By Popular Request – Some of my Fiddlez and Mapz!

First off, I would like to apologize to people who have not had their comments posted. Right now, there are 417 comments I need to go through and get approved. The reason I don’t have autopoast here is because blogs tend to get a lot of spam and I don’t want to have that here.

Anyway, this entry is going to be a little different in that I’m not going to doing a review. I’m just going to show some of my guitar collection.

This is a really cool first or second year Fender Stratocaster. I’m not sure if it’s a 1954 or 1955, but it’s got the big knobs, the weird pickup covers and the football switch. It has had a five way switch added and it’s kind of beat up, but it’s a really neat guitar.

Next to it is a Fender Deluxe map from the same time period. It’s a great sounding box. I have my Quinn HBS in the picture because I’m friends with Shad and Karin and it’s a neat petal!

1954 Fender Stratocaster

This is a really clean 1965 Mosrite Ventures model. I got this guitar from a concert promoter in Japan. I have been a big fan of The Ventures since I was about 10 and always wanted one of these.

I have read that they’re hard to play, but I don’t have any issues with it. The fiddle sounds great for all types of music and has great action and super hot pickups. There are a lot of copies of these, but the bridge and pickups are usually wrong and they never sound correct.

These guitars were the first to come standard with Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings. I use heavier strings on most guitars, but the EBSS work amazing on this. They stay in tune and allow you to raise and lower whole chords.

1965 Mosrtie Ventures Model

This is an exceptionally clean 1957 Gretsch 6120. I found this one in an antiques store. It came with a 6160 map, the cowboy case, strap and all the paperwork. This one was played about two or three times a year and always kept in the case.

I have heard the bullshit opinions about the new ones being better or about how these all need neck resets. As someone who owns a ton of reissue Gretsch guitars I can tell you that (as usual) the forum idiots don’t want to believe their knockoff isn’t the real thing. This guitar just sounds like so many classic records and looks super cool!

1957 Gretsch 6120

This is my 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard. This isn’t one of those reissue jobs, this is an old one. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about this one that hasn’t been said already. I have a few of these old ones (the gold and the sunburst) and they’re really nice guitars.

I bought this one for about $20,000 in the mid-1990s with part of an advance on some publishing royalties. Everyone thought I was crazy, but it’s a super fun to play fiddle!

I have this one plugged into a 1965 Fender Tremolux/Marshall 1936.
1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard

This here is a 1956 Gibson Les Paul. It’s really kind of a mess and it has reissue knobs on it. I played this for a long time and it has a great clean sound. I think the P-90s are great clean sounding pickups and a lot of people only use them for loud rock.

The paint is kind of falling off, but it’s still neat.

1956 Gibson Les Paul Standard

Here is my 1959 Martin 00-21. This is just like the one Bob Dylan played during Rolling Thunder. I found this one in a guitar store when I was just out of college. It cost me about $1000, which was cheap for this but a ton of cabbage for me at the time.

This one has the 12 fret neck and slotted headstock which I think makes it look really cool. If you play fingerstyle this one is hard to beat! It’s also all Brazilian rosewood.

I had the neck reset a couple years ago and it has super low action and stays in tune right up the neck.

1959 Martin 00-21

This one I got in case I ever go to dental, law or medical school. It was given to me by the good d00dez at PRS here in Maryland. I was down there and asked if they had one that had a big neck, birdies and low output pickups (or Pups!1!).

I mainly wanted one for a joke, but it’s actually pretty cool if you expect it to be a PRS and not a Gibson. I don’t play it all that much, but it’s fun to show people. It is really pretty, but isn’t quite on par with my Ed Roman Quicksilver guitars. This is one of the Artist models IIRC.


Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dumble vs Line 6 Politician with teh Robbin Ford Chirp and Haunting Mids!!!11!!!

I made this a few years ago and receive a lot of mail asking for it to be poasted. Here it is, the legendary Politician played through a Dumble and Line 6 at the same time. As the sides switch the maps switch.

Can YOU tell the difference? For the Line 6 Dumble Patch I used send me a message here.

Thanks for watching and may teh Tan Pants be with You!!1!!!!

Politician Dumble vs Line 6 Pignose

Posted in Main | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fashion Tips for Musicians

It seems that most music related forums will have a thread about musician fashion every couple months. My goal with this blog entry is to offer some good advice to guys who are looking to improve their stage duds.

Before I begin, I would like to say that there are several different views when it comes to musician/band fashion:

1- The “I don’t care what a band looks like if they can play” guy – This is a popular argument and if image meant nothing it would be sound. In reality, we live in a visual world and if you’re out competing for gigs or you want to be taken seriously image matters. If you’re not lazy about your playing why would you want to give a lackluster presentation?

2- The guy who stopped paying attention to fashion in the 1990s or early 2000s – Relaxed fit carpenter jeans, the Doc Martins you bought when you got your copy of Nevermind or (in the case of early 2000s) the shirt with the gothic cross or tribal style graphic. Sometimes these guys will also wear square toed shoes (which were never popular).

