Billie Joe Armstrong Les Paul Junior

lespauljuniorHaving emerged from California’s punk seen in the early 1990’s Green Day have seen their popularity rise and they have become one of the world’s most popular rock acts around today. Gibson have now released a signature guitar for Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong the Bille Joe Armstrong Les Paul Junior.

The guitar features a mahogany body and is modeled closely after the guitarists 56 model. The Junior started out as a budget model and features the now traditional single cut-away design

The guitar features a vintage correct non-compensated wraparound tailpiece, nickel hardware and white button strip tuners. Controls are minimal with one tone and one volume and the guitar is finished off with Billie Joe’s signature on the reverse of the headstock.

The neck, mahogany like the body, features a 60’s style slim tapered neck which coupled with the 24 ¾” scale length and light weight body makes for a comfortable guitar to play. The neck is finished with a Rosewood fingerboard featuring 22 frets and perloid dot inlays.

Whilst being fiercely loyal to the Les Paul Junior design – Gibson have managed to make a few changes here and there – the pickup is a new design – a stacked double-coil dogeared H90 pickup – The pickup has a great punch tone that suits a bit of drive being added – but even when nice and dirty the sound is articulate enough to be clear in a band mix.

For around $2000 the Junior is not the cheapest Gibson have to offer and whilst there are some nice touches that differentiate this guitar from similar Les Paul juniors we have to admit that this guitar will probably appeal to Green Day fans first and foremost.

Gibson Guitars

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

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

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

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

The Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II

joepassOver the years Epiphone have produced many varied quality Arch Top Guitars – Among their best known sits the Joe Pass Emperor II – produced in association of the great Jazz player Joe Pass (1929 – 1994) and first released just prior to Joe’s death.

Made in Korea – the Joe Pass Emperor sits within Epiphone’s current family of Archtops which include guitars like the Regent and the Wildkat – unlike these other pieces it’s clear from the moment that you pickup this instrument that it was built for one thing – Jazz.

Firstly, Epiphone have done a fine job with the aesthetics, the finish and the hardware really look the business, the natural finish in particular looks stunning offset against the rosewood fingerboard and dark headstock with it’s gold motifs – This is all finished by a reproduction of Joe Pass’s signature on the pickguard.

The Guitar has a scale Length of 24.75” and the control layout is standard Gibson fare with two tone and two volume controls and a 3 way pickup selector switch. With a laminated maple body and spruce top – the guitar isn’t the loudest archtop we’ve ever come across when played acoustically and the rosewood bridge does limit the sustain a little – but for most that won’t be too noticeable.

Plugged in however it really does deliver. Epiphone have released many classic Jazzer’s over the years and the Joe Pass Emperor fits neatly into this niche. Electronics wise the Joe Pass Emperor comes fitted with two Epiphone Humbucker pickups routed into the top (similar to a ES175s). Amped up it’s nice and responsive with a well produced articulate sound.

With the tone rolled back and the pickup selector centered this archtop produces what it was built for, a really authentic Jazz tone with plenty of warmth, very reminiscent of it’s dearly departed sponsor. Stock Epiphone pickups are often berated by enthusiasts but don’t be too deterred here – if your after classic jazz tones then the Joe Pass Emperor delivers. The neck pickup offers a wonderful rhythm tone and the bridge offers just enough treble and bite to make your leads sing.

One thing to note is that guitar doesn’t benefit from too much overdrive – treat it mean and it will squeal especially if your amp is set to max and your stood too close- this one needs to be treated with a little respect especially live, where you’ll need your PA to do it’s job rather than push your amp to 10.

With the Joe Pass Emperor II, from the outset you need to consider what it is and what it isn’t – versatility isn’t it’s thing – yep it’ll do rock-abilly and blues but this thing was built for Jazz – don’t expect it to be a metal axe. For it’s price (retail at around $700) it’s a great deal and for those looking for a jazz box at a keen price need look no further.
Epiphone Guitars

Epiphone Supernova

supernova1The Epiphone Supernova electric guitar is the Noel Gallagher signature model. The Oasis guitarist is well known for using Epiphone semi-acoustics (such as the Epiphone Sheraton) and this guitar (reminiscent of a Gibson 335) is a fine example.

Made in Korea, to Gallaghers specifications, the Epiphone Supernova has 22 frets slapped on a nice chunky wide neck, a laminated top, and the standard Gibson control configuration two volume and two tone controls. Coupled with a 3-way selector switch the guitar has two Gibson designed Alnico 57 Epiphone pickups chrome hardware and “aged” crème binding. The pickguard features a replica of Noel Gallaghers signature and had a retail price of around $900 and came with a hard case.

Noel Gallagher is a football fan – specifically Manchester city – so the Supernova comes in “Man city” blue as an alternative there is a “union jack” style paint job for those that want a more “in your face” style. As ever the finish on the original releases was superb and the blue finish really stands out.

Sonically the Epiphone Supernova is very similar to the 335 with a smooth but bright tone. From Jazz, Blues through to alt rock this guitar has a good range of sounds – great for rhythm playing– while the neck is fairly quick. Though not producing anything unique what the Supernova does it does well albeit with fairly generic results.

Now discontinued the Epiphone Supernova can still be picked up from the usual auction sites, and makes a nice addition to your collection, and is a must have if you’re an Oasis fan.

For more information on Epiphone – visit the Epiphone website