Archive for ‘guitar porn’

25/11/2019

Testipenkissä: Esteve Organic Eco-Series Jucar ja Segura

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Esteven uudet Segura- (vasemmalla) ja Jucar-mallit (oikealla)

Jostain syystä me kitaristit olemme yllättävän vanhanaikaisia, mitä tulee työkaluihimme sopiviin puulajeihin. Tämä perinnetietoisuus on erityisen totta, kun puhutaan kitaraperheen vanhimmasta jäsenestä – klassisesta kitarasta. Meidän silmissä ”kunnon klassisessa kitarassa” pitää olla Etelä-Amerikkalainen mahonki- tai ”espanjalainen” seetrikaula, eebenpuinen otelauta (ja talla), kuusi- tai seetrikansi, sekä sivut ja pohja ruusupuusta.

Valitettavasti osa näistä perinteisistä materiaaleista hupenevat kasvavalla vauhdilla, ja osa näistä puulajeista alkaa olla jopa uhattuna. Vaikka monet syyt tähän kehitykseen eivät ole kitarateollisuuden aiheuttamia, kitaristit loppujen lopuksi maksavat isomman hinnan harvinaisista puulajeista, ja esim. jonkun lajin CITES-merkintä tarkoittaa paperisotaa ulkomaihin suuntaaville keikkaileville muusikoille.

Onneksi monet kitaranvalmistajat ovat ottaneet muuttuneiden aikojen haasteet aktiivisesti vastaan. Jatkuvasti kasvava ryhmä brändejä tarjoaa nykyään klassisia kitaroita uusista, ei-uhatuista ja/tai kestävästi viljellyistä puulajeista.

Yksi todella hyvä esimerkki on perinteinen espanjalainen kitaranvalmistaja Guitarras Esteve. Firman upouuteen Organic Eco -sarjaan kuuluu kolme käsintehtyä klassista mallia, jotka on tehty perinteisin menetelmin yhtiön pajassa Valenciassa, ei-perinteisiä puulajeja käyttäen. Loppusilauksen uudelle mallistolle antaa Esteven uusi ympäristöystävällinen vesiohenteinen mattaviimeistely.

Meillä oli mahdollisuus testata kahta uutta Esteve-kitaraa:

Esteve Jucar (679 €) on kokopuisella kannella varustettu soitin, kun taas Esteve Segura -malli (895 €) on kokonaan kokopuusta veistetty klassinen kitara.

Esteve Jucar

Esteve Segura

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Ekologiseen teemaan sopivaksi Esteven Organic-uutuussoittimet on nimetty kolmen Valencian alueen läpi virtaavan joen mukaan.

Jucarin kokopuinen kansi on tehty seetristä, mikä on tämän mallin ainoa perinteinen puuvalinta.

Kaikukopan sivut ja pohja ovat metsälehmusta, joka on varsin yleinen puulaji Euroopassa. Koska luonnollisesti kermanvaalea koppa olisi ehkä näyttänyt liian erikoiselta, on Esteve Jucar -mallissa lehmusvaneri saanut ylleen pähkinäruskean petsauksen.

Kitaran kaula on veistetty okumesta, jota käytetään usein afrikkalaisen mahongin korvaajana.

Uusi Esteve Segura on seetrikannella varustettu kokonaan kokopuinen klassinen kitara muusikoille ystävällisellä hinnalla.

Seguran sivuihin ja pohjaan on käytetty ovangkolia, joka on afrikkalainen ruusupuun sukulainen.

Kaulapuuksi on valittu tässä khaya ivorensis, toinen yleinen mahongin korvaaja Afrikasta.

Kuva: Guitarras Esteve

Kuten mainitsin jo jutun alussa, perinteestä poikkeavista puulajeista huolimatta, Organic Eco -kitaroiden perusrakenne on hyvinkin perinteinen. Aidossa espanjalaisessa kitarassa kaulaliitos on koko prosesssin alku ja keskipiste.

Kitaran kaulaa ei tässä menetelmässä liimata valmiin kopan erilliseen kaulablokkiin rakentamisen loppuvaiheessa, niin kuin monissa muissa akustisissa kitaroissa. Estevellä käytetään sen sijaan ns. espanjalaista korkoa (Spanish Heel), jossa koko kaikukoppa – sivut, pohja ja kansi – liimataan kiinni suoraan kaulaan, mikä mahdollistaa – ainakin teoriassa – paremman värähtelyjen siirron soittimen läpi.

Ehkä silmiinpistävä merkki Organic-sarjan erilaisuudesta on näiden soittimien erinäköiset otelaudat ja tallat. Eebenpuun tai ruusupuun sijasta Jucarissa ja Segurassa käytetään wengeä, joka on hyvin eloisia syykuvioita omaava afrikkalainen puulaji.

Esteve tekee tämän sarjan satulat ja tallaluut aidosta naudanluusta.

