Nash S-68HX Strat Review

Today’s guitar review will be on the Nash S-68 HX that I recently acquired and I’ve had now for about a month. As a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix, it is only natural to want to play an upside down stratocaster for not only added mojo, but a unique sound due to the reverse headstock and pickups. I already own a lefty Fender MIJ ’68 reissue (read the review of that here) which I flipped upside down to play righty. So now I can definitely compare the two guitars which have very different price points; the Fender MIJ costing $600 used, and the Nash S-68HX at $2000 new.

Nash S68 HX Review

First a note about the purchase of the Nash. I bought it from Prymaxe Vintage and found that their customer service was quite bad. I received the guitar without a whammy bar which it is supposed to come with. When I brought this up to Prymaxe, they basically said they didn’t have one for me, nor did they offer to get me one. I then emailed Nash directly and got a response right away from Bill Nash himself who sent me a whammy bar the same day. Now that is service. Thanks Bill! Now lets get to back to the review.

Fit and Finish

I must say, I was very impressed. A big reason I got the Nash over a Fender is because of the thin nitrocellulose finish. In my opinion, this allows the guitar to breathe and has more resonance and sustain, unlike many thick poly finishes found on Fender guitars. I also liked the look of the relic, which I’m not usually big on, but this one was a light relic and done tastefully. The neck feels really great as well and the back of it has the finish completely taken off. This results in a smoothness that makes it easy to go up and down the neck very quickly without any sticking. While the guitar has a slight bit of buzz, which is to be expected when getting a guitar shipped, the rest was flawless. Action nice and low, intonation spot on, lots of sustain, and all the good things you expect from guitar at this price point. I’ve played some custom shop Fenders and IMO the Nash is right up there with them. The only complaint I have is that using the whammy results in the strings going out of tune. In doing some research and speaking with another Nash owner, this is due to the tusk nut which I will promptly be changing to bone as soon as I can. All in all, the Nash in fit and finish is miles ahead of my MIJ strat.

Nash S68 HX and Fender MIJ 68 strat
The Nash S68 HX next to my Fender MIJ ’68 reissue strat.. The Hendrix guitars! White one used at Woodstock and the black used at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Sound

Now for one for biggest factors… how does she sound? Very very sweet and beautiful. There is quite a lot of low end likely due to the strat being upside down, which is welcome since many strats can be thin sounding. In my opinion, sound is due to a few factors.. 1) how well it is in tune and intonated 2) the quality of wood, how its put together and finished, and 3) of course the pickups. So the wood quality, its build and the intonation are all incredible and meet my expectations. The pickups are excellent. They are Lollers and are the dirty blonde set. To my ear, they have a late ’50s/early ’60s sound which is what this set is going after. I was hoping the Nash would have a ’68 spec set of single coils to go in. Though not a big deal, I currently have Slider ’68 pickups in the MIJ strat which I plan on putting in the Nash. I also noticed that the tone controls are wired for the neck and bridge pickups, whereas most strats have the tone controls for the neck and middle pickup. I do enjoy this feature, though it it not true to a vintage spec strat. When it comes to the reverse headstock, the sound is definitely altered a bit. It still sounds like a strat, but a very unique one which has a more of a Jimi Hendrix kind of sound.

Conclusion

I am very happy with my Nash S-68 HX strat. It plays beautifully, always sounds good and just feels like a very quality instrument, unlike my Fender MIJ strat. If you are planning on buying a Fender Custom Shop, I would highly recommend to consider a Nash as they will not only save you some coin, but also give the custom shops a run for their money!

Gibson Elliot Easton “Tikibird” Firebird Review

This is a guest post by Stephen Rose

Gibson Elliot Easton “Tikibird” Firebird ReviewThe Gibson Firebird is an iconic guitar from a legendary manufacturer. First introduced in the 1960s, the Firebird’s shape and sleek lines were created by an automotive designer who Gibson hired to add to the already unique shapes like, the Flying V and the Explorer. Players such as Warren Haynes and Stephen Stills have been known to use a Firebird, but no one is more associated with the Firebird than Johnny Winter. Given the guitar’s rich history, I was excited for the opportunity to review the Gibson Elliot Easton “Tikibird” Firebird. I was also looking forward to playing a Firebird because it is one of the few guitars that I have not played before.

