RSS Feeds and Comments Now Added

March 3rd, 2009 by Frandy Veras

Ever since I started this blog I have been asked about implementing RSS Feeds, into this blog. I am not all that familiar with the technology, however, I have added it to the blog. If there are other features, or suggestions you would like to see in the blog let me know. Thank you for reading the blog. Enjoy!

Review:Washburn HB30

February 26th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

Washburn HB30
$300

Design

I have never been a fan of the feel of semi-hollows. They usually have really thick necks with poor upper fret access, making the experience reminiscent of that which one would go through, playing with a baseball bat for a neck. I am obviously exaggerating, but they tend to be constructed much different to the solid-bodies which I am used to. The Washburn HB30, however, is one exception. This review is based on one of the older HB30 models, and the neck is incredibly smooth, and thin. The cutaway is also very ergonomic allowing for very comfortable upper fret access, and the entire guitar’s appearance is well designed, but the finish could be more perfect. I see some glue in the review unit which is annoying to look at.
The appearance is very similar to that of the Gibson ES335, and has some extremely versatile wiring with one tone knob and volume knob for each pickup, allowing for all sorts of tone blending.
The overall design; physical, and electrical is top notch, with the exception of the finish which as mentioned shows some flaws.

Sound

One area where this instrument shines is the sound. It is not the most pristine sounding instrument, however it closely replicates that smokey thick yet clear smooth sound of the much more expensive Gibson. This tone is a real beauty for blues jazz, and pretty much anything played clean and overdriven. Something that is impressive however, is while the sound could be cleaner, this guitar sustains much more than even the ES335, which is after all what it is modeled after. With that said, the wood work, and wood choice is likely top quality and a pickup upgrade could make it something to behold. After all, the way notes resonate on this guitar, cannot be compared to any solid body. It’s beautiful.

Playability

For a semi-hollow-body guitar and in comparison to guitars in general, this guitar is very fast. It has the fastest neck I have encountered on any semi-hollow body, and the cutaway is extended enough for comfortable upper fret access. The only problem I have with it’s feel, is that it is insanely heavy, to the point where I don’t see how it could really be hollow. The neck alone makes this instrument worth it, and as mentioned before, combined with a pickup upgrade it’s pretty much perfect.

Reliability

Washburn is a reliable company, however, the wiring in this model seems pretty loose, but then again it is over a decade old. With that said, I don’t know how reliable the newer model might be.

Customer Support

Washburn’s customer support is very reliable. They respond to emails quickly, however, I encountered problems in which the customer service reps, did not know the physical specs of the bridge, which I plan to change to a tone pros bridge.

Review:Electro Harmonix Metal Muff

February 20th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

Metal Muff
$90

Design

Like other Electro Harmonix pedals the design is very simple and tank. In other words, their pedals seem to be made to withstand all the abuse given by even the most abusive feet, as they are obviously meant to be stepped on. The Metal Muff feature two stomp switches, and 6 knobs that make this one of the most versatile pedals for modern distortion tones. One of the stomp switches allows the pedal to be bypassed, while the other switch can add an extra boost to the sound of the pedal. This is extremely useful to make leads stand out from the harmonies. Two knobs control the volume and the gain, while the other four control the tone. One controls the amount of top boost when the top boost switch is activated, and the others are an extremely versatile equalizer that give the user the possibility of virtually any metal tone known to man from the darkest, to the scooped, to the brightest. Electro Harmonix are known for their vintage sound, and excellence in that department. This is their first attempt at a modern distortion and I have to say it is a huge success.

Sound

While it still does not sound like an amps natural distortion, it is definitely one of the nicest distortion pedals for those seeking a modern metal tone. While the pedal is versatile enough to pull off some good overdrive tones with the distortion knob way down, where this box shines, is in its ability to make brutal tones of all types. The Equalizer allows the player to make Dark tones, and even some bright tones, and the versatility of the equalizer can go so far, that users may even make tones that are too bright, or too dark, which is a good thing as it may be used to balance a bright or dark amp, and after all is not like you are forced to equalize the pedal to those extremes.

