Posts tagged ‘Stratocaster’


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


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


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


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:


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.


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:


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.


Bluetone Load Box

370 € (including a 1.5 metre speaker cable)

Contact: Bluetone Amps



+ handcrafted in Finland

+ lightweight and compact

+ features

+ sound











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:


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

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


Review: Bluetone Shadows Jr.

Following in the wake of their very popular Shadows Reverb combo, Finnish boutique makers Bluetone Amps have recently introduced a smaller sibling, called the Shadows Jr.

The Bluetone Shadows Jr. (combo starting at around 1,300 €) is a hand-built, all-valve guitar combo, whose sound is based on the classic Vox AC15. Instead of being a straight, slavish copy, though, the Shadows Jr. incorporates many of the up-to-date features that have made Bluetone such a well-regarded boutique maker.


The Shadows Jr. has the clean and business-like looks that active players truly appreciate. You don’t want to be slowed down on stage by a control panel that’s hard to decipher. The Bluetone is clarity itself.

This is a single-channel all-valve combo running in Class AB mode giving you maximum output power at just over 10 watts.

The Shadows Jr. is designed around a trio of 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of EL84s powering the speaker. The combo’s power valves are cathode-biased, which means that swapping tubes won’t necessitate a trip to your friendly amp technician.

Bluetone is one of the very few amp makers who use torroidal power transformers. These doughnut-shaped devices (the black thing in the upper left corner) are lighter and more dependable than traditional transformer designs, and they offer more exact tolerances. As a valve amp is highly dependable on a stable and electronically quiet power supply for superior tone, Bluetone decided on using torroidal transformers early on, and they’ve never looked back.

The Warehouse Guitar Speakers Green Beret is an excellent choice for a strongly Brit-flavoured combo. Bluetone break in all of the speakers they use with low-frequency sine waves.

Despite being a compact single-channel combo amp (weighing only around 10 kg), the Bluetone Shadows Jr. offers an amazing amount of different clean and gain tones, thanks in no small part to the amp’s PPIMV master volume and the three-step OPC-switch.

PPIMV stands for ”post-power inverter master volume”, which is the preferred way of master volume design at Bluetone Amps, because it eats up the least amount of an amplifier’s tone, when in use. And if you turn the master volume knob all the way up, a PPIMV design makes the master volume ”disappear” electronically, making it completely transparent.

OPC, on the other hand, stands for ”output power control”. On the Shadows Jr. you have a choice of three settings, giving you 0.2, two or the full 10 watts of power, respectively. The magic of the OPC circuit is that it will turn volume levels down very noticeably without changing the tonal character of your settings, while also leaving almost all of the dynamics intact. Many lesser output power designs will turn a clean setting into an overdriven sound when you select a lower output level. The Shadows Jr. will sound almost the same on ten, two or 0.2 watts – the small tonal differences are the result of the speaker being driven differently. With the OPC at the lowest setting you will get approximately 95 percent of the full ”Shadows Jr. experience” at bedroom/apartment block volume levels. That’s fantastic!

The back panel gives you a choice of using the internal speaker or an external 4- or 8-ohm cabinet.

Bluetone have also included their tasty buffered, switchable effects loop with a dedicated volume control. When the loop is not in use, the circuit can also serve as a handy lead boost.


Are you looking for a cool little tone machine with a strong Vox-y flavour, and no-compromise build quality? You should do yourself a favour and try the Bluetone Shadows Jr.

The Shadows Jr. ticks all the right boxes:

You get that classic clean tone with that sweet mid-range ”attitude”. A clean tone that is lively, but never glassy or brittle.

With the front-end volume near the other extreme you’ll get overdrive and distortion that is more gritty and dynamic – think later era Beatles, windmilling Townshend, or multilayered May – than creamy and compressed.

But don’t forget to check out the wide scope of break-up Blues and Rock ’n’ Roll sounds to be had between 11 and 2 o’clock on the volume (gain) control (depending on the guitar used). You’re in for hours of wailing soloing and chunky rhythms without ever needing an overdrive stompbox.

Here’s a Gibson Les Paul Junior on its own:

Demo track number one features two rhythm guitar tracks – a Fender Stratocaster (stereo left) and a Gibson Les Paul Junior (right) – as well as a Hamer USA Studio Custom on lead duty:

The second demo track features a Gibson Les Paul Junior (rhythm left), an Epiphone Casino (rhythm right), and a Fender Telecaster (lead guitar):


The Bluetone Shadows Jr. is a fantastic little tone machine for the Vox-inclined player, who likes warm clean tones, dynamic break-up sounds, and gritty late-Sixties/early-Seventies dirt.

