Press Release: Ruokangas Guitars release two new models

Ruokangas Guitars celebrate their 20th Anniversary by releasing two new models:

Unicorn Supersonic™

The Supersonic features a new unique Bare Bone™ finish by Ruokangas. Another new original feature are the Lock-Thru-Body™ bridge bushings, that make the guitar stronger (the wraparound bridge will not bend forward over time), and guarantee unparalleled energy transfer from the bridge into the body of the guitar.
Selling Price starting from: 3 700 €
Supersonic as pictured: 3 950 € (varies depending on options)

Ruokangas Unicorn Supersonic – Press lrg


Aeon™ Classic/Deluxe/Artist

The Aeon comes in three versions – the Classic with a thermo-treated alder body and bolt-on neck – the Deluxe with a spanish cedar body, an arctic birch top and a bolt-on neck – and the Artist with a spanish cedar body, an arctic birch top and neck-thru-construction. As always with Ruokangas, you have a truckload of options for customizing the guitar to fit your style. The word ‘Aeon’ is latin, and means ‘infinity’.
Selling Price starting from: 3 200 €
Aeon Artist as pictured: 8 000 € (varies depending on options)

Ruokangas Aeon Artist – Press lrg


Contact: Ruokangas Guitars

Review: PRS SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – body beauty 1

Thirty years ago a young, bespectacled man introduced the guitar-playing world to the first guitar model from his new company at the NAMM Show. The company from Maryland was only a small start-up, but their beautiful new electric guitar already started to attract a good deal of attention.

This young man was none other than Paul Reed Smith, the company PRS Guitars, and their first model the now-legendary Custom 24.

Before founding PRS Guitars, Smith had already managed to sell several of his handmade guitars to well-known guitarists, such as Howard Leese and Carlos Santana. Smith’s early guitars were clearly grounded in Gibson-tradition, successfully blending classic Les Paul Standard visuals with the more practical double-cut design of late 1950s Les Paul Specials. Carlos Santana’s signature PRS is based on these early (pre-PRS) guitars.

Nonetheless, Paul Reed Smith wasn’t content with high-class ”copying”. He wanted to come up with the ultimate electric guitar, both in terms of playability and sounds. What he came up with was a guitar that successfully bridges the gap between Fender and Gibson electrics, without copying any of their classic models.

The first step on Paul Reed Smith’s ongoing quest for excellence was the PRS Custom 24, introduced at NAMM in 1985.

This guitar set PRS’ wheels a-rollin’, and the company has come a long way from its humble beginnings. These days people talk about the ”Big Three” manufacturers of electric guitars – meaning Fender, Gibson and PRS.

To celebrate their anniversary PRS have released four limited edition models. managed to get hold of the Made-in-Korea SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary for this review.


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – full front

The PRS SE 30th Anniversary Custom 24 (current price in Finland approx. 1,000 €) is the most-affordable of the anniversary models, but it still is a great-looking guitar.

It has PRS Guitars’ typical scale length of 25-inches (63.5 cm), which is longer than Gibson’s, but shorter than Fender’s typically used scale lengths.

The back of the body is made from mahogany, while the curved top is crafted from maple. To spruce up the looks of the SE 30th Anniversary, a thin flame maple veneer is glued onto the (plain) maple top. The top is bound with cream-coloured plastic.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – full back

On current SE Custom 24 guitars the neck is made from maple – in contrast to the mahogany necks on US-produced Customs. The change was made recently for both tonal and ecological reasons. The SE’s set neck is glued together from three long strips of maple, with two small pieces added to get the headstock to its full width.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – headstock

The nut is made from PRS’ special graphite-impregnated, hard plastic.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – tuners

The 30th Anniversary SE Custom 24 sports a set of very decent, non-locking Schaller-copies.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – bird inlays

PRS have come up with a variation of their bird-inlays for the anniversary models, which sees the birds flying in a gracefully curved line across the fingerboard.

The bound rosewood fingerboard is home to 24 medium-jumbo frets. The fretjob is excellent.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – cutaways

The bevelled treble side cutaway has become something of a trademark for PRS guitars.