Reliability

I have never had a problem with Electro Harmonix products. My pedalboard is 90% Electro Harmonix, and all of the pedals are still working perfectly, and making me happy with their sound .

Customer Support

Electro Harmonix customer support is very good. They have always been quick to respond to my emails, and have provided me helpful answers to my questions.

Music Review: Symbalousa

February 16th, 2009 by Frandy Veras

Symbalousa

Symbalousa, is the third album by Dominican Republic’s rock band Synesthesia. It is a conceptual album characterized by its use of melodic arrangements, which create melancholic-sonic landscapes through the use of guitars, keyboards, in combination with the genuine voice of singer Adalberto Arias.

The songs in their album are lengthy and fuse lots of different styles, making the album one which needs various listens, for the listener to be able to grasp and appreciate all the small sonic, lyrical nuances and details that make up the entire album a single work. In this album each of it’s songs speaks about different aspects of the life of the main character in it’s story. Profoundly interesting and unique, is the bands ability to transport the listener into living the experiences of the story’s character through the use of midi sounds and musical arrangements.

The experience that follows listening to their album symbalousa is reminiscent of that one feels after watching a good thriller, or drama drama, or even reading a good novel. Synesthesia manages to capture the listener all while submerging him/her in a labyrinth of emotions, vivifying each element of the album. Without a doubt the best work of art they have done up to this point.

Be sure to check them out at www.myspace.com/synesthesiadr

Review:ISP Decimator

February 6th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

ISP Decimator
$124

Design

ISP Technologies did a very great pedal when they came out with the ISP decimator. At least the other users seem very impressed. They are definitely much more impressed than I am, however. I am not saying, the pedal is a bad pedal, as it is indeed the best noise suppressor pedal I have tried. After all, there is a reason why the general consensus, is this is the best suppressor in pedal form out there. It can make the amp dead quite, and according to many without sacrificing the playing dynamics. I love the way the pedal controls the signal with its smart threshold knob. Its very simple and it works. And the physical design is also very attractive with it’s boss pedal like chrome casing. Overall a very simple effective design.

Sound

Here is where I am not impressed with the pedal. I expected this to be the first noise suppressor that does not ruin my playing dynamics. The difference in dynamics is very small but its there, and I am playing without a noise suppressor because of this issue. This is the closest to giving me a transparent sound I have come across, but with the slight side effect I still prefer having the background noise. It works beautifully if the songs have a similar amount of gain through out. For music that goes from low to high gain, the playing dynamics on the lower gain parts will suffer a huge loss of dynamics.
For those of you looking for a suppressor, think twice before you buy. ISP new g-string noise suppressor (yup, that’s what it is called), promised to fix this issue. For those of you looking to buy a new suppressor, I recommend researching the new model.

Reliability

It is built like a boss pedal. It’s build quility is very reliable.

Customer Support

Have not dealt with their customer support.

Review:Roland GR20 guitar with GK3 pickup

February 5th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

Roland GR20
$700

Design

I love the guitar, however, as a musician; I was always jealous of the possibilities keyboardists have with today’s synths. With that said, I like to use various effects to give myself as many sound possibilities as I can have. One pedal which I don’t use often, but which would be the cure to the problem mentioned above is the Roland GR20. What this technological marvel does is in my opinion a beautiful thing. Through Roland’s special Gk3 pickup it picks up your signal, and sends it to the GR20 and processes it, giving your guitar new sounds. These new sounds are of course the sounds, of virtually any instrument I could think of. Piano, Organ, Nylon Guitar, Drums, Sitar, Vocal pads…are few of the instrument sounds available on this guitar pedal.

The overall design, I have to admit, is absolutely genius. This device does so much, yet is about as intuitive as I could see it get. You can edit, write, and move about with the patches with incredible ease. Unlike many synths it even includes some built in effects that you can add to the synth sound such as chorus, delay, and dynamics controls for the attack notes.
The foot switches and pedals are also customizable and can be used for pitch shifting, and volume swells as well as vibrato, and more impressively can be used to freeze what you are playing into a sustain, while you play on top of it. It works great for improvisations as you can leave a chord ringing as you play a lead on top of it.
The design is great, feature packed but very intuitive. Unlike keyboard synths of course, you can mix the synth sound, with the natural sound of your guitar, in one amp, or even split it with two amps.
My only complaint with the design is the GK3 Pickup. Before the GR20 can be used, the GK3 Pickup must be installed correctly. The installation has to be very precise and can be very annoying or expensive to install. The GK3 pickup is great and seamlessly fast once installed correctly, or painfully slow when installed incorrectly.