The build quality is miles ahead of any mass-produced guitar amplifier – this is a handcrafted boutique-grade valve amp. Modern additions like the PPIMV master volume, the OPC circuit, and the switchable effects loop, also raise this amp above any vintage-style copies.

For many the crucial question with low-wattage amps is volume. How loud is the Bluetone Shadows Jr?

Let’s just say that if you’ve only ever tried 10-watt tranny combos before you’re in for quite a surprise! These are ten (-plus) watts of British-style valve amp majesty, with every last ounce of loudness wrung out of the power amp and speaker.

With the OPC and the master on full, this little chap will easily get you into trouble with your neighbours in your block of flats on clean tones alone. If you don’t need 100 percent clean tones, the Shadows Jr. will easily get you through many rehearsals and gigs in small venues. And there’s always the option to stick a mic in front of the speaker.

So, don’t expect a Heavy Metal-type volume onslaught, but be prepared for some serious business.

Bluetone Amps Shadows Jr.

Prices starting from 1,300 €

Contact: Bluetone Amps


+ Handmade in Finland

+ Master volume


+ Effects loop

+ Sound

+ Value-for-money*****Save









Bluetone Shadows Jr – The Kitarablogi video

Bluetone Shadows Jr.

• Handmade in Finland
• All-valve Class AB single-channel combo
• 10 W, 2 W or 0.2 W of output power (OPC)
• Diode recitified
• Two-band EQ
• PPIMV Master Volume
• Built-in buffered FX loop/booster
• 3 x ECC83 (12AX7) & 2 x EL84
• One 10-inch WGS Green Beret speaker (25 Watts/8 Ohms)

Demo Track

All guitars recorded with the Bluetone Shadows Jr. (no pedal effects used). Delay and reverb added during mixdown.

• Rhythm guitars: Fender Stratocaster (left channel) & Gibson Les Paul Junior (right channel)
• Lead guitar: Hamer USA Studio Custom

Recorded with a Shure SM57.



Review: Tokai TST-50 Modern

Tokai Guitars’ extremely well-made Japanese – uhm – tributes to classic electric guitars from the 1950s and ’60s were one of the main reasons why industry giants, such as Fender and Gibson, started their own Far Eastern brands, like Squier and Epiphone, in the Eighties.

Yet Tokai doesn’t cling slavishly to the past, instead the company is also regularly coming up with up-to-date versions of their best-loved models. Their newest updated Strat-style electric is the Tokai TST-50 Modern (999 €; comes with a hard case), which was developed in cooperation with Tokai Guitars Nordic.


You could be forgiven to think the TST-50 Modern was a cracking 1960s reissue model at first glance, especially as some of the basic ingredients are virtually identical:

We find a bolt-on maple neck with a rosewood fretboard, and a premium class alder body adorned with a beautiful two-tone sunburst finish.

But a closer look at the headstock gives us a clue that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill TST-50:

A bullet truss rod adjuster on the TST-50 Modern allows you to tweak your neck relief without having to detach the neck from the body, as on vintage style S-type guitars. But despite the bullet truss rod, Tokai have chosen – wisely, in my opinion – to stick with the original four-screw neck attachment.

The Tokai TST-50 Modern comes with a 9.5 inch fingerboard radius, which means that the feel is slightly flatter than on vintage Stratocasters (that usually feature a 7.25 inch radius), but still more curved, and thus more Fender-ish, than Gibson’s flatter 12 inch radius. The TST-50 Modern also sports chunkier frets (Dunlop 6105), making it easier to play than the thin wire used on vintage originals. In combination with the flatter fingerboard radius the bigger frets also make string bending a great deal less work. As a final flourish this models gives you an additional fret (22 instead of 21).

The classic six-screw Stratocaster vibrato bridge was a huge engineering achievement back in 1954. No other vibrato offered that much travel, coupled with excellent sound and very fair return to pitch.

Now – 60 years later – many players do look for an even smoother and more precise ride, than what the vintage model can offer. For these guitarists the Tokai TST-50 Modern offers a modern, two-post vibrato bridge – the Gotoh 510T model.