3- The all black or business casual look – The black jeans, shirt, tie and shoes/sneakers (sometimes with white socks) or the guy with the polo shirt, tan pants (YES!!!11!!!), etc….

4- The guy who will point out BB King wore shorts once or Springsteen uses a music stand. Well, if you’re that famous do what you would like to. You don’t need my advice. Chances are if you’re reading this you’re not them.

The advice I am going to give comes from a few people. I have to admit that I’m lucky enough to have been in situations where there have been professional stylists. I have picked up a lot over the years and I will attempt to share what I have learned below.

The most important thing in choosing fashion is to make sure clothes fit properly. You can shop at the cool stores and spend a ton of money, but if things don’t fit you will never look cool. A lot of stores have a salesperson (make sure they’re young and look cool). These people are there to help you and if you shop at the same store it can really work out great because they will know what you already own. If you shop somewhere without a salesperson try to get someone put together to go with you.

Where to Shop

If you’re on a decent budget (say, $150 an outfit, not including shoes) I would suggest Lucky Brand and Urban Outfitters. These places tend to carry current styles and clothes that you’re not going to see a ton of people wearing. I do about 80% of my shopping at Lucky Brand, but I buy a lot of smaller things at places like UO, Target, and Banana Republic.

The major advantage to shopping for everything at the same brand store (Lucky, GAP, BR, etc…) is that these stores usually have a way to design clothes so everything matches everything else. This can save time and can ensure you won’t be clashing, but if you go to The Gap, you may come out looking like a frat boy. Great for a DMB cover band!

If you’re looking to put together some cool outfits to gig in here is what I suggest you start with:

– Two pairs of jeans. Buy two different rinses/fits.
– Four shirts. I would buy a couple t-shirts and a couple button down shirts.
– Four pair of socks. Yes, people will def notice your socks if they don’t match.
– Jacket

In a perfect world, you could walk into a store and buy everything in one shot. This is possible, but I have found different stores have clothes that fit me better/worse. For example, I can buy a sport coat at Banana Republic off the rack and it will fit perfectly. If I buy one at Armani Exchange I will need to bring it to a tailor. Find a brand that fits great and stick with it.

With jeans stay away from Ed Hardy or any of those crazy stitching models. Also, baggy dad jeans (Eddie Bauer, Arizona) or the dreaded carpenter jeans. I like boot cut from BR, but those have kind of run their course so I’ve been wearing vintage straight from BR and classic from Lucky. This changes every now and again. I suggest picking up an issue of GQ when they do the style guides. At any rate, find a pair that fits well and buy a couple different ones so you can alternate.

For shirts stay away from anything with a brand name. Especially musical gear or guitar related themes. Also, no hot rod flames or the like. I don’t even like to wear band t-shirts, but that’s just me. I like Lucky because they’re limited so the guy at the bar won’t be wearing the same one and they tend to be pretty cool and focus on iconic American themes (I have a bunch of Indian Motorcycle things right now). I have also done well at Target and I always buy cool t-shirts when I visit a cool place when traveling.

If you’re low on money or just like to shop around always hit thrift stores. I have found some really cool things at these places. Usually, you can get a t-shirt for a few dollars and a lot of times they’re things you won’t find anywhere else.

When you’re out playing music you’re really working in the music business. Anyone who knows me knows that I never will phone it in. If you don’t want to do a gig or don’t give 100% do the patrons and establishment and stay at home. There are plenty of people out there that do want the gig.

Oh, and final note – leave teh music stands at home. If you can’t learn a few chords and some words you’re not ready to be out there.

Here is a picture of me at a gig I flew into then took a 40 minute train ride to get to. Not the best gig or look, but I think it’s a pretty decent idea of how to look pulled together on short notice (my hat is crooked).

Shirt is from Lucky Brand ($45), Pants are Vintage Straight in black from Banana Republic ($118), Shoes are Adidas I ordered special to match my acoustic guitar ($150). The tie is from Nordstrom ($85) I can’t remember where I got the hat :)

Hopefully, this will help you in your quest to look cool or at least semi-cool on stage.

Here are the shoes with the guitar they were made for:

Here is a person who made some comments about my picture above. Their big issue was that I ragged on them for wearing a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers at a gig. Some people will see a difference and some won’t.

Posted in Main | Leave a comment

Gibson Music City Jr Review

I picked this one up because I used to have a Fender B Bender and I miss it. I saw this Gibson model and was shocked at the price considering the Joe Glaser conversion prices.

The more I learned about this model the cooler it seemed. It has some features that are very unique and is kind of a cross (by Gibson’s admission) of a Les Paul Junior and a Telecaster.

For example, both volume controls push/pull. This seemed odd to me for P-90s, and I read a few reviews saying they sounded awful but after I played the guitar for a while I really think it’s a pretty awesome setup.