If you click on the picture for a better view, you will be able to see clearly the demarcation lines between the mahogany back, the maple top, and the flame maple veneer.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – vibrato

Thirty years ago locking vibratos (Floyd Rose, Kahler, Rockinger) were highly fashionable, but Paul Reed Smith wasn’t too keen on them. In his view locking systems changed a guitar’s sound in a negative way, and he felt they were too cumbersome when it came to changing strings.

Smith came up with a highly-improved take on the classic Stratocaster vibrato – a chunky piece of beauty, milled from solid brass.

The SE 30th Anniversary Custom uses a high-quality version of the original design.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – pickups

In the Eighties guitarists favoured hot bridge humbuckers, because they made achieving a creamy distortion sound much easier.

This Anniversary-Custom brings this concept back by combining a medium-output neck humbucker – the Vintage Bass – with the SE-version of the high-output HFS Treble (HFS = hot fat screams).

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – controls

In the beginning, original PRS Custom 24 models came with two ”controls” and a mini-toggle switch. Actually, the second ”control” was a five-way rotary switch that served as the guitar’s pickup selector. The tiny switch was PRS’ Sweet Switch, a preset treble roll-off.

Over the years, the rotary switch fell out of favour, and the control setup on US-made guitars changed to master volume, master tone, and a five-way blade switch.

On the SE Custom 24 the blade switch is a three-way model, while a push/pull switch in the tone control allows you to split both humbuckers.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – gig bag

A well-made gig bag is included with the SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary model.


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – beauty shot 1

PRS guitars are known for their well though-out ergonomics and their great playability, and the SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary proves to be a genuine PRS in this respect, too. It has a comfortable medium weight, and feel nice both in your lap and strapped on.

In keeping with the 1980s theme, the SE comes with a Wide Thin neck profile. Despite its name, though, you needn’t be afraid that this Custom 24 comes with an insubstantial Ibanez Wizard. I’d describe the Wide Thin profile as distinctly oval with a medium thickness, so there’s still more than enough wood left for good tone and sustain.

The review guitar came with a comfortably low setup (low-E: 1.9 mm/high-e: 1.6 mm) without any buzzes, thanks to the great fret job.

I know that it’s a thing of personal preference, but I’d like to see a PRS strung up with a set of 010-gauge strings, instead of the factory set of 009s. The factory set feels almost too ”slinky”and effortless, making it hard to really dig into the strings.

The PRS-vibrato is one of the best updates of the vintage vibrato you’re likely to encouter, and it works like a dream on the SE Custom 24, too. The feel is smooth, creamy and precise, but isn’t as sensitive to heavy-handed playing or string bending as a Floyd Rose, despite the floating setup.

Paul Reed Smith has also proven he know’s how to voice pickups. Naturally, these Korean pickups aren’t quite in the same league as their American counterparts, but these are still very decent pickups.

On paper, pairing a Vintage Bass with a HFS Treble humbucker sounds like a recipe for a slightly schizophrenic sound, when, actually, these pickups work very well together. The jump in output levels isn’t as acute as you might think. The difference between the Vintage Bass and the HFS Treble comes over clearest in the way the latter focusses heavily on the mid-range frequencies.

The sound clips both start with the coil-split on, before moving on to the full humbucker sound. The sequence is always neck pickup –> both pickups –> bridge pickup:

The rhythm guitars on the demo track use the coil-split (left channel: neck PU; right channel: both PUs), while the lead guitar starts with the full neck humbucker, before switching to the full bridge humbucker at 0’49”:

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – back beauty


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – body beauty 2

No wonder that PRS Guitars’ SE-range is so popular:

The SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary gives you the genuine ”PRS experience” at a truly fair price. This is a pro-level electric guitar that plays very well and offers you a wide variety oif different sounds.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – beauty shot 2


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary

approximately 1,000 € (including gig bag)

Finnish distributor: EM Nordic

A big thank you to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review instrument!