Nykyään nähdään monissa edullisissa klassisissa kitaroissa liimatarralla toteutettuja rosetteja. Näissä keskihintaisissa Esteveissä käytetään kuitenkin aitoja, erivärisistä puista kasattuja rosetteja.

Jucarissa löytyy vaaleampi versio…

…kun taas Seguran kaikuaukon koristus on hieman värikkäämpi.

Molempiin malleihin asennetaan tehtaalla laadukkaita Savarez-kieliä Ranskasta.

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Sekä Esteven Jucar- että Segura-mallissa löytyy satulan kohdalla muutamaa milliä perinteistä kapeampi kaulaprofiili. Paperilla muutos vaikuttaa hyvin pieneltä, mutta kapeampi kaula tuntuu selkeästi helpommalta soittaa. Kaulan profiili sinänsä pysyy kuitenkin vankasti perinteisenä – profiili on suhteellisen matala ja sen hartiat melko kulmikkaat.

Koska kaikki Organic-kitarat tehdään käsityönä, on selvää että yksilöiden välillä esiintyy pieniä eroavaisuuksia kaulojen tuntumissa ja soittimien säädöissä.

Testissä käyneen Esteve Jucarin kaula on hieman Seguran vastinetta matalampi. Kaula tuntuu myös pysyvän lähes samanpaksuisena koko matkan runkoa kohti.

Testiyksilön säädöt olivat suoraan paketista erittäin mukavat (basso-E: 3,1 mm; diskantti-e: 2,7 mm), ilman rajoitteita soittimen dynamiikalle taikka minkäänlaista räminää.

Jostain kumman syystä pidän Jucarin eloisesta, ruskeasta lehmusvanerikopasta pikkasen enemmän kuin Seguran vihertävästä, mutta kokopuisesta ovangkolista.

Esteve Jucarin ääni on iso ja selkeä, ja tarjolla on vaneripohjaiseksi klassiseksi kitaraksi yllättävän iso dynaaminen spektri. Alamidlessä on Jucarin soundissa pieni korostus, joka paksuntaa kitaran botnea oikein mukavalla tavalla.

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Testissä käyneen Esteve Seguran kaula taas alkaa jo yläsatulan kohdalla hivenen paksumpana, kun vertailee Jucariin. Kaulaan tulee myös hiukan enemmän paksuutta runkoa kohti mentäessä.

Myös Seguran säädöissä ei todellakaan ole valittamiseen varaa (basso-E: 3,7 mm; diskantti-e: 3,1 mm), minkä ansiosta soittaja pystyy hyödyntämään tämän kitaran suuria volyymi- ja dynamiikkavaroja sydämensä kyllyydestä.

On lähes uskomatonta, miten vapaasti nämä Estevet hengittävät. Veikkaisin että tämä on seuraus huolellisesta työnjäljestä, sekä Organic Eco -kitaroiden erittäin ohuesta viimeistelystä. Tämä kaksikko haluaa musisoida sinun kanssasi. Tässä ei tarvitse tehdä ylimääräistä työtä saadakseen kitarat soimaan.

On minusta aina hyvin opettavaista, kun voi vertailla kahta hyvinkin samantyyppistä soitinta. Kokopuisella kannella varustettu Jucar on kyllä todella hieno kitara, joka tarjoaa roimasti vastinetta rahallesi, mutta kokonaan kokopuusta veistetty Segura on soundiltaan ja dynamiikaltaan selvästi vielä pari askelta Jucaria edellä.

Esteve Segura -mallista löytyy iso ja dynaaminen soundi, hyvällä kokopuiselle klassiselle ominaisella laajennetulla bassotoistolla.

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Minusta on hieno nähdä miten luovasti tällainen perinteinen kitarabrändi kuin Esteve vastaa haasteeseen löytää uusia ja laadukkaita vaihtoehtoja perinteisille soittopuille.

Minun mielestäni firman uudet Organic Eco -sarjalaiset tarjoavat juuri sen oikean sekoituksen perinteistä espanjalaista kitaranrakentamista, ekologisesti kestäviä puulajeja ja nykyaikaisia, ympäristölle vaarattomia viimeistelyjä.

Esteve Jucar- ja Segura-mallit tuovat klassisia eko-kitaroita boutique- ja custom-pajoilta tavalliseen muusikon ulottuville. Ekologisen valinnan tekeminen kitaraostoksessa ei ole koskaan ollut niin helppo ja edullinen.

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Esteve Organic Eco-Series Jucar ja Segura

Ekologisesti kestävät klassiset kitarat

Esteve Jucar: 679 €

Esteve Segura: 895 €

Maahantuoja: Musiikki Silfverberg

Suuret kiitokset Vantaan Musiikille testisoittimien lainaamisesta!

