Posts tagged ‘Suomi’

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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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

08/03/2017

Guitar Porn – Kiiras Instruments

Contact: Kiirassoitin

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07/03/2017

Tulossa *** Coming soon *** Kiiras Instruments

Contact: Kiirassoitin

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27/11/2015

Review: Spin X guitar cable (aka Mad Professor RED Cable)

N.B.:

When I wrote the original (Finnish) version of this review, the company behind this guitar lead, Spindeco Oy, had been making tentative noises about marketing the cable using the Spin X brand name. Since then I have been informed that Spindeco won’t start marketing this lead, after all. The cable will continue to be sold as the Mad Professor RED Cable – same specifications, different colour.

For the sake of clarity, the English version the review will refer to the product as the Spin X cable, too.

Spin X 2

Seldom has there been this amount of Internet chatter and general hysteria about any guitar accessory, as there has been about the Finnish Spin X cable, which is only a guitar lead of approximately 75 cm length, with two giant 1/4-inch connectors (a female input; a male output).

The Spin X cable (sold for 129 € as the RED Cable by Mad Professor) is manufactured by a Finnish company called Spindeco Oy. The cable promises to improve the efficiency of its conductors by means of a nano-electrical phenomenon, known as the electron spin. Special graphite-coated conductors are meant to rearrange the signal-carrying electrons in such a way, that the signal flow is improved. Spindeco claim that the main benefit of this technology in a guitar lead is an improved phase correlation between the different frequency bands of the signal. Apparently, traditional leads tend to pass high frequencies quicker than low frequencies, which tend to arrive at the amplifier with a very tiny time lag.

Using the benefits of the noble search engine, I quickly ascertained that the electron spin is, in fact, no voodoo, but rather generally acknowledged quantum physics. Still, we guitarists are interested in audible results; we ask questions like:

Does the Spin X cable do what it says on the tin? Is there truly a discernible difference in sound? Do I have to own one if I want to be a Tone God?

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I was given a Spin X cable for reviewing purposes.

There’s been some rumours about miniature transformers, or buffers, inside the lead’s giant connectors, which is why I had to take a closer look inside. Nope, it’s just a bunch of different conductors – some left unused – attached with traditional soldering tin!

The short length of the Spin X cable has also been the centre of some speculation. Guitarists have been asking: ”Why is it just a short extension cord, instead of a full-length guitar lead?”

Take a closer look at these pictures (click on them for a larger view), and the answer becomes rather obvious:

Spin X cable – plug 2

Spin X Cable – jack 2

It seems that Spin X relies on two identical conductors to function in the desired way. One is the hot (signal) conductor, while the other goes to earth (ground). But using this type of cable results in a less-than-ideal setup, when it comes to mains hum and electromagnetic interference.

guitar cable

coaxcable

Traditional guitar cables are built as coaxial leads, where a centre conductor carries the guitar signal. The centre conductor runs inside a layer of insulation, which in turn is covered by one (or several) shields. The shield is connected to ground and serves two purposes – one: its the audio signal’s earth; two: it’s a Faraday cage that shields the signal conductor from extraneous interference, like mains hum.

If you connect only the Spin X cable to an amp, and turn up the volume, you will be greeted by an unacceptable amount of hum and microphonics, but as soon as you plug your regular lead into the Spin X, all the noises disappear. This means that the Spin X needs the traditional, coaxial guitar lead to do away with all the interference.

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The Spin X cable seemed reasonably rugged and well made.

The only thing that bothered me in the road-worthiness department were the badly secured strain relief cuffs in both connectors of our review sample.

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I wanted to find out, whether you could ”measure” any real speeding up of the guitar signal in the confines of a home studio. I came up with the following setup:

I recorded the acoustic sound of a Fender Stratocaster using an AKG C3000 condenser microphone onto the left channel of a stereo signal, while direct-injecting the high-impedance guitar signal going through a Whirlwind Leader cable into my sound card.

Whirlwind Wave

As you can see above, the DI’ed guitar signal (waveform on the bottom) is a tiny bit behind the miked up acoustic sound.