+ workmanship

+ playability

+ vibrato action

+ versatile sound

+ anniversary model

Testipenkissä: PRS SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – body beauty 1

Kolmekymmentä vuotta sitten nuori, rillipäinen mies esitteli hänen pikkufirmansa ensimmäisen kitaramallin yhdysvaltalaisilla NAMM-messuilla. Marylandilaisessa yrityksessä työskenteli silloin vain puoli tusina kitaranrakentajaa, mutta firman tyylikäs kitara, jossa oli selvästi klassikon ainekset, kyllä huomioitiin jo silloin.

Tämä nuori mies oli tietysti Paul Reed Smith, hänen firmansa PRS Guitars, ja se ensimmäinen kitaramalli firman legendaarinen Custom 24.

Ennen PRS Guitarsin perustamista, Smith oli jo onnistunut myymään muutamia varhaisia, pikkuverstaassa rakennettuja, kitaroitaan nimekkäille kitaristeille, kuten Howard Leeselle ja Carlos Santanalle. Nämä kitarat olivat pitkälti Gibson-tyylisiä kitaroita, joissa yhdistettiin Les Paul Standardin prameutta kahdella soololovella varustetun Les Paul Specialin käytännöllisyyteen. Carlos Santanan nimikkomalli on yhä samalla tavalla rakennettu.

Paul Reed Smithissä oli kuitenkin selvästi keksijän ja kehittäjän ”vika”, koska korkean tason ”kopiointi” ei riittänyt hänelle. Smith halusi kehittää ultimatiivisen sähkökitaran, joka kulkisi sekä soitettavuuden että soundin ja ulkonäön kannoilta kultaista keskitietä Fender- ja Gibson-maailmojen välissä.

Kehitystyön ensimmäinen tulos oli PRS Guitarsin ensimmäinen kitaramalli – juuri se 1985:n NAMMissa esitelty Custom 24.

Tästä kitarasta alkoi PRS:n voittokulku ja kasvutarina. Nykyään puhutaan USA:ssa ”kahden ison” sijasta ”kolmesta isosta” sähkökitaroiden valmistajista – Fender, Gibson ja PRS.

Vuosipäivän kunniaksi PRS on julkaissut neljä juhlamallia, joista saimme Koreassa tehdyn SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary -kitaran tähän testiin.


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – full front

PRS SE 30th Anniversary Custom 24 (katuhinta noin 1.000 €) on juhlamalleista edullisin, mutta sitä huolimatta erittäin kaunis soitin.

PRS Guitarsille tyypillinen on kitaran 25-tuumainen (63,5 cm) mensuuri, joka on pidempi kuin Gibsonin, mutta lyhyempi kuin Fenderin yleensä käyttämä mensuuri.

Rungon takaosa on tehty mahongista, kun taas sen kaareva kansi on vaahteraa. Vaahterakannen koristeeksi on lisätty ohut loimuvaahteraviilu, ja koko komeus on reunalistoitettu kermanvaalealla muovilla.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – full back

Nykyisissä SE Custom 24 -malleissa on – USA-tuotannosta poiketen – kolmesta pitkästä vaahterapalasta veistetty liimakaula mahongin sijaan. Muutos tehtiin sekä soinnillisista että ekologisista syistä muutama vuosi sitten.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – headstock

SE-juhlamallissa käytetään PRS Guitarsin erittäin kovasta materiaalista tehty, itsevoitelevaa yläsatulaa.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – tuners

Virittimet ovat laadukkaita, korealaisia Schaller-kopioita. Kyseessä on perinteiset, ei-lukittavat mallit.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – bird inlays

30-vuotis juhlamalleissa käytetään uusia lintukuvioisia otemerkkejä, jossa lintujen lentoreitti otelaudassa on hienosti kaareva.

Reunalistoitetuun, ruusupuiseen otelautaan on asennettu 24 medium jumbo -kokoista nauhaa. Nauhatyö oli testisoittimessa erittäin hyvä.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – cutaways

Viistoitetusta diskanttipuolen soololovesta on tullut yksi PRS:n tunnusmerkeistä.