When I took the guitar out of the case, I knew I had made the right decision. The paint job is not one that I have seen on another guitar, and that alone is enough to make it stand out. The color, Gold Mist Poly, is really striking and stands out because it is a color not seen on any other guitar and I hope Gibson considers adding it to other models. Prior to getting this Firebird, my favorite color that Gibson offered was Pelham Blue, now I can add Gold Mist Poly to that list. Aside from this impressive color, the Firebird has some features that are specific to this instrument like: a Bigsby vibrato, ’57 Classic Humbuckers, Steinberger gearless tuners, and four tonal switches placed below the bridge humbucker.

All of these features work well with this guitar and instantly make it a go to instrument for the player who only has room for one guitar. The Bigsby works well with this guitar and there is also a Vibramate Spoiler string loader, which helps when changing strings. Anyone who has used a Bigsby and fuddled around with getting the ball end of the string to stay on the little peg knows what I mean. I like that this guitar comes with 2 Classic ’57 humbuckers instead of the mini humbuckers. Most of the Firebird models that Gibson offers come with the mini humbuckers, but I prefer the regular ’57 Classics. These pickups work well with this guitar and with the tone woods selected for this instrument.

Gibson Elliot Easton “Tikibird” FirebirdOne of the main highlights of this guitar are the four tonal switches. The first switch splits the coil of the neck pickup when in the neck position; the second splits the coil for the bridge pickup when in that position; the third switch engages the pickups to be reverse wound and in reverse polarity of each other when in the middle position; and the fourth, when engaged, routes the bridge pickup straight to the output jack. This is helpful when you need to switch to the bridge pickup and not worry about getting to the selector switch.

Looking at pictures of the Firebird prior to ordering, I was concerned with the switch placement, however the location of the switches does not interfere with strumming or playing. Another feature common to Firebirds, but new to me, was the Steinberger gearless tuners. I really liked these and they keep the guitar in tune very well, even when liberally using the Bigsby. For this demo I used my Mesa Boogie Mark V combo without any pedals. This guitar excelled in every different setting I tried on the amp, from a clean bright setting to an extreme crunch/distorted one.

Gibson offers a number of signature guitars with a wide range of features and appointments. Some are very artist specific, like Zakk Wylde’s famous Bullseye or Buzzsaw Les Pauls, while others are slightly less ostentatious like this model. Aside from a small Elliot Easton signature on the back of the headstock and the Tiki graphic on the pickguard there is nothing artist or band specific. I look for versatility and reliability when purchasing a guitar, and this Firebird fits those requirements and then some. For those with similar standards, you will not be disappointed with its features, playability, or tonal varieties. The Gibson Elliot Easton “Tikibird” Firebird is a limited edition guitar, so try and check one out while they’re still in production.

Check prices for the Gibson Elliot Easton “Tikibird” on Musician’s Friend

AnalogMan KING of TONE v4 Review

analogman king of tone reviewThis is a guest post by Sean Murray

I have been playing guitar since the early/mid 80’s and like you, I have had my fair share of pedals/effects, bells and whistles etc etc. None match the flexibility, power, reliability and versatility of AnalogMan’s KING of TONE v4. Please allow me to explain what I mean, and perhaps you’ll find yourself reaching out to get your own like I have.

FLEXIBILITY: This pedal is essentially two pedals in one. It features two channels, each with its own drive, volume and tone control. Each channel has three different modes, described in the power section below. The modes are set up by a 4 position DIP switch located inside the pedal, allowing the musician to play anything from the bright clean tones of funk, to the grittiness of bar room rock and roll, or the distortion needed for heavy rock. In short, this provides freedom to alter sound/tone – literally right at their feet.

POWER: When using the “normal overdrive mode (OD mode),” you will find all the tone in the world with slightly less drive than a tube screamer. “Clean mode” packs an awesome punch, and for me, fills in a nice thick rich sound you would look for when playing lead. Analog Man will tell you this channel can be twice as loud as your OD channel, but I think it can be louder. “Distortion mode” will push more drive than OD. The sound may be slightly more compressed, but will be louder than your typical tube screamer.

RELIABILITY: I’ve owned the King of Tone version 4 for approximately 3 years. Since then, I have played endless amounts of shows, been in and out of studios, and have loaned it out multiple times. Not once has there been an issue with the reliability. This pedal is extremely durable and well built. It is not a product in mass production and snapped together in haste. The folks over at Analog Man are dedicated to top quality and care into every aspect of building a high performance pedal.

analogman-king-of-tone-v4-controls

VERSITILITY: These specifics lie within the KING of TONE v4 only.