Basically, it can sound like a regular P-90 sound but if you pull the neck up it gives you the Gretsch (think old Gretsch mud switch not new) or Tele (think vintage wiring neck position) sound. Not all that useful on a lot of guitars, but this sound works beautifully with the b-bender because usually you’re (I’m) going for that twangy sound. The bridge gives you a thinner sound that is kind of Tele like, but I really think it’s more of a Rickenbacker-type bridge sound. Maybe the maple body contributes to this, I’m not sure. At any rate, this one fiddle can do a Gibson P-90 sound, a Gretsch type sound, Tele sound and Rickenbacker sound – pretty cool.

The tension on the b-bender can be adjusted. I’m not going to post a lot on this because I haven’t really played with this much. The really cool feature is that you can convert the guitar to be a g-bender instead. This requires changing the bridge around, so you can’t do it in the middle of a song, but it can be done and is a cool feature that the Fender b-bender Telecaster can not do.

All the new Gibson guitars are being Plek’d, and they feel great. The neck on this one feels like a Norlin neck to me. Maybe it’s the maple. It’s a nice shape and has a good finish on it, but it’s not a typical Gibson 50s or 60s neck. If you have owned a lot of Gibson guitars you will like it ok I would think. There are also genuine Grover tuners, which are great.

I saw a lot of pictures of this guitar online and thought it was pretty ugly. In person, it’s actually pretty nice looking. The maple neck looks a little weird on a Gibson, but I’m getting used to it and I think it is probably a big part of the sound. The fretboard is not finished, so it will get dirty quickly which is something the relic crowd will like. I may overspray mine to get it to stay clean longer. The maple body looks nice and it has a nitrocellulose finish. I may refinish this one, I already changed the knobs and put a LPC truss rod cover that I had hanging around on it.

The one complaint I have is the case. Oddly, a lot of people seem to love this case. It is western looking, but I think it looks really cheap. It’s a nice case from a quality standpoint. I believe it’s TKL because it’s got a Made in Canada tag in it. The case itself seems sturdy but I don’t think the faux leather tooled covering will stand up.

The guitar also comes with a set of genuine Dunlop straplocks, which is a nice touch.

Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | 2 Comments

Fender Bass VI Pawnshop Review

Yesterday I received a Fender Bass VI in the mail.

For the past year or two I had been using a Schecter Hellcat, which was the only similar instrument I could find.

The Schecter was well made and had decent parts (Tone Pros bridge, Grover tuners, Duncan pickups, etc…) but the wood used for the neck had a cheap satin finish and didn’t feel as stable as I would have liked it to, although it did sound nice. What really bothered me about the Schecter was the metal looking tilt back headstock. I know they redesigned the Schecter after I bought mine and raised the price a bit. Now it’s only $50 cheaper then the new Fender.

I should say that I’m not a fan of imported guitars and I don’t usually buy low end stuff. The reason I have never bought an original or reissue Bass VI is because I wouldn’t use it enough to justify the high price tag. I worked in a store in the 90s that had a Japanese reissue and it was really nice, I just never came across one for a price that would make me buy it.

When I opened the box I was pretty surprised at how nice the Bass VI actually looks. The finish is poly and I ordered the candy apple red because I love the look of the matching headstock on these kind of instruments. I can’t believe they’re not tacking some more money on for this color due to that. The finish is very nice and has some slight sparkle in it as you look close.

The neck has a gloss finish and the wood seems a lot more stable then what was on the Schecter. It looks to be about the same grade as what I have seen on American Standard guitars. The profile is nice, kind of a C shape but a little flatter, which works well for this. The frets are very large, and I’m normally not a fan of this but the bass is comfortable to play, there are no dead spots and the action out of the box looks a little high, but it’s pretty painless to play.

I was a little put off that they put the Jazzmaster pickup in the bridge. My original plan was to replace the pickups with three Texas Specials and get a new pickguard cut with a Jaguar three switch plate where the 5 way switch it and use a Jazz Bass control plate where the knobs are.

After playing the bass for a couple days I have decided it sounds great and I’m going to leave it as it is. The one thing that will probably need to be changed eventually is the 5 way switch, as it feels kind of cheap but I can wait on that.

The tremolo works great and it actually produces a useful effect and stays in tune. The bridge is the only thing that looks cheap. It should hold up but I’ll probably get a different one at some point. The metal in the plate doesn’t look so hot.

The gig bag that came with this is very nice and better quality then other Fender bags I have owned.

All in all this is a very nice instrument for the money. The CS and Japanese ones are nicer, no doubt, but for something I’m only going to be using once in a while it’s a killer instrument for a really fair price.

If you’re looking for a cool instrument to flesh out tracks, a bass for a guitar player or just something fun to mess around with give this a look.

Here is a pic, I will post another one soon:

Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Boss SP-1 Spectrum Review

This is a review of the Boss SP-1 Spectrum. The SP-1 is a probably the rarest and most valuable of all the Boss pedals. It is also the one that has the least amount of information available on it. Hopefully, this review will help put some information out about this rare pedal.

I should also point out that my blog isn’t going to become an all Boss review site. Right now I’m going through a pedal phase and I have gotten a lot of questions about what some of these do.

