29 December 2008

Coated Strings

Firstly, Merry Christmas to one and all!

Since it's the Xmas season, I decided to put on some new strings for my guitars. I have been a regular user of the 9's-42's for quite some time now and i have decided to give the 10's - 46's a shot. I needed some getting use to as i do find the 9's - 42's rather soft and comfortable but lacks in tone. I'll gradually move up the gauges as i do find the 10's to 46's rather comfortable now.

With that aside, I frequent the Cleartone brand of strings. It is coated and does not rust that easily. I cannot simple stand the feel of rusted strings and not to mention the hassle of string changing as well. That was my main reason why i have shifted to coated strings. Some say that the Cleartones lack in tone but they do last a good 3 to 5 months if cleaned after playing. I agree with the duration of the life span of the strings but i do not have an issue with the tone. I do find the tone rather good for a coated sting. It's not sticky and plays well too. A pack of these retail at $19.60.

So last weekend i went down to DAVIS and got myself a set of Aurora strings. These strings are coated as well but it has a variety of colors to it as well. I'm not much for having colored strings but i decided to give it a shot because they were much cheaper at $16.90. I bought 2 packs of 10's - 46's in gold. I had a set fitted to my Fender Strat. Everything went well with 5 of the strings until the High E string felt rather strange when i tuned it. It just would not stay in tune! No matter how i turned it, It would drop a full step. I'm tuning on standard tuning and I repeated this many times until the string snapped. upon closer inspection on what went wrong, I noticed that the string did not actually snap. Instead, the ball end of the string unwinded itself and came off. This kinda pissed me off so i took the High E from the other set to have it replaced. And the same thing happened again! Now I'm thinking that there's a problem with my bridge that is causing this to happen.

I removed the entire set of Aurora strings and fitted my strat with a set of CLEARTONE 10's - 46's. The installation was flawless like it always did. There was nothing wrong with my tuner, ears, technique and guitar bridge. So here's a little advise, STAY AWAY FROM THE AURORA'S! IF YOU HAVE TO, DO IT WITH CAUTION. With a price tag of $16.90 a pack, dumbass manufacturing faults like this should not happen. Maybe i was just unlucky to pick 2 rotten apples from the barrel but i don't think i will take a chance on a pack of strings that is packed with a price tag of $16.90 with a chance of malfunction again. Not to mention the poor unprofessional packaging it had.

There's a saying in hokkien " Hor Kua Bo Hor Chiak "

17 December 2008

VOX Valvetronix AD100VT

100 watts of power at my disposal with 2 x 12' celestion speakers through a metal grill. It's a hybrid valve + solid state amp. Your neighbors will hate you for getting this amp. Crank it up and this sucker can really be loud.Among the many amps that i have owned, this one is the most versatile in terms or built in pre amps and effects. It produces some very nice cleans and killer OD's. It has a little bit of everything for the different player at heart.

Pre Amps
01. Boutique Clean - modeled on: Dumble 100w head (clean channel). My favorite clean channel.
02. Black 2x12 - modeled after a Fender 'Blackface' Twin Reverb amp.
03. Tweed 4x10 - modeled on: 1959 Fender 4x10 Bassman. This preset is a must when i'm playing my Telecaster.
04. AC15 - modeled on: Channel 2 of a 1962 Vox AC15.
05. AC30TB - modeled on: Vox AC30 'Top-boost'.
06. UK '70s - modeled on: 1971 Marshall 50w Plexi Head
07. UK '80s - modeled on: 1983 100w Marshall JCM800 head.
8. UK Modern - modeled on: Marshall JCM2000 DSL100 head (High gain channel).
09. Nu-Metal - modeled on: 100w Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier head. Rectifier like tones.
10. US Hi-Gain - modeled on: Soldano SLO100 Head (hi-gain channel). Fat Distortion
11. Boutique OD - modeled on: Dumble Overdrive Special 100w head. Use this with a stratocaster and with some tweaking, You'll come close to getting some John Mayerish tones.

I got this at City Music at a promo price of $580+. That's cheap for a 100 watter with great pre amps and effects. The VOX foot switch can be bought separately which i find very useful for changing presets. I seriously think this amp has some good vibes to it. If you are looking for that vintage tone, This amp is definitely for you. The modern high gains can sound pretty grainy and cold. i would recommend stomp pedals for those kind of settings rather than the pre amps.

The amp comes with a built in tweakable noise gate and some effects as well. There's nothing too spectacular about the effects. 11 digital FX; auto wah, compressor, compressor + phaser, compressor + chorus, chorus + delay, chorus + reverb, flanger + reverb, tremolo + reverb, rotary + reverb, delay and reverb. I don't really care much about the FX's. The only ones i really use is the reverb and occasionally the delay. The ability to tweak the output voltage is great. That way, you can adjust the appropriate voltage needed to push the valves without busting your ear drums.

  • Cheap for a 100 watter that has a name like VOX
  • Good looks
  • Nice vintage tones
  • Versatile for most genres of music
  • 11 pre amps
  • 11 FX's
  • Ability to add external speakers and cabs
  • Ability to adjust the voltage of the amp
  • Noise gate
  • Headphone option is no good. It dosent justify the tones and makes them sound cold and sterile
  • High gain on ceratin pre amps are too grainy
  • Damn heavy. Some built in wheels could come in handy for the travelling musician

14 December 2008

It's Finally Here! My First Jazzbox...

This just dropped in today. I have been waiting for this for almost 2 whole weeks. There were some shipping issues but they were finally ironed out. It's finally here!

I'm still finding faults with this one. That's a normal thing for me to do when a new piece pops into my collection. Beautiful Jazzboxes usually don't come cheap but this is definitely in a different price league. Build quality and tone wise, I'll have to shred on this for a while to feel and hear it extensively to find out what's the deal in this stunning yet affordable guitar.

03 December 2008

Fender American Standard Stratocaster 2008

I have had many strats in the past but have never owned an American made fender. The hype of the fender franchise was the new American standard. Some swear by it while others will feel other wise. Well, i held back long enough and went out to get myself a brand new piece. I picked the blizzard pearl finish on a maple fretboard and neck. I got this piece from Swee Lee at a promotional price of $1500 nett. *Thanks Jai* My first impressions of this guitar was the Fender SKB Hard case. Frankly, I still prefer the vintage tweed cases as it gives the guitar in it a vintage classy sleek look. But this new molded SKB case sure looks like it can be run over by a truck and the guitar in it will still be in tune. (Try at your own risk!)

I am impressed by the initial factory setup of the guitar. It's was 98% perfect. I only needed a slight intonation on the B string and everything else was set up right. The tone is wonderful. On positions 1, 3 & 5 you can achieve the classic nasel strat tones with quack and twang. On positions 2 & 4 are the glassy strat tones. The delta tone circuit was a nice surprise to me as this is the first time i am using a delta tone system which gives some extra boost to the bridge and middle pickup when the tone knob is set to full on the bridge.

I guess that's why American made fenders are the hype all this while. I'm sure many would oppose and would say the difference in quality is very subtle between the CIJ's, MIJ's and even the MIM's except for the higher price listed for the MIA's. I refuse to debate this apple or orange myth. It's a matter of personal preference and the players touch which makes it different.

  • Smooth neck
  • Glossed fretboard
  • Action
  • Classic strat tone
  • Delta tone circuit
  • Hand rolled edges on the neck
  • Tuning stability
  • Very versatile
  • Comfortable
  • SKB molded hard case
  • Limited finishes
I now understand why the American Fenders cost more and it's every much worth my every cent spent.

Rating: 9.5/10