Guitar Gear Archives

Fender 50′s Esquire

50s-esquireOriginally Introduced in 1950, the Fender Esquire represents a classic era in Fender Design – fender state that the Esquire is “one of the most sought after instruments” in the Telecaster range the Esquire has a rich association with a range of fine guitarists including Jeff Beck and Bruce Springsteen.

Available in a range of colors ((301) White Blonde, (303) 2-Color Sunburst, (306) Black, and featuring a Polyester Finish the Esquire features a Ash body – one piece “c” shaped maple neck and maple fingerboard (with a 7.5” radius) – the neck features 21 vintage style frets – controls are provided through a three way selector switch, Master Volume and Master Tone controls – finished off with chrome hardware the guitar comes with a traditional thru-body tele bridge and vintage style tuning pegs.

Armed with a single Vintage Style Single-Coil Tele Pickup with Alnico Magnets in the Bridge position the Esquire has unique circuitry that supports three preset tones – via a pickup selector switch Fender state that “In the bridge position, the pickup is connected only to the volume control (the tone control is disconnected); this minimal circuitry produces more top-end sparkle than is possible with a Telecaster. In the middle position, the standard tone control circuit is activated. In the neck position, the tone control is again disengaged, but a tone-shaping capacitor rolls off much of the top end and some bottom, producing a darker tone and slight volume loss.”

Unplugged the Esquire is lively and responsive, the Ash body provides a nice amount of sustain, and before you plug it in to any amp it exudes a bright tone with plenty of response. Comfortable to hold, and with the ash body fairly light, yet built like a tank – you can see the body and thick paint job taking a hammering before showing any sign of wear.

Outwardly this Fender 50′s Esquier is as simple as it gets, you could argue, somewhat successfully, that its tonal range is smaller than many, but perhaps that would be missing the point – the Esquire was designed to accurately recreate that classic tele tone – plenty of sparkle and spank – and in our view it delivers that in spades.

The single bridge pickup is wonderfully clear as you’d expect whilst it delivers the traditional tele twang with aplomb with the added circuitry you’ve got a few more options – while it’s great for country – with the selector switch in bypass mode and with a bit of oomph from your amp – the esquire can scream with the best of them – nothing new from a Tele perhaps but satisfying nonetheless.

So with this Mexican issue – fender have taken a nod towards it’s history and given it a modern spin – for all Tele lover’s out there – do yourselves a favor – get one!

For more info check out the Fender Guitar website

J5 Triple Tele Deluxe preview

j5previewFirst off for those of you not in the know – J5 (or John Lowery to give him his proper name) is a rock guitarist who has played with the likes of Marilyn Manson, Dave Lee Roth (you know – the guy who used to be in Van Halen!) – currently playing for heavy rocker Rob Zombie. He’s had a signature with Fender for a while now and the J5 Triple Tele Deluxe sees a 2007 update.

Ok so after setting that scene – what of the J5 Telecaster? well from the visuals it’s a little like a Telecaster on steroids. You can’t miss the black and chrome contrast it not only looks great but also adds a little character – it says “yep I’m a telecaster – but not as you know it”. Based on a Alder body with bound top and back, with a Maple neck, rosewood fingerboard (with 22 Medium Jumbo Frets) all seems pretty straightforward.

The first thing you notice is that this is no ordinary Telecaster – pickup wise it’s got three chrome covered Enforcer pickups – an American Synch Tremolo unit and a pretty far out looking pick guard. Clearly it’s aimed at the rockers out there. On closer inspection Fender have also added a Strat style headstock, the three way pickup switch is where you’d expect to find it on a Les Paul. From the visuals it looks the part

The Enforcer pickups are designed for high output lead work (you can find these pickups, without the chrome coverings, on some of Fender’s Showmaster guitars). And should add enough sonic possibilities to please most. Controls are based on the Telecaster standard – one volume and one tone.

Released in January 2007 the J5 Triple Tele Deluxe certainly won’t please purists and won’t be for everyone but if your looking for a metal-lead guitar and want something with a little character then it’s worth checking out.

For more info check out Fender.com

Fender VG Stratocaster preview

vgstratFirst Line 6 with the Variax – then Gibson with it’s HD.6X now Fender have jumped onto the guitar modeling bandwagon with the VG Stratocaster.

Unveilled at NAMM 2007 (along with Gibson’s Digital counterpart) the Fender VG Stratocaster is set to radically update Fender’s classic guitar, which for over 60 years has been a mainstay. The VG forms one of the results of a 10 year relationship with Roland and looks to fight for market share with the likes of Line 6 and Gibson.