The Spectrum was first introduced in November of 1977. It’s only got two controls (balance and spectrum) and it’s an extremely unique effect. It’s described as a one band parametric eq. While this is correct, I have never used a parametric eq pedal that sounds like a Spectrum does.

I did some research on the pedal before writing this entry and most of what I found online was that you could duplicate a Spectrum with a fixed wah setting. I got out three different wah pedals and tried to do this – and I couldn’t get the same vibe as the Spectrum, although the sounds were kind of in the same ballpark they didn’t deliver what the SP-1 brings to the table.

There are basically two uses for the pedal as far as guitar players are concerned. Some metal players use it with an overdrive to get an aggressive tone and funk/r&b players use it clean (or with chorus).

For examples of the metal players Michael Schenker seems to be the most commonly associated with the pedal. I hear what seems to be an SP-1 clean on a lot of Prince’s songs as well as a lot of pop and r&b songs of the late 70s – the present. A great example would be Brian May’s tone on Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust (starting at about 1:06 and more so as the song progresses). I read somewhere that Mark Knopfler also used the SP-1 on Brothers in Arms, but I don’t think this was the case.

If you’re playing a Strat you can use the neck pickup and it just cuts out all the bass and all the treble leaving you with an incredibly funky and focused sound that works amazingly well fitting into a mix and with quick strumming patterns.

It’s so clean and dynamic (and uncluttered) when playing your inverted triads that are such an important part of that style. For a long time I would practice that kind of stuff and it would sound great but just would lack focus or be a little bass heavy or sloppy. With the SG-1 it cleans everything up and your parts just drop into the pocket.

The other big advantage with an SP-1 is that you don’t have to find your wah’s sweet spot and you can kick it in and out as needed.

According to Boss, the Spectrum was more popular with bass players and keyboard players when it was released. Compared to guitar players these types of musicians tend to buy a lot less pedals, which probably explains why there are so few of these around.

In my entire life I have seen two of them. I found one in a practice space that a band of mine rented in the early 90s and I came across the one pictured at the end of this review at Guitar Center. I paid $125 for the one I am reviewing and with ebay auctions going $700+ for a Spectrum I had to buy it. To keep some good karma I gave the one I had found to a friend of mine.

The main reason I was able to get it so cheap is because of a weird function of very early Boss pedals. We’re all used to stepping on a pedal and having an LED light up when the effect is turned on and when you step on the pedal again the LED goes off and the effect is bypassed. With the very early Boss pedals the LED goes on when the pedal is stepped on but it won’t be on when the effect is on and when you step on it again it will blink again.

A lot of stores will think the effect is broken or that it has some sort of issue. The other day I saw a silver screw Boss CE-2 and it was advertised as having a LED on the fritz and it sold for $49.99. I wish I could have gotten that one!

I guess the big question with the Boss Spectrum would be is it worth $700 for the average player. I would have to say no based on what it does. While it is super cool the fixed wah can be used for a similar effect and will save you a ton of money.

However, if you’re into collecting pedals or if you’re doing sessions or a tour that require a lot of funk or r&b thrown in the middle of songs I would say it absolutely will pay for itself with the speed you’re able to nail those tones.

If you have any additional information on the Boss SP-1 please send me an email.

Click Here for My Boss SP-1 Spectrum Demo

Boss Spectrum SP-1

Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | 2 Comments

Boss SG-1 Slow Gear Review

This is a review of the Boss SG-1 Slow Gear. The SG-1 is a pretty rare pedal. Some folks may think it’s a silly effect, but in my opinion it’s one of the most overlooked pedals in the Boss line.

The SG-1 is a really unique pedal. I always kind of wondered why they bothered to make it, as there really wasn’t a market for it and most of the people I talk to usually know it’s expensive but don’t really understand what it does. A lot of the time it gets dismissed because people will try one out and not want to pay three figures for one. I have found that after you spend a lot of time with it you can really come to love it.

The Boss Slow Gear was introduced in 1979 and they stopped making them in late ’81 or early ’82. They were all made in Japan and it’s probably one of the rarest Boss pedals. It’s pretty plain looking and there are only two knobs.

The story that I have heard is that the engineers at Boss spent so much time and money developing the NG-1 (Noise Gate) that the higher ups told them to find a way to make another effect to offset the R&D costs, and that the result of that was the Slow Gear.

What the Slow Gear does is actually work as a gate. If you’re someone who is articulate with your pick/finger attack the SG-1 can give you all kinds of cool sounds that you could never get with a regular gate or with a volume knob/pedal.

I have found that combined with a nice bias vibrato you can really get some amazing textural sounds that work well to fill out a track, enhance soundtracks or that make your regular playing much more dramatic. I really like the effect with a single coil style pickup, although it sounds good with humbuckers as well.

If you’re a hard hitter the Slow Gear is not the pedal for you. Since the effect filters out the attack of your note and creates a swell it works best for players that have a very light touch. I kind of like to ‘play the gate’ for lack of a better expression. I find that by playing very, very soft I can sneak things through the front of the gate and then get them to hide in the background behind a swelled passage.

