Tech 21 Character Plus Series – the Kitarablogi videos

• Rhythm guitar (left): Arvo Original (Finnish guitar brand), Channel A, no Fuzz
• Rhythm guitar (right): Kasuga (ES-335 copy), Channel B, no Fuzz
• Lick guitar (left): Kasuga, Channel B with Fuzz
• Lick guitar (right): Fender Telecaster, Channel B, no Fuzz
• Lead guitar: Hamer USA Studio Custom, Channel A with Fuzz
• Bass: Rickenbacker 4003, Tech 21 Bass Driver DI
• Reverbs and delays added during mix down
• Rhythm guitar left (Fender Stratocaster): Channel B with Boost
• Rhythm guitar right (Gibson Melody Maker SG): Channel A with Boost
• Lead guitar (Epiphone Casino): Channel B with Boost
• Bass guitar (Rickenbacker 4003): Tech 21 Bass Driver DI
• Reverb added during mix down
• Vocals recorded with a Shure SM57
• Rhythm guitar (left): Arvo Original (handmade Finnish guitar), Channel B, no OD
• Rhythm guitar (right): Kasuga ES-335-copy, Channel A, no OD
• Lead guitar: Fender Stratocaster, Channel A with overdrive
• Bass: Rickenbacker 4003, Tech 21 Bass Driver DI
• Delays and reverbs were added during mix down
• Rhythm guitar: Fender Telecaster, Channel A, no Fuzz
• Cleanish lead: Fender Stratocaster, Channel B, no Fuzz
• Slide lead: Strat, Channel B with Fuzz
• Wah lead: Strat, Morley M2 Wah, Channel B with Fuzz
• Bass: Rickenbacker 4003, Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI
• Reverbs, delays and tremolos added during mix down

Preview: Tech 21 Character Plus Screaming Blonde

Here’s a short Blues demo of the Tech 21 SansAmp Character Plus Screaming Blonde. The Screaming Blonde offers two channels of Fender-type amp simulation and a switchable Tube Screamer-style overdrive.


• Rhythm guitar (left): Arvo Original (handmade Finnish guitar), Channel B, no OD;

• Rhythm guitar (right): Kasuga ES-335-copy, Channel A, no OD;

• Lead guitar: Fender Stratocaster, Channel A with overdrive;

• Bass: Rickenbacker 4003, Tech 21 Bass Driver DI

• Delays and reverbs were added during mix down.


Find more info on the Tech 21 Screaming Blonde HERE.

Preview: Tech 21 Character Plus Fuzzy Brit

Here’s a short demo song based on Jimi Hendrix’ version of Bob Dylan’s song ”All Along The Watchtower”.

The Tech 21 SansAmp Fuzzy Brit combines Marshall-type amp simulation with a Fuzzface-style fuzz pedal.


• Rhythm guitar: Fender Telecaster, Channel A, no Fuzz;

• Cleanish lead: Fender Stratocaster, Channel B, no Fuzz;

• Slide lead: Strat, Channel B with Fuzz;

• Wah lead: Strat, Morley M2 Wah, Channel B with Fuzz;

• Bass: Rickenbacker 4003, Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI

• Reverbs, delays and tremolos added during mix down.


You can find more info on the Tech 21 Fuzzy Brit HERE.

Preview: Tech 21 Character Plus English Muffy

Here’s a short instrumental demo based on the Who classic ”Won’t Get Fooled Again”.


• Rhythm guitar (left): Arvo Original (Finnish guitar brand), Channel A, no Fuzz

• Rhythm guitar (right): Kasuga (ES-335 copy), Channel B, no Fuzz

• Lick guitar (left): Kasuga, Channel B with Fuzz

• Lick guitar (right): Fender Telecaster, Channel B, no Fuzz

• Lead guitar: Hamer USA Studio Custom, Channel A with Fuzz

• Bass: Rickenbacker 4003, Tech 21 Bass Driver DI


Find more info about the Tech 21 Sans Amp English Muffy HERE.

Assembling Your First Pedalboard

Tätä juttua on alun perin julkaistu suomeksi Rockway-blogissa.


Even though the first guitar effects were already introduced in the mid-1960s, guitar pedals only started to become affordable and widely available in the late-1970s with brands such as Boss. Ibanez and MXR.


Why do I need a pedalboard?