So what’s different with the Fender VG? Well it’s got two things going for it – firstly the guitar modeling, the VG has three standard American Series single coil pickups but additionally it has a Roland GK Bridge pickup. With the GK Bridge Pickup comes five distinct guitar “models” – which are Stratocaster, Telecaster, Humbucking pickups and acoustic. There is also the option of bypassing the circuitry and invoking the guitars normal tone.

Secondly the VG Strat has the ability to alter tunings on the fly the VG has a “Tuning” knob that allows the player to select from a number of predefined tunings – Normal, Drop D, Open G, D Modal, Baritone and 12 string.

The two options are controlled by two extra control knobs fitted to the guitar and allow the player to change settings at the flick of a switch

Other than that it’s a traditional strat in everysense of the word – design, hardware etc all remain the same – this is good news as some of the Line 6 guitars have had some criticism levied at the build quality of some of their lower value guitars. And with the VG you get Fender’s built quality.

The downsides? Well it’s too early to tell (we’ll need to have a listen to truly get a picture) but if you contrast the Line 6 Variax – the variax has more guitar models (and there based on multiple manufacturers not just Fender) – there is the option of the workbench software (to extend the range of sounds available) – The plus sides – well obviously it’s a Fender so you should get the usual quality instrument that Fender is well known for – it’s simple – Fender have opted for a standard guitar and output – so know need for external devices – strange cables and the like.

The result? Well we’re certainly interested – Guitar Modeling is getting a real foothold in the industry and there’s no getting away from it – while it may never offer the subtleties of a real instrument – to our ears they come pretty darn close – with Fender and Gibson entering the market there’s some real competition and innovation so we will be watching the developments closely!

 

For more info check out Fender.com

The Epiphone Wildkat Electric Guitar

wildkatIf you want that old school Rock ‘n’ Roll sound you’ll usually look at Gretch’s or perhaps a Gibson 175. However Epiphone has an alternative in the Epiphone Wildkat.

With it’s rockabilly styling including a flashy Bigsby tremolo system the Epiphone Wildkat certainly looks the part. Made in Korea, the 21-Fret guitar features some pretty decent hardware including Alnico P90 pickups, Grover tuners – the sort of quality you would expect on a much more expensive guitar.

 

The Bigsby Vibrato looks the business and simple to use and given a heavy set of strings (11s’) The Epiphone Wildkat holds its tuning well. It does require setting up properly however and you’d be well advised to have the guitar professionally set up to get the most out of it. The tremolo arm has the option of being able to swivel round allowing the guitar to be comfortably held whilst playing.

The Wildkat’s P90 Pickups provide an authentic tone although they can get a little noisy. They offer a varied range of tonal options from a clean glassy sound to chunky to serious drive and have immense character.

Using the three way pickup switch brings varied tones. The neck pickup offers a more jazzy warm range of sounds whilst also being great for blues. For vintage Rock ‘n’ Roll try the bridge pickup – close your eyes and your back in 1950’s Sun Studio. You also have the option of running the two pickups together and that provides a full rich tone.

Capable of playing a variety of music from rock and roll to blues, through to Jazz you’ll be hard pressed to find a similar guitar in it’s in the Epiphone Wildkat’s price range that has similar character or looks.
More Information on the Epiphone Wildkat

Epiphone Riviera

rivieraThe Epiphone Riviera Electric Guitar is a semi-acoustic guitar shaped similarly to a Gibson 335. The Riviera has a long history, it was originally produced in the 1960’s , it has warm Jazz tone, with a twangy almost telecaster like range. These days the Epiphone Riviera is made in Asia and is a budget alternative to the Gibson hollowbodies it imitates.

This hollow-body guitar is very similar to the Epiphone Sheraton but has some differing features such as a mahogany neck and a frequensator tail piece. The guitar features two mini humbuckers, chrome hardware, a blot on neck, twin tone and volume controls (two for each pickup).
Similar to it’s Gibson 335 counterpart it is very clean and precise sounding with plenty of sustain. The bridge pickup is perfect for a warm clean sound, and the neck pickup gives a crystal clear tone. with with it’s range of tones the Epiphone Riviera makes a ideal rhythm guitar.

Unlike many other semi-acoustic electric guitars the Riviera is very quiet when amplified and suffers little feedback.

Many well known artists have been featured using the Epiphone Riviera Electric Guitar. Noel Gallagher often used this guitar between in the early days of Oasis.

The Riviera comes from a wide stable of Epiphone semi acoustics, such as the Dot, the Sheraton and the Epiphone Casino. The Riviera easily keeps up with the pack it has gorgeous looks – beautiful tone and a history and tradition to be proud of.

