Archive for ‘musiikki’

17/03/2017

Review: Mayson Guitars M3/OCE

Most of you will not have heard of Mayson Guitars, yet.

I’d guess this will change soon, because this ambitious Chinese acoustic guitar maker is not content with simply copying other people’s designs and building techniques. Mayson’s chief designer Alex Wang has come up with many structural improvements and updated manufacturing methods to make a better steel-string guitar.

Key changes include Mayson’s patented bolt-on neck joint, their own special top bracing pattern, and deeper bodies for a richer sound.

(photo: Mayson Guitars)

Mayson Guitars’ Finnish distributor NordSound kindly supplied us with a Mayson M3/OCE for this review.

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The Mayson M3/OCE (price in Finland: 558 €; incl. gig bag) comes from the company’s Luthier Series and is a Mayson Marquis-sized (Grand Auditorium) cutaway model with a built-in pickup and preamp system.

The M3/OCE is an extremely beautiful steel-string with a richly grained solid ovangkol top, and laminated ovangkol sides and back. Ovangkol is a non-endangered African relative of rosewood.

The Mayson’s neck is crafted from mahogany and topped with an Indian rosewood fingerboard sporting narrow frets.

Mayson uses its own special style of open gear machine heads.

The tuners are sunk into the back of the headstock to prevent any sideways movement of the machine heads.

The M3/OCE comes with a top nut and a compensated bridge saddle both made from genuine bone.

Our review instrument comes with Mayson’s own MPC-6 Purecoustics pickup system.

The preamp offers you three unobtrusive knobs to adjust your sound – volume, bass and treble.

The only point deduction comes in the guise of a freewheeling battery pouch. The sticky tape holding the velcro supposed to hold the battery pouch in place (next to the neck block) has become unstuck somewhere down the line, leaving the battery hanging from the preamp by its connecting cables.

The M3/OCE comes adorned in tasteful wood binding.

The guitar has received a flawless natural gloss finish.

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I must admit to it:

I’m a real sucker for beautiful woods, so the Mayson M3 got me on its side straight away, thanks to its stunning ovangkol soundbox.

But the M3/OCE isn’t only looks! This guitar plays great, not least thanks to its comfortable D-profile neck, and a very decent fret job.

In my view, the best thing about this Mayson is the way it sounds, though. The sound is rich, well-defined, and offers plenty of zing and sparkle. This is a huge sound with fantastic definition, which reminds me of a grand piano.

Mayson’s MPC-6 Purecoustics pickup system also ticks all the right boxes in my opinion, giving you a very decent piezo version of the M3/OCE’s acoustic voice.

Here’s a short clip played fingerstyle and recorded with a single AKG C3000 microphone:

…and the same clip recorded using the guitar’s pickup system:

Here I’ve used a plectrum and the AKG mic:

…and here’s the same piece recorded with the Purecoustics system:

The demo track consists of three different stereo guitar tracks, all recorded with a pair of C3000s:

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The Mayson M3/OCE is a fine acoustic guitar with a very decent pickup system at a very fair price. The ovangkol soundbox makes this guitar a real thing of beauty.

I can only recommend you try one out for yourself.

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Mayson M3/OCE

558 € (includes gig bag)

Finnish distributor: NordSound

Pros:

+ gorgeous ovangkol body

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ acoustic sound

+ pickup sound

Cons:

– no quick-access battery compartment

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16/03/2017

Mayson Guitars M3/OCE – The Kitarablogi-video

Contact: NordSound

14/03/2017

First View: Mayson Guitars M3/OCE

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Contact: NordSound

13/03/2017

First View: Kiiras Instruments

Demo Track composed, played and recorded by Miloš Berka.

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KIIRAS AHTI

• bolt-on Kiiras 5-pc. maple/wenge neck
• wenge fingerboard with 24 frets
• alder body
• Gotoh machine heads and Floyd Rose vibrato
• Seymour Duncan Sentinent and Nazgûl humbuckers
• Schaller Security Locks
• case included

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KIIRAS UKONKIRVES

• bolt-on Kiiras 5-pc. maple/wenge neck
• wenge fingerboard with 24 frets
• swamp ash body
• Gotoh machine heads and Floyd Rose vibrato
• Seymour Duncan Nazgûl humbucker
• Schaller Security Locks
• case included

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Contact: Kiirassoitin

10/03/2017

Review: Fender American Professional Series Telecaster & Stratocaster

It’s practically impossible to overstate the significance of Fender’s brand-new American Professional series of guitars and basses:
This isn’t just another new series among many others – the American Professional instruments are replacing Fender’s longest-running, mega-selling American Standard model range.