Back in the early Seventies most guitarists used one to three effects at the most on stage, if any. Back then the signal chain was straightforward and easy to set up and tear down. There were maybe a couple of guitars, a guitar lead, a couple of effect pedals, a short patch cable, as well as a long cable from the front of the stage to the amplifier.

In the early days most guitarists weren’t even too particular with their live sound. If the guitar sounded a little different from one show to another, who cares? The main objective was to keep the show on the road.

These days both the musician and his/her audience are much more discerning, and want to hear a fairly accurate version of a song’s recorded guitar and bass sounds live as well. Most players are very knowledgeable and specific when it comes to their signature sounds, as well as the pedals they use. A dependable and ”secure” signal chain is a prerequisite for the professional musician of today.

If you carry your effects around in a sports bag, setting up your signal chain – and troubleshooting it in case of problems – is much more time-consuming than pulling a clean pedalboard out of its gig bag (or case) and connecting only a couple of audio cables; one for the guitar and one for the amp.

A pedalboard also protects your effects and patch cables from damage by keeping them firmly in place during transport. Additionally, powering all your effect pedals is much easier using one central power supply for the whole board.

Luckily, the 2020s offer us a wide array of different solutions for the budding ’board builder, making even the assembly of a complex signal chain relatively easy.

If you want to find out all there is to know about pro-grade pedalboard assembly, I can heartily recommend you check out Kimmo Aroluoma’s in-depth online guide.

Kimmo Aroluoma, who is the founder of Custom Boards Finland, has spent years on the road as one of Finland’s most sought-after guitar technicians. Kimmo has worked for acts such as The Rasmus, HIM, or Hanoi Rocks. These days Kimmo spends most of his time running Custom Boards, a company dedicated to making world-class pedalboards, as well as supplying pro-grade components to DIY pedalboard builders.

Is there a ”correct” order for effect groups?

Find out more on the best order for effects placement HERE.

Making music is a creative process, so any type of experimentation is highly encouraged, but if you want to ensure that your ’board will work in the desired way with the least amount of hassle, the above picture will get you there. Of course this effect order works also with effects that are not placed on a pedalboard.

The yellow box is home to such effects that will only work reliably with a pure/dry guitar signal. The orange box contains effects that add gain and texture to your signal. Next up are modulation effects. The green box adds space to your signal, as well as providing a good spot for a master volume pedal. And if you use an audiolooper and/or a booster pedal they should be placed last.

Plan before you act

You should definitely plan your new pedalboard, before you buy anything. Otherwise you can easily end up buying something that isn’t right for what you’re trying to achieve.

Choosing the effect pedals

What is the purpose of the ’board? What type of music do you play? Are you in a Metal band or do you play Top 10 covers?

The fact that there’s an old pedal lying around somewhere in a box isn’t a good enough reason to add this pedal to your new pedalboard. There should be a logical, musical or practical reason behind any addition to your effect chain, because any unnecessary addition could potentially degrade your guitar signal.

I had been dreaming about a compact board for playing Psychedelic Rock music – a bit ”Hendrix-ey”, but not necessarily totally authentic.

Because my main objective is ”compact” I have chosen a Jim Dunlop CBM95 Mini Crybaby-wah-wah for this project, as it is small enough to fit almost any ’board. Next up there are three blocks of different gain effects – a fuzz-style Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff Pi, as well as an EHX double-pedal – the Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi – to provide slightly wonky overdrive and distortion effects. The last pedal is a vintage-style phaser – the EHX Small Stone Nano. Tremolo, reverb and additional boosting are provided by my combo amp.

Patch cables

You should buy the best patch cables you can afford, because a poor quality cable will degrade your sound noticeably by ”eating away” your signal’s dynamic and treble content (especially with traditional passive pickups). There are many different models of ready-made patch cables available.

The number of patch cables you’ll need is dependent on the number of effect pedals you’re going to use. The individual length of each patch cable is determined by the physical placement of the pedals on the ’board. You should also remember to make sure that the plug design on a patch will fit in the space between two pedals. Choosing a relatively fat cable with large-bodied plugs will automatically mean that your pedals will have to be placed a little bit further apart.

Many professional pedalboard makers use bespoke patch cables for their clients’ pedalboards, using top-grade thin cable material coupled with special (no-solder) screw-on plugs. These patch cables save a lot of real estate on the ’board, while also being thin enough to be secured with the same security clips used for the ’board’s DC-power cables.

