice for Charlie Chandler [of Guitar Experience
neck pocket on that guitar. fame] said to me: ‘If people want what
“Forget it,” he finally says. “It would your ego or whatever, you’re selling then they may have to wait –
never have left my workshop like that!”
Although Fender’s classic designs are
but it’s not best for don’t hurry, just make sure the guitars are
absolutely the best they can be’.”
clearly a touchstone for Thomas’ designs, your customers” www grayguitars.london

126 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Longtermers
A few months’ gigging, recording and everything that goes with it –
welcome to Guitarist ’s longterm test reports

Shergold
Masquerader SM-04
with Dave Burrluck

128 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Longtermers

We took up Dave’s
offer of seeing
his etchings
influenced by his
time in Cadiz

Writer
DAVE BURRLUCK
Guitarist Gear Reviews Editor
This issue, channelling
his inner Tony
Zemaitis, our Reviews
Editor elevates the
Masquerader to a whole new
level. Rock on!

alfway through my Longtermers test

H on this guitar it got cruelly replaced


by my old ’69 Fender Telecaster,
which was better suited to my gig with some
old mates running through a set of classic
American rock tunes. I’d always wanted to be
in the Heartbreakers – yeah, right! – and this
was as close as I was going to get. meant – in theory – I could pull the post holes Richard had antiqued the aluminium looked
This left the poor ol’ Masquerader looking down a little more. The Fender-style black nut extremely cool too. The design might not be
rather forlorn. With a bit of time after a (fitted as standard) possibly isn’t maximising engraved but just by laying the ’plate over the
recording session and before our next get- resonance and actually has a curved base, Masquerader it summed up a strong Tony
together, I began to consider my options. with a central nib, sitting in a flat channel. I Zemaitis vibe and gave me a clear idea of
Should I just send the guitar back? I’d already could replace that with bone. Well, there’s the how to enhance the guitar both visually and
changed the bridge and both humbuckers start of a plan… (hopefully) sonically.
and knew I was on the right track for the My Masquerader has a black Bakelite There was plenty of work to do – pull back
‘power single coil’ voicing I needed but scratchplate, which Patrick J Eggle (who’s the gloss sheen of the body for starters, round
I’d been a little concerned about the dull behind the design of the new Masqueraders) the fingerboard edges for a more worn feel,
response on the low strings. went to great trouble to source. But on the fit and age those tuners, fit and cut the new
glossed dark brown/black finish it completely nut, age and fit some Dunlop strap-locks
‘disappears’. I was reminded of a young guitar and swap out the original knobs with a pair
“With time to get maker, Richard Legg, I’d come across who’d of Gibson witch-hat knobs that I’d antiqued
to know this new seen me on a gig and asked if he could show a little. Along the way I fitted in a new CTS
me a guitar he’d made. Hoping that the guitar volume pot, a push/push switched tone pot, a
Masquerader, it’s wasn’t going to be awful – that’s certainly Switchcraft three-way lever switch and higher
proved quite a piece” happened before – I was pleasantly surprised
not only with Richard’s fledgling craft but his
quality jack socket. A day and a bit later, it was
ready for a set-up and tuning in.
use of etched aluminium, done in an artful Some weeks later, with time to get to know
The Masquerader has a flat, not back- style. Maybe I could commission him to make this new Masquerader, it’s proved quite a
angled, three-a-side head and my thinking a replacement ’plate for the Masquerader? piece. My old Tele has dropped back to spare
was that I needed as much back angle behind Happy to oblige, Richard asked what sort of status. Everyone wants to know “what is that
the nut as I could achieve. The locking tuners design I wanted? I’d seen some interesting you’re playing?”The singer has also got on
with staggered height posts worked fine but motifs dotted around on a recent trip to board: “I love playing in this band,” he beams.
I didn’t really need locking tuners. Also, thanks Cadiz, and had taken a few pictures, so I sent “You guys have such cool guitars.”
to the post shape, I couldn’t stack extra winds them over and simply said,“do your thing!” And with a nod to the late, great Tony
around the post like I would on my Tele to A couple of weeks later, still in the grip Zemaitis and the inspired work of Richard
achieve that maximum back angle. The post of the particularly inclement UK weather Legg of Indra Guitars – a nice book-ending
holes measure approximately 22mm, 20mm conditions Richard popped in. While I put of British craft old and new – not to mention
and 18mm, the taller posts placed on the two the coffee on and he began to thaw out, he the design and production work of Patrick J
E strings, the middle on the A and D and the passed me an envelope that held two etched Eggle, an interesting Brit-made pickup from
lowest on the G and D. It was specifically the aluminium ’plates of different designs. I was Alan Price at Catswhisker Pickups and a very
E and A that needed more angle I guessed, stunned. How can a vague idea be turned neat bridge design by Matt Oram at Fidelity
so I bought a set of Gotoh vintage-style into something so beautiful? Not only were Guitars, I can’t help but agree. Who says us
tuners but with height-adjustable posts that the designs quite exceptional, but the way Brits can’t take on the world?

Reviewed 426 Price Approx £799 On Test Since Sept ’17 Studio Sessions No Gigged Yes Mods Oh, yes! www.shergoldguitars.com

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 129


1961 Gibson GA-79RVT
Vintage Amp
Replacement Challenge
With Rod Brakes

Rod’s now departed 1961


Gibson GA-79RVT is proving
difficult to replace

130 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Longtermers

A borrowed 1965
Epiphone Comet
still failed to
deliver the
clean headroom
Rod required

Writer
ROD BRAKES
Guitarist & Journalist
Having now finally
parted ways with a
classic vintage amp – a
1961 Gibson GA-79RVT
– Rod is on the hunt for a more
roadworthy alternative that delivers
all the character and vintage charm
of this classic collectible combo
without compromising on sound.

aving come out the other side and, unfortunately, this is not an option – I will a few music shop staff and bored the shit out