It’s a very ethereal sound and is just flat out fun to use. In addition to using the effect on guitar I have had a lot of success using it on lap steel and on synth tracks.

I would like to say that I bought a Boss Slow Gear knowing exactly how I would use it. The truth is I wanted a Boss pedal (any Boss pedal) back when I was a kid but I was on a DOD budget.

I found the Slow Gear in the bargain bin at a local music store (Ross Music on Mineral Spring Ave in North Providence, RI – where it must have been sitting unsold for at least seven years (maybe more). I think I paid $25 or $30 for it and I remember being secretly disappointed when I took it home and plugged it in. I remember thinking it was either going to reverse everything or slow everything down (like playing a 45 @ 33). It did neither.

A few years later I was listening to Robbie Robertson’s self titled solo album and I really liked the way a lot of the guitars sounded. It’s a Danial Lanois production and it just has that heavy, textural sound that I really always liked. A lot of the guitars come out of nowhere and just move in and out. I read an interview with Robbie where he mentioned he was using the Slow Gear on that record. That really made me go back and rediscover the pedal and it helped me figure out how to use the pedal and what it could do.

At the end of the day the Boss SG-1 Slow Gear is for three types of people:

1- People who want to make their pedal board look cool with an obscure, expensive pedal
2- People who want to do violin swells and are too lazy to use a volume knob/pedal
3- People who are into a cool pedal that will interact with your playing in a cool and interesting way.

I probably am a mix between all three of those types of people so needless to say I will be keeping my SG-1 for a few more years.

* I have been told Behringer makes copies of the SG-1 as well as the Dimension C (reviewed here earlier) and Spectrum (Boss SP-1). While I can not comment on the sound/accuracy/durability of these pedals they’re only about $20 each so you may want to check them out before dropping $300 or whatever one of these things go for on my liking it.

Here is my well worn Boss SG-1 Slow Gear:

Boss SG-1 Slow Gear

Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Squier Venus 12 String Review

This is a review for the Squier Venus 12 string guitar. The Venus XII is a very cool guitar that is often overlooked by the majority of guitar players.

Because of that it is a real bargain on the used market, and since I have been trying to review things that I feel would be useful to a working player as opposed to a collector or someone with a ton of money I thought it would be a cool fiddle to tell people about.

Like so many other things, I first came across this model when I was at Berklee. I remember when the Vista series came out in 1997. At the time I thought they should have been branded with the Fender logo (and today what isn’t – but that’s another rant) and I really liked them.

There were a few guitars in this series. The Venus came in a six and twelve string version and there was a model called the Super Sonic that came in a really cool blue sparkle. If I ever see one of those used I’m going to grab it.

If memory serves correct these were marketed as being designed for Courtney Love. They were made in Japan (and read Crafted in Japan which I think may be of interest to some Fender people) and only lasted a couple years. The Venus was available in sunburst, black and seafoam green (which IMHO is the coolest of the three).

Part of the reason they didn’t do so well is that they were not cheap. I remember them being pricey at the time but I found an old catalog from Daddy’s Junky Music and the six string sold for $699 and the twelve for $999. Seeing as how I found a GC flyer from around the same time that had a Rickenbacker for $1050 I can see why people were not eager to buy a Squier for $1000.

In a lot of cases a companies’ six and twelve offerings are the same guitar. This was not the case with the Venus. While the body shape was the same for both, the pickups, neck and body were different – as well as the headstock and the bridge, obviously. Both models had a basswood body, bound maple neck/rosewood board, 22 frets and a 25.5 scale.

What made the Venus XII so cool is that the bridge and pickup design were taken from Fender’s rare (and cool!) Electric XII. Surprisingly, the store I worked in in 1997 had a really nice Electric XII for $775, about $225 cheaper then the Venus!

The Electric XII is now a collectable guitar and has a cult-like following. Since building knockoffs is not that easy (due to the unique parts used) I believe many (of the few made) Venus XII string guitars have been cannibalized for parts. In fact, that was my plan when I first bought this one.

If you’re looking to build an Electric XII you need to find the parts. The pickups, pickguard, lever switch, string tree, and knobs can all be found, as there are reproductions available. Where it gets tricky is finding a bridge and control plate. Only three guitars have used this bridge (Electric XII, Japanese (older) Stratocaster XII and the Venus XII). Of the three, the Venus also gives you the correct pickups, string tree, and tuning pegs.

The big problem I’ll point out to anyone looking to buy a Venus and a Warmoth Jazzmaster body and Electric XII neck is that the neck will be too narrow to work with the bridge – which is why the Venus and Venus XII did not share bodies. To do it correctly, you need to make a new body and neck with the wider pocket and heel, which to my knowledge not many people do. You also need to find a control plate.

The action is very nice and comparable to any other Fender guitar. The bridge looks really cool and is a nice design. Each string has its own saddle, so you can intonate everything perfectly. The neck has a gloss finish and the binding is perfect. The shape is kind of skinny for my tastes, but since it’s a 12 string it is fine. The fretwork and body weight are nice and the shape is well balanced.

