Posts tagged ‘Fender’

12/09/2018

Review: Green Guitars P-Bass

Green Guitars is a new Swedish brand that offers affordable and mid-priced electric guitars and basses, which are made in China. Green’s line-up even includes a few Korean Custom Shop models.

For the most part Green instruments are straight copies of classic models, but as a special feature some instruments are available with relic’d finishes. There’s also a choice of different pickups for many models.

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Green Guitars’ P-Bass (current price in Finland: 375 €) is the brand’s own version of a 1960s Fender Precision Bass.

Our review instrument’s basswood body comes finished in a very pretty Sonic Blue.

One player-friendly change comes in the guise of a modern truss rod, which is adjusted from the headstock end. No need for taking the neck off on a Green P-Bass.

The bolt-on neck is made from maple, with the fingerboard being a slab of rosewood. The neck sports a thin satin finish.

The Green’s machine heads are modern updates of the classic open tuner theme, and they seem to be of very decent quality.

The bridge has been updated, too. The base plate is considerably thicker than on the classic Fender bridge. The bridge saddles’ height-adjustment screws run in grooves to prevent sustain-robbing sideways movement.

The Green P-Bass comes equipped with a Kent Armstrong split-coil pickup. This Far Eastern version uses a ceramic magnet stuck to the bottom of each half’s bobbins with soft steel pole pieces, instead of the separate slug magnets on original 60s Fenders.

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Many P-bass copies in this price bracket deliberately use a different neck profile than the Fender original. A genuine Precision’s neck is relatively wide and a bit flattish at the top nut – some bassists like this, others don’t. Most affordable copies of this classic use a more middle-of-the-road, narrower C-profile.

I like a Precision-style bass to feel like a Precision, which is why I applaud Green Guitars’ decision to build their P-Bass with a traditional neck profile. This bass feels like it should.

The Green bass also wins me over in terms of its sound. I used my own 1976 Fender as a benchmark, and the Green P-Bass growls just like it should. The low register is punchy, and the top end is open, but never sharp or brittle.

The original Fender Precision is the classic of all classics; it was the first electric bass, and its sound is familiar to us all from thousands of recordings. I have chosen to record a little Motown-tribute as a demo song. The Green P-Bass went through a SansAmp Bass Driver and then into a Focusrite interface:

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We could, no doubt, spend hours on end discussing the ethics and the raison d’être of copy instruments. The truth is, though, that there’s an abundance of affordable copies of classic designs on the market.

Green’s P-Bass is definitely worth trying, if you’re shopping for this style of bass in this price segment. This bass feels and sounds very much like the original classic that served as its inspiration. Judging by the review bass, Green’s workmanship seems very clean and crisp for the price.

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Green Guitars P-Bass

375 €

Finnish distributor: Nordsound

Pros:

+ value for money

+ authentic neck profile

+ soundSave

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10/09/2018

Nux mini-pedals – now on SoundCloud

Nux mini-sized guitar effects

• Drum loop: Nux JTC Drum & Loop
• Electric piano: Korg SP-200 through Monterey Vibe & Konsequent Delay
• Rhythm guitars (Strat + Tele): Konsequent Delay & Oceanic Reverb
• Lead 1 (Strat): Tube Man Overdrive & Konsequent Delay & Oceanic Reverb
• Lead 2 (Strat): Morning Star Overdrive & Konsequent Delay & Oceanic Reverb
• Lead 3 (Strat): Brownie Distortion & Konsequent Delay & Oceanic Reverb
• Amp used: Blackstar HT-1R

Info: Musiikki Silfverberg

30/08/2018

Nux Cerberus – Now on SoundCloud

Nux Cerberus

• Multi-function effect pedal for electric guitar
• 16 different effect types in 4 effect groups (delay/reverb, mod, distortion, drive)
• 128 presets in 32 banks
• Analog overdrive and distortion circuits
• True bypass (overdrive/distortion)
• Realistic speaker simulation with impulse response loader
• MIDI compatible
• USB port for upgrading the software editor
• Converter: 88.2 kHz/32-bit AD/DA
• Kill-dry switch
• Integrated chromatic tuner
• Tap function
• Multiple inputs and outputs
• Dimensions: 320 x 100 x 65 mm
• Weight: 1.26 kg
• Power supply not included

