Posts tagged ‘Telecaster’

10/03/2017

Review: Fender American Professional Series Telecaster & Stratocaster

It’s practically impossible to overstate the significance of Fender’s brand-new American Professional series of guitars and basses:
This isn’t just another new series among many others – the American Professional instruments are replacing Fender’s longest-running, mega-selling American Standard model range.

In addition to several Tele, Strat, Precision and Jazz Bass models, the American Pro range also includes modern versions of the Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars.

Fender’s American Pro instruments feature a multitude of improvements and updates over the American Standard models, but without doubt the most important upgrade comes in the form of the series’ V-Mod single-coils.

The V-Mod pickups have been developed by Fender’s electronics specialist Tim Shaw. The basic idea was to provide pickups that are tuned specifically for the position they are used in on the guitar. Shaw even went as far as harmonising the tonal response between the wound and plain strings inside each pickup, in some cases even using different magnets inside one pickup.

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Depending on the chosen finish, the Fender American Professional Telecaster (price in Finland approx. 1,700 €; incl. case) comes with either an alder or ash body (as on the two-tone sunburst model reviewed here).

You can also choose between a one-piece maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard option.

The American Professional Stratocaster (price in Finland approx. 1,700 €; incl. case) uses alder for the body, and you can choose between one-piece maple necks and rosewood fingerboards, too.

After having used synthetic materials for a long time, Fender have now switched to genuine bone nuts on all their American Pro instruments.

The two-way Biflex truss rods have been kept over from the American Standards.

All Am Pro guitars come with modern tuners with staggered-height posts.

The fretboard radius is kept at 9.5 inches, which gives you an excellent compromise between a vintage Fender-feel and modern playability.

There’s been an important change regarding the fret material, though:

American Professional guitars come with a new fret type that is almost as tall as jumbo wire, but narrower than the frets on the discontinued American Standard models. Again, this new fret profile is meant to give you the feel – and the percussive attack – of vintage fretwire, combined with the bend-friendly height modern jumbo-sizes offer.

The Am Pro Telecaster’s bridge is a brand-new design, which is reminiscent of vintage-type Tele bridges, but includes a few contemporary improvements.

Tele anoraks will be pleased to see Fender reverting back to a three-saddle design using brass saddles. The new saddles sport machined slopes for better intonation adjustment.

For the most part, the sides of the bridge’s base late are lower than on a vintage-style Tele bridge to make fingerpicking easier. The rear-facing end is higher, though, and Fender even includes a short and snazzy bridge cover (not shown).

Why fix something that’s not broken?

The Am Pro Strat vibrato is basically the same well-designed two-point bridge we all know from the recent American Standard series Strats, sporting vintage bent-steel saddles, and a modern bridge plate and vibrato block.

The vibrato arm is push-fit.

The American Professional models feature a traditional four-screws-plus-tilt neck joint.

The Am Pro Strat’s deep contours make the guitar especially comfortable to play.

The V-Mod pickups on the Telecaster both use Alnico V magnets for the bass strings and Alnico II for the treble strings.

The bridge pickup is reverse-wound/reverse-polarity to give you a hum-free middle (both pickups on) setting.

The V-Mod set for the SSS-Strat is even more involved than the Tele’s set-up:

The neck pickup uses Alnico II magnets for the wound strings and Alnico IIIs for the plain strings, for a tight bass and warm trebles. The middle pickup comes with Alnico IIs for the bass strings and Alnico Vs for the top, which helps retain the sparkle and clarity in switch positions two and four. The bridge pickup has Alnico V magnets for all six strings.

The tone control set-up has been modified to include the bridge pickup as well, by having the neck and middle pickups share the first tone control.

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Fender has given the neck profiles an overhaul, too, and this has clearly paid off:

The new, more oval C-profile feels fantastic, much better than the sometimes slightly generic feel of older American Standard necks. The neck is chunky without being fat or unwieldy.

The workmanship, the fretwork and the general set-up were very good, but for some reason the intonation was off on our test sample. Nothing a digital tuner and a screwdriver can’t fix in a matter of minutes, though…

I look for a woody and throaty basic voice in my Teles, and the new American Pro Telecaster delivers. There’s enough twang in here for Country and early Rock ’n’ Roll, but the sound always stays satisfyingly fat and chunky.