Kun klikkaat tätä kuvaa suuremmaksi, näet selvästi rungon rakenteen – mahongin, vaahteran, sekä loimuvaahteraviilun.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – vibrato

Kolmekymmentä vuotta sitten lukittavat vibratallat (Floyd Rose, Kahler, Rockinger) olivat erittäin suosittuja. Paul Reed Smithin mielestä ne olivat kuitenkin pahoja soundisyöppöjä, eikä hän myöskään pitänyt siitä, että ne tekivät kieltenvaihdosta niin hankalan.

Smith kehitti oman vibratonsa alkuperäisen Stratocaster-tallan perusteella, mutta käytti Fenderistä poiketen selvästi massiivisempia osia messingistä.

SE 30th Anniversary Customissa käytetään erittäin laadukasta versiota alkuperäisestä.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – pickups

1980-luvulla kitaristit halusivat tuhteja tallamikrofoneja kermaisen särösoundin perusteeksi.

Juhla-Custom palaa takaisin siihen aikaan yhdistämällä vintage-tyylistä SE Vintage Bass -kaulamikrofonia kuumaan SE HFS Treble -tallaumbuckeriin (HFS on muuten lyhenne sanoista ”hot fat screams”, siis: ”kuumia paksuja kirkaisuja”).

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – controls

Alkuperäisissä Custom 24 –malleissa on kaksi ”säädintä”, sekä yksi pikkukytkin. Toinen säädin oli todellisuudessa kiertokytkin, joka toimi mikrofonivalitsimena. Tone-säätimen sijaan näissä kitaroissa käytettiin sitä minikokoista vipukytkintä, PRS:n ns. Sweet Switch, jolla saatiin diskantit vaimennettua.

Kiertokytkin kuitenkin osoittautui ajan myötä epäsuosituksi, minkä takia säädinosastoa muutettiin perinteisemmäksi – master volume, master tone, sekä kolmiasentoinen vipukytkin. Tone-potikassa on nostokytkin, jolla voi puolittaa kitaran humbuckereita.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – gig bag

Laadukas topattu pussi kuuluu SE Custom 24:n hintaan.


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – beauty shot 1

PRS-kitarat ovat tunnettuja niiden hyvästä ergonomiasta ja soitettavuudesta, ja SE 30th Anniversary Custom 24 on myös tässä suhteessa aito PRS. Kitara ei ole liialla painolla pilattu, ja se istuu erittäin mukavasti sylissä, sekä roikkuu rauhallisesti hihnassa.

80-luvun henkisesti kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu firman Wide Thin -profiili. Nimestä huolimatta kyse ei ole olemattoman ohuesta Ibanez Wizard -kaulasta, vaan tässä on vielä mukavasti puuta jäljellä. Itse kuvailisin Wide Thin -profiilia leveäksi ovaaliksi, joka on todella hyvä kompromissi pyöreän vintage-kaulan ja laakean ”vauhtikaulan” välillä.

Testisoittimen nauhatyö oli erinomainen ja soittotatsi oli säädetty mukavan matalaksi (ala-E: 1,9 mm/ylä-e: 1,6 mm) ilman ylimääräistä kielten räminää.

Tämä on tietysti täysin subjektiivista, mutta itse toivoisin tällaisessa kitarassa 010-paksuista kielisatsia. Tehdaskielten (009-satsi) kanssa soitettavuus oli jo lähes liian vaivatonta ja kevyttä.

PRS:n vibratalla on mielestäni yksi parhaimmista vintage-vibraton päivityksistä, ja systeemi toimii moitteettomasti myös Custom 24 -juhlamallissa. PRS SE:n vibra toimii pehmeästi ja tarkasti, mutta se ei ole läheskään niin herkkä raskaalle plektrakädelle tai kielten venytyksille kuin esimerkiksi Floyd Rose talla.

Paul Reed Smithillä on aina ollut myös todella tarkka korva mikrofonien suhteen. Vaikka SE-juhlamallin mikrofonit ei luonnollisesti yllä ihan samalle huipputasolle kuin PRS:n USA-mikrofonit, on niiden soundi kuitenkin erittäin kiitettävällä tasolla.