The physical placement of pedals and patch cables

My compact pedalboard will need no complicated wiring. I will place the effects in the physical order in which they appear in the signal chain in one simple row. This makes it very easy to use pre-made, off-the-shelf patch cables, because the signal continues straight on from one effect to the next.

In larger and more complex cases it may be more convenient to place the pedals that are used most in the bottom row of a ’board, with lesser-used effects placed farther away in the second row. On such ’boards the signal flow can be decidedly different from the physical order of the pedals. In such cases you should prepare a signal flow chart for yourself, so you can easily look up how you have planned to hook up all of the effects. Placing the pedals in their approximate place on the ’board frame will make it easy to measure the lengths of all the patch cables needed.

Choosing your pedalboard frame

To find the best pedalboard frame for your project you have to measure the outer dimensions (width and height) of your effect array, but you shouldn’t forget to take into account how you plan to install your pedals on your board. Most ’board frames these days are made from metal, and the pedals are installed with adhesive hook-and-loop fastener tapes – either generic velcro (sold with most frames) or industry-grade 3M Dual Lock-tape (bought separately).

There are also a few companies who use their own types of screw-on bottom plates or side clamps on their board frames.

Choosing a power supply aka PSU

You have to choose your PSU according to the physical space of your ’board frame, as well as according to the power needs of your effect pedals. There is a plethora of different PSUs available on the market these days; some pedalboard brands also offer frames with pre-installed power supply units.

Do check the power requirements of each of the pedals that will go on your pedalboard. You should check for voltage (9, 12 or 18 V), for milliamperes, and for the type and polarity of the connector plug. Note that there are a few pedals out there that will require alternating current (AC) in contrast to most effects that run on DC! Pro-grade PSUs come with a whole set of different pedal power cables. Make sure that the set includes all the cables (and connectors) you require. If not you will have to buy the additional cables you need.

Because a pedalboard runs audio effects the power supplied by the PSU has to be ”clean”, e. g. free from extraneous noise, buzz and hum. Most traditional pedalboard PSUs provide this type of isolated power with the help of a whole row of tiny transformers. The transformers make sure no mains hum gets into the pedals’ power cables, while also isolating each of the outputs individually.

Because I have chosen the very compact and flat Palmer Pedalbay 50S frame, most professional PSUs cannot be mounted underneath the pedalboard in my case. Luckily, a 1Spot ”wall-wart” can be a viable option, if you forsake the additional safety and dependability of a ’board-mounted PSU. I’m not planning on touring with this pedalboard, and all the transporting will be done either by car or public transport, meaning the long cable between the transformer and the daisy chain cable will not be a problem for me. Additionally, I’m not running more than four pedals concurrently, and there’s no power-hungry digital multieffect in the group, so a simple daisy-chain set-up will work here.

Building my pedalboard

Here’s where it starts

Here’s what everything looks like at the beginning. I forgot to put the scissors in the picture, used to cut the velcro to size. Additionally, I made a last-minute switch to black cable ties, because they looked better, after all.

Cleaning all connectors

Should one of your chosen pedals be faulty, you should have it repaired before it goes on the pedalboard. One faulty pedal will have a very detrimental effect on the whole signal chain and the reliability of your new ’board.

You should clean all audio jacks before you assemble your ’board by squirting a little bit of switch cleaner (like PRF 7-78 Kontakt) on a 1/4″ plug, and then inserting and unplugging the plug several times from the jack. Repeat for each audio input and output.

Cleaning all bottom plates

Before you can use any adhesive material on a pedal’s base plate, you will have to take off all rubber feet from the pedal. Velcro and 3M Dual Lock need a smooth and clean surface for them to stick reliably to a pedal’s bottom plate. Sometimes using an additional cleaning agent (like PRF Label Off) can help to get rid of any old glue residue.

On my Electro-Harmonix effects my work is made easier by the separate little rubber feet this company uses. Most Boss and Ibanez pedals, on the other hand, use large rubber or silicone mats, which are much harder to get to grips with. I’d recommend looking for the appropriate removal techniques in the Custom Boards online guide or on Internet forums.

Prevent leakage!

Remove all batteries from the pedals that go on your ’board. The patch cables stay inserted in each pedal’s input jack, which means any battery will be drained in a matter of hours (or a couple of days at the most). Taking the batteries out will prevent damage from leaking batteries in the long run.