H of what feels like a particularly


prolonged and acute bout of GAS,
it appears that there’s nothing quite like a
never truly replicate the same sound. In my
experience, this is the case with virtually all
vintage amps; no two are exactly the same.
of my girlfriend.
My first port of call was a 1965 Epiphone
Comet I borrowed on spec from a friend to
seemingly impossible task to sharpen up your They all have their own quirks and charms record a sound-piece for performance artist
knowledge. My initial presumption was that it that change slowly over time. It’s also worth Will Hughes called Ghost in the Sheets. It
would be a relatively straightforward exercise bearing in mind that as a true stereo amp, had a great atmospheric sound, but I was
in weighing up the pros and cons based on that is two independent amplifiers in one left with the same old predicament of not
educated guesses before pulling the trigger combo, the design is especially unique to having enough clean headroom. Having used
at the end of the shootout. However, it often begin with. I was particularly smitten with it a week or two later for a session at Mizpah
seemed as if the harder I looked, the deeper its tremolo due to either side of the stereo Studios in Bath, the artist I was recording
down the rabbit hole I went and, as it turns spread being slightly out of phase. This with, Sam Gotley, loved the sound of it so
out, during the past few months I’ve been subtle modulation, reminiscent of Fender much that he, thankfully, put me out of my
on yet another steep learning curve in my ‘brownface’ harmonic tremolo, coupled with misery and ended up buying it himself!
journey as a guitarist. a fantastic sounding reverb sporting its own Shortly thereafter, I quickly fell in and out
Perhaps the most fundamental lesson amplification stage and a particularly wide of love with a ’65 Princeton Reverb reissue
learned has been that short of buying the spread of sound, courtesy of a pair of angled (again, not enough headroom!) before trying
same 1961 Gibson GA-79RVT back again – speakers, was as good as classic on-board out an early 80s Fender Princeton Reverb II
amp effects get as far as I was concerned.
Nevertheless, my main gripe about the
GA-79RVT, was that – aside from being a little
“No two vintage amps
on the precious side to constantly lug around are exactly the same.
studios and gigs – it didn’t have enough in
the way of clean headroom to be useful as
They all have quirks
a good all-round workhorse amp. Although and charms that
being endowed with some of the sweetest
sounding EL84 breakup to be had, I found its change over time”
tendency to get dirty very quickly rendered
it a little too far into the ‘character’ zone to and a Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb, kindly lent
be practical (a little bit like my Great Aunty to me by Guitar Techniques editor Neville
Kat after a few too many). The bottom line in Marten. Those last two amps really got me
terms of performance was that I needed an thinking about the upwards direction in
amp capable of great sounding tremolo and wattage I was inevitably headed.
reverb that would stay clean at drum kit level As much as finding a replacement has been
and work well with pedals – in other words, about letting go it’s also been about finding
more options. something new and discovering that, along
Naturally, before putting as many reverb/ with all my research and testing, sometimes
tremolo combos as I could find through their the best answers are so blindingly obvious
paces, I did what all truly dedicated gear- that it’s hard to see them for looking. In the
The EL84 valves hit
obsessed musos do and probed the internet final piece of this series, I will examine the
the sweet spot but
were limited in scope for hours at a time, waxed lyrical about amps success of an entirely unexpected approach
with my guitar buddies, tested the patience of that goes way beyond just a new amp.

Reviewed n/a Price £3,000 On Test Since n/a Studio Sessions Yes Gigged Yes Mods Restored! www.gibson.com

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 131


Gretsch
Players Edition
6609 Broadkaster
with Neville Marten

Writer
NEVILLE MARTEN
Editor, Guitar Techniques
Having not been out of its
case for a while due to
other guitars crowding its
scene, what a pleasant
surprise it was familiarising himself with
this stunning vision in white, says Nev.

I
t’s been a while since I wrote about my
longterm Gretsch. And to be honest
a while since I played it in any kind of
anger. That’s mainly because the kind of gig
I might use it on hasn’t really presented itself.
I was going to have it as my main guitar on
a rock ’n’ roll tour late last year but in the
end my ES-335 won the day, primarily
because I knew it better and it didn’t feel
right to test out an unfamiliar instrument
on someone else’s dollar.
However, opening the case as I have just
done reminded me of why I wanted to do
this test in the first place. It’s a staggering
looking thing, and the modern tweaks
that Gretsch has brought to this range –
spruce centre block, string-thru Bigsby,
simplified electronics and all-new American-
made Full’Tron humbuckers – make it an
exceedingly compelling stage guitar. It’s a
powerful beast, too, these Full’Trons offering
huge punch. If fact, that’s another reason the
335 won out as my tour guitar, as I felt this
thing might actually be too aggressive. Now
when did anyone say that about a Gretsch?
However, for my main gig it works great,
as I do need some of that grunt. And of course
these Full’Tron style pickups are renowned for the set, then up again (each pickup’s volume but made improvements and upgrades in
their clarity and chime too, so backing off the still nicely in balance) for a louder number. every department, including the easy-string
volume knocks the edge off, leaving a great If you’re not one for riding the controls all Bigsby and quality locking tuners; these are
set of tones that you might even mistake for night, which I do, you could conceivably enticing a generation of new converts while
being single coil. And speaking of which... run the whole show from this one pot. And not offending the diehards.
A Gretsch feature that bemuses many if you think about Gibson’s ‘rhythm/treble’ If white and gold is a touch on the bling
guitarists is the horn-mounted master ring on a Les Paul’s toggle switch, that’s a side for your tastes, or the semi look is not
volume. My beef with it was always that it’s similar idea. your thing, there are mega-cool Jet style
counter-intuitive to pass the picking hand In the old days everyone wanted to love models in the range with or without Bigsby,
over the strings and the guitar body to make Gretsch guitars but often found them too as well as plenty of colours to choose from –
adjustments. However, once I got over this idiosyncratic to play in an everyday band – including classic Gretsch orange and Cadillac
hump I discovered how useful it is to preset top 40, blues or rock, etc. Tuning on Bigsby- green plus some cool modern colours and
and balance each pickup’s volume, then equipped models could be an issue, too, as flame maple finishes.
use the master to take them up or down in witnessed by the number of bridge types Whatever you go for you’ll be assured of a
parallel. In practice you’d knock the master introduced over the years. But under Fender’s pro quality instrument that quietly does the
back to switch between rhythm and lead governance Gretsch has done that almost business while not so quietly exclaiming its
(neck and bridge?) in a quieter song in miraculous thing: retained brand identity presence. What a cool guitar this is!