Plussat (molemmat kitarat):

+ konsepti

+ materiaalit

+ työnjälki

+ soitettavuus

+ soundiSave

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14/11/2019

Review: Esteve Organic Eco-Series Jucar & Segura

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The new Esteve Segura (left) and Jucar (right) models

Many of us guitarists are surprisingly old-fashioned, when it comes to the choices of timber used in our instruments. This is especially true for the oldest and most traditional of guitar instruments – the classical guitar. We tend to automatically associate South American mahogany and so-called ”Spanish” cedar necks, ebony fingerboards and bridges, spruce or cedar tops, and rosewood rims and backs with quality and traditional guitar-making.

Some of these legendary materials are becoming scarce, some even teetering on the brink of being seriously endangered. Even though the reasons for this are mostly not the fault of instrument makers, scarcity does raise material prices, and CITES inclusions make the exporting of and/or the travelling with such instruments a bureaucratic nightmare.

Luckily, an ever-increasing number of guitar manufacturers are reacting to these developments by introducing environmentally friendly alternatives using non-traditional wood species.

One very good example is the traditional Spanish guitar company Guitarras Esteve, whose brand-new Organic Eco-Series introduces three classical guitar models that are handcrafted using traditional methods in their Valencia workshop, but who feature innovative wood choices. The icing on the new series’ proverbial cake is Esteve’s new, environmentally friendly water-based open-pore finish.

That was more than reason enough for us at Kitarablogi.com to take two of the new Esteves for a spin. The Esteve Jucar (679 €) is a solid-top instrument, while the Esteve Segura (895 €) is an all-solid classical guitar.

Esteve Jucar

Esteve Segura

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Fitting the ecological theme, Esteve has chosen to name its three Organic models after three scenic rivers that run through Spain’s south-eastern parts, near the Valencia region.

The Jucar has a solid top made from cedar, which is one of the traditional features of the instrument.

The back and sides are made from small-leaved lime (tilia cordata), which is a tree that grows abundantly in most parts of Europe. To give the Esteve Jucar a traditional look the lime plywood has been dyed a rich brown hue.

The neck has been crafted from an African mahogany substitute called okoume, which is found increasingly in many new acoustic string instruments.

The Esteve Segura is a very competitively-priced, all-solid classical guitar, which is also built with a cedar top.

The Segura’s back and sides are made from ovangkol, an African relative of rosewood. The neck has been carved from khaya, another proven alternative to genuine mahogany.

Photo courtesy of Guitarras Esteve.

As already mentioned in the introduction, the basic construction of the Organic Eco-Series follows Spanish guitar-making tradition, by making the neck joint the pivotal point of the whole building process.

The guitar’s neck isn’t glued into a neck block inside the glued body, almost at the end of the building process, like you see in many other acoustic guitars. Instead Esteve apply the Spanish Heel construction technique that glues the whole soundbox – top, back and rims – straight to the neck itself for superior vibrational transfer.

The most obvious sign that the Organic Series is using non-standard wood types is the look of the bridges and fingerboards. Instead of ebony or rosewood, both the Jucar and the Segura use wenge, a very hard and very lively looking African wood.

Esteve uses genuine bovine bone for the nuts and bridge saddles on both guitars.

While many entry-level nylon-string guitars these days sport stuck-on rosette decals, the soundholes on these mid-priced Esteves are adorned with genuine coloured wood inlays.

Here’s the rosette on the Jucar…

…and this is what the Segura’s rosette looks like.

Both models come factory-equipped with high-quality Savarez strings from France.

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The Esteve Jucar and Segura both feature necks whose nut width has been toned down by a couple of millimetres. This might not seem much, but it makes the instruments noticeably easier to play. The neck profile, on the other hand, stays traditional, which means rather flat and slightly angular.

The amount of handwork going into the Organic guitars is noticeable in subtle individual differences in the feel of the necks, and in the set-up of the guitars.

Our review sample of the Esteve Jucar has a slightly flatter neck than the Segura. The neck also gains only a very little thickness going up towards the body.

The set-up is very comfortable (low E: 3.1 mm; high e: 2.7 mm), while offering a wide dynamic range without any fret buzz.

For some strange reason I prefer the lively look and brown hue of the Jucar’s lime body over the slight greenish tint of the all-solid ovangkol found on the Segura.

The Esteve Jucar has a clear and loud voice, and it offers a surprising amount of dynamic range for a classical guitar with plywood rims and back. There’s a slight, but very pleasant, low-mid bump that nicely fills out the Jucar’s bottom range.

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The neck on our sample of the Esteve Segura starts out with a tad more thickness at the nut, compared to the Jucar. It also gains a slight bit of additional girth on its way towards the neck heel.

The Segura’s set-up is also excellent (low E: 3.7 mm; high e: 3.1 mm), making it possible to take full advantage of the instrument’s wide dynamic range without any annoying fret buzz.

