Archive for ‘Video’

24/04/2017

Ukulele Roundup 2017 – The Kitarablogi-video

17/04/2017

Testipenkissä: Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb

bluetone-fried-eye-22-logo

Voisin aloittaa tämän testiartikkelin sen loppupäätelmällä:

Minun mielestäni Bluetonen vahvistinvelhot ovat tehneet yhden maailman parhaista vahvistimista, ja sen nimi on Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo.

Minun korviini Fried Eye 2+2:n soundi on uskomattoman hyvä ja kombon tarjoama monipuolisuus suorastaan hämmästyttävää. Kyse on loistavasta soundista, täysin ilman hypeä!

Jos tämä tiivistelmä riittää sinulle, käväise oitis Bluetonen nettisivuilla tsekkaamassa styrkkarin speksejä.

Tai voit myös jatkaa lukemista…

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Helsinkiläinen Bluetone on aito custom-paja, jossa valmistetaan käsityönä kitara- ja bassovahvistimia, sekä niille sopivia kaiutinkaappeja. Asiakas voi mukauttaa tilaamansa vahvistimen mieleisekseen, sekä ulkonäöllisesti, että spekseiltään, laajasta valikoimasta custom-optioita.

Testissä käynyt täysputkikombo (hinta noin 2.400 €; jalkakytkin ja suojahuppu kuuluvat hintaan) tarjoaa puhtaan Bluetone Clean -kanavan, sekä firman hot-rod-muunnelman Marshall-tyylisestä säröstä, nimeltään Fried Eye Crunch.

Nimen ”2+2” -lisäke tulee päätevahvistimen erikoisesta arkkitehtuurista. Bluetonella ei uskota, että perustavanlaatuisesti erilaisia vahvistinsoundeja pystyisi tuottamaan riittävän uskottavasti yhdellä pääteasteella, vaan aitoon soundiin tarvitaan aina myös etuasteen kanssa yhteensopiva, oikeanlainen pääte. Marshall-päätevahvistimella ei voi tuottaa aitoa Blackface-soundia, eikä Marshall-särökään oikein lähde lentoon 60-luvun Fender-päätevahvistimella. Autenttisiin soundeihin tarvitaan asiaankuuluvat putket ja oikeanlainen kytkentä.

Bluetonen 2+2-päätevahvistin koostuu kahdesta itsenäisestä pääteasteesta, joissa kussakin käytetään yhtä putkiparia. Puhdasta kanavaa käytettäessä, Fender-tyylinen 2 x 6L6GC -pääte herää eloon, kun taas säröpuolen tehot tuotetaan Marshall-tyylisellä 2 x EL34 -kytkennällä.

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(Kuva: Bluetone Amps)

Nykyään Bluetonella käytetään kahta eri vahvistinrakennusmenetelmä. Kalliimmat custom-vahvistimet rakennetaan yhä point-to-point-menetelmällä, mikä on hyvin aikaavievä prosessi. Upouuden Amp Designer -sovelluksen kautta tilatut vahvistimet taas tehdään modulaarisesti huippulaadukkailla piirilevyillä. Nämä piirilevytkin on juotettu käsin Bluetonen pajassa, mutta moduulien ansiosta vahvistimen kasaaminen on nopeampaa (ja edullisempaa), laadusta tinkimättä.

Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb -kombo on juuri tällainen modulaarinen Bluetone-styrkkari.

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Niin kuin monissa Bluetone-komboissa, myös Fried Eyessä käytetään avointa kaiutinkaappia.

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Testivahvistin on yksi ensimmäisiä Bluetoneja, joissa on käytetty neodyymimagneetilla varustettuja Celestion-kaiuttimia.

Kaksitoistatuumaisessa G12 NEO:ssa on Celestion Creamback -henkinen soundimaailma, mutta se painaa kevyemmän magneetin ansiosta huomattavasti vähemmän.

Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb -kombon jousikaiku käyttää MOD-firman tankkia Bluetonen omaan putkipiiriin kytkettynä.

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Tässä Fried Eyessä on tarjolla myös muutama mielenkiintoinen ominaisuus kombon takapaneelissa:

Bluetonen Front End -boosteri (FE BOOST) vahvistaa tulosignaalia signaaliketjun alkupäässä.

Fried Eyen jalkakytkimellä aktivoitavaan efektilenkkiin on lisätty oma vahvistuspiiri ja Volume-säädin. Jos lenkkiin ei ole kytketty ulkoisia efektejä, voi sitäkin käyttää esimerkiksi soolo-osuuksien lisäboostina.

bluetone-fried-eye-22-pedalboard

Komboon kuuluu erittäin kestävän oloinen, kolmikytkiminen jalkakytkinyksikkö kanavanvaihtoa, kaikua ja efektilenkkiä varten.

