Archive for January, 2009

Vox Mark VI Teardrop

teardropDuring the heyday of the 1960’s and the explosion of “pop music” one of the rare non-American guitar manufacturers that was able to compete with the likes of Fender and Gibson was Vox.

Perhaps the best known design from the Vox guitar range was the Vox Mark VI or the “teardrop” as it was affectionately known. The teardrop had a bolt-on maple neck, a vibrato system similar in operation to a Bigsby – and three single coil pickups.

The obvious differentiator between the Vox and similar guitars was it’s teardrop shape. Tonally the Mark VI produces a sound not too dissimimar to a Strat – nice clean with punchy highs and a rich warm response.

The Vox Mark VI teardrop guitar gained some noteriaty when during The Ed Sullivan show Bryan Jones from the Rolling Stones was featured playing one.

Originally produced during the 1960’s and reissued during the 1980’s vintage teardrops are collectors items and remain highly sought after by enthusiasts

History of Ibanez Guitars

Ibanez has a long and varied history dating back over 100 years. The company began life in Japan in 1908 originally as the Hoshino Gakki manufacturing and selling stringed instruments. By the 1960’s these were distributed in the US through the guitar maker Harry Rosenbloom and his Elger Guitars company. They choose the Ibanez name to avoid the “made in Japan” connotations which at the time were related to low quality goods.

By the early 1970’s Elger Guitars had been renamed “Ibanez USA” and had their headquarters in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, acting as a distribution and quality-control center.

Ibanez guitars went through a variety of design changes from inexpensive “replica” style guitars of popular brands such as Gibson and Fender (Ibanez settled out of court with Gibson when sued over headstock designs) through to unique designs incorporating modern components and design.

Ibanez guitars have long been associated with Rock and metal as the guitars included highly stylized body shapes, slimmer necks and flatter fingerboards coupled with modern electronics featuring high output designs and pickups.

For many years the company has been synonymous with rock players and has a variety of artists using their guitars including Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana.

Like many other guitar manufacturers Ibanez have creating signature models made to the players’ specifications for example the JEM guitar for Steve Vai.

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Tokai Guitars

The Tokai Guitar company has a long history, originally founded in 1947, the Japanese guitar manufacturer based in Hamamatsu.

Manufactured in both Japan and Korea, Tokai produce a variety of guitars, acoustic, electrics regular 6 strings to basses.

Like Gibson with Epiphone and Fender with Squire – Tokai have a variety of priced instruments. The Japanese guitars tend to be manufactured with higher quality woods and components – the Korean counterparts less expensive, feature maple necks instead of mahogany with cheaper alder bodies..

Stylistically many of the Tokai guitars are similar to Gibson and Fender counterparts (notably the Strat, Tele and Les Paul designs). Simularly they also have a custom shop center.

There have been a few well known guitarists that have played Tokai’s notably Stevie Ray Vaughn and Nile Rodgers.

Generally Tokai guitars represent great value for money and with some of the older Tokai guitars becoming collectors items that can sell for reasonable figures on usual auction sites there well worth checking out.

In part two of our article we’ll look at the current rage of guitars that Tokai Produce

Tokai Guitars Part two – current models

Over the years Tokai have produced a wide range of guitars appealing to varied tastes and requirements and these days is no different. Without a doubt Tokai produces a large range of guitars – appealing to a range of musical styles and requirements.

The current Tokai Range includes:
als* The ALS models reminiscent of the Gibson Les Paul – featuring Maple/Mahoganny bodies, twin PAF humbuckers standard 2 volume/2 tone controls with a 3 way pickup switch.

* USG range – similar design to a Gibson SG – Mahoganny body and neck – twin PAF Pickups and rosewood fingerboard.

* Hollowbody Jazzboxes including the ES range the FA70 reminiscent of an ES175

* FV Range – Flying V style guitar features include arched maple tops, mahogany set neck and rosewood fingerboard
* Talbo range – Aluminum bodied guitar featuring unlike anything you’ve seen or heard before!

So whether your looking for a rock guitar or something a little more Jazzy there are lots to choose from – check out your local Tokai dealer now!

Eric Clapton Crossroads Gibson ES-335

clapton335These day if you ask which guitar Eric Clapton is famous for – most would respond with the good old Fender Stratocaster – however EC hasn’t always donned the Fender guitar throughout his long career. In his early years, with bands such as the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Cream – a lot of his fantastic tone came from Gibson’s in particular the ES-335.

In 2005 Gibson celebrated this association by releasing a limited edition (250) of the Eric Clapton Crossroads ES-335 which is a re-creation of Clapton’s original 335 (now owned by the guitar center).

