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Stringed Guitars

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

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stratocaster

Instant Angus

This is the reputation the SD Storm earned, a pedal that you plug in and Angus Young sound comes out of the speakers… so, is it true?

Yes!, definitely the pedal gives you that extra bite that Angus achieves with his tone, this is not a distortion pedal, in my opinion it’s a combination of an aggressive booster and a compressor, allowing you to have sustain and overdrive without loosing clarity on your tone.

The pedal is simple… 3 knobs, Power, Storm and Snap, which I think they mean Input, Output and Compression, I could be wrong though but to my ear this seems to be the effect they cause on the tone.

The achieved tone from the pedal is very affected by the Amp setup (duh) but really… you can’t just set your amp to clean and plug and play like a distortion pedal, because it’s not a distortion pedal… so it needs the right level of gain and volume from the amp.

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I tested it using my 71 Gibson SG and the Eric Clapton Stratocaster. I’ll comment on both separately:

Gibson SG: I used the OD1 channel with very little distortion (3) and on volume on 7 on the Marshall TSL, with the overall master on 1 (Yes, I got neighbours), the pedal configuration was: Power:10, Storm:7,Snap:5. I loved the tone that came out of the speaker but I was missing something… and it was volume… as we all know, great guitar tone is achieved by volume so I switched to my Blackstar HT1R using the emulated output straight to my headphones, used the clean channel with gain on 6 and master on 9, and it just blew my mind, everything was there the clarity of Angus’ tone but also the heavy “distortion” he has, Angus has a very distinctive E Chord sound.. it just sounds so bassy but clear… and you get just this with the Storm, using the guitar volume on 6  and 10 for the solos.

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EC Stratocaster: Marshall TSL on the clean channel, with gain on 5 and master on 1.5,the pedal: Power:10, Storm:7 and Snap on 5. SRV instantly came hrough my amp, using the neck pickup I fell in love all over again with my Strat, (tuned half step down), that classic glassy sound you get on the Strat but slightly overloaded it’s a very addictive tone, and again the clarity remained there, every note and string sounded as clear as it would be coming out of the clean channel.

Overall I liked the pedal very much, it’s very hard to describe the sound, sometimes I think it is similar to what you can achieve with a distortion pedal, but it’s also far away from it, because the clarity that your tone has with the Storm can’t be achieved with a normal distortion pedal. If you are after a classic rock sound THIS is the only thing you need to add to your rig.

The price tag on this baby is $335 US dollars, it’s not cheap but you have to think that this pedal is hand built by one guy… not an assembly line in a massive factory, so this impacts directly on the cost of the product.

The presentation was very good, I got a T-shirt and a big picture of Fil and Angus, signed by Fil, there are no instructions manual, which of course are not needed, however I feel that this should’ve included some sort of ideal set up to achieve Angus’ tone, Fil has worked extremely hard to achieve this and I’m sure he has a few tips that we would all love to hear.

Head to www.solodallas.com to get the pedal.

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MXR Dyna Comp

Review of a classic… this pedal has been around for ages, more precisely it was released in the 70s and according to Wikipedia it instantly became a “Nashville Standard” I’ve only had this pedal for 6 months or so, so it’s not a classic for me but as soon as I plugged it in something snapped.

I first tried it with my Eric Clapton Stratocaster, as we all know compressors are sort of associated with chicken picking… and so are guitars with single coil pickups, the sound instantly becomes “studio” like, that was the first thought that came into me… everything just sounds tidier… compressed (of course), if you play “under the bridge” by RHCP with this pedal… you’ll think you are listening to the studio version, it’s pretty amazing.

So… first impressions were great I fell in love instantly and I said to my self “I’ll stuck this pedal to the amp with Velcro and never turn it off again”, however not everything that shine is gold, the pedal is a bit noisy, and what happens is there is a lot of noise when you are not strumming the strings and as soon as you strum.. the pedal compresses the sound causing a “volume difference” all the time which is a bit annoying but I do understand that this is the nature of a compressor, but it could have a noise gate of some sort.

I then moved on to the  SG (humbucker guitar) and tone was ok, the best thing about combining this pedal with distortion is the sustain you get out of it… however the sustained note seems to vary in volume as it sustains for longer and longer, making me think the pedal is not entirely designed for this task… however I did hear that Angus Young uses a bit of compression on his Schaffer Replica to get that extra sustain, but we’ll touch on that later since I’ve already pre-ordered a Solo Dallas Storm (mini Schaffer Replica).

I totally recommend this pedal by all means this should be in your arsenal, you can have loads of fun with it but I’m not sure if it would be the 1st pedal I would buy, I think the Ibanes TS9 or a Vox 847 Wah Wah should definitely come in first.

1979 Gibson SG Standard

This SG belongs to the loved/hated Norlin era.

This means it was built between 1970 and sometime around 1986, loads of guitar enthusiasts hate this era and they will swear that they are the worst guitars Gibson has ever built, but to be honest most of them probably have not tried a Norlin era Gibson, and this feeds the inflated price of the pre-norlin era gibsons, this is why a 1968 SG will set you back around £8k and a 1971 will cost around £1,5k.

This is a great guitar, it’s incredible how fast the neck is and how effortless you can go through the fretboard, this is the reason why they earned the nickname of “fretless wonder” this happens because the action is really low and the frets are not very tall.

Playing these “fretless wonders” does require some time to get used to, it does challenge your ability to perform bends and you have to get rid of the “heavy hand” habit (if you do have it) but once you get used to them, they are great.