Tweed-style clean:

Tweed-style crunch:

British-style distortion:

The new neck profile also does its magic when it comes to the Am Pro Strat. This is one guitar that’s hard to put down!

You can only admire Tim Shaw for his dedication and perseverance in developing the Strat’s V-Mod pickup set.

Every now and then I tend to veer towards the cynical, when dealing with marketing hype and pickup esoterics. I mean, come on, most traditionally constructed Strats (and S-type guitars) sound like a Strat – bright, sparkly single pickup selections and hollowed-out in-between settings.

Fender’s V-Mod single-coils do clearly make a difference in my opinion. Firstly, the string-to-string balance for each pickup on its own is outstanding, both in terms of level and timbre. Secondly, the in-between settings sound extremely good, too, despite the fact that the V-Mod set mixes three different Strat pickups.

This results in a Stratocaster model with five equally great-sounding pickup selections.

Tweed-style clean:

Tweed-style crunch:

British-style distortion:

The demo track has Telecaster rhythm tracks coming from the left side of the stereo field, and Stratocaster rhythm parts coming from the right. On the first pass the lead guitar part is played on the Tele, for the second pass the Strat takes over.

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In my view, the American Professional Telecaster and Stratocaster are very worthy successors to their American Standard counterparts.

These guitars will doubtlessly set a new standard for high-volume production line electric guitars, just as their predecessors have done since the late 1980s.

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Fender American Professional Telecaster & Stratocaster

Approximate price: 1,700 € each (includes hard case)

Contact: Fender

A big thank you to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the reviewed guitars!

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ neck profile

+ playing feel

+ updated hardware

+ V-Mod pickups

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09/03/2017

Fender American Professional Series – The Kitarablogi-video

Contact: Fender

27/02/2017

Review: Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb

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OK, people, let’s go wild here and start with the summary for a change:

In my view the good people at Bluetone Amps have outdone themselves with their Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo.

I will stick my neck out really far by claiming that the Fried Eye 2+2 is the best-sounding and most-versatile compact two-channel boutique valve combo I’ve ever come across. This guitar combo is all tone and no hype!

If the demo video and this summary are enough to whet your appetite, I’d suggest you head over to Bluetone Amps’ website right away.

If you want to know more, read on…

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Helsinki-based Bluetone is a small boutique amp maker that handcrafts each and every one of their guitar and bass amplifiers, combos and cabinets. Bluetone offers a wide range of customisable options, both on the electronic as well as on the cosmetic front.

Our review combo (price of this version: 2,400 €; incl. footswitch and cover) is a two-channel all-valve affair comprising a Bluetone Clean channel partnered with a Fried Eye crunch channel, which is Bluetone’s take on the hot-rodded Marshall theme.

The 2+2-monicker in the combo’s name points to the special power amp architecture applied here. Instead of trying to emulate or approximate the different power amp sounds of, say, a Blackface-style clean channel and a Marshall-style crunch channel using heavy filtering and electronic trickery, Bluetone Amps go for maximum authenticity.

The 2+2 power amp uses two different pairs of output tubes – one pair for each channel. Selecting the clean channel switches on the power amp’s pair of 6L6GC-valves, while switching over to the Fried Eye channel will see a pair of EL34s spring into action.

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(Photo courtesy of Bluetone Amps)

Bluetone Amps have recently been moving away from building their complete model range using only point-to-point building techniques. Certain models are now available as modular designs, which makes production less time-consuming, and thus more affordable. Still, like the point-to-point amplifiers, Bluetone hand-solders all its PCB-based modules at their workshop.

The Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb has been made in this modular fashion.

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Like most Bluetone combos the Fried Eye is constructed with an open back.

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Our review sample is one of the first Bluetone amps to feature a Celestion neodymium speaker.

The 12-inch G12 NEO promises genuine Celestion Creamback tones coupled with the benefit of considerably lighter weight.

The Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb uses an MOD reverb tank and Bluetone’s own valve-driven circuitry.

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This Fried Eye combo comes with some interesting back panel features:

There’s a Front End signal booster, amplifying the signal right at the beginning of the signal path.

The Fried Eye’s switchable effects loop is an active affair, complete with a dedicated level control. If you don’t run any effects in the loop, you can use the loop’s make-up gain as an additional, foot-switchable boost in the signal path.

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A chunky three-button footswitch unit is supplied with the Bluetone combo.

