Search

Stringed Guitars

Created by a passionate guitarist, containing a bit of gear reviews and news

Malcolm Young tribute

Yes… another Gretsch, and this makes 3, why? Because I wanted to replicate both of the beasts versions of Malcolm, the one with the badass bridge and the one with the Burns vibrola.

In this case I bought another 5222 to replicate Malcolm’s beast with the burns tailpiece, the one I bought was purple and it had a bigsby arm, so.. this time I wanted to do a complete overhaul with a professional, what I ended up doing is the following:

Bought on bidding a shiny purple one and sold all the parts, se below the details for costs as I think this is the best way of getting a replica on the cheap

You can see expenses in orange and sales in green.

The mod (£404.35) which included re-finishing in nitro and reshaping of the floating bridge was done by DY Guitars in London which I recommend,m, he also did a bit of ageing.

Re-finishing in Nitro was a must for me. I just don’t like the finish of poly, it feels different…. And cheaper, i’m not too sure if it increases wood resonance and all that crap… but to my touch is just feels nicer and of course the back of the neck feels much better too, this time DY Guitars chose a matte finish which I think makes total sense as it makes it look a bit more worn.

So the total cost of the project was £672 which isn’t bad at all compared to the cheapest replica that costs around £2500

This is how it looked originally

Gibson SG Special 100th Anniversary

So I didn’t know this was a thing… but it turns out that Gibson turned 100 in 1994, as a result… all guitars built in 1994 have a different serial number pattern, they all start with 94.

This is a Gibson SG Special in ebony with ebony fretboard. I’ve been after one of these for sometime, during the early 90s Gibson used to put ebony boards on SG Specials, I don’t know why, but as you know ebony tends to be reserved for higher priced guitars, so it’s a cool spec to have.

I bought this used a few weeks ago, not only it looks amazing with the dark board but it also has great dot inlays, they are not plain like most.. they have a bit of perloid colouring, which looks great.

Pickups are 490R and 490T, which are not all that special, however… upon doing some research, I found that they sport Alnico II magnets as opposed to Alnico V on the 498 that the SG Standard comes with, I’ve never been a fan of Alnico V, they are not articulate and clear like Alnico III, and Alnico II are slightly stronger than III but a lot less stronger than V, so I was keen on trying these out.

All in all the guitar plays great, the neck profile is like 50s les paul, quite chunky which seems to help my vibrato, the playability is very good and quite slinky for some reason.. and I use 10s.

I recommend you get one of these if you see them out there, I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite SG but.. being the underdog makes it a lot more special and the combination of the Ebony finish with the dark ebony board and the uncovered black pickups… makes it a hell of a looker

You see what I mean about the dots? They have a certain distinct pattern, love them

The mini mighty Marshall SV20H

These are cute, aren’t they? Like little monsters before they get angry and start roaring!

The SV20H is part of the new series of Marshall, attempting to deliver classic rock sounds at friendly volume levels, they also have a re-vamp of the jcm800 called Studio Classic.

The SV20H is a 1959SLP but with 20 Watts instead of 100, or… a 1987x at 20 Watts instead of 50.

It also has the ability to go down to 5. Now… you might think… oh good, I can use this at bedroom levels… wrong!

5 watts is borderline ok for a rehearsal, the full 20W is loud enough for a gig and no microphone required for the cabs.

The SV20H is an awesome bit of gear, the tone is there, the classic Marshall tone we all want.. is there, I used to have a 1987x and sold it on, It was heavy and I was always carrying an attenuator I also sort of fell out of love when I bought the Mesa Boogie 295 + the studio preamp.

I honestly think that the SV20H is an improved version of the 1987X and also a friend of mine has the same feeling… and he owns an original 1987.

It cuts through better… it creates better feedback.. more responsive, better clarity. It’s an improved Marshall, companies seem to have taken the chance to make things better and not just repeat history… I also cover this subject on my latest Gibson SG Custom Shop.

Technology is better than 50 years ago, this doesn’t mean we live in the future and we stop using the same concepts as before, there’s no need to revolutionise the gear we use… but… better components, more reliable, and more importantly… better testing environments, more time… smarter people and… a bigger customer base always gives you more feedback. There is more competition than we ever seen before and brands are listening.

Rock On!!

2020 Gibson SG 61 Custom Shop

Yes, another custom shop added to the collection.

Is this different to my other 61 Custom Shop? Yes…

For starters.. the colour is different, 61 CS Standards used to have this very light cherry colour with a fine nitro finish, now this have this much darker wood with of course a fine nitro finish.

As all Custom Shops, they come with Custom Buckers which for me are one of the finest pickups out there, it pairs so well with the SG.

But this guitar feels different, Gibson seems to have stepped up their game and are putting a lot of energy into every guitar, I’m not talking about accuracy of recreating a specific year, I’m just talking about making a damn well made guitar, this is an absolute rock machine, and I might have uses this term before… but I mean it this time.

I have now 9 SGs, 4 are custom shops and the other 5 (including the SG) are somewhat special SGs, I only have one standard from 2006 that I kept.