I really like the fact that the neck is made out of a high quality solid piece of maple. On all of the new Squier guitars (and a sad majority of Fender-branded guitars) the wood looks cheap and substandard. Some of the newer stuff looks cool from a distance but feels cheap and toy like up close. Not the case here, this neck is very solid.

I found this one on Ebay and paid about $400 for it. It needs some TLC as the end pin is falling out, there is some damage to the finish and it was missing some strings. I got a gig bag with it, but they did make a case for these and I’m looking for one (send me a message if you have one or see one).

When I got it I took it out of the box and tuned it up. Then I plugged it into my old ’56 Fender Deluxe and it sounded great! It didn’t sound great for the money (like my Danelectro Hodad 12 string) it sounded great as in up there with my Rickenbacker 12 string!

From what I have learned, the pickups for this were designed by Seymour Duncan (as labeled) but since there were no production pickups in the unusual size, they were all wound in the SD Custom Shop. I guess Fender was going to tool up to do them but never did, as the model was discontinued.

This doesn’t sound like a Rickenbacker, but instead it has a unique sound all its own. I certainly could see this as being an affordable alternative to a Ric (although I guarantee you’ll end up buying the Ric sooner or later) or as an electric 12 string that you can bring on the road and not worry so much about (more likely).

There are three pickup selections (bridge, both, neck) and two knobs for tone and volume. On the Electric XII there were series/parallel switching. It’s not on here but maybe you can add it and you probably don’t need it. All the positions are useful and what I think you’ll find is you will adjust the toggle based upon the mix’s eq.

All and all this is a really solid fiddle. I don’t think I’ll be able to bring myself to take it apart, as was my original plan. I would have no problem bringing this to a session or live show. I don’t like the Squier logo, but if this thing said Fender it would cost a lot more money so it’s fine with me – and that shouldn’t matter anyway (but it does to me haha).

The best advice I can give to someone looking for one of these is to wait it out. I saw a few for $800 – $1000 and they were sunburst. I checked a lot of places and eventually found one that only one other do0de bid on. These seem to either go for a lot or a little so be patient and wait it out if you can. Although if you pay $800 for one you’re still getting a great guitar based on the available 12 string electrics – especially for one made in Japan.

I never buy a guitar for this reason but I honestly think this is the type of thing that could skyrocket in a few years if someone famous uses one – they’re rare and they sound great so I believe it’s possible.

Here is a picture of mine:

Squier Venus XII

Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Boss DC-2 Dimension C Review

This is a review of the Boss DC-2 Dimension C. The DC-2 is a very unique pedal, while it is often described as an analog chorus pedal with 4 fixed settings I have found that may be true, but the pedal is extremely cool and unique.

I can still remember the first time I actually saw a Boss DC-2. I would guess that it was probably 1987 or 88 at the old (now reopened!) Luca Music in North Providence, RI. I remember it because it looked so different with the switches and I also remember thinking, “What the **** is a Dimension C?”

I don’t think I tried it, and if I did I don’t remember. I do recall reading all about it in one of those little Boss pocket guides they gave away back then (if anyone has those and doesn’t want them send me a PM!). I can say it left an impression.

I have some of the more rare Boss pedals. I have a CE-1 that I paid market value for about 8 years ago. I have a Slow Gear that I bought from the bargain bin (at Luca!) and I have a Spectrum that someone left in an old practice space years ago.

I really like Boss pedals. If you don’t have the Boss Book and were a guitar player in the 80s or 90s pick it up. It’s a fun read and it’s a good reference – and it’s cheap. The ISBN is 9780634044809 and you can get it from or anywhere else.

I have semi-collected the 80s DOD pedals for years just because I like them and they’re cheap. The older Boss stuff can be pricey, but they really did make some super unique pedals back in the day. The DC-2 is one of them.

On the surface, this looks like a pretty boring pedal. When you see a CE-1 it’s cool because it’s big and has a bunch of switches and knobs. When you see some of the new boutique pedals they have kooky names and crazy paint jobs. We live in the time of tone chasers and a pedal with no knobs is not that exciting, or is it?

Had this pedal been made by anyone else (DOD, Yamaha, Arion, Rocktek, etc…) it probably wouldn’t be collectable. The fact that Boss made it and it’s so weird looking make it valuable despite the sound. Although there are only four buttons, the fact that it’s the only Boss pedal with only four buttons makes it cool and interesting. I know that is stupid, but guitar buyers are pretty stupid – and I include myself in that group.

I found this one online at a place called Music Go Round. I have never been to one of their stores, but from what I understand it’s a chain of franchised used gear stores. If you own one of these and happen to be reading this I have to say you would sell a lot more stuff if you checked the shipping prices online. They sometimes will want $25 to ship a $30 pedal. Anyway, lucky for me this one had $15 shipping and was tagged at $115, which at $130 is roughly half of what eBay sells this pedal for. For that price I was willing to give it a try.

I figured if it didn’t sound good it would still make my pedal board look cool when I posted it in online forums, and at the end of the day that is what really matters.