Spin X Wave

This picture shows clearly that the Spin X doesn’t ”speed up” the guitar signal in any way noticeable in a standard audio sequencer.

The listening test also doesn’t reveal any noticeable differences between using only the traditional lead or adding the Spin X cable. If anything, adding the Spin X might even add a minuscule amount of time lag to proceedings, at least to my ears:

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I then recorded a series of sound clips, using my trusty Blackstar HT-1R valve combo. In each clip the first half is played through just the traditional Whirlwind lead, while the second half has the Spin X cable added into the signal chain.

For comparison purposes here’s a clip of a Fender Stratocaster DI’ed into the sequencer (first half Whirlwind only; second half Whirlwind plus Spin X):

A Strat through the Blackstar:

Gibson LP Junior:

Hamer USA Studio Custom:

Gibson Melody Maker SG:

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Next I took the Spin X to the guitarist of Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers. Sami Saarinen went through several different vintage and custom shop guitars and amps at band rehearsal volumes – both straight into the amp, as well as using a pedalboard.

The differences in sound between using only a traditional guitar lead and adding the Spin X cable seemed a little bit more pronounced using Sami’s setup at higher volume levels, compared to what I could make out in my home studio.

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Spin X 1

For the last bit I wanted to make sure that the Spin X cable’s function was not dependent on valve technology:

I borrowed my son’s Marshall MG30CFX combo for a short test run. All sound clips start with only the Whirlwind cable connected; the Spin X comes in at the halfway point.

Fender Telecaster (neck pickup):

Both pickups:

Bridge pickup:

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Based on my tests I have to state that the Spin X cable really does add a little ”something” to the sound. The Spin X’ effect is more easily spotted with a quality guitar and a quality amp at slightly higher volume levels. It also seems that the tonal effects are more pronounced in singlecoil-equipped guitars – like a Stratocaster, a Telecaster, a Les Paul Junior, or a non-reverse Firebird – than when using humbucker-carrying guitar models.

The Spin X’ ”sound” is similar to the effect a buffer amp has on a long signal chain. You will get a slightly more refined top end, a whiff of added presence and openness, as well as a tighter and more pronounced bass. Strats and Teles will sound a tiny bit more HiFi, while a P-90 pickup will lose a little of its lower-mid congestion.

The Spin X seems to make the signal louder by an inkling, but this could also be a mere psychoacoustic effect, caused by the added presence.

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Spin X 5

There’s no simple and straight answer to the question, whether the Spin X cable genuinely ”improves” your tone. Many Rockabilly, Punk or Metal guitarists wouldn’t want to make their guitars sound ”more polite”. Some styles and genres simply demand a gritty, unruly top end, and some chunky mid-range grind.

For some tone hounds and sound aesthetes, however – players following the in the footsteps of guitarists, such as David Gilmour, Michael Landau or Eric Johnson – the Spin X cable’s tiny tonal changes might make all the difference.

In any case, it is up to you to decide how much this minuscule fine-tuning of your guitar signal is worth to you.

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Spin X Cable

For more info on the Mad Professor RED Cable go HERE.

09/11/2015

Testipenkissä: Spin X -johto (Mad Professor RED Cable)

Update 24.11.2015:

Spindecosta tuli viesti, että firma ei tulekaan markkinoimaan Spin X -johtoa omalla nimellään, vaan että myynti jatkuu Mad Professor RED Cable nimellä!

Spin X 2

Harva vempain on viime aikoina synnyttänyt kitaristien keskuudessa samankaltaista kuhinaa kuin suomalainen Spin X -johto, ja kyse on sentään ”vain” noin 75 cm pitkästä ja kahdella valtavalla liittimellä varustetusta kaapelista.