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Bluetone’s Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb combo offers a wide range of options on its front panel. Thanks to the logical layout and the clear lettering, the front panel never seems complex or crowded, though.

The Fried Eye Crunch channel offers you a 3-Band EQ-section, plus Fat and Bite switches, to fine-tune your crunch tones.

The Bluetone Clean channel’s High/Low-switch offers two different pre-gain settings, which change the amount of available clean headroom.

Each channel features its own reverb level knobs – so you don’t have to compromise lush reverbs for clean tones with drier settings for crunch – as well as dedicated master volume controls.

Using all the different front panel and back panel features offers you a mind-boggling array of different tonal and drive options. With just a couple (or three) well-chosen guitars, Bluetone’s Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb will give you access to virtually any classic guitar tone you could dream up (with the exception of contemporary Metal).

Bluetone’s clean channel will take you from pristinely shimmering cleans well into Blues break-up territory.

This clip steps through the different boost options offered by the Fried Eye’s clean channel (using a Hamer USA Studio Custom). The sequence is Low dry –> Low plus reverb –> High –> High + FE Boost –> High + FE Boost + FX Boost:

Being able to use the FX loop as an additional booster turns the Fried Eye 2+2 into a two-channel-plus-solo-boost machine.

This clip steps through the different boost options offered by the Fried Eye’s crunch channel (using a Hamer USA Studio Custom). The sequence is Crunch –> Crunch + FE Boost –> Crunch + FE Boost + FX Boost:

Cleaning up the crunch channel using your guitar’s volume control works like a dream here. The Bluetone’s Fried Eye Crunch sounds juicy and lively, even with the guitar turned down to almost zero:

The demo track’s rhythm guitar parts were played on a Gibson Melody Maker SG (stereo left) and a maple-necked Fender Stratocaster (stereo right). The lead part was recorded with a modern Tele-type guitar, using the instrument’s volume control to adjust the amount of overdrive:

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In my view the good people at Bluetone Amps have outdone themselves with their Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo.

I will stick my neck out really far by claiming that the Fried Eye 2+2 is the best-sounding and most-versatile compact two-channel boutique valve combo I’ve ever come across. This guitar combo is all tone and no hype!

Messrs. Kneckt and Vauhkonen don’t run around wearing strange clothes or wild hairdos, pretending to be exalted tone gurus. You also won’t be required to send in mp3s of your guitar playing to prove you’re worthy to join the ”Bluetone Cult”.

Bluetone’s dynamic duo are down-to-earth guys, out on an ongoing quest to bring you maximum tone and usability, and no bullsh*t.

For a genuine boutique-grade amp of its calibre, I can only call the Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb’s price tag extremely fair.

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Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb Combo

This version: 2,400 € (including footswitch unit and dust cover)

Contact: Bluetone Amps

Pros:

+ handmade in Finland

+ lightweight

+ multiple boost stages

+ versatility

+ reverb sound

+ dedicated reverb and master controls for each channel

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21/02/2017

Jam Track: U2-Style 80s Rock Ballad in G-Major (98 BPM)

20/02/2017

Comparison: Fender Japan ’62 Telecaster Custom vs Fender American Professional Telecaster

A short comparison clip of a Japanese Fender ’62 Custom Reissue (c. 1990) and a brand-new American Professional Telecaster. Both guitars were played through a Juketone True Blood tweed-style amp (volume at 7) and recorded with a single Shure SM57.

The order is neck pickup, both pickups, bridge pickup. The ’62 Reissue plays the first two chords for each pickup selection, with the Am Pro taking over for the second two chords.

19/02/2017

Fender American Professional Series – Now on SoundCloud

17/02/2017

Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb – now on SoundCloud

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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16/02/2017

First View: Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb

Bluetone Fried Eye 2+2 Reverb

• Handmade in Finland
• Two-channel valve amp
• Class AB
• 20-40 W
• 5 x 12AX7 plus 1 x 12AT7
• Two pairs of power amp valves – 2 x 6L6GC (Clean channel) and 2 x EL34 (Crunch channel)
• Switchable boost
• Switchable effects loop
• Switchable spring reverb
• Single Celestion G12 Neo speaker

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Demo Track
• Two rhythm guitars (Clean channel) – Gibson Melody Maker SG (left) and Fender Stratocaster (right)
• Lead guitar (Crunch channel) – modern Tele-type guitar

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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14/02/2017

Fender American Professional Series == Testi tulossa! == Review coming soon!