  • The mode toggle switch is a three position toggle switch that sits on top of the pedal and allows you to go between OD/Clean/Distortion
  • Four Jack Option
  • High Gain Option

As you can see between the amount of room allowed on the volume/drive and tone knobs, the DIP switch settings and the above mentioned options – there is NO other conclusion that this pedal is one of the most versatile pedal in the world.

Each pedal made comes with an easy set of instructions to guide you into the sound/tone you are seeking

Honestly, I cannot say enough about how much I have gotten out of this gem of a pedal. As a musician, you will always look for new ways to stay inspired. This will help keep that insatiable urge at bay while you are learning and enjoying what the KING of TONE v4 offers.

 

Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar Review

taylor gs mini reviewThis is a guest post by Freddy Charles

The logic behind a travel guitar has always peaked my interest, mainly because I’ve traveled to nearly 80 countries thus far, and have spent chunks of my life on the road.  When inspiration strikes, having the proper tools on hand can go a long way for us creatives.  While the idea of a carry-on guitar is good in theory, the products available over the years have really fallen short.  The Martin backpacker for instance, quite compact in its design, but barely an acceptable instrument to practice or really play on.  Other companies have made some attempts in this space as well, but in my opinion they all miss the marker.

Taylor introduced the GS Mini a few years back, taking the shortcomings of their “Baby” model and turning them into a “real” guitar.  The Mini is the answer for the guitarist who travels extensively, and needs to keep his chops sharp.  While it is a tad bigger than your typical travel guitar, once you get a feel for it, you’ll understand why this instrument is worth every penny.

Technically speaking the GS Mini is a 23 1/2″scale guitar.  The body is comprised of a solid Sitka Spruce top, with laminate Sapele back and sides.  The guitar has 20 frets with an overall length of just over 36 inches.  It’s a well made instrument, and seems to have been designed to take a good beating.

The Taylor GS Mini in my opinion is a functional acoustic guitar that can be used in a performance or rehearsal setting.  I think it would be unfair to call this a practice instrument.  The sound from this smaller scale guitar will shock you.  The low end is what initially captured my attention, and its big fat tone resonates like a guitar twice the price and size.  The mid range sounds are perfect, as are the highs; crisp and tight.  Playability on the guitar is quick, smooth and accurate- very similar to higher end Taylor guitars.  As with most Taylors, Elixir Nanoweb strings are standard, and medium gauged are recommended to achieve the bigger sound.  The guitar doesn’t need much breaking in; Taylor does an excellent job of setting the action just right, out of the box.  I found the guitar extremely comfortable from the gate.  Even though the body is smaller, it feels secure while your seated, or even when you stand and attach a strap.

The GS Mini also comes in a few different configurations.  You can opt for a Mini with or without electronics, and choose between the spruce or mahogany tops.  For me, the spruce suits my needs better than the mahogany.  It’s much brighter as you would expect, but I also feel that with a guitar this size, you’re better off opting for the wood that gives you better projection.  In this case the spruce top wins.  Volume-wise, it’s loud enough to compete with full-sized guitars.

Lastly, the Taylor GS Mini comes with a convenient soft travel case that can be worn as a backpack, or carried in traditional fashion.  It’s also thoroughly paded, you need not worry about dropping the guitar or banging it while in its case.  For a retail price of $499, the GS offers everything you’ll need to rehearse, travel and perform in any musical setting.

Check prices for the Taylor GS Mini on Musician’s Friend

PRS 305 Guitar Review

PRS 305 guitar reviewThis is a guest post by Freddy Charles

For nearly 18 years I played Fender Stratocasters exclusively.  Obsessed with that signature bell-like Strat sound, I never really had any desire to change it up.  A few years back though, while recording my third album, I was looking for a guitar with humbuckers that could deliver that chunky dirty rhythm sound.  I assumed a Les Paul was the answer, but the guitar wasn’t a comfortable fit for me.  Enter PRS!  A friend loaned me a custom 24 to finish tracking, and I wound up being pleased with the results.  It was my first encounter with the instrument and it left a mark.  I went back to playing and recording with Strats until just recently.

The guitar I’m using now is a PRS 305, which is based on the 513 model, yet slightly modified.  The body, unlike other PRS guitars is carved alder with a maple neck.  It’s a single coil PRS with the same configuration as my trusty Fender, but with a completely unique sound.  I’d been searching for a guitar that could deliver those clean Fender tones, and have the versatility to offer thick rich sounds as well. The PRS 305 knocked me off my feet!  While the guitar is stocked with Paul’s signature single coil pickups, this is no Strat, and sounds like no other single coil guitar I’ve heard.  The pickups have a bite to them, and are ultra responsive to the pressure of the pick.  The tone is generally fatter than other singe coil guitars in all of the settings as well.  PRS keeps things simple by utilizing just one tone knob, and I for one really enjoy the simplicity. Out of the box the guitar is set-up with low action and equipped with PRS 0.10 gauge strings.