Spin X -johdon (hinta ei vielä vahvistettu) takana on suomalainen yritys Spindeco Oy. Spin X -johdossa johtimien hyötysuhdetta parannetaan hyödyntämällä elektronin spin -nimistä nanoteknologista ilmiötä. Johdossa olevilla hiilellä päällystetyillä erikoisjohtimilla järjestetään signaalia kuljettavat elektronit ikään kuin siistimpään järjestykseen, mikä ilmeisesti nopeuttaa signaalin kulkua johtimen läpi. Kitarajohdossa spin-ilmiön päähyöty on – valmistajan myyntivastaavan mukaan – että kaikki taajuuskaistat saapuvat samanaikaisesti vahvistimen tulojakkiin, kun perinteisessä johdossa bassot saapuvat hieman muita taajuuksia jäljessä.

Googlaamalla selviää hyvin nopeasti, että elektronien spin ei ole mitään huuhaata, vaan aitoa kvanttifysiikkaa. Meitä kitaristeja kuitenkin kiinnostavat eniten seuraavat kysymykset:

Toimiiko Spin X -johto toivotulla tavalla? Onko ero selvästi havaittavissa? Onko pakko hankkia tällainen johto?

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Sain Spindecon Jerry Ala-Leppilammelta yhden Spin X -johdon testattavaksi.

Johdon isoja liittimiä auki ruuvaamalla selvisi heti, että johdossa käytetään todellakin ainoastaan johtimia, eikä esimerkiksi plugiin upotettuja muuntajia tai vastaavaa.

Monet kitaristit kysyvät myös miksi Spin X -johto on niin lyhyt, ja miksi se on saatavilla pelkästään ”jatkojohtona”, eikä tavallisena kitarajohtona. Näissä kuvissa näkyy vastaus:

Spin X cable – plug 2

Spin X Cable – jack 2

Spin X:n toimiminen ilmeisesti edellyttää sitä, että johdon kaksi johdinta (signaali ja maa) ovat rakenteeltaan täysin identtisiä, mutta tästä seuraa samalla, että erikoisjohto on selvästi häiriöherkempi kuin perinteinen koaksiaalinen kitarajohto.

guitar cable

coaxcable

Tavallisessa kitarajohdossa signaali kulkee johdon keskijohtimessa, sen ympärille on laitettu eristys (ja usein myös johdon staattisia käsittelyääniä vähentävää alumiini- tai grafiittifoliota). Tiivis kuparilangasta tehty verkko (vaippa) toimii maajohtimena, ja suojaa Faraday-häkkinä kitarasignaalia tehokkaasti ulkoisia elektromagneettisia häiriöitä vastaan.

Kun liittää vahvistimen tuloon pelkästään Spin X -johdon kuuluu (isoilla gain- ja/tai volume-asetuksilla) selkeästi vahvistimelta tulevan muuntajahuminan, sekä johdon hiplaamisessa syntyviä käsittelyääniä. Heti kun tavallinen kitarajohto on liitetty Spin X -johtoon, sekä brummi että mikrofoninen rähinä loppuu kuin seinään.

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Spin X -johdon erikoisjohto vaikuttaa laadukkaalta ja mekaanisesti kestävältä. Myös juotokset olivat siistejä.

Testijohdossa vain hyvin löysästi ja huolimattomasti laitettu vedonpoisto (molemmissa liittimissä!) aiheutti hieman hämmennystä.

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Halusin selvittää, onko elektronien nopeusero mitattavissa kotistudio-olosuhteissa, ja tein seuraavanlaisen kokeilun:

Äänitin Fender Stratocasterin akustista ääntä AKG C3000 -kondensaattorimikrofonilla vasempaan kanavaan, samalla kun korkea impendanssinen kitarasignaali meni tavallista kitarajohtoa (Whirlwind Leader) pitkin suoraan äänikortille.

Whirlwind Wave

Kitarasignaali (oikea kanava) oli aavistuksen verran mikkisignaalia jäljessä, kuten tässä kuvassa näkyy.

Spin X Wave

Spin X -johdon käyttö ei ainakaan nopeuttanut signaalin kulkua sen verran, että se olisi audiosekvensserillä näkyvissä.