Gotoh’s 510T-vibrato comes with the company’s groundbreaking FST-block. The string channels inside the FST-block have been drilled much deeper than in a vintage block, which anchors the ball ends much closer to the bridge plate. The strings then pass the bridge plate at a shallow angle, without being pressed hard against the plate’s sharp edges. Thanks to Gotoh’s FST-system the vibrato’s return to pitch is improved vastly, because the strings’ ball ends stay in place firmly. Additionally, this system cuts down significantly on string breakages due to friction between the strings and the bridge’s base plate (like normally seen on vintage Strat bridges).

When it comes to its pickups and control layout, Tokai’s TST-50 Modern follows a classic footpath – a trio of Tokai’s acclaimed Vintage ST pickups, along with a five-way switch, a master volume, and tone controls for the neck and middle pickups. Hidden beneath the three-layer scratchplate there’s a humbucker routing, in case you want to customise you guitar further.


Vintage or modern, fans of Strat-style guitars expect a high level of ergonomics from their instrument, and Tokai’s Japanese TST-models never disappoint. All the body contours have been copied from the famous 1957/58 originals – it doesn’t get any more streamlined than this.

The satin-finished neck features an oval C-profile, which is just the Sixties-type of neck shape I enjoy the most on an S-style guitar. Thanks to the flatter fretboard radius and the medium-jumbo frets, the playing feels of the TST-50 Modern is similar to that of a well-loved, much-played, and refretted vintage model (but without any scratches or dents, of course).

The Gotoh 510T vibrato works like a dream. It’s smooth and precise, but doesn’t add any unwelcome metallic overtones or sharpness to the sound (unlike some Floyd Rose bridges).

The Tokai TST-50 Modern sounds like a top-drawer Strat should.

Here’s a clip with the Tokai TST-50 Modern plugged into a hand-wired Tweed Champ clone (a Juketone True Blood):

I’ve used Electro-Harmonix’ Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi and Nano Big Muff Pi pedals on the demo track (in addition to the Tokai and a Blackstar HT-1R valve combo):


Gear reviewers often face criticism for not ”dishing the dirt” on the equipment they test, but in the Tokai TST-50 Modern’s case there isn’t really anything negative to write about. This is an extremely well-made updated version of the most famous electric guitar of them all. The Tokai combines modern playability with delicious vintage sounds.

Tokai Guitars TST-50 Modern

999 € (quality hard case included)

Finnish distribution: Musamaailma


+ Japanese craftsmanship

+ sensible updates

+ playability

+ sound

+ outstanding value-for-money



















Testipenkissä: Tokai TST-50 Modern

Japanilaisen Tokai Guitarsin erittäin laadukkaat, mutta suhteellisen edulliset – kröhöm – kunnianosoitukset 1950- ja ’60-luvun klassikkosoittimille olivat yksi pääasiallinen syy sille, että esimerkiksi Fender ja Gibson perustivat 1980-luvun alussa omat aasialaiset tytärmerkkinsä Squier ja Epiphone.

Tokai ei kuitenkaan elä menneisyydessä, vaan valmistaa pikkutarkkojen klassikkokopioiden lisäksi Japanissa myös nykysoittajien tarpeisiin vastaavia kitaroita ja bassoja. Uusin modernimpi malli on Tokai Guitars Nordicin kanssa yhteistyössä kehitetty Tokai TST-50 Modern (999 €; kova laukku sis. hintaan), nykyaikainen Stratotyylinen sähkökitara.


Ensisilmäyksellä TST-50 Modern näyttää 1960-luvun vintage reissuelta, ja monet kitaran perusaineksista ovatkin perinteisiä:

Vaahterainen ruuvikaula ruusupuuotelaudalla, sekä premium-luokan lepästä veistetty runko kaksivärisellä liukuvärityksellä.

Mutta jo viritinlavasta näkee, että tämä ei ole rivi-TST-50:

TST-50 Modernin kaularautaan pääsee nimittäin suoraan käsiksi sen bullet-tyylisen säätöruuvin ansiosta, kun taas vintage-tyylinen ruuvikaula täytyy usein irrottaa rungosta kaularaudan säätämistä varten, koska säätöruuvi sijaitsee rungon puoleisessa päässä.