To experience the tonal possibilities of the 305, lets begin with the neck pickup.  When selected, you’ll be able to emulate some of those super clean signature coil sounds, but the attack and resonance are far superior.  You’ll get a more rich sounding tone, with more mid-range than a Strat.  The same goes when you split the neck and middle pickup- you get that fat Texas sound- perfect for any blues scenario, but with more pop and power.  The low end, unlike other single coil guitars is tremendous, and confirms why this is such a fantastic instrument.  You need not worry about those thin-sounding chords when the gain is cranked up either.  The bottom end delivers humbucking power, quite impressive for this type of pickup configuration.  As you continue to toggle the pick-up selector, flip it to the middle coils and crank up the overdrive.   The guitar growls-giving way to any hard rock music you may be playing.  In my opinion, the middle pickup  functions and sounds more like a humbucker rather than a single coil.  This setting is great for smooth leads or heavy riffing, and even when played clean has endless sustain and punchiness.

The final two settings, middle/bridge and bridge can also pull in those familiar single coil twangy sounds, but again different than what you would expect.  The overall warmth of the guitar is astounding even as you use the settings closer to the bridge.   These setting work well for funky chord phrases or chicken-picking licks.

As far as playability goes, it’s hard to beat a PRS.  The 305 has a slightly thicker neck than the Custom 22’s and 24’s, but it’s an easy transition for a Fender or Gibson player.  The maple fretboard is smooth and fast, you won’t have any issues running up and down the neck.  The body is the traditional beautifully carved PRS shape allowing for high register playing and chording with incredible ease.  It’ an extremely adaptable guitar as well- it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for you to get comfortable playing it for the first time.

If I had to sum it up in one word-versatile.  The ability to channel all of those tonal nuances makes the 305 a rare find.  I can’t think of any musical setting that the PRS 305 couldn’t handle.

How to Sound Like Duane Allman

Duane allman guitar toneThis is a guest post by Colin Wymore

If you scour through any comprehensive list of ‘greatest guitar players’, you will almost always find Duane Allman lingering in the top 10, and with good reason. In his short career, Duane became the go to session player at Muscle Shoals, electrified Derek and the Dominos’ Layla record, and started his own psychedelic blues band with his brother Greg that would captivate the U.S. rock scene in the early 1970’s. Considering he accomplished all this in about 5 years’ time is a testament to Duane’s prowess and it’s no wonder why guitarists everywhere are still trying to capture his sound. So with the spirit of Brother Duane in mind here is a breakdown of how to attain one of the most legendary guitar tones.

Guitars

While Duane Allman is often associated with a ‘57 Les Paul Goldtop, his guitar repertoire was incredibly varied. In his early days and for quite a bit of his session work Duane bounced between Fender Stratocasters, Gibson ES335’s and a Gibson ES355 owned by his brother. In fact, its suspect that Duane actually used an ES345 when recording the first Allman Brothers album so you may want to take that into account when replicating his tone.

Nevertheless, the main sound we hear when we think of Skydog comes from Gibson Les Pauls. Duane started playing a ‘57 Les Paul Goldtop in late 1969 and by early 1970 Duane acquired a second ‘57 Goldtop (he traded the first to co-guitarist of the Allman Brothers Band Dickey Betts for a Gibson SG which he occasionally used live). This second Goldtop would become legendary. He used it during a number of early concerts, the Allman Brothers second album Idelwild South and of course Derek and the Dominos’ Layla. Interestingly, he ended up trading the famous Goldtop for a ‘59 Cherryburst Les Paul that would come to be equally important. This burst is what is heard when listening to the Allman brother seminal Live at the Fillmore East record. Finally, as if that wasn’t confusing enough, Duane acquired another Les Paul (this one a ‘59 tobacco burst he referred to as “Hot’Lanta”) that he used later on the Eat a Peach recordings.

If there’s anything to take from this it’s that to get a guitar tone on par with Duane’s your going to need a Les Paul. Fortunately for your wallet it doesn’t have to be a ‘57 Goldtop or the recently released Duane Allman signature series from Gibson. However, you should definitely seek out a vintage style Les Paul. Gibson has a number of Traditional and Standard VOS guitars (vintage original specification) that are ideal. At the very least use some type of Gibson or Epiphone with humbucking pickups. The bulk of Duane’s incendiary tone comes from humbuckers that offer a thick tone and low noise.