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Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb -kombon etupaneelistakin löytyy runsaasti ominaisuuksia. Loogisen rakenteensa – ja selkeän tekstityksensä – ansiosta vahvistimen käyttö on silti todella helppoa.

Särökanava tarjoaa kolmikaistaisen EQ:n lisäksi Fat- ja Bright-piirit särösoundin hienosäätämiseen.

Puhtaan kanavan High/Low-kytkimellä voi valita kahdesta esivahvistustasosta, joilla on vaikutusta kombon puhtaaseen headroomiin.

Kummallekin kanavalle on omat Reverb-säätimensä – niin ei synny ristiriitoja puhtaan ja särösoundin kaikuasetusten välillä – sekä omat Masterinsa.

Kun käyttää harkiten kaikkia etu- ja takapaneelin tarjoamia ominaisuuksia, voi löytää uskomattoman määrän erilaisia soundi- ja gain-vaihtoehtoja. Jos valitsee arsenaaliin pari (tai kolme) erilaista kitaraa, voi Bluetonen Fried Eye 2+2 -kombolla saavuttaa käytännössä kaikki klassikkosoundit sähkökitaran pitkän historian varrelta (nykymetallin über-gain säröjä lukuunottamatta).

Bluetonen puhtaan kanavan soundivalikoima ulottuu putipuhtaasta kevyeen Blues-säröön.

Tässä klipissä käydään puhtaalla kanavalla eri gain-asetuksia läpi (Hamer USA Studio Custom -kitaralla). Järjestys on Low (kuiva) –> Low (kaiulla) –> High –> High + FE Boost –> High + FE Boost + FX Boost:

FX Loopin lisäboosterin ansiosta Fried Eye 2+2 -kombolla saa helposti nostettua soolo-osuudet esiin.

Tässä klipissä käydään särökanavalla eri gain-asetuksia läpi (Hamer USA Studio Custom -kitaralla). Järjestys on Crunch –> Crunch + FE Boost –> Crunch + FE Boost + FX Boost:

Kitaran volume-säätimen käyttö on Fried Eye –kombon läpi soitettaessa erittäin antoisaa puuhaa. Bluetone-vahvistin kuulostaa todella mehukkaalta ja dynaamiselta myös silloin, kun kitaran volyymiä on laskettu rutkasti:

Demobiisin komppiraidat on soitettu Gibson Melody Maker SG:llä (vasen kanava) ja Fender Stratocasterilla (oikea kanava). Soolo-osuuksia varten käytin nykyaikaista Tele-tyylistä lankkukitaraa. Särön määrää on säännöstelty kitaran volumella:

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Minun mielestäni Bluetonen vahvistinvelhot ovat tehneet yhden maailman parhaista vahvistimista, ja sen nimi on Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo.

Minun korviini Fried Eye 2+2:n soundi on uskomattoman hyvä ja kombon tarjoama monipuolisuus suorastaan hämmästyttävä. Kyse on loistavasta soundista, täysin ilman hypeä!

Herrat Kneckt ja Vauhkonen eivät leikki putkiguruja hyppimällä ympäriinsä korneissa peruukeissa tai kirjavissa vaateissa. He eivät myöskään vaadi, että vahvistimen tilaaja ensin lähettäisi mp3-tiedostoja omasta soitostaan, jotta voitaisiin päättää, onko soittaja riittävän ”hyvä” liittyäkseen ”Bluetone-kerhoon”.

Bluetonella tehdään korkeaa laatua vankalla ammattitaidolla. Nämä herrat ovat jatkuvasti etsimässä vielä parempia tapoja tehdä äärimmäisen hyviä putkivahvistimia – ilman hypeä, ilman bullsh*ttiä

Tämä on aito Suomessa rakennettu boutique-luokan kitarakombo, josta pyydetään mielestäni varsin maltillinen hinta.

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Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo

Tämä versio: 2.400 € (jalkakytkin ja suojahupu sis. hintaan)

Lisätiedot: Bluetone Amps

Plussat:

+ käsintehty Suomessa

+ kevyt

+ useat boost-vaihtoehdot

+ monipuolinen

+ jousikaiun soundi

+ kummallekin kanavalle omat Reverb- ja Master-säätimet

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31/03/2017

Review: Kiiras Instruments Ahti + Ukonkirves

Kiirassoitin – instruments from the Purgatory; the name alone makes pretty clear from the get-go that these aren’t your dad’s guitars!

Simo Iiskola, the man behind Kiiras Instruments, is a custom guitar maker (and drum builder!) from Central Finland. His main guitar line – the Katras Series (katras is Finnish for flock) – stands firm as a wholehearted manifesto to Metaldom, both visually and in terms of sound.

Kitarablogi got the chance to spend some quality time with two Kiiras Katras guitars – the Ahti and the Ukonkirves (prices starting from 1,495 €).

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The Kiiras Ahti (named after the Finnish water god) is a two-horned affair, looking like the wild love child of a Fender Strat and a Burns Bison.

The hand-distressed, rustic finishes on Katras Series instruments resemble the bark of the birch tree.

The reviewed Ahti was built using a three-piece alder body.

All Kiiras Katras guitars feature a three-piece body, with a wide central piece and two narrower pieces added on the sides.

The Kiiras Ukonkirves (ukon kirves is the Finnish equivalent of Thor’s Hammer) is a Flying V-shaped electric guitar.

The reviewed Ukonkirves uses ash for its body.

Both instruments feature a rib cage chamfer.

All Kiiras Katras guitars have five-piece maple and wenge necks with sturdy bolt-on joints.

The area around the bolts is dressed away for easier access to the top frets.

Simo Iiskola uses top-drawer Gotoh parts in black chrome, like the Gotoh SG381 machine heads on our review instruments.

The Gotoh Floyd Rose is a model GE1996-T.

The wenge fingerboard comes with 24 chunky jumbo frets.

Our vibrato-equipped review guitars feature a 16-inch fretboard radius, while stoptail-equipped Kiiras guitars usually come with a compound radius ’board.

The look on these Kiiras instruments is non-more-Metal, and the pickups have been chosen accordingly.

The Ahti comes with a pair of passive humbuckers – the Seymour Duncan Sentient (neck) and Nazgûl (bridge)…

…while the Ukonkirves sports a sole Nazgûl humbucker in the bridge position.

The stainless steel pickup rings, switch plates and jack plates are all custom-made to fit the birch bark theme.

The Ahti’s controls comprise a three-way switch – giving you neck pickup, off [!], and bridge pickup – as well as separate volume controls for each pickup and a master tone.

The Ukonkirves makes do with two controls – volume and tone.

The electronics cavities look very clean, and they are shielded with conductive paint and a foil-lined wooden lid.

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Despite its ”distressed mythical old plank” looks, the Kiiras Ahti feels every bit the smooth, well-balanced, and comfortable custom-made guitar it is.

The flattish C-profile neck is fast, but chunky enough not to feel flimsy or uncomfortable. The frets have been seated and dressed with great care, although some might find the look of the fret ends a tiny bit scruffy. The important thing is, though, that the frets (and fret ends!) feel even smoother than the guitar’s cool satin finish!

The reviewed Ahti was set up for standard-C tuning. The set up was fantastic, offering a slinky, yet precise playing feel, coupled with an in-tune Floyd Rose.

Seymour Duncan’s Sentient and Nazgûl humbuckers are among the darkest and most brutal passive humbuckers offered by the company. Still, these pickups manage to combine brooding darkness with a very musical and rich top end. Sure, these humbuckers will kick your amp’s butt, but they don’t offer blunt power at the expense of great tone.

Here are two basic demo clips recorded with a Blackstar HT-1R:

I turned to a Metal expert for the demo track to do the guitar and the genre justice. My son, Miloš Berka, recorded the guitar tracks using his Atomic Amps AmpliFire amp modeller:

The Kiiras Ukonkirves is a great V-shaped guitar for the no-compromise, no-nonsense lead guitarist.

If you try to play a V-style guitar seated, you’re doing it wrong. This type of guitar is meant to be used standing up with a strap.

Just as on the Ahti, the feel and playability of the Kiiras Ukonkirves is fantastic, and its set-up (in D-standard tuning) was spot on!

It may all be in my head (or down to the tuning), but I feel the ash-bodied Ukonkirves sounds a tiny bit brighter than the alder-bodied Ahti:

Once again Miloš recorded the demo track using his Atomic Amps AmpliFire amp modeller:

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I’m sure some will find the looks of these two Kiiras Katras guitars a little bit too much of a visual statement. They’re entitled to their views, and won’t have any problems finding a black instrument.

There’s no denying, though, that both the Kiiras Ahti and the Kiiras Ukonkirves are about much more than just bold looks. These are excellent custom-made electric guitars, completely geared towards the needs of modern Metal guitarists.

Simo Iiskola’s Kiiras Instruments also offers plenty of custom options, from the pickups and electronics used all the way to different headstock shapes. If these guitars rock your boat, go check them out!

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Kiiras Instruments Ahti + Ukonkirves

Prices starting from 1,495 € (includes hard case)

Contact: Kiirassoitin

Demo Track composed, played and recorded by Miloš Berka.

Pros:

+ handmade in Finland

+ custom options available

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ finish

+ sound

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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 Sentient 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 plate 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

01/03/2017

Tulossa *** Coming soon ** Source Audio

Contact: Musamaailma