Myös kuulohavainnolla viive kuulostaa hyvin samanlaiselta, ehkä jopa hiuksen verran pidemmältä Spin X -johtoa käytettäessä:

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Äänitin koesarjan eri kitaroilla Blackstar HT-1R -putkikombolla niin, että jokaisessa klipissä ensimmäinen puolisko on äänitetty pelkästään Whirlwind-johdolla ja sitten toisessa on lisätty Spin X -johto signaalitiehen.

Ensin Fender Stratocaster ilman vahvistinta:

Strato Blackstarin kautta:

Gibson LP Junior:

Hamer USA Studio Custom:

Gibson Melody Maker SG:

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Seuraavaksi menin Spin X -johdon kanssa Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers -yhtyen kitaristille. Sami Saarisen kanssa kokeiltiin Spin X -johdon vaikutuksia hieman suuremmalla volyymillä eri vintage- ja custom shop -kitaroiden ja -vahvistimien kanssa, pedaalilaudalla ja ilman.

Valitettavasti tästä sessiosta ei ole äänityksiä, mutta soundillisesti erot Spin X -johdolla ja ilman olivat jopa selvemmät kuin kotistudio-oloissa.

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Spin X 1

Viimeisenä halusin saada selvillä, onko Spin X:n toiminta kytköksissä putkitekniikkaan vai toimiiko johto myös edullisen transistorivahvistimen kanssa.

Äänitin siis muutaman pätkän poikani Marshall MG30CFX -kombon kautta. Kaikki pätkät alkavat ilman erikoisjohtoa, joka tulee toisessa puoliskossa mukaan kuvaan.

Fender Telecasterin kaulamikrofoni:

Molemmat mikit yhdessä:

Telecasterin tallamikrofoni:

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Testien perusteella minun täytyy todeta, että ”jotain” todella tapahtuu, silloin kun Spin X -johtoa käytetään. Johdon vaikutus tulee selkeämmin esiin laadukkailla vahvistimilla ja hieman isommalla volyymillä kuin kotisohvalla kerrostalossa. Jotenkin tuntuu myös siitä, että yksikelaisilla mikrofoneilla varustetut kitarat – esimerkiksi Stratot, Telet, LP Junior, non-reverse Firebird – hyötyvät erikoisjohdon tuomista muutoksista enemmän kuin humbucker-kitarat.

Spin X -johdon ”soundi” tavalliseen kitarajohtoon verrattuna on lähellä laadukkaan bufferin tuomia lisäyksiä pitkässä signaaliketjussa. Spin X:n kanssa soundissa on vähemmän raapivaa terävyyttä diskantissa, enemmän avoimuutta ja kiiltoa ylä-middlen preesensalueella, sekä tiukempi ja tarkempi bassotoisto. Fender Stratocasterit ja Telecasterit saavat aavistuksen verran lisää hifimäisyyttä ja P-90-mikrofoneista katoaa pieni annos tukkoisuutta etenkin clean-soundeissa.

Spin X:n kautta signaalitaso tuntuu myös aavistuksen verran korkeammalta, mikä toki voi olla pelkästään psykoakustinen ilmiö.

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Spin X 5

Kysymykseen onko soundi ”parempi” Spin X -johdolla ei kuitenkaan pysty vastaamaan yksiselitteisesti. Rockabilly- tai Punk-kitaristeille kovan ja kirskuvan diskantin lievä vaimennus voi olla myös huono asia, myös keskialueen siistiminen ei ole välttämättä jokaisessa tapauksessa (perinne-Blues, Swamp Rock) toivottu lisäys.

Todelliselle soundiesteetikolle – siis David Gilmourin, Michael Landaun tai Eric Johnsonin kaltaiselle soittajalle – Spin X -johdon tuomat lievät, mutta tyylikkäät, muutokset voivat muodostaa sen paljon kaivatun pisteen iin päällä.

Siihen, kuinka paljon on valmis maksamaan Spin X:n tuomasta lisäsilauksesta, jokaisen itse on vastattava.