Of course this guitar is also part of Angus’ arsenal, (and this the reason why I bought it) you can see him using it on the “Flick of the Switch” video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWKcJwuZnzE) and he also used it live on some occasions.

On this model Gibson implemented 2 curious changes: the inlays changed to a rectangular shape and the output jack changed from the top of the guitar to the side. Personally I love these inlays, they do look great and you get an extra one! (the 1st fret gets an inlay as well, where as before only custom guitars would bring an inlay on this fret). It also has the “speed knobs” not sure how “speedy” they are, but they move smoother than the black top  hats.

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1984 Squier Bullet by Fender (Japan)

This is definitely an odd one, it is a Squier by fender (like all Squiers claim to be) but it’s not only that. The guitar just looks weird doesn’t it? well.. there are a couple of reasons for that.

Back in the 80s when Fender was switching manufacturers (I think they were moving production to China) they had shortages of guitar parts, so word on the grapevine is that they just combined stuff, and this model is a perfect example of this, the neck pretty much gives it away right? it’s a Telecaster neck! and who doesn’t love a Tele neck, and even more when it’s maple (yes I do like maple for Fender style guitars and Rosewood for any other brand/type of guitar). The body also looks odd apart from being somewhat deformed (fatter) on the bottom it also has only 2 knobs and a weird (maybe Gibson style?) input jack, I actually like this design I always felt that Fender inputs are somewhat annoying because you can’t use L shaped cables, so you need your L shaped for your Gibsons and your straight ones for your Strats, this just takes care of that situation, and the 2 knobs instead of 3? also a great idea! who uses 2 tone knobs when you only have 1 volume control…. just doesn’t make sense.

Pickups… probably not the best, but… they are covered! and white covers! makes the guitar look just a bit cooler right? (and yes it matches with my EC Strat) they actually don’t sound that bad at all, they are a bit muddier than normal Squier pickups so it’s like you almost don’t need a fuzz pedal, just crank up the volume, add some distortion and you are sorted.

This guitar was a bit of a project for me, and my first “real” guitar project, I only paid £70 for it (such a steal!) but it was in a very poor condition, I took the frets off and added Dunlop 6100 (the same SRV used to use), I also sanded the neck to take all the gunk off and leave it nice and clean, it’s not the most tidiest job because to be fair changing fret is a nightmare! and it’s extremely easy to damage the fretboard, but after a few attempts and a fret levelling tool it now plays really nice and it has got quite a unique sound, even though I barely use it… I like it because it has survived my DIY so it just feels special.

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Epiphone SG Prophecy EX

So… Of course your question is… “what the hell is an Epiphone doing here?…” Well, I like Epiphones, and let’s be honest… loads of us have started this amazing hobby/profession using an Epiphone or a Squier.

But this is no ordinary guitar, this is the angriest Epiphone of them all, it’s got world class features such as: ebony fretboard, Grover tuners, flame maple top, and last but not least EMG active pickups (models 81 and 85). This combination is a killer, also the fretboard is quite chunky like an SG standard so it’s great for shredders which I’m not one of them but I do enjoy every now and then picking up my axe (keeping the shredders lingo) and play a bit of Megadeth or Judas Priest.

Apart from all the amazing hardware this guitar is beautifully made, the transparent black flame maple top is very neat and let’s not forget about the inlays which now they have taken a blade type of shape… they just add up to the sort of dark theme going on, and this is the reason why I got this guitar. I used to play my Heavy Metal/Trash Metal tunes on my SG or on my Strat, but that just doesn’t feel right, I’m not sure if it’s just me but certain types of guitar make you play certain types of music, is like trying to play Back in Black (yes… by AC/DC) with a Sratocaster, it just doesn’t work.

So, now I can plug in this beauty to my Marshall TSL, hit the third channel and shred away (ahem… pretending to shred) with a nice biting sound.

These are not that easy to find and I like to think of them as bit of a unique guitar and probably one of the best ideas Epiphone has had, so if you can find one… buy it! and keep it! I’m not sure how they were able to produce this amazing guitar and still maintain the Epiphone budget but hey… I only buy and play guitars, I don’t make them, at least for now! _DSC7450 (2) _DSC7449 (2) _DSC7443 (2) _DSC7441 (2)

1989 Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster.

Apart from the Gibson SG (of course) this is probably my favourite guitar.

Eric Clapton used this exact model on his tour around the late 80s.

The main difference with a normal Stratocaster is the pickups and the wiring, it features 3 active Lace Sensor pickups which are amazing! best pickups a Stratocaster can have, they don’t make a lot of noise and they are just really versatile.

The wiring consists on having a mid-boost, and it’s really useful when you are playing leads, just crank up the tone knob and you get extra loads of distortion, of course you can also use the volume knob for this but who doesn’t need a bit of extra gain when everything is already at 10???

The colour is also quite unique, “Pewter Grey” is the actual name, and I believe it came in other colours, the neck is absolutely beautiful being maple you can actually see the pattern, but it does come in glossy mode… which I dislike, but I used a really thin sanding paper and took that right off, it doesn’t affect the guitar in any way but it improves the payability, otherwise your finger sort of drags on the glossy finish and it just feels slower.

The tremolo is quite useful and it does not go out of tune, however due to Eric’s specification this model has a small piece of wood in the cavity which blocks the tremolo so you just need to take the back cover off and remove the piece of wood, and it works just fine.

They are not too expensive…usually around £1,200 but if you are looking for something similar but don’t want to spend that much, you can always get a Stratocaster Plus, which are pretty much the same thing.

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