I just love the way both of these Esteves seem to breathe. This is quite likely the combination of quality workmanship and the new ecologically sound, ultra-thin finish. These new Organic Eco-guitars seem to want to make music with you willingly, you never get a sense that you have to fight and conquer the guitar.

It is always very educational, when you get to compare very similarly built guitars. The solid-top Jucar is a great guitar, offering exceptional value for the money, but the all-solid Segura clearly takes things up one notch further.

The Esteve Segura displays a big and dynamic sound, with the added volume and expanded low end that only a well-made all-solid classical guitar can offer.

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It is great to see such a traditional guitar maker as Esteve take on the challenge to come up with high-quality alternatives to long-established wood choices.

In my view the new Organic Eco-Series models feature the right combination of traditional Spanish luthiery, ecologically-sustainable wood choices and modern non-hazardous finishes.

The Esteve Jucar and Segura take eco-friendly guitar-making out of the realm of the boutique builder or custom shop, making such instruments affordable to a much wider clientele, without compromising their playability or sound one iota.

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Esteve Organic Eco-Series Jucar & Segura

Ecologically sustainable classical guitars

Esteve Jucar, current price in Finland: 679 €

Esteve Segura, current price in Finland: 895 €

Finnish Distributor: Musiikki Silfverberg

A big thank you to Vantaan Musiikki for the kind loan of the review instruments!

Pros (both models):

+ concept

+ materials

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ soundSave

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12/11/2019

Now on YouTube: Esteve Organic Eco-Series Jucar & Segura

11/11/2019

Esteve Organic Eco-Series Jucar & Segura ** Testi tulossa ** Working on a review

Esteve Organic Jucar

Esteve Organic Segura + Esteve Organic Jucar

Esteve Organic Segura

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Finnish distributor: Musiikki Silfverberg

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18/09/2019

Guitar Porn: Arvo Guitars – Arvo

Contact: Arvo Guitars or Captain SoundsSave

29/08/2019

Testipenkissä: Edwards EX-125D ja SA-160LTS

Japanilainen ESP Guitars on yksi maailman isoimmista kitaravalmistajista, ja etenkin Rock- ja Metalkitaristien keskuudessa arvostetaan firman luomuksia kovasti. ESP on kuitenkin paljon monipuolisempi yritys, kun mitä eurooppalaisesta näkökulmasta ehkä luullaan, sillä jotkut yrityksen alamerkeistä ovat saatavilla ainoastaan Japanissa – tunnetuimmat niistä ovat varmasti Grass Roots ja Edwards.

Edwards Guitars on ESP:n vintage-tietoinen laatubrändi ja sen mallisto tehdään Japanissa.

Edwards EX-125D (1.139 €; gigbägi kuuluu hintaan) on Edwardsin näkemys päivitetystä Gibson Explorerista, jolla on virtaviivaistettu säädinosasto ja aktiiviset mikit.

Edwards SA-160TLS (1.460 €; laukku kuuluu hintaan) näyttää vuoden 1964 Gibson ES-335:n (Clapton!) suoralta kopiolta, mutta todellisuudessa mallista löytyy yksi ratkaiseva ero esikuvaansa nähden.

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Kun kävin noutamassa testikitarat Musamaailman päämajasta, piti oikein tarkistaa oliko EX-125D:n topatussa pussissa varmasti kitara. Edwardsin versio aiheesta on selvästi kevyin Explorer-tyylinen kitara, joka minulla on ollut käsissäni tähän mennessä!

EX-125D tehdään miltei kokonaan mahongista – vain soittimen otelauta on pau ferro -nimisestä jalopuusta.

Kaulaliitos ja muut rakenteelliset seikat ovat hyvin uskollisia Gibsonin klassikolle. Edwards on kuitenkin päättänyt jättää alkuperäismallin isokokoiset pleksit käyttämättä, minkä vuoksi EX-125D:ssä myös kolmiasentoinen mikkikytkin on siirretty diskanttisarvesta tallan läheisyyteen.

Testikitaran ohut mattamusta viimeistely (Stain Cloudy Black) jättää mahongin syykuviot kauniisti esille.

Klassiseen lätkämailalapaan on asennettu laadukkaat, mustat Gotoh-virittimet, sekä luusta veistetty satula.

Myös soittimen talla ja kieltenpidin tulevat Gotoh:n tuotannosta.

Mikrofoneiksi on valittu kaksi aktiivista Seymour Duncan Blackouts -humbuckeria, jotka on kehitetty nimenomaan nykyaikaista Metallia soittavan kitaristin tarpeisiin.

Edwards EX-125D:n hintaan kuuluu myös laadukas topattu kantopussi.

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Edwards SA-160TLS näyttää vanhalta ES-335-kitaralta, mutta sen ominaisuuksissa on yksi hyvin ratkaiseva ero – kitaran kaikukoppaan on käytetty kaiverrettua kokopuista vaahteraa kannessa ja pohjassa, perinteisen vanerikopan sijaan.