Tokai TST-50 Modern -mallin 9,5 tuuman otelautaradius on loivempi kuin vintage-Stratoissa (joissa se on 7,25 tuumaa), mutta yhä kaarevampi (= Fendermäisempi) kuin esimerkiksi Gibson-kitaroissa (12 tuumaa). Kitaraan on myös asennettu vintagea tuhdimmat nauhat (Dunlop 6105), minkä ansiosta soittotuntuma on nopeampi ja vaivattomampi kuin vanhanaikaisilla, ohuilla nauhoilla. Yhdessä loivemman otelaudan kanssa, korkeammat nauhat tekevät myös bendauksista helpompia. Piste iin päällä on Modern-mallin tarjoama lisänauha (22.).

Perinteinen, kuuden ruuvin varaan laakeroitu Strato-vibra oli vuonna 1954 todella mullistava keksintö. Se tarjosi muita vibroja runsaasti laajemman liikeradan, ja sen “soundi” ja vireisyys olivat hyvät.

Nyt, 60 vuotta myöhemmin, monet soittajat vaativat kuitenkin hienostuneempaa vibratoa vintagea jouhevammalla ja tarkemmalla käyttökokemuksella. Heille Tokai TST-50 Modern tarjoaa nykyaikaisen, veitsenterälaakeroidun Gotoh 510T -vibratallan.

Gotoh 510T -tallassa on firman mullistava FST-blokki. FST-blokissa kielikanavat on porattu niin, että kielet on ankkuroitu vintagea lähemmäksi vibran pohjalevyä. Kielet myös kulkevat pohjalevyn läpi loivassa kulmassa, jolloin ne eivät hankaa reikien reunoja vasten. FST-blokin ansiosta kielet pysyvät myös rankassa käytössä paremmin paikoillaan, mikä parantaa tallan vireisyyttä. Kielet myös katkeilevat huomattavasti vähemmän, koska ne eivät painaudu voimakkaasti teräviä metallireunoja vasten, kuten Straton vintage-vibratossa yleensä.

Mikkien ja elektroniikan suhteen Tokai TST-50 Modern luottaa klassikkoaineksiin – kolme Tokai Vintage ST -yksikelaista, sekä master volume ja kaksi tonea (kaula- ja keskimikeille). Kolmikerroksisen pleksin alle on kuitenkin jo tehtaalla tehty tallamikrofonille humbucker-kokoinen kolo mahdollistamaan vaivattoman lisäkustomoinnin.


Nykyaikainen tai ei, Strato-tyyliseltä kitaralta odotetaan aina mahdollisimman hyvää ergonomiaa, ja Tokain japanilaiset TST-mallit edustavat kyllä lajinsa huippua. Rungon muotoilu on kopioitu suoraan 1957/58-vuosien Stratoilta – sulavampaa runkoa saa kyllä hakea.

Mattalakatussa kaulassa on ovaali C-profiili – juuri sellainen varhaisen 60-luvun muoto, jollaisesta tykkään S-tyylisissä kitaroissa eniten. Loivan otelaudan ja medium-jumbo nauhojen ansiosta soittotuntuma on kuin paljon soitetussa, uusilla nauhoilla varustetussa vintage-kitarassa (mutta tietysti ilman naarmuja tai painaumia).

Gotoh 510T -vibratalla toimii mallikkaasti. Tallan toiminta on jouhevaa ja tarkkaa, mutta se ei tuo soundiin minkäänlaista ei-toivottua terävyyttä (jollaista esiintyy monien Floyd Rose -tyylisten tallojen yhteydessä).

Soundiltaan Tokai TST-50 Modern on aito laatu-Strato isolla L:llä.

Tässä Tokai TST-50 Modern on kytketty käsinjuotettuun Tweed Champ -klooniin (Juketone True Blood):

Demobiisissä on käytetty Electro-Harmonix Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi- ja Nano Big Muff Pi -säröjä Tokain ja Blackstar HT-1R -kombon lisäksi:


Laitetestaajia aina patistetaan kertomaan “likaisia totuuksia” heidän testaamistaan laitteista, mutta en todellakaan löydä mitään negatiivista sanottavaa Tokai TST-50 Modern -kitarasta. Se on erittäin laadukas sähkökitara, jossa on nykyaikainen soitettavuus, mutta herkullinen vintage-soundi.

Tokai Guitars TST-50 Modern

999 euroa (laadukas laukku kuuluu hintaan)

Maahantuoja: Musamaailma


+ japanilaista laatutyötä

+ käytännöllisiä päivityksiä

+ soitettavuus

+ soundi

+ erinomainen hinta-laatu-suhde








Huomenna: Tokai TST-50 Modern