Guitar Gear Archives

BC Rich 10 String Guitars

bc10Since it’s introduction the guitar has seen numerous innovations, just this century we’ve seen the classical guitar transition to the semi-acoustic – to the full bodied electric – to the 12 string the 7 string and now with BC Rich 10 string.

The premise of the 10 string is similar to that of the 12 string, the highest two strings are tuned in unison, the middle two strings are tuned in octaves and the lowest two strings are single and do not have the upper octave strings.

BC Rich’s technique of leaving the bass strings alone allows for a traditional distortion tone without mudding the output. This is especially thoughtful for those that use the low E and A for heavy riffing. The sound is not unlike a 12 string guitar but with a thicker low end (due to the single strings).

The 10 strings have an interesting stringing technique – the guitars retain a traditional six string headstock with the additional four strings being strung neck to body with the tuning pegs being attached to the body. The 10 string is currently available as part of BC Rich’s Bich series – there are three models the Exotic Classic Bich 10, Bich 10 and Perfect 10. Prices range from around $1000 to $4,500 so they are not exactly cheap – BC Rich have recently made them available as an import.

The cynics amongst the guitarist community may view the 10 series as a marketing ploy – the fact that the original six string model has largely remained unchanged is testament to the resilience of the six string guitars. However BC Rich’s 10 series does add something new to the medium (and that should be applauded) – there have been some notable users of the 10 string including the likes of Slash which will ensure some longevity in the design.

For more information visit BC Rich.com

buddyguypolkadotBuddy Guy has been one of the driving forces behind Chicago blues for years and his loud and aggressive tone influenced a huge range of guitarists from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan. In celebration of this hero of the blues – Fender have produced two Stratocasters the Buddy Guy strat (which features active electronics and lace sensor pickups) and the Buddy Guy standard Stratocaster

Here we take a look at the standard Buddy Guy Strat which features a stunning polka dot finish.

Based on the tradition Stratocaster design, featuring an alder body, “V” shaped maple neck (with satin polyurethane finish) – hardware wise it doesn’t stray far at all from the usual Fender setup – two tone controls, master volume, vintage style tremolo, chrome hardware – 3 ply pickguard.

The neck is nice a comfortable to play it’s subtle “v” shaping making it great for those with smaller hands – action is fast and great for those legato runs up and down the 21 medium jumbo fret neck.

Sound wise – the tone is powered by 3 standard single coil strat pickups (ceramic magnets) which really sing and can provide tones from subtle cleans to screaming leads – the five way selector switch adds the versatility that Fender is renowned for. The guitar has a characteristic mid-range and packs a really loud punch.

Whilst the Buddy Guy signature Stratocaster featuring fender lace pickups has more tonal options – if you want a good Fender blues tone look no further.

For more info check out the  Fender Guitar website

The Epiphone Zephyr

zephyrThe Epiphone Zephyr Electric Guitar was one of the “jazz” archtop guitars produced by Epiphone that established them as one of the leading manufacturers of archtop guitars of their generation.

The Epiphone Zephyr was first produced in the 1930’s and went through a number of modifications over the next 20 years – starting with a single bridge pickup this evolved to two mini humbucker pickups. The guitar featured a number of designs with both a non cutaway and a single cutaway version available. Hardware configuration also changed with the guitar featuring a variety of setups including a frequensator tailpiece, flat backed neck unlike Epiphone’s usual “C” shape.

Tonally the guitar was great for blues, jazz or swing and benefited from the quality Epiphone build . The guitars sounded bright when played acoustically and when plugged in produce a full and fat tone. The vintage pickups were quite loud and gave a crisp Jazz tone which could sound brittle at high volume. After 30 years of manufacture the original incarnation of the Zephyr was discontinued in 1964.
The Zephyr brand was reintroduced by Epiphone in the 1990’s and featured as an alternative to the Gibson ES-5., in its reincarnation Epiphone offered a variety of Zephyr guitars with ra range of setups and configurations, the Epiphone Zephyr regent featured a single neck humbucker and Mahogany body, Epiphone also released a Zephyr Blues deluxe which featured 3 P90 pickups, and a maple body.