Perinteisesti Gibsonin ES-335 – ja sen sukulaiset, kuten ES-330, ES-345 ja ES-355 – käyttävät muotoon prässättyä vaneria, tavallisesti kolme tai neljä kerrosta vaahteraa (joskus löytyy myös poppelia keskikerroksissa, riippuen mallista ja vuosimallista). Edwards SA-160TLS taas on tehty kalliin orkesterikitaran tapaan kaivertamalla kitaran kanta ja pohja kokopuisista vaahtera-aihioista. Vaan kaikukopan reunat on tässäkin edelleen muotoiltu höyryprässätystä vanerista.

Vastapainoksi kokopuisen vaahteran soundilliseen tuoreuteen, Edwards käyttää tässä soittimessa mahonkista keskipalkkia. Kanteen ja pohjaan on jätetty keskipalkkia varten sisäpuoleen pienet ”askelmat”, niin ei tarvita tässä mallissa perinteisiä kuusikaistaleita kopan ja palkin väliin.

Erittäin kaunis puolihimmeä kirsikanpunainen viimeistely on Edwardsin versio Gibsonin VOS-viimeistelystä, minkä ansiosta SA-160TLS näyttää vanhahtavalta myös täysin ilman naarmuja.

Reunalistoitettu otelauta on pau ferroa, yläsatula aitoa naudanluuta ja soittimen virittimet ovat Gotoh:n valmistamia.

SA-160TLS varustukseen kuuluu vintage-tyylinen Gotoh-talla, jossa rautalangasta tehty jousi pitää tallapalojen ruuvit paikoillaan.

Tähän Edwardsiin on asennettu aavistuksen vintagea tehokkaammat humbuckerit – kaulamikiksi on valittu Seymour Duncanin Jazz-malli, kun taas tallamikrofonina toimii Custom 5 -humbuckeri.

SA-160TLS:n hintaan kuuluu laadukas kova kotelo.

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Koska Explorer-tyylisissä kitaroissa, niin kuin Edwards EX-125D:ssä, on iso ja kulmikas runko, ne eivät ehkä ole luontevin valinta sohvakitaraksi, mutta seisten tämän kitaran kevyt olemus on selvä plussa.

Työnjälki on ensiluokkainen ja säädöt olivat testikitarassa kohdillaan. Kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu pyöreä, mutta maltillisen paksu C – Gibson-fanit kutsuisivat tätä 60-luvun profiiliksi. Edwards EX-125D:n kaula tuntuu hyvin nopealta, ilman 1990-luvun vauhtikaulojen ylimääräistä leveyttä tai ohuutta.

Vaikka tämän kitaran ulkomuoto on 60 vuotta vanha, vaikuttavat mallin aktiiviset mikrofonit siihen, että Edwardsin soundi on nykyaikainen. Duncanin Blackouts-humbuckerit tarjoavat runsaasti lähtötehoa ja selkeyttä, eikä ne ulise runsaalla gainella, mikä tekee niistä hyvän valinnan nyky-Metallille.

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Kitaraklassikoista ES-335 on – Fender Stratocasterin ohella – yksi monipuolisimmista sähkökitaroista, joka kelpaa lähes kaikille genreille Jazzista Bluesiin tai Countrysta Rockiin.

Edwardsin SA-160TLS on erittäin tyylikäs versio ES-335:stä, jossa yhdistyy 1960-luvun kosmetiikka ja 1950-luvun soittotuntuma. Kaulaprofiiliksi on nimittäin valittu vuoden 1959:n Gibson profiili, joka on melko paksu ja pyöreä.

Työnjälki on loistava ja säädöt olivat kohdillaan. Tämäkin Edwards on kevyt kitara.

Akustisesti SA-160TLS soi hivenen verran kirkkaammalla äänellä kuin mitä odottaisi hyvältä puoliakustiselta. Vahvistimen läpi tämä pieni ero kuitenkin häviää, ja Edwardsin ja referessikitaran väliset pienet soundilliset erot johtuvat varmaan enemmän soittimien eri mikrofoneista kuin niiden perusäänistä.

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Sääli, että Edwardsit ovat – ainakin tähän mennessä – olleet Suomessa hyvin harvinaista herkkua. Tämän testin perusteella Edwards-kitarat nimittäin vaikuttavat hyvin laadukkailta soittimilta, ja myös niiden hinta on varsin kohtuullinen.

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Edwards EX-125D & SA-160TLS

EX-125D – 1.139 €; topattu pussi kuuluu hintaan

SA-160TLS – 1.460 €; kova laukku kuuluu hintaan

Maahantuoja: Musamaailma

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Plussat (molemmat mallit):

+ työnjälki

+ ominaisuudet

+ soundi

+ hinta-laatu-suhdeSave

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27/08/2019

Review: Edwards EX-125D and SA-160LTS

Japanese company ESP is one of the largest guitar brands on the planet, not least thanks to the popularity of their designs for the Hard and Heavy-crowd. But there’s more to ESP than some of us might realise, because – unlike the ESP and LTD model ranges, available worldwide – some brands, like Grass Roots or Edwards, are only available in specific markets.

Edwards, which is usually available only in Japan, is ESP’s upmarket brands for vintage-style and vintage-inspired guitar models.

The Edwards EX-125D (1,139 €; incl. gig bag) is the brand’s modern take on the classic Gibson Explorer design, complete with active pickups and streamlined controls.

The Edwards SA-160TLS (1,460 €; incl. case) looks like a straight copy of a ’64 Gibson ES-335, but in reality it comes with a very important twist. Read on…

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When I went to pick up the review instruments at (Finnish distributor’s) Musamaailma’s HQ, I had to take a look in the gig bag to make sure the EX-125D was really in there. The Edwards model must be the most lightweight Explorer (-style guitar) I have come across in my life so far!

The EX-125D is an all-mahogany affair, save for the beautiful slab of pau ferro that serves as its fretboard.

The set neck construction mirrors Gibson original closely, but Edwards has done away with the large pickguard, while also moving the toggle switch, away from the top horn down to the bridge.

The reviewed guitar comes in a very nice matte finish (Stain Cloudy Black) that leaves the mahogany’s grain partially open.

The classic hockey stick headstock sports a set of black Gotoh tuners, as well as a bone nut.

The bridge and stopbar are also high-quality units made by Gotoh.

The pickups are a pair of Seymour Duncan’s active Blackouts, which have been geared especially towards the needs of Metal players.

The Edwards EX-125D comes in its own quality gig bag.

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The Edwards SA-160TLS might look like a mint 1964 ES-335, but actually offers one distinct change in specifications – a semi-acoustic body made from carved solid maple.

Traditionally the ES-335 – and its cousins, the ES-330, ES-345 and ES-355 – are made from steam pressed plywood, usually three or four plies of either all maple or maple and poplar (depending on model and year of production). In contrast, the Edwards SA-160TLS is built like an upmarket Jazz guitar (or Gibson’s mandolins), by taking two centre-joined maple blanks and carving them into the gracefully shaped curves of the guitar. Having to be bent into shape, the rims are still plywood.

Edwards offsets the spankier basic tonality of the solid maple body by using a centre block made from mahogany, which is glued to steps left on the inside of both top and back (no spruce fillets here).

The superb cherry red finish on the SA-160TLS is Edwards’ take on what a ”closet guitar” might look like. The slightly matte look isn’t too far removed from Gibson’s VOS finish.

We find a bound pau ferro fingerboard, a well cut bone nut, and a set of classy Gotoh tuners.

The SA-160TLS features a vintage-style Tune-o-matic bridge made by Gotoh, complete with the saddle-retaining wire.

This Edwards sports a slightly hotter-than-vintage humbucker pair of a Seymour Duncan Jazz in the neck position and a Custom 5 in the bridge position.

The SA-160TLS comes with its own high quality case.

****

Due to its angular body shape an Explorer-type guitar, such as the Edwards EX-125D, probably isn’t the best choice for sofa noodling, but strapped on this light guitar is a dream to play.

The workmanship is excellent and the set-up superb. The neck profile is what guitar anoraks call a Gibson 60s neck, meaning it is very rounded with moderate thickness. The Edwards EX-125D is a very ”fast” guitar, without resorting to a too flat or too wide neck profile.

While the guitar type is already 60 years old, the active pickups used on the Edwards put it firmly in modern territory. The Duncan Blackouts offer a high output level coupled with a lot of clarity and high feedback resistance, making them just the ticket for modern styles of Metal.

****

Along with the Fender Stratocaster, the ES-335 is known as one of the most versatile classic guitars you’ll find, doing everything from Jazz and Country to Blues and Rock.

The Edwards SA-160TLS is a very classy reproduction that combines Sixties looks with late-Fifties playability. The neck profile is a dead ringer for a vintage 1959 Gibson neck. It’s round and chunky, while still steering clear of the clubby baseball bat feel of, say, a 1957/58 Les Paul.

The workmanship is superb, as is the review guitar’s set-up. The Edwards is also a lightweight instrument.

The SA-160TLS’ acoustic tone is a tiny bit brighter, and maybe even a little louder, than what you’d normally expect from a good ES-335-style semi, but played through an amp I found the differences between this solid maple Edwards and my reference semi to be largely negligible and mostly down to the different pickups. This is a fine version of a ’64 ES-335, and it also sounds like one.

****

It’s a shame that we don’t usually see more of Edwards Guitars’ output here in Finland. Judging by this review there’s a lot to be liked. These are well-made, professional grade instruments offered at fair price.

****

Edwards EX-125D & SA-160TLS

EX-125D – 1,139 €; including gig bag

SA-160TLS – 1,460 €; including case

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

****

Pros (both models):

+ workmanship

+ features

+ sound

+ value for money

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22/08/2019

The ESP Edwards SA-160LTS video

08/04/2019

Review: Harjunpää Violinbirch A 011 + Vikingman A 025

To my knowledge there is currently only one boutique maker in Finland concentrating solely on electric basses – Harjunpää Bass from the small southern town of Nurmijärvi.

Harjunpää Bass is a special case among its peers, because bass builder Jouko Harjunpää isn’t a young luthier schooled at IKATA Institute, but a middle-aged entrepreneur and bassist, who is now fulfilling a lifelong ambition. His drive comes from his love of the instrument, of Finnish wood and of creating something beautiful by hand. Harjunpää’s idiosyncratic instruments are the results of an ongoing development and refinement process, and they can be enjoyed both as musical instruments and works of art.

****

This review could have just as well been titled “The Sound of Birch”, because Jouko Harjunpää is a great fan of the different species and variants of Finnish birch wood. Both instruments tested – the blonde Violinbirch, as well as the dark Vikingman – have been made completely from birch, with the exception of their wenge top nuts.

The Violinbirch has been crafted in its entirety from curly birch, while the Vikingman sports a plain birch neck with a curly birch fretboard, mated to body made from birch burl and flamed birch.

As we’re talking about a one-man business, where instruments are made by hand, output is naturally limited. Jouko Harjunpää doesn’t like to apply the term ”price” to the amount of money changing hands between maker and customer. In his view the term ”starting value” would be more appropriate. The customer pays for the starting value, and then each bass value will start its own life, just like in the field of fine arts. The starting values for these basses are 2,500 euros for the Violinbirch and 3,500 euros for the Vikingman.

By pure chance both of the Harjunpääs tested are medium scale instruments (32 inches/81.3 cm), which are not all that common these days. A medium scale bass usually tends to sound similar in clarity and sustain to a long scale instrument, but the string action will feel a little more bendy, which suits some virtuosos.

Both basses feature full two-octave fretboards with expertly finished jumbo frets (Jescar 2.0).

In addition to their breathtakingly beautiful woods, and their compact bodies, both Harjunpääs have been built with Jouko Harjunpää’s special bolt-on neck joint. The Tuning Fork -joint uses a tempered steel plate, roughly shaped like a flattened tuning fork, that has been sunk into the neck’s butt end as an anchor for the joint’s six bolts. According to the maker, this steel plate makes the vibrational transfer between the neck and the body much faster than in a traditional bolt-on or set neck joint. The results are a clear and fast attack, a long sustain, and excellent string-to-string separation.

The Vikingman’s headstock is Harjunpää’s older design, based on the shape of the neck joint’s ”tuning fork”. Recently Jouko Harjunpää has come up with a very elegant and practical open headstock, which has been used for the Violinbirch model.

The machine heads are semi-open Wilkinsons.

Both basses sport top quality ABM-type bridges with lock screws for each bridge saddle.

Artesound pickups have been installed on both Harjunpää instruments:

The Violinbirch comes equipped with a Music Man-style large humbucker. The controls are passive and comprise master volume and master tone.

The Vikingman offers a pair of soapbar humbuckers connected to an Artesound active preamp. In addition to a three-way toggle, there are controls for master volume, bass, middle and treble (cut and boost).

****

The workmanship on both Harjunpää instruments is excellent, and most prominent in the fretwork, finishing and playing feel. These basses are made with the beauty of the woods and the overall design front and centre, which sometimes calls for unusual solutions. Take the Vikingman’s bridge as an example – due to the body’s arching the back of the bridge doesn’t lie flat on the body, but has to be shimmed. At first this may look a little strange, but it doesn’t seem to have any negative impacts on the strength of the installation or on the sound.

Both instruments balance nicely in your lap. The long body horn on the bass side makes strapped on balance outstanding. The Vikingman is a tad heavier than the Violinbirch, but still what I’d consider a light bass.

There are differences in the neck profile and the sound of each bass:

The Violinbirch sports a muscular, slightly flattish profile with a nut width of 43 mm.

Played acoustically the Violinbirch’s sound is all about clarity seasoned with a nice dose of mid-range gnarl.

Through an amp the Violinbirch comes across with a strong voice with plenty of attitude in the middle register.

The Vikingman’s neck profile could be described as chunkier version of a Jazz Bass neck. The neck is very round at its narrow nut (35 mm), but it gets wider and much flatter as you go up towards the body.

The Vikingman’s acoustic voice is very clear, too, but here the general character is rounder, and fuller in the lower mids.

Artesound’s preamp delivers a moderate output, which is good news for clean headroom. Despite its fuller acoustic tone, the Vikingman sounds a little clearer than the more aggressive Violinbirch. Thanks to the excellent preamp you can access a wide range of different sounds on this instrument.