The pedal came late in the day via USPS. I didn’t really have a ton of time to mess with it, so I plugged it into my ’56 Fender Deluxe and plugged a ’61 Strat that I really like into the DC-2. For those folks who care about teh details I used Mogami cable and a Sanyo power supply. I couldn’t find a regular Fender pick so I used an orange one that felt like talcum powder. I never use those and have no idea how it got into my house.

The first thing I did was make sure none of the buttons were pressed down and played through it. It sounded like a light chorus. The next thing I did was jam all four buttons in at once hoping it would freak out or that it would give me the biggest wall of chorus I had ever heard and maybe transport me back to October 25th, 1985. Nothing changed and I was a little let down.

There are a couple reasons I did the thing with the buttons. The first is in case I broke it I could send it back (kidding!) the second is because on the Roland Dimension D rack mount unit this does some cool stuff. I always thought maybe the pedal was related. Maybe it is, but that trick doesn’t work.

Next I went through the presets and it was ok. It didn’t blow me away or anything. I was a little let down. I fiddled with the map for a minute and tried it again. This time it sounded like I thought it would. Maybe the circuit needed to warm up or something, I don’t know.

The big thing that the DC-1 does is nail the 80s tones. There are some sounds that I have tried to get but have not quite been able to nail. When we discuss 80s guitar sounds usually people say get a JC-120 and a Steinberger. That’s kind of true but I never have been able to nail the chorus sounds I like.

A good would be the guitar sound in Cyndi Lauper’s classic track ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. I love that track and the chorus sound is awesome. It’s clear and shimmering but it’s not overbearing or thick – yet you know there is a chorus on there.

I had to play that song live with someone at an awards show a couple years back. I was kind of excited about it. I used a 25th Anniversary Stratocaster (that I borrowed), a Boss CE-1 and a Marshall JMP (maybe it was an 800). It sounded cool but was way off. A few people told me the JC-120 would have done it, but I tried that at home and it didn’t do it. Plugging into the Dimension C nailed that tone – through a Deluxe! I sat around for about 45 minutes playing 80s covers and funk riffs before checking out the other sounds.

The sounds are all a little different. The last one has some vibrato, but it’s subtle. Basically, this thing sounds like the 80s and you get more or less of it. It almost gives a DX-7 quality to your guitar if that makes sense. While this may make it sound like a dated pedal it’s really not. It does those really cool quick shimmers (like 00:37 in the aforementioned GJWtHF) that no other chorus (not even the Universal Dimension D) can touch.

Part of the reason I lam loving this thing is that it’s warm like an analog chorus but it’s thin like a digital chorus. I did some research on the pedal and part of the reason there are no knobs is that they had to use two boards stacked on top of each other to make this fit into a stomp box and pots wouldn’t fit. You have to remember, this came out in 1985. Alesis came out with the XT in ’85, which was the first affordable digital reverb unit and it was $1000 so it wasn’t like today.

All in all after owning the DC-2 for a few days I can say it’s a must have for anyone who likes chorus pedals. I own/have owned a lot of different chorus pedals and while some sound really good the Boss DC-2 Dimension C is so different and yet so familiar that it is a must own. I almost didn’t pull the trigger on this one because I’m not a huge chorus person. In the lighter setting it is perfect for thickening up your sound a little bit without it sounding like a chorus. On the other sounds the memories are there and it’s just a really iconic sound that nothing else (except maybe a Dimension D – which does sound different) will give you.

A piece of history!

Boss DC-2 Dimension C

Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Fender Cyber Twin Review

The Fender Cyber Twin is a really great sounding map that you don’t hear much about these days. I am (and will always be) a diehard tube amp person, but there are certain solid-state models that really are worth owning. This is one of them.

Back in maybe 1998, when I was finishing up at Berklee, I had a job teaching in a music store one day a week. This was before Guitar Center had put everyone out of business (actually, it was right about when they were putting everyone out of business…) and so the store I worked at still got some cool new stuff in on a fairly regular basis.

I quit that teaching job in early 1999, as my playing career was starting to take off enough that I couldn’t commit to teach every weekend, but I would stop by and see the people I had worked with whenever I was back in the area. I remember a few of the other people who taught there raving about the Cyber Twin, plugging it in and thinking it was hard to use and didn’t sound very good. At the time, I was buying every old map I could find, so the Cyber Twin didn’t interest me because I had been collecting old stuff for about 7 or 8 years (my first amp was a ’67 Vibrolux someone gave me and I still have) and I thought it was too expensive.

Right around that time I scored one of my first pop gigs and by chance ended up getting a Line 6 AX212 (I think) and a POD. I ended up using the AX212 for about 6 months and really thought it sounded good – even if it didn’t sound like tubes and I still maintain that the POD is up there with the ADAT and the (Opcode) Vision DAW as one of the most important products for the home studio revolution.

But anyway, I never really gave the Cyber Twin much of a chance. After a few months the AX212 went into the closet, I used the POD with headphones at night and I went back to my old stuff.