There is still a vibrant used market for Vintage Zephyrs which appeal to those looking for a authentic vintage Jazz tone – these guitars can fetch a moderate sum so those looking for this line, who are on a budget, may look at the reissues first!
Epiphone Guitars

Reverend Horton Heat signature Gretsch

g6120rhhModern Rockabilly is a real strange mix, while we know it’s got country influences and more than a nod to the 1950′s somewhere along the line it got all punky and started to gain an attitude all of it’s own – these day’s it’s epitomized by break neck riffing and lead lines whose speed wouldn’t be too far out of place with rock. (anyone for a Vai vs Setzer speed contest?)

Bands such as Reverend Horton Heat take rockabilly (or psycobilly – after all everything’s got have it’s niche) onto a rather surreal plane with their own mix of frentic rock and roll and playfull lyrics

Reverend Horton Heat , Guitar Player Jim Heath shares many similarities with Brian Setzer in his playing style (although Heath’s lines are a little dirtier). Lightning fast leads that meld Jazz and country with modern sensibilities whilst a raw energetic rhythm style combines to produce a wall of sound amidst the frantic beats of the bands rhythm section. No doubt influenced by the likes of Scotty Moore, Eddie Cochran et al, Jim Heath plays that 50′s rock and roll thing while managing to give the sound a modern spin.

Like Setzer Gretsch have a signature guitar for “Reverend Heat”. Undoubtedly Gretsch produce some of the most beautiful Guitars around and the G6120RHH is the epitomy of 50′s cool. Based on a Nashville the Single cut design, Laminated Maple body, two piece maple neck. Gretsch have gone someway to producing a piece of retro cool with aged bindings, Vintage inlays and the ubiquitous Bigsby trem unit. In addition to the retro stylings, there’s plenty of unique features to make this model stand out including a rather cute routed “G” Brand on the body and oversized “f” holes.

There are two TV Jones Classic pickups and the sound is that Classic Gretsch – bright with bite – capable of sounding retro but one can also imagine producing something that is versatile enough for rockers as well – with a bit of drive the guitar produces a slice of aggression and above all else Gretsch have character with more than enough twang to please.

Nothing new on the controls front and similar to Gretch’s traditional Nashville’s this one has 2 Volume controls (one for each pickup) a master volume control together with a three position toggle tone switch and a three way pickup switch

Whilst the guitar offers little that’s new to the Gretsch lineup – what’s here is well produced – looks cool and has the sounds to match – Reverend Heat have a fairly underground following – so we’re not sure how succesfull the line will be so get in there quick and try it out.

More at Gretsch Guitars Official site

Gibson Pete Townshend Les Paul Deluxe

deluxeDuring the Hey day of The Who – Pete Townshend’s Guitar of choice was the Gibson Les Paul Deluxe #9. In 2005 The Auctioneers Christie’s sold one of Pete Townshends Les Paul Deluxe’s for $45,600 as part of pop memorabilia auction.

Recently Gibson produced a limited re-release of this 70’s classic which features Pete Towsends unique numbering system which started out as handwritten stickers to differentiate between different guitars and tunings.

 

This Gibson Les Paul deluxe features a three piece maple top with a mahogany back, cream binding and chrome hardware.

The 22 fret neck features a signature Pete Townshend slim profile, perloid inlays and cream white binding.

This Les Paul Deluxe differs from traditional Les Paul’s by having a 3 pickup combination – this version features two mini-humbuckers and a single DiMarzio Dual Sound pickup in the middle position. The controls differ from the traditional also by having one master tone – three volume controls – two mini toggles which control the DiMarzio pickup one taps the pickup where the other puts it out of phase.