Featuring a maple body with the traditional 335 double cutaway design and the two “f” holes. The guitar has a mahogany neck with a 22 fret rosewood fingerboard. Binding on the guitar is cream throughout – Gibson have released the guitar in a red cherry finish.

Electronics wise the guitar features two custom Burst Buster pickups and the traditional two tone, two volume control configuration. Clapton’s tone during his “335 period” was when he invented his womantone – dark – moody and full of sustain – Gibson have reproduced the sound to a tee (think Les Paul but with more versatility)

Gibson have worked hard to make the guitar to be a close replica of Clapton’s 63 model – the paint job for example has been faded – components such as the tuners are close replica’s the neck has been digitally scanned to ensure that the re-issue is as close to an exact match as you’ll find – all this culminates in a very satisfying instrument.

Clapton’s guitar was auctioned and fetched in excess of $800,000 dollars and while the reissue won’t cost quite as much the run of 250 which sold out in double quicktime – the guitars still have a hefty price when they come up for auction and you can expect to pay in excess of $10,000 dollars. Gibson Guitars

Rickenbacker Toaster Pickups

toasterRickenbacker toaster pickups are so called because of their “toaster” look – The original style chrome pickup covers resemble small chrome toasters. These toaster pickups were fitted on Rickenbacker guitars from the mid late 50’s through to the early 70’s and were responsible for producing that classic jangle tone closely associated with iconic Rickenbacker models of the time.

The original toasters offered a bright and clear tone – although the sound was the same each pickup was unique as the manufacturing process used to wind the pickups was not uniform and the operator stopped the process when “it looked right”. Each pickup and the guitar it sat in had it’s own sound and the sound varied from unit to unit – albeit within a similar range of tone.

The pickups were re-issued by Rickenbacker recently and the company has carefully replicated the original components. The reissue toaster pickups have individual alnico pole pieces under each string in the bobbin wound with magnet wire–almost exactly the same as the originals. The new pickups differ slightly however in that the original toaster pickups resistances varied between 7K to 8K Ohms while the new Toaster reissues are around 11 ohms this higher output results in a darker tone – reminiscent and convincing of it’s older cousin but not identical.

The toaster pickup has its place in the “pickup” hall of fame – imagine the classic tones of the Beatles, The Byrds, The Who – the “toaster” had a hand in all of this and has been at the heart of Rickenbacker sound for 50 years

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Gibson Vegas High Roller

vegashighThe Gibson Vegas High Roller is a new release in Gibson’s long line of semi acoustic guitars. The high roller features a new design for Gibson and whilst still being a double cutaway design the horns on this guitar are a little more angular than a 335 – the headstock is also a departure from the standard three on each side – and is more Firebird like (although we think reminiscent of a Gibson Explorer). Size wise it’s a littler smaller than a 335


Gibson have kept their eye on quality here and the looks wise the guitar is a beauty featuring a AAA maple top – it’s available in a number of different colors (all vegas themed) such as Roulette red, Felt Green and Desert Sunset.

As typical with a lot of Gibson’s the High Roller has a mahogany neck featuring what Gibson call a “classic 60’s style neck – the neck is a set neck and it’s joined to the body at the 19th Fret. The fingerboard is ebony and features 22 frets and white ply binding.

Hardware wise the controls are gold finished (which adds to the tasty looks) and it’s a typical Gibson setup of tune-o-matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece – the single volume and tone knobs are also gold topped with chrome inserts.

Tone wise the guitar comes equipped with Gibson’s Burstbucker pro pickups (one neck one bridge) these produce a really raw (somewhat trebly) sound which can produce some really great lead tones – as it’s a hollowbody – expect the normal earthy tones to shine through – it’s loud though which is a good thing! The pickups are similar to the standard BurstBucker pick up’s but with the extra oomph of an Alnico 5 magnet. These pickups get fitted to Gibson’s Les Paul’s so it’s easy to see why the sound produced here does not entirely fit what’s expected of a normal hollow body – they also feature a wax potted coil to reduce feedback.

All this adds up to a guitar that can produce some nice versatile tones – and perhaps this is the key – we can’t help wondering where Gibson is pitching this guitar – sure it’s modern looking – the pickups create a great sound – but we can’t help thinking that if you want a hollow body Gibson your more than likely to go for a 335 and if you want the lead tones you’ll have a Les Paul – the Vegas High Roller seems to offer something in between – it’s no bad thing mind – just a little modern – and while the rest of the industry is pitching themselves towards the vintage market this guitar seems to offer a little something different.

The Gibson Vegas High roller retails at around $2,000.

Gibson Guitars

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