****

Here is the demo song in audio form:

****

If your central object of desire is a heavy relic reissue of a Fender Jazz, chances are you won’t fancy on of Harjunpää Bass’ idiosyncratically beautiful instruments.

Based on this review I can say that Harjunpääs are top drawer, modern basses, which offer the perfect balance between bass chunk and top end clarity. In my opinion Harjunpää basses are great-sounding Finnish works of art.

****
Harjunpää Bass Violinbirch & Vikingman

Violinbirch – starting value 2,500 €

Vikingman – staring value 3,500 €

Pros (both basses):

+ handmade in Finland

+ Finnish wood (except top nut)

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ soundSave

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06/04/2019

Review: Raato Custom PenetRaatoR 6 Multiscale

Kitarablogi jumped at the opportunity to take a new Raato Custom Guitars PenetRaatoR Multiscale 6 for a spin.

****

The PenetRaatoR 6 Multiscale (prices starting at 3,270 €; this guitar: 3,900 €) is a handcrafted electric solidbody guitar, which offers each string its own scale length. Here the bottom E-string has a scale length of 27.75 inches, while the treble e-string’s scale is 26.5 inches. A previous review explains the ideas behind multi-scale guitars in more detail.

I must say that I rather like Raato Guitar’s crossbreed of Gibson and B. C. Rich elements, which make for a stylish instrument. The body’s core is crafted from basswood, with an added pear back and figured maple top.

This model’s neck consists of three long strips of wood – a centre piece of hard rock maple flanked on both sides by sapele mahogany.

The PenetRaatoR sport’s a very strong bolt-on neck joint using six screws and washers.

The neck has received an oil-and-wax finish. The body, as well as the headstock’s facing, have been bleached and finished with a thin satin lacquer.

One of the custom options on this PenetRaatoR is Raato Custom Guitars’ Lichtenberg Figure process used on the body and headstock face.

Putting Lichtenberg figures into wood is a relatively dangerous procedure (”don’t try this at home”), in which an electrical current is carefully used to produce lightning-like burns in the wood. You can take a look at the process in this Raato Guitars VIDEO.

Mika Ruotsalainen has gone even a bit further by filling the figures on the front with a gorgeous mixture of blue resin and holo-glitter flakes.

The PenetRaatoR 6 Multiscale’s fretboard is made of African ebony, and it sports two octaves’ worth of expertly finished jumbo-sized frets.

This guitar comes with glow-in-the-dark side dots – and company logo – made of Luminlay.

Locking Hipshot Grip-Lock machine heads make sure you tuning stays spot on, even in the middle of Metal Mayhem.

The well designed hardtail bridge is also a Hipshot product.

This PenetRaatoR comes with a pair of Bare Knuckle Pickups’ Nailbomb humbuckers with ceramic magnets. You can already guess from the name that these pickups are meant for all types of Hard Rock and Metal genres.

The review guitar’s controls are spartan and to the point:

We find a three-way toggle pickup switch, as well as a master volume control with an integrated push/pull-switch for pickup splitting.

This is what a boutique class control cavity should look like. The soldering is clean as a whistle, and the electric shielding is thorough.

****

Despite Raato Custom Guitars’ PenetRaatoR 6 Multiscale being a rather large electric guitar, its weight is surprisingly moderate. The instrument sits comfortably in the lap, proving equally well-balanced hanging on a strap.

This guitar’s lucky owner (thank you for the loan!) has chosen an asymmetrical neck profile for his own Raato guitar. The neck, which is thicker on the bass side, fits very nicely into my own hand.

The workmanship on this guitar is top notch throughout. Take the fretwork on the PenetRaatoR, for example, that makes this instrument very fast and easy to play. The owner requested his guitar be set up for drop-C tuning.

Played acoustically this Raato displays a fast and precise attack followed by long and smooth sustain.

Bare Knuckles’ considerable expertise in the field of pickup making is clearly evident in the Nailbombs’ sounds, which is couples merciless power with a high degree of musicality. Yes, these are high-octane pickups, but one-dimensional there not.

Here’s a clean audio clip that starts off with the split settings (neck, both, bridge), before switching to the full humbuckers:

The Raato PenetRaatoR 6 Multiscale has been crafted to rock hard, and rock it does indeed:

****

It is very clear to me, judging by this review, that Raato Custom Guitars stands for top class workmanship combined with a fresh and fearless approach, when it comes to body shapes and different finishes. PenetRaatoR 6 Multiscale is a fine example of what a boutique grade modern Metal guitar can be.

****

Raato Custom PenetRaatoR 6 Multiscale

Prices starting from 2,890 € (traditional scale) and 3,270 € (multiscale)

Reviewed guitar: 3,990 €

Contact: Raato Custom Guitars

****

Pros:

+ handmade in Finland

+ wide range of custom options available

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ soundSave

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