Unsurprisingly the guitar is able to faithfully re-create the classic 70’s Who sound with ease – the pickup configuration provides seemingly limitless possibilities from traditional crunch to a thin almost telecaster like bite, the maple body produces a wonderfully smooth sustain and whilst the guitar sounds great clean – it clamors for a bit of drive to unleash it’s potential.

Only 75 guitars were originally produced so these can be hard to come by but do seem to pop up on the usual auction sites occasionally – but do expect to dig deep as they are a collectors items and prices can range from $5,000 dollars up – however for an ardent Who fan – what’s money go to do with it?

Gibson Guitars

Fender American Ash Telecaster

ashteleThese day’s guitar manufactures seem bent on cherishing their illustrious past, we have the reissues or vintage versions from the likes of Gibson, Gretsch and Rickenbacker – Fender of course is no exception and it has produced many fine axes over the last 60 years. Continuing this theme the American Ash Telecaster is a modern spin on the classic 1952 model telecaster.

Differing from the standard alder Telecaster body, Ash bodies can vary in weight and tends to produce heavier guitars than other woods – this telecaster is no exception. This one’s based on the 52 model and it’s dimensions, the body is a great big slab of ash which feels as though you could drop it from the empire state and it’d stay in tune.

The American series comes with a maple neck with a 9.5” radius a 22 fret neck on a maple fingerboard. The neck has a vintage U shape and the frets are rolled at the edges resulting in a really nice guitar which plays easily from the off. As usual with tele’s they string through the bridge (in this instance chrome) the American Ash Telecaster features a steel bridge plate for greater sustain. Another common feature is the 6 brass saddles on the bridge to manage intonation – tuners are managed by Fender®/Schaller® Deluxe Staggered Cast/Sealed Tuning Machines which do a fine job as you’d come to expect.

Fender have opted for modern Vintage telecaster pickups here (the standard telecaster configuration) and it’s the usual single coil in the bridge and “lipstick” pickup in the neck. The pickups shouldn’t be confused with the noiseless pickups that Fender also offer as part of it’s modern range (they are fitted to the deluxe version though) – however the pickups fitted here are quiet enough and do their job well.

Telecaster’s tend to be one of those guitars that sit in a certain niche – sure these guitars can be versatile (after all guitarists from Prince to Springsteen have played these) but what you want from a Telecaster is that Tele sound – thin and wiry with a bit of bite – here the American Ash Telecaster delivers it in spades. Unlike some other telecasters the neck pickup isn’t at all muddy and offers a mellow smooth tone. Like country? For a classic telecaster tone try the middle position on the pickup selector switch and feel that classic honk. The bridge offers some clear articulation and suits finger pickers down to a tee with each note clearly articulated. Add a suitable valve amp and the pickups subtle nuances come through and deliver a fine warm tone.

Fender offer a couple of finish options here, there’s a “honey blonde” and sunburst finish available and they both feature a Polyurethane Finish – which sets of the body nicely – and does little to alter the tone – overall the finish here is particularly impressive, as you’d expect from fender and the guitar has a beautiful look to it.

With great sounds, coupled with the right looks the American Ash Telecaster is destined to be a classic telecaster.

Gretsch Nashville G6120 – 1959

1959The G6120 Nashville 1959 is a new model from Gretsch and harks back to the classic era where rock and roll was born and a generation of guitarists wanted to mimic the likes of Eddie Cochran to Gene Vincent and Elvis. The 6120 is a Nashville style guitar and Gretsch have gone back to the archives to produce a faithfully retro version of one of their classics. When you first set eyes on the G6120 you can’t help admire it – Gretsch have a real knack of getting the aesthetics of a guitar spot on and the G6120 follows in this tradition looking stunning from the off – from the aged binding to the Orange “stained” urethane finish to the glimmer of the hardware – this one looks almost too perfect to pick up.
With a gentle single cutaway design the Nashville is a hollowbody guitar that harks back to when times were simpler – Gretsch have made painstaking attempts to ensure that this release looks authentic from the horseshoe headstock logo to the fingerboard inlays. For Gretsch it’s a bit of a fine balance – their guitars traditionally look fairly retro – so for a retro Gretsch we’re not quite sure what to look for but here it’s the subtle things that Gretsch have done that bring back memories of the 50’s – for example the aged binding – these changes are not in your face – subtle – and that emphasizes the quality on show here.