Reviewed 422 Price £2,299 Test Since June 2017 Studio Sessions Yes Gigged Yes Mods No www.gretschguitars.com

132 GUITARIST JULY 2018


Q&A This issue: Pickup power, old-school tone and a pain in the neck…

MIND THE GAP Strats from the 60s, such


Expert Panel as Gary Moore’s ’61 below,
were typically built to
I just took delivery of a 70s tighter standards than 70s
Jamie Dickson Fender Stratocaster that I won examples of the breed
Guitarist editor Jamie is as
via an online auction. The guitar
happy with steel wool in
his hand as he is with Steely Dan in his looked the absolute business in
headphones, and loves vintage-gear the listing and, now that I have
restoration and ambitious signal chains. the thing at home, I’m generally
happy with the way it plays and
Dave Burrluck sounds. There is something
Guitarist’s assiduous reviews
that’s bugging me about it
editor is also the author of
numerous guitar books.Very handy with however. The neck socket is
a fret file and indeed any aspect of a finely too wide for its neck. There’s
fettled six-string. a noticeable gap between the
neck and the body on the bass
Ed Mitchell side, plus there’s a pronounced
After 18 years in guitar retail
‘lip’ where you can see a few
Ed turned to journalism as
reviews editor of Total Guitar, then as a
millimetres of the neck socket on
contributor to Guitarist. He’s also edited the treble side.
the mags The Blues and Country Music. I bought this guitar because
I wanted a vintage Fender
Neville Marten but couldn’t stretch to a 60s
Edited Guitarist for 13 years,
example. So, did I get a piece of
after working for both Fender
and Gibson as a repairer. From desirable
junk? Could it be that the neck
Les Pauls to dream Strats, he’s owned has been switched at some
and worked on the lot. point? The seller says that’s not
the case, but how can I be sure?
Nick Guppy I’m also concerned that the neck
Guitarist’s amplifier
won’t be stable. My guitar has a
specialist has built up a
wealth of experience gained from three-bolt neck plate. no, your neck is unlikely to have Fenders suck. There are some
collecting, repairing and restoring all I Menzies, via email been swapped, that’s just how great examples and if you’re
kinds of guitar-related audio. they came, brand new, straight chuffed with the tone and feel
Welcome to the world of 1970s from the factory. of your new acquisition, well,
Fender. Quality control was not You’ll see a disparity between happy days. You didn’t buy
Email us your high on the list of priorities at the neck and body slot width a piece of junk. Just keep an
questions: guitarist Fender in the 70s – or at Gibson in early 50s Broadcasters, eye on your trio of neck bolts.
HQ either for that matter. It Telecasters and Esquires. Make sure they’re good and
@futurenet.com was all about saving money. Out In fact, buy a Custom Shop tight. If the neck is shifting in
or write in to went the nitrocellulose lacquers ’51 Nocaster these days and its socket you’ll know by the
of the 50s and 60s in favour of there’s a notable lip on the alignment of the high and low E
Guitarist, thick polyester finishes. The treble side of the neck socket, strings in relation to the edges
Future Publishing, guitars got heavier too. While for authenticity. We excuse of the fingerboard. Aside from
Quay House, in the 60s a Strat would tip the that because in the early days that just get on with it and enjoy
scales at around seven pounds, of Fender, Leo and the boys your guitar.
The Ambury, the 70s saw the emergence of were essentially making guitars
Bath, BA1 1UA whopping great ten pounders... by hand. So what if the string THE FUTURE’S BRIGHT...
That’s Les Paul weightage. ferrules were a little wonky, the
But, by far the most guitars had mojo! I recently bought an electric
disappointing aspect of the By the mid to late 50s and semi-acoustic guitar with a
late period of CBS Fender- throughout the 60s, Fender centre block. It’s a nice guitar but
ownership was how shoddy quality control was great. So, the it’s almost too resonant. Do you
the neck/body joint was. Some slip in build and finish quality have any tips on how to dull this
players would stick their picks in the 70s is inexcusable. The down a bit?
in the gap on the bass side. So good news is that not all 70s Steve Smith, via email

Email us your questions: guitarist@futurenet.com

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 133


GearQ&A

What Should I Buy?


Old-school tone that looks
as good as it sounds
I’m looking for a good old-fashioned
valve combo. It has to be reasonably
portable, at least 25 watts and
have the capability to work well with a bunch
of different guitars, including a ’61 Custom
Shop Telecaster and an 80s Les Paul Custom.
Call me shallow, but I want the amplifier to
look as cute as possible, too, as it will spend
much of its time in my lounge. Where should
I start looking?
P Lawson, via email

The old-school valve and boutique


amplifier scene is bursting at the
seams these days so, if you’ve got the 1. Supro 1695T Black Magick £1,449
dosh burning a hole in your pocket, the world
is your ocean-dwelling mollusc. Depending on Sexier than a pair of dragon-stitched flares, the 1695T recreates
your budget you’ll have access to everything the modded ’59 Supro Coronado used by Jimmy Page in the early
from mass-produced icons to painstakingly days of Led Zep. Class A, 25 watts, and brandishing a single 12-inch
hand-assembled boutique stuff. Oh, and any speaker, the Black Magick comes covered in black-and-white
guitar player who stubbornly claims they’re vinyl. You can CCR your clean tone with the onboard vibrato circuit
not interested in how cool their gear looks is or crank the volume in parallel-channel mode for some sweet
just kidding themselves… overdrive. Thanks to Jimmy, we know it sounds great with a Tele.

2. Vox AC30HW Hand-Wired £1,749 3. 633 Engineering Jazz & Blues £3,100
The Vox AC30 is about as English as it gets. This hand-wired We’ve been drooling over 633 Engineering’s stuff for a while now.
version nails the 30 watts of tone that fuelled The Shadows, The fruit of the labours of ex-Blackstar designer Cliff Brown, the
The Beatles, Queen and Jam-era Paul Weller. As per the original, 45-watt single channel Jazz & Blues delivers classic American tones
you get two Celestion G12M Green Back speakers fed by three (via 5881 power and 12AX7 preamp tubes) through a single 12-inch
ECC83/12AX7 preamp valves and four EL84 power jobs. The tan speaker. At £3,000-plus the only thing more eye-watering is the
cabinet should look sweet next to your fireplace, too. 22kg weight – you definitely get what you pay for.

Email us your questions: guitarist@futurenet.com

134 GUITARIST JULY 2018







A pickup swap could be


in order if your PRS is
too tinny for your ears

Back in the 60s, guitar players a different gauge here. You longterm Les Paul and American
would stuff their hollow-body should consider installing a set Standard Strat user and feel
electrics with foam, cotton of tapewound strings as used by confident I know what good
wool or newspaper to tone jazzers and just about everyone tone is. Are PRS operating in a
down the resonance and reduce in the 50s and 60s. different frequency dimension?
feedback. The problem with Bass players have been using Geoff Tate, via email
your scenario is, your guitar tape or flatwound strings to cut
was designed to pump out a big their instruments’ resonance for This is a difficult question to
fat resonant tone. You can pin decades. Listen to any 60s soul answer, Geoff, having not heard
the blame on that centre block. record, and Sir Macca’s tone on your guitar, but it isn’t the first