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Spin X Cable

Lisätiedot: Spindeco

05/11/2015

New from Amfisound: The Halti Siren

Halti Siren Banner

At this year’s Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin (Germany), Amfisound Guitars presented their newest addition to the Halti line-up:

The Halti Siren is a modern, handcrafted take on Gibson’s venerable Les Paul Junior, TV and Special models. It is a 22-fret, 24.75″ scale, set-neck solidbody guitar, crafted from mahogany (plus rosewood for the fingerboard).

The Halti Siren is available with a single P-90 – or with two pickups – from renowned Finnish pickup specialist Jarno Salo. A compensated wraparound bridge by ABM further helps make this guitar a very toneful beast. The guitar comes in a vintage-authentic nitrocellulose finish.

HGGS 2015 – Amfisound 3

The pièce de résistance, though, is Amfisound’s brand-new Set-Lock neck joint, which enables you to reach the top frets without breaking a sweat.

HGGS 2015 – Amfisound 1

For more information contact master luthiers Sampo Leppävuori and Tomi Korkalainen HERE.

04/11/2015

Spin X Cable – now on SoundCloud

In all clips the first half is recorded without the Spin X Cable, while the second half uses the Spin X in front of the sound card or amp.
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Mic + DI track (to check the delay between mic and DI):
• left channel – AKG C3000 close miking a Stratocaster
• right channel – Stratocaster DI’d via Focusrite Saffire 6 USB
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The signal chain used was:
Guitar –> 6 m Whirlwind Leader –> (Spin X Cable) –> Blackstar HT-1R –> 5 m Planet Waves Classic –> Focusrite Saffire 6 USB

Spin X 1

03/11/2015

Spin X Technology – voodoo, snake oil or genuine improvement?

Spin X 2

Testi tulossa…

A review is in the works…

18/02/2015

Review: J. Leachim Guitars Jazzcaster

JLeachim 2

J Leachim Jazzcaster – beauty shot – black

You could call J. Leachim Guitars Finland’s answer to Nash Guitars. Just like the American maker, JLG, too, don’t make their guitars from scratch, from the raw wood. Instead, J. Leachim assembles guitars from bought in unfinished necks and bodies, as well as parts and hardware sourced from a number of reputable sources. J. Leachim Guitars’ forte lies in their finish work, and the relicing of guitars.

J. Leachim’s main man, Jan Merivirta, supplied Kitarablogi.com with an example of his Jazzcaster model, which sports a pristine, “NOS” nitro finish.

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J Leachim Jazzcaster – full front – final med

The J. Leachim Guitars Jazzcaster (prices start from approx. 1,300 €; hard case incl.) is a very enticing mix of different classic guitars:

The Jazzcaster’s maple neck has been sourced from Northwest Guitars. It’s a Tele-style neck sporting jumbo frets, as well as a modern fretboard radius of 9.5 inches.

The Guitarbuild body has been crafted from very lightweight swamp ash. Filtertron-sized pickup routs have been added at the J. Leachim workshop.

J Leachim Jazzcaster – neck joint

J. Leachim Guitars clearly know how to use nitro lacquer properly:

The body has received an exquisite, thinly applied gloss finish in Surf Green, while the neck has been finished with a thin satin clear coat.

J Leachim Jazzcaster – headstock

The fretwork on the Jazzcaster is great. The rosewood fingerboard comes with 21 jumbo-sized frets.

The top nut has been carved from a piece of genuine bovine bone. Some may find the nut’s shaping a tad angular, but I don’t mind; it’s only cosmetics, after all.

J Leachim Jazzcaster – tuners

A nice set of lightly-aged Klusons takes care of tuning duties on this J. Leachim model.

J Leachim Jazzcaster – bridge

The Jazzcaster’s bridge and vibrato tailpiece have both been sourced from WD Music:

The vibrato is a version of the Fender Jazzmaster/Jaguar-vibrato, albeit without the original’s lock-off mechanism. The original locking mechanism is notoriously difficult to set up properly, so leaving it off is actually a good thing (in the view of most guitarists).

Many guitarists today dislike the original Jazzmaster-bridge, too, because the individual height-adjustment screws on the bridge saddles tend to work themselves loose with modern (light gauge) strings. Originally, this bridge – as well as the vibrato – has been designed to work with the stiffer string sets of the late 1950s (mostly 012 or 013 sets). With a set of 010s or 009s the Jazzmaster-bridge’s adjustment screws tend to rattle a lot.