 For more information on the Epiphone Riviera– visit the Epiphone guitar website

Epiphone Broadway

broadwayThe Broadway was produced by Epiphone for many years throughout it’s history, recently the Epiphone Broadway has been given a revival through the release under the Elitist series of Epiphone guitars.

The Epiphone Broadway is a hollow body semi acoustic electric guitar. The guitar has a 25 ½ inch scale and features two Epiphone humbucker pickups, four control knobs (two volume, two tone), and a 3-position toggle switch. The top is laminated spruce, the back and sides are plain maple. The guitar features a chucky but fast roswewood fingerboard. The Epiphone Broadway is fully hollow, (without the center piece found in traditionally ES335 style guitars). The Broadway also has a spruce top providing a rich acoustic sound.

The Broadway was produced by Epiphone for many years throughout it’s history, recently the Epiphone Broadway has been given a revival through the release under the Elitist series of Epiphone guitars.

The guitar was created with one thing in mind – Jazz. And given this premise it does it very well indeed. As with all Jazzers it benefits from thicker gauge strings to get that fat sound. The Broadway benefits from a fine acoustic sound. Once plugged in with a touch of reverb the guitar produces that classic jazz sound. That said it doesn’t like being overdriven and in those situations is prone to feedback. Luckily the broadway is fairly quiet when idle with little hum or noise.
Tonally, as said the guitar produces some excellent jazz tones, variations can be achieved by rolling back the volume or tone controls and you can brighten things up a bit by running both pickups together. With the right amp at your side you can produce some very authentic tones.

Problems are minimal – as with all Epiphone’s the pickups are not in the same class as true Gibsons but the pickups here add a level of character to the instrument. The Broadway’s tailpiece is a Frequesator and some purists may argue that it degrades the tone but that is easily fixable if required by swapping with a stop-tailpiece. The guitar is also fairly large and may take some getting used to if you’ve never played an archtop before. However, all these problems are small and do not detract from a fantastic guitar.

For a jazz guitar the Epiphone Broadway is excellent, producing a fat warm tone with a variety of range and given Epiphone’s pricing represents superb value for money.

For more information on the Epiphone Broadway – visit the Epiphone guitar website

Epiphone Firebird VII

firebirdThe Epiphone Firebird VII Electric Guitar was originally produced in the 1960’s. It underwent a reissue when Epiphone recently re-released the guitar.

The Firebird features a long stylized 3 piece body accompanied by a 24 ¾ inch scale set neck with 22 medium frets on a rosewood fingerboard. The guitar has gold plated hardware, three mini-humbuckers, a tune-a-matic bridge with a vibrola (Bigsby style) tailpiece. There is a volume control for each pickup coupled with a master tone control and the usual 3-way toggle switch and angled headstock.

The Epiphone Firebird has seven possible pickup combinations, there is a volume control for each pickup with the neck and bridge pickups being connected to the toggle switch. The middle pickup can be mixed in or out with its own volume control. This enables the guitar to have lots of versatility from punchy piano like highs to rich lows. As often with Epiphone guitars – the mini humbuckers, to the purist, may need upgrading at some stage – but for the average player will do the job fine.

It could be argued that Epiphone Firebirds are demanding guitars, the Vibrola tremelo can have tuning issues, the nut and slots in the bridge have to be very well machined and lubricated to mitigate tuning problems and the guitar needs to be set-up carefully. As usual with Bigsby style units the Vibrola works best with heavy gauge strings.

The Firebird looks great, has a broad range of tonal options, and whilst not the most comfortable guitar (it’s fairly heavy) it’s enjoyable to play.

For more information on the Epiphone Firebird – visit the Epiphone guitar website

Epiphone Korina Flying V

korinavThe original Flying V story starts in 1958 when Gibson introduced the follow up to the Les Paul – introduced alongside the Gibson Explorer they were radical futuristic guitars with angular and unique designs. Ahead of their times unsurprisingly they didn’t receive a great welcome and Gibson discontinued the guitar in the late 50′s only to resurrect the guitar in the late 60’s after it featured with the likes of Hendrix.

Mention the Flying V and your mind begins to conjure the guitarists that have over the years been featured with the Flying V, from Hendrix to Zakk Wylde, Albert King, Kirk Hammet – bucket loads of guitarists have been seen with a Flying V at one time or another.

Made in Epiphone’s production facility in Korea the ’58 Korina Flying V and Explorer “reissues” have been around a while now. With both of these guitars Epiphone have gone back to the original specs of the Gibson late 50’s models and conjured up some vintage mojo.