 
We’re assuming you have a The Beatles classics. Philly Soul time we’ve heard of this issue
Gibson ES-335 or a guitar with and Disco bassist Ronnie Baker with the 85/15s. Some PRS
similar genetic makeup, say of Disco Inferno fame used to owners regard these pickups

 
an Epiphone Dot or a Gretsch rub butter on his strings to make as all about the bass and treble,
Centre-Block model. If your them sound as dead as possible. with very little midrange. That’s
semi is equipped with a trapeze But we don’t recommend you possibly what’s giving your ears
tailpiece then it’s likely adding do that… Instead, look for a set a hard time, especially when
to the resonance. That expanse
of string running between the
bridge and tailpiece can vibrate
of tapewound strings from the
likes of US-brand LaBella and
British firm Rotosound. You’ll
you’ve raised them on Les Pauls
and Strats. The 85/15s are based
on the original Treble and Bass

( 
and there’s little else you can find most string manufacturers pickups launched by Paul Reed
do. That said, stay tuned for a offer them. Smith in the mid 80s. They have
stringing suggestion... many admirers in the metal
If, on the other hand, your PROBLEM PUPS community despite the fact
guitar has a stop tailpiece, try
raising it via its slotted studs. I recently bought a PRS SE
they’re not particularly high
output – the fans love the bright % )"" #")
This will reduce the angle of the Custom 24, initially being and clear tone, which your ears
strings across the bridge, which delighted with the playability, are interpreting as brash and     #  % 
may tone down the sustain. Be
careful not to damage the head
build quality and what, at first,
came across as a wide and
tinny. So, the 85/15s are not bad
pickups. They’re just not to   %" " 
of the studs. Detune the strings
first, then use something that
versatile range of sounds to the
pickups (PRSs 85/15s). As time
everyone’s taste.
Surf the PRS forums and
  $    $ 
fits snugly into the slots. A coin goes by, I’m finding these same you’ll see some owners switch  ## 
should do. You could also drop pickup characteristics revealing out the 85/15s for something a
the height of the pickups. That themselves to be brash, far too bit more traditional – you know,  %"  $  
could take the edge off through
your amp at least.
sensitive and tinny. Knocking
back the tone control takes
pups based around a classic
warm 50s Gibson PAF. The  $  ##  #

If either of these tips work the edge off but also filters out vintage-voiced PRS 58/15 is a
at all, the effect will be slight a percentage of detail. I can’t good option for you. If you enjoy ((( ' '! &
at best. The greatest hope of believe this is how PRS intends all other aspects of your SE
getting the deficit of resonance
you need is with a string change.
the guitar to sound, having
such a renowned reputation
Custom 24, then a pickup swap
could get the guitar back in your ' '!
We’re not just talking about for quality. I’m baffled as I’m a good books.
 !  "%  # 
    
PICKUP
LI N ES

Fender Wide Range


Humbuckers
Fender’s bid to beat Gibson at their own game yielded an innovative and arguably
underrated humbucker that some believe is the most versatile around

G
uitarists have been lining up on
By enlisting ex-
either side of the Gibson/Fender
Gibson man Seth
divide in guitar culture, wallets Lover, Fender tried
in hand, ever since the companies became to beat their rivals
leading competitors in the solidbody at their own game
electric market in the 1950s. Although
neither brand would be able to claim
dominance in the hard rock world, during
the late 1960s and early 70s, Gibson’s
humbucker-equipped instruments were
proving to be a popular choice for guitarists
looking for a thicker, chunkier guitar tone.
This trend was not lost on Fender. The
comparatively thinner, percussive quality of
their single coil pickups just wasn’t doing it
for many guitar players and heavy rock did
not appear to be getting any less popular.
In a shrewd and calculated move Fender
drafted the inventor of Gibson’s humbucker,
Seth Lover, to take care of business, and in
1970 the Wide Range Humbucker was born.
Its arrival was heralded by the unveiling of Telecaster Deluxe reissue guitar. Pickup “One thing I love about the original Wide
Fender’s second-generation Telecaster specialist Jaime Campbell of The Creamery Range Humbucker, which I incorporate
Thinline, Custom and Deluxe models in in Manchester has taken matters into his into my designs, is the idea of having
1971 and 1972, followed by the Starcaster in own hands and has created a selection of individual threaded magnets in the pickup.
1976. This unique, fully adjustable, high- Wide Range-style humbuckers to meet the It allows you to individually height-adjust
output dual coil design utilised 12 CuNiFe demands of the discerning guitarist looking each magnet, which acts as a rudimentary
(copper/nickel/iron) alloy magnets, wound to explore the design’s unique sonic charms. EQ for each string, and because they’re
to 10,000 turns with 42-gauge polysol wire, “Wide Range Humbuckers are my individual magnets (as opposed to the
producing a whopping inductance of 4.85H favourite pickup of all time,” says Jaime. Gibson-style bar magnet design) it gives a
and a DC resistance of 10.6 kilo-ohms. “They have a clearer and more defined clearer, more defined sound that still
The original Wide Range humbucker is sound than the traditional PAF-style cancels hum.
truly a child of the 70s and will remain so, as humbucker. When I was at university, I “It’s a more muscular, jangly, indie kind of
its production ceased in 1979. Although used to put on bands with Alex Kapranos of sound. It’s slightly overwound, so it’s hotter,
subsequent reissues have taken the original Franz Ferdinand; he’s renowned for using yet it seems brighter. They’re great for using
Seth Lover blueprint into account, many Wide Range Humbuckers and [The with effects pedals – especially for shoegaze
aficionados believe the seminal design to be Creamery] started from a conversation we bands or bands who really want to layer
unrepeatable due to the extreme scarcity of were having about recreating them. effects and use lots of gain and fuzz, without
the CuNiFe alloy rods used to manufacture “When Franz Ferdinand came onto the getting a very heavily saturated metal
the polepieces. As a result, supply and scene, very few people were playing 70s sound. That’s where the crunchiness of the
demand has pushed the price of original Fenders. Traditional Teles have always been Wide Range Humbucker really comes to
Wide Range humbuckers upwards on the popular, but the Deluxe and the Customs the fore.
vintage market, with some examples selling with Wide Range Humbuckers generally “Essentially Fender wanted a Les Paul
for over £300 each. weren’t. When people started seeing bands killer – something that appealed to a certain
Fortunately, however, there are options like Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay using type of guitar buyer, but to my mind it’s the
available that mean you don’t have to buy them, the Wide Range humbucker most versatile pickup there is in terms of the
the best part of an entire Fender ’72 suddenly became popular. variety of sounds you can coax from it.”