Note: While Duane played a number of Les Pauls one thing remained fairly constant: his pickups. Duane liked the PAF humbucker pickups in his famous ‘57 Goldtop so much he swapped them out and put them into the ‘59 Cherryburst. So if purchasing a vintage Les Paul isn’t an option (and it isn’t for many of us) you may want to consider simply purchasing some vintage style humbuckers and incorporate them into your current setup.

Amplifiers

Duane allman rigIn terms of amplification Duane had two setups, one for playing live and one for recording. When playing live he used two 50-Watt Marshall Bass heads (model 1986) along with Marshall 4×12 cabs. In addition, his cabs were half-open-backed and sported JBL-D120 speakers (although it’s possible he switched out the speakers for Cerwin Vegas or even mixed them). This combination produced a pretty tremendous tone for the time. The 50-Watt Marshalls broke up early and allowed for more distortion than larger amplifiers. That in conjunction with open back cabs let his sound bleed and fill the stage more than closed backed cabs that just shoot sound in one direction. In the studio Duane most often used a blackface Fender Twin Reverb with the Allman Brothers and used a Fender Champ for Layla.

For the contemporary player trying to replicate Duane’s tone there’s a number of directions that one could take in terms of amps. The essential idea is you should look for an amp that can break up to significant distortion levels relative to the room you’re playing in. Smaller rooms mean smaller amp. Obviously you could be authentic as possible and run through dual 50-Watt Marshall Bass or Lead heads. However, since most of us won’t be playing the Fillmore anytime soon some type of Fender provides the best option. Fenders like the Tweed Deluxe or Tweed Twin have the capability of breaking up into Marshall territory at lower volumes. Similarly, a blackface Fender Twin with an overdrive pedal (e.g. Fulltone OCD or TC Electronic Mojo Mojo) would serve nicely. For the price conscious player a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is a very versatile amp. It has 2 overdrive channels that can get a pretty thick tone like Duane’s.

Effects

Duane was a pretty straightforward player. It’s thought he may have used some fuzzboxes in his early days when he was playing Stratocasters but by his time in the Allman Brothers it was just guitar and amp: Les Paul + Marshall = Tone. Can’t argue with that equation. Duane Allman technique and playing styleWhen he was using fuzzboxes he liked to run them on worn out 9v batteries, presumably to make the effect less harsh.

Technique

The final step in getting any legendary guitar tone lies in how that individual approached the guitar in terms of technique. Van Halen had his tapping, Hendrix his dive-bombs, and similarly Duane had his own unique approach. For one, Duane regularly switched between standard tuning and slide guitar in which he used open e tuning. Look to replicate Duane’s slide licks on songs like Statesboro Blues and Dreams by damping strings with your slide hand and plucking the strings with your fingers sans pick. When Duane wasn’t playing slide he used a hybrid picking technique, plucking the strings with both the rounded edge of his pick and his middle and ring fingers. Part of Duane’s big round tone can be attributed to the fact that he didn’t use the sharp edge of his pick, which allowed for a much softer attack.

In summary, there may not be a straightforward recipe to capture Duane’s guitar tone since his equipment varied from year to year. Your best bet is a Gibson Les Paul with vintage PAF style humbuckers plugged into a Marshall or a Fender Tweed amplifier. After that, it’s all about style and developing your technique to sound as close to Duane as possible…but remember: there will only be one Skydog.

How to Sound Like Slash

slash guitarsThe cat in hat, Slash is recognised worldwide. A devotee of the Les Paul and Marshall set up, his combination of bombastic riffs and fiery licks has seen him recognised as one of the most popular players of the last 20 years. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise that his name has been featured across a wide surplus of gear that spreads over a wide range of prices.

