Archive for ‘review’

26/09/2019

Testipenkissä: Bluetone Bass 200

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Suomalainen putkivahvistinvalmistaja Bluetone on hiljattain lisännyt uuden bassokombon valikoimaansa. Uutukaisen nimi on Bluetone Bass 200 (1.450 €).

Bass 200 on nykyaikainen hybridikone, joka yhdistää putkikytkennällä toteutetun etuvahvistimen pienikokoiseen ja kevyeen, mutta silti tehokkaaseen D-luokan päätevahvistimeen. Etuvahvistin pyörii neljän putken voimalla (2 x ECC82/12AU7, 1 x ECC83/12AX7 & 1 x EF86), kun taas D-luokan päätevahvistin ja kombon kevyt kotelo poppelivanerista pitävät kokonaisuuden painon hyvin maltillisena (vain 12 kg).

Viimeinen painoa vähentävä seikka on Bluetonen kaiutinvalinta, joka osui neodyymimagneettilla toimivaan Eminence Kappalite 3012HO -kaiuttimeen, joka tarjoaa 400 watin tehonkestoa (impedanssi: 8 ohmia).

Bluetone Bass 200:n kotelossa on kaksi bassoporttia takaseinässä. Kombon päällystemateriaali on kuvioitua vinyyliä.

Matalan painonsa ansiosta kombon päällä oleva kahva riittää mainiosti vahvistimen kantamiseen, ja Bass 200:n kompakti ulkomuoto (l = 42,5 cm, k = 52,5 cm, s = 29,5 cm) tekee Bluetonen sijoittamisesta auton takakonttiin helppoa.

Tykkään Bluetonen asiallisesta linjasta etu- ja takapaneeleissa, jolla varmistetaan, että Bass 200:n kaikki toiminnot on helppoa löytää.

Bluetonen Bass 200 tarjoaa erilliset säätimet sekä etuvahvistimen gainelle (Volume) että päätevahvistimen lähtötasolle (Master). Kolmikaistaisessa EQ-osastossa löytyy keskialueelle kolmiasentoinen taajuusvalitsin (300 ja 500 Hz, sekä 1 kHz), sekä lisäksi erillinen Bright-kytkin. Bluetonen kätevä mykistyskytkin olisi sellainen ominaisuus, jonka näkisin kernaasti myös muiden valmistajien bassovahvistimissa.

Uusi Bluetone Bass 200 on kompakti kombo, mutta silti avokätisesti varusteltu:

Takapaneelista löytyy kytkettävä efektilenkki omalla volume-säätimellä, säädettävä ja balansoitu DI-lähtö (XLR), sekä kaksi kaiutinlähtöä (Speakon ja jakki). Joissakin bassokomboissa on kaiuttimeen kiinni juotettu johto, mikä voi koitua ongelmaksi, jos johto tai plugi menevät esimerkiksi kuljetuksen aikana rikki. Bluetonen Bass 200:ssa asia on ratkaistu soittajien ja bänditeknikkojen iloksi oikein, erillisellä kaiutinjohdolla (takapaneelin ja takaseinän välillä), joka on tarvittaessa helposti korjattavissa tai vaihdettavissa.

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Puhtaasta headroomista ei Bluetone Bass 200 -kombossa ole pulaa, mutta jos halutaan lisätä soundiin aitoa putkisäröä, erilliset Volume- ja Master-säätimet antavat siihen täydet mahdollisuudet. Särön luonne on Bass 200:ssa enemmän ”old school” -tyylisesti kermainen ja keskialuevoittoinen, niin kuin 1960- ja 60-lukujen Ampegeissa. Jos haetaan nykyaikaista Metal-säröä, kannattaisi mielestäni laittaa sopiva pedaali vahvistimen eteen.