So You can trust me when I say that this SG is just badass, it has become my number 1 straight away, replacing the 64 reissue… which is now my number two.

So what is it? Well… to be honest… is everything, everything belongs together in this guitar. It just feels like home and the pickups are extremely perfectly balanced, I get just the right amount of feedback when needed, and it’s the nice type of feedback… the one Angus gets on stage.

Rocking the main stage a few weeks ago with this guitar
Look at that grain!
61 on the left, 64 on the right

Monty’s Guitars Montypresso

I’m not one that buys into hype when it comes to guitar care products, after over 20 years of playing I sort of know what my instrument needs.

But a friend of mine had sent me a cup of this “Montypresso” which is to be used on rosewood fretboards, giving you a better vintage look whilst hydrating the wood.

I’m not sure if you noticed before but all rosewood necks have different colour. To not be confused with ritchlite which is what Gibson is using now for standards.

Rosewood is a beautiful wood, but like all woods, there are different levels of quality and of course companies store this wood in different ways.

It’s most obvious on some lower end guitars how light the colour of the fretboard is, but I have also seen this in some Gibsons. This is often due to poor treatment of the wood or maybe a lower level of quality.

Well… this product darkens up the board and it gives it a beautiful shade.

The picture above shows the progress of applications.

Left picture: this is how the guitar came, this is the Gretsch G5422TG

Center picture: after leaving 12 hours a first application

Right picture: 12 hours after 2nd application

This is how you apply it

The product is like the old shoe shine mixture we used to use back in the day, but… for guitars and… it doesn’t stain your hand after wiping.

You can see on the neck pictures how the shade of the wood changes after the applications, giving you better accents on the grain. It just looks awesome, not only that… it’s also as I said before.. hydrates your fretboard and protects.

I don’t use this product on my most expensive guitars… only for those ones that come with a fretboard that looks dry or cheap.

This is their website: https://www.montysguitars.com/collections/department-of-component/products/montys-montypresso-relic-wax

I’m not affiliated to them and I didn’t get this product for free from them.

Gretsch G5422TG Snow crest White

Maybe some day I will understand Gretsch’s naming convention, but who cares… they make some of the coolest looking guitars out there!

My main motivation for buying Gretsch’s is to get closer to Malcolm’s sound, I already have his number one copy… but I’ve been searching for a White Falcon for years! Well.. not THE white falcon, but something that would get me there without breaking the bank.

How cool is this?! These are limited editions of the G5422TG as you can still buy new in other colours but not in White.

It’s a hollow body with a center block which is where the pickups go, in theory this helps with feedback problems and fattens up the sound.

It just looks like a White Falcon, however… it’s much mush smaller, it really is like a little brother version of the WF, this doesn’t take anything away of how good this sounds and plays. Like every Gretsch, it was great out of the box and ready to rock.

Gretsch G5222

Ah yes, Malcolm Young, the oil that made the AC/DC engine run.

Ever since Gretsch launched their tribute to Malcolm… I’ve been annoyed with them, I felt 10 grand was way too much and not targeted to the real fans ($7k should’ve been the custom shop price). The. They launched the cheaper alternative, which looked exactly the same… however… the neck pickup hole had two painted pieces of wood to the sides…. Instead of being all black like the custom shop. So I guess Gretsch said, let’s make sure people can tell from far who has purchased the expensive one. Poor marketing from Gretsch.

Anyhoo… for those who remember, these models I mentioned above are not the first attempt to do a Malcolm replica, this might be the 2nd or 3rd attempt.

But there’s now a 4th attempt!! That all Malcolm Young fans have noticed… and this is the G5222, a Korean made affordable guitar, and there’s nothing cheap about it! Well… the price is low.

This is actually my first Gretsch, since I play Angus at my band Meanstreak I never had the need to buy a Malcolm lookalike guitar.

I was so impressed with this guitar as soon as I picked it up, setup was excellent, intonation was excellent, great sustain and the pickups… they sounded great! Very distinct sound, not a normal gibson type humbucker.

I of course already started the conversion to Malcolm’s Gretsch, I wasn’t totally sure originally… I felt the guitar was too good to butcher it, but… the guitar is for the band and… it needed to look closer to Mal’s.

I removed the neck pickup, removed toggle switch and one of the knobs, I bought bolts which I only used their heads to replicate Mal’s buttons. I’m now waiting for a 455 Schaller bridge to replicate the Donington look. I’m excited!!

Mesa Simul 295

Continuing with the Rack units… but… I’m not getting a rack… I’ll just use them as heads…

Man is this thing powerful or what?!? So… specs are: weighs around 22 kgs it has 2 output transformers capable of delivering 2x 95 watts each, you can push a lot of cabs! 4 in total if you use the outputs… however… with a cab switcher… you can push 4 16 ohm cabs per channel… a total of 8!! That’s a full Stadium rig!