Guitars:
In terms of axes, there’s no shortage of slash signature models on the market. If cash is no shortage and budgeting’s not an option, a Gibson Custom Slash Signature model can set you back anywhere from £3000 upwards. As there have been many different incarnations of the custom shop Lesters they’re available in a wide range of finishes such as tobacco burst or butterscotch, and shouldn’t be too difficult to hunt down. Degenerating slightly in price, Gibson USA has also produced a multitude of different Slash signatures. Although they’re not quite the luxurious fine-crafted items of Gibson’s Custom shop, the Gibson USA models are still excellent instruments that offer great quality. The Lesters will set you back anywhere between £1800-£28000 depending on the model, but all can achieve Slash’s gargantuan tone with ease. Some hunting online will reveal some of the older models, but the Rosso Corsa and Vermillion Red models could likely still be found at a handful of retailers. For those trying to achieve Slash’s guitar tone on a slightly looser budget, an Epiphone signature model is the way to go. They offer identical specifications to the Gibson USA models, as well as the Seymour Duncan alnico II pros found on all of the USA models for a fraction of the price. Again, a short hunt online and £600 later, and you could be a step closer to achieving that tone. For those that already own a good Les Paul and just want to get a touch closer to Mr.Hudson’s tone, adding Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Slash humbuckers is a superb way of doing so. The pickups are based off of the alnico II pro pickups found in Slash’s main studio guitar, otherwise known as the Derrig Les Paul, but have both a hotter wind and older school appointments such as a wooden spacer. A final point of notice is that all of the guitars mentioned built before 2011-2012 feature just regular Seymour Duncan alnico II Pro’s, whereas any of the instruments constructed after this period boast the signature editions.

slash amps and rigAmps:
In terms of amplifiers, it’s unquestionable that Marshall is the premier choice when trying to achieve Slash’s tone. For those on a higher budget there are three main options. The first of these is the Marshall Silver Jubilee head that was used by Slash on the Use Your Illusions albums as well as the following tour. Unfortunately, locating one of the silver boxes of joy can be a rather troublesome affair, as given that the majority of their owners don’t want to depart with them, it’s understandable that their price range expands from £2000 upwards. The closest option to the Silver Jubilee is the JCMSLASH. The first signature model Marshall ever, the JCMSLASH is a limited edition amplifier that is based on a Silver Jubilee, though with a touch more gain on offer. It’s pretty much been featured on all of Slash’s post Illusions albums, and so if you’re looking for the grind and grunt of Snakepit or the raunchiness of Velvet Revolver, this is arguably the amp to go with. In terms of achieving Slash’s most legendary tone, the highly coveted sound of Appetite for destruction, there are two ways to go. Seemingly the most popular way of doing this is modifying a pre-existing amplifier such as a JCM800 or JMP. The obvious benefit of this option is that it’s a relatively cheap way of altering your current amp to get it closer to the legendary tone of appetite. The tweakers over at Voodoo Amps offer ‘AFD’ modifications that range from some small adjustments to full on amp makeovers.

The second way to go, when searching for an amplifier that offers the legendary tone that is appetite, is Marshall’s AFD100. The AFD100 is two channel Rock n’ Roll monster, specifically designed by Marshall and Slash to achieve the AFD tone. In terms of an all in one amplifier that achieves Slash’s tone, this is the probably the best option as it provides channels dedicated to both it’s namesake and Slash’s post appetite tones. Again, this amp shouldn’t prove too difficult to find with some searching online. They’re also a great deal cheaper than a Jubilee or JCMSLASH, given that they were produced much more recently, and cost anywhere between £800 – £1500. Guitar Tone Talk has also review the AFD, which can be found here. In terms of cabinets, when attempting to replicate this particular sound, Celestion Vintage 30s are with out a doubt the way to go. Any cabinet equipped with these should suffice, though a 4×12 like the Marshall 190AV is ideally a better option as it offers more depth and bottom end. For those with less to spend, Marshall’s discontinued Vintage Modern range is worth a punt. It’s the amp used by Slash towards the end of Velvet Revolver and can fetch anywhere upwards of £450 online. Marshall also offers a full production run 5watt version of the AFD, known as the AF5. The smaller brother to the AFD100 has similar characteristics to its counterpart, but in addition boasts a clean channel as well as Vintage 30 speaker. At £586 the AFD5 is an excellent way of achieving the sound of appetite at both bedroom and wife friendly levels.

slash pedalsEffects:
It’s unquestionable that a good wah is necessary for achieving Slash’s tone, especially when considering how prevalently one has been used by the rocker throughout the years. Dunlop offers a Slash signature model (yes another signature product!), which is likely the best option to go with in this scenario given that Slash uses it himself. Interestingly enough, there’s two incarnations of the SL-wah. The first of these is SW95 which offered a hot-rod red finish, as well as a built in distortion circuit. The second Crybaby to bare the axeslinger’s name is the SC95, which offers a lower response frequency and a more classic voicing. Considering that the SC95 is the wah currently being used by the guitar hero, it’s likely the best option to go with, although both will leave the wallet £159 lighter. For those on a budget, Dunlop’s standard Crybaby is the friendliest option. It offers a classic voicing, but at £69 it hardly breaks the bank. For those really gunning for Slash’s sound, it’s worth taking a look the MXR Slash octave fuzz. It’s not exactly essential for getting a grip on this tone, but it does provide an additional outlet to Slashville. The stompbox is essentially a Way Huge Swollen Pickle with the addition of both an octave up and an octave down. It’s the pedal featured on a number of the tracks from Apocalyptic Love, and is really the best option for getting that grinding octave sound that is used by Slash on occasion. For around £150 the MXR Slash Octave Fuzz is hardly a steal, but it does provide an extra touch of authenticity and gusto in the quest for Slash’s tone.

Though a little bit more complex than just a good Marshall and Les Paul, Slash’s tone is certainly not one of the hardest sounds around to achieve. Combine this with the vast range of signature gear parading about the market and it’s a winning formula for a highly achievable guitar sound, regardless of budget or preference. Unfortunately, finding a suitable top hat could prove a lot more difficult…

Best Phaser Pedals

Today’s article will talk about the best phaser pedals on the market. There is nothing quite like a good phaser that makes your guitar sound like it is bouncing off the walls, sweeping from left to right, entrancing you with a hypnotic movement that words cannot quite describe. Used by many guitar greats such as Eddie Van Halen and Brian May, phase pedals have been around since the ’60s. Today, you can find bands such as Tame Impala using phasers to achieve their psychedelic sound. So lets get to, here are our choices of the best phasers out there.

Moog MF103 Moogerfooger 12 Stage Phaser reviewMoog MF103 Moogerfooger 12 Stage Phaser

The MF103 by Moog is an all-analog phaser that has that authentic vintage phase sound. In fact it is not even specifically for guitar and can be used with many different instruments. The controls on the MF103 are Sweep frequency, Resonance, LFO Rate and LFO Amount. The result really gives you a full, lush “whooshing” sound. The great thing about the MF103 is that it can do leslie/univibe tones very very well, so it is sort of a 2-in-1 pedal. View the Moog MF103 Moogerfooger 12 Stage Phaser on Amazon.

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser

Red-Witch-Deluxe-Moon-Phaser-reviewThe Duluxe Moon Phaser by Red Witch is an excellent choice, especially since it is also all-analog. It gives a nice and warm sound that is very lush. The coolest part about the Moon Phaser is that you can also use it as a tremolo pedal.. so it is another great 2-in-1! It even has a setting called tremophase which combines the tremolo and phaser together to get some wildly mind-bending tones. The controls on the Moon Phaser are velocity, trajectory, and cosmology which is a selector between types of phase and tremolo. You can even use this pedal in stereo with it’s additional output. Definitely a great phaser pedal that does more than a typical phase. View the Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser on Amazon.

Diamond Phase Pedal

diamond-phase-reviewThe Diamond Phase pedal is a very transparent  phase, but can also do a heavy ’70s phase as well with it’s stage selector. With a Regen control, you can get some cool feedback sounds in the phase. One of the coolest parts of the Diamond Phase is that there is an input for an expression pedal, so you can control the speed with your foot. This really makes the pedal versatile as you can get some crazy sounds on the fly without having to change the settings with your fingers. Other controls on the Diamond Phase are volume, which allows you to make it match your bypass volume or even give it a boost if you like, and a control for depth which allows you to dial the intensity of the phase. There is also a switch to select a ‘vibe’ mode which changes it to more of a vibrato pedal. Very cool!

Best Budget Phaser Pedals:

 MXR Script Phase 90 – great vintage-sounding phaser!

MXR Eddie Van Halen Phase 90 – good choice if you’re after Eddie’s phase tone.
Malekko Omicron Phase – No frills, all-analog pedal!

How to get Robby Krieger’s Guitar Tone

Robby Krieger guitar toneRobby Krieger, legendary guitarist of The Doors is known for some of the most memorable guitar playing of all time. Who could forget his great solo on Light My Fire or his eerie eastern-inspired playing on The End. Lets take a closer look at how he achieved his signature sound.

The main key to the Robby Krieger tone is of course his choice of guitar, which was for the most part either a Gibson SG Special or a Gibson SG Standard. Unlike most SGs being made today, Robby’s had a Lyre vibrato system, giving him access to creating some eerie-like pitch bends. Gibson has made some Robby Krieger signature SGs which may be difficult to find, but would be the closest you can find to original ’60s SGs. A cheaper way to do it would be to use a  regular SG-style guitar and change out the pickups for vintage spec pickups. Legend has it that Robby used the SG Special on the first two Doors albums, which were equipped with P-90 pickups. Later when he started using the SG Standard, those had humbuckers.

robby-krieger-gibson-sgWhen it comes to amps, The Doors had had an endorsement deal with Acoustic amps, though in various interviews, Robby has noted how terrible they sounded. The best way to get his tone in my opinion would be to use vintage Fender tube amps such as a Twin Reverb and cranking the volume up. Having the amp set really loud was essential to his tone, as he used his guitar’s volume to control output easily allowing him to go from cleans to distorted tones in a moments notice. A cranked amp also added feedback and harmonic textures that really make solos come to life and just cannot be done in a low-volume setting.