For the uninitiated, Korina is the type of wood used to manufacture the instrument, as a wood Korina is quite heavy and is simular to mahogany in the tones that they produce with warm accentuated mids the wood also enhances the sustain of the instrument both of which are the key foundations for any great rock guitar.

Out of the box you can’t fail to be impressed when you look at the Korina Flying V. The combination of the wood, finish and hardware is one which should delight most players out ther. If you didn’t know the price you’d be easily convinced to think your getting much more than the RRP ($499) would suggest.

The two stock humbuckers perform well enough but are not the guitars strong point for those looking for high output there are better replacements out there – the overall sound is a bit muddy but with just enough character to make us for the lack of definition. The pickups are also prone to feedback when cranked really loudly, and for the type of guitar we’re looking at here that could be a problem for some.

For those that are happy to stick with the stock pickups there is a nice thick tone which would make for great rhythm guitar – the bridge pickup has a touch more treble making it suitable for lead work. The added sustain adds some nice complexity to the sound and for recording purposes this we can imagine the Flying V being particularly useful.

You can certainly see why the Flying V appeals to the rock fraternity – with it’s looks and sound it makes a great case for that genre – but that would be to overlook the guitars versatility – with a decent amp we think the neck pickup provides a great Jazz tone and with a “little bite” your into Albert King blues territory.

Although Epiphone still sell the Korina Flying given that it’s been out there for some time – there’s some fantastic ebay bargains to be had (around the $250 mark). Though be aware with the softness of the Korina body it is prone to the odd dings so make sure you take a good look at the body if your looking for a mint example.

Offering such beautiful looks and sustain to die for the Korina Flying V has a lot to offer – yep there are some issues – some of which can be put down to Epiphones hardware selection (this could be more of an issue if you intend to gig with the Flying V) but there’s enough sparkle and tone to appeal to most.

Epiphone Guitars

Dean V Coustic Thin Body Acoustic-Electric Guitar

vcousticWhen it comes to metal guitars – there’s something quite unique about the Flying V – it kind of exudes rock and roll if you look the players who’ve picked up a Flying V there like a smorgasbord of cool -from the likes of Hendrix to Metallica so I suppose it’s evolution that we now see, courtesy of the Dean Guitar company an acoustic V style guitar.

Dean have well been known for producing electrics in this style with their V range so I suppose it’s no surprise to see this evolve into an acoustic offering. Dean, like Fender with their telecoustic range, have taken the inspiration with the V Coustic from their electric range.

To begin with the design looks really cool on an acoustic – the Dean headstock (3 aside tuners) ensures that on first appearances the guitar inherits it’s families personality, the triangular sound hole (with the Dean emblem underneath) adds to this and overall looks wise there’s enough to appeal beyond just his shape.

The guitar has a spruce top, mahogany back and sides. The neck is mahogany too, with a rosewood fingerboard. Dean have included a three band EQ to the Dean Buffer preamp. From what we’ve heard plugged in the sound is bright if a little thin – the preamp does it’s job and those that are looking for a acoustic to record with at home will find what they need.

We guess that the design will mean it’ll never completely compete with traditional acoustics, smaller overall body for one, which impacts the tone and volume. However we guess that won’t discourage potential buyers who will be looking more towards the design than anything and on this Dean have hit upon a winner.

With a list price of around $300 it’s not too expensive and for those looking for something that has different aesthetics and something that can be used for home recording we see the Vcousitc fitting that niche.

For more information visit www.deanguitars.com

BC Rich Outlaw PXT3

Over the years BC Rich have become well known for producing super-strat guitars, often with outlandish designs they’re often associated with heavy rock (BC Rich have a wide list of well known guitarists who feature there instruments).

THe Outlaw PXT3 comes under the Assasin range – the Outlaw is another in the Rich line of superstrat guitars and features a range of hardware that you’d come to expect from such a model.

Clearly from the outset the Outlaw is a guitar for rock – it’s got a doublecutaway design which allows good access to the guitars high frets, built on a Basswood body with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard – the Outlaw PXT3 has a fierce profile that certainly looks the part – the bolt on neck has 24 Jumbo frets to playwith and a 3 aside headstock with BC Rich tuners.

Hardware includes a Floyd Rose tremolo system and two Rockfield mafia humbuckers. The humbuckers feature ceramic magnets which has the benefit of increased magnetic field and therefore more output. with increased low end and mids – Rockwell claim that the neck pickup is a little brighter while retaining that aggressive characteristics.

Controls are one volume one tone and a three way pickup switch (sat between the two controls) – the tone control features a push/pull coil tap which add extra versatility to the guitar.

For more information visit BC Rich.com

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