27/01/2017

Review: Brunetti SingleMan 16

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Brunetti Amplification is an amp maker from the town of Modena in northern Italy.

Marco Brunetti’s team handcrafts a number of tasty and stylish guitar amps and effect pedals. In addition to custom orders Brunetti also manufactures a range of standard models, of which the SingleMan 16 is the smallest combo amp.

Brunetti-products are distributed in Finland by NordSound.

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The main aim behind the Brunetti SingleMan 16 (1,348 €) is to come up with a compact, single-channel design that nevertheless offers a maximum of tonal flexibility for the working musician.

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The elegant two-tone finish and the combo’s clear lines make the SingleMan a real looker.

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The combo weighs in at a moderate 20 kilos. Its open-backed cabinet is made of high-quality plywood.

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The Brunetti comes loaded with Celestion’s famous 12-inch Vintage 30, which is known for its precise and multifaceted sound.

The SingleMan 16 is a genuine Class A valve amplifier. The preamp uses a pair of 12AX7 tubes, while the power amp is fuelled by two 6V6GTs.

The amp’s spring reverb unit comes from Accutronics. An on/off-footswitch for the reverb effect comes with the combo.

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The amp chassis is precision cut (by laser) from solid steel.

Taking a look inside, we’re greeted by top-drawer components and very crisp workmanship. In contrast to many large-volume manufacturers, Brunetti’s electronics are handwired, and soldered by real people, not robots.

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The SingleMan 16’s back panel offers you jacks for external speakers, the reverb footswitch, and an effects loop (with a dedicated on/off-switch).

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The tonal flexibility of Brunetti’s SingleMan 16 combo mainly comes courtesy of the amp’s six modes.

Three modes are provided in the preamp section (by a sturdy mini-toggle), called Tweed, Fat and Smooth. Tweed is the most angular of the three, offering up dry and very dynamic guitar tones. Fat conjures up a warmer, distinctly British palette of sounds. The third mode, Smooth, turns the SingleMan into a bonafide ”cream machine” that’s warm and a bit saggy. Depending on your chosen guitar, Smooth’s richness can be a bit of a mixed blessing. Dark sounding humbuckers might turn into a bit of a mush, here, but spiky single coils will surely benefit from this mode’s innate fatness.

Here’s a clip of the SingleMan 16’s preamp modes when played with a Fender Telecaster (’62 Custom Reissue). The guitar is plugged into the Hi-input, the Volume control is turned to 10 o’clock:

Here’s a similar clip featuring an Epiphone Les Paul Standard (with vintage-style EMG-HZ pickups). Right at the beginning of the clip I turn the Bright-switch from ”off” to ”on”. The guitar is plugged into Lo, with the Volume control still at 10 o’clock:

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Brunetti’s SingleMan 16 also comes with three power amp modes, which see the power amp running at Full, Moderate (25%) or Quiet (6.25%) levels. Because the output power reduction is achieved by changing the internal voltages in the output valves, switching from one mode to another also has a direct bearing on the combo’s sound and dynamic behaviour. Compared to Full mode, Quiet mode is far fatter-sounding, far more compressed, and seasoned with a good helping of creamy power amp distortion.

Here’s a clip of the three power amp modes, when using a Fender Tele (Volume at two o’clock):

And here’s a similar clip with the Epiphone Les Paul (Volume at one o’clock):

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The demo track features two rhythm guitars – a Fender Stratocaster (left channel) and a Gibson Les Paul Junior (right channel). The lead track was played on an Epiphone Les Paul Standard:

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Brunetti’s SingleMan 16 is a fantastic-sounding and surprisingly versatile single-channel tube combo from Italy. It’s practically impossible to dial in a genuinely ”bad” sound, and the combo’s versatility – both tonally, as well as in terms of its output levels – means that the SingleMan 16 will feel equally at home on stage, in the studio, and in your living-room. For extreme clean headroom or bone-crushing amp stack sound pressure, you should probably look elsewhere, but I’m pretty sure most guitarists will find ”their” sound easily using the SingleMan 16.

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Brunetti SingleMan 16

Current price in Finland: 1,348 € (incl. reverb footswitch and amp cover)

Finnish distribution: NordSound

Pros:

+ handcrafted

+ versatile sound

+ power reduction switch

+ great-sounding reverb

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