136 GUITARIST JULY 2018


JULY 2018 GUITARIST 137
classicGear
Leo Fender’s brainchild wins the long game after a hesitant start…

Fender Telecaster
W
hen it comes to versatility, ideas and as surprising as it may sound now, The Broadcaster moniker may have
sometimes the simpler the the design was initially resisted and even stuck had it not been for the swift arrival
better. If one were to envisage mocked by some following its unveiling at of Gretsch’s cease and desist letter (since
a solidbody electric guitar in the form of its the 49th NAMM convention in 1950. the 1920s, Gretsch had offered a series of
most essential elements, the likelihood is it Considered the first solidbody electric Broadkaster drum sets) and for a short
would closely resemble a Fender Telecaster, guitar to go into mass production, the while in 1951, Fender simply omitted the
however, back in the 1940s, as Leo Fender’s Esquire appeared in Fender’s Spring 1950 model name from the headstock – giving
minimal assembly of insightful ideas began catalogue and was the precursor to the rise to the legendary ‘No-Caster’ guitars of
to take shape, the ultimate success of such a Telecaster. The Esquire could be described this period. Within a few months, however,
concept was far less certain. as a single (bridge) pickup Telecaster, the instrument was formally renamed the
The Telecaster’s design appears so although early on it was also sold with Telecaster and appeared as distinct from its
obvious to us these days that it’s difficult an additional neck pickup. Fender soon single-pickup sibling at the NAMM show in
to imagine the guitar having never existed, recognised the potential demand for such July 1951.
although that certainly wasn’t always the a guitar and in Autumn 1950 they set about The earliest Broadcasters/No-Casters/
case. The guitar market has seemingly rebranding a dual pickup variant of the Telecasters are often referred to as ‘black
always encountered opposition to radical Esquire which they named the Broadcaster. guards’ on account of their black Bakelite

Fender’s solidbody
design was initially
resisted and
even mocked by
some following its
unveiling in 1950
pickguards and are commonly associated
with a transparent blonde ‘butterscotch’
finish. A one-piece fretted maple neck with
a scale length of 25½ inches and 21 frets
was bolted onto a single-cutaway ash body
(usually one-three pieces of timber) with
a ‘string through body’ bridge assembly
housing three adjustable brass saddles to
adjust action and intonation.
In 1954, the first of the guitar’s major
overhauls arrived in the form of a white
pick guard, a distinctly lighter blonde finish
and steel string saddles, thus marking the
end of the ‘black guard’ era of production.
In 1955 the design of the bridge pickup
was altered from flat to staggered pole
pieces and the feel of the necks began to
change from a rounded profile into a more
pronounced V-shape – on occasion referred
to a ‘boat necks’.
Over the next several decades, the
Telecaster continued to change in terms
of looks, sound and feel, although due to
its broad appeal has remained solidly in
production ever since its arrival at the dawn
The growling of rock ’n’ roll. Its ingeniously simple and
twang of the Tele
highly approachable design will no doubt
bridge pickup is a
hallmark tone find favour with future generations of
guitarists to come. [RB]

138 GUITARIST JULY 2018


classicGear

1965 SONIC BLUE FENDER TELECASTER

1. SERIAL NUMBER knurled, chrome-plated brass


L-prefixed 5-digit number knobs (volume and tone);
stamped onto steel neck chrome plated control panel;
plate (normally between recessed side input jack; x2 The Evolution Of The
L60000s-L99000s,or
100000s-110000s in
strap buttons
Fender Telecaster
late ’65) 5. PICKUPS
Two ‘grey bottom’ single
2. HEADSTOCK coil pickups – chrome-
Single butterfly clip string plated neck pickup cover 1949
tree; gold transition Fender and exposed staggered Leo Fender and George Fullerton
logo with black trim and polepieces on bridge pickup; complete the ‘Snakehead’ prototype
“TELECASTER” decal 3-way selector switch; x1 solidbody electric guitar
tone and x1 volume 250K
3. PLASTICS CTS pots
3-layer white/black/white
laminated plastic pickguard; 6. BODY Spring 1950
black ‘top hat’ style selector Solid alder with Sonic Blue Single pickup Esquire model first
switch tip custom colour nitrocellulose appears; dual pickup Esquire built
finish; single cutaway
4. HARDWARE
‘Double line’ Kluson Deluxe 7. NECK
tuners; metal bridge Bolt-on two-piece (maple Autumn 1950
plate with ‘through body’ cap fingerboard) rock Dual pickup Broadcaster with black
string anchor design maple with 21 frets; black ‘guard, ‘butterscotch’ blonde finish
and ‘ashtray’ cover; dot fretboard markers; and brass saddles released
steel bridge saddles; x2 nitrocellulose finish

1951
Broadcaster name dropped;
Telecaster born

1954
White plastic pickguard; off-white
blonde finish; steel bridge saddles

1955
Staggered bridge pickup
polepieces; neck profile changes to ‘V’

1958
‘Top loading’ bridge replaces ‘string
through body’ type; shallower neck

1959
‘String through body’ bridge and
slab rosewood fretboards introduced

1969
Optional maple cap fingerboard
discontinued – fretted maple necks
reintroduced

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 139


classicGear

Buyer’s Guide
1965 Sonic Blue Fender Telecaster
Dan Orkin of Reverb.com gives the lowdown on
Fender’s rare 1965 custom colour Telecaster