Info: Musiikki Silfverberg

27/08/2018

Testipenkissä: Green Guitars P-Bass

Green Guitars on nuori ruotsalainen brändi, joka tarjoaa sekä edullisia että keskihintaisia Kiinassa valmistettuja sähkökitaroita ja -bassoja. Mallistoon mahtuu myös muutama Etelä-Koreasta peräisin oleva Custom Shop -malli.

Suurilta osin Green-soittimet ovat kopiosoittimia, mutta yhtenä erikoisuutena voi mainita, että brändi tarjoaa joissakin malleissa myös relic-viimeistelyjä, sekä useita mikrofonivaihtoehtoja.

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Green Guitars P-Bass (375 €) on firman versio 1960-luvun Fender Precision -bassosta.

Testisoittimen runko on tehty lehmuksesta, ja se on viimeistelty siististi klassisellaa vaaleansinisellä sävyllä.

Yksi soittajaystävällinen muutos Green P-bassossa on kaularaudan säätöruuvin sijainti viritinlavan puolella, jonka ansiosta säätäminen sujuu nopeasti ja helposti.

Ruuvikaula on veistetty vaahterasta, kun taas basson otelauta tehdään ruusupuusta. Kaulassa on satiinipintainen mattaviimeistely.

Greenin avoimet virittimet vaikuttavat laadukkailta.

Basson talla on hieman tukevampi versio Fenderin vintage-tallasta. Greenin tallassa on paksumpi pohjalevy, jossa on myös urat, jotka estävät tallapalojen sivuttaista liikkumista.

Green P-bassoon on valittu Kent Armstrongin suunnittelema presarimikki. Tässä Kauko-Idässä valmistetussa versiossa mikrofonipuoliskojen magneetit on kiinnitetty mikkikelojen alapuolelle. Perinteisissä Fender-mikeissä taas näkyvissä olevat navat ovat yksittäisiä pyöreitä magneetteja.

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Monet tämän hintaluokan presarikopiot poikkeavat kaulaprofiilin suhteen alkuperäisestä Fender-bassosta. Alkuperäisellä Precisionilla on nimittäin satulan lähellä suhteellisen leveä ja hieman laakeakin profiili, joka on perinteisesti hieman jakanut basisteja. Monissa edullisissa kopiosoittimissa on tämän vuoksi alkuperäistä pyöreämpi ja kapeampi kaula.

Onneksi Green Guitarsin P-bassossa on perinteinen kaulaprofiili, joka on minusta tärkeä seikka, kun puhutaan presarin luonteesta ja soittotuntumasta.

Soundin kannaltakin Green-basso pärjää mainiosti oman 70-luvun Fenderin vieressä. Greenin ”versio” murisee ja murahtaa oikeaoppisesti ja diskantissa löytyy mukavasti avoimuutta.

Alkuperäinen Fender Precision on klassikkojen klassikko; maailman ensimmäinen sähköbasso, jonka soundi on tuttu tuhansista äänityksistä. Tällä kertaa päätin äänittää lyhyen Motown-tribuutin demobiisiksi. Green P-basso meni SansAmp Bass Driverin kautta suoraan äänikortille:

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Kopiosoittimien järkevyydestä ja eettisyydestä voisi varmaan väitellä loputtomiin – tosiasia on kuitenkin, että niitä löytyy runsaasti markkinoilla.

Green P-Bass on omassa hintaluokassaan todella positiivinen tuttavuus. Tässä edullisessa soitimessa löytyy runsaasti aidon presarin tuntumaa ja soundia. Myös Greenin työnjälki on testiyksilön perusteella hyvin siisti.

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Green Guitars P-Bass

375 €

Maahantuoja: Nordsound

Plussat:

+ hinta-laatu-suhde

+ kaulaprofiili

+ soundiSave

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13/08/2018

The new Bluetone Ghost presented by Kai Järvinen

Finnish guitarist Kai Järvinen takes the new Bluetone Ghost for a spin.

• Guitars used: Fender Custom Shop 1960 Stratocaster NOS & Gibson Custom Shop 1958 Les Paul Standard VOS

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Bluetone Ghost

• Handcrafted in Finland

• Based on a vintage Gibson GA-8 combo

• Approx. 8-10 W output

• High and Low inputs

• Volume and Tone controls

• Three-way switch for Negative Feedback/Off/Boost

• Three-position Bluetone OPC switch

• Single-ended power amp (6V6GT)

• Single 12-inch Celestion Alnico Blue speaker

More info at: http://www.bluetone.fi/ghost/

06/08/2018

Green Guitars P-Bass – Now on SoundCloud

Maahantuoja/Distributor: Nordsound

02/08/2018

Green Guitars P-Bass ++ Testi tulossa ++ Review coming soon

Maahantuoja/Distributor: Nordsound

09/05/2018

Review: Bluetone Load Box

Finnish boutique amp company Bluetone has released a Swiss Army Knife-style lifesaver for valve amp users on stage and in the studio.

The Bluetone Load Box (370 €; incl. 1.5 metre speaker cable) is a professional quality dummy load (100 W/8 Ω) in a very compact format (only slightly larger than a big paperback) that doubles as a DI-box for guitar amps.

As any valve amp user should know, using an amplifier with a valve-driven power amp without a speaker (cabinet) connected – unless expressly allowed by the manufacturer – is a surefire path to disaster. The results of driving an amp without a speaker load can range from the output transformer catching fire to larger-scale component meltdown inside the amp, depending on the volume levels the amplifier is played at, and how quickly the fuses react.

This is where load boxes – also called dummy loads – come in. A load box allows you to run a valve amp safely without any speaker connected, while usually also offering signal attenuation and/or line level outputs. As a result, you are able to direct inject any amp into a PA system or recording equipment, as well as running the amp at full tilt without blasting everybody off the stage.

Doing away with the speaker (cabinet) isn’t as straightforward as you might think, because the impedance stated on a speaker is only nominal. The speaker, being an electromechanical transducer, behaves in a frequency- and signal level-dependent way, which results in dynamically shifting impedance values.

This means that a dummy load is a much more involved design than just a few resistors thrown together. Dummy coils, and a heap of capacitors and resistors are needed to simulate realistically the behaviour of a speaker, to attenuate the speaker signal (by dissipating part of it as heat), and to produce a quality DI-signal.

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Bluetone’s Load Box has a very clear and logical layout:

The left side carries all speaker-related connectors, offering an input, as well as both an attenuated output (Speaker Out) and a straight speaker output (Speaker Through). Why would anyone need two speaker outputs? The answer is simple: If you want to run an isolated cabinet backstage at full speaker output for the FOH engineer, and an attenuated speaker signal for the backline to keep onstage volume levels manageable.

The right side sports two output jacks – one is carrying a headphone signal, while the other one is the balanced output for connection to a mixing console or a soundcard.

The controls and switches are self-explanatory:

Top left is a four-way rotary switch for speaker attenuation, with ”Off” muting the Speaker Out signal completely. I should also mention that you can use the Bluetone Load Box without any speakers connected, regardless of the selector setting.

The middle knob is the headphone level control. Because the Load Box is a completely passive design – meaning there’s no need for any sort of power supply – the output level of the headphone output is directly dependent on the signal level (and wattage) of the connected amplifier. On the early production model used for this review the headphone signal can be a tiny bit on the quiet side, when using a low-wattage amp and power hungry headphones. This is a known issue, and Bluetone will increase the signal level in future.

The line level output offers a healthy output levels. If you need an XLR connector for the Load Box’ balanced output, Bluetone offers a handy adapter for 20 €.

A three-way mini toggle gives you two different types of cabinet simulation – 1 x 12″ and 4 x 12″ – while its two-way counterpart makes it possible to bypass speaker simulation for the Line Out signal.

The Bluetone Load Box’ dummy load and attenuator work really well in dropping volume levels while keeping virtually all of your amp’s tone intact. Now you can run your non-master volume valve amp at pub-friendly levels, without sacrificing your sound.

Bluetone’s DI-output captures your amp’s tone without the need for a speaker cabinet and microphones, which is great news for home recordists and small project studios. The Load Box’ analogue speaker modelling offers a fine solution for capturing your sound with the least amount of fuss.

Here’s what my Fender Strat sounds like played through a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo on clean settings, and recorded with a Shure SM57:

Here’s the same clean example direct recorded with the Load Box set to 1 x 12″:

Here’s a distorted clip with the sound of the Shadows Jr. recorded with the SM57:

And the same clip recorded through the Load Box:

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In my opinion the Bluetone Load Box offers great value for money. Bluetone’s compact Load Box is a product every owner of a valve amp that doesn’t come with output attenuation built in should at least consider adding to his/her equipment.

The clever bit is how Bluetone has managed to fit the different functions into a lightweight, easy-to-carry, handcrafted piece of equipment. The Load Box is a sturdy device that will get the job done with the minimum amount of fuss, and it comes at a fair price.

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Bluetone Load Box

370 € (including a 1.5 metre speaker cable)

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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Pros:

+ handcrafted in Finland

+ lightweight and compact

+ features

+ sound

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02/05/2018

Bluetone’s ”Gothenburg Special” Fried Eye Played By Tuomas Wäinölä

Finnish top guitarist Tuomas Wäinölä demonstrates a few of the Bluetone Fried Eye Special’s tones using a Bluetone 4 x 10″ cabinet.

Guitars used:

• 1968 Fender Stratocaster

• 1967 Gibson ES-335

• 2013 Gibson Custom Shop ’59 Les Paul Standard

Cable used: UTA Vari-Cap

The audio was recorded with a Shure SM57 and an AKG C414 plugged into a UTA MPDI-4 running into Pro Tools HD.

For additional audio clips go to: http://www.bluetone.fi/fried-eye/

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Audio recorded and produced by Tuomas Wäinölä at Sunbeam Imperial Studio.

Video filmed and edited by Martin Berka for Bluetone Custom Amplifiers.

06/02/2018

Review: Tokai TJM-140

We at Kitarablogi HQ received a very special instrument for review this time – the new Tokai TJM-140, which is based on Fender’s Jazzmaster.

When the original Jazzmaster was released in 1958 Fender aimed it squarely at Jazz and Lounge musicians, who had found the company’s earlier offerings much too bright and Country-sounding. The Jazzmaster also was Fender’s first model with a rosewood fingerboard, something their sales force had been requesting for years (for cosmetic reasons).

Sadly, the new model wasn’t received very enthusiastically. Most Jazz guitarists still felt that Fender guitars were nothing more than mere breadboards with strings, while others complained that the new control setup was too complicated. A shame, really…

Over the last years Jazzmaster-type offset guitars have definitely become en vogue again. Thanks to this trend Tokai, too, has decided to come up with its own version of this guitar classic.

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The Tokai TJM-140 Silver Star (reviewed version: 1.495 €; basic model: 1.445 €) is a top-quality Japanese rendition of the Jazzmaster model, which stays faithful to the original classic in most respects, with a few modern improvements. The review sample has been customised further with a set of Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups.

Tokai’s TJM-140 strongly channels an early-Sixties spirit – this guitar comes with the original, small Fender-style headstock, as well as an unbound rosewood fretboard with small dot markers.

Beneath its classy Olympic White finish the curvaceous body is crafted from alder, while the satin-finished neck is maple.

Putting the truss rod adjustment at the headstock end is one of the welcome improvements on the TJM-140.

The Tokai sports a set of fine Kluson copies made by Gotoh.

This model comes with 22 medium-sized frets. The fretwork is very clean.

Leo Fender had a thing for vibratos, which he called tremolos. For the Jazzmaster he came up with a special new system. The Jazzmaster-vibrato (which was later used on the Jaguar, too) comprises a front-installed vibrato/tailpiece-combination, paired with a separate bridge. The bridge stands on height-adjustable poles inside long ferrules, and it rocks slightly back and forth during vibrato use. The Tokai Silver Star uses a well-made Japanese copy of the original system.

You don’t need to be a guitar expert to see that Leo Fender was aiming for a Gibson P-90-vibe with his flat and wide Jazzmaster pickups. Both the P-90 and Jazzmaster pickup have similar coils, but their magnetic structure puts them apart. Gibson’s P-90 uses two long bar magnets placed underneath the coil, either side of a metal spacer, to magnetise its pickup. Fender, on the other hand, uses six slug magnets, which also serve as the pickup’s pole pieces.

The pickups in Seymour Duncan’s Antiquity-set are reverse wound/reverse polarity, resulting in a hum-cancelling middle position on the toggle switch.

The special feature of Jazzmasters is the so-called rhythm circuit. The slide switch above the neck pickup switches between the lead and rhythm circuits. In rhythm, only the neck pickup is selected, with a slight treble roll-off and its own set of volume and tone control wheels.

The solo circuit uses the regular set of controls – a three-position toggle, plus master volume and tone. Each circuit works independently of the other’s settings.

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In my view, every guitarist should try a Jazzmaster- or Jaguar-style guitar once in his/her life, just to experience that comfortable offset body. Some players feel that the offset waist of a Jazzmaster is even more ergonomic that a Strat.

The Tokai TJM-140 is a fine example of a Jazzmaster-style guitar. Our test sample is light in weight, the neck’s oval C-profile feels great in your hand, and the guitar arrived with an expert setup.

Still, the Jazzmaster-vibrato will continue to divide opinions for the foreseeable future. The push-fit vibrato arm isn’t as foolproof as the screw-in Stratocaster arm, and it tends to swing rather loosely, when not in use. With a contemporary string set of 009- or 010-gauge you will probably run into some problems sooner or later, due to the shallow string angle over the bridge. Forceful strumming and/or large bends tend to cause light string gauges to jump out of the bridge saddles’ grooves, spoiling your setup and tuning in the process.

You cannot blame the Tokai TJM-140 Silver Star for using a faithful copy of the original vibrato, because this guitar is meant to be a vintage-inspired instrument. Nevertheless, it’s important to know about any possible pitfalls and solutions.

The easiest way to get a Jazzmaster-vibrato to play nicely is to use the correct string gauges of the late 1950s – read: flatwound 011s or 012s with a wound g-string. If this seems unbearable there’s always the screw-on Whizzo Buzz Stop, a Bigsby-style roller that adds much-needed downward pressure at the tailpiece. Others like to take the far more drastic step of replacing the whole Jazzmaster-system with a Mastery-vibrato, a replacement made specifically for use with modern strings.

Tokai’s TJM-140 Silver Star nails the Jazzmaster tone like a champion. The Antiquity pickups give you lots of chime and sparkle, but the top end is much warmer than on a Strat, and there’s a nice dose of mid-range chunk. The rhythm circuit rolls off a little bit of the neck pickup’s treble, but still keeps things from going all dark and muddy.

Here are a few clips of the Tokai TJM-140, recorded with a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo, a Boss SD-1 overdrive and a Shure SM57:

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Tokai’s TJM-140 is a pro quality Japanese version of the Fender Jazzmaster. The Tokai plays and feels great, and its sound really leaves nothing to be desired. The original Jazzmaster-/Jaguar-vibrato might become a deal-breaker for some, but I feel the original system adds a lot to this guitar’s sound and mystique. Tokai uses a high-quality copy of the original vibrato, which works as smoothly as it should. Taking this instrument for a spin is highly recommended!

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Tokai Guitars TJM-140

Price with Antiquity pickups: 1.495 €

Distribution: Tokai Guitars Nordic

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ sound

+ idiosyncratic vibrato system

Cons:

– idiosyncratic vibrato systemSave

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