Applying the adhesive

Now it’s time for the velcro to go on the base plates of the pedals. Make sure the adhesive tape sits nice and flat with no air bubbles.

The Palmer Pedalbay 50S comes with the loop side adhesive already installed on the frame. Most other models require you to glue the loop side yourself. If I were to use 3M Dual Lock on this ’board, on the other hand, I’d have to remove the pre-installed adhesive first and clean up all glue residue, before putting on the Dual Lock.

Installing the effects and patch cables

As there’s usually only a certain amount of space on a pedalboard, an effect pedal has to be installed on the frame with the patch cable already inserted in the previous effect’s output and this effect’s input. A 1/4″ plug is too long to be inserted after you’ve put all the pedals next to each other.

Installing the DC-cables with security clips

You’ll achieve a very clean and professional look by wiring the power supply cables from the ’board frame’s underside.

Many guitar shops also sell stick-on plastic security clips, which are just the ticket to keep all the DC-cables in place and securely out of harm’s way.

Time to check out your new pedalboard

This is a good time for a trial run of your new pedalboard with a guitar and an amp. Check out if the placement and the distance between the footswitches is convenient for you. Do all effects power on and off as they should? Is the signal going to the amp free from extraneous noise and hum?

In my project everything worked fine, but if you need help troubleshooting your pedal, you should consult Custom Boards’ builder’s guide.

Securing the patch cables

Because I’ve used off-the-shelf MXR patch cables for my project, and the cables had a relatively large diameter and flat, but wide, plug bodies, securing the patch cables with small plastic clips wasn’t really feasible. This is why I’ve chosen cable ties.

The idea is to keep the patch cables out of harm’s way – or should that be foot’s way – so that it’s impossible to step on them. You apply only a minimal amount of pull on the cable ties. You only want to keep the patch cables from moving around, you don’t want to damage the cables’ outer insulating layer.

Many DIY patch cables are thin enough to be secured with the same type of stick-on security clips used for the DC-cables.

Testipenkissä: LTD Phoenix Arctic Metal, Phoenix-1000 Vintage White & Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry

LTD Guitarsin Phoenix-sarja on ollut olemassa jo yli kymmenen vuotta, mutta firma on hiljattain päivittänyt näiden Firebird-tyylisten soittimien ilmettä ja myös useat detaljiratkaisut, minkä ansiosta uudistunut mallisto on mielestäni jopa houkuttelevampi kuin ennen.

Viime kahden vuoden aikana LTD on myös lisännyt uusi vaihtoehtoja Phoenix-mallistoonsa. Oli siis korkea aika tutustua näihin kitaroihin perusteellisemmin.

LTD Phoenix-1000 Vintage White

LTD Phoenix-1000 Vintage White (hinta: 1.082 €) on testissä käyneen trion eniten ”perinteinen” malli, johon on asennettu kaksi passiivista Seymour Duncan -mikrofonia.

LTD Phoenix Arctic Metal

LTD:n Phoenix Arctic Metal (hinta: 1.099 €) kuuluu brändin suoraviivaiseen Arctic Metal -sähkökitaramallistoon ja sen kohderyhmä ovat metalligenren soittajat. Kitarasta löytyy aktiivinen EMG-tallahumbucker.

LTD Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry

LTD Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry -kitara (hinta: 1.320 €) tarjoaa Fishmanin uusia aktiivisia Fluence-mikrofoneja Phoenix-sarjan soittimessa.

Näissä kolmessa soittimissa on monta yhteistä ominaisuutta:

Phoenix-sarjalaiset on rakennettu kaula-läpi-rungon-periatteella. Se tarkoittaa, että kitaran kaula ja rungon kohotettu keskiosa koostuu kolmesta vierekkäisistä mahonkipalasta, jotka jatkuvat koko matkan lavan kärjeltä hihnatappiin saakka. Kaksi hieman ohuempaa siivekettä on lisätty keskiosan molempiin puoliin rungoksi. Kumpikin siiveke koostu kahdesta tai kolmesta vierekkäisestä mahonkipalasta, mikä pitää tuotantokustannukset maltillisina.

Yksi selvä ero Gibson Firebird -malliin nähden on, että LTD Phoenix -kitaroiden rungon takaosaa on jätetty täysin tasainksi, ilman etupuolen keskiosan pykälää, mikä tekee Phoenixeistä mukavamman soittaa. Kitaroiden viiste kylkiluille on asianmukaisen syvä, ja rungon etupuolelta löytyy jopa sulava mukavuusviiste käsivarrelle.