Vaikka Vintage Bass- ja HFS Treble -mikrofonien yhdistelmä näyttää paperilla hieman kaksijakoiselta, toimi mikkien yhteistyö käytännössä loistavasti. Ero näiden humbuckereiden luonteissa huomaa vähemmän signaalitasosta kuin siitä, että tallahumbuckerin soundi fokusoituu selvästi keskitajuuksille.

Näissä esimerkkipätkissä aloitetaan ensin puolitetuista vaihtoehdoista, ennen kun mennään täysille humbuckereille. Järjestys on aina kaulamikki –> molemmat –> tallamikki:

Demobiisin komppikitarat käyttävät puolitettuja mikrofoneja (vasen kanava: kaulamikki; oikea kanava: molemmat mikit yhdessä), kun taas soolokitara aloittaa täydellä kaulahumbuckerilla, ennen kun se vaihtuu täyteen tallamikkiin (noin 0:49 kohdalla):

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – back beauty


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – body beauty 2

Ei ole ihme, että PRS Guitarsin SE-mallisto on näin suosittu:

Tästä SE Custom 24 30-vuotis juhlamallista saa täydellisen ”PRS-kokemuksen” todella reiluun hintaan. Kyseessä on ammattitason sähkökitara loistavalla soitettavuudella ja monipuolisella soundilla.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – beauty shot 2


PRS SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary

katuhinta noin 1.000 € (topattu pussi kuuluu hintaan)

Lisätiedot: EM Nordic

Suuri kiitos DLX Musiikille testikitaran lainaamisesta!



+ työnjälki

+ soitettavuus

+ vibratallan toimivuus

+ monipuolinen soundi

+ juhlamalli

Review: Jericho Guitars Fusion

Usually, we get the products we review from the Finnish distributors, or directly from Finnish guitar- or amp-makers.

This time, though, I was approached by guitarist Jaakko Rytsölä. Jaakko had ordered a guitar for himself, liked what he got, and is now thinking seriously about importing this brand, in partnership with Espoo-based company Guitarworx.

Jericho Guitars – who are based in Plano, Texas – are a brand specialising exclusively in long-scale baritone electric guitars. Jericho use what they call a ping-pong manufacturing process: The raw tonewood is hand-selected at a wood supplier in British Columbia (Canada), and then sent to a manufacturer in South Korea for all the basic neck and body work. The half-finished guitars are then shipped back to Texas, where they are assembled and set up. According to Jericho, this process results in high-quality instruments with a player-friendly price tag.

Jericho have already caused quite a few waves with their Avenger model, which is squarely aimed at the Hard ’n’ Heavy crowd. Now the company has introduced a new model, called the Jericho Fusion. We received a preproduction version of the Jericho Fusion Black And Gold-version for review.


Jericho Fusion – full front – smaller

The Jericho Fusion (price in Finland approximately 999 €) is a sleek and elegant baritone guitar, with a body outline that is based on the venerable Fender Telecaster.

The Fusion has a three-piece mahogany set neck, as well as a mahogany body with a contoured front.

The Fusion has a scale length of 26.9″, which means 68.3 cm in the metric system.

Jericho Fusion – back beauty

The body’s back features a generous rib cage chamfer.

Jericho Fusion – headstock

Jericho’s headstock design looks very nice, and offers almost straight string pull, which is a definite plus for tuning stability.

The Fusion comes with a self-lubricating black Graph Tech Tusq XL nut.

Jericho Fusion – tuners

A set of golden Grover Rotomatics keeps the tuning solid.

Jericho Fusion – fingerboard

The black ebony fretboard sports 22 medium-sized frets.

Jericho Fusion – bridge

The bridge is a chunky Hipshot design, constructed from a machined brass base and stainless steel bridge saddles.

Jericho Fusion – pickups

The Jericho Fusion comes equipped with a classic pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers – a ’59-model in the neck position, and a Custom TB-5 at the bridge.

Jericho Fusion – controls

The guitar’s controls are configured in traditional Les Paul-style, giving you independent volume and tone controls for each pickup.

Jericho Fusion – control cavity NEW

A look under the hood reveals quality components and clean workmanship. Our preproduction review guitar has regular Les Paul-style wiring, but production models will come with push/pull-pots for splitting the humbuckers.