6L6 and El34 tubes, so each channel has 2 modes.. Class A through the EL34 at 30 watts, or Class A/B at 95 watts using also the 6L6. What’s cool about this… well… apart from having different tones… you can run the channel at 30 or 95 Watts, which makes quite a bit of difference.

In total this unit has 12 tubes, which translates into £200 for a whole set of JJ tubes… it has 2 channels with independent stand by switches and volume knobs, it has 2 presence controls… one for each channel.

The volume knobs are just great, they behave like a hi-fi knob, you can just tame the volume to any level you want, but more importantly the volume sweeps in a beautiful way, there’s no sudden increases or drops like on Marshall amps.

I use a custom made amp switcher.

I’m running this power amp together with a Studio Preamp, this is pushing 4 cabs at a total of 4 ohms, and man…. this thing sounds huge! Also loud… but the sound has this 3D sort of thing about it, pretty much like a Matchless, I’m not entirely sure if this Power amp colours the tone or not… but I’ve read that some people are actually using it for hi-fi, so I’m guessing the unit just amplifies whatever the preamp is putting out.

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I’m after the AC/DC Donington 1991 sound, during the razor’s edge tour, this combination of the 295 and Studio Preamp pretty much nails the tone, it’s almost addictive!

I’m yet to use this in a live environment (thanks Covid 19) but I’ve played relatively loud at my studio (100db) and it is just a gorgeous tone! Of course I’ve been testing it with my SGs.

I hear that rack units are out of fashion… and people are buying 15W combos or heads… I’ll tell you what people are not thinking about… headroom… 100W is loud… but… running a 100W amp at half volume sounds much nicer than a 20 W amp at full volume, the articulation that you get with the massive transformers of a 100W cannot be achieved with a 20W head/combo.

The Power amp plus the preamp weighs a total of 26kg. My Marshall 1987x weighs around 15 and an SLP 1959 weighs 20Kg… so… yeah.. these Mesa are heavier, but can you put a price on tone? Would you care carrying an extra 6kg if you know your tone will be much closer to what you want?

Of course not… 6kgs is nothing… just ditch some other crap from your rig. These units are outstanding and I’m pretty sure that they will come back into fashion soon.

Mesa Boogie Studio Preamp

Mesa is one of those brands that we look up to… but sometimes we don’t really know why, it’s high end… but it’s mainly used by shredders, so…. I don’t know I just never really considered them however they always had a very respectable position on my Amp brand ranking.

This image changed how I felt about them.

So… I was born on 1983, my first AC/DC memories are from razors edge album and the famous 1991 Donington concert, this for me… is the AC/DC sound, this is what I listened to a thousand times, this is what I played air guitar to, this what I sang to, this is the VHS that I watched so many times that tape was beginning to stretch.

Why is this concert one of the best ever live performances not only of AC/DC but… of every band that has ever rocked this earth. well… I don’t know, it is beautifully shot, the crowd size is overwhelming, that little acrylic floor was a groundbreaking idea, Angus and Malcolm’s playing is just incredible, Chris Slade sitting on the drum throne with those massive ground toms up in the air… such an iconic image. The stage is also incredible, Angus walking up and down those ramps… it looked like something from the future.

Fast forward a lot of years! (Like 25) and I find out that AC/DC used Mesa Boogies in their late 80s, thanks to this Japanese magazine I now knew part of the secret recipe of why Donington sounded so good.

What is this preamp? Is it a combo? Is it a head? No rubber feet?

Well… this is a rack unit and according to the internet, these are not in fashion anymore… but that might change :p

This bit of kit is outstanding. 4 ecc83 + 1 ecc81 for the reverb, this is built like a tank!! Remember the boss pedals that you could run over with a car and still work? Well… this feels the same, metal enclosure, metal panel, the wiring is a mix of point to point and hand-wiring.

So what does it do? Well… it creates happiness, some say these are difficult to dial in, but… with a little bit of research… I was riding the good tone wave within a few minutes, this thing is awesome, I tried not to get carried over with the amount of gain you can get out of this thing just because at the end of the day I’m after an AC/DC tone and not Megadeth, the unit has a lot of mids! But… there is a graphical 5 band EQ to tame anything you want.

The sound is great, it’s very articulate, even at high gains… notes don’t get lost, the tone cuts through nicely and the sustain is just the sweetest thing.

Within a few knob adjustments I was able to get the donington sound I’ve been after for a long time.

This unit requires a power amp, which I’ve ordered and it is still in customs… (thanks brexit) but for now I’m using my trusty 1987x FX return to skip the Marshall preamp and use the Power Amp section only.

Ahh Tubes! What a sweet sight!
Very sexy wiring right there.

One of the things I love about this unit is that it sounds big… it sounds like an arena… even at low volumes… although… I’m always playing at at least 95db in my studio.

I never thought I would buy a Mesa, they always intimidated me, a lot of knobs… and… can I only shred? Well… it seems like they are just awesome amps… and a bit infamous… I think you need to know how to dial them in. I’ve heard great things about the Lonestar and the Stiletto.

Do yourself a favour and go play one of these bad boys! You’ll be surprised!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: