Posts tagged ‘guitar porn’

04/06/2014

Review: LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte

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LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – teaser

James Hetfield is a musician, who surely needs no introduction. He is Metallica’s frontman, singer, songwriter and guitarist, and has played a very important part in the development of the Metal genre.

James Hetfield with Snakebyte

Metallica’s guitarists – Hetfield and his colleague Kirk Hammet – have long been collaborating with ESP Guitars. The LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte is the most recent fruit of this partnership.

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LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – full front

In the early years of Metallica, James Hetfield used to play a Gibsonin Explorer, and looking at his new signature model, it’s easy to conclude that this guitar legend still holds a place in his heart for angular guitars.

LTD’s James Hetfield Snakebyte (current price in Finland: 1.098 €) is an ultra-modern Metal-machine, with a clear stylistic nod to the Explorer.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – full back

Both the guitar’s body and set neck have been crafted from mahogany, while dark-black ebony has been chosen for this model’s fingerboard.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – bevelled top edge

The Snakebyte’s body is noticeably more compact when compared to its vintage forefather, making for a lighter and more comfortable playing experience.

There’s a long, flat chamfer on the body’s bass side, which proved hard to photograph, but which really makes a difference in terms of the Hetfield signature model’s ergonomics.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – headstock 2

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – tuners

A set of locking Sperzel tuning machines have been chosen for their high quality and proven tuning stability.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – bridge

The Tone Pros bridge and tailpiece combination is locked in place after adjustment, meaning everything will stay perfectly put even under the most demanding onstage conditions.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – fretboard

LTD’s Snakebyte sports 22 jumbo-sized frets. The fretwork is first-rate, resulting in a fast and rattle-free playing surface.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – EMG pickups

Active EMG-pickups have long played an important part in James Hetfield’s sound. A couple of years back EMG have introduced a signature pickup set –the EMG JH ”Het” Set – made to the legendary guitarist’s specifications, and used on this signature LTD.

The JH-Nneck humbucker has been developed based on EMG’s Model 60, but Hetfield’s humbucker uses separate ceramic magnets and fatter coils. EMG’s Model 81 has formed the basis for the JH-B signature bridge pickup, but here steel polepieces have been added to the pickup’s ceramic bar magnets.

According to EMG the ”Het” Set has a warm and organic basic tone, coupled with a very clear attack and loads of output power.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – controls

OK, one three-way toggle, two controls – case closed…

Hold your horses! Yes, the toggle switch works in the usual way, but the controls aren’t a master volume and a master tone, but rather two separate volumes – one knob for each pickup.

James Hetfield doesn’t need a tone control, as all his settings are dialled in by his guitar technician. This way he only has to concentrate on pickup selection, while playing and singing at the same time.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – control cavity

The battery compartment’s cover is held in place by machine screws and threaded inlets.

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LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – beauty shot 1

It’s true that in 1958 Gibson’s Explorer was a trailblazer thanks to its unusual, angular design. But it’s also true that this classic model is very large and cumbersome, often feeling like a bedside table strapped to your body.

Hetfield’s LTD signature model succeeds in keeping the Explorer’s angular spirit intact. Nonetheless, the LTD Snakebyte is a much more compact affair, which makes it far more comfortable to play and easier to hold.

The Hetfield Snakebyte is a fantastic player, as you would expect from a pro-quality guitar, such as this. The neck profile is a rounded ”C”. Our review sample came with a light action, measuring 1.8 mm (bottom E) and 1.6 mm (top e) at the 12th fret (with a set of 010s), and played well and rattle-free across the whole fretboard.

I must admit I was quite surprised at the sheer beauty of this guitar’s unplugged voice. There’s a strong, piano-like attack and an open character with a long sustain-phase.

EMG’s active ”Het” Set has the power of an approaching speedboat, yet the humbuckers still manage to offer open-sounding clean tones with plenty of organic mid-range character:

Switching to a High Gain channel takes the LTD Snakebyte straight into – surprise, surprise – legendary Hetfield-Metallica-territory. There’s power and attack to boot, and ample bite to cut through:

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – back beauty

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LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – beauty shot 2

In my view, LTD’s James Hetfield Snakebyte is a top-notch precision tool for the Metal- and Thrash-guitarist. This probably isn’t the most versatile electric guitar ever, but if you’re into Hard ’n’ Heavy this guitar offers the most direct way to sheer sonic bliss.

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LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte

1.096 €

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

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Pros:

+ workmanship

+ light weight

+ playability

+ acoustic tone

+ amplified sound

Cons:

– no tone control

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – teaser 2

14/05/2014

Review: Amfisound Raudus Bass

Amfisound Guitars is a small company from the northern Finnish town of Oulu. Run by two master luthiers, Amfisound offers a surprisingly wide variety of different guitar and bass models, as well doing a lot of customising and repair jobs. Kitarablogi visited Amfisound’s workshop late last year – read all about it HERE.

Amfisound have introduced a new bass model recently, called the Raudus Bass, which is the subject of this review.

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Amfisound Raudus Bass – full front

The Amfisound Raudus Bass (prices for EU-customers starting from 2,520 €) clearly takes its inspiration from Fender’s classic Jazz Bass, but this new Finnish (passive) bass offers a number of modern updates and improvements. The easiest things to notice on first sight are probably the added 21st fret and the much deeper cutaway.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – full back

The Raudus sports a body made from Finnish alder and a bolt-on maple neck.

The neck comes finished in a very thin satin lacquer, while the body is gloss finished in a glorious tri-colour sunburst.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – headstock

Our review sample of the Amfisound Raudus features two differences to the basic model – different tuning machines and different pickups.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – tuners

This Raudus comes equipped with a set of Hipshot’s UltraLite tuners (additional charge: 50 €), which are built from aircraft-grade aluminium. The UltraLite machines work extremely smoothly and precisely, and they efficiently cut down on surplus headstock weight, which is a good thing on such a traditionally-inspired long scale bass, such as the Raudus.

The two-way truss rod is accessed from the headstock side of the neck.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – fretboard

The outstanding standard of workmanship displayed in the Raudus-model’s fretwork, is but one of many points bearing clear testament to the world-class standard of Finnish luthiery! This is genuine custom shop quality.

The fretboard is made of Indian rosewood, and it’s sporting 21 medium-jumbo sized frets.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – neck joint

Amfisound’s rounded body heel makes excursions to the dusty end of the neck very comfortable, indeed.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – bridge

The bridge is a quality copy of the original, late-Sixties Fender bridge – if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – pickups

The review sample comes with a set of Jarno Salo Pickups from Finland. The basic version uses Swedish Lundgrens.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – controls

This instrument offers you Jazz Bass-type controls – separate volume-knobs for each pickup, plus a master tone-control.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – electronics

Amfisound’s workmanship is spot-on and very crisp – even under the hood.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – body beauty 2

The list of available custom options from Amfisound is very long, and includes (in the Raudus-model’s case) an ash body, different bridges and/or tuners, as well as active Glockenklang-electronics (among other things). For more detailed information you should contact Amfisound’s Tomi or Sampo.

There’s also a five-string Raudus on offer, which is built with a longer scale of 35 inches.

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Amfisound Raudus Bass – beauty shot 1

Amfisound’s Raudus Bass is a real corker of an instrument, with its sound and playability second to none.

The flatter-than-vintage fingerboard radius (9.5″) gives the slender neck a suitably modern playing feel. Thanks to Amfisound’s exemplary fretwork, our review sample’s low action (E: 2.0 mm/g: 1.6 mm) was completely free of annoying fret buzz or string rattle.

I’m a devoted Jazz Bass-fan, which made me feel right at home playing the Raudus. Yes, it’s true that the Amfisound offers much better top fret access, but overall this new bass feels like a dear old friend.

And this bass’ sound is outstanding, too, dishing out oodles of classic, Jazz Bass-style tones.

Jarno Salo’s excellent pickups are singlecoil designs, with the bridge pickup being reverse-wound and reverse-polarity in relation to the neck unit. This means that using both pickups together gets rid of any possible electromagnetic hum and buzz (from transformers, lighting or displays).

In terms of sound, these Salo-pickups really give you all those classic tones you’d expect from a bass such as this.

Listen to these three audio clips. Each clip has the neck pickup first, followed by both pickups on, and the bridge pickup going last:

Amfisound Raudus Bass – back beauty 1

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Amfisound Raudus Bass – beauty shot 2

The Amfisound Raudus Bass is a very fine example Finnish luthiery, there’s no two ways about this. Finns must be very lucky to find such fine instruments right at their doorstep!

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Amfisound Guitars Raudus Bass

Prices starting from 2,520 € (EU-customers) & 2,032 € (outside the EU)

Hard case included.

Contact: Amfisound Guitars

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Pros:

+ Made in Finland

+ handmade 

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ sound

04/04/2014

Testipenkissä: Amfisound Raudus Bass

Amfisound Guitars on kahden soitinrakentajamestarin yhdessä vetämä soitinpaja Oulun Haukiputaalta, joka tarjoaa erittäin laajan valikoiman omia soitinmalleja, sekä kattavat korjaus- ja kustomointipalvelut. Löydät Kitarablogi-jutun viime talven Amfisound-vierailusta TÄÄLTÄ.

Amfisoundilta on hiljattain ilmestynyt uusi bassomalli nimeltään Raudus Bass, jota on saatu nyt testiin.

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Amfisound Raudus Bass – full front

Amfisound Raudus Bass -mallin (hinnat alkaen 2.520 €) lähtökohtana on nähtävästi toiminut Fenderin Jazz-basso, mutta tämä uusi suomalainen passiivibasso tarjoaa monia nykyaikaisia päivityksiä, joita on esikuvasta turha hakea. Helpoiten havaittavissa ovat varmaan rungon huomattavasti syvempi soololovi ja otelautaan lisätty 21. nauha.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – full back

Raudus-basson runko veistetään suomalaisesta lepästä ja sen kaula on vaahteraa.

Kaulaa viimeistellään ohuella, mattapintaisella lakkauksella, kun taas runko komeilee kiiltävässä, kolmivärisessä sunburstissaan.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – headstock

Testattu Amfisound Raudus on hyvin lähellä mallin perusversiota, lukuun ottamatta testisoittimen virittimet ja mikrofonit.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – tuners

Tähän Raudukseen on asennettu – maksullisena optiona (50 €) – Hipshotin höyhenenkevyet UltraLite-virittimet, joita valmistetaan lentokoneiden valmistuksessa käytetystä alumiinista. UltraLite-virittimet toimivat erittäin tarkasti, ja ne parantavat (alhaisen painonsa ansiosta) ergonomisesti rakennetun Raudus-mallin tasapainoa vielä entisestään.

Basson kaksisuuntaista kaularautaa säädetään kätevästi lavan puolelta.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – fretboard

Tämän Amfisoundi-soittimen esimerkillinen nauhatyö on vain yksi Rauduksen lukuisista kohdista, jotka kielivät suomalaisen soitinrakennustaidon huimasta tasosta! Tällaiseen laatuun massatuotetut soittimet yksinkertaisesti eivät yllä.

Otelauta on intialaista ruusupuuta, ja nauhojen koko on medium-jumbo.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – neck joint

Amfisoundin sulavaa ruuviliitosta käytetään luonnollisesti myös firman uudessa Raudus-bassossa.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – bridge

Fenderin alun perin kehittämä bassotalla on monien mielestä yhä se paras vaihtoehto.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – pickups

Testisoittimeen on asennettu suomalaiset Jarno Salo Pickups -mikrofonit. Perusversiossa löytyy ruotsalaisia Lundgren-mikkejä.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – controls

Säätimet toimivat Jazz-bassosta tutulla tavalla – kummallekin mikrofonille on oma volume-säädin, ja niiden lisäksi löytyy yhteinen master tone.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – electronics

Amfisoundin erittäin laadukas ja siisti työ on nähtävissä myös elektroniikkalokeron kannen alta.

Amfisound Raudus Bass – body beauty 2

Amfisoundin mahdollisien custom-optioiden lista on erittäin pitkä, ja se tarjoaa Raudus Bass -mallin tapauksessa mm. saarnirunkoa, erilaisia talla- ja viritinratkaisuja, tai vaikkapa aktiivista Glockenklang-elektroniikkaa. Tarkempia tietoja optioista ja niiden hinnoista saa ottamalla yhteyttä suoraan Amfisoundin Tomiin tai Sampoon.

Raudus-basso on myös saatavilla viisikielisenä versiona pidemmällä 35-tuumaisella mensuurilla.

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Amfisound Raudus Bass – beauty shot 1

Amfisoundin Raudus on kyllä upea ja kevyt soitin, jossa soitettavuus ja soundi ovat mielestäni prikulleen kohdallaan.

Otelaudan hieman vintagea loivempi radius (9,5 tuumaa) antaa solakalle kaulalle sopivasti nykyaikaista tuntumaa. Amfisoundin esimerkillinen nauhatyö mahdollisti testibassossa hyvin matalan kielenkorkeuden (E: 2,0 mm/g: 1,6 mm) ilman minkäänlaista räminää.

Koska olen vanha Jazz-basson fani, Raudus tuntui heti ensikättelyssä vanhalta ystävältä. Totta, ylimpiin nauhoihin pääsee Amfisoundilla alkuperäistä paremmin, mutta muuten ergonomia ja soittimen tuntuma on hyvin lähellä vanhaa klassikkoa.

Eikä Raudus jätä soundiltaan lainkaan toivomisen varaa, vaan tarjolla on erittäin maukas kattaus erilaisia klassikkosoundeja.

Alkuperäisten tavalla myös Jarno Salon mikrofonit ovat yksikelaisia, jotka on kuitenkin käämitty toistensa nähden vastasuuntaan. Tämä tarkoittaa, että yksikelaisten poimimat hurinat ja sirinät katoavat aina täysin, kun molemmat mikrofonit ovat täysillä.

Soundillisesti Salo-mikrofoneissa löytyy juuri se oikea ”vanhan liiton” meininki, joka sopii erittäin hyvin tähän perinnetietoiseen Amfisound-bassoon.

Tässä kolme esimerkkipätkää (järjestys jokaisessa pätkässä: kaulamikrofoni –> molemmat –> tallamikrofoni):

Amfisound Raudus Bass – back beauty 1

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Amfisound Raudus Bass – beauty shot 2

Testin perusteella voin vain todeta, että Amfisoundin Raudus Bass todellakin edustaa suomalaista osaamista ja laatua parhaimmillaan. Miksi mennä merta edemmäs kalaan, kun tällainen, käsintehty laatubasso löytyy Suomessa?

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Amfisound Guitars Raudus Bass

Hinnat alkaen 2.520 € (laadukas kova laukku kuuluu hintaan)

Lisätiedot: Amfisound Guitars

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Plussat:

+ aitoa suomalaista laatua

+ käsintehty

+ työnjälki

+ soitettavuus

+ soundi

01/04/2014

Amfisound Raudus Bass – the video

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Lisätiedot: Amfisound

28/03/2014

Ensi viikolla: Amfisound Raudus Bass

Amfisound Raudus Bass – beauty shot 1

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Lisätiedot: Amfisound

25/03/2014

Sneak peek: Italia Guitars

Italia Maranello Classic – body beauty 1

Italia Rimini 6 – body beauty 1

Juuri työn alla…

Reviews are in the works…

Italia Mondial Deluxe – body beauty 1

Italia Fiorano Standard – beauty shot 1+

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Lisätiedot: R-Jam Group

24/03/2014

Review: Duesenberg D-Bass

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Duesenberg D-Bass – D-badge

German maker Duesenberg is known for its high-quality guitars and basses, that combine seamlessly Art Deco-chic and ingenious improvements in many details, such as the hardware and electronics departments.

The Duesenberg D-Bass is a good example of this, promising both P- and J-style tones from a passive, one-pickup instrument.

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Duesenberg D-Bass – full front 2

The Duesenberg D-Bass (current price in Finland: 1.729,90 €) proves that you can build a bass from classic tonewoods without having to resort to copying others.

This is a four-string, passive bass, built using a bolt-on maple neck with a rosewood fretboard mated to a bound alder body. The top of the body sports elegant carving.

Duesenberg D-Bass – full back 2

The generous rib cage bevel adds a great deal of comfort to the D-Bass.

The body comes in a fetching gloss finish, while the neck has received a thin, vintage-tinted satin finish.

Duesenberg D-Bass – headstock

I feel that Duesenberg’s three step headstock looks even better in its bass guise than the smaller guitar version.

Duesenberg D-Bass – tuners

Duesenberg use their own locking Z-Tuners on the D-Bass. The string is first fed into a well in the tuning post until it comes out of a small hole in the tuning machine’s back. You cut off the surplus length of string, pull back the string by a couple of millimetres, lock it in place and tune up. Voila, a clean and uncluttered solution that leaves no sharp string ends.

Duesenberg D-Bass – fretboard

Duesenberg employ a PLEK-robot to give all their instruments a perfect fret job and set-up.

Duesenberg D-Bass – neck joint

Thanks to the angled neck joint an excursion to the dusty end of the fretboard is fast and easy on the D-Bass.

Duesenberg D-Bass – bridge

Duesenberg’s bridge and tailpiece combo are made of chunky bits of milled brass.

In addition to action and intonation the bridge also offers the adjustment of string-to-string distance. After adjustment you can lock everything in place with allen grub screws.

Duesenberg D-Bass – pickup

The D-Bass’ two-part pickup is situated on its own, oval pickguard.

Duesenberg’s Toaster-pickup may resemble a Fender Precision-pickup, but it really has its own thing going on in terms of construction. While the venerable P-Bass is equipped with two singlecoil pickups (one for each pair of strings), which are hooked up to form a humbucking unit, Duesenberg’s design uses two small humbuckers with open covers.

Duesenberg D-Bass – controls

The passive controls are found on the bass’ larger pickguard and comprise a master volume, the Mid-Shift control and a master tone.

Duesenberg D-Bass – control cavity

The Mid-Shift control uses a nifty bit of wiring voodoo:

When Mid-Shift is fully turned up, both coils of each pickup are used fully, but some of the top end signal is filtered by a capacitor. This is how the D-Bass achieves a P-style sound.

Turning the potentiometer counterclockwise fades out the signal of one of each humbucker’s coils, while lessening the capacitor’s effect on the signal. Fully counterclockwise, this gives you a brighter and more focussed, J-type tone.

You can find a similar wiring trick on Seymour Duncan’s web page, showing you how to wire up a humbucker in such a way that you can use a control pot for going from humbucking to singlecoil by feeding one of the pickup coils to earth.

Duesenberg D-Bass – reverse angle

Duesenberg D-Bass – case

The Duesenberg D-Bass comes in its own quality hard case.

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Duesenberg D-Bass – beauty shot 2

Duesenberg’s bass is a beautiful instrument with a nice, medium weight and a great balance, both in you lap or hanging on a strap.

The neck profile is a Precision-style wide ”D”, but combined with the D-Bass’ larger fingerboard radius and its jumbo frets the playing feel is decidedly more modern and slinky than vintage.

My only small gripe is a strictly cosmetic one: I would like to see one or two screws added to the larger control scratchplate, as the current layout doesn’t make the plate fit snugly on top of the body’s top contour, leaving a few edges standing proud of the body surface.

This Duesenberg has a very healthy acoustic ring, completely devoid of any of the quirks often associated with vintage basses (like an over-enthusiastic low G or a dead spot around the high c).

Amped up you’re in for a real treat, as long as you’re not after that type of extreme EQ, only achievable with active preamps. Duesenberg’s Mid-Shift control is a really ingenious addition to the D-Bass, resulting in a much more organic palette of sounds than a mere coil-split could provide. The volume drop going from the P- to the J-variant is negligible, which is another positive effect of not using a straight coil-split.

I always play the same motif twice in each sound clip – first with Mid-Shift full on (P), then with Mid-Shift turned down fully (J).

Duesenberg D-Bass – body beauty 1

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Duesenberg D-Bass – full front   Duesenberg D-Bass – full back

I must say, I liked the Duesenberg D-Bass very much. It is a great instrument for connoisseurs of passive bass tones. The Mid-Shift control isn’t ”in your face”, but still manages to provide you with an ingenious way of tailoring the bass’ sound to your needs.

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Duesenberg D-Bass

1.729,90 €

Finnish distributor: F-Musiikki

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Pros:

+ workmanship

+ Mid-Shift control

+ playability

+ design

+ sound

Cons:

– pickguard fit (read the review)

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Duesenberg D-Bass – body beauty 2

24/02/2014

Tulossa – Amfisound Raudus Bass

Amfisound Raudus – teaser 2

Amfisound Raudus – teaser 1

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Lisätiedot: Amfisound

12/02/2014

Review: Tanglewood TU-1CE, TU-3, TU-3E & TU-5

Tanglewood TU-3E – headstock VID

The humble ukulele’s popularity has been on the rise over the last few years, not least because these instruments are easy to carry around and plenty of fun to play.

This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by British brand Tanglewood, who have recently broadened their range of ukes.

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Tanglewood ukuleles – teaser

The quartet of ukes we’ve received for testing – the TU-1CE, the TU-3, the TU-3E and the TU-5 – are all part of Tanglewood’s mahogany-bodied Union-series.

Tanglewood TU-1CE – headstock

All Union-series ukuleles have mahogany necks with glued-on neck heels and headstocks.

The fingerboards have been crafted from rosewood.

Tanglewood – uke tuners VID

Tanglewood’s geared, open tuners work very well.

Tanglewood TU-3 – bridge

Ukuleles come with one of several different bridge designs, depending on the manufacturer.

Tanglewood has chosen the most practical ukulele bridge, which anchors the knotted string ends in little slots cut into the top of the bridge.

Tanglewood TU-3 – body beauty 2

All Union-series ukuleles have a sound box made from laminated mahogany.

The instruments have received a clear satin finish.

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Tanglewood TU-1CE – beauty shot

Tanglewood’s TU-1CE (current price in Finland 116 €) is a soprano ukulele with a deep cutaway. It comes with a pickup and preamp installed.

The soprano is the smallest of the common four ukulele sizes. The TU-1CE has a scale of only 34.5 cm.

Tanglewood TU-1CE – cutaway

The workmanship on this Tanglewood (built in the Far East) is very good in relation to its low price. Look at that clean neck joint!

Tanglewood TU-1CE – frets

The TU-1CE sports 16 small frets, as well as dot position markers.

Tanglewood TU-1CE – back beauty 2

This soprano comes factory-equipped with top quality Aquila Nylgut strings.

Tanglewood TU-1CE – preamp + tuner

The Tanglewood’s preamplifier is powered by a button cell and offers controls for volume and tone, as well as a chromatic tuner.

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Tanglewood TU-3 – case

The Tanglewood TU-3 (119 €) is a concert-sized uke. A stylish hardcase is included in the price.

Tanglewood TU-3 – soundhole

A Concert-ukulele is the next bigger size to a soprano.

This model has a 37.5 cm scale.

Tanglewood TU-3 – beauty shot

This TU-3 has an exceptionally nicely grained body…

Tanglewood TU-3 – back beauty

…with a highly figured back.

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Tanglewood TU-3E – preamp

The TU-3’s electroacoustic version – the Tanglewood TU-3E (129 €) – comes equipped with the same preamp model we’ve already seen on the TU-1CE.

Tanglewood TU-3E – body angle VID

The TU-3E’s fingerboard offers you 18 small frets.

Tanglewood TU-3E – rosette VID

The simple rosette found on all Union-series ukuleles complements the organic, woody look of the instruments very well.

Tanglewood TU-3E – body back angle VID

The output jack is situated on the lower rim.

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Tanglewood TU-5 – case vs2

Just like the two Union concert-ukuleles, Tanglewood’s baritone uke, the TU-5-ukulelessa (149 €), also comes in its sturdy case.

Tanglewood TU-5 – beauty 2 VID

The baritone is the largest traditional ukulele size, with the TU-5’s scale length measuring 51.2 cm.

Tanglewood TU-5 – bridge + rosette VID

The TU-5is equipped with 20 small frets. Our test sample came with a set of black nylon strings tuned to High-g-tuning (d4-g3-h3-e4), meaning that the fourth string is one octave above a regular guitar string.

Tanglewood TU-5 – back beauty 2 VID

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Tanglewood TU-1CE – full front

This is what the TU-1CE sounds like when recorded with a condenser microphone:

The built-in piezo system results in a very decent direct sound:

This clips mixes the microphone with the piezo output:

Tanglewood TU-1CE – full back

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Tanglewood TU-3 – full front

I recorded the concert-sized Tanglewoodin TU-3 with an AKG C3000 and a Shure SM57:

Tanglewood TU-3 – full back

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Tanglewood TU-3E – full front

Acoustically, the piezo-equipped TU-3E sounds virtually indentical to the all-acoustic TU-3:

Sadly, our test sample displayed some sort of trouble with its under-saddle transducer (probably an uneven bridge slot), which rendered the pickup sound rather useless, because the middle pair of strings was much louder than the two outermost strings:

Here’s a mix of the TU-3E’s electric and acoustic signals:

Tanglewood TU-3E – full back

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Tanglewood TU-5 – full front

I recorded Tanglewood’s TU-5 baritone uke using an AKG C3000 condenser microphone and Shure’s dynamic model SM57:

Tanglewood TU-5 – full back

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Tanglewood TU-1CE – beauty shot 2

Tanglewood’s Union-series ukes are well-made, lightweight instruments with a very down-to-earth charm.

Regardless of their low price tags these ukes are decent musical instruments, not toys!

I must say I enjoyed Tanglewood’s fat neck profiles a lot. These are neck a grown-up man can hold on to!

Judging by the fine performance of the TU-1CE’s pickup system, I’m willing to believe that the TU-3E’s underwhelming pickup sound is just a one-off oversight in quality control.

Still, the whole picture is really very positive, both in terms of workmanship and sound. The inclusion on classy-looking hard cases in the price of the three ”bigger” models on test makes these Tanglewoods even more enticing. In my view, Tanglewood’s Union-series ukuleles are a great, and affordable, way to get to know the Hawaiian cousin of the guitar.

Tanglewood TU-5 – beauty shot VID

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Tanglewood Union-sarja ukuleles

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

TU-1CE – 116 €

TU-3 – 119 €

TU-3E – 129 €

TU-5 – 149 €

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Pros (all models):

+ workmanship

+ satin finish

+ fretwork

+ Aquila-strings (except for TU-5)

+ case included (not with TU-1CE)

+ TU-1CE: good-sounding piezo system

Cons:

– TU-3E: piezo system’s performance in review sample

– TU-5: spongy feel of factory-installed strings

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Tanglewood TU-3 – body back angle

22/01/2014

Testipenkissä: Duesenberg D-Bass

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Duesenberg D-Bass – D-badge

Saksalainen Duesenberg on valmistaja, joka on tunnettu laadukkaista kielisoittimista, joissa vintage-mainen tyylikkyys yhdistyy saumattomasti uusiin, kekseliäisiin ratkaisuihin yksityiskohdissa.

Duesenberg D-Bass on juuri tällainen soitin, sillä valmistajan mukaan bassosta saa irti sekä Presari- että Jazz-maisia soundeja firman passiivisella Mid-Shift-säätimellä.

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Duesenberg D-Bass – full front 2

Duesenberg D-Bass (1.729,90 €) on hyvä osoitus siitä, että hyväksi havaittuja perusaineksia voi yhdistellä tyylikkäästi kopioimatta muita soittimia.

Soitin on passiivinen nelikielinen basso, jolla on ruuvikaula vaahterasta ruusupuisella otelaudalla, sekä reunalistoitettu leppärunko kaarevalla etupuolella.

Duesenberg D-Bass – full back 2

Rungon syvä viiste lisää D-Basson mukavuutta.

Soittimen runko viimeistellään kiiltävällä lakkauksella, kun taas kaulassa on ohut mattapintainen viimeistely.

Duesenberg D-Bass – headstock

Minun mielestäni Duesenbergin kolmiaskelmainen viritinlapa näyttää isona bassoversiona vielä paremmalta kuin firman kitaroissa.

Duesenberg D-Bass – tuners

D-Bassossa käytetään Duesenbergin omia, lukittavia Z-Tuner-virittimiä, joissa kieli ensin pujotetaan virittimen akselissa olevaan käytävään, ennen kuin kieli lukitaan paikoilleen.

Duesenberg D-Bass – fretboard

Duesenbergin erittäin siisti nauhatyö viimeistellään PLEK-robotilla.

Duesenberg D-Bass – neck joint

D-Basson 22. nauhaan pääsee vaivattomasti sulavan kaulaliitoksen ansiosta.

Duesenberg D-Bass – bridge

Duesenbergin messinkinen talla on erittäin lujaa tekoa.

Kielten korkeuden ja intonaation lisäksi voi säätää vapaasti myös kielten väliset etäisyydet. Säätämisen jälkeen tallapalat lukitaan paikoilleen kuusiokoloruuveilla.

Duesenberg D-Bass – pickup

D-Basson kaksiosainen mikrofoni on asennettu omaa ovaaliin pleksiin.

Duesenbergin Toaster-bassomikrofonin juju piilee siinä, että jokaisessa puoliskossa on kaksi kelaa. Tässä mallissa kytketään siis kaksi humbuckeria yhteen, kun taas vanhassa Presarissa käytetään kaksi yksikelaista puoliskoa, jotka vasta yhdessä muodostavat häiriöitä torjuvan yhdistelmän.

Duesenberg D-Bass – controls

Duesenbergin passiivinen elektroniikka löytyy basson isommasta plektrasuojasta – master volume, Mid-Shift-säädin ja master tone.

Duesenberg D-Bass – control cavity

Tässä Mid-Shiftin toimintaperiaate paljastuu:

Silloin kun Mid-Shift-säädin on täysin avattu, kummankin puoliskon molempia keloja käytetään soundin tuottamisessa, mutta signaalin diskanttia suodatetaan hieman kondesaattorilla. Tästä syntyy D-Basson Presari-tyylinen soundi.

Mitä enemmän säädintä käännetään vastapäivään, sitä enemmän kummankin mikrofonipuoliskon toisen kelan signaalista vaimennetaan potentiometrin omalla vastuksella, mutta samalla kondensaattorin vaikutus vähenee. Säätimen toisessa ääripäässä syntyy siis hieman kirkkaampi ja ohuempi J-tyylinen soundi.

Seymour Duncanin sivuilla löytyy samankaltainen kytkentä, jolla kitaran humbuckeria muutetaan portaattomasti humbuckerista yksikelaiseen kytkemällä toinen kela säätimen kautta maahan.

Duesenberg D-Bass – reverse angle

Duesenberg D-Bass – case

Duesenberg D-Bassoa myydään omassa kovassa laukussaan.

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Duesenberg D-Bass – beauty shot 2

Duesenberg-basso on kaunis soitin mukavalla keskivertopainolla ja erinomaisella tasapainolla, sekä sylissä että hihnasta roikkuen.

Kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu hyvin Presari-mainen matala, mutta leveä ”D”. Soittotuntuma on kuitenkin hyvin nopea ja nykyaikainen, koska D-Basson palisanteriotelaudan kaarevuus on melko loiva, ja myös koska käytössä ovat jumbo-kokoiset nauhat.

Ainoa huomautukseni on kosmeettisesta seikasta: Näkisin kernaasti yksi tai kaksi ruuvia lisää säätimiä kantavassa pleksissä, jotta kolmikerroksinen muovi istuisi tiukemmin D-Basson kaarevaa runkoa vasten.

Duesenbergin akustinen soundi on erinomainen, eikä soittimesta löydy lainkaan monista vintage-bassoista tuttuja soundillisia ongelmakohtia (esimerkiksi ”yli-innokas” matala G tai nopeasti ”kuoleva” korkea c).

Vahvistettu soundi on loistava, jos ei haeta aktiivisoittimista tuttua äärimmäistä muokattavuutta. Mid-Shift-säädin toimii kiitettävästi, ja sen vaikutus on paljon orgaanisempi kuin raju päälle/pois-tyypistä kelojen kytkemistä. Koska kytkentä ainoastaan filtteroi ja vaimentaa osan signaalista, Mid-Shift-säätimen ääriasentojen välillä ei myöskään synny huomattavia eroja signaalitasossa, vaan ainoastaan äänen karakteri muuttuu hieman savuisemmasta P-basson soundista vähän kirkkaampaan J-tyyliseen sointiin.

Esimerkkipätkissä soitan aina saman kuvion kahdesti – ensin Mid-Shiftiä täysin avattuna (P) ja sen jälkeen säätimellä toisessa ääriasennossa (J).

Duesenberg D-Bass – body beauty 1

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Duesenberg D-Bass – full front   Duesenberg D-Bass – full back

Duesenberg D-Bass on mielestäni upea sähköbasso laadukasta passivisoundia etsiville. Soittimen Mid-Shift-toiminto on hienovarainen, mutta silti erittäin toimiva tapa räätälöidä Duesenbergin soundia itselleen sopivaksi.

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Duesenberg D-Bass

1.729,90 €

Maahantuoja: F-Musiikki

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Plussat:

+ työnjälki

+ Mid-Shift-säädin

+ soitettavuus

+ ulkonäkö

+ soundi

Miinukset:

– plektrasuojan kiinnitys (katso teksti)

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Duesenberg D-Bass – body beauty 2

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