Kaikissa LTD Phoenix -malleissa on ”vasenkätinen” viritinlapa, sekä kitkaa vähenevä yläsatula.

Kitaran otelaudat on veistetty eebenpuusta – Arctic Metalin tapauksessa otelaudassa ei ole otemerkkejä, paitsi sen sivuun upotetut ja pimeydessä hohtavat isot pisteet, kun taas kummassakin Phoenix-1000-kitarassa löytyy ESP/LTD:n tyylikkäitä lippu-upotuksia, sekä reunalistoitus.

Kitaroiden 22 jumbokokoista nauhaa ovat ruostamatonta terästä (!), mikä on tässä hintaluokassa hyvin harvinainen herkku. Mensuurin pituus on kaikissa Phoenix:eissä 25,5 tuumaa (64,8 cm).

LTD Phoenix -kitaroiden lukkovirittimet vaikuttavat hyvin laadukkailta.

TonePros:n valmistama tune-o-matic-tallan ja stoptail-palkin parivaljakko on lukittavaa sorttia.

Kaikissa kolmessa Phoenix-malleissa on mukana nostokytkin lisäsoundeja varten. Voit lukea seuraavassa osiossa, mikä nostokytkin tekee testissä olevissa soittimissa.


Phoenix-1000 Vintage White on kolmikon kevyin soitin, mutta erot testikitaroiden välillä ovat pieniä.

Passiivimikityksen ansiosta Vintage White -mallia voisi kutsua Phoenix-sarjan eniten perinnehenkiseksi soittimeksi.

Kaulamikrofoniksi on valittu Seymour Duncanin Phat Cat, joka on P-90-kaltainen ”paksu” yksikelainen humbuckerkoossa. Tallamikrofoni on Duncanin Custom-malli, joka on PAF-henkinen soundiltaan, mutta hieman ”kuumempi” tapaus. Tone-säätimen nostokytkin puolittaa nostetussa asennossa tallamikkiä yksikelaiseksi, minkä ansiosta kitarasta lähtee peräti viisi erittäin käyttökelpoista soundia.

Järjestys: kaulamikki – molemmat mikit puolitetulla humbuckerilla – molemmat mikit täydellä tallamikillä – puolitettu humbucker – täysi tallamikki

Meidän kitaristien keskuudelta löytyy yhä henkilöitä, jotka väittää että aktiivimikit kuulostavat tylsiltä ja elottomilta. Aktiivimikeiltä kuulema puuttuu kunnon karakteeri.

Haluaisin kysyä heiltä onko kukaan heistä tutustunut edes yhtään niistä inspiroivista aktiivimikkeistä jotka tulivat markkinoille viimeisen 20 vuoden aikana?

Vaikka Phoenix Arctic Metal -kitaran kohderyhmä löytyy varmaan hevimuusiikin ystävien keskuudelta, olen aivan varma, että EMG 81TW -aktiivimikki voisi olla erittäin toimiva ratkaisu monessa eri genreissä.

EMG:n malli 81TW on nerokas uusi sisarmalli firman Model 81 -klassikkomikrofonista, ja se tarjoaa nyt kaksi autenttista soundivaihtoehtoa. EMG 81TW on kolmikelainen (!) aktiivimikki, josta saa sekä kunnon humbuckersoundi että aidon yksikelaisen ääni, silloin kun nostokytkin on ylhäällä. Parasta tässä on, että yksikelaismoodissa yksi humbuckerin keloista toimii fantomikelana, minkä ansiosta myös EMG 81TW:n singlecoil-soundi on täysin hurinaton!

Järjestys: singlecoil – humbucker

LTD:n Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry on kolmikon painavin soitin, vaikka erot testikitaroiden välillä ovat pieniä.

Black Cherry -mallin tärkein ominaisuus on aktiivinen Fishman Fluence -mikkivarustus. Fishmanin Fluence-sarjassa on yhdistetty aktiivimikrofonien perinteiset hyvät puolet – matala impedanssi, suurempi dynamiikka, sekä (usein) korkeampi lähtötaso – firman akustisista etuvahvistimista aktiivimikkeihin siirettyyn hurinapoistoon ja soundimallinnukseen.