Robby didn’t really use many pedals with The Doors except for a fuzz to get lead tones on songs like When the Music’s Over and Five to One. The exact fuzz he used was a Maestro Fuzztone FZ-1. These are however no longer made today, but can be had from eBay for $300-$400. Some boutique builders also build clones if you are looking an option slightly cheaper. And of course, many fuzz pedals out there can cop similar tones if dialled in right. Just gotta experiment.

Finally, the main secret to Robby Krieger’s guitar tone is in the way he plays. Coming from a flamenco background, he was accustomed to playing with his fingers rather than a pick. As well, he grew his fingernails quite long which I feel is a big part of his tone. Much of his soloing incorporates a lot of hammer-ons and pull-offs which is essential to his sound. He also played slide to get those really eerie sounds. Trying minor open tunings really nails that vibe as heard on the song End of The Night.

So that’s it, all in all a Gibson SG, Fender tube amp, and a fuzz pedal are the main pieces of equipment needed and then playing with your fingernails and learning his playing style will get you the rest of the way.

Fender 60th Anniversary Stratocasters

This is a guest post by Stephen Rose

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster — an iconic instrument in not only shape but also sound. Countless recordings tell the tale of this classic guitar played only by the most discerning musicians. The Fender Stratocaster was released in 1954 offering players a solid contour body guitar with three single coil pickups. This innovation took the world by storm and generations of players are still looking for its classic and timeless tones.

Fender-American-Vintage-Series-1954-Stratocaster
New Fender American Vintage 1954 Stratocaster announced this year at NAMM 2014

Fender has released 3 models celebrating the 60th anniversary Stratocaster: Classic Player, American Commemorative, and American Vintage. The Classic Player Strat comes in Desert Sand, has a soft V neck shape, gold anodized pickguard, gold hardware, a special engraved neckplate, and medallion on the back of the headstock. The American Commemorative and American Vintage series guitars are both U.S. made and have similar appointments to the Classic Player Strat. The American Commemorative Strat comes with a two color ash body, maple neck, modern C compound radius neck, specially designed 1954 pickups, gold hardware, pearloid tuning buttons, and the same neckplate and medallion as the Classic Player. The American Vintage series is the most accurate representation of a 1954 Strat you can buy without going through the Custom Shop. This guitar recreates the specs and even the paperwork of the instrument as if it were purchased in 1954. Fender will only be making 1,954 of these guitars, with the first 54 of these containing a special certificate and designation on the neckplate. The American Vintage Strat is far and away the crown jewel of the three 60th anniversary guitars being offered. In keeping with the original design, I wish this guitar came standard with the 3-position switch instead of the traditional 5. The 3-position switch is included should the player want to make the swap.

Fender-American-Deluxe-Plus-StratocasterIn keeping with Fender’s motto to create a guitar, “as new and different as tomorrow,” they have released the Fender American Deluxe Plus Stratocaster. Fender is known for finding ways of balancing its tradition and history with innovation, and this new addition is the epitome of that way of thinking. The American Deluxe Plus comes in both SSS and HSS configurations offering the player the ability to use interchangeable “personality cards” to further add to the tonal options of this fine instrument.

There is a slot in the back of the guitar that can support one of three solder-less cards with plug and play capability. Standard is the standard configuration and pickup sound, Cutter cuts the bass and treble, and Splitter splits the humbucker sound of the pickups. This is a highly innovative design by Fender and comes with some updated colors new to the American Deluxe series: Mystic 3 color sunburst, Mystic Ice Blue, and Mystic Black. These guitar feature Noiseless pickups, a modern C compound radius neck, a wallet for the personality cards, and a maple or rosewood neck depending on the version.

Fender has found a way to capture its timeless tone and history with their anniversary models, while pushing the envelope of innovation with its American Deluxe Plus guitar. They have now opened the door to numerous tonal possibilities with the advent of the personality cards, which afford players the ability to save time and the hassle of soldering, while expanding their ever-changing tonal palette.