In addition to several Tele, Strat, Precision and Jazz Bass models, the American Pro range also includes modern versions of the Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars.

Fender’s American Pro instruments feature a multitude of improvements and updates over the American Standard models, but without doubt the most important upgrade comes in the form of the series’ V-Mod single-coils.

The V-Mod pickups have been developed by Fender’s electronics specialist Tim Shaw. The basic idea was to provide pickups that are tuned specifically for the position they are used in on the guitar. Shaw even went as far as harmonising the tonal response between the wound and plain strings inside each pickup, in some cases even using different magnets inside one pickup.

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Depending on the chosen finish, the Fender American Professional Telecaster (price in Finland approx. 1,700 €; incl. case) comes with either an alder or ash body (as on the two-tone sunburst model reviewed here).

You can also choose between a one-piece maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard option.

The American Professional Stratocaster (price in Finland approx. 1,700 €; incl. case) uses alder for the body, and you can choose between one-piece maple necks and rosewood fingerboards, too.

After having used synthetic materials for a long time, Fender have now switched to genuine bone nuts on all their American Pro instruments.

The two-way Biflex truss rods have been kept over from the American Standards.

All Am Pro guitars come with modern tuners with staggered-height posts.

The fretboard radius is kept at 9.5 inches, which gives you an excellent compromise between a vintage Fender-feel and modern playability.

There’s been an important change regarding the fret material, though:

American Professional guitars come with a new fret type that is almost as tall as jumbo wire, but narrower than the frets on the discontinued American Standard models. Again, this new fret profile is meant to give you the feel – and the percussive attack – of vintage fretwire, combined with the bend-friendly height modern jumbo-sizes offer.

The Am Pro Telecaster’s bridge is a brand-new design, which is reminiscent of vintage-type Tele bridges, but includes a few contemporary improvements.

Tele anoraks will be pleased to see Fender reverting back to a three-saddle design using brass saddles. The new saddles sport machined slopes for better intonation adjustment.

For the most part, the sides of the bridge’s base late are lower than on a vintage-style Tele bridge to make fingerpicking easier. The rear-facing end is higher, though, and Fender even includes a short and snazzy bridge cover (not shown).

Why fix something that’s not broken?

The Am Pro Strat vibrato is basically the same well-designed two-point bridge we all know from the recent American Standard series Strats, sporting vintage bent-steel saddles, and a modern bridge plate and vibrato block.

The vibrato arm is push-fit.

The American Professional models feature a traditional four-screws-plus-tilt neck joint.

The Am Pro Strat’s deep contours make the guitar especially comfortable to play.

The V-Mod pickups on the Telecaster both use Alnico V magnets for the bass strings and Alnico II for the treble strings.

The bridge pickup is reverse-wound/reverse-polarity to give you a hum-free middle (both pickups on) setting.

The V-Mod set for the SSS-Strat is even more involved than the Tele’s set-up:

The neck pickup uses Alnico II magnets for the wound strings and Alnico IIIs for the plain strings, for a tight bass and warm trebles. The middle pickup comes with Alnico IIs for the bass strings and Alnico Vs for the top, which helps retain the sparkle and clarity in switch positions two and four. The bridge pickup has Alnico V magnets for all six strings.

The tone control set-up has been modified to include the bridge pickup as well, by having the neck and middle pickups share the first tone control.

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Fender has given the neck profiles an overhaul, too, and this has clearly paid off:

The new, more oval C-profile feels fantastic, much better than the sometimes slightly generic feel of older American Standard necks. The neck is chunky without being fat or unwieldy.

The workmanship, the fretwork and the general set-up were very good, but for some reason the intonation was off on our test sample. Nothing a digital tuner and a screwdriver can’t fix in a matter of minutes, though…

I look for a woody and throaty basic voice in my Teles, and the new American Pro Telecaster delivers. There’s enough twang in here for Country and early Rock ’n’ Roll, but the sound always stays satisfyingly fat and chunky.

Tweed-style clean:

Tweed-style crunch:

British-style distortion:

The new neck profile also does its magic when it comes to the Am Pro Strat. This is one guitar that’s hard to put down!

You can only admire Tim Shaw for his dedication and perseverance in developing the Strat’s V-Mod pickup set.

Every now and then I tend to veer towards the cynical, when dealing with marketing hype and pickup esoterics. I mean, come on, most traditionally constructed Strats (and S-type guitars) sound like a Strat – bright, sparkly single pickup selections and hollowed-out in-between settings.

Fender’s V-Mod single-coils do clearly make a difference in my opinion. Firstly, the string-to-string balance for each pickup on its own is outstanding, both in terms of level and timbre. Secondly, the in-between settings sound extremely good, too, despite the fact that the V-Mod set mixes three different Strat pickups.

This results in a Stratocaster model with five equally great-sounding pickup selections.

Tweed-style clean:

Tweed-style crunch:

British-style distortion:

The demo track has Telecaster rhythm tracks coming from the left side of the stereo field, and Stratocaster rhythm parts coming from the right. On the first pass the lead guitar part is played on the Tele, for the second pass the Strat takes over.

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In my view, the American Professional Telecaster and Stratocaster are very worthy successors to their American Standard counterparts.

These guitars will doubtlessly set a new standard for high-volume production line electric guitars, just as their predecessors have done since the late 1980s.

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Fender American Professional Telecaster & Stratocaster

Approximate price: 1,700 € each (includes hard case)

Contact: Fender

A big thank you to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the reviewed guitars!

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ neck profile

+ playing feel

+ updated hardware

+ V-Mod pickups

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09/03/2017

Fender American Professional Series – The Kitarablogi-video

Contact: Fender

27/02/2017

Review: Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb

bluetone-fried-eye-22-logo

OK, people, let’s go wild here and start with the summary for a change:

In my view the good people at Bluetone Amps have outdone themselves with their Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo.

I will stick my neck out really far by claiming that the Fried Eye 2+2 is the best-sounding and most-versatile compact two-channel boutique valve combo I’ve ever come across. This guitar combo is all tone and no hype!

If the demo video and this summary are enough to whet your appetite, I’d suggest you head over to Bluetone Amps’ website right away.

If you want to know more, read on…

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Helsinki-based Bluetone is a small boutique amp maker that handcrafts each and every one of their guitar and bass amplifiers, combos and cabinets. Bluetone offers a wide range of customisable options, both on the electronic as well as on the cosmetic front.

Our review combo (price of this version: 2,400 €; incl. footswitch and cover) is a two-channel all-valve affair comprising a Bluetone Clean channel partnered with a Fried Eye crunch channel, which is Bluetone’s take on the hot-rodded Marshall theme.

The 2+2-monicker in the combo’s name points to the special power amp architecture applied here. Instead of trying to emulate or approximate the different power amp sounds of, say, a Blackface-style clean channel and a Marshall-style crunch channel using heavy filtering and electronic trickery, Bluetone Amps go for maximum authenticity.

The 2+2 power amp uses two different pairs of output tubes – one pair for each channel. Selecting the clean channel switches on the power amp’s pair of 6L6GC-valves, while switching over to the Fried Eye channel will see a pair of EL34s spring into action.

bluetone-fried-eye-22-electronics

(Photo courtesy of Bluetone Amps)

Bluetone Amps have recently been moving away from building their complete model range using only point-to-point building techniques. Certain models are now available as modular designs, which makes production less time-consuming, and thus more affordable. Still, like the point-to-point amplifiers, Bluetone hand-solders all its PCB-based modules at their workshop.

The Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb has been made in this modular fashion.

blutetone-fried-eye-22-reverb-back

Like most Bluetone combos the Fried Eye is constructed with an open back.

bluetone-fried-eye-22-celestion-speaker

Our review sample is one of the first Bluetone amps to feature a Celestion neodymium speaker.

The 12-inch G12 NEO promises genuine Celestion Creamback tones coupled with the benefit of considerably lighter weight.

The Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb uses an MOD reverb tank and Bluetone’s own valve-driven circuitry.

bluetone-fried-eye-22-back-panel

This Fried Eye combo comes with some interesting back panel features:

There’s a Front End signal booster, amplifying the signal right at the beginning of the signal path.

The Fried Eye’s switchable effects loop is an active affair, complete with a dedicated level control. If you don’t run any effects in the loop, you can use the loop’s make-up gain as an additional, foot-switchable boost in the signal path.

bluetone-fried-eye-22-pedalboard

A chunky three-button footswitch unit is supplied with the Bluetone combo.

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bluetone-fried-eye-22-control-panel

Bluetone’s Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb combo offers a wide range of options on its front panel. Thanks to the logical layout and the clear lettering, the front panel never seems complex or crowded, though.

The Fried Eye Crunch channel offers you a 3-Band EQ-section, plus Fat and Bite switches, to fine-tune your crunch tones.

The Bluetone Clean channel’s High/Low-switch offers two different pre-gain settings, which change the amount of available clean headroom.

Each channel features its own reverb level knobs – so you don’t have to compromise lush reverbs for clean tones with drier settings for crunch – as well as dedicated master volume controls.

Using all the different front panel and back panel features offers you a mind-boggling array of different tonal and drive options. With just a couple (or three) well-chosen guitars, Bluetone’s Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb will give you access to virtually any classic guitar tone you could dream up (with the exception of contemporary Metal).

Bluetone’s clean channel will take you from pristinely shimmering cleans well into Blues break-up territory.

This clip steps through the different boost options offered by the Fried Eye’s clean channel (using a Hamer USA Studio Custom). The sequence is Low dry –> Low plus reverb –> High –> High + FE Boost –> High + FE Boost + FX Boost:

Being able to use the FX loop as an additional booster turns the Fried Eye 2+2 into a two-channel-plus-solo-boost machine.

This clip steps through the different boost options offered by the Fried Eye’s crunch channel (using a Hamer USA Studio Custom). The sequence is Crunch –> Crunch + FE Boost –> Crunch + FE Boost + FX Boost:

Cleaning up the crunch channel using your guitar’s volume control works like a dream here. The Bluetone’s Fried Eye Crunch sounds juicy and lively, even with the guitar turned down to almost zero:

The demo track’s rhythm guitar parts were played on a Gibson Melody Maker SG (stereo left) and a maple-necked Fender Stratocaster (stereo right). The lead part was recorded with a modern Tele-type guitar, using the instrument’s volume control to adjust the amount of overdrive:

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bluetone-fried-eye-22-front-angle-2

In my view the good people at Bluetone Amps have outdone themselves with their Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo.

I will stick my neck out really far by claiming that the Fried Eye 2+2 is the best-sounding and most-versatile compact two-channel boutique valve combo I’ve ever come across. This guitar combo is all tone and no hype!

Messrs. Kneckt and Vauhkonen don’t run around wearing strange clothes or wild hairdos, pretending to be exalted tone gurus. You also won’t be required to send in mp3s of your guitar playing to prove you’re worthy to join the ”Bluetone Cult”.

Bluetone’s dynamic duo are down-to-earth guys, out on an ongoing quest to bring you maximum tone and usability, and no bullsh*t.

For a genuine boutique-grade amp of its calibre, I can only call the Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb’s price tag extremely fair.

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Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo

This version: 2,400 € (including footswitch unit and dust cover)

Contact: Bluetone Amps

Pros:

+ handmade in Finland

+ lightweight

+ multiple boost stages

+ versatility

+ reverb sound

+ dedicated reverb and master controls for each channel

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24/02/2017

Testipenkissä: Gurus Amps Sinusoid

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gurus-amps-sinusoid-2-blog

Italiasta on kovaa vauhtia muodostumassa eräänlainen Mekka meille kitaristeille, tai ainakin siltä vaikuttaa, kun tarkastelee saapasmaan alati kasvavaa ryhmää innovatiivisia vahvistin- ja efektipajoja.

Yksi todella kuuma nimi on Gurus Amps Faenzasta (noin puolessa välissä matkaa Bolognasta Riminiin). Gurus valmistaa sekä vahvistimia että efektipedaaleita – heidän analoginen, putkivahvistettu Echosex-viivepedaali on saavuttanut jo miltei legendastatuksen.

Gurus Ampsin Sinusoid (479 €) kuuluu samaan efektisarjaan, ja se on todella kiehtova yhdistelmä vanhaa ja uutta. Ison pokkarin kokoinen Sinusoid tarjoaa kaksi putkisoundilla höystettyä efektiä samoissa kuorissa– optisen tremolon, sekä aidon jousikaiun.

Sinusoid myydään ilman virtalähdettä. Pedaali toimii 9-12 voltin tasavirralla, ja virtajakin polariteetti on Boss-standardin mukainen. On kuitenkin tärkeää valita sen kanssa käytettäväksi astetta järeämpi virtalähde, sillä kyseinen Gurus-efekti on melko janoinen kaveri, joka tarvitsee toimiakseen 230-400 milliampeeria. Sinusoid toimi testin ajan ongelmattomasti Kitarablogin Cioks-pedaalilautavirtalähteen kanssa käytettynä.

Gurusin Sinusoid-pedaali on monofoninen tuplaefekti. Kitaran (tai kosketinsoittimen) voi liittää joko suoraan Sinusoidin tuloon, tai vaihtoehtoisesti pedaalin voi sijoittaa vahvistimen efektilenkkiin.

Remote control –jakin ansiosta Sinusoidin efektit voi kytkeä päälle ja pois ulkoisella kytkimellä, mikä mahdollistaa Sinusoidin sijoittamisen kauas muista efekteistä, mikä puolestaan voi auttaa häiriöäänten hillitsemisessä.

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Guru Ampsin Sinusoid on todella helppokäyttöinen:

Kummallekin efektille on varattu oma jalkakytkin, kaksi säädintä sekä (vanhoista putkiradioista tuttu) vihreä Magic Eye -merkkivalo.

Tremolopuolella merkkivalo ilmaisee vatkauksen nopeuden. Jousikaiun Magic Eye -valo taas ilmaisee Accutronics-jousitankille ohjattavan signaalin volyymitason, jota säädetään Volume-säätimellä. Volumen ”väärinkäyttö” on mahdollista, ja sen myötä Sinusoidilla voi tuottaa hyvinkin rapeita ja säröisiä Surf- ja Rockabilly-kaikuja.

Sinusoid on saanut nimensä laitteen muhkeasta, siniaaltoon pohjautuvasta tremoloefektistä. Intensityllä säädetään efektin voimakkuutta, ja siinä riittää säätövaraa lähes huomaamattomasta aina rajuun vatkaukseen. Myös Speed-säädin tarjoaa laajan säätövaran tremolon nopeudelle.

Tämä klippi esittelee Gurus Sinusoidin tremoloefektiä eri säädöillä. Testikitarana toiminut Fender Stratocaster oli kytketty suoraan pedaaliin:

Ensimmäinen ajatukseni oli ”Hullut italialaiset!”, kun kuulin että Sinusoidin uumenin on asennettu aito jousikaiku. Kaikua testattuani täytyy kuitenkin myöntää, että pedaalin herkulliset kaikusoundit voittivat minut nopeasti puolelleen. Sinusoidin kaikusoundi ei ehkä ole ihan niin vivahteikas ja tiheä, kuin esimerkiksi Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverb -kombossa. Mutta täytyy muistaa, että tässä on kyse huomattavasti pienemmästä jousitankista, ja siihen nähden Gurus Sinusoidin tarjoama jousikaiku kuulostaa jopa hämmästyttävän hienolta:

Tässä on vielä yksi esimerkki, jossa hyödynnetään molempia efektejä yhtä aikaa:

Mainitsin aiemmin, että Sinusoid-pedaali toimii, kitaran lisäksi, myös todella hyvin koskettimien/synan kanssa. Äänitin siksi demobiisissä kitararaitojen lisäksi myös kosketinosuudet Gurus-pedaalin kautta:

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Gurus Sinusoid on vallan mainio laite, jos kaipaa omaan soundiinsa putkivahvistettuja, aitoja tremolo- ja jousikaiku-efektejä. Laite on helppokäyttöinen ja samalla myös suhteellisen kompakti.

Keikkaympäristössä täytyy kuitenkin tarkkaan miettiä Sinusoidin sijaintia pedaalilaudassa sähköisten tai mekaanisten häiriöäänten ehkäisemiseksi. Nimensä mukaisesti jousikaiku tuottaa efektinsä sähkömekaanisesti resonoivilla metallijousilla, minkä vuoksi kaikki kaikutankit ovat herkkiä tärinälle ja iskuille. Tavallisesti jousikaiku on sijoitettu turvallisesti kombovahvistimen pohjaan tai sille on jopa rakennettu oma kotelo. Gurusin Sinusoidin tapauksessa jousitankki on lattiaefektin uumenissa, ja laite kytketään päälle ja pois jalkakytkimellä. Jalkakytkimen ytimekäs käyttö ja/tai vahinkopotku laitteen kylkeen voi saada jouset rämisemään, mikä kuulostaa eriasteiselta ukkosen jyrinältä. Suosittelen siis solumuovikerroksen tms. asentamista pedaalin pohjan ja pedaalilaudan rungon väliin iskujen vaimentamiseksi.

Minun mielestäni Gurus Sinusoid -tuplapedaali on mainio valinta vintageen kallistuvalle soundiesteetikolle. Tiedän, että nykyään on tarjolla loistavia vintage-tremolon ja -kaiun mallinnuksiakin, mutta aitoja analogiefektejä arvostaville Sinusoid on juuri oikea valinta.

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Gurus Amps Sinusoid

479

Maahantuoja: NordSound

Plussat:

+ kaksi aitoa analogiefektiä putkivahvistuksella

+ tukeva rakenne

+ kompakti koko

+ soundien laatu

+ toimii efektiloopperin kanssa

Miinukset:

– jousikaikujen yleinen herkkyys tärinälle

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19/02/2017

Fender American Professional Series – Now on SoundCloud

17/02/2017

Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb – now on SoundCloud

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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