Jericho Fusion – beauty shot 2

The Jericho Fusion is a great player. Actually – and this might come as a bit of a surprise – it is very easy for the guitarist to adjust to the longer-than-usual scale length. After a minute or two, you simply forget about the longer scale, and just get on with playing.

The guitar’s neck profile is a neither too slim, nor too fat, ”D”. Our review sample had a comfortable medium weight, and it came with a very low and slinky setup.

While Jericho’s Avenger was designed to be a balls-to-the-wall Metal-machine, the new Fusion model covers much more musical and tonal ground, thanks to its less powerful pickups. Don’t worry, the Jericho Fusion can do the head-banging stuff with aplomb, too, but this guitar also holds very lush clean tones in store, should you be so inclined.

Here’s a short clip of all three toggle switch settings (starting at the neck), played through a clean amplifier:

And here’s the audio track from the You Tube-video:

Jericho Fusion – body beauty


Jericho Fusion – beauty shot – NEW

Jericho Guitars’ Fusion is a great-playing, versatile modern baritone electric. This guitar is well-made, no-nonsense tone machine for the player who wants to go low or even lower. Let’s hope that Jericho’s instruments will soon become more widely available in Finland.


Jericho Guitars Fusion

Price in Finland: c. 999 €

Tiedustelut: Guitarworx



+ elegant design

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ sound

Review: LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte


LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – teaser

James Hetfield is a musician, who surely needs no introduction. He is Metallica’s frontman, singer, songwriter and guitarist, and has played a very important part in the development of the Metal genre.

James Hetfield with Snakebyte

Metallica’s guitarists – Hetfield and his colleague Kirk Hammet – have long been collaborating with ESP Guitars. The LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte is the most recent fruit of this partnership.


LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – full front

In the early years of Metallica, James Hetfield used to play a Gibsonin Explorer, and looking at his new signature model, it’s easy to conclude that this guitar legend still holds a place in his heart for angular guitars.

LTD’s James Hetfield Snakebyte (current price in Finland: 1.098 €) is an ultra-modern Metal-machine, with a clear stylistic nod to the Explorer.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – full back

Both the guitar’s body and set neck have been crafted from mahogany, while dark-black ebony has been chosen for this model’s fingerboard.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – bevelled top edge

The Snakebyte’s body is noticeably more compact when compared to its vintage forefather, making for a lighter and more comfortable playing experience.

There’s a long, flat chamfer on the body’s bass side, which proved hard to photograph, but which really makes a difference in terms of the Hetfield signature model’s ergonomics.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – headstock 2

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – tuners

A set of locking Sperzel tuning machines have been chosen for their high quality and proven tuning stability.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – bridge

The Tone Pros bridge and tailpiece combination is locked in place after adjustment, meaning everything will stay perfectly put even under the most demanding onstage conditions.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – fretboard

LTD’s Snakebyte sports 22 jumbo-sized frets. The fretwork is first-rate, resulting in a fast and rattle-free playing surface.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – EMG pickups

Active EMG-pickups have long played an important part in James Hetfield’s sound. A couple of years back EMG have introduced a signature pickup set –the EMG JH ”Het” Set – made to the legendary guitarist’s specifications, and used on this signature LTD.

The JH-Nneck humbucker has been developed based on EMG’s Model 60, but Hetfield’s humbucker uses separate ceramic magnets and fatter coils. EMG’s Model 81 has formed the basis for the JH-B signature bridge pickup, but here steel polepieces have been added to the pickup’s ceramic bar magnets.

According to EMG the ”Het” Set has a warm and organic basic tone, coupled with a very clear attack and loads of output power.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – controls

OK, one three-way toggle, two controls – case closed…

Hold your horses! Yes, the toggle switch works in the usual way, but the controls aren’t a master volume and a master tone, but rather two separate volumes – one knob for each pickup.

James Hetfield doesn’t need a tone control, as all his settings are dialled in by his guitar technician. This way he only has to concentrate on pickup selection, while playing and singing at the same time.

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – control cavity

The battery compartment’s cover is held in place by machine screws and threaded inlets.


LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – beauty shot 1

It’s true that in 1958 Gibson’s Explorer was a trailblazer thanks to its unusual, angular design. But it’s also true that this classic model is very large and cumbersome, often feeling like a bedside table strapped to your body.

Hetfield’s LTD signature model succeeds in keeping the Explorer’s angular spirit intact. Nonetheless, the LTD Snakebyte is a much more compact affair, which makes it far more comfortable to play and easier to hold.

The Hetfield Snakebyte is a fantastic player, as you would expect from a pro-quality guitar, such as this. The neck profile is a rounded ”C”. Our review sample came with a light action, measuring 1.8 mm (bottom E) and 1.6 mm (top e) at the 12th fret (with a set of 010s), and played well and rattle-free across the whole fretboard.

I must admit I was quite surprised at the sheer beauty of this guitar’s unplugged voice. There’s a strong, piano-like attack and an open character with a long sustain-phase.

EMG’s active ”Het” Set has the power of an approaching speedboat, yet the humbuckers still manage to offer open-sounding clean tones with plenty of organic mid-range character:

Switching to a High Gain channel takes the LTD Snakebyte straight into – surprise, surprise – legendary Hetfield-Metallica-territory. There’s power and attack to boot, and ample bite to cut through:

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – back beauty


LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – beauty shot 2

In my view, LTD’s James Hetfield Snakebyte is a top-notch precision tool for the Metal- and Thrash-guitarist. This probably isn’t the most versatile electric guitar ever, but if you’re into Hard ’n’ Heavy this guitar offers the most direct way to sheer sonic bliss.


LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte

1.096 €

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma



+ workmanship

+ light weight

+ playability

+ acoustic tone

+ amplified sound


– no tone control

LTD Hetfield Snakebyte – teaser 2

Review: Italia Fiorano Standard + Mondial Deluxe

Italia Fiorano Standard – full front

The Italia Fiorano Standard (price in Finland approx.  640 €) is a beautiful thinline, double-cutaway semi.

The Fiorano’s body is made by routing large pockets into the front of a solid mahogany body. In contrast to Italia’s Rimini 6 or Mondial Deluxe models the Fiorano doesn’t have a full centre block, though, but features an opening in the block between the guitar’s pickups. The body is then finished by glueing on a bound spruce top.

Italia Fiorano Standard – headstock

Hard rock maple is used for the Fiorano Standard’s neck.

Italia Fiorano Standard – tuners

The modern tuning machines are embossed with the I-for-Italia logo, and work very nicely.

Italia Fiorano Standard – fretboard

The bound fretboard sports Italia’s stylish inlays, consisting of pearloid blocks and abalone dots.

Italia Fiorano Standard – body beauty 2

The Fiorano Standard’s neck is glued in at the 19th fret.

Italia Fiorano Standard – bridge

Great to see Italia using a modern version of the venerable Tune-o-Matic-bridge. The updated design does away with the annoying and ever-rattling piece of wire, used to keep the bridge saddles in place in the vintage version.

Italia Fiorano Standard – tailpiece

The snazzy chrome tailpiece adds its own bit of panache to this stylish semi.

Italia Fiorano Standard – pickups

As you might know by now, I’m something of a P-90 fan. The Fiorano Standard comes equipped with not one, but two of my favourite pickups. These are made by Wilkinson and come with chromed dog-ear covers.

Italia Fiorano Standard – controls

Like many of Italia’s models, the Fiorano also features a sping-suspended plastic tray as an unusual control cavity cover. The electronics comprise a three-way toggle, as well as master volume and tone controls.


Italia Mondial Deluxe – full front

Italia’s Mondial Deluxe (price in Finland approx. 675 €) is a genuine semiacoustic hybrid, offering you a piezo-equipped bridge (and active preamp) for acoustic-style guitar sounds alongside its traditional magnetic humbuckers.

Thinline-type mahogany body is mated to a maple top, which sports a very fetching Rickenbacker/Mosrite-style German Carve -edge. The top’s edges have been left natural, constituting what is usually called ”fake binding”.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – back beauty

The Mondial comes with a set maple neck.