B
y the mid 60s, Fender was offering
The headstock
most of its key models in a suite of
vibrant, California-tinged custom-
on the ’65 Sonic Pricing factors to consider
Blue sports the
finish options. This rich palette no doubt gold transition
on the ’65 Sonic Blue
helped establish the classic image of the logo with Fender Telecaster
black trim
brand and its instruments – think of beach- Finish, spec and history are the
bound rockers dashing to the coast with most important details you need
a surfboard in one arm and a guitar that to check on your Tele safari…
matched the hue of their Chevy in the other.
While custom Fender finishes are more O ORIGINALITY OF FINISH
commonly associated with Strats and even The value of a custom colour
Jazzmasters and Jaguars, there were Telecaster from the 60s is
certainly Telecasters rolling off the closely tied to the originality and
Fullerton line in this era, carrying shiny new quality of the finish. Should you
finishes with names like Dakota Red and encounter a Sonic Blue Telecaster
Shoreline Gold. These guitars were in the wild, pay close attention to
available via custom order and were rare any indication that the finish is not
commodities at the time, and are even rarer original. Some chips, scratches
on today’s vintage market. or imperfections in an original
According to the Reverb sales database, finish won’t decrease the value too
the most common finish for 60s Strat much, but the existence of a non-
purchases (beyond the standard Sunburst) a specification. There are, of course, many original finish or overspray can
is Olympic White followed by Lake Placid boutique guitar builders specialising in decrease the value by around half.
Blue and Candy Apple Red. Sonic Blue, Fender-esque instruments who could also
which strikes a lighter shade than the other handle the order. Some names to consider O TRANSITIONAL SPECS
blues, is one of the rarer Fender finishes – include Nash, Whitfill, Danocaster, Kirn, 1965 was the big transitional
an original 60s Telecaster with a Sonic Blue Crook, and many others. These sorts of year for Fender when the
finish would be something of a holy grail on luthier-built guitars can be pricey, but are a CBS Corporation took over
the current vintage scene. good option if you’re after particular specs. and introduced a streamlined
On the lower end of the price spectrum, manufacturing process resulting
Vintage Prices Fender makes a Tele called the Classic in guitars that are less desired by
Typically, run-of-the-mill 1965 Telecasters Player Baja 60s Telecaster, which is collectors. In this year though,
with a blonde finish sell in the region of produced with a Sonic Blue finish and there are guitars with earlier,
£4,500 to £6,500. The finest examples in the retails for £725 (although used examples pre-CBS details, such as clay
best condition can often go for more. Those crop up on Reverb for less). If you’re not instead of pearloid fretboard
with a custom finish such as Olympic White stuck on the finish, the Fender and Squier inlays. These details will earn a
or Candy Apple Red typically sell for around catalogues have many other Tele options higher value than the normal ’65s.
25 to 40 per cent more. With an even rarer to choose from. As is always worth noting
finish such as Sonic Blue, the increase in with any sort of Fender design, finding the O PROVENANCE
value over the standard examples would be components you’d need to construct your For guitars of this calibre, potential
even higher. Were a Sonic Blue ’65 Tele to own partscaster build has never been easier. buyers are often interested in
sell today, the expected price would likely In fact, at the time of writing, there are the history of the piece. Details
be in the £15,000 to £18,000 range. If this several Sonic Blue Telecaster bodies such as who owned it, when did
hypothetical guitar carried a maple currently for sale on Reverb that are ready it change hands, why it is being
fretboard, the price might be even higher. to be fleshed out with a neck, pickups and sold, and other specifics that can
hardware set of your choice. illustrate the guitar’s originality,
Alternative Buying Options are all helpful. Documentation
If you’re interested in buying a 60s style such as original receipts of sale
Dan Orkin is content director at
Telecaster with Sonic Blue finish, your first Reverb.com, where he reviews the can, for instance, increase value by
stop would likely be the Fender Custom thousands of listings and manages establishing a complete package.
Shop, which could construct a build to such the Reverb Price Guide

140 GUITARIST JULY 2018


BODY
At launch the Wilshire had a
symmetrical, slab 1 ¾-inch-deep
mahogany body, reducing to
1 3/8 inches by 1960. By 1963
the body shape had changed
to asymmetrical with a slightly
elongated upper horn

1961 Epiphone
Wilshire
Photographs by Adam Gasson

F
or many, the role that Epiphone plays on the world stage
is that of being the subordinate brand to big brothers
Gibson – in many ways a similar relationship to the
one that Squier has with parent company Fender. This was
not always the case, of course; the Epiphone brand has been
around for 145 years and only came under the auspices of
Gibson in 1957 when company president Ted McCarty took up
Epiphone’s offer to buy their complete inventory lock, stock and
barrel for $20,000. To begin with, McCarty’s plan was to offer a
range of Gibson-made Epiphone instruments to selected shops
as a gateway to them becoming fully-fledged Gibson dealers
further down the line. Some of the instruments were cheaper
than the Gibson-branded equivalents, but surprisingly some
were actually more expensive. Epiphone’s flagship Emperor
model cost more than Gibson’s top range Byrdland in the early
60s, for instance. But it was the range of solidbody Epiphones
that first gave the brand its appeal for late-50s neophytes.
So where does the Wilshire fit into all of this, exactly?
Launched in 1959, in terms of price, the Wilshire was pitched
in between Epiphone’s pricier Crestwood and cheaper Coronet
models. A plain Jane two pickup guitar, the Wilshire, design-
wise, wasn’t a million miles away from Gibson’s own double cut
Les Paul Junior, which had entered the catalogue a year earlier.
Where sound is concerned, the Wilshire is known for its snap
and punch, its no frills appearance charming the likes of
players including Pete Townshend, Johnny Winter and Bruce
Springsteen. And if anyone is in any doubt that Epiphones
from this period can do the business, we invite you to check
out Humble Pie-era Steve Marriot’s guitar tone!

Guitarist would like to thank Vintage ‘n’ Rare Guitars,


Bath for giving us access to this fascinating instrument.
www.vintageandrareguitars.com

HEADSTOCK
The shape of the modern
elongated Epiphone headstock
was in place back at the very
start – understated and
unadorned, it suits the Wilshire’s
plain Jane looks. By 1963 the
tuner arrangement had changed
to six-a-side configuration

142 GUITARIST JULY 2018


HARDWARE
A symmetrical tortoiseshell
scratchplate with the
Epiphone ‘epsilon’ logo, plus
tune-o-matic bridge and an
optional vibrato (not offered FINGERBOARD
after 1966) atop a distinctly The Wilshire’s rosewood
Gibson-ish cherry finish fingerboard is very much
Gibson spec: 21 frets, dot
inlays, with a 24 ½-inch scale
length – the neck/body joint
meant that full fretboard
access was a charm

PICKUPS
The original 1959 Wilshires
had white P90s, changing
to black in 1961. A year later
the pickups had changed
once again, this time to a
pair of mini humbuckers

VARIANTS
The original Wilshires ran from
1959 to 1970. A 12-string version
was available briefly from 1966-68.
Since then the model has been
reintroduced in various guises: the
Wilshire II and III were available
from 1982-85 with a special Frank
Lero (My Chemical Romance)
model still in the catalogue

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 143


Techniques

Things You Can Learn From…


SCALES
Discover the techniques of Albert Lee, Chet Atkins, Jeff Beck and beyond…

PHOTO BY DAVID REDFERN/REDFERNS/GETTY

Jeff Beck is a master


of using harmonics in
his melody lines

144 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO & AUDIO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra Techniques

Difficulty | 5-10 mins per example


Tutor: Phil Hilborne | Gear used: PRS Custom 24 ‘Signature’ Guitar into a Fender Blues Deluxe mic’ed with a Royer 121 and a
Shure SM57. For dirt a TC ‘Mojo Mojo’ pedal was used – all other effects ie Reverb and Delay were added during the mix.