Minun mielestäni bassovahvistimen EQ-osaston tarkoitus pitäisi olla soundin hiominen omaan musiikkityyliin – tai keikkatilanteeseen – sopivaksi, eikä vahvistimen omien soundillisien puutteiden korjaamiseen, niin kuin joissakin halpakomboissa tehdään. Täydet pisteet Bluetonelle, sillä Bass 200:n lähtösoundi – kaikilla EQ-säätimillä kello 12 -asennossa – on todella laadukas ja luonnollinen. Tämä kombo pitää myös jokaisen sähköbassomallin oman luonteen ehjänä, minkä ansiosta taajuuskorjaimet jäävät vapaaksi hoitamaan soundin lopullista hienosäätämistä.

Nimestään huolimatta Bluetone Bass 200 -kombosta lähtee todellisuudessa omalla Eminence-kaiuttimella jopa 250 wattia. Tällä teholla saa helposti hoidettua ison osan nykyisistä keikkapaikoista ja tilaisuuksista käyttämällä komboa sellaisenaan. Ja jos joskus tarvitaan vielä enemmän ääntä, on takapaneelin DI-lähtö valmis lähettämään vahvistimen laadukasta signaalia PA:n miksauspöytään.

Ensimmäisessä klipissä soi sormilla soitettu Jazz-basso:

Tässä esimerkissä soitan Rickenbacker 4003 -bassoani plektralla:

Ja lopuksi vielä esimerkki Bass 200:n särösoundista, soitettuna lyhytskaalaisella Squier Vista Musicmaster -bassolla:

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Uusi Bluetone Bass 200 on loistava valinta, jos etsit kevyttä ja kompaktia ammattitasoista bassokomboa. Tässä on kyse Suomessa käsintehdystä kombosta, ja siihen nähden pidän Bass 200:n hintaa varsin maltillisena.

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Bluetone Bass 200

1.450 €

Valmistaja: Bluetone Amplifiers

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Plussat:

+ suomalaista käsityötä

+ kompakti koko

+ kevyt

+ ominaisuudet

+ soundiSave

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25/09/2019

Review: Arvo Guitars – Arvo

”Is it possible to produce a handcrafted Finnish solidbody electric guitar at a price most working musicians can afford?”

Finnish guitarist Petri Matero kept pondering this question in earnest for some time, before deciding to try to find out. Together with Kanki Guitars’ Teemu Korpi they started to develop the idea of an affordable Finnish guitar. After much brainstorming and a row of prototypes Matero, Korpi and a man called Juha Tolonen, who runs a boutique guitar shop in Switzerland (called Captain Sounds), pooled their resources and started a new guitar company – Arvo Guitars.

Back to Leo, or: ”Keep it simple!”

The Arvo Electric Guitar follows Leo Fender’s basic principle of keeping things simple. The Arvo is not meant to be a boutique guitar, offering a myriad of options for the customer to choose from. Instead, by offering only a limited number of finishes and pickup types (all built to the same physical size), the Arvo’s price tag is kept in check, despite it being a handmade instrument.

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The Arvo Electric Guitar (prices starting from 1,240 €) is a pretty instrument that manages to look fresh and classic at the same time.

To make the life of working musicians a little easier, Arvo Guitars are very particular when it comes to weight, making sure that the finished instruments come in at around a mere two-and-a-half kilos.

The front-contoured body is crafted from Finnish poplar, which is both resonant and relatively easy to finish. The Arvo is available in four colours – red, white, black and grey.

The bolt-on neck is made from African mahogany, and it has received a transparent, open-pore finish.

The review sample is a very early production model that has been equipped with a set of Wilkinson machine heads. The ”proper” production instruments will sport a set of Graph Tech Ratio tuners. The nut has been cut from Graph Tech’s Black Tusq, a self-lubricating material.

The fingerboard uses walnut, which is a cool-looking choice. The fretwork is nothing short of excellent, with special care having been given to smoothly rounded fret ends.

The Arvo comes with two handmade pickups. The offered pickup types are humbucker, P-90 and single-coil, all built into humbucker-sized casings. The customer can choose any pickup combination he or she needs to capture their individual tone.

Because the pickups are connected to the controls using quick connectors inside the pickup routings, it is possible to swap between different Arvo-pickups relatively easily. Just remove the strings, take out the disconnected pickup, connect the new pickup and drop it in.

The bridge and stopbar tailpiece may look like standard Korean versions of Gibson’s original Tune-o-matic set-up, but they are in fact Graph Tech’s improved ResoMax parts. Graph Tech’s ResoMax hardware is made from their own proprietary metal mix, which they claim is much more resonant than the standard Zinc-based material used normally. A nifty additional feature are tiny magnets that keep the bridge and tailpiece secured to their height-adjustment posts, even after you’ve removed the strings.

In keeping with the Arvo’s design ethos, the controls are very straightforward – a master volume, a master tone, and a Tele-style three-way blade selector, all mounted onto a large plastic plate.

The soldering looks very clean and the control cavity has received a thorough foil shielding.

A gigbag comes included with the guitar.

Arvo Guitars covers its instruments with a lifetime warranty granted to the original owner. An additional incentive comes in the guise of a 50 € donation for every guitar sold to the Finnish section of Save the Children.

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The Arvo Electric Guitar is really light as a feather, yet, thanks to its design, it doesn’t suffer from neck heaviness.

In keeping with the Arvo’s classic looks the neck profile has been chosen to appeal to a wide range of guitarists. The profile is a chunky C, quite close in spirit to a late-Fifties Gibson, and good for sustain and long playing sessions. The 12-inch fretboard radius, along with the well-chosen narrowish, but medium-height frets, make for a very positive playing feel that will make you want to keep on playing.

The Arvo’s high-quality, resonant woods and the Graph Tech-hardware combine to give the guitar a loud and strident acoustic voice and plenty of harmonically rich sustain.

Amped up, much of the tone naturally hinges on the pickup type you choose for your own guitar. You could go double humbucker for a creamy and powerful voice, or maybe drop in a bridge single-coil to do a Keef or an Andy Summers.

Our review sample came with a pair of P-90 pickups, which gives you plenty of that juicy, but gritty classic Townshend and early Santana vibe. The neck pickup is warm and multidimensional, the mixed position clucky, and the bridge pickup wiry, but never thin.

Here’s a clean clip recorded direct with a Blackstar HT-1R valve combo:

For the demo song I miked up my Juketone True Blood and Bluetone Shadows Jr. combos with a Shure SM57. No overdrive pedals were used. The tremolo guitar part uses Bluetone’s new Harmonic Tremolo pedal.

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In my view Arvo Guitars has achieved what Petri Matero and Teemu Korpi set out to do; here we have a handcrafted electric guitar, made in Finland, offered at a very reasonable price.

The Arvo Electric Guitar doesn’t want to be a boutique guitar that stuns you with its figured woods, its upmarket cosmetics, and esoteric pickups. This is a straightforward, high-quality tool for the working musician, meant to be played and gigged a lot.

Actually, I liked the review guitar so much that I had to buy it.

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Arvo Electric Guitar

1,240 € as reviewed (includes gigbag); Duesenberg Les Trem optional (+ 150 €)

Contact: Arvo Guitars

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Pros:

+ handcrafted in Finland

+ workmanship

+ fretwork

+ playability

+ sound

+ value-for-money**Save

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24/09/2019

Review: PRS SE Custom 24 Roasted Maple

PRS Guitars have recently introduced a Europe-only special edition of their SE Custom 24 model – the PRS SE Custom 24 Roasted Maple Neck (price in Finland: 899 €), which is available in four very tasty finishes.

The Custom 24 is the foundation of PRS Guitars’ model range and the starting point of the company’s success story. Paul Reed Smith’s first handmade guitars were basically carved top, humbucker-equipped, deluxe versions of Gibson’s late-50s Doublecut Les Paul Special, not unlike Hamer Sunbursts. Mr Smith knew, when he started his guitar company, that he wanted to come up with a guitar that was truly his own brainchild.

This guitar was the PRS Custom 24, a model which fuses certain Fender elements (the double cutaway body and the vibrato bridge) with the glued neck, mahogany body and general aesthetics the Gibson Les Paul was known for. The 25-inch scale lies halfway between Gibson and Fender, while the improved vibrato, the straight string pull headstock and many cosmetic touches, such as the bird inlays, the deep treble cutaway chamfer, and the faux binding, were all Paul Reed Smith’s own designs.

PRS’ successful SE (= Student Edition) range is made in South Korea, which is where the special edition models come from, too. The Roasted Maple’s body stays faithful to the original by combining a contoured mahogany back with a carved maple top. To keep costs down the beautiful quilted maple front is a thin veneer on top of a plain maple top. The faux binding is achieved by masking the top’s rim prior to colour staining. The masking tape is then removed before the final clear coats are applied.

What makes this special edition special indeed is the neck:

Instead of mahogany topped with a rosewood fretboard, the Custom 24 Roasted Maple uses thermo-treated (aka torrefied or baked maple) as the material for both the set neck and the fingerboard. The theory behind the pressure cooker-type thermo treatment is that the heat and steam applied turns new wood into wood that closely resembles decades old, well-seasoned wood in terms of its look, and more importantly, its physical properties.

The fingerboard sports 24 gleaming, medium-sized frets, as well as black versions of PRS’ famous bird inlays. The smooth and well-cut nut is self-lubricating for optimum return to pitch.

The Custom 24 Roasted Maple’s twin humbucker’s are the newest SE-version of PRS’ US-made pickups, called the 85/15S. PRS promises that these ceramic pickups deliver an excellent mix of high output levels and juicy tones.

The 85/15S pickups are connected to a three-way blade switch and a master volume and master tone. A push/pull-switch in the tone control splits both humbuckers into single-coil mode.

PRS’ patented vibrato bridge is much chunkier than vintage designs, and it also features a push in arm with adjustable tension.

Naturally, PRS also includes their high-quality SE-gigbag with the Custom 24 Roasted Maple.

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The only small gripe I have with the review sample, is the guitar’s weight. Mind you, we’re not talking 1970s millstone Strats or Les Pauls here, but this particular guitar is heavier that I would have expected.

The workmanship, the quality of the finish, and the set-up puts PRS’ SE models in a league of their own, and the new Roasted Maple-version of the Custom 24 is no exception. The finish and fretwork are flawless, the action (with the supplied set of .009s) extremely slinky, yet completely buzz-free, and the floating vibrato works smoothly and without any tuning hiccups.

Even after all these years in the business I still find PRS Guitars’ neck profile names highly confusing. The company calls the carve on the Roasted Maple guitar a ”Wide Thin” neck. To me this always sounds like an early-Nineties super flat Superstrat neck, when in fact the SE Custom 24’s neck profile is slightly oval, well-rounded and of medium depth.

I don’t know it’s only my mind playing tricks, but to me it sounds like the maple neck adds a tiny bit of zing to this guitar’s acoustic tone. There’s a tiny amount of added ”Strattiness” in the mix, if you like.

Although I tend to be more in favour of low-to-medium output humbuckers, I have to admit that the PRS 85/15S units sound rather juicy, in spite of their high output. Thanks to the volume control’s treble bleed circuit you can really use the Custom 24’s controls to their fullest effect, without compromising your tone. The option to split the humbuckers for more wiry tones is an additional plus.

The first clip is an example of the PRS SE Custom 24 Roasted Maple’s basic sounds. It starts off with the humbuckers split:

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The special edition PRS SE Custom 24 Roasted Maple Neck is a worthy addition to the company’s SE-range. If you’ve ever fancied a mid-priced PRS with a set maple neck, here’s your chance.

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PRS SE Custom 24 Roasted Maple Neck

899 € (including gigbag)

Distribution: EM Nordic

Thanks to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review guitar!

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Pros:

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ versatility

+ sound

Cons:

– review guitar a little bit heavy

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12/09/2019

Review: Bluetone Bass 200

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Finnish boutique amplifier makers Bluetone have recently introduced a compact bass combo – the Bluetone Bass 200 (1,450 €).

The Bass 200 is a modern hybrid bass amplifier that combines an all-valve preamp section with a compact and efficient Class-D power amp. The preamp’s architecture is based on four tubes (2 x ECC82/12AU7, 1 x ECC83/12AX7 & 1 x EF86), while the modern power amp section and the combo’s light poplar plywood cabinet result in a low weight of only 12 kilograms.

Another factor in keeping the combo’s weight player-friendly is Bluetone’s choice of speaker – a neodymium-powered Eminence Kappalite 3012HO, with a power handling of 400 W and an impedance of eight ohms.

The combo’s cabinet features two ports in the back, and it comes covered in black textured vinyl.

Thanks to its low weight the amp’s top handle is all you need to move the combo around, and its compact size (W= 42.5 cm, H= 52.5 cm, D= 29.5 cm) means it will fit in a car’s boot easily.

I very much like the business-like look of the Bass 200’s control panel, which means it’s very easy to find you way around the amp’s features.

The Bluetone Bass 200 offers separate knobs for preamp gain (Volume) and power amp output (Master). The active three-band EQ (plus Bright-switch) offers three-way selectable mid-band rotary switch, with centre frequencies of 300 Hz, 500 Hz and 1 kHz. The Mute-switch is a handy addition, which should be made a regular feature on any bass amplifier.

The Bluetone Bass 200 may be compact, but it is still fully spec’ed:

Around the back we find a switchable effects loop with its corresponding level control, an adjustable balanced, line level DI output (XLR), and Speakon and phone jack speaker outputs. Many bass combos have the speaker cable soldered to the internal speaker, which can be a real pain if the cable gets damaged. Bluetone’s Bass 200 goes the professional route, using a short high-quality speaker cable, which connects the back panel’s output to a sturdy phone jack on the combo’s back wall.

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The Bluetone Bass 200 offers plenty of clean headroom, but should you desire a little overdrive or some genuine valve distortion the combination of the Volume and Master controls will happily oblige. In terms of the drive character the Bass 200 is clearly more of an ”old school” amp, dishing out plenty of Ampeg-style tube goodness. For modern metal tones I’d probably suggest you use an appropriate distortion pedal.

In my mind a bass amp’s EQ-section should be a tool to fine-tune the amp’s tone to your personal taste and/or the room and playing situation you’re faced with, and not, as in some lesser amps, to make up for the amplifier’s tonal deficiencies. Bluetone’s Bass 200 scores full marks in this respect – even with the three-band EQ’s controls set to 12 o’clock the bass sound is great and well-balanced. This combo keeps the different tonal characters of different bass models intact, freeing up the EQ-section for additional tweaking.

Despite its name, the Bluetone Bass 200 actually delivers 250 watts of output power connected to the combo’s own Eminence speaker. This is more than enough power to use the combo ”as is” for most of the smaller and medium-sized venues most working bassist play in these days. And if you need to be louder, the excellent DI output will send the combo’s signal to a PA system.

The first clip features a Jazz Bass played fingerstyle:

I used a plectrum to play my Rickenbacker 4003:

And here’s an example of the Bass 200’s distorted sound, played with a short scale Squier Vista Musicmaster Bass:

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The Bluetone Bass 200 is a great choice if you want a compact and lightweight professional bass combo. No, this isn’t a cheap mass-produced bass combo from China, but I feel that for a handcrafted Finnish amplifier the price tag is really rather moderate.

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Bluetone Bass 200

1,450 €

Contact: Bluetone Amplifiers

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Pros:

+ handcrafted in Finland

+ size

+ weight

+ features

+ soundSave

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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.

****

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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26/08/2019

Bluesharppu-testi nyt Rockway-blogissa

Bluesharppujen katsaus on nyt ilmestynyt.

23/07/2019

Nyt Rockway-blogissa: kolme edullista SG-kitaraa

Löydät SG-kitaroiden testin TÄÄLTÄ.

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11/06/2019

Testipenkissä: Tokai TST-50 Relic

Tällä kertaa Kitarablogilla oli ilo tutustua upouuteen erikoiserään, joka tehdään Tokain japanilaisesta TST-50 Stratokopiosta. Erikoismallin nimi on TST-50 Relic (1.699 €; topattu pussi kuuluu hintaan), ja kitara on saatavilla kahdella mikrofonivaihtoehdolla – ostaja voi valita Seymour Duncanin SSL-1- ja SSL-3-setin välillä.

****

Monen kitaristin mielestä TST-50 on yksi maailman parhaimmista Stratokopiosta, ja vanhoille japanilaisille Tokaille on jopa omat vintage-markkinat.

Uusi Tokai TST-50 Relic vie nyt asiat vielä pidemmälle tarjoamalla soittimia, joilla on kevyesti ”vanhennetut” metalliosat, hieman naarmuuntunut pleksi (ja mikkikuoret), sekä viimeistely aidolla nitrolakalla.

Tämän Relic-mallin perusajatus ei ole tarjota raskaasti keinovanhennettua kitaraa, vaan tässä haetaan sitä ”closet classic” -mojoa. Tokai TST-50 Relic on kuin vuonna 1961 uutena ostettu Strato, jota on soitettu vuosi tai kaksi kotioloissa, ja joka on sitten työnnetty sängyn alle ja unohdettu.

Erikoiserä on saatavilla ainoastaan Sonic Bluessa.

TST-50 Relic:n perusainekset ovat leppärunko, ruuvattu vaahterakaula, sekä ruusupuinen otelauta.

Otelaudassa on vintage-tyylinen radius (7,25 tuumaa) ja se tarjoaa 21 medium-jumbo-kokoista nauhaa (Dunlop 6130). Kaularaudan säätöruuvi löytyy kaulaliitoksen luona.

Erinomaiset Gotoh-virittimet näyttävät hieman kuluneilta, mutta ne eivät ole läheskään niin likaiset (tai jopa ruostuneet) kuin joissakin rajummissa relic-kitaroissa.

Sama pätee myös erikoisvalmisteiselle Gotoh-vibratallalle.

Tokai Guitars Nordic tarjoaa Tokai TST-50 Relic -mallia kahtena versiona:

SSL-1-versiossa löytyy luonnollisesti yksi setti Seymour Duncan SSL-1 -mikrofoneja, jotka ovat firman uudelleenpainos Fenderin alkuperäisistä myöhäisen 50-luvun ja varhaisen 60-luvun Stratomikeistä. Näissä mikrofoneissa on siis erikorkuisia Alnico V -magneetteja, joilla on pyöristetyt yläreunat. Keskimikki on käämitty vastasuuntaan mikä tarkoittaa, että väliasennoissa ulkopuoliset häiriöt katoavat. Tallamikki taas on teholtaan muita mikrofoneja hieman kuumempi.

SSL-3-setti on Seymour Duncanin Hot Strat -versio, jossa on vintagea pidemmät, samankokoiset Alnico V -magneetit, käännetty keskimikki, sekä hieman kuumempi tallamikki.

Jostain syystä testiin saapuneessa SSL-3-versiossa on kiiltävät säätöruuvit, kun taas SSL-1:llä varustetussa Tokai TST-50 Relic:ssä säätöruuvit ovat pikkasen ruosteiset, mikä sopii paremmin mallin yleisilmeeseen.

Säätimet toimivat perinteisellä tavalla – master volume, kaksi tonea (kaula- ja keskimikille), sekä viisiasentoinen mikrofonikytkin.

Tokai TST-50 Relic:n hintaan kuuluu laadukas pussi erillisellä sisäpussilla.

****

Minulla on hyvä vanha ystävä, joka omistaa aidon vuoden 1964 Stratocasterin (sekin on viimeistelty sonic blue -värityksellä). Olen itse saanut soittaa kyseisellä kitaralla useampaan otteeseen ja täytyy sanoa, että Tokain kopio samasta aiheesta on erinomaisen onnistunut.

Jotkut Relic-version ominaisuuksista vaikuttavat pikkuseikoilta, mutta tällaisessa closet classic -tyylisessä soittimessa ne ovat erityisen tärkeitä. Hyvä esimerkki tästä on testikitaroiden lakkaus:

Kaulan puu on jätetty kolhuttomaksi, mutta silti kaula tuntuu vanhalta, mikä johtuu ohuesta, puolihimmeästä nitrolakasta. Relicin runko taas on kiiltävä, mutta puun syyt näkee ja tuntuu hyvin pidetyn vanhan soittimen tavoin. Minusta on vain hyvä, että Tokai ei ole lisännyt TST-50 Relic -malleihin keinotekoisia painaumia ja naarmuja. Nämä kitarat tulevat varmasti saamaan aitoja jälkiä soittamisen kautta.

Tokain kaulaprofiili on täydellinen uudelleenpainos varhaisen 1960-luvun Stratokaulasta – se on erittäin mukava, hieman ovaali C. Molemmat testikitarat ovat kevyitä.

Työnjälki, säädöt, sekä soitettavuus ovat molemmissa versioissa ensiluokkaista.

SSL-1-version soundissa on aitoa vintage-mojoa. Kitara on erittäin dynaaminen, ja ääni on kuivahko maiskuttavalla atakilla ja aimolla annoksella purevuutta:

SSL-3-version signaalitaso ei ole silmiinpistävästi kuumempi kuin SSL-1-kitarassa. Mikkisetin Hot Strat -nimitys tulee pitkälti mikkien voimakkaalta keskialueelta. Tämä on paksumpi ja lihaksikkaampi näkemys Straton soundista:

Käytin demobiisissä molempia TST-50 Relic -versioita. Klippi perustuu Beatles-klassikkobiisin ”And Your Bird Can Sing” kuuluisaan kitarasooloon, jota John Lennon ja George Harrison soittivat kahdella sonic blue -värisellä Fender Stratocasterilla. Vahvistimena toimi Bluetone Shadows Jr. -kombo ja sen eteen oli laitettu Shure SM57 -mikrofoni:

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Tokai TST-50 Relic on erinomainen uudelleenpainos 1960-luvun klassikkokitarasta. Kitarassa on aito vintagekitaran tuntuma, ilman että kaulaan tai runkoon olisi lisätty keinotekoisesti naarmuja. TST-50 Reliciltä saa rutkasti vanhan sähkökitaran lumoa, ilman aidon vintagesoittimen suurta hintalappua. Lisäbonuksena uuden Tokain kanssa ei tule sitä pelkoa, että kyseessä olisi hujaus tai eri kitaroista ja osista kasattu ”Palacaster”, joka on myyty arvosoittimena.

****

Tokai Japan TST-50 Relic SSL-1 & SSL-3

1.699 € (topattu pussi kuuluu hintaan)

Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

****

Plussat:

+ työnjälki

+ aito nitrolakka

+ soitettavuus

+ kaksi eri mikkiversiota tarjolla

+ soundi

Miinukset:

– vain yksi värivaihtoehtoSave

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05/06/2019

Review: Tokai TST-50 Relic

This time Kitarablogi.com had the pleasure to receive a special run model of Tokai’s Japanese TST-50 Strat-style guitar for testing. The special model in question is called the TST-50 Relic (1,699 €; includes gig bag), and the guitar is available with two different Seymour Duncan pickup sets – either loaded with SSL-1s or a set of SSL-3s.

****

For many guitar fans the model designation TST-50 is synonymous with ”one of the finest Strat-copies in the world”, and there is a considerable market for vintage Tokais.

The Tokai TST-50 Relic takes things even further by offering instruments with lightly aged hardware, slightly scratched pickguard and pickup covers, as well as a genuine nitro lacquer finish.

The basic idea is not to offer a beaten up, abused electric guitar; Tokai is going for the look that wet dream of many guitar collectors – the vintage Strat, bought new in 1961, played for a little while, and then forgotten beneath the bed or in a closet.

Currently the TST-50 Relic is only available in Sonic Blue (just like John’s and George’s Strats).

The basic ingredients of the TST-50 Relic are an alder body and a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard.

The ’board has a vintage radius (7.25″) and comes with 21 medium-jumbo frets (Dunlop 6130). Truss rod adjustment is at the neck’s body end.

The excellent Gotoh machine heads are deliberately, but lightly tarnished, but devoid of any over-the-top filth or rust.

The same goes for the custom-made Gotoh vintage vibrato bridge.

Tokai Guitars Nordic offers the Tokai TST-50 Relic in two versions:

The SSL-1 version comes loaded with a set of Seymour Duncan SSL-1 pickups, which is the company’s recreation of a late-50s/early-60s set of Fender Stratocaster single-coils. This means we find staggered height Alnico V magnets with bevelled top edges, a reverse-wound/reverse-polarity middle unit for hum-cancelling in the in-between settings, and a slightly overwound bridge pickup.

The SSL-3 set is Seymour Duncan’s ”Hot Strat” set that offers taller-than-vintage Alnico V magnets with level tops, a RW/RP middle pickup and a slightly hotter bridge unit.

For some strange reason the SSL-3 equipped Tokai comes with shiny, modern-type height adjustment screws, while the SSL-1 TST-50 Relic sports slightly rusty vintage-style screws.

The control setup is what you’d expect in an instrument like this, offering a master volume knob, two tone controls, and a five-way pickup switch.

Tokai’s TST-50 Relic comes with its own well-padded gig bag and a protective inner shroud.

****

A good friend of mine owns a genuine 1964 Fender Stratocaster – which, funnily enough, is finished in Sonic Blue – which I’ve had the pleasure to play on a number of occasions, and I must say that Tokai are hitting all the right marks with their ”family heirloom” style Relic-version.

Many of these features are subtle, yet make all the difference in the world. Take the lacquer finish, for example:

On the neck the finish has an immaculate played-in feel, halfway between a gloss and a matte finish. The body is glossy, but it has that sunken in look of an old guitar, instead of the completely flat finish you’d normally expect on a brand-new instrument. The Tokai TST-50 Relic’s thin finish invites you to play the guitar and add some genuine battle scars of your own, instead of fake relicing out of the box.

The neck profile is a dead ringer for an early-60s Strat – a charming, slightly oval C. Both TST-50 Relics are comfortably lightweight.

The workmanship, setup, and playability of both versions proved top notch.

The SSL-1 version gives you a faithful recreation of a vintage Strat’s sound. The guitar sounds very dynamic and dry, while offering ample cluck and bite:

The SSL-3 version isn’t that much louder than its SSL-1 counterpart. Its Hot Strat-tag comes from the forceful mid-range it provides. This is a fatter and bigger take on the familiar Strat-theme:

The demo song features both versions of the TST-50 Relic. The clip is based on the classic Beatles track ”And Your Bird Can Sing” and it was recorded with a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo and a Shure SM57:

****

The Tokai TST-50 Relic gives you plenty of that vintage-style Strat-vibe, without resorting to any embarrassing fake dings and scratches. The TST-50 Relic feels and sounds very much like a 60-years old instrument, but comes with a far friendlier price tag. And you won’t have to worry that you might have spent all your money on a fake or a bitser.

****

Tokai Japan TST-50 Relic SSL-1 & SSL-3

1,699 € (including gig bag)

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

****

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ genuine lacquer finish

+ playability

+ two pickup options

+ sound

Cons:

– only available in Sonic BlueSave

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