The body is laminated maple – with tradition “f” holes – the Body measures in at 16” X 2.75” the neck is a two piece maple affair (24.6” scale) with an ebony fingerboard (featuring lovingly authentic thumbnail inlays). Gretsch have opted for their traditional rocking bar bridge on a rosewood platform together with Grover V98G Sta-Tite™ Machine Heads.

The original Nashville 6120 was first introduced in 1954 and is often cited as the classic Gretsch. Initially these guitars featured DeArmond pickups but these were discontinued in the late ‘50’s in favor of Gretsches own Filtertron pickups – with Chet Atkins stating difficulty in getting great tone from the DeArmond on this model – the 6120 1959 picks up this change and features the now classic Gretsch ‘humbucker’ in the Filtertron.

The layout is nothing new – the two classic high sensitive FilterTron pickups (LTV Jones pickups are available on the aptly named 6120-1959LTV model) the Gretsch #2 control arrangement featuring – a three way pickup selector switch, a tone selector switch – which takes a little getting used to for those who are used to a roll on/off tone knob. This switch has three positions one that emphasizes bass – the second neutral position and the third that offers a high frequency roll off.

Finishing the setup is the classic Bigsby BC6 Vibrato Tailpeice – for me these things always look the business – there’s something about a Gretsch with a Bigsby – it just provides that archytipal rock and roll look – visceral and beautiful at the same time – by now if you know anything about Bigsby tremolos’ you’ll know that they’re not for dive bombing fanatics – if your looking for a gentle wobble then they’re for you – just don’t expect too much.

As for the sound – well Nashville’s are renowned for producing authentic rock and roll – the Filtertron pickups, Gretsch’s humbuckers, produce a distinctive nasal tone – bright and responsive – but perhaps similar to Rickenbacker’s, have a tone that’s uniquely Gretsch – flick the tone and pickup selector switches to their middle position and you have a full thick sound – the neck position produces some nice jazzy tones whilst the bridge pickup is bright and lively

Versatile? Well we think so – the 1959 can be taken from rock and roll through to Jazz without too much a problem – add a little drive and your into light rock territory – it’s arguable that adding to much fizz takes away the instrument’s character and let’s face the Nashville’s were not built for metal – this is a guitar that demands a little respect for it’s heritage – treat it the right way and it’ll deliver classic authentic tones with just the right amount of bite.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the market for the 6120 1959 Nashville would be quite niche – sure it’s not as versatile as a Strat and those looking to reproduce the sound of modern day guitar hero’s may struggle and at around $3,500 this is not a cheap instrument – but that would be missing the point – Over the years Gretsch have been renowned for producing quality Electric guitars that produce a distinctive tone unlike no other – given that and some classic styling and retro touches – if you want that sound then it’s an easy choice – the only question is whether you opt for the 6120-1959LTV which has the bonus of being fitted with TV Jones classic pickups which are offer a little more output.

The Epiphone Coronet

coronetOriginally made in the USA during the late 1950/60’s the Epiphone Coronet Electric Guitar originally cost around $120. Stylistically with an appearance similar to a Gibson SG crossed with a Fender Telecaster the Coronet was nicely built but offered little new design wise.

The Epiphone Coronet originally featured a single P90 bridge pickup. Re-issued in the 1990’s this changed slightly where the Coronet was offered with a pair of pickups (humbucker at the bridge – single coil at the neck).

The original Coronet’s had a nice, if somewhat limited, sound. With a healthy Twang, the P90 pickup is fairly noisy but sounds pretty authentic with a healthy dose of overdrive. Offering a nice clarity it has a nice punchy high end – great for that ‘70’s rock. The original production run of the Coronet ended in the 1970’s when Epiphone moved it’s manufacturing plant overseas.