Sound

Sound-wise the GR20 does a great job. It sounds really good, as is to be expected from Roland when it comes to synthesizer sounds. A lot of the instruments sound very natural, and work well with the playing dynamics of player. Ironically, however, I really wanted to use it for acoustic simulation, but guitar sounds are the weakest sounds in this pedal. The effects like delay and chorus are very good and transparent as well; however, those effects only work on the synth sounds and not on the guitars natural sound.

Reliability

The pedal is very well built. However, durability aside, its performance may not be the same for all guitars.
Buyers beware, the pickup will not fit in many guitars. I also don’t think it will work well with tremolo bridge guitars, especially Floyd roses, as it requires a consistent distance between itself and the strings. A great product, but definitely not one for everyone.

Customer Support

Their customer support is great. I had problems installing the GK3 pickup, and they helped me, all the way through. I am pleased with their support, and once installed correctly the product is great.

Powerful band: The Detox Darlings

February 2nd, 2009 by Andres Gallo

The Detox Darlings

Photo by Peter Fair

Just as promised here is guitarliving.com’s first article introducing a band that I feel more people should know about. For the first article of this type here at guitarliving.com, I thought it would be a wise choice to write about a band that is in all it’s essence electric, energetic, powerful and catchy. The band, that caught my “ears” was the Detox Darlings.

The NYC band Detox Darlings, plays music similar to The Ramones with an added touch of glam rock in the mix. The detox darlings pack a sound of their own, while at the same staying true to their roots and influences. This sound as mentioned, is gorgeously packed with power, and energy; and better yet, has some insanely catchy vocals. As much as I love instrumental music, I know most people like to hear vocals, and lyrics, especially when these sound great. Here, you will be singing along the band as well as jumping around, (at least in your head) as it is indeed catchy like that.

For those listeners that like the softer side of classic rock and glam, their song “counting the nights,” has a more relaxed “poppy” sound, ala Blondie, which should satisfy such listening moods, while the other songs complement it through power packed electric riffery, for the rocker’s desires. “Twisted tales,” for example displays a really cool fuzz effect, solo, and vocal melody that never stops to lose it’s energy. Every element you missed from many classic bands is here and better yet, The Detox Darlings still has a sound of its own that I think everyone should take a listen to.

So there it is… The Detox Darlings. As they say, “Prescription Strength Glam Punk Rock’n Roll With Passion and Soul!.” I couldn’t agree more- just take a listen to “Get Tattoos”

Be sure to check them out at www.myspace.com/detoxdarlings

Guitar Living can now help promote your band

January 14th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

I have been lucky to meet many talented musicians, who I feel have all the talent that it takes to make sold out shows in stadiums and such. I feel the one thing that may be missing in many cases is exposure. The best products will never sell if not enough people know about them; with that analogy in mind I thought I would introduce “cool NEW band” articles as a feature in my blog.
I think a lot of people would enjoy listening to the music these artist have to show. There can never be too much music, and with every new talent out there we always get something new and fresh in the mix. I for one, really enjoy listening to what different musicians like to play, as it is usually a great listening experience, and something for other musicians like myself to learn and influence from.
With that said, I would like to help other musicians who would benefit from a little more web exposure. Send us your music or a link to your bands myspace, and some information about your band at andres@gutarliving.com. I will try to listen to all the music I get. I will try to write an article about a new band every week. This could help promote your band, and I hope it does.