THIS MONTH, I share a few less moveable ‘positions’ for each scale related to popular in the 80s with ‘shred’ players,
common concepts and ideas all of the CAGED chord shapes. This is great, once again work well and have been covered
that you can apply to whichever works well and has been covered in depth tons over the years also. For these reasons
scales you use. Hopefully, you will pretty much all over the place. I won’t look at much that uses either of
find some of the following examples helpful. The same is also true of ‘three-note-per- those approaches.
Guitarists often like ‘boxes’ and will learn string’ scale fingerings. These became www.philhilborne.co.uk

Example 1 Open-string ringing


I WANT TO START with an example of a hybrid picked C Major Scale scales that contain notes that could potentially be played as open
played using as many open strings as possible to create a lovely strings are fair game. Try and find some others yourself. Open string
‘cascading’ effect. Country players such as Albert Lee, Chet Atkins keys of E, A, D and G are the most common. Just remember to let
and Jerry Reed have all used this technique, and essentially any all the notes ring into each other as much as is appropriate.

  Freely
¢ Cœ £ œ œ¡ ¢ 
4 œ œ œ £œ œ¡ w
&4 œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ¢w
¢ £ œ œ œ œ  ¡
¢ 
F With pick & fingers or fingerstyle
Let ring Let ring

E 8 7 5 0 0
B 8 6 0 0
G 7 5 0 0 0
D 7 0 0 2 7 10
A 8 7 3 8
E 8

Example 2 Natural harmonics


IT’S POSSIBLE TO PLAY a lot of scale-based phrases using natural you play this example you will need to be accurate with your
harmonics.You can play some entire scales such as the A Mixolydian fretting hand position, and bear in mind that it might be helpful
and A7 arpeggio idea shown here, or just add in a few notes as for the highest harmonics to pick slightly closer to the bridge as
harmonics.Yet again, I would encourage you to seek out others for it tends to make the notes jump out more. For inspiration look on
yourself – Em and G major Pentatonic, for instance. Technically, as further than Jeff Beck who is a true master of this sort of thing!

~~~~~~
‚ n‚ ‚ ‚ ‚ ·
with bar
  Freely A7 throughout ‚ ‚ ‚ n ‚ ‚ n ‚
### 7 ‚ ‚ ‚
‚ ‚ ‚ ‚
J J 44

· · · · · · · · ·· · · · ·
& 8
Am an . . . A7 arpeggi

E
out
~~~~
with bar

B
G 5 5
D 5 4 3.2 4 5
A 5 4 3.2 3.2 4 5 4
E 3.2

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 145


Techniques

Example 3 Doubling up
MELODIC PATTERNS, rhythmic pat eque ga ime you come to it. This is a simpl hnically it’s
ideas are all good fo porati ti ing y of scale ‘autopilo , you can’t do it
Another far les i li f now t t ard. Obviously
heard about thi D i uble ou. One good
Galbraith, who ld ly i all the is will help you
add in some do o l de an minence.
this was for vali n l as laye Shape
for sheer devil s d f with r ubled
to play scale pa lly by ry playing a you t hout. just d t kes it sound
know and pick a not t random a n play that note twice l ale-like an musical.

 œ œ œ
œ œ
C
œ
& 44 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ
F
E 7 8
B 8 10
G 7 9 10
D 7 9 10
A 7 8 10


8 10
  
E
etc

 C œ œ œ œ œ œ  ~~~~~
& 44 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
F
E 7 8 10 12 12 8
~~~~~
B 8 10
G 7 9 9 10
D 7 9 10
A

   
7 7 8 10
8 10

E
etc

Example 4 Open up the string


MOVING AWAY FROM THE SET number of notes per string idea symmetrical and easy to visualise. Notice how I have doubled the
can really open up the fingerboard. Pentatonic scales played in a root notes. The reason for this was to bring it ‘in time’ as 16th notes,
3-1-3 scheme for instance, work great. I show pupils this after I’ve plus it also accents the root. Also notice how the descending
asked them to play any three octave 7-note scale (for example, in the fingering is slightly different – the A note is played on the G string
key of A starting on the 5th fret of the low E string and ending up on descending and on the B string ascending. In example 4a I have
the 17th fret of the high E). In example 4 is an A Aeolian fingering that omitted the ‘doubled’ notes and added legato. This style of fingering
is easy to learn, just remember to slide between the first two notes is nice for those occasions when you want to fly around the neck!
on each pair of strings with your 1st finger. The pattern thereafter is After playing this example seek out fingerings for other scales types.

©»¡º ¢œ ¡œ ™œ ¢œ ~~~~~
 with bar

™œ ¢œ ¡œ œ œ
¡œ œ ¡ œ ™œ
Am7 throughout
™ ¢
4
&4 œ œ œ œ ¡œ œ œ
œ œ
¡œ œ ¡ ™ ¢ ¡
™ ¢
F A Aeolian
~~~~~
with bar
E 12 13 15 17
B 10 10 12 13 15
G 9 10 12
D 7 7 9 10 12
A 7 8 10

   
E 5 5 7 8 10
1
etc

146 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO & AUDIO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra Techniques

Exa ple 4 Continued


¢œ œ ¢ œ ™œ ¡ œ ¢ ™
œ œ ¡ œ ¢œ œ ¢ œ ™ ¡ ¢ ™ ¡ ~~~~~
œ œ œ œ œ
& œ œ œ œ œ œ
¢ ™ ¡ ¢ ¢œ œ 
™ ¡
E 17 17 15 13 12
~~~~~
B 15 13 12
G 14 14 12 10 9
D 12 10 9
A 12 12 10 8 7
E 10 8 7 5
3

Example 4a
¢œ œ ~~~~
etc descend sim

¢ ¡ ™œ
©»¡¡º œ¡ ™ œ œ œ
A m7 throughout
™ ¢ ¡œ
™ œ
œ œ œ œ œ
¢ ¡
& 44
7
¡œ
œ œ œ œ œ
¢œ ¡ ™ ¢
¡ œ 7
7

E
A Aeolian
~~~~
12 13 15 17
B 10 12 13 15
G 9 10 12
D 7 9 10 12
A 7 8 10
E 5 7 8 10
  

Example 5 Mix and match


BORROWING SEQUENCE and fingering ideas normally how much ground this covers on the neck and how quickly it does
associated with other scale types can yield interesting results. it. The position shifts are a little tricky to play but if you attempt
Here I have applied a typical minor pentatonic sequence to an to play exactly the same thing most other ways it is even more
unusual 2-note-per string A Aeolian scale fingering. Notice difficult – try it and see!

©»¡ª™ Am7
™œ ¡ ™ ¡ ™ ¡ ™ ¡ £ ¡ £ ¡ ™ ¡ ¢
throughout
~~~~ w
4 œœœœœœœœœœœ œœ œ3 3 3
œ œ œ
3
œ œœœœœ œ œ œ œ œ 
3
&4
¡ £ ¡ £ ¡ ¢ ¡ £ ¡ £ ¡ ¢ ¡ ¢ ™œ ¢
f F
3 3 3 3 3

E 5 3 3
~~~~
B 6 6 5 6 5 5
G 7 7 5 7 5 5 14
D 9 9 7 9 7 7
A 10 10 8 10 8 8 12
E 12 12 10

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 147


ON
SALE
NOW!