Tämä tarkoittaa LTD Phoenix-1000:n tapauksessa, että kitarasta saa peräti kuusi eri humbuckersoundia:

Kun tone-säätimen nostokytkin on ylhäällä mikit toimivat Classic-moodissa, jossa saa ”passiivisoundeja – alnico kaulamikki, molemmat yhdessä tai keraaminen tallamikki yksin.

Silloin kun nostokytkin on alhaalla mikrofonit toimivat Modern-moodissa, jolloin voi valita ”aktiivimikki” soundeista.

Kuulen jo narinan: ”Mikä uutta tässä on? Aktiivi-/passiivikytkimet on jo niin nähty!” Totta, mutta:

Fishman Fluence -mikrofonien kytkin kytkee ainoastaan eri mikkisoundien välillä, teknisesti Fluence-mikit pysyvät molemmissa moodeissa aktiivisena. Tämä tarkoittaa, että myös ”passivisoundeissa” voi hyödyntää aktiivimikityksen etuja – mikkien impedanssi ei muutu moodien välillä. Vain peruskarakteeri muuttuu keskialuevoittoisesta ”passiivisoundista” aktiivi-moodin tarjoamaan isompaan bassoon ja avoimempaan diskanttiin.

Järjestys: ”Classic” kaulamikki – molemmat – tallamikki; ”Modern” kaulamikki – molemmat – tallamikki


Soitettavuuden ja ergonomian suhteen kaikki kolme Phoenix-kitarat lähtevät samalta viivalta. Kaulaprofiili tuntuu erittäin mukavalta, olessaan toimiva ristisiitos 1950-luvun Gibson-pyöreyttä ja 1960-luvun Fender-vaivattomuutta. Rosterinauhat tuntuvat eritäin sulavilta ja nopeilta, ja Phoenix-mallien suhteellisen tasainen otelautaradius (13,8 tuumaa/350 mm) edesauttaa kielten bendauksia.

Henkilökohtainen suosikkini tästä triosta on varmaan LTD Phoenix Arctic White -malli, koska tykkään siitä virtaviivaisuudesta ja suoraviivaisuudesta, jonka yhdellä mikillä varustetut sähkökitarat tarjoavat. Jos tarvitset lajemman soundivalikoiman musiikkityyli ratkaisee luultavasti – jos pysyt enemmän särösoundien puolella LTD Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry on hyvin luonteva valinta, kun taas erittäin hyvien clean-soundien ystävät kallistuvat kenties enemmän LTD Phoenix-1000 Vintage White:n suuntaan.

Kaikki kolme LTD-kitarat ovat joka tapauksessa erinomaisia pro-luokan laatukitaroita. Kokeileminen varmasti kannattaa!

Review: LTD Phoenix Arctic Metal, Phoenix-1000 Vintage White & Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry

LTD Guitars’ Phoenix Series has been around for over a decade now, but recently the company has given this Firebird-inspired guitar range a cosmetic and electronic overhaul that – at least in my opinion – makes the instruments even more attractive.

Over the past couple of years LTD has also diversified the model range, prompting us at to take a closer look at the current crop of Phoenixes.

LTD Phoenix-1000 Vintage White

The LTD Phoenix-1000 Vintage White (current price in Finland: 1,082 €) is the most ”traditional” of the trio of models on review in this article, sporting a pair of passive Seymour Duncan pickups.

LTD Phoenix Arctic Metal

LTD’s Phoenix Arctic Metal (current price in Finland: 1,099 €) is part of the company’s stripped-down Arctic Metal range of guitars aimed at Metal guitarists. It comes with a single active EMG pickup.

LTD Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry

The LTD Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry (current price in Finland: 1,320 €) introduces Fishman’s new active Fluence humbuckers to the Phoenix Series.

All three models share many features between themselves:

The Phoenix Series instruments are neck-through guitars, built around a neck and central body core made of three long strips of mahogany going from the tip of the headstock all the way down to the end of the body. Two slightly thinner wings are then added on either side of the through-neck as the guitar’s body. The body wings have been glued from two to three side-by-side blocks of mahogany for each wing to keep down production costs and to make more economical use of the available timber.

In contrast to a Gibson Firebird an LTD Phoenix has a level back without the stepped neck core, which makes the LTDs much more comfortable to carry and play. The Phoenix models also have a deeper ribcage contour on the back of the body, as well as a nice smooth forearm chamfer on its front.

The LTD Phoenixes feature reverse headstocks and friction-reducing nuts.