Review:Ovation 1778 LX Elite

January 13th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

Ovation 1778 LX Elite
$1650

Design

Ovation guitars are well known for their bowl shaped back, and their non-standard multiple sound-holes; both characteristics most of their acoustics all have in common. The 1778LX Elite is not too different from the others at first sight. It has a deep bowl back and the usual ovation sound-holes. The difference is mostly noticed at the first strum; however, I will discuss that in the sound section.
All in all the physical design is very similar from that seen in most ovations, but with a few, but substantial upgrades here and there. I am not saying that for the hefty price tag you get the same “physique” of the lower end models. You get a flawless paintjob, and a construction that screams attention to detail, but much more important you get one of the nicest necks I have ever seen and played in any acoustic. The neck itself looks absolutely stunning with a gorgeous ebony fretobard, and cool inlays. The soundholes also add to the look with their unique look, and artwork that surrounds them.
Outside of appearances the guitar features a built in tuner which I gotta say comes very handy, and the OP-Pro Pre Amp which was designed in collaboration with Al DiMeola and Melissa Etheridge. The preamp features various additional features that allow deep control of the tone of the guitar.
The overall design shows a lot of care was taken in the making of the instrument. The 1778 LX Elite has lots of features, and looks absolutely gorgeous. My only complaint as with most ovation guitars is the bowl shaped back, which can be slightly uncomfortable when playing standing up.

Sound

Crystal clear shimmering tones is what best describes the sound of this guitar. The tones are very sensitive to the pick attack and all sorts of playing dynamics, giving the player a huge dynamic range. I think it may have something to do with the deep bowl back and the soundholes. The sound seems to have a better acoustic projection, which renders so much detail in every single one of its notes; it’s a very special sound. All the notes react beautifully to picking dynamics, and with the OP-Pro Preamp it sounds absolutely beautiful when played amplified. Keep in mind that the sound is very different from other acoustics in this price range, or other acoustics in this range. It’s not as warm, but has a clarity that is impressive and unique. There is not a single complaint I can make of this guitar, other than the ergonomics of that bowl back.

Reliability

Out of all the instruments I have, this is without a doubt the one that feels most solid. The back of the guitar is after all made of the same material they make helicopters with. They have designed an instrument with the ability to defend the user from anything, especially from boredom. With sound like this, I think guitarist will have lots of fun. Durability is definitely not an issue.

Customer Support

They have very good customer support. I had some questions on the guitar’s preamp which they helped me with promptly.

Review:Dunlop Crybaby 535Q

January 7th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

Crybaby 535q
$130

Design

Dunlop is one of those brands that people know for the great designs that have placed across time throughout the years. Amongst their most popular line of products is their crybaby line. When guitarists think of wah pedals, the name crybaby is the one I am sure crosses the mind of most, most of the time.
Visually the crybaby 535Q looks like a simple pedal, and seems no different than the other wahs. Up close, however, one finds a design that is both cleverer and more versatile, while simultaneously staying true to the classics. The pedal functions and for the most part looks like their classic wah relatives. It even includes the fasel inductor that gave the vintage wahs that tone of theirs. The advantage however is in the tone controls it includes that give it virtually the sound of a variety of wah pedals, all in one package. One knob allows you to control the frequency center, and another controls the range available for the pedal. To top it all, it even has a boost button on the side that provides a volume boost for those wailing wah solos rock music is famous for.
The design is great, maintaining a conservative classic look, adding modern versatility, and putting it all into a tough casing.

Sound

It is hard to write any negatives on the sound quality of this wah, as there are nothing but good tones all across the possibilities.You can have all sorts of wah sounds. The other great thing is these sounds have lots of body when they should, and the range can be incredible in both its modern and vintage tones. Although a modern wah, this thing can pull off those vintage tones without much trouble, and sounds splendid in all cases. Although one of the best wahs for the price out there, it isn’t perfect. It does not have true bypass, and as such it can eat your signal, although I never noticed any signal loss from it. With that in mind, this wah should be added to everyones wah list.

Reliability

From its feel and appearance this pedal is built to last a really long time. However, I feel I have to include in this review, that my own crybaby 535q stopped working out of nowhere. I think these pedals will last most people, and perhaps I just got one of the rare delicate productions. The pedal still turns on, but the potentiometer that controls the rocking pedal part of it is defective, which is a simple and cheap fix. Don’t be intimidated by this, however. This is still a great wah pedal in the “affordable market,” and is used by many greats like Joe Satriani.

Customer Support

Their customer support is great.  They offered to help me very quickly.

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