Many modern makers – like J. Leachim Guitars – substitute the Jazzmaster-bridge with a Fender Mustang-bridge for this very reason. The Mustang-bridge is a direct replacement, and it uses differently sized bridge saddles to preset the fretboard radius permanently, so nothing can work itself loose and rattle.

J Leachim Jazzcaster – pickups

Gretsch Filtertron-style pickups are the ”in” thing at the moment.

J. Leachim’s Jazzcaster comes with a pair of TV Jones-pickups – there’s a vintage-type TV Classic in the neck position, and a more powerful Powertron model placed near the bridge.

J Leachim Jazzcaster – controls

The customer who ordered this particular Jazzcaster specified a reverse tone control (working clockwise), so this is what can be found on this instrument.

J. Leachim Guitars use a stereo phone jack, which keeps a firmer grip on the guitar lead’s plug, as well as making sure you always have a good connection to ground.

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J Leachim Jazzcaster – body beauty 2

In my view, the J. Leachim Jazzcaster very successfully blends the ergonomics of the Jazzmaster body with a Gretschy tone. Thanks to its very smooth Jazzmaster-vibrato, the JLG Jazzcaster has a more open sound than, for example, a Cabronita Telecaster.

The Jazzcaster plays like a dream, as long as you’re willing to live with the typical, well-known compromises of the Jazzmaster/Jaguar-vibrato.

With modern, slinky strings, big bends – especially, when played higher up the neck – can quite easily make the high e-string jump out of its bridge groove. In a way this isn’t so much a fault, but more of a feature of this vibrato system, because the strings cross the bridge at a relatively shallow angle. With the stiff string sets of the late Fifties the system works fine, but for huge Blues bends with a contemporary 010-gauge set you should maybe invest in an additional bridge roller.

I would like to see a smoother taper on the tone control, though. On the review instrument the treble roll-off was more a matter of on or off, with everything happening right at the end of of the knob’s travel.

The Jazzcaster has a beautiful acoustic tone, with a bell-like ring and an open, yet firm body.

TV Jones’ acclaimed Filtertron-style pickups seem like a perfect fit for this model, adding a good deal of chime and twang, without sounding too bright or biting. Being humbuckers, the TV Jones pickups are also immune against hum and buzz, unlike a traditional Jazzmaster’s singlecoil units, which are not a million miles removed from a Gibson P-90.

This clip gives you an idea of the J. Leachim Jazzcaster’s clean sounds (starting with the neck pickup):

When plugged into an overdriven channel, the Jazzcaster wins you over with a chunky, aggressive and compact voice, which is just the ticket for Seventies-style Rock or Punk. Famous Filtertron-users in the Rock genre include AC/DC’s original rhythm guitarist Malcom Young, and the Who’s Pete Townshend, who frequently used Gretsch guitars as his ”secret weapon” in the studio.

Here’s the track from the Youtube-video – ”Seabird Flavour (Homage to Peter Green)”:

There are three rhythm parts – left channel (neck pickup), centre (neck pickup), and right channel (both pickups) – as well as the lead part, which uses both pickups (and the vibrato tailpiece).

J Leachim Jazzcaster – body beauty

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J Leachim Jazzcaster – beauty shot 2

In my view, J. Leachim’s Jazzcaster is a beautiful, and very well-made, Fender-inspired guitar, with a sound that’s all its own. You could think the Jazzcaster was only for Jazz or Country, but in reality this fine guitar covers a much wider area of musical styles.

In any case, J. Leachim Guitars is yet another Finnish guitar brand worth keeping on your radar.

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J. Leachim Guitars Jazzcaster

Price approx. 1,300 € (incl. hard case)

Contact: J. Leachim Music

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Pros:

+ workmanship

+ finish

+ playability

+ smooth vibrato action

+ sound

Cons:

shallow string angle across bridge (read the review)

tone control could work smoother