All models come with Macassar ebony fingerboards – in the Arctic Metal’s case the ’board has been left unadorned, except for its special glow-in-the-dark side dots, while both Phoenix-1000 versions sport ESP/LTD’s stylish flag inlays and binding.

The 22 jumbo-size frets are made from stainless steel, which is still a rather deluxe feature in this price range. The scale length on all Phoenix guitars is 25.5 inches/64.8 cm.

All LTD Phoenix models come with a very smooth set of locking machine heads.

The tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece combination are locking units made by TonePros.

All three Phoenix models come equipped with a push/pull-switch for additional sounds, read about the details in the section below.


The Phoenix-1000 Vintage White is the lightest of the tested trio by a small margin.

Thanks to its passive pickups the Vintage White could be described as the Phoenix Series’ most traditional guitar.

The neck pickup is a Seymour Duncan Phat Cat, which is a humbucker-sized P-90 singlecoil. The Duncan Custom in the bridge position is a slightly hotter version of a typical PAF-style humbucker. The tone control’s push/pull-switch lets you choose between the full humbucker for full power and the split humbucker for faux singlecoil tones. This gives you five different tonal variations that cover a surprisingly wide amount of musical ground.

Sequence: neck PU – both with split humbucker – both with full humbucker – split bridge PU – full bridge PU

There are still quite of lot of incorrigible doubters, who never cease to claim that active pickups sound dull and lifeless, without any real character.

C’mon guys, have you ever really tried any of the plethora of inspiring active pickups that have come out over the past two decades?

Even though the Phoenix Arctic Metal is aimed squarely at the players preferring heavier genres of music, I’m sure the active EMG 81TW will go a long way in winning over guitarists from many different styles.

The EMG 81TW is an ingenious new version of the company’s classic Model 81 humbucker that offers two authentic-sounding variants in one pickup. The EMG 81TW is a three-coil design giving you the full humbucker tone, as well as a genuine singlecoil (not a split humbucker) sound when you pull the volume pot’s push/pull-switch up. By using one of the humbucker coils as a phantom coil during singlecoil use, the Model 81TW manages to give you noiseless singlecoil action!

Sequence: single coil – humbucker

The LTD Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry is the heaviest guitar in this round-up by a small margin.

The special feature of the Black Cherry model is the pair of active Fishman Fluence humbuckers. Fishman’s Fluence pickups bring together the traditional advantages of active pickups – low impedance, larger dynamics, (often) higher output – with hum-reduction and microphone/pickup modelling technology transferred from the company’s preamps for acoustic instruments.

In the LTD Phoenix-1000’s case this means you get six different basic tonalities:

With the tone control’s switch in the ”up” position you get classic (read: passive) alnico neck humbucker, classic ceramic bridge humbucker, and both classic ’buckers on in the toggle switch’s middle position.

With the push/pull-switch in ”down” you get modern (read: active) counterparts of the sounds mentioned above.

Now you might ask: ”What’s the buzz? We’ve seen active/passive switching before!” And right you are – but this isn’t what’s happening with the Fishman Fluence humbuckers. The Fluence pickups stay active all the time, which means that the ”passive” tones are delivered with the same advantages active pickups offer. And there’s no drop in the nominal output levels between the classic and modern modes, only the basic tonality changes from a chunkier mid-range in classic mode to more bottom end punch and treble bite in modern mode.

Sequence: ”Classic” neck PU – both – bridge PU; ”Modern” neck PU – both – bridge PU


In terms of playability and handling there’s virtually nothing to divide this trio of LTD Phoenixes. They all come with a great-feeling neck that’s somewhere between a chunky late-Fifties Gibson neck profile and an early-Sixties Fender neck. The stainless steel frets offer a super-smooth playing surface, and the Phoenixes’ flat 13.8″/350 mm fingerboard radius couldn’t be any more eager to please during string bending.

My personal favourite of these three instruments would be the LTD Phoenix Arctic White, because I simply love the no-nonsense, no-compromise attitude of single pickup guitars. If you need a wider variety of tonal options your choice would depend on whether you are more of an out-and-out Rock and Metal player (LTD Phoenix-1000 See-Thru Black Cherry), or whether clean and only slightly overdriven sounds are also a vital part of your tonal arsenal (LTD Phoenix-1000 Vintage White).

In any case, all three guitars are fantastic players and quality instruments that will never leave you feel wanting. Try one now!

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