Fast-forward about twelve years and I’m in a small project studio in NYC working on some jingles. I couldn’t bring any amplification to the session because, well it’s NYC with no cartage in the budget so I grab my MacBook Pro and figure I’ll Guitar Rig it. When I get to the studio the guy running the session has the Cyber Twin all ready to go. He was insistent that I give it a try and I did, and it sounded really good. So good, in fact, that I now own one.

Now here comes my disclaimer. I am in no way claiming that this will replace a room full of well maintained vintage maps or that it will make you sell your Dumble. If you have all that cool stuff keep it (or better yet send me a PM with your best price!) and be happy. On the other hand, if you’re moving around a lot or if you’re a do0de that owns a small/home studio and doesn’t have a huge budget for maps this thing is a godsend.

I own/have owned a bunch of modeling stuff. From the aforementioned Line 6 AX212/POD to Eleven, AxeFX and Guitar Rig. I even had one of those Sansamp jobs with the switches back in the day. Some of them I have really liked (AX212) some of them have been cool but had way too many features that despite paying for I would never use (AxeFX) and some of them sucked. The Cyber Twin strikes a good balance of sounding cool, being really cheap and doing a lot of things fairly well. If you have the budget grab AxeFX or Eleven and stop reading. If not, or if you’re intrigued, read on.

The Cyber Twin was not designed to be a cheap product. In fact, when it was launched I believe street price was about $1200. The construction quality is there on these – and when you’re dealing with a legacy piece of electronics that matters. The thing that I really like about the CT is that it’s not a modeling amp, it’s more of a configurable piece with a tube preamp and a solid-state power amp. A company like L6 gives you a snapshot of what a particular map sounds like and lets you alter that with controls where as the CT reconfigures itself to arrange the components (tone stack, speakers, etc…) the same way as what it’s modeling.

The other cool thing is you can program how the speakers move, you can reverse phase and you can get awesome stereo chorus and delay effects. It’s 135 watts IIRC but you don’t have to crank it to get great sounds.

I really have had a lot of fun playing with it because it has given me a much better understanding of what things do and what reversing the order of a couple things can do.

The price on these things seem to be all over the amp. They also seem to rise and fall weekly. I was expecting to pay $350 for one. I ended up getting mine for $329.99 with the little four-button foot switch, the large foot controller, and bag for the controller and the removable casters. I watched them come and go for a couple months before buying.

My advice would be to get one with the large foot controller. They seem to be about $150 – $200 (if you can find one), but I have seen a lot of the maps for sale with them for about the standard $350ish price.

The standard sounds are pretty good and it’s kind of hard to go through everything. Many of the presets are way too high gain or crazy for my tastes. I was a bit overwhelmed but then I somehow found the ‘Amp Collection’ presets.

The Amp Collection are about 30 presets based on real maps. From the tweed Champ to a Twin Reverb, Bandmaster, Showman, VibroKing and some non-FMIC named patches like ‘Liverpool 30′ and ‘British Stack’. There is also a Boogie patch, but I forget what it’s called – something that is a play on ‘Rectifier’.

What I did once I found these was to tweak them, rename them and save them. Now, on the footswitch I can call up an AC-30 clean/dirty, a 59 Bassman cranked/with echo, a clean Twin, etc….

In addition, you can add effects and some of them are pretty darn good! The chorus is fantastic, the Vibratone (Fender’s Leslie) is probably the best effect in the CT and the tape echo (‘reel to reel’), amp tremolo and delays are all very usable. Again, this isn’t going to make you sell your Lexicon or TC unit, but seeing as how it’s easy to use and cheap you can get some very usable sounds out of this thing.

At the end of the day, the Cyber Twin gets my vote for best sounding, most versatile map for under $400.00. When you consider this has a great pair of Celestion speakers in it and will get you 85% of the way there (and has a SPIDF out that I suggest running into GR’s cab emulations) you can really add a lot of texture to recordings quicker then you can setup an amp sim.

I did a lot of searching on this amplifier online before I actually pulled the trigger and a lot of people have a lot of good things to say about it. IMHO Fender was really onto something when you figure the people that use these (Look on YouTube for clips of Steve Winwood @ Crossroads and Buddy Guy allegedly uses them as well). When you consider the level of gear snobbery online it’s pretty amazing that 10+ years after its introduction people still speak highly of the Cyber Twin!

There are also Cyber Champ and Deluxe models but for some reason I think they’re stripped down, not just low powered. If anyone can clarify this let me know.

As a footnote I wanted to add that this is a light amplifier. It’s nowhere near as heavy as the ‘Twin’ moniker suggests. It’s lighter then my old Vibrolux and heavier then my old tweed Deluxe. Very gig friendly!

Oh, and one last thing, the knobs move by themselves when you change patches. Looks cool and you know where you stand while you’re tweaking!

There is a fantastic DVD on YouTube that came with the Cyber Twin when it was new. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Fender Cyber Twin Video on YouTube

Fender Cyber Twin

Posted in Guitar, Map and Effect Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 139 Comments