You can also see the quick-release battery compartment for the 9 V battery used to power the piezo preamp.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – headstock

Italia’s top nut is made from a self-lubricating material containing graphite.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – tuners

We find the same decent-quality tuners on Mondial Deluxe as on the Fiorano.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – fingerboard

Look at the all the nice hues of blues and greens in the guitar’s abalone dots!

Italia Mondial Deluxe – piezo bridge

The Mondial’s bridge may look identical to the Fiorano’s, but this here is a piezo-equipped model. There’s a thin lead going from beneath the bridge and through the maple top to feed the piezo signal to the preamp.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – tailpiece

”I” – stands for Italia…

Italia Mondial Deluxe – pickups

Two vintage-voiced Wilkinson WVC-humbuckers handle magnetic duties on the Mondial Deluxe.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – piezo EQ

The sliders on the guitar’s shoulder control the piezo side’s three-band EQ.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – controls

The magnetic signal is fed to a three-way toggle selector and master volume and tone controls.

There’s a dedicated volume control for the piezo signal, as well as a second output jack, enabling you to feed the acoustic side to a mixing console or a dedicated acoustic amplifier.


Italia Fiorano Standard – beauty shot 1+

Italia’s Fiorano Standard is just the guiar for me. It is comfortably lightweight and balances nicely. Its relatively thin body sits nicely against your belly/ribcage, even without any contouring or bevels.

The neck has a nice, mid-depth C-profile, which will feel comfortable to most players. The Fiorano arrived extremely well set-up with a slinky action (E: 1.9 mm/e: 1.7 mm).

Even if you cannot expect a thinline guitar, such as the Fiorano Standard, to out-shout a fat Jazz guitar, the Italia’s spruce-topped mahogany body results in a warm and woody acoustic voice.

In my opinion, P-90s are the best choice for a guitar of this type, because their singlecoil construction makes for a more percussive and dynamic tone than what you’d get from a creamy humbucker.

Played into a clean amp channel you’ll get a nice, clucky attack and a open, yet strong overall voice, that will fit Jazz just as well as Brit Pop, Country, Blues or early Rock’n’Roll (why not add a Bigsby, perhaps?):

If you’re after warm, rich and dynamic dirty tones P-90s are just the ticket! The Fiorano Standard will work great for any Beatles-, Kinks- or Who-inspired player, as well as George Thorogood-style electric Blues:

Italia Fiorano Standard – beauty shot 2


Italia Mondial Deluxe – beauty shot 1+

Italia’s Mondial Deluxe is a medium-weight instrument. The well-executed German Carve and very clean fake binding make this guitar look more expensive than it really is.

The neck’s D-profile feels really good. Thanks to its clean fretwork and fine set-up this instrument also plays great (E: 2.0 mm/e: 1.3 mm).

Unplugged, Italia’s Mondial Deluxe is rather quiet, but its fresh acoustic voice and clear attack bode well for things to come.

This hybrid’s piezo sound was the real surprise for me in this review. Italia’s piezo system simply sounds that good and genuinely ”acoustic”:

Naturally, it’s good to hear the Mondial’s magnetic side perform to equally high standards. This guitar’s vintage-voiced Wilkinsons do a fine job of translating the Mondial’s fresh unplugged voice into nice clean tones:

Switching over to the distortion channel will turn the Mondial into a Seventies-style Blues Rock machine:

Italia Mondial Deluxe – beauty shot 2


Italia Fiorano Standard – body beauty 1

It’s nigh on impossible not to get a crush on these Italia-guitars: Both the Fiorano Standard and the Mondial Deluxe are distinctly different from the mainstream of guitars on the market, but their design idiosyncrasies  never get in the way of easy playability and great sound. If you want to steer clear of the usual copies, bust still look for a guitar with its own charm, you should definitely check out an Italia.

Italia Mondial Deluxe – body beauty 1


Italia Guitars – Fiorano Standard + Mondial Deluxe

Fiorano Standard – approx. 640 €

Mondial Deluxe – approx. 675 €

Finnish distributor: R-JAM Group


Pros (both models):

+ idiosyncratic design

+ workmanship

+ finish

+ playability

+ sound

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