Epiphone soon revived the Coronet and they were re-issued during the 1990s. Korean made, these guitars feature slightly different pickups (two instead of one – one humbucker one single coil). These re-issues varied in their looks (some had differing headstocks –some were fitted with Bigsby style tremolo systems)

Often over looked the Coronet has a nice distinct vintage look. Although now out of production these days Coronet’s can be picked up fairly inexpensively on the usual auction sites and with a enticing price, the Coronet makes for great beginners guitar.
Epiphone Guitars

Epiphone Genesis Electric Guitar

genesisThe Epiphone Genesis was designed in the US by Gibson and built in Japan in the late 70s early 80′s. The style of the guitar is similar to that of a Les Paul but featured a double cutaway rather than the Les Paul’s single cutaway.

The guitar featured a single Volume control, two tone controls, One Coil Tap, Passive “coil splitter” electronics allowing the user to select single coil pickup sound as well as the Gibson/Epiphone trademark humbucker tone. The Epiphone Genesis also featured a Mahogany body with Rosewood fretboard, stop tailpiece and chrome hardware.

The guitar is particularly heavy and the double cutaway design and “chunky” neck makes the guitar a little unwieldy (especially when playing seated). However this benefits the guitar by contributing to its impressive sustain.

Tonally the single coil splitter electronics create a versatile instrument from sounds reminiscent of that classic Les Paul crunch to an electric/acoustic tone. This makes the Epiphone Genesis suitable for a variety of styles from heavy rock to jazz.

Epiphone discontinued the Genesis although you can still pick them up on some internet auction sites – they make a nice alternative to the Les Paul with a wide variety of tonal options.

Check out more at Epiphone.com

Gibson Angus Young Signature SG

angusFor over 25 years the AC/DC’s guitarist Angus Young has been synonymous with the Gibson SG recently Gibson have introduced the Angus Young Signature SG which is a faithful reproduction of Angus trademark guitar manufactured to Angus’s specifications.

Manufactured at Gibson’s plant in Nashville the Angus Young SG features a Mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fingerboard featuring perloid markers. The fingerboard features 22 frets and single ply binding.

With nickel plated hardware – this SG features a Engraved Lyre Vibrola tailpiece and ABR bridge.

Electronics wise the guitar comes fitted with a ’57 Classic Humbucker in the neck position and an Angus Young signature Humbucker in the bridge. It has the usual array of two tone, two volume controls and three way pickup selector switch. The Jack Plug is on the front of the guitar just behind the tone conrols.

The guitar features a number of Angus decals such as his signature on the pickguard and motif on the headstock.

The neck feels nice and quick – and feels comfortable for those quick runs over some nice chunky frets.

Sound wise the SG produces a thinner growl than it’s Les Paul brother – with a touch less sustain – The Angus Young humbucker has enamel-coated wire, special Alnico V magnet and matched coils and provides the sort of vintage-style punch and ripping tone that AC/DC are renowned for. It’s also pretty quiet, it’s wax potted twice to eliminate unwanted microphonic feedback.

Whilst the tremolo system looks nice don’t expect to go dive bombing with it – it’s great to add a little waggle hear and there but that’s about it. No problem for some – however this may be cause problems for some styles.

Plugged in the guitar has a great treble tone which makes it great for lead work when matched with a bit of distortion- indeed close your eyes and the sound is straight of an AC/DC record. The Angus pickup screams to be played at high volume and Gibson has really gone to town here as the noise control is excellent and feedback is minimal – anyone who plays rock will love this guitar. If your looking for a clean tone however you’ll have to look very hard – even through a clean amp the guitar struggles to lose it’s bite – but hey that’s part of it’s charm

At around $2,000 the Angus Young SG is one of the cheaper signature series guitars on the market and while it won’t appeal to everyone it does have it’s niche – but if you’re a fan of Angus then there’s only one place to look!

Gibson Guitars

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