GET THE NEW ISSUE FROM MYFAVOURITEMAGAZINES.CO.UK


VIDEO & AUDIO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra Techniques

Blues Headlines
Richard Barrett is on a mission to make you a better blues
player – with full audio examples and backing tracks
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL PUTLAND/GETTY IMAGES

Yes man Steve Howe


brilliantly mixes blues
arrangements into
fantastic new shapes

When, Where and Howe


Difficulty +++++ | 20 mins per example
Tutor: Richard Barrett | Gear used: Knaggs SSC, Vox AC15 C1

REGULAR READERS WILL give you an alternative take on how to phrase It’s certainly interesting to take (often)
KNOW I’ve been investigating lines and arrange chords. Some of the ideas subconsciously applied techniques like these
where blues style playing has will feel familiar under the fingers, but some out of the mix and see where it pushes you –
been applied to other genres – won’t – and I guess that’s what I’m aiming for the same applies to changing/reducing the
sometimes with surprisingly little alteration with this article. gain. Changing any fundamental detail of how
to traditional vocabulary. At other times, a few Steve’s playing is expressive in a completely you usually set up your tone can open doors
essential licks are cross-fertilized with other different way to someone like Albert King, for new ideas. The second twist: we’re in 7/4
genres – this is where Steve Howe comes in. though his sharp tone and attack sometimes time - very popular in ‘prog’ rock styles like
His early influences included players like evoke similar dynamics. Like jazz players, this. I recommend jumping in without giving it
Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, Les Paul and slides (called ‘slurs’ in the more old school too much thought - you’ll be surprised how
Mary Ford, plus Wes Montgomery and Chet jazz circles) are more common than string intuitive it can be soloing over odd time
Atkins. Listening to the work of any of these, bends. Steve uses a fairly heavy gauge string signatures after just a few minutes. Most
plus Steve’s own playing on tracks like Close set, which precludes too many wide bends importantly, I hope enjoy trying out these
To The Edge, Starship Trooper and Clap will and wobbles, so I’ve tried to reflect that here. ideas and see you next time!

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 149


Techniques

Example 1
TAKING AN OLD SCHOOL PENTATONIC IDEA on the open strings and applying it to this 7/4 time signature gives an interesting
twist. Let the notes ring together as messily as you like, while keeping an ear open for beat 1 of the next bar. Be ready for a wide
position shift!

Em
# 7 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
& 4 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
Let ring

E 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B 3 5 5 3 3 5 5 3 0 0
G 2 4 2 4 2 4 2 0
D 2
A
E

Example 2
IN THE FIRST HALF OF THIS EXAMPLE, the more melodic phrasing switches register and acts as a set-up to the second half.
Targeting, or accenting certain beats over the backing track can lead to interesting cross rhythms between the lead line and the
backing track, while bursts of rapid alternate picking draw from Steve’s Les Paul influence.

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ~~~œ œ b œ

œ œ œ œj œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
Em

# 7 J œ œ œ
& 4 ‰ ‰ œ œ #œ
3

E
~~~ 15 17 17 19 19 19 19 15 15 17 17 19 17 15
B 12 12 12 12 13 12 10 12 12 10 15 16 17 17 17
G 14 15 16
D
A
E
1

Example 3
THE MOST TECHNICALLY DEMANDING of the four exercises, this example makes a real feature of alternate picking. This isn’t ‘shred’
playing and has little imperfections and dynamics, but the idea is to keep the unbroken line pretty consistent until the respite at the
beginning of Ex 4. Slow, methodical practice is the only way you’ll get there, so remember the old ‘more haste, less speed’ axiom...

œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ~~~œ œ œœœœœ œ
Em

# 7 œœœœœœœ
œœœœœœœ œœœ
j
& 4 œ
œœ œ œ œ
3
œ œœ œœ œ

E
~~~ 7 10 9 8 7 8 7
B 8 7 7 8 10 10 8 7 8 7
G 7 7 9 9 9 7 9 7
D 12 14 14 14 7 9 9 7 9 7 9 7
A 10 7 9 7 10 7
E 10 7
1

150 GUITARIST JULY 2018


VIDEO & AUDIO http://bit.ly/guitaristextra Techniques

Example 4
THIS HARMONISED THREE NOTE SHIFTING CHORD PATTERN is a real departure from pentatonic blues licks, but comes from a
pentatonic based melody on the low E and A strings. Like some of the other ideas, it’s tricky at first, but once your fingers are
‘programmed’ to fall in the right places it’s very effective. Ideas like this tend to work better with lower gain settings like this, but your
experience may vary!

œ œ œœ. œ. œ .
œ œ œœ. œœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ
Bm7 Am7
# 7 œ œœ œœ œ ‰ œœ ‰ œœ œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ ‰
& 4 œ œ œ œ œ
œ
j œ J

E
B
G 14 16 14 12 12 12 19 19 19 19
D 12 12 14 12 10 10 10 12 14 17 17 17 17
A 12 14 14 14 15 14 12 12 14 15 19 19 19 19
E 10 12 14
1

Hear It Here
YES DJANGO REINHARDT RUSH
CLOSE TO THE EDGE JAZZ IN PARIS: NUAGES HEMISPHERES

Listening to the first three Featuring Django on electric Alex Lifeson has often stated
minutes of the title track will guitar (similar to the Gibson his affection for Steve Howe’s
almost certainly demonstrate hollowbodies later used by playing – and his eccentric
the feel I’m looking to emulate Steve to such great effect) these clusters of notes contrasting
with the example solo, but note also the recordings were an inspiration to Steve and with bluesy pentatonic patterns bears this
funky double stops and chromatic linking many other aspiring guitarists including out. The angular solos that intersperse
notes that occur as the track progresses. Steve Hackett. Using only occasional subtle Cygnus X-1 Book II are another take on
Siberian Khatru also shows Steve having string bends and effortlessly incorporating bringing blues ideas to a different style
fun with some funky ideas while pioneering flurries of rapid alternate picking, these and well worth a listen, as is his phrasing
a feel that has familiar elements without recordings are recommended for guitarists over odd time signatures in The Trees and
ever being derivative. striving to improve at any style. La Villa Strangiato.

JULY 2018 GUITARIST 151


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Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier 25, nearly new with